At 40 something, I truly feel like I have lived two lives: One prior to my diagnosis and the one after. In one life, I was a star softball and basketball player with scholarships that were like a multitude of yellow brick roads, each one leading to a bright and successful future. In my next life, the roads were not golden and shiny like the ones in my past, but tumultuous and tangled, leading me to an uncertain destiny of which I was definitely frightened. At the end of each twisted path, I found not sure success, but a life of medical interventions, procedures and daily pain. It was at the beginning of my second life, the spring of 1991, that Rheumatoid Arthritis introduced itself to me, rearing its ugly head, embedding itself into my body, my joints and my life. I pictured it like the deep roots of an old tree, just when I thought the path was clear, I seemed to trip over a hidden root, blocking my path to a pain-free and disease-free life.
Though these two lives are very different, one similarity still remains: me. I will always just be me. And to me, that’s enough, because the “me” that remains among the tangled, tumultuous, uncertain road I’ve traveled, something else has emerged, a strong, determined, confident woman who will use her every power to beat and conquer this disease. It will not define me because I define myself, I define “me”.
let's start with my second life
Today, I reside back in Phoenix, AZ after living in Calgary, AB (Canada) for almost 3 years. My health took a bit of a violent turn after my short residency in Calgary. It becomes quite epic to my come back story in this BLOG.
There is one more similarity that carried over from my first life: the joy of competition and lifting weights. I am in love, okay, obsessed, with training, working out, and competing. At one point I was considered a triathlete, one that loves to do events that involve 3 sports: swimming, biking, and running. However, these days I need to concentrate less high impact running events and more on bodybuilding events such as NPC bikini or figure. My workout is much like a daily mantra or necessity; I believe it is one of the reasons this disease has not taken over my body. Movement, movement, movement! Simply put, I will run through it!
Speaking of “running through it”, the other aspect of my life that keeps me running is my love for construction. I own 2 companies: THRIVE CM, LLC. a construction management/project management consulting company and THRIVE Construction, LLC. a commercial and residential general contracting company based in Phoenix, Arizona. (www.thrivecm.com). Some of the greatest aspects of my career include designing and building incredible fitness/recreational type facilities in North America for companies such as Scott Builders, International Fitness Holdings, World Health Club, EXOS (formally known as Athletes' Performance), and Core Performance Center. In a nutshell, I design and build incredible spaces for companies, individuals, athletes, and families to THRIVE in. I find value for my clients by not only saving them money, but also by delivering a high quality product on time and more importantly within budget.
As if being a woman with a busy career wasn’t enough, I also enjoy personal training and motivational speaking, something I have done for several years. Overachiever? Yes, I think so, but as I said before, it’s important to keep my body moving so that RA cannot find a comfortable place inside and settle itself. Through the years I have trained a number of people, both young and old, to help them find a path to their internal life achievement whether it’s weight loss or overall well-being, I am committed to helping people find what it is they are looking for. After all, I’ve been through that journey, now it’s my turn to become a guide. I often find myself saying to my clients that “I merely provide the tools and ignite the fire within each of them. YOU need to do the work to MAKE IT COUNT.” That’s what I do and that’s how I define my training and motivational style: give a person the knowledge to create their own foundation of what health and wellness is and watch a butterfly emerge. It really is an awe-inspiring experience to observe another human being evolve into something else, something better than before.
Although I love training, nothing compares to being a parent to a child. For 6 incredible years, I raised Jack Camden Bryant. Spending a day with Jack is the best gift I had been given in my life… He was miracle for me and taught me a great deal about myself. He was the love of my life and I miss him daily.
Where Did My First Life Begin?
I was born at Scottsdale Memorial Hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona on April 10th at 8:57 p.m., on a cool spring evening (well, not sure on the details of this, I’ll have to ask my mom–the weather I mean, all other information is true to the best of my knowledge). My parents are Louise Marie Schwiecker (Bryant in the 70’s) and Gerald (Jerry or Jigs) William Bryant. I have 3 siblings: Travis Bryant, Jayson Ferguson, and Jordon Ferguson.
Shortly after my birth, the heat really started picking up; unfortunately the “heat” was not due to the sun, but due to the relationship between my parents. Luckily divorce became a reality as they lived better NOT together. I would end up going on “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” with my vivacious father for the next several years.
My father passed away on March 4, 2005 from cancer. One of the hardest things to do in life is to watch your parent or caregiver waste away from a terrible disease like cancer. He was my hero and would likely be very proud of all I accomplished in the years since his passing.
In the early years of my life we moved often. My dad was quite the “dream weaver” always searching for the next million dollar opportunity. We went from Phoenix, AZ to San Antonio, then to Dallas, and finally we landed in Tulsa, Oklahoma where I would spend a majority of my late childhood, through graduation at Tulsa Union High School in 1993. The next 2 years would become some of the darkest moments of my life. Already a good 4 years into my “second life” (I’d already been dealing with RA since ’92), I would find pain, confusion and loss, hitting bottom before rising back to the top. And that’s what my story is truly about: being born, losing myself and being born again: a metaphorical phoenix rising from the ashes. I only want to keep rising and keep pushing my disease down so it can’t come with me.
This website was created to help others who have been devastated by the diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Whether you are an athlete like myself, a mom or a dad, or someone who is just trying to “live” each day as pain free as possible, this was created for you. It is my hope others will benefit by the products and strategies that I have and will continue to document in this website.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about me. I am very excited for you to see the rest of this website, it has been a very long time in the making. My hope is you will find this website as a helpful and motivation tool that anything is possible. Don’t allow RA to define you, “make it count” by you defining how it lives in your life.
“Make it Count”