Two varied and lucrative decades in business followed my Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, but my life was transformed in 2009 at a Social Media Breakfast event, where I learned of Concordia University’s “new” Strategic Communication Management Master of Arts program. I graduated from their first cohort, and have been an Adjunct Professor instructing communication, public relations, and public speaking classes following graduation in 2011.
Like my enthusiasm for education, my dedication to our United States veterans is strong, and I have been a volunteer for several Congressional Medal of Honor Society Conventions dating to 2003. Most people never have the honor to meet even one of these humble heroes in their lifetimes, and I have had the distinct privilege to have developed friendships with these amazing gentlemen and their wives over the years. This is an honor that I do not take for granted and is one of the things that I am most proud of in my volunteer life. It is my goal to attend one event per year, that I personally fund the airfare, hotel, event fees and all associated costs for volunteering. It is considered a benefit to volunteer for the Society, and one that I am gladly willing to pay. http://www.cmohs.org
The work of http://www.soidog.org is another cause that I strongly support. “Soi Dog Foundation is a not-for-profit, legally registered charitable organization in Thailand, the United States, Australia, the UK, France and Holland. Soi Dog helps the homeless, neglected and abused dogs and cats of Thailand. Our aim is to set an example for the Asian region on how to humanely reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats through spaying and neutering, and to better the lives and living conditions of the stray dogs and feral cats of Asia. …Soi Dog has reached a milestone of over 60,203 dogs and cats sterilized as of January, 2014. …Thousands more have been treated for injury and disease by providing emergency and ongoing veterinary treatment for abused and neglected street dogs and cats. …Runs a shelter and rehoming center for over 300 dogs that have been abandoned or abused and subjected to sometimes terrible cruelty. …Feeds hundreds of dogs and cats in temples and other locations (soidog.org).”
One of the challenges that I face is that I have a rare and incurable genetic disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, whereby the collagen in my body does not hold together as it should, and instead tears and shreds uncontrollably. What this does is causes my joints to pull apart like a loose puzzle, causing premature arthritis throughout my body and multiple minor dislocations daily. Following diagnosis, and until I was able to find the right balance of pain medications (there is no cure, just pain management), I had to stop working full time, as do many of my fellow EDSers. With pain management now under control, I am excited to find full time work again in the near future.
This fussy disorder has caused my spine to collapse and has given me some nasty spinal co-issues called Degenerative Disc Disease and Anklosing Spondylitis where my discs crumble like saltines and create bony protuberances that can break off and lodge in odd places, poking my spinal cord.
Additionally, I have needed multiple surgeries to fish out these bone fragments that have shredded my already weak tendons, and also had to have tendons re-routed through bones in my leg, have bones shaved down in my hands, and have tendon sheaths cut to relieve pressure.
While this disorder is tremendously painful and causes understandable stress, I have determined that attitude is everything. I have realized that I have the opportunity to choose my outlook every day. With that, life goes on! Some days are better than others, but every day is a blessed day with God on my side, my loving, amazing mom in Wisconsin supporting me with every step of the journey, and my family and friends here in MN and throughout the world bringing me joy.
Life is good! Choose to do good things for others, and you will always feel better than when you started.