medication interactions and side effects

About Heidi

Heidi in black

INTRODUCTION

I have 3 favorite things in the world.  First and foremost is my family; Which consists of my handsome husband and an adorable, heart-melting little boy, my stepson.  ‘My boys’ count for two of my 3 favorite things.  The third? SHOPPING!! Well, shopping AND Fashion.  Many that know me would say I’m a shopaholic.  Combine my favorite things and you get my blog: Stylish Stepmom.

LITTLE GIRL, BIG DREAMS

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been obsessed with shopping and fashion.  I grew up in a small town in rural Minnesota so we had to shop in bigger towns like Minneapolis/St. Paul, which was a REALLY BIG town to me.

I always wanted the latest and greatest growing up, knowing that I would probably stick out like a sore thumb in my hometown, but I WANTED IT. Kids at school used to name my outfits, like ‘banana’ (pastel yellow sweater dress),  ‘mad plaid’ (red/black/white plaid pants, white shirt, black sweater vest) or ‘bumble bee’ (bright yellow knit pants with a gold/black plaid jacket),because they always stood out amongst the the ‘clothing staples’ of rural America – sweatshirts, t-shirts, and jeans.

BIG GIRL, BIG REALITY

 

As I grew up, I found out you could even get a college degree in my passion for fashion!  It was a no-brainer. I graduated with a B.S. in Fashion Merchandising and Business.

Since then, I have spent my professional career always tied to the fashion world.  I have worked on the retail floor to the buying offices at a corporate level (and everything in between).  I have also been a model in print, commercial and live/runway work, including a number of years as a fashion/accessory model for ‘ShopNBC’. 

No matter where life would take me…my world revolved in and around fashion and shopping. 

 WHAT’S MISSING?

I was the “climbing the corporate ladder” to success kind of a girl. I was willing to work hard (still am) and give it my all. But, found I was doing that on my own, all by myself, and it was lonely. I started to realize that I wanted MORE than a career to look back on. Life is full of celebrations and challenges– and I wanted that special someone to share ALL of it with – the good and the bad.

That realization came true when I met my now husband via a “blind email”, if you will, set up by a mutual friend. Via email and eventually phone calls were our first form of communication as we were living in different states.

But, to my surprise, it was the best email, I ever received, and I fell in love with a voice on the phone (as it was over a month of phone calls before meeting in person for the first time). I am, now, very happily married, living in Tulsa, Oklahoma with ‘my boys’ as a wife to my handsome husband and as a stepmom to my super-amazing stepson.

A DATE WITH DESTINY

When life throws you a curve ball, catch it and run with it.  It may be a bigger plan, because there is more for you to do in life, you just don’t know it yet.

One afternoon, while out doing my favorite activity (shopping) with one of my favorite people, my aunt – life was turned upside down.

She was feeling under the weather, just not herself. But, as women, we can chalk it up to a million things and keep on going. As afternoon progressed, her neck started to hurt and her purse was feeling heavy, every thing felt heavy.

Something was not right. Her condition grew worse and we headed to the emergency room. Within minutes of our arrival she was rushed from the emergency room to the cardiac emergency room to surgery – she was having a HEART ATTACK!

I sat there in disbelief, the last few minutes of the day replaying in my mind and feeling extremely helpless, and holding on to every ounce of hope that she would be okay. 

heidi and her aunt

HAVING HEART

Fortunately, my aunt is still with us today. We are all blessed. She was lucky. A survivor. I was just as lucky, because I learned an incredible lesson that day that has become a driving force in my life.  I now dedicate a good portion of my time to the ‘Go Red for Women’ campaign of the American Heart Association.

Why? Because until that day, I was just like everyone else in thinking I knew what to do if someone was having a heart attack. I would recognize the signs and that was so far from the truth. I didn’t know anything about heart attacks, specifically, about women and heart disease. I promised to do what I could to help others, create awareness, and to avoid having others walk in my shoes from that dreadful day. 

 WHO ME? 

While volunteering for the American Heart Association, I met the director of the Mrs. Oklahoma International Pageant. She had mentioned to me that I should consider entering the pageant. I thought she was crazy! Who me? A married woman, in her late 30’s, who had really done nothing before in the “pageant world”? Really? Ah, thank you and no!

But, I found myself oddly intrigued by the idea and I kept running into her at various events. I’d ask a question, then a few more questions, and then decide, no, not for me.

Then, ask a few more questions. 

While at a ‘Go Red for Women’ event, talking with survivors, hearing their stories, not understanding the symptoms, fighting with the medical field to listen when something was wrong…it was like a light bulb went on. 

I HAD to do the pageant.  I had to do it for the survivors and for all the women that need to understand the signs and symptoms of heart disease. That, as of right now, 1 in 3 women will die of heart disease. THAT is why I had to set aside my own fears and uncertainty and enter the pageant.  It was an opportunity to share my story and create awareness. 

Ball Gowns and Tiaras 

If there was one person not likely to enter (or win) a pageant, I thought, for sure, that person was I. But, in spite of my lack of experience in the pageant world, I decided to step out of my comfort zone, set aside my fear and try.  I did have some advantages in my back pocket – modeling experience, – print, runway, and ‘live’ on ShopNBC, commercial work, as well as a strong fashion background (if not a huge inventory of ball gowns and tiaras).  Maybe, I could do this.

 

Well, wouldn’t you know, this ‘pageant newbie’ was blessed with the Mrs. Oklahoma International 2010 title.  Amazed, overwhelmed, grateful, and scared were just a few of the many emotions running through my veins.  “Now what do I do?”

 

I soon came to realize that my pageant days were not over as now it was time to compete for Mrs. International 2010. What? I have to do this AGAIN? I didn’t know what I was doing the first time around. But, with the help of an amazing director, support from across the state of Oklahoma, as well as friends and family, I was ready to do it again…and compete I did. I came home with 1st Runner Up at Mrs. International 2010 and a ton of memories and friendships that I will cherish always.   

I will be forever grateful for the opportunities that my ‘pageant life’ gave me and to continue to create awareness for the Go Red for Women campaign. But, title or not, I will continue to spread the message of women and heart disease and will be forever tied to the ‘pageant world’. 

Today

And that leads me to today. I continue to do all I can to help the Heart cause, volunteering at events as often as I can and being a spokesperson for heart healthy awareness among women 

I continue to learn and grow as a wife and stepmom, being graced with two amazing men who I love and adore…as well as learn from everyday. 

And, of course, my work as Stylish Stepmom continues to grow and develop into more wonderful opportunities to use my ‘bad habit’ for the greater good! 

Thank you, so much, for reading my story and I hope you will continue to visit Stylish Stepmom often.

 

heidi and stepson
 
Heidi Ducato, June 2012
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