By Kelly DiMaggio
22 Jun

Finding What Makes You Feel Limitless

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I think we all have that person, place, thing or activity that makes us feel limitless when it comes to our hearts. Let's face it, as adults with congenital heart defects, there are definitely a lot of obstacles and limitations that we face in our day to day lives. Yet it's amazing how those obstacles and limitations take the back burner when we discover the place, thing, or activity that makes us feel unstoppable. For me, it's snorkeling. I have always loved the water; and when I have my snorkel on I feel I can swim for as long and as hard as anyone out there. Heck, a lot of times I am the one leading the pack; the one who refuses to stop. I always emerge from the sea after snorkeling feeling like I just engaged in a killer workout, and that I could continue on for hours. Most importantly, though, I feel free. Happy. Exhilarated. At that moment in time, my heart defect and any of the negatives or complications that crop up due to it, are the furthest thing from my mind.

So how do we uncover what makes us feel limitless? For me, it all stemmed from engaging in the things I love. Think about your interests and see how they develop into passions. I have always loved the ocean and all things marine life. Starting in elementary school, my dad and I always watched "Shark Week" together – along with any other shows we could find relating to the ocean on National Geographic. When I was ten years old, my dad took me to Bermuda for a week, just the two of us. It was there that my love for snorkeling blossomed. Fast forward to my junior year of college where I spent a semester abroad in the Turks and Caicos island doing marine resource management research. A few weeks ago, I visited the very same island again, with my husband and five of our closest friends.

Not only do certain things make us feel limitless, but so do certain people. I feel very blessed to have such a wonderful support system, comprised of great family members and friends. The people in my life support me unconditionally. They are there to listen when the going gets rough and emulate empathy, but they never treat me any different. In fact, if anything, they inspire me to reach my fullest potential. To hit milestones that when I was born, many didn't think I would make. They encourage me to travel. To see the world. To pursue my passions. Although I'm sure my parents hearts drop each and every time I come home from vacation and tell them about the ocean current I almost got swept out in, the cliff I jumped off of, or the sharks I swam with – I know they wouldn't change it for the world.

My advice to everyone this summer is simple yet challenging all at the same time. Explore your interests. Delve into your hobbies and your passions. Get out and move and surround yourself with people who lift you up and things that empower you. Find what makes you feel limitless and don't look back. Take care of yourself, be cognizant of your health, and follow all your doctors' instructions – but strive to develop that special thing that trumps the trials and tribulations we face every day as adults with congenital heart disease. You might just be surprised at how much it can boost you!


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