30 Minutes With #30Seconds: All About BRCA & Living Life "Half Full" With Kim Kusiciel! by Christine Jones
We had an amazing time on the second episode of our livestream show, 30 Minutes With #30Seconds, featuring the inspiring Kim Kusiciel! Kim, a former elementary teacher turned stay-at-home mom and part-time early childhood teacher, health enthusiast and BRCA advocate, was on set to talk about her experience with:
- BRCA genetic testing.
- Keeping a positive attitude.
- Living life "half full" even during difficult times.
- Juggling the demands of raising kids while blogging and handling the messiness of life (including her journey through testing BRCA positive and what came next).
- How humor can help you through it all.
Please watch our show and feel free to ask any more questions in the comments below. We're looking forward to next week's show featuring Eirene Heidelberger!
Kim then joined us for our #30Seconds Twitter chat, where we continued the inspiring conversation. She's also the founder of No Happy Accidents, where she writes about the joys of a messy life. Read on for Kim's inspiring words and tips from the chat!
Q: You are a busy mom, juggling a few jobs. What do you do and how do you do it?
With a lot of support and grace! We can’t do it all alone. I teach early education classes, host a home daycare, write and work with a small business. I volunteer for my church and PTA, too. I also give my kids lots of opportunities to be responsible. They are old enough to help with tasks around the house. Lastly, I laugh a lot and end each day with a huge exhale and say, “I kept everyone alive today.” It’s about the little things!
Q: Your blog, No Happy Accidents, focuses on enjoying a life full of beautiful messes. What does that mean?
It means that life is full of surprises, usually messy ones. Rarely do things go as planned. It’s also a clue as to how I live my life. I view each mistake and success as a combination of fate, luck and opportunity. A life with happy accidents is a good life. I don't dwell on the bad for too long, negative mindsets are not my happy place. We have to choose to make the best of it. It’s a conscious choice to look at your life through a joy-filled lens.
Q: You’ve had a challenging year of surgeries due to being a BRCA positive carrier, yet you’ve kept going and stayed positive. How?
After a double mastectomy and reconstruction in August I developed a bad infection and landed in the ER. I thought I was dying. After that, nothing else seemed as bad. With a lot of support, I adjusted to a new normal and found joy in tiny moments. I had a decision to make. Dwell on the bad and drown in those feelings or swim. I decided to swim. I developed a positive mantra. When things got tough I hummed “just keep swimming” from Dory in “Finding Nemo.” That and hugs from my kids helped me stay positive.
Q: Even after your ER stay and recovery from your infection, life still had to go on. How did your kids handle it all?
They were troopers. School began a week after I got home from the hospital, so we had no choice but to get back to normal. I could shield the younger to from most of it. They just knew I was sick from surgery and that they had to be gentle with hugs. My oldest had the hardest time. I looked different and she knew what was going on. She asked questions and I answered them. My kids became rock star caretakers. After life got back to normal, they moved on. Thankfully!
Q: People thought you were crazy when you started a new job just a week after your last reconstruction surgery. What do you think?
The perfect opportunity to teach a class presented itself and I could either accept the luck or ignore the fate of it. I guess I am crazy, but I am happy! My mind thrives in a crazy, busy, and creative environment. Teaching is just that! I also think that everyone has a different tolerance level for crazy. Mine is high to say the least, but it drives me. I prefer a “judgement free” parent zone. We all need to do what we need to do, without fear of judgement from our peers.
Q: After all the surgeries and working, how do you fit in fun with your family? What are some things you do that we can try?
- We love to play games and have family game nights. Our new favorites are Blokus and Suspicion. My kids also like to put on “shows.”
- My 11-year-old likes to craft and bake with me. It’s a special day when we can fit in both! Check out these cookie dough balls.
- My 9-year-old son likes to teach me how to play chess. He kicks my butt, but I can still beat him at Battleship.
- My youngest is 6. We like to play with her dolls. She is also into gymnastics, so we do a lot of “training” together.
- My hubby and I enjoy a glass of wine and listen to music or catch up on a show. For us, it’s just about being together.
Q: How can you help the rest of us live a full life and find the happy accidents in our life? Any tips?
- Make a gratitude list. Having gratitude for the blessings in your life is the No. 1 way to bring positivity front and center.
- Stop and look around. Look at who shares life with you. You are so LUCKY to have them and they are lucky to have YOU!
- Expect the best of yourself, but give yourself grace when things don’t go as planned. Discover the lesson and then move on.
- Choose to stay positive, even in the midst of challenges. We all have them. A positive mindset leads to positive results.