D’Arcie Malsam, owner of Stella’s Décor and Gifts, says she is grateful for the life she leads and the opportunities being a shop owner in her home state have created.
“Not everyone gets to come to work every day with their mom, own their store, have the opportunity to meet people, and do something creative,” she says. “It’s really about enjoying the day for what it is and not always wanting more and wishing for more.”
Rewind to last winter and D’Arcie says that was when she began to really see how much she had to be grateful for in her life. She, her husband, and her young son were living in northern Minnesota, and D’Arcie was working at a bank; however, she had also been in the jewelry and craft businesses for more than a decade with her mom, Barb.
“My mom was thinking of retiring and wanted to open a store in Bismarck,” D’Arcie says. “I talked to my husband and he said, ‘Let’s do this, let’s go for it.’”
The family began preparing for a move back to Bismarck and during a day of packing, D’Arcie slipped and fell outside while wearing her favorite, well-worn, pair of Converse® shoes.
“The next day I couldn’t walk, my leg hurt, and I had a weird golf ball-size bulge in my leg. But it got better, so I decided I didn’t need to see a doctor.”
Three weeks passed and D’Arcie still wasn’t feeling right. Born with a hole in her heart, she knew the heart palpitations and chest pain she was now feeling were not normal, but she still didn’t think it was a priority to get checked out.
“For whatever reason, I laid down that night and said a prayer, ‘If you just let me wake up tomorrow, I promise I will go into the doctor.’”
She didn’t want to wake her husband or young son to go to the hospital, so instead she went to her son “to thank him for letting me be his mom and to say goodbye if I didn’t wake up.”
D’Arcie woke up, but still went to work the next day. It wasn’t until after work that she went to the hospital. Initially, the many tests run on her heart showed no abnormalities.
“I thought I should tell the doctor about the lump in my leg from my fall and that is when we found out it was a blood clot. The pain I was feeling in my chest was the clot moving into my lungs.”
After further testing, she found out she had two chromosomal mutations that cause her blood to clot. With the existing hole in her heart, she also learned clots can bypass her heart and move directly to her brain.
“This really made me wonder how many women die because we always say ‘we will go in tomorrow.’”
D’Arcie got out of the hospital and a few days later she and her mom flew to Atlanta for a buying market. The store was becoming a reality.
“When I got back, my husband said I needed to quit my job and make the store a priority. We moved to Bismarck in February, and it was really seamless. I just kept thinking how could it be this easy?”
Stella’s, which carries one-of-a-kind jewelry, vintage and new home décor, and unique gifts, opened March 1 and celebrated its grand opening on April 1. The store was named in honor of D’Arcie’s grandmother, Stella, “a storyteller and a woman who was interested in everything,” she notes.
D’Arcie says along with her move back home, her life also changed for the better in regard to her health.
“I never considered myself someone with heart disease, but I learned I do have heart disease. I also learned we, as women, need to make ourselves a priority. I have started to swim and I know I need to do something healthy for my body every day.”
She encourages other women to trust their instincts when it comes to their health.
“We know our bodies better than anyone else, and we need to stop feeling guilty about taking time for ourselves.”
Gratitude has also played a large role in her changed life and perspective.
“I never thought I would come back to North Dakota. I had given up on making it back home,” D’Arcie says. “When I finally let go of what I expected in life, I became more grateful for the life I was given. You get more in life when you are grateful.”
And, as for the shoes D’Arcie wore when she fell? She says she is even grateful for those.
“I thank God every day I wore those stupid shoes. I feel like it’s hard to get rid of them, they are something that saved my life.”
Kylie Blanchard is a local writer and a busy mom and wife who also loves being active, but a also enjoys sitting down to read a good book.