Hello, Dear Friend. I am writing today to share with you about how my life has changed over the past year. Whether we have spoken to each other recently or it has been some time, you have been an important part of my life’s journey. I would like to share what God has done through me recently. Furthermore, I would like to share what I see God doing with me in the near future.
Four years ago, I was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation. This is a condition where my heart will randomly fluctuate in its heart rate and usually with no reason. After two years of battling with it, being placed on medications, and it becoming worse, I decided to have a cardiac ablation. Going into the ablation, I was over 55 pounds overweight, drinking too much alcohol, and not taking the best care of myself in many ways. I wasn’t the Christian or mother that I was wanted to be.
The ablation was the beginning of many changes.
When the ablation was complete, I found myself not being able to eat very much. Food would bring me discomfort after consuming only a very small amount. It was a reality check for me because I started realizing how much I was eating when I wasn’t really that hungry. After four months of using portion controls, I had lost 30 pounds. In August of 2016, I was taken off of all medications. But three weeks later, I was placed back on medications, due to my heart not responding to the ablation.
In a matter of a week, I was sent to the emergency room two times to get my heart shocked.
Awaiting the news to receive my second ablation, a friend of mine at the time encouraged me to get back into running. I thought to myself, hey, I use to be a runner, I could run again. In February of 2017, I underwent my second ablation. Then, March of 2017 sparked the beginning of my running. It was a slow journey—not just physically, but of finding myself. As I began running, I quickly began to re-realize how much regret I had in my life, along with a lack of confidence. I gave up daily, using every excuse in the book to not finish an exercise workout.
Over the next few months, although I continued to lose weight, I was tackled down by personal choices and life hindrances. Eternally grateful to a loving God and husband who continue to not give up on me, I finally decided to embrace life again. I was sick of being bogged down by regrets. I was ready to press forward.
I began to slowly embrace running but still found I could not tackle the hills—literally or figuratively. In June of 2017, I was taken off my heart medication again. Not knowing for sure if the second ablation worked, and tired of battling with anemia my whole life, I decided to have a hysterectomy. After two weeks of physical restrictions per doctor’s orders, I found my body itching to run again. Two weeks to the date, I began running in an extreme amount of pain. But, this time, I was motivated to press through. Not being able to tackle a hill for five months, I finally ran up it.
In the blink of an eye, I started to very slowly believe in myself and felt my confidence grow. As I pressed through the hills, I found myself becoming more motivated. As the running progress increased, my desires to drink that alcohol and eat those bad foods that had made me the person I was the past few years decreased significantly. I didn’t want to be that person anymore.
In September of 2017, I boldly signed up for Twin Cities Marathon in October. This race was not just a race to me, but the beginning of a new me and the end of the old me.
Training for a marathon means running for hours. And, in those hours, the only thing you can do is think. I spent that month running through all the regrets I had about my past. Two days prior to the race, I came down with a severe sinus infection. I had no energy and no appetite. The old me would have given up. But I was sick of letting regret always win. I thought to myself, well, the worst that can happen is that I don’t finish, but hey, at least I started. Forcing down as much food and liquids as my body could handle, I began the race on a cold, dreary day. I wanted to give up so many times. But all throughout the race, I was blessed by kind thoughts and words from family members telling me, “Don’t give up. You can do this.”
When I made it to mile 25, I couldn’t help but feel the most immense joy I had felt in years. I was going to finish that race. As I was running over Summit Hill, the song “Sing Sing Sing” by Chris Tomlin came on my playlist, and I smiled all the way to the finish line.
That race was only the beginning for me. I had a new confidence and a new determination. God just brought me through a marathon. What else can He do with me?
Well, March 23rd, 2018 marks my 40th birthday. I decided I want to tackle 40 things by the time I turn 40. Yes, it’s ambitious, but that’s sort of the point. I had heard of many people talk about the Tough Mudder race. It’s a 10-mile run with 20 obstacles. Hmmm, could I do that? Like, could I actually do that? As I learned more about the event, I noticed that it can be used as a fundraiser event for different charities including the Organization for Autism Research (OAR). Because I normally fear fundraising, I decided to embrace it. And, having a son consumed by the horribleness of Autism, what could be better? So, in July of 2018, I will be participating in the Tough Mudder race on behalf of OAR (www.researchautism.com).
Autism is a real disorder. In the US, it affects 1 in 68 children, but 1 in 42 boys. It is one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the US. It’s estimated to cost a family $60,000 per year, on average. Boys are five times more likely than girls to have Autism. In addition, there is no medical detection or cure—only a diagnosis and recommendations. As you all know, Autism is near and dear to my heart because of my son Christian. If you’re at all skeptical about Autism, come spend five minutes in our house. You won’t be skeptical anymore.
I watch daily how a disorder can debilitate a person. It’s heart-wrenching and painful as a parent to watch your child suffer and know there is nothing you can do. As frustrating as it is for me to watch and parent, I am not the one living with it. Christian and the millions of others affected have no choice. Some aren’t even aware that they have Autism in the first place. The hardest thing for me to watch each day is the lack of control he has over his sensory needs. Due to the characteristics of Autism, he can never be still, endure change, or be silent. Christian can’t generalize anything, so if a plate full of his favorite foods looks or smells different than he expects, he may have a breakdown and throw it across the room. When Christian gets angry or confused, he’s a tornado. When he’s content, he’s docile, but with a hair trigger. There is no middle for Christian. Currently, one of the hardest things to witness on a daily basis is the fact that his body and his hormones are changing rapidly, but his cognition, speech, and social abilities are that of a two-year-old.
April 2nd marks World Autism Awareness Day. On this day, the world is invited to light it up blue to spread awareness. I decided I wanted to try and do something for this, so I’ll be embarking on a personal run for Autism that day. And, since 1 in 42 boys in the US are affected with Autism, I’ll be running 42k (26 miles). I will be lighting it up blue across the northwest metro to raise awareness. This run will happen rain or shine because Autism happens rain or shine. I invite you please to partner with me either financially or prayerfully so that we can be one step closer to a cure. My minimum fundraising goal is $750.00. I am looking for 30 people to give $20 each, or 70 people to give $10 each. If you have witnessed a person affected by Autism, please consider partnering with me.
Thank you for taking the time to read about my journey and where it is going. If you’re willing and able, then I ask for prayers on this race journey for clear thoughts, solid nutrition, ample energy, that God would provide the needed funds, and for peace and joy to be given for all affected by this disorder.
There is a children’s book we use to read to our kids a few years back from Precious Moments. It describes in detail about what Heaven is going to look like. The book highlights how there will be streets of gold, the Son will shine day and night, there will be no tears, and all of our sins will be wiped away. When we would read this to our daughter, she was drawn to the verse about how there will be no more sickness. Julianna said, “Mom, in Heaven, there will be no more Autism, right? Christian won’t have Autism in heaven, right?” I replied, “That’s right, honey. No more Autism.” Julianna replied with joy, “Whoa, that will be pretty cool.” Every time she would say that, my eyes would tear-up with joy and anticipation.
Think about how amazing it would be to see that here on Earth. Please help me make this dream a reality. Thank you.
Your Friend in Christ, Tracy Mindiola