BR two years agoTwo years seems like such a long time in many ways, but in others, it is no time at all. Two years ago today, my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg was in the midst of a medical crisis. She went into the hospital with Congestive Heart Failure, Cellulitis, and Severe Sleep Apnea. She was in a lot of trouble. Her future looked very grim. Brenda had a big decision to make, and she had to make that decision for herself, because no one could do it for her. Brenda either had to lose weight…a lot of weight, or she was not going to live much longer.

Believe it or not, most people would have given up at that point, but Brenda isn’t most people. She decided that 50 years was not enough to call a full life. She wanted more. Nevertheless, the task of losing the weight and actually getting in shape seemed daunting. To really get into the kind of shape she needed to, Brenda would need to lose about 340+ pounds. Of course, part of that was going to be skin in the end, but it would take at least 340 pounds to get to a good weight for her 5’3″ frame. Nevertheless, losing the weight was only going to be part of the transition for Brenda.

In order to be healthy and keep the weight off, Brenda was going to have to get some activity into her life. The logical activity was one that a number of her family members love to do…hiking. For Brenda, the hike began indoors at Sunrise Shopping Center. That first hike was a short one, because it took everything she had in her to do it. Using a walker, and stopping frequently, she made that first hike. The short indoor hike using a walker is far in Brenda’s past now. These days, Brenda loves to hike Casper Mountain, with the Bridle Trail at the top of the list. Two years ago, the Bridle Trail seemed an impossible dream, but no more. The Bridle Trail is one that Brenda now hikes often.

One of the things that Brenda was told is that at some point, she will not look at activity as exercise, but as fun activity. I know that she never thought that day would come either, but these days, exercise is a thought that is far in Brenda’s past, and activity is what she does now. Brenda has become an inspiration to many people, BR after two yearswho have begun to follow in her footsteps now. She has decided to try to become a mentor to others who are in the position she was in. She wants to let people know that they can change their life, and all it really takes in the first step.

Today, as Brenda celebrates two years of really living, she will celebrate with a hike…of course. A group of her friends and family will hike the Bridle Trail. I have to wonder what Brenda is thinking about this years hike. What had seemed like an impossible dream is now a possible reality. Looking back and reflecting on all she has done, and just how far she has come, one realizes just what an amazing accomplishment this has been. For anyone who thinks they can’t do this, I recommend that you ask my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg what she thinks about that. I can tell you, without a doubt that she would tell you to focus on the finish line, and never give up. The impossible is possible, but only if you don’t quit. The only way to fail to reach your goal is to quit. Congratulations Brenda!! You have come a long way, and the future is bright now. Never quit, and you will always be strong and healthy. We love you!!

BR on May 7, 2013It isn’t very often that a person can decide one day to change their entire life…and then stick to it. Even if the change was made to save their life. Humans aren’t usually a strong willed bunch. Nevertheless, when someone makes up their mind that they want to live and that they want to live life to the fullest, it can be done. My sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg is an amazing example of such will power. When she first started this journey, she didn’t think she could do it, but now she won’t quit.

When Brenda was told that she had Cellulitis, Congestive Heart Failure, and Sleep Apnea, she didn’t sit down and cry about it, saying that her life was over, so she might just as well, give up. No, she decided that she was going to take back her life, and move forward. Her journey has been an amazing one, and it was all done is a very April 29, 2014 to April 29, 2015short time. From October 18, 2013 when she first went to the hospital to the current time, Brenda has lost over 300 pounds. She is within a pound or two of her goal weight, and then will begin weight maintenance.

Much has changed in Brenda’s life. I don’t think that she ever dreamed that she would spend so much time hiking…or that she would love to go hiking. There are several of us in the family who love to hike, and I have to wonder if Brenda used to think we were all crazy. Well, welcome to the nut house Brenda. Now, I’m sure there are people in your life who think you are just a little bit crazy too. In all reality though, hiking is so fun and relaxing. Once you get started on it, it is really hard to think about not going.

On the Platte River TrailOf course, Brenda still works full time, but her job is a little bit easier to do these days. Trying to work when you spend your entire life exhausted is no fun, but now that Brenda has lots of energy, the only time she is very tired is at bedtime, and that is normal. That in itself is a huge change, since Brenda spent most of her weekends sleeping in an effort to feel rested. It still wasn’t enough sleep. No more!! Now, Brenda is an inspiration to those around her…either that…or they just find her exhausting. It doesn’t matter which it is, because Brenda isn’t going back. She loves her new life, and all the activity in it. She loves hiking, and being outdoors, and will go even in the rain. It’s a “have raincoat, will hike” situation. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Another year better!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageimageAs many of you already know, on October 18, 2013, my sister-in-law, Brenda went to the hospital with a case of cellulitis, and congestive heart failure. She spent a total of 23 days, between Wyoming Medical Center and Elkhorn Rehab Hospital, re-learning to walk. Then, on November 11, 2013, she was released. She had made amazing strides, but she had a long way to go. At that point, many people would have quit, but not Brenda. She was determined to take back her life…and make it better. She determined that she would never be in this position again, if there was any way out of it. Brenda set out on a quest to get in shape. She joined Weight Watchers Online, and she exercised. She walked every day, increasing the length of her walks as soon as she was able. She worked out with weights and did sit to stands from a chair with no hands. She was determined not to need assistance for any longer than was absolutely necessary…and I can tell you that she would not accept very much help. She was determined to do it alone. I have never seen a person so determined in my life.

With the coming of summer, her walks have gotten a little hot inside Sunrise Shopping Center, so she has started walking on a trail behind the Senior Citizens Center. That is a nice fairly flat concrete trail, so it worked well for her. Most of the time she doesn’t use her walker anymore, but on those long walks, she does, because it allows her to keep up her speed and still be safe and in the event of needing to stop. The trail provided her with some much needed fresh air, as well as a change of scenery.

And speaking of scenery, a while back, my sister-in-law, Jennifer, Brenda’s sister, started talking to Brenda about doing a little bit of hiking. I’m sure Brenda thought that was impossible at first, but when Jennifer mentioned new trail at Garden Creek Falls, which has been upgraded to make it a little more accessible, Brenda began to think that maybe…just maybe it was possible. Well, a couple of days ago, Brenda and Jennifer made that hike, and the impossible became not only possible, but reality. Brenda was surprised that it was so hard, but she persevered and she made it. Her efforts were rewarded with the beauty of Garden Creek Falls, the sounds of the falling water, the birds, and the shade of the trees adding a coolness to their rest at the falls. Brenda thought the hike back down was a lot easier, but imageimageJennifer was a little worried about going down hill. Nevertheless, Brenda made it, and I think she got hooked. She wants to go back on October 18th…one year after her journey began, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she went back before that. Brenda we are all so proud of your accomplishments. You have shown a lot of people what is possible…as long as they never give up. You have excelled, and you can do anything you set your mind to. Congratulations!!!

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