A Letter for You

AprilThere are so many possibilities out there and I hope you are taking them. I hope you have recognized just how special you are and the power you have to become all you dream of becoming. Your life is all you have and it can be all that you want it to be. Work hard. Work harder than everyone else. Do not wait for tomorrow, do it now. Because sometimes, those days never come.

Understand that sometimes life gives you struggles. But you have the opportunity to grow from it. You must decide who you want to be and fight for all you can be.  Be better today because of what happened yesterday. Make mistakes, have regrets, and learn from failure. Actually, fail all the time. Fail every day if you want. Just learn from it, grow past it, and do not let it steal you away. Love all your decisions, even if they turn out to be the biggest mistakes.

The scars you can never erase, the ones you try to hide sometimes- they are beautiful. You have lived. You have survived. It’s okay to stand out. I understand we all want to fit in, we all want to be accepted. But sometimes fate is a different story. Sometimes, it’s not for you to fit in. Do not be ashamed of that. Do not be ashamed of who you are. Don’t try and hide it. Embrace it.

Your stories are something I could defiantly learn from. Maybe perhaps even inspire me. & if you have the potential to inspire one person, you have the potential to inspire the world. Be a story worth telling. & tell it. Inspire me.

Your success, it does not lie all in what you have accomplished, but also what you have failed to do. You have been taught to be open and you have accepted challenges which have refined your skills, your being. Face your fears, prove yourself.

Always be kind. Your actions speak much louder than words. People deserve kindness. Do not waste your life being cold or trying to get ahead of everyone else. Do not waste time only helping yourself. I hope you find time to help others, and I hope they help you.

There is a reason behind every one you meet. Some will make you better, some will test you, and some will disappoint you. Do not take things personally. I have had people doubt me.  Be the bigger person and do not give them your time of day. They don’t deserve it.

I hope you get lost. In who you are. I hope you do not get lost in expectations, in materialistic things, or hate.

Those difficult days, which are full of failure and disappointments, I hope you find patience. Know you always have a chance. Whatever it is you want, it’s not going to come easy. It’s going to challenge you. You have to prove yourself. Know that you could have a million reasons why something is impossible. But one reason why, is far greater than all the reasons why not.

I hope you feel blessed. In the good, the bad, and the ugly. You may not feel it all the time, trust me I understand, but take a moment and look around. There is something to be thankful for, always.

I hope you find happiness. Within yourself. I hope you stay true to yourself. Live your truth, the way you want to. Do not ever pretend to be something you are not. You have one life- only one. You won’t be given this chance ever again.

Even if you lose it all, even if the sky comes crashing down on you, I hope you find strength. I hope you do not let it defeat you. You are much stronger than your circumstances.

What I want most for you is a life full of lessons. I hope you live long enough to get wrinkles and I hope you live life to the fullest. I hope it is full of excitement. I hope in good days and in bad, you find a reason to smile. I hope you smile every chance you get. Nobody’s life is perfect and far from easy. You have the choice to be grateful for all that you have and all that you may never know or understand.


Ivana was born in Sanski Most, Bosnia & Herzegovina, but moved to Canada at the age of three. She was diagnosed with LGMD a few years ago, and it has forever changed her life. She is a regular contributor, and her blogs will be everything she has learned along the way, and what she continues to learn today.


Your Wounds Are Part Of Who You Are

‘Bad things happen to good people.’ It’s a phrase I have heard dozens of times in my life. It’s also a phrase that I hoped would stay clear of my family, my friends, and myself. However, sometimes you can’t stay clear forever. This blog is quite the exact opposite of my last one, a total 360. The reason being, there is no way you could ever measure a happy life without sadness in the picture; happiness would lose its meaning.

Everyone tells you to think positive, and you will have a happier and healthier life. As children, we make lemonade, and are taught to see the glass have full. But, there are moments that can change everything. We learn at a young age to buckle our seatbelts, to wear a helmet, and look both ways before we cross the street. We do our best. But sometimes, it makes no difference. Bad things come… and they come out of nowhere. There is no warning. This past summer, my sister had a terrible accident, a close family friend, and aunt died, and I had an accident at work. It was just one hit after the other. I felt like I was getting the wind knocked out of me, while I was still on the ground struggling to pick myself up from the last hit. Usually when something bad happens that affects me, I shake it off. Pretend it’s not there and pay no attention to it. Would it do any good anyway? But, you do need to heal. You need to feel your feelings, things need to be said and you need to go through the whole process, whatever it may be. To allow yourself to heal, you need to be a victim for a moment. After that, you are what you choose to become.

My cards are folded. I cannot change them. I have to live with them. They are what make up my year, my life. But sometimes, I lose myself. Sometimes, I want to pick up those cards, and send them flying over a tall building. Sometimes, I wish I could restart. Give back the deck and get a new one. As much as I think I have had the worst of luck- I cannot think that way. My sister is still here with me, and both my aunt, and family friend are out of pain. As for me, I survived. My wounds will heal. There is still an inner voice within me, and even though sometimes it’s a soft whisper, it still reminds me that I am strong enough. That I can be more. This is when never losing hope plays a role. The little reminder that things can get better. Things do change and it is not always what it seems.

So when things get tough, understand that it’s okay to not have on that brave face. I think it’s okay to break down, scream, cry, question. Because it’s only when you lose everything, can you rebuild. The hard things that have happened in my life have made my voice a little louder. To this day, I know my sister did not deserve what happened to her. I do not think I deserved what happened to me. My aunt did not deserve to be in so much pain on the last few months of her life, nor did she deserve to lose her life to a battle she never asked to fight. Our family friend should have kept on smiling and spending time with the ones she loved most. My mind will never change on that. So why? I cannot change their cards, just as I cannot change mine.

All I hope for is that you know how to play those cards, and you play them well. What I have realized more than before is that we do not get to decide what will happen to us, however, we can decide how we are going to live. Is the life you are living now how you want to live? Is this the best you can be? You have the power to decide.

There are memories, no matter how much I think about it, no matter how much I try, I can never bring it back. There is no going back. Despite it all, I believe there will be an end to the storm. It will not destroy me. I may have felt it rip me apart and the winds may have slowed me down but when all is done, is when I have learned. This is when I have realized, just how strong I am. That if I can survive one storm, I am strong enough for one more, and one more. Pain in life is bound to happen. Nobody can escape it. Sometimes it makes you feel like life is against you and you cannot do anything but feel worthless in the moment. Then, perhaps you wonder, do I deserve this pain? No… I don’t think so. Perhaps it means you are growing and perhaps there is something to be learned. What happens to us does not define our lives. It lies in what we do about what happens. Your power lies in your response, not in your circumstances.

Life will never be perfect, no matter how hard you try. There will be days that make you question yourself, that make you feel like you’re losing your battle. Your heart will break, and life, for a split second, may feel too hard.  Overall, you should never be ashamed or embarrassed by your wounds. I used to want to hide it, but now I embrace it. It’s a part of who I am. I am proud of my scars and overcoming every bump in the road was greater than anything else I ever did. My wounds made me dig deep and find something inside I didn’t know I had. My wounds had revealed me.


Ivana was born in Sanski Most, Bosnia & Herzegovina, but moved to Canada at the age of three. She was diagnosed with LGMD a few years ago, and it has forever changed her life. She is a regular contributor, and her blogs will be everything she has learned along the way, and what she continues to learn today.

Learn to Make Yourself Happy

TAAZ-makeover1Happiness. You can’t fight the feeling when you feel it, and you can’t hide it when you crave what it used to be. I thought certain aspects of life might tear me down – especially with what others might think – but I have never allowed myself to be defined by what other people had to say about who I was. It was through lessons, and challenging myself that got me to where I am now. I learned to put myself first. Yes, sometimes there are individuals who see my flaws, and perceive them as something they don’t want to deal with –it’s just easier that way. Unfortunately, I cannot walk away from myself, and I’m not sure I ever would. I am able to accept my weaknesses, and nobody can use that against me. I know who I am, and who I am not. Yes, we all want to be accepted, and loved. But it has to start with yourself.

I want you to be happy. I want you to not rush getting a mortgage, getting married, or growing up. When I was younger, all I wanted was to grow up. I wanted to wear make-up, and drive a car and feel the wind blowing in my hair. Now, I’d trade everything to start over, and appreciate those days spent making snow forts, and eating popsicles. You can’t go back, but you can step back. When I stepped back, I had a chance to see what I could not see before. I saw what was worth fighting for, I felt my life get brighter, and at the same time I felt my heart become emptier. I found kindness where I did not even know it existed. So have patience in today, in tomorrow. Learn to love yourself, even within in the things you cannot change.

Being happy with yourself is something you have to learn. It’s something that will not happen overnight. Waiting for my diagnosis, there were many days where I would distract myself with school, friends, family- anything so I didn’t have to think about it. Behind it all, I wasn’t happy. Which is why I held back on so many things; things I now regret. Somehow, I knew in my heart, I could not love someone unless I loved myself first. Nobody was going to fill the gap for me. I had to do it for myself. Now, after years (yes, years) of growing and learning, I am at peace with myself. I found happiness not by what I gained, but by doing what I was willing to endure.

I hope you find happiness, and I hope it starts with yourself. I hope you don’t settle just because you think it’s what you’re supposed to be doing. Most importantly, I hope you never lose sight of the most important things in life, the things money can’t buy. Take time to reflect on life. Take time to take care of yourself. You deserve it. If you want to start over, every day will bring you a new chance. Don’t worry about what’s going on around you. You’re not meant to follow the crowd in society, you’re not meant to lose yourself out there. Nobody who has ever achieved anything great has followed the book or the crowd. Everything can be taken from you: your possessions; your health; your rights. But nobody can take away what is in your heart, your thoughts, and the freedom to use both. To be happy with yourself will not take a day. It took me lots of little steps to be able to reach where I am now. Not everything will be easy and perhaps far from what you expected, but you must choose to be grateful for all that you have. Happiness comes from knowing that this is your only chance to live this life, no matter how it turns out.


Ivana was born in Sanski Most, Bosnia & Herzegovina, but moved to Canada at the age of three. She was diagnosed with LGMD a few years ago, and it has forever changed her life. She is a regular contributor, and her blogs will be everything she has learned along the way, and what she continues to learn today.

Speaking of Adventure

AdventureI recently watched an interview with Diane Sawyer and I really liked a piece of advice her father gave her. He said, “Do what you love, do it in the most adventurous place, and make sure it helps people.” I had a previous blog that was all about the importance of being more involved and helping as much as you can. Now, I am hoping to cover the adventurous part of Diane Sawyer’s father’s advice.

There will be a lot of people telling you what is best for you. I am sure there are lots of people who want to keep you inside a safe little bubble and tell you that because of your disability or some other limitation (money, education, etc.,) that some things just aren’t possible for you. Can I tell you something? Their wrong… Before my diagnosis was even confirmed, my parents were skeptical about sending me to school away from home because they knew some things would take longer for me to do and I would get tired more easily, but I did not want that kind of life. I did not want to not try. So despite everything, I went my own way. I had a feeling inside me, a light that was not ready to die down. At the end of the day, I did not want to stop living the life I dreamed for myself just because something was trying to slow me down. Yes, I have had to take some detours and maybe running the marathon isn’t in the books for me anymore, but it doesn’t mean I have to give up on all the adventures. Living on my own for five years, I learned to be who I was and learned to live with all that I was not.

If you want to go somewhere, do your research and know there is always a way. I find that no matter where you go, the world is very accommodating. I was at an airport in Germany a few years ago and the moment I stepped off the plane there was an employee that showed me the route to the elevators and to baggage claim. Going into a different country I thought I would be struggling, but everyone was very kind and I never had a problem. So if you want to have an adventure, go. This could be as simple as going to a part of the city you have always wanted to explore, or as elaborate as visiting a different country. Travel the world as much as you can because those experiences cannot be bought and you will be so grateful for all the adventures you take.

Do what you love, no matter how badly it starts off. Do what makes you happy because sometimes, what you do can make all the difference in the world. If you don’t have a plan, that’s okay! You are allowed to get lost because you will get through it. Be brave and believe in something bigger than you – something that you might even never understand. Work hard and risk it even if you don’t know what you are doing. You will not go empty handed. What you will discover, at the least, is yourself. I had a choice, just as you do: to live a life of conformity and have a peace of mind, or to let go of what you are holding onto so tightly- security. I do not know where I would be had I picked security. It would have been easy to say yes to everyone around me; however, I know it would have been more damaging. Adventure gave me time, it gave me hope, and I promise you, adventure will give you life.


Ivana was born in Sanski Most, Bosnia & Herzegovina, but moved to Canada at the age of three. She was diagnosed with LGMD a few years ago, and it has forever changed her life/ She is a regular contributor, and her blogs will be everything she has learned along the way, and what she continues to learn today.

Life’s Gifts

Life's Gifts

Christmas is one of my most favourite holidays; I even love it more than my birthday. Not because of presents, or cookies, or great store deals. I love it for reasons that are far from hot chocolate and peppermint candy canes.

During the holidays, I feel especially blessed. I find myself asking, How did I ever get so lucky? Maybe you think I am crazy (it’s okay, I think the same thing sometimes too,) because how can you ever feel lucky when your whole life is a battle? Well I’ll tell you why…

In life you are going to meet two kinds of people: There are the ones that spend their lives chasing after the next promotion, and will never be able to give you an answer as to what they are chasing after. Then there are the ones who know about taking chances and forgiving those who did them wrong – they have learned the lessons of life, and do not take anything for granted. They know about doing the right thing even when nobody is watching. Their character is rare in the simplest form.   From them, you will learn everything worth knowing. These are the individuals who will show you all that you are, and not all that you aren’t.

Family and friends are pretty amazing. They always know how to brighten my day, even when they are hundreds of kilometres away. They add a little sparkle to my life. A million words wouldn’t be enough to describe how grateful I am to have them. How much love and respect I feel in my heart. These are the individuals who inspire me and lighten my load. Something money could never buy.

Years ago – while I was too busy jumping through the sprinkler, or running after the ice cream truck – I never thought about the importance of great friends and family. That’s just the thing though; you don’t appreciate your health until it’s taken away, and you don’t appreciate the ones you love until they are gone. I never thought about how important friends and family where until I needed them the most.

My life changed, and things were unfolding out of my hands. One moment I was walking through the sunshine, feeling the warm breeze around me, then I blinked and it suddenly became a blizzard. My world had torn in half. I knew I had to fight through it, and I was all alone. My biggest fear was not if I would ever survive the storm, it was what happened if the storm passed, and left me with nothing?

The ones around me were the ones that made things clear again. It was because of each and every single one of them that the storm got a little easier to handle. I know I am the only one who can fight this battle, nobody can do it for me. But I know I have never been alone through it. There are the ones that have carried me through it. They could not fight it for me, but they have got me back on my feet when my struggles have proven too much to handle. I was wrong about a lot of things, but I was right about one thing – I was right to trust that people come into your life exactly when you need them to. If there is one day, one point in time, where you should reflect on your life, it’s during the holidays. Maybe every day is hard for you, maybe life just doesn’t give you a break – I think we all go through that sometimes. But, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, there should be at least one day where you reflect on what you have, and not what you are missing. I hope during the holidays you find joy around the ones you love. I hope everyone has something to eat, and something warm to wear. I hope that day for you is about more. I know I will look around at who is around me and know I couldn’t ever possibly ask for more. Everything you appreciate is right in front of you. Right there. That is what I like to call life’s gifts. That no matter how messy life gets, no matter how many times you stumble, there will the ones that will stay with you through everything. Don’t let them go.


Ivana was born in Sanski Most, Bosnia & Herzegovina, but moved to Canada at the age of three. She was diagnosed with LGMD a few years ago, and it has forever changed her life/ She is a regular contributor, and her blogs will be everything she has learned along the way, and what she continues to learn today.

Find Something to Care About

Nov Ivana  Before getting involved with Muscular Dystrophy Canada, I spent a year volunteering with the Canadian Cancer Society. I have heard stories, and met individuals that have truly inspired me to push, and fight harder. Just like MD, cancer has many problems with no solutions; answers, but no short cuts. There are a lot times where you find yourself frustrated, and emotionally challenged. There seems to be too many obstacles to overcome, bridges to build, and barriers can be found around every corner – but sometimes within the midst of all that, you find something that makes it all worth it.

The world has proven itself to be full of unexpected twists, and turns. What is important is that we never stop believing, and we never forget the things that are worth holding onto. Mastin Kipp said it the best, “Being of service, and taking the wounds of your life and turning them into lessons, and sharing your experience with others will do more good to you and the world than almost anything else.” I have learned that having an illness is in no way a weakness or means that I am failing. You want to know the biggest reason people fail? The biggest reason goals don’t get accomplished? It is not because they aren’t smart enough, or pretty enough, or strong enough – it is because people make excuses, and sometimes they don’t even start to try. Sometimes you start, but then you just stop. Distractions get in the way, and one day becomes one week, and then one week becomes one month, then a year… then before you know it your life has gone by. There are endless opportunities, and rather than taking them, we like to stay comfortable. Can I blame you? Who doesn’t like being comfortable? Being uncomfortable causes us to feel nervous and anxious, however, being comfortable means you’re not reaching your highest potential.

After taking that year with the Canadian Cancer Society, learning everything I could, I felt like I had a fighting chance for the first time to battle my own illness. I saw what drives people, what pushes them, what inspires them, and what gets them involved. The answer is not sitting back, and expecting results to happen. I have no idea where I will go with creating awareness or fundraising for LGMD2A, but I believe I found my first step. Coalition for Calpain 3 is an organization founded in 2010 and its purpose is to find a cure for LGMD2A. Both founders have this progressive disease, and share the same goal as I do in ending this disease. If you want to check it out please use this link: (http://www.curecalpain3.org/). Use your resources, and most importantly, use your potential. If we want to see an end to this disease, it starts with us.

We can’t plan everything that happens in life. We win some, and we lose some. That is just the way it goes. As I sit here I hope my words empower you to not stay in the state of suffering if you are. I know life isn’t fair sometimes, but you must risk failure, you must risk losing, you must risk everything all your life if you want to achieve anything. LGMD2A is one of the easiest MD to cure, and this fact alone makes me believe that if we all do something, progress will happen. I believe that we all have to step up, and do something about this disease not just for ourselves, but also for each other. If we all helped to create something, amazing things can happen. I hope after reading this you donate your time, efforts, and energy towards a cause much greater than yourself. I hope you create a powerful message to the world, and I hope whenever you find what you are looking for, you live within it.

You can dream as big as you want. There are so many quotes I come across on a daily basis about dreaming big, and doing what you are afraid of. No, I do not mean saying hello to that big spider on the floor kind of doing what you are afraid of – I am talking about being afraid of the possibility of failure, and even the possibility of success. The fear of trying.

This is me pushing you, this is saying that you have the potential to turn your life around. Here is your chance. Individuals who are the best at what they do are the ones who have gone out of their way to do more than what is required of them. Maybe that means getting up, and working towards your goal(s) while everyone else is still sleeping. Maybe that means feeling short term pain for long term gain. Maybe it means standing tall when everyone else is laughing, and telling you it isn’t possible. There are reachable goals out there, pursue them. What you are going to do each and every day is what makes your year, your being, and your life. What you do does matter. Your life is your life. All I ask is that you make the most of it, that you create your own path and that you enjoy every second.

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”         – Patanjali


Ivana was born in Sanski Most, Bosnia & Herzegovina, but moved to Canada at the age of three. She was diagnosed with LGMD a few years ago, and it has forever changed her life/ She is a regular contributor, and her blogs will be everything she has learned along the way, and what she continues to learn today.

Work in progress

take oneFinding a job can be difficult for just about anyone. When I first started university I thought all I had to worry about was maintaining a high GPA and all good things would follow (was I ever wrong). So now a recent graduate, I have the fun of experiencing job hunting in a very competitive time where baby boomers just won’t quit and graduates are running over each other for great opportunities.

I live in a small city and most of the buildings are very old, which means accessibility is hard to find. So that limits where I can apply. When you have a disability, there are things you look out for that nobody else has to worry about. For example, is the building accessible? Is there parking close by? A job description is never going to say, “Must be able to climb stairs” because it is just assumed everyone can. So you need to do your research and ask the hard questions. You have to be comfortable where you work and everyone needs to understand your limitations. If they don’t, that is their loss not yours.

In conclusion, I am still learning about what to do when looking for a job with a disability. I would say do not let the word “disability” stop you from taking an opportunity you know you can do. Nobody is perfect and for better or worse, I know LGMD is with me all the time. But so what? Use your strength to do bold things, and not suffer. If you want something in life, don’t be afraid.

My advice would be to never be defeated by anything or anyone. By now I have probably been rejected over a hundred times and if anything, I have grown and learned from it. Do not let the things you cannot do get in the way of things you can do. Always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody says distract you from your goals. I hear negative and false attacks all the time; someone is always telling me what I can’t do. But what they don’t realise is that it makes me fight that much harder. You will see that obstacles do not have half the strength that you have. Everything is possible for the individual who refuses to stop fighting, and honestly, strength has nothing to do with physical capacity. Take some risks, life is too short to play in the safe zone and never fear failure or rejection. You will be defined not by how you sit in comfort, but how you stand in times of challenge. Knowing is better than wondering and even the biggest failure is better than never trying.  And what matters the most is that you never stop- no matter how slowly you are going.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes by Brian Tracy, “Between you and every goal that you wish to achieve, there is a series of obstacles and the bigger the goal, the bigger the obstacles. Your decision to be, have, and do something out of the ordinary entails facing difficulties and challenges that are out of the ordinary as well. Sometimes your greatest asset is simply your ability to stay with it longer than anyone else.”

Ivana was born in Sanski Most, Bosnia & Herzegovina but moved to Canada at the age of 3. She was diagnosed with LGMD a few years ago and it has forever changed her life.  She is a regular contributor and her blogs will be everything she has learned along the way and what she continues to learn today.