Life Lessons from Fur Friends
Love & Relationships
Health & Well Being
Freedom and Fulfillment
Travel and Adventure
Passion and Purpose
Denise grew up loving all animals (especially dogs) and reading. She is passionate for all rescues, with an extra place in her heart for dog rescues with special needs. She believes pets teach us important life lessons. "Not Like the Others" is the first book in her series "Life Lessons from Fur Friends". In “Not Like the Others” you are introduced to Harley her rescued Yorkshire terrier. He will learn the meaning of a forever family and unconditional love. In addition to writing, Denise volunteers for local animal shelters, works as a Family Nurse Practitioner, and she is a mom to four humans-and a dog. We are a forever family through adoption which all started when I rescued Harley.
The Power of Pets
How to Choose the Right Dog Food
Moira's Website: http://moirasutton.com/
Create the Life you Love Community: https://www.facebook.com/CreatetheLifeyouLove1/
Long Distance Reiki Healing Sessions:
Welcome to Season Two, Episode 40. Life Lessons for our Fur Friends, with our very special guest Author, RN, and Family Nurse Practitioner Denise Gruzensky. Denise grew up loving all animals, especially dogs, and she loved to read. She's passionate for all rescues with an extra place in her heart for dog rescues with special needs. She believes pets teach us important life lessons., "Not Like the Others-Harley's Story" is the first book in her series "Life Lessons from Fur Friends". In "Not Like the Others" you're introduced to Harley, her rescued Yorkshire Terrier. He will learn the meaning of a forever family and unconditional love. In addition to writing Denise volunteers for local animal shelters, works as a family nurse practitioner, and she's a mom to four humans and a dog. "We are a forever family," she says, through adoption, which all started when I rescued Harley. So without further ado, I would like to introduce you to Denise Gruzensky. Welcome, Denise.
Hi, Moira, thank you so much for having me today.
This is going to be fun. You have a Heart of Gold, and this is all about Heart Soul Wisdom. So I'm going to pull out all your wisdom. I know you're going to share it and to really hear your journey because I know it's going to inspire and empower people who might be thinking of a pet rescue and also we're going to get into diabetes and lots of stuff. So let's dive in with how you started your journey with the work that you do. Because you know you've worked in emergency rooms. I love that you were a nurse on Carnival Cruise for five years. My husband and I were speakers on cruise lines for five years. Wow. Yeah, it was a lot of fun. We met a lot of people and a lot of stories and I know for you, you know you must have experienced met some amazing people. So share your journey and some real life journeys stories that you've had as an emergency nurse and your time on the ship. I think that would be really fun for our listeners.
Oh yeah, I'd be happy to I haven't talked about that in a while. So um, I actually my journey to becoming a nurse was very accidental. When I was probably around sixth grade, I remember my mom was a nurse. My dad's a respiratory therapist, I shouldn't say I shouldn't say was they, they're retired but and I remember my father saying you should become a nurse like your mom, you can you can move anywhere your husband wants you to be. And my little six year old, independent spirit went well, Why can't my husband move where I want to move?
I like that. At six?
Yes, that's it. So I kind of had fought it most of my life. And my mom, um, it was it was very stressful for her. It was the career can be very, very intense. And she ended up in education, in nursing education, actually. And she was kind of, you know, I'm not really sure, you know, consider other options. So she doesn't like me to talk very much about that now, because she's like, wait a minute, I shouldn't have been dissuading you from being a nurse. But it wasn't all in all dissuasion. It was just wanting to make sure that health care wasn't the only thing I thought was my option, which I appreciated from my parents. So I initially wanted to be a lawyer. And my father kept pushing and pushing and pushing and pushing. And my senior year in high school I could go to community college and my last year of high school at the same time, when students that had open amounts of time could do that. And so I was doing that at the same time. As I applied for college, I went ahead and said, "Dad, will you stop bugging me if I just apply it to nursing school?"
And he said yes. And so I applied to nursing school. And lo and behold, the second semester of my freshman year in college, officially in college, I got accepted into nursing school and I had friends that were seniors in college that still waiting to get on waitlist to get in. So I was like, okay, so maybe I need to take this as a sign. And so I started nursing school with the two year program with the intention of still getting my two year degree and then pay my way through law school. And lo and behold, a few semesters into it, I knew I wanted to move farther. I loved patient education. That was my favorite part about being a nurse. And I really felt like, I really heard the call to be, which kind of sounds funny. I felt the desire to go into patient education and be a nurse practitioner. So kind of in the middle of my two year degree, I knew I wanted to move on. And so I ended up going to moving to San Diego, starting to work and I went into a three year program at the University of San Diego where I got my bachelor's, master's and my FNP in three years.
And then when I got out of nurse practitioner school, I had worked in emergency rooms. My work trauma found out I had a latex allergy in the midst of all of this that my career was over, then found a hospital in San Diego. This was very early on in the whole latex allergy thing. But there turned out that there was a hospital in San Diego that was trying to go latex free, kind of foreseeing what was coming - Scripps hospitals, they're in San Diego. And so I got a job with them worked in emergency medicine was going to school pretty much worked in school full time, I had some friends who made sure I got some social time out of it. And when I got out of school, I kind of cold called the places I had worked for in my clinicals. They didn't have any jobs open. And so I cold called a whole bunch of family practice places with my resume and having just left school, and I couldn't get a job. And so a friend of mine that had been a year ahead of me and in nurse practitioner school said Carnival Cruise Lines, I went out and worked for them for a few months right after I got done with school. They're calling me again to go out and do an RN contract with them. Do you want to, you know, can I give them your name? I said Oh, that sounds like fun. And yeah, I'm already still working as a nurse right now. So that sounds like a blast. So over the millennia, New Years, I took a three week contract for Carnival Cruise Lines and had a blast met people from all over the world. Just thought man this is amazing. And it's it's literally because you're doing family - what people don't oftentimes realize is your primary care for all of the crew members. And then your Urgent Care, emergency care, for all the crew members and all the guests. So it's quite a large practice actually. Um, and I just I enjoyed it. I had a blast over those three weeks and so six months later I still didn't have a job as a nurse practitioner I was still working as a nurse still trying to find a job and they called me back and said well do you want to go to Alaska for a few weeks? Like Well yeah, that sounds great. Um, so I and I was working per diem as a nurse. That's what I had done through school which is why I could take you know the weeks off at a time. Which is the great thing about nursing by the way is that you can kind of, there's so many different avenues you can go into and so different so many different types of nursing but so I went spent three weeks in Alaska. I loved it and so one of the nurses I was working with said well I really I have a wedding I'd love to go back to England for Do you want to stay on for a few more weeks if our if our head person lets you stay to cover me? And I said yeah, I'll be happy to do that. I spent most of my summer that summer up in Alaska and as I finished that contract, the medical lead at the time for Carnival said you know, we have a brand new class of ships coming out and there's relatively you know, 1000 crew members and 2500 guests and we've been trying to figure out how to staff this type of cruise ship because some of our larger ships they had the two doctors and four nurses, the smaller ships have one doctor and three nurses and he said this is a middle class ship so we're really kind of trying to figure out what we're supposed to do and he said and then you came and started working for us and you're a nurse practitioner and you have an emergency room background. Are you interested in being our first nurse practitioner? And lo and behold my Carnival my five years with Carnival Cruise Line started
Isn't that a wonderful story? I know that when we were with the edutainment they called it and we spoke together and we spoke separately and again like you said we met so many people and we just they became family a lot of people that work there to to us we didn't want to leave the ship. Our longest gig was four weeks and we literally, in the Caribbean, we did not want to get off that ship.
It happens. I've been known to extend six month contract for a few extra weeks when I was out there myself. I'm still friends I don't know about you, I'm still friends with people from all over the world i have i've girlfriends I keep track - I was in the wedding of one of my girlfriends from England that lives in Canada. She's married to a guy she met on the cruise ships. I'm still friends with a lot of them and I still see them online. That's actually where I love Facebook right? The reason I joined Facebook all those years ago was because they said to me we're not going to send you private pictures through an email anymore you need to log on to Facebook if you want to see pictures of our family
That's a good reason.
Okay, I'll get on All right.
Let's go back to you being an emergency nurse and trauma and all that. Is that just your makeup because I would think that would be very stressful. I know I was a social worker at one time and I burned out in that field. And then you know I was always in coaching or caring in some ways - couldn't be a nurse. The opposite one opposite from you. My dad used to say to me when I was little I was dressed as a nurse for Halloween. About the same age you said, six and he said "Oh you should be a nurse when you grow up. That would be a great thing to do. Help people and even then I knew no, I wanted to help people but I don't like needles and not you know, my background psychology so I can do the head stuff, but not the body stuff, but
so it's a good thing. We all do different things. Yeah, that's a good thing. Yes.
So did you always know that you had this makeup to do that because, you know, I would think that would be very stressful.
And I think that there is a piece of me that has an adrenaline junkie piece to it. Um, my parents will both say that they don't know where that came from. My younger sister, there's only two of us. So my my only sister, my younger sister was a smoke jumper for like, over 10 years herself. So she used to parachute out of planes into wildland fires.
Whoa! What is a smoke jumper? Now you've told me..
Yes. So um, you know, there was a period of time when I was working for cruise ships and my sister was a firefighter, the smokejumper. And my, during the summertime, people would ask my mom Oh, so how are Denise and Deb and my mom would be like, well, Deb jumped a fire in Alaska somewhere and we haven't heard from her for the last couple weeks. And Denise is on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean somewhere and haven't been able to speak to her for a little while. So they're out there doing something. Until we hear otherwise, we're going to assume they're okay.
This this fantastic. I'm sure they're so proud of the two you
probably stressed their limits, right.
I know your parents are role models. Who have been some other role models for you growing up. People that you looked up to.
My mom's best girlfriend was a nurse as well. She actually really helped me right after I got out of nursing school find my first job in nursing. And she's my, I call her my godmother. And I'm trying to think. I really didn't get the travel bug until later. Actually, Carnival Cruise Lines was the first time - although moving from Northern California to Southern California, at the time seemed like a big move. I had no idea how big moves could really be until I started working for Carnival. But um, I mean, yeah, my mom and my dad, my godmother, they were really big in my life. And then I have fig I found I'm headed in a new path direction right now to not completely new, I'm adding to my repertoire. so to speak. Next Friday, I actually start a six month certification program in the City of Hope. For the with the City of Hope, I guess I should say not for with the City of Hope. And I will be certified in the next six months in Genomics. And so about, well, so in April of this last year, I was privileged enough with the company I currently work for to become part of their ahead program for patients. And what it is, is that since April, I've been able to do a two minute screening for patients with their family and personal histories of cancer. And there are 35 genetic markers currently for eight different cancers. The one that most people have heard about is the bracha gene. There's 33 others. And we can test for those markers. So pending qualifications is pending insurance payment, right? I mean, people can choose to pay for the testing themselves as well, if they're really interested. But people that qualify for testing, I can test them, and then I can do genetic counseling with them. And that education piece always comes back to me. And that's, I can do the counseling, I can do a pretty good job already of counseling. But I want to know more. And I've always had that desire. I just want to know more. And so I'm going to get certified in in the Genomics.
Excellent. Yeah, I know what the What were you talking about? I know at one point, like, I'm an intuitive empath, and I've been in the healing world for a long time, and kept taking courses. And partly, there's times when I was working with a client and I wanted to know more to give them more. So I kept taking different like reflexology aroma therapy. I'm a Reiki Master it's just a whole bunch of stuff NLP for sure. So I always wanted to do more. And my brother said to me one time Why do you have to do another course Don't you have enough and I thought I like to learn you know, and but
Well it's ever changing for us, right? Like I listened to your we were talking just a little bit ago. I was listening to your last podcast and the functional medicine provider that you were talking to and I thought oh, is there a functional medicine course I can take. I want to know more about that. And good grief, I've got four children and a dog and a husband and I always constantly want to learn more and we want you know you're it sounds similar. I want to bring the best I can for my patients. And I want to bring them I don't just want to, I've never wanted to be the provider that just puts a bandaid on something, I want to dig deeper. And so with the Genomics, you know, there are prevention measures for cancer. There are lifestyle risk reduction things that patients can do. And I'm learning more and more and more about that. And, you know, breast cancer risk, I understand that better. And, you know, I can look at getting you an annual MRI pending what that looks like, not just your mammogram, and I can show you how that looks different and how that can show us at much earlier stages. So when you asked me about people inspiring me, and I was younger, one of my best friends, and my second mom passed away from ovarian cancer. And then in the last five years, I lost one of my best friends to breast cancer at age 42. So I think that has always been inspiring to me to just try to do better and try to make things better. And, and again, you know, not putting the band aid on trying to figure out ways to do that outside of that.
No, I know that people who are in this community know that I've shared from what my husband who's we're coming up to 30 years together.
Thank you. And we've made this big move from Ontario to Nova Scotia, which was a big move for our whole family, and especially my mom, she's 94 with the walking disability so big for her to do that. But we were looking at lifestyle because Cliff went through prostate cancer, and then he also had heart surgery. And that gets your attention. You know, family friends, like you're saying, you know, your second mom and your friend and it really hits home that Nothing's more important than your health and well being nothing.
And, you know, we thought, okay, we're takers for my mom. Our passion is to be back in the Bahamas living on a sailboat, which we did 30 years ago. Yeah, yeah, that's the whole story in itself and is partly one of our keynotes that were featured on cruise ships about living the dream, whatever your dream is. It doesn't have to be sailing. It can be cooking or opening up a candy store, or gardening or Herbes, or whatever it is. But don't don't wait for that someday. As I say, it's not a day of the week. Do it now. Like really be appreciative and gratitude every day. And I know you come from that 1,000% That's it. That's wonderful. So let's also look at this, what has been one one failure that you've experienced where you've grown and move past it? Because I know that people sometimes my my brothers, again, one of them used to say, oh, you're What is it? "Pollyanna," he called me. Not that I really even knew what a Pollyanna was. But so you're Pollyanna. "Everything looks great to you everything so special." And I said, "Well, that's the way I look at life." Like I do know, there's challenges and problems for sure. And 30 years of marriage, there's been ups and downs. But I'll tell you when you're committed, and you work through those obstacles, and all, which we're going to talk about today. You know, you don't take things for granted. And you you grow through that. There's an expansion and so that's part of that. So I choose to look you know, the half glass full versus a half glass empty and really look at what I'm focused on when I keep creating in my life. What's been something that you've had a failure with that you look at, maybe stop? I don't know, failure, however word you want to use for that. Maybe just a difficult situation, growth period. Aha moment or something like that. Yeah,
yeah, I can, a couple of things come to mind right away. So let's see. One of them we already touched on was when I couldn't find a job right out of nurse practitioner school. That was incredibly difficult. And I kept thinking, you know, because I paid for that education as well. And I kept thinking, am I ever gonna be able to pay this back? And am I ever gonna be able to find a job you know, so that was that was a big and then finding the path to the cruise ships. You know, so now when I you know, it's hindsight is 20, as they say, and so I can look back on that and see how had I found a job right away, that I wouldn't have had that opportunity, I would not have been able to take a job on the cruise ships, I wouldn't have been even able to do those three weeks on board if I had a full time job as a nurse practitioner. So that was an area of growth and of course, its growth looking back on it. It's very difficult when you're in it. I remember being on the cruise ship and having that second contract. In Alaska, I experienced my first patient passing away so my first guest that passed away. And it was so difficult when you work like you said emergency medicine. You know, you work in the emergency room, and patients can be really sick, it can be really, it can, it's awful like you have to, I'm so glad they offer counseling to us when we when certain things happen within the emergency room that are even more traumatic. You do have to start learning to compartmentalize a bit. But I remember that first, that first death, and it happened right before they offered me the job as a nurse practitioner. And we had another brand new nurse on board at the time from another country as well. And I remember afterwards, her blaming me and telling me I had done something wrong in it. And you always have the I mean, I have always there's a piece of imposter syndrome that is sometimes there right? Like Well, maybe I don't really know, maybe I'm I'm really I shouldn't really be doing this, maybe I shouldn't really be a nurse practitioner. Should I even still be a nurse like I already felt that way. Because when you lose a patient, that's how you start to look at things and you have to process them, which is why they give us counseling. But they offered me the job as the nurse practitioner right after that. And I remember my lead nurse coming up to me and saying, so are you going to do it? And I said, Well, I don't know. I'm not even, I just don't know. And I was I started crying. And she said, Well, what's what's wrong? And I said, was something like, I feel like I could have done something more, I should have done something different. And that's exactly what the other nurse told me was that I did do something wrong or whatever. And I remember her saying, "Well, first of all, nobody did anything wrong in this scenario. You guys did everything right. We need to have a debriefing and stuff and talk about it with the doctor and myself and the two of you You both are brand new to cruise ships. And you need to remember that patients come to you in the emergency room packaged by the EMTs you've not been an EMT, and today you were an EMT and that feels very different than it does in the emergency room. You guys did a great job. And I know that's hard to process but I need you to start thinking about it like that." And she said secondly, she said "Anytime you choose to do anything nothing you choose to do ever has to be permanent. You always get to continue to reevaluate so take you know if you want to take the job as the nurse practitioner and if you get out here and you don't really care for it or you think it isn't for you it's not permanent you always can make a change." And that's been something that has stuck with me for the rest of my life.
I love that. That is such good advice Denise especially again for the community listening because I know a lot of people in this community and you know that that kind of first of all for somebody else to say something and then you doubting yourself because they said something but also realizing you're not stuck in anything. Every day I talk about choice points. Right in this moment I have a choice. I have a choice what I want for dinner. I have a choice if I want to go right or left. You know whatever, we have choice points in our life and we're not stuck in anything unless we stick herself there right. Now there's always something that we can change, even little itty bitty steps towards what is it that you desire. This whole podcast is about creating and living the life that you love, so living your best life and I always say on your terms as a tagline because don't compare yourself to someone else it's your life. You know it's what do you want? And then start going towards that and that was part you know, you don't have to have some crisis to to do that. In our case it did get a very attention when Cliff was diagnosed and then he had the heart surgery too and it's just I said to my family there's nothing more important to me I would sell every ounce I have, everything and live with just the shirt on my back if we needed to do that to make sure that he got the best care. Because he's the love of my life you know and just there's no words for that and you know it's fine. Even if we're in a store and he's gone off somewhere and then I he doesn't always see me and I'll wave. Other people hear me but you know it's just we're apart for a short time and you know we see each other again we're just like that that love in the heart is so strong. That's kind of a commitment part of it so but I love what you said though that's great advice. Let's let's jump into the day that you adopted your Yorkie Harley. And you know you started on a journey and a passion for rescues. How did you guys find each other and were you looking for, you know a dog? How did you bump into each other and become family?
That's another fun story. So I got off the cruise ships and ended up I was offered a job in Miami Beach. And so I started working in Miami Beach and lots of people Miami Beach, if you've ever been there, is incredibly pet friendly. People have their animals all over the places. Most restaurants have, well some of the restaurants had on Lincoln Road back in the day and this was more than 10 years ago I have no idea if it's the same but a lot of the menus had dog like dinners you could order when you went to eat. It was just it was so amazingly pet friendly and we had grown up with pets and a love for them as well and so I started looking and I'll never forget. I was in the emergency room and I had a student nurse come up to me and say you know I've kind of seen you on your break perusing. I'm looking to get a dog and she said have you considered adopting a dog? And I said well I don't know a huge amount about that. The only adopting a dog that I remember as a kid was when we went to the feed store and they had puppies in a box and my dad let us bring home a puppy from a box. And so she said well I my job as I've been going through nursing school is I work in a veterinary office here I'm here in the area and she said, "We have a Yorkshire terrier that we've been taking care of in the vet office and his family is going through a divorce and he was the mom's dog and the mom's boyfriend doesn't want the dog or her children and so she's giving up the dog. And so we have this Yorkshire Terrier if you're interested that we've been trying to find a new home for and trying to not take him to the shelter." And I said oh yeah I'm definitely interested. And she said, "Just so you know cuz she said the mom's friend came and got him and took him for a couple of days and then brought him back and said I can't believe it this dog just wants to only be on my lap I can't stand it you're gonna have to take him back so he's been through a bit of trauma we think he's probably been through an additional bit of trauma going through the divorce and the kids it turns out I don't know this for a fact but it turns out he did some resource guarding over his food and treats which means he would growl if anybody got close to him." In fact he had to worry about actually getting bit. Good thing I didn't have a kid at the time until he learned to trust people. He was probably teased with food and neglected which in the midst of trauma everybody in that household was going through trauma so I can only imagine. But she said "If you're still interested you can meet him tonight and if you get along you can take him home." And there landed Harley's and my journey. I ended up bringing him home that night and he you know we both had to learn together. I had to learn to be a pet owner. I'd never had a dog that was my own. So I you know in a lot of ways some people don't like to hear this but they do teach you how to be a parent if you want to look at it like that. Um, it is like I say a lot, it's like having a toddler that never learns how to speak and he had been through trauma and you know lo and behold later on which I think we're going to broach on later might like we talked about at the beginning in my intro I'm now the mom to four littles who came to us through adoption. There's a different mindset and there's a different way you have to be a pet parent with a with a pet who you didn't have from the beginning. And he had a lot of issues that we had to work on and address and I did what I do with nursing and what we just talked about and I'm a continuous learner, and I read and I contacted specialists. But he was so he he just so sweet and loving ultimately and he was my my best buddy. I was in my 30s by that time and it was a time in my life where I remember thinking am I ever gonna get married Am I gonna ever have my own kids but I really don't want to be desperate for that so that I do it with the wrong person. I dated a lot of wonderful men. They will make wonderful husbands for someone else.
But I don't want to I don't want to be with the wrong person and do that just because I want children, and he filled a piece in my heart where that went away. He traveled everywhere with me. We moved from Miami Beach to Rhode Island where I took a travel contract and had Some friends living there. I would I, you know, toss him in the car and he just, we would go to Plymouth Rock. We traveled up to, you know, I didn't have to worry Did anybody want to go with me? Or did I have to go by myself? Well, no, I could just go. It was Harley and I together. We went to Montreal. I actually figured out how to take him across the border. And we drove to Montreal together and did a road trip together. So it was, um, it was amazing. I had a companion. And so he was, that was my that was my story and to Harley.
Well, and what you said they're brought back memories for me, because I was when I was 30. I had figured out, I dated, some people. I was engaged before it didn't work out. And I sort of thought, well, maybe I'm not getting married, maybe I'm not having children. Because at 30, you were supposed to be married back in those days, right. And then I went to Europe and I came back for a course in NLP because I wanted to do it with a certain teacher. I love London England. I would have stayed over there because I love theater and everything. If I didn't have this course. And when it came back to the course, at this point, I had stopped looking, I had accepted that, as long as I have, you know, good wine, and good food and good music and good books and the wilderness sort of outdoors, I'm okay. And then I went into the course. And right off, I wasn't looking, I met Cliff in that course. And, and lo and behold, as I said, 30 years later, 32 years backwards, but 30 years later, you know, when I was when I wasn't looking there, he was. So that's kind of cool. I love that story that you have and it's kind of like going off on your Harley, right? I think that Harley said you and Harley.
Yeah, it really was and you know, there's you learn a lot along the way as you do with anything you're doing. So um, you know, when we talk about his him ending up with diabetes, there were so many things that you could look back, I can look back and say, well, I wonder if I had done this or if I had done that. And that's another learning experience to try to not do that to myself. And instead take his story and, and I turn that into a book where I can educate others like that's what I did with that instead of the what ifs? Well, let me see. Let me write a story. And let me start a blog and, and take that and turn it into that instead.
Love that. And it's interesting, my mom - because I'm writing a book I had to put on hold with this move. So it's been on hold since May. It's just been such a big move, that I'll be getting back to the book next month. And so when I was writing, my mom again, I said she's 94. She said, "Well, I'm going to go write and so she started writing stories of her childhood and growing up and everything else and your story. I was sharing with Cliff the other day he. Every Monday night, he talks to his father, Wednesday, Friday, he raised his father because he can't read now with his eyes. His father's going to be 104 this weekend.
Wow. Congratulations. A big milestone birthday.
Yes. And he was sharing a story with Cliff when he was a child, not a child who was 18 or 19 some other child and anyway a horse was involved getting this horse and Cliff wrote a story for him for his birthday. And I just read it this morning before we talked and you know I said oh you because I gave Harley store it to him to read. Thank you for that by the way the autographed copy of course very sweet of you. And you know he's with a horse who has like been abused or something he'd had part of the book coming from the story from the horse I said oh you do but Denise did I love that you inspired him to have that in the story.
I love it. Oh that is and what a special thing for his dad.
He's gonna vote he's reading to him this afternoon because he's going to be busy tomorrow with grandchildren calling and all the rest and playing the fiddle for him and stuff so that's kind of cool
Well and I love that your mom is writing her stories down that is absolutely priceless to have those stories.
it is and my brother he remembers everything I don't the same so I said mom write it down. If you write it down I'll have it. Otherwise I don't remember things like that. But so your journey let's just briefly, we know that you but we know because I of course I learned who you were and invited you because you're a very special person and very heart, heartfelt person. You know you have this infertility journey in your you know, and you went through a part there that you know, you were really angry about forgiving your body and fertility again, I have people in this community that have issues with their body and that and I love the idea that you you know how did you heal that part of you to go and learn not to be angry with yourself and just be sort of loving yourself, not sort of loving herself? What lessons did you learn there on that path? That's a big question. I always have the questions.
It's definitely a big question, you know, it was interesting. So my husband and I went through four rounds of infertility treatments. And we actually did it in Prague. So that we took a little bit of the pressure off of the fact that it was all about the infertility stuff, which I still to this day, I love the fact that we did that. But it every time I read a book on infertility, it just, it didn't resonate with me. It never, you know, and I, everybody has their own journeys, as we know. And I would read the books, and there'd be information about how to talk to your husband, and, you know, oh, this is, this is, um, we argue. There's finger pointing at each other, and how do you talk to your husband about the fact that he's blaming you, or that you're blaming him, and we really never had any of that. My, my husband, when we were dating, now, we got married at 36. So I'm going to be 48 this year. But we when we met, and we started dating, very early on in our dating, and I don't know if it's the nursing background in me or what, but I said to him, How important are biological children to you? I'm 36 years old. That means I'm considered an aged maternal - I can't even I don't even I don't remember the word because I hate the word that they use to describe anybody over 35
Labels. I don't like labels.
Yeah, I just I can't stand it. So I said, but I don't know if I can have a child or not, I've never tried. And so if that's really important, and a deal breaker for you, I want to know that now. Because we need I don't want to fall in love with you get married to you and find out that this was a deal breaker and end up not together anymore. And he immediately, there wasn't a beat involved in it. He said we'll adopt. And we got married about six months after we started dating. So just to give a little background on that. So because I didn't know at the time that his father was adopted, as well as his aunts. His grandparents adopted all of their kids. And so he had adoption in his family and it really he didn't miss a beat. It was we'll just adopt. So, you know, fast forward, we go through infertility and I, we didn't i didn't have the issues that I was reading about in books. And then I read a book by Jen Hat maker called Fierce Free and Full of Fire. And in that book, she talks about our bodies and a lot of her information that she talks about with being free. That portion of it she gained from a Dr. Hillary McBride. I don't know if you've heard of her. But Dr. Hillary McBride's first book was Mothers Daughters and Body Image. In it through Hillary so I've got it it's kind of both of them together right? Because Jen Hat maker is writing about what what she learned from Hillary. In fact, she just did a podcast again it was I think her third one she did with Hillary McBride just recently and in it Hillary McBride recommends to call in our bodies the 'her' and really connecting with our bodies that we're all part of one, right? It's it's our mind bodies that we're all it's all connected. Um, and instead of being angry at your body and disconnecting from 'her', you she recommended writing down the things that your body has done for you. And so I realized in that moment, how angry I was at my body, and that I felt that my body had betrayed me. So this may be TMI, I don't know how many male listeners you have. But I started my menstrual cycle on the day of my 11th birthday. And I did not miss a month after that, all the way through to when I'm married, and I'm trying to have a child. And that entire time I always thought, well, getting pregnant should be easy. That shouldn't be a problem. Because I'm so regular. Everything should just fall into place. And when it didn't, I realized that I looked at my body as my body betraying me. And when I went through this exercise that Jen Hat maker wrote about in Fierce Free and Fall of Fire and that she learned from Hillary McBride. I sat down and wrote a list of the things my body had done for me. Helping me complete a sprint triathlon. You know, helping me travel around the world backpacking in Italy. All of these things that my body had done for me allowing me to learn how to scuba dive. And then taking that to a piece of forgiveness.
Now, like I
It was a journey, it was a process.
And that's, that's a great exercise. And thank you to referring to the books because, again, you know, I love that people can take away the wisdom that you're sharing, and places they can go read in that because, you know, for them to have strategies and tools that they can implement right now, you know, today. They don't have to wait again. That's that choice point again and go and do that exercise. And, you know, in our bodies are miracles, if you really think about it. I know, one day I was looking down at my, my wrist and seeing the pulse. You don't want to look at that. It's doing that all by itself, you know, just well, you know that as a nurse,.
It is truly amazing.
It's truly amazing. When you think about this journey you've had though, you know, in some ways, you could have had children. You might have had four children. You might have one child, but with this path that you co created. That's how I look at co-creating our life, that you and your husband found these four beautiful children and you became an instant family. And if you'd gone down another path, maybe that wouldn't have happened. Did you guys think about that?
Oh, yes, we would have never, we would have never been open to adopting four children. Had we even had one. Just In fact, yeah, we've talked about that many times. And oftentimes, so they moved in with us that when they moved in, they were 1, 2, 3 and four, they are now four, five, six, and seven. Which sometimes I say, you know, I never anticipated being a mother of four littles at 48. And then I think, well, but my first round of IVF child would have been the age of my oldest, and the last round of IVF would have been the age of my youngest. So that's not really true, you need to be honest with yourself, you would have been a mother of 48 of young kids. And this is just how they came to you. And you know, we call ourselves we call ourselves a forever family like who rescued who is is applies to our our current dogs that we rescued, which we rescued, Sierra, after the kids moved in about a month after they moved in. And we just you just can't they rescued us right back, we rescue them. And I'll say to them, you know, and this is this is from our I happen to have a Christian background. And this, you know, I say they'll say, Mommy, are you going to have a baby? And we say, you know, mommy and daddy tried to have birth kids. But God had different plans for us. Do you know what that was? And they pointed themselves.
And the first time that happened, I bawled. Within the first four months of them moving in, which is why they tell you to go ahead and go get counseling prior to adopting children when you, well, just in general. And then after having had IVF, we went through a private agency, and we got a whole bunch of parenting classes. And we went through counseling, and part of it is to also and amazingly enough, it took another couple years before the books and coming to terms with my own body. But I was really glad I had been through counseling about the IVF having been unsuccessful, because there are triggers, you know, and it's but this was a beautiful trigger. This was a beautiful, Ahh; you know, this was the beautiful ending to what might have been painful for mommy and daddy. And it's a beautiful ending to your story as well, which is not the ending and you know, your birth mommy and daddy, they they will and we know this about the birth their birth mom, we know nothing about their birth dad, really. But you know, they loved you, she loved you. And she made a choice to give you a better life. And, you know, when you're older, we will help you know we'll help you find them if any of you're interested in finding your birth parents. Because we know that she surrendered them and we still have contact with one of their half siblings. So you know, it wasn't it wasn't about not loving them. And that's so important for kids from tough places. And it's still I mean, it's not something that you repair with one word, right? It's not something you repair with a sentence. It's not repairable. It's something that you just continue to grow with your children and, you know, work your way through it with them. Because there's going to always be kind of an underlining, "Did I get abandoned?" Because whatever adoption, there's a loss. So we have a beautiful story of who rescued who. But that doesn't take away from the loss. And if you ignore that loss, then you ignore a huge piece of them, and a huge piece of yourself.
Good sharing that. Denise, when you talk about 'dishing all things family', what does that mean?
Well, my blog started out being all about dog health and wellness, and all the things I learned about animals. So Harley got diagnosed with Well, first he was obese. And I was prescribed a prescription dog food for him that I gave him without any thought whatsoever about what was happening. And then, just before I got married in 2010, he got diagnosed with diabetes. And I called up our vet and said, "Harley is drinking more water, he is eating more food feel acts like he's hungry all the time. And he's peeing all the time, and having accidents, and he's been potty trained from the entire time I've had him. He's really not had any accidents in the house. So in a human, for me, that's diabetes, what is that a dog." And our vet said, it was an hour, but because I wasn't married yet it, my dad said, "Diabetes, you better bring him in." And sure enough, his blood sugar was over 400. And so he, the vet had said, you know, a lot of times, with animals with diabetes, their humans don't know what symptoms to look for, we're very lucky that you did. A lot of times, they'll bring their pet in, and it'll be too late. They'll already be an organ failure. And we'll end up having to put them down. So this is great that you knew the symptoms to watch for. And that kind of started me down the path of, well, I don't want anybody to ever not know what they're looking for if I can help that. And then they prescribed a prescription dog food for me, for him a diabetic dog food. And I started doing my research. And turned out that the very first, the very first filler in it was ground beets, which is in essence, sugar. And I'm like, this is a prescription diet for for a diabetic dog. Like, what is ground sugar doing is your first filler. And I went in and I talked to the vet about it, and she called the company. And the company said, Tell your client to stop picking apart our dog food and edited it. And she she looked at me and she goes, don't worry. Just go figure out what you're going to feed him and come back and tell me.
There you go.
I know you're gonna do your research, just go figure. And so I did. So I went figured it out. And that's where the blog came from. So dishing is really kind of my funny way of saying that I'm going to share with you I'm going to dish about you know that that kind of slang term about talking about just about everything. And so after the kids moved in, I was trying to maintain two blogs, which I still don't maintain even that blog quite as well as I would like. I'd like to write a bit more. People all the time asking when do we hear the next part of the story? When do we hear the next part of the story? But I morphed them into - I had very, very good advice from a friend at work from women in the pet industry, one of Shawna that runs women in the pet industry. And she said, just combine the blogs. Denise stop stressing yourself out about trying to write for two blogs, you don't even have time to write for one blog. the book came out in 2013, my initial version of it and then in April of this year, the company that I had done a self publishing through for Harley. Harley's story initially started out being exactly what I just said. Except for I was like, I just want to give this to friends and family. It's kind of a memorial at the time. Harley had passed away. He does not in the book, to step away, which you already know. But my mom had said you used to love to write. So why don't you write. You have something to, you have something to say. So I thought well, I'm going to write this and then I'm going to take it to like Shutterfly and print out a couple books and give them to some friends and family. And then people started asking to buy it and where they can get it. So my mom actually helped me find the self publishing division of Reader's Digest called Life Rich Publishing and that is where I did the first version of it. They don't edit You supply them with the pictures. You supply them with the content and they help you put it together which ultimately was amazing. I couldn't have done it by myself. At the time I didn't know how to do it. So they were wonderful. But earlier this year in January, February, I got an email from them. I didn't really see it like I saw a couple things. Here a couple cents there, you know, but that's not why I wrote it. I didn't really write it to make money. But they sent me this message and said, You know, we're going to stop the binding on your particular book. So if you want to keep it on our shelves, then we need another, like $2,000 or something like that. I don't remember how much. And I remember going to my husband and saying, I don't think I've made $2,000 from the book. So we're probably not, and I'm looking at him going, we're probably not going to spend that right.
And he's like, no, because my husband is very much about the fact that we are going to retire someday. Which is a good thing. Thanks to him, I will get to retire someday. But I said, well, what about now that I know more about it? How about if I do some rewriting, some editing some of the pictures that aren't of great, quality? I can pay somebody to do sketches of them. And I'll pay for a quality editor, somebody to edit it, because we can do that, if that's still way under that was only a couple $100 to do all that. And yeah, he said, Yes, that's fine. So I have a second version of it. And that's the version you have now that just came out in April. And I already knew I wanted to do a series - goodness knows when I'll get to it. Since the blog doesn't even get written on very often. I have a whole stack of books, because my next one will be about the Rainbow Bridge and grief for kids. I don't know if you know about the Rainbow Bridge, but I have a stack of books on kids in grief. And to read to do my research before that I work on the second book. But I did get out the second book of this. So it's the end of my series, it's called Life Lessons From Friends, as you mentioned at the beginning.
Yeah, so my series, but you know, is called The Little Book of Infinite Possibilities. And it's a trilogy. So it's a play on words. And, you know, it's just like, sit down, start writing. You just take that one day again every day. And I know that I watched you on one of your videos help, you know, with the confidence to write a book and then turning this dream into reality, when you got your book in the mail and held that book in your hands is truly, you know, it's an accomplishment.
It's an amazing feeling. I don't know that there's words to describe it, right? It just you wrote it. And it's this beautiful thing. And it's this beautiful thing to share. And hopefully, it's had connections; Harley stories had connections. I don't know about your book, but it's had connections I never even dreamed when I wrote it. Um, you know, I've gone to diabetic walks for children for juvenile diabetes, and been there with the book. And kids pick up the book and they're just like, wait a minute, you mean a dog can have what I have. The looks on their faces, that's priceless. That's absolutely priceless. And then if it saves even one animal that somebody reads it and then you probably saw in the book, one of my what I call her I called her and her brother my junior editors because they read the initial version of my book. And they were very they're much older now, one of them even graduated from high school. She can ended up going back to her parents a little while later and saying I'm peeing more frequently and I'm drinking more water and that's kind of like what Harley did. And sure enough unfortunately she's got juvenile diabetes. I mean even if that was the only thing that came out of the book was that my my really good friends daughter knew early on about her symptoms to tell her parents about it. That would have been enough. That would have done it for me. That would have been plenty but now I see my adopted children pick up the book and they're learning about rescue and we're having a birthday party for two of them here in a couple of weeks and it's going to all be about rescue. We have little stuffies that people, the kids can choose a dog or a cat and then they can make a collar for him and then they're going to take them to a vet station and do a little vet check and then they get an adoption certificate at the end. So rescuing is just part of our family now and Harley started that for me.
I'm just reading that at the back - that would be Alina Brown at age eight. It was very touching, what you wrote, because she said like no it helped me understand that people and dogs can have diabetes and that there are special things they must do to stay well, like checking blood sugar's eating healthy. Like Harley's story and learn a lot about diabetes too. Yeah, that's just to find out what that is and get the knowledge and you know there's so much here to go over with you I'm trying to figure it out with our listeners like you know we could have you back and..
I'm happy to come back. I would be happy to come back. We made such a pleasant conversation as well.
Yeah, it's a lot of fun because there's a lot of areas I want to dive deeper into. And and I think that would be a good idea.
Okay. You We'll just plan on that.
We'll just plan on that. And sooner versus later, you know, I'll sketch it out. So you'll hear her soon, Denise again.. For this episode, today, I'd like you to share with our listeners the special gift, because I always like it to be unique for the listeners that you'd like to give to them today. And I always put the links to that gift and how they can reach you, become part of your movement and your passion and purpose. It'll be listed in the show notes. So if you could share that that would be wonderful to use.
So I am going to create two things for your listeners. One is the power of pets, and how your pets can actually help with your own health. Things, for instance, like owning a dog actually helps increase your activity. And there are ways that they decrease stress and can help with post traumatic stress and depression and anxiety. So I'm going to create something about the power of pets and how they help with your health, your own health, as well as how to choose a dog food, since that had such an impact on Harley's health, and something that I really didn't know about before. So I would like to create something for your listeners for that as well.
I love that. And I want to dive deep into that conversation when we meet again, soon, on the whole thing of animals and how it's a two way thing. You're there for the animal, but they also, you know, with people, like we'll dive into COVID and everything with anxiety and stress and you know that whole thing that just petting an animal can decrease that. So that'd be really nice to dive into that. And thank you for creating that. I'd also like to say and I haven't added this before, but I'm going to start adding it to the interviews that people listening today if you want to hear more of these heartfelt conversations and wisdom like Denise today, I would love for you to like, share and subscribe to this show. And then you won't miss any future episodes when these guests are coming on. Denise Thank you. This has been really wonderful and you have shared from your heart and soul. Your beautiful wisdom and life story. It's so much more to go on life lessons from fur friends. Namaste Denise.