Alzheimer’s Gene

A few months ago I decided to finally take a risk and do the 23andMe health test to see if I have the APOE4 gene, the gene that is most referred to as being a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Before I get into that, let me give you a little back story.

My maternal grandmother was diagnosed with dementia in her 70’s or 80’s, I don’t quite remember, I just knew it was “normal” timing. My mother was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in her late 40’s. She died at 56. It has been indicated that dementia and Alzheimer’s can be hereditary.

I used to worry about being like my mother and developing early onset Alzheimer’s. I was paranoid about leaving Eddie and our kids before I was 60. I didn’t want young children to see their mother with Alzheimer’s. It isn’t something that is easy to deal with. When kids became a thing that is no longer in our future, some of the anxiety lightened up. I didn’t think about it as often.

Then I found Genius Foods by Max Lugavere. His story resonated with me and the changes he made gave me new information on how to improve my life in the pursuit of delaying or preventing Alzheimer’s. I lost a lot of the fear I had. I started learning more and more. And I still have a lot to learn.

My new found comfort with having the potential knowledge of whether or not I have the gene gave me what I needed to order the test. And black Friday sales.

I spit in the tube and sent it in. I actually started getting excited to know. It was going to give me direction on my thoughts. It was going to change nothing and everything.

I received the results and they show that I have one variant of the APOE4 gene. Only one variant. That barely increases my chances and I’m comfortable with that knowledge. Shortly after I received my test results, I found a podcast by Max Lugavere that gave me even more information that I needed. On the Genius Life podcast episode 80, Max interviewed Dr. Richard Isaacson from Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian.

One in four people carry the APOE4 gene. That makes a lot of people squeamish and for once I can say I am not one of those people. In a new review paper in the Journal of the Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease, Dr. Isaacson along with a couple others, discussed how using the APOE4 gene can help personalize or guide risk-reduction care for Alzheimer’s disease.

The things that Dr. Isaacson talked about that resonated with me the most are about smoking and physical activity. Smoking seems to press fast-forward towards Alzheimer’s disease. Also, those who are sedentary have higher amyloid levels. I don’t want to get into any of the medical facts because I will not regurgitate them very well, but these two things are things that I can speak to. 

You see, my mother smoked for many, many years. So did her mother. And my mother was not very active. She didn’t take care of herself. I know, these are just two factors in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. But, these are two factors that I think, yes my opinion, can change the trajectory of my risk.

Having the variant of the APOE4 gene shows me that I am at a higher risk than most people. That’s okay, because we are in an age of information that I can find and use to change how I live my life. I’ve already made changes. I get up and move. I try to not be sedentary for hardly any time. I don’t smoke. I did a little in high school, but not very much and I haven’t in years. I even try not to be around cigarette smoke. I have made nutritional changes, and continue to.

Finding out that I have a variant of the APOE4 gene is not a death sentence for me. It really isn’t a death sentence for anybody. It is merely knowledge that we can use to change our current habits for the better. It is knowledge that can help us to take better care of ourselves.

Have you ever wondered if you have the Alzheimer’s gene? Are you fearful of Alzheimer’s? Let’s get the conversation started in the comments.

Here are the links for the sources I mentioned above.

https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/905599

https://alz-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1016/j.jalz.2019.08.198

https://www.maxlugavere.com/podcast/richard-isaacson-80

Do I Have The Right Attitude?

For a lot of people when they hear the term attitude, they think about some person being sassy or down right rude. They don’t jump to consider how attitude plays a part in our every day life. They don’t consider their own attitude.

I didn’t consider my attitude for most of my life. I didn’t consider that the drive I had to be better than where I came from was part of my attitude. Attitude is more than merely whether you are a bitch or a sweet, kindhearted person. I mean, you could be both, but that’s not my point. My point 0is that attitude determines our life.

I recently read and article in Success Magazine titled Jim Rohn on Attitude. I was sitting my my aisle seat on the plane to Raleigh for a long week of work at HQ. This was the first time I had ever highlighted in a magazine. Ever. I had never related much to the little I knew about Jim Rohn’s teachings, but this article opened my heart to a new perspective.

From this article I realized there are two different aspects to attitude that needs to be considered: attitude about life and our personal attitude. I want to talk to you about both of these and how I can look back and identify how my attitude as relating to both aspects has changed in recent years.

First, my attitude about life. I used to be the person that life happened to. In some ways, I still am. I still have a lot of room for growth here. Life happened to me and I couldn’t control it. I couldn’t control how I was raised or the family I came from or the direction that would take me in life. My attitude was that life was out of my control.

Except, it isn’t. I have complete control over my life. I know you are probably thinking “No you don’t. You can’t control illness or getting laid off or depression/anxiety.” you are right, I can’t control those occuring in my life. But, I can control how I react to all of them. That would be my attitude in the here and now. I can control my attitude towards whatever is happening to me or around me.

For instance, my back. When I hit the lowest point of my life with my back, I could have lived in that space and not fought for the life I knew I could have. I could have stayed in the depressing outlook that so many with the same condition of differing severity have. I could have stayed tuned into that Facebook group and complained about the pain and the things I was missing out on. But I didn’t. I knew there was more to life than being in pain all of the time and I wasn’t willing to sit by and just take narcotics. I wanted the surgery because it offered hope that traditional pain management didn’t.

Or another example, getting laid off for the fifth time in five years. I could have taken the time I was given for severance and sulked around because it was also Christmas time. I could have bitched about the difficulty I would have in finding a job at the end of a year around holidays. But I took my anger and I channeled it into action. My attitude of anger became my attitude of determination. I wasn’t going to go one day without being paid because the CEO wanted to restructure during the holidays.

My attitude about life happening to me has changed. I take what comes at me and I handle it. Rather than sit in the “why me” thoughts, I figure out how I can improve my future.

My personal attitude has changed as well. I really, really don’t want to admit it, but I was that “poor me”, “why me”, negative Nancy victim of a person. I never have admitted it before. But I now see that I was. I’ve been ashamed of it because I didn’t want to be that person. I didn’t know anything different though.

I learned this mentality from my parents. It is the primary mentality that was demonstrated for me during my childhood. And because it was, I adopted it unknowingly. Even when I complained about my parents doing it and I thought I was better, I was doing it.

It has taken years of internal thought work to realize where my attitude was and how I could change it. I subconsciously let my parents attitude affect my attitude. I let them and other people through those people’s opinions define my attitude.

Jim Rohn said “No other person on Earth has dominion over our attitude. People can affect our attitude by teaching us poor thinking habits or unintentionally misinforming us or providing us negative influences, but no one can control our attitude unless we voluntarily surrender control.”

I would personally like to change that to “unless we voluntarily or involuntarily surrender control.” Why? Because I do believe that our subconscious mind can be controlled without us voluntarily giving that control away. It may or may not be intentional by the other person, but I believe it can happen.

With that being said, Jim Rohn’s statement made me think, “who have I voluntarily given control to?”

A lot of people. The jackass who cut me off on the highway. My parents outlook on life. My sister who I’m afraid to completely open my life to because of past issues when we were both in different mindsets and our own personal hell. My husband who has different views on recycling building up on the counter. My friend who I feel pushed me away when she was going through a really shitty time in life and didn’t want me to know what I know and keep locked up. The CEO who made the decision to lay people off right before Christmas. The alcohol that affected my ability to control my emotions. The person who gets drunk and tells me every single thing I’m doing wrong as part of the family.

The list can go on and on. I let people and situations affect my attitude. I gave control away. I had no self-knowledge of what was happening. My personal attitude was not my own.

As I have developed more and more self-awareness and self-knowledge, I have learned to take back control over my attitude. I have begun to make better choices and better decisions for myself. I have been able to assess situations to determine my personal attitude. My attitude is the one thing that determines my potential and what I focus on. If I’m not in control of my attitude, I’m not in control of my potential.

As I continue on my self-awareness and self-development journey, I will continue to take back more and more control over my attitude. My attitude about the past, the now, and the future depends on my ability to be self-aware and my ability to accept full responsibility for my attitude and feelings.

I am the only person in control of my destiny and I am the only person in control my attitude shaping that destiny.

What Are You Committed To?

Are you committed to your goals or to your excuses? Do you even know?

I used to think that I was committed to my goals, but I kept making excuses. I had some goals that yes, I was absolutely committed to. I wanted to have a better life than my parents. I wanted to explore the world. I wanted to make something of myself. I wanted happiness and freedom. I pursued all of those goals every single day.

But I kept making excuses. I was committed to the excuses I kept making as to why I would never be good enough, or why I couldn’t do something for me even if my partner didn’t like it or didn’t want to do it with me, or why I kept feeling like I had to prove myself to absolutely everybody in my life.

I was somewhat growing as a person and meeting goals, but my excuses were holding me back from my full potential. One of the excuses I was wholeheartedly committed to was my need to make sure everyone else was supported, approved, and/or wasn’t offended by absolutely anything I did. This excuse ran my life. It was at the center of everything I did. I was committed to this excuse more than I was committed to anything else in my life.

This excuse continually held me back and prevented me from reaching and even dreaming big audacious goals. I was never going to fully meet the goals I listed above if I didn’t uncommit myself from the excuse of needing to look out for everybody else first. I had to commit to my goals, do some difficult internal work, and let go of my excuses.

I have mostly stopped living my life for others. I no longer care if so-and-so likes my posts. I no longer care if my posting or my sharing offends people. I don’t say anything horrible about people, well most people, and I don’t name any names in most of my posts. I started creating and sharing my growth journey on YouTube and don’t care if my family or friends think it’s weird or that I am sharing too much. I don’t share about them unless I am giving them credit for helping me. I take time for me, even when all of the family is together.

Limiting my excuse of needing to do for others before doing for myself has been liberating. I have been able to focus on allowing myself to dream big audacious goals and have started going after them. I have changed my commitment from my excuses to my goals. I schedule time for me to have simple me time and to do activities towards accomplishing my goals without worry of people being offended that I’m not out with them.

Change. Change is how we can be more committed to our goals than our excuses. Nothing can happen without some kind of change.

Which are you committed to, your goals or your excuses? Have you ever thought about it?

screenshot_20200201-0820445324722131721301808.png

 

Valentine’s Day

I hate Valentine’s Day. There, I said it.

So why am I writing about it? Because there is a stigma and way too much fucking pressure on our society to honor this holiday. We have to stop letting the commercialization of holidays dictate how we live. Yes, this post is all about a rant that I have with our society. Keep reading, or don’t, but I suspect I am not the only one and I want you to know that you aren’t the only one.

Flowers. Chocolate. Fancy dates. Surprise deliveries. Expensive jewelry. Money.

I don’t want any of that because of some date on the calendar that has morphed from the original intention of honoring a person, or something. That’s the thing, who the fuck even know’s the true reason of Valentine’s Day? I am willing to bet that 90 to 99 percent of my generation does not. Even the Encyclopedia Britannica indicates there is conflicting information. What it does say is:

The holiday has origins in the Roman festival of Lupercalia, held in mid-February. The festival, which celebrated the coming of spring, included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery. At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with St. Valentine’s Day. It came to be celebrated as a day of romance from about the 14th century.

After that, Encyclopedia Britannica goes on to explain that there are many accounts of where the day may have taken its name from. It goes on to say when Valentine’s cards were first given out and it’s been a really long time. Like hundreds of years.

I don’t care how long it has been. I still feel like our current society puts so much pressure on everybody to take part in this day. Some people ask if my distaste in the day is because I’ve never received good Valentine’s gifts. No, no it is not. I hate being forced to do things and spend money because everybody does it. I could go into a rant on many other holidays, but I will spare you.

When my husband and I first started dating, I told him not to get me anything. The first year his mother convinced him to even though I said no. If I recall he chose yellow roses to meet me and his mother in the middle. Okay, that works. Since then, he hasn’t done anything and I am happy about it. Prices on everything gets stupid and I don’t want to spend money on it. There are plenty other things we can and probably will buy that is overpriced. One thing he does tend to do after Valentine’s, depending on what day of the week Valentine’s falls on and what our schedules are, is go to Costco and buy the much discounted Stargazer Lily’s for me since that is my favorite flower. I’m okay with that, even if the quality of the flowers aren’t perfect because they’ve sat there longer.

If you don’t like Valentine’s Day, then don’t do it! You do you and don’t give a fuck what society says.

I was more than happy to have a work trip that brought me home late on Valentine’s Day. No need to do anything special, I don’t celebrate this one by spending gobs of money.

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?

Who Are You Listening To?

Screenshot_20200201-071643_2

I saw this in a post the other day and felt strongly about how well it represented my life. There is so much meaning in this simple graphic.

I am a critical thinker. I think critically about pretty much everything. And then I overthink it. And overthink it some more. It is a vicious cycle for me that I repeat over and over again for just about any topic, situation, or relationship.

I’ve always seen the quotes about “listen to your heart” but have never been able to do it. My heart didn’t analyze well enough. My heart didn’t ruminate over every possible scenario and every possible outcome. My heart is all about the feels and that just isn’t what a strong person listens to. There was no way in hell I was going to listen to my heart when my brain is what has kept me safe all these years.

Except, it really hasn’t. That safe feeling I have been thinking that I feel, that isn’t truly safety. That’s control. Control does not equal safety.

My brain would have me believe that any situation where I don’t already know everything needed, is a situation that I need to leave. Take for instance my new job. I work with a startup and my position, my actions directly correlate to the amount of revenue that we bring in each quarter. I mean, in much larger companies, it’s been the same way, but now this is a small company and if revenue isn’t met, then it directly relates to what I have or have not accomplished.

I do not like the financial side of being a project manager. I never have and never will. I have somehow been really good at having limited responsibility for project financials and I’ve been absolutely okay with that. Until now. Now I am directly responsible for meeting revenue goals.

When I realized this during my third or fourth week in, I had a panic attack. How the fuck am I going to make this happen? I don’t want to manage budgets. I don’t know how to make revenue numbers. Why me? Isn’t there somebody else? What if I don’t meet the goal the first quarter that I’m here? Will I be fired? I really like this company and don’t want to look for another job. Panic, panic, panic. I held it in well in front of my boss.

Just as fast as the realization came, so did the realization that I am not alone in this. I am not the only person who is responsible for this number. Yes, it might seem that way, but it isn’t. My boss, the SVP of Operations, and other management and/or executives are right there with me. We are all working together. I might feel like it is all riding on my shoulders and that can be crippling, but it isn’t true.

You see, my brain focused on one critical detail. It didn’t want to see all the other details in the situation. My brain was stuck in a panic state and didn’t want to listen to my heart. My heart knew and still knows that I am not alone in this. In fact, my heart has all the touchy feelies. My boss believes in me more than I think I’ve ever known a previous boss has. He frequently compliments my work and it has only been a few weeks. I ask for constructive feedback and he gives it, but not in a manner to tell me that I suck.

If I were to only listen to my brain, I might be finding another job. I would be stuck believing that I wasn’t good enough and that I will crash and burn. If I were to listen to my brain, I would take the pile of emails that I haven’t been able to read yet or even address and believe that I’m already a failure. If I were to listen to my brain, I would think that I have failed and should be fired.

But instead, I need to and desire to listen to my heart. I have learned in my heart of hearts and somewhere in my subconscious, that none of this means that I’m a failure. It means that I’m in a challenging position that I can grow in. I am not being held back and I am not going to be fired. I have been given an opportunity to shine and grow. My heart knows it and my heart has a lot of work to keep my brain in check.

I traditionally have listened to my brain and have horribly silenced my heart. I’ve only recently started allowing my heart to have a bigger voice. I’m not perfect at it, but I don’t want to be. I want to continue growing, continue being challenged, and show myself that I can do hard things.

Today, today I am listening to my heart. Each day I am checking in with my heart every time my brain makes a decision or assumption. My heart’s voice is getting bigger and stronger. We are growing together.

Won’t You Regret…

…pushing your parents out of your life?

Yes. No. Maybe. Probably not.

I know so many people who have wonderful relationships with their parents, or at least one of their parents. I know people who wish they knew their parents. I know people who have bit the bullet and tolerate relationships with their parents. I know people who, like me, have chosen to not associate with their parents at all.

I made this choice early on. I cut my mother off after I wasn’t required to use her taxes for my student aid. Even after I moved out of her house at 17, I rarely talked to her or saw her. I cut my mother off in my mid-twenties when I could finally get it across to my grandmother that I didn’t want to see my father.

My mother died almost three years ago from early-onset Alzheimer’s. It brought up a lot of emotions that I wasn’t prepared to handle at the time. It absolutely brought up regrets.

But her death also brought a lot of clarity to my life and my decisions. I am where I am today because I protected my peace and did what I needed to for my own sanity. I truly believe that if I hadn’t cut either out of my life, I would be on a completely different path in life.

So no, no I do not regret cutting either of them out of my life.

I absolutely wish I had those relationships. There are many times that I mourn the loss of those relationships knowing that it was my decision. I even tried to fabricate a relationship with my mother-in-law to replace my mother. It was a cry for love and attention and it didn’t go well. At least not in my opinion or for me. I am not sure her view of it. It wasn’t until I realized what I had been doing and stopped that I feel like my relationship with my mother-in-law got even better.

I won’t ever have the type of relationship with a blood-parent or parental figure that I want. I know that my view of that relationship has been highly skewed by movies and my childhood. Either way, I still don’t regret not allowing either parent in my life.

I don’t regret it now and I doubt I ever will.

You Are in Control of What You Accept

Each and every day we control what we allow into our lives and what we don’t. We allow that boss to be a dick to us. We allow the person who cut us off in traffic to get on our nerves. We allow ourselves to be nitpicky at our spouses for not taking out the trash. We allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the number of emails in our inbox.

We are allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed and burnt out as long as we don’t take any steps to change it. We are allowing people to be asshats and be disrespectful as long as we don’t stand up for ourselves. We are accepting it because we think we can’t control it.

We can’t control other people, that’s right. But we can control how we respond to other people and situations that we face.

I used to be queen of accepting others being complete bitches to me. I didn’t have a clue how to stop accepting their shitty treatment. All I knew was that I didn’t like confrontation and didn’t want to cause any problems. So I let other people roll over me again and again.

I still don’t like confrontation and I still suck at standing up for myself. What I have improved at is directing a conversation away from topics that will cause someone to bully me or disrespect me in any way.

One such way I’ve done that over the years is by cutting off all communication with my father. I really don’t even like admitting he is my father, it just feels wrong. He is a drug addict alcoholic who only cares about himself. I stood up for myself and didn’t allow him at my wedding. He didn’t have my contact information for years. Then one day, he got into his mother’s phone and got my phone number. In fact, he took it a step further and texted me from her phone telling me he was going to text me from his phone and that he acknowledged that my grandmother told him no.

He did text me. He sent me some very hurtful messages. Hurtful for me and hurtful for my grandmother. Those texts challenged my resolve. They challenged me to give into his, most likely drug-induced, self-pity rant that he was trying to spin as caring-ish about me. Those texts challenged my anger control.

After reading and rereading the texts and meditating on them, I shared them with my husband and sister and was able to simply have the reaction of ‘wow, he is going there.’

I was not willing to accept the self-pitying, cry for attention that he was exhibiting. I didn’t respond. I archived the text and moved on with my day. I was not willing to accept that kind of hell back into my life.

I am really good at controlling what I accept with some things and some people and really horrible with other things and people. I don’t have it all figured out. I still can get into an emotional or angered state depending on specific people and situations. But I have gotten better at protecting my peace and what I accept with quite a few people and situations.

For me, it all started with breaking free from those who continued to bring me down as I was trying to start my life. I stopped accepting so many things just out of high school. I worked really hard to stop accepting more over the years by building up walls. Once my walls were shattered, I had to relearn how to protect my peace and really determine what I would and would not accept in my life.

I’ve stumbled over and over again. For me, it always comes back to wanting to feel loved and needing to be shown that love, and my impatience. These two topics are what challenges my resolve on what I accept.

I have only gotten to where I am today with knowing what I will and won’t accept by doing the hard work and cutting people and things out of my life. One step at a time. One day at a time. One change at a time.

Today I can say with 85 percent confidence, I am absolutely in control of what I am accepting. The other 15 percent is me allowing my lack of control to go through the growth and learning that I still have left to do. My growth and my learning will never end, but controlling what I accept will become easier and easier.

It’s Easy For Her…

…there is no way I could ever be like her.

comparison kills creativity. (1)

Have you ever thought that? I have. It is defeating. It is depressing.

But there is so much wrong with that thought. It took me years to realize it and learn how to overcome it every time that I encountered it.

Now, I see that others might be thinking the same thing about me. No, I’m not getting conceited on you. I’m acknowledging that I am further along in my personal growth journey than some and that might be intimidating.

That thought, “It’s easy for her, there is no way I could ever be like her” is a comparison. It is a comparison that I’ve made for every step of my life. Do any of these sound like things that you have thought?

Yeah, but it won’t be easy for me…

I’m too far gone to be helped…

I don’t know how or where to start…

Self-help/Self-development is for people who are extremely fucked up, that’s not me…

When I first was presented the idea of personal development, I had the last thought. I seriously was of the mindset that only fucked up people read self-help books. I judged them before I ever gave them a shot.

Then people I knew were recommending a couple books in that space and the books didn’t sound like they were weird. So I started reading. All it takes is one step to start.

You have taken that step. You are reading this blog. I share personal development, self-help information. I share my journey through it all.

Personal development isn’t easy. It isn’t because going through the work to truly grow is emotionally and difficult. It takes time. It takes dedication.

In my opinion, nobody is too far gone. Each of us can take a little step every single day. Little steps are how I’ve gotten to where I am. It didn’t happen overnight. 

Again, you’ve already started, you are here. Blogs, books, podcasts, etc. There are so many resources out there depending on what you feel you need to work on. If you don’t know how to determine what to work on, go back to my post about thought work. You can sit and work through your thoughts that are plaguing you. Thoughts always plague us.

I know you’ve probably heard this multiple times, but stop comparing yourself to others. Even as you are growing, comparing yourself to the influencers and to those of us who are a little further along can be painful for you. All you are doing by comparing yourself is strengthening your insecurities. You are making the things that you want to change worse than they already are.

If you want to change something, you can’t compare yourself to someone else. Your journey is different than mine. Your issues (yeah, we all got issues) are different than mine. Your dreams are different than mine. Your situation is different than mine.

It wasn’t easy for me.

I started and stopped in my personal growth journey multiple times. I have battled with some of my issues over and over and over again. There are times that I feel like I’m doing really awesome with one thing and bam! that thing rolls me. Everything I share here is after I’ve done continuous work over long periods of time. I have a lot of life to unpack. I have a lot of work to still grow through.

It isn’t easy for me. I have had to make some big changes in my life just to get to where I want to be. I’ve made big changes to get to this point today. I still struggle with my growth.

It isn’t easy for me and it won’t be easy for you.