heart

The Boho of Heart Health

A Change in Perspective

Lately, I’ve been thinking about renaming “All Things Heart Shaped,” and “The Boho Heart” really appeals to me. Don’t get me wrong—“All Things Heart Shaped” is almost like a child to me. That’s been the name of my website since I began to dream of having a website. But I’ve evolved, I’ve changed, I’ve learned SO much. Not so much about heart health…although there’s always something to learn in that black hole of knowledge. No, I’ve learned more about myself, my point of view, and how I would like to serve my clients.

My perspective originates from several wellsprings. First, I’ve been a registered nurse (RN) in the emergency department (ED) for over 30 years. Believe me, that will imprint your perspective in a million different ways, some good, some bad. One thing I recognize about my RN perspective is that it can be pretty domineering. When you work in an environment that is barely organized chaos, you seek to exert control and you are THE boss in that world. After all, at times it can be the difference between life and death. Not to say I would force treatments on anyone, that would be assault. But in the ED, I am the expert (guided by the ED physician, of course), people come to the ED for help, and there are policies and procedures that ensure the accomplishment of the necessary tasks at hand.

Grasping for Control

Long into my nursing career, I became a heart attack survivor. Believe me when I tell you I really appreciated all of those policies and procedures because they saved my life. There were specific treatment guidelines that were followed and I’m so glad they were in place. After all the emergency treatment was completed, the long haul of primary care started. This is when I began to rebel because I just could not stand the noise and overwhelm. “Do this, don’t do that, this is good, this is bad…” It was ALWAYS something and my body and brain were just worn out by it all.  One of the last times I left the hospital, after another admission for chest pain, I swore I would never return. Really, that was the only way I could turn all the noise off and get a grasp on my out-of-control life. I did go back, once or twice, but my mindset had changed forever.

Most recently, I became a certified health coach and began to offer support to others on their heart health journeys.  I wanted to be the best coach possible and sometimes I found that old RN perspective slipping into my practice. If my clients would just do what I was telling them, then things would get better for them! If only… then I began to realize that I couldn’t push them and I couldn’t pull them. In fact, I had absolutely no control over their health. Epiphany, right?!?! That’s when my overall philosophy began to evolve and that’s when I began to consider a name change to illuminate that new coaching philosophy.

Enter the Boho Vibe

Let me digress just a minute and talk about the word boho. Boho is short for bohemian and I like the Cambridge University Press’ online dictionary’s definition: “A person who lives in a very informal style that is different from the way most people live.” As a “live and let live” kind of person, I like this concept of being present in the world in a way that might be different from most people. For me, this type of freedom allows me to gather information on a topic and then apply that information to my life as I see fit. That is my wish for you, my friend. I don’t carry around many expectations any more and especially in regards to the choices you make in your life.

I do have a perspective to share, we all do. In some areas, my perspective is very experienced, educated, and expert. Such expertise springs forth from my decades of emergency nursing, but that perspective has been blended with the effects of surviving a heart attack, and my observations as a health coach. My intention now is to merely share my perspective with you. How you see that information and what you do with that information is your choice, your decision, your truth. I think I said it best in a recent Instagram post:

“It’s your life, YOU get to decide, you make the choices, you have the freedom to build your life as you see fit. I remember how, after my heart attack, I felt so out of control of my body and my life. “Do this, don’t do that, this is good, that is bad…” And on and on…as a heart attack survivor, I totally understand the overwhelm and all the noise! 

As a health coach, I’m here to support and guide my clients. In the end, the decisions are theirs. They choose the truth they will live. We walk the path together and we build fences wherever THEY decide they’re needed. 

Having a health coach is NOT a tug of war. Health is your journey and it’s based on the choices you make. YOU make the rules as you listen and learn. You’re the captain, so please consider me your #hearthealth compass.”

Shall We Begin?

All of this to say that the boho heart is more and more my truth. I take life one day at a time, and some days are way better than others! In the meantime, I’m guiding those who feel a connection with me and that gives meaning to what I’ve been through in life.  As a heart attack or heart disease survivor, you and I share much in common. Walk with me and let’s talk about our experiences. ❤️ 🧭 🗺

Self-Care & Heart Health: Stop Smoking (No Lectures, I Promise)

Since February is Heart Month, I’m going to post about some self-care practices that can positively impact heart health. In a way, it’s all kinda tied together: We must love ourselves and take good care of ourselves if we want to have healthy hearts. Many self-care practices are so good for our overall well-being including our hearts. So I’ll be posting on some self-care topics that you may need to focus on. Don’t be overwhelmed, just pick one or two, make a plan, and take action. Doing something is ALWAYS better than doing nothing.

Self-care practice #1: If you smoke, please, stop. Statistics indicate many adults HAVE stopped smoking, but I live in the South and many here haven’t stopped. Teen smoking and vaping continues to be of concern. Also, globally, smoking rates are on the increase in many countries. 

Nicotine, the addictive substance in cigarettes is a potent vasoconstrictor. Vasoconstrictors close up your blood vessels which reduces blood flow to important areas including your heart, brain, and kidneys. Smoking also raises your blood pressure. Of course, smoking can increase your risk of emphysema and several cancers. Aside from the medical havoc smoking creates, it stinks! Yes, you do smell like an ashtray no matter how much cologne you spray on yourself afterwards. And smoking has become pretty inconvenient in the past few years. You can’t just light up anywhere, what to do what those smelly cigarette butts, and lots of folks really think smokers are a pain. Now if you’re a rebel, as many smokers seem to be, you might not care about the social stigma. But at some point we smoke because we CAN’T quit, not because we look so cool and rebellious.

First, let me say, I’m NOT one of those who has never smoked and looks down on those who do. I’m also not a reformed smoker who now has no sympathy for those who are still smoking. Quitting smoking was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I started smoking when I was in my early teens. Looking back at some of the cigarette ads, it’s easy to see why a young, impressionable teen might have decided to try smoking back then. Advertisers made it look so darn cool, right?!? And although we were told smoking was bad back then, it was more like a vice or a rebellious behavior for teens. And I grew up in Kentucky, tobacco capital of the world. No one was against tobacco there! We were contributing to the state’s economy!😉

I smoked my last cigarette the night before my heart attack. I woke up the next morning with severe pain between my shoulder blades and, long story short, I had a 95% blockage of my LAD. I got a stent and so began my life with heart disease. Honestly, I was terrified to smoke after that experience! 

First of all, I did not want that heart pain to return. It was awful and I thought the pain itself might kill me. Also, I felt like I’d been given a second chance at life…wouldn’t it be totally disrespectful to smoke again after surviving one cardiac emergency?? I just couldn’t do it! 

It was NOT easy. During those first few months I could have easily lit up a pack and smoked them all. But I didn’t. I figured out my triggers (first thing in the morning, riding in the car, sitting on the porch in the evening, when overly stressed at work) and made a game plan for each trigger. I ate A LOT of baby carrots🥕 Something about that hand-to-mouth motion helped to decrease my cravings. I took it one minute at a time some days. And the days passed to months, months to years, and now it’s been almost 8 years since I’ve smoked. 

Today I can’t imagine ever smoking again. Still, I totally understand the need to smoke. I was very fortunate because research indicates it can take multiple attempts to quit smoking. So if you try to stop, and then start smoking again, don’t give up! If you don’t KEEP TRYING to quit, you’ll never stop smoking! There are patches and logenzes, along with some medications that might help you stop. Talk to your healthcare provider and see what they suggest. There are websites that can help you and here’s a link to The American Lung Association’s stop smoking resources: bit.ly/2TDmV4I. 

In the end, it’s up to us to make the choices that lead us to heart health. Some choices are easier than others particularly when addictive substances, such as nicotine, are involved. Get the support you need! And never quit trying to quit. Believe me, I’m so glad I quit and I’m cheering for you to do the same! 🎉 How are you doing with this act of self-care? I’d love to hear from you. ❤️