Out Pictured

People call it making plans, ambitious people call it making goals, and Mystics call it what you’re conscious of being brought to Life by your subconscious. However, whatever you call it, it is at its most basic level the Life you are currently leading. The problem with making plans is that plans can change, you may fail to reach your goal, and ultimately no one has a handle on it all. Personally speaking I’m a goal setting and  achieving type of person. However, what happens when a near death experience( in my case)  throws those set goals out of whack and lays waste to your carefully set path?  What do you do? How can you cope with the inevitable bad feelings?  Well, save for  inventing a time machine, you’ve got to figure it out. Here’s  something I’ve concluded after  years of therapy, multiple self help books under my belt, and  rebuilding my path. It is not in the quantity of the stuff you have, or the years you’ve got to live. It’s in the QUALITY  of them. I now put real time and effort into everything I do. I’d rather get to know someone deeply than just on a surface level, I consider what the impact is  of everything I eat or purchase on  others, and the Earth. Because it’s not always about you. In fact, most people are pre-occupied with themselves. Funnily enough, the less you think only about yourself and more about others you are the one who will benefit!  Having  faced immense difficulties I don’t  consider  the loss, I focus on the gains. Rather than have perished  from the stroke at 28, I’ve lived another ten years. That’s 3,650 days where I opened my eyes, breathed in, made plans, and felt the warmth of the sun  brush across my skin. At one very scary point in time those days could’ve been considered borrowed. Therefore, it is not lost on me to slow down and really soak in the days I have. Time is our most precious and unrenewable resource, so consider carefully how you spend it. Choose  the things which bring you light rather than darkness, the things that bring others closer rather than push them away, and give, give, give! I promise you  it will always come back to you double. So, don’t fear giving from your heart in order to fill it.

Multiplicity

There is no Multiverse, but there are multiple versions of you. Throughout your Life,  within every person that’s been close with you, lives a version of you from that  time period.  Every version is different, and they culminate into the person you are in this moment. After  I suffered a debilitating stroke, I wanted the versions of myself that lived in my friends minds to be what existed in the current physical realm. Therefore, I actually hid from some people,  preferring to be the version that they remembered  over  the version of me that is. This sentiment crossed my mind again more recently upon the impending reunion with a long time friend. However, I  pushed those notions away in favor of anticipation.  Where I once wanted to stay hidden away in favor of a memory  was no more. Because, I’ve realized  staying stuck as the same version in someone’s mind  correlates to being stuck in the here and now. There is no growth in that. Besides, with the right person  you  won’t be afraid to be yourself.  Even if I was in a wheelchair, they could see me walking. Even though my left side may be currently paralyzed, they could see me moving fluidly. In fact,  whatever the current physical reality was, they would see me. And, just the same, I would see them! That’s the beauty of knowing. It’s not that we have the ability to recall a preferred version of each other, but rather that we can see each other through whatever version we are currently inhabiting. The ability to  do this with one another is not only true authenticity, but it’s what creates a safe place. It is a space in which we can be messy.  A place in which we can be vulnerable. A place  in which we can truly share a laugh. Furthermore, one in which, failure is okay and successes are celebrated. My wish is not to be an old version of myself that is remembered by someone, but to be brave enough to shatter that memory and replace it with who I am today.  More importantly I hope to always have people in my Life that I can do that with, and I hope you do too!

Endurance

No one is brought up in this World and taught that Life is difficult from a young age. Rather we all seem to come to that belief later in Life!  I used to wonder why after about age thirty ,it seemed that  for most people  there was a problematic decline in their level of optimism. Therefore, I vowed at an early age never to lose my child like wonder or become a cranky elderly person. Rather, I wanted to hold onto my  optimistic view, youthful vigor, and appreciation  for the small things.  I’m actually proud to report that I’ve managed thus far to  uphold my youthful promise to myself. It  certainly hasn’t been  of a conscious effort. Rather,  I owe it to my  natural disposition, sub conscious mind, and of all things a near death experience. While I’m admittedly  not thankful for the vast number of physical difficulties(painful ones too)  I have come to realize that there has been an immense strengthening during those stretches of time.  In a way time stopped for me on October 12th, 2012 when I unexpectedly suffered a massive stroke.  After that point, my plans for ages 28 and 29, were taken on an extended detour. I struggled to bridge the gap and  maintain things for awhile, but- as Dylan sings “The times they are a changin,”  and that’s okay. Because  there is good news rolled into the bad news of that reality.  It meant, my suffering(and yours) would not last forever, just as the good times don’t last forever. Although my plight could’ve led to imminent disaster, quite the opposite occurred. I found those cliche’ sayings to ring true. It really is the darkest before the dawn! For me it was a slow dawning to the realization that, in what I once saw as a complete loss, was actually a complete gain! A gain of time rather than the loss of it. A gain of appreciation  for beauty rather than the ignorance of the beauty Life holds.  Most importantly, a  leap in wisdom that usually only old age or tough trials can bring.  I don’t claim to know it all, quite the opposite. -but- I do know that if you look closely at the trials in your own Life, you’ll find  the strength to overcome rather than  be overcome.

TO LOVE NY

” Somewhere between living and dreaming. there’s New York.” -unknown.

To love this  bustling city full of skyscrapers whose lights mingle with the sky, turning into stars of their own is to love yourself.  The city will test your strength, test your resolve, and give new meaning to manifest destiny. Rent isn’t too expensive, it’s  simply the admission price you pay for a ticket to the best ride of your Life.  This “town,” will present you with hurdles to access the most ordinary of activities, and then reward you with  inumerable   opportunities.  The streets have worn down the rubber soles of my shoes like hungry children eating cake at a birthday party.  It is not so much a glamorous  life here, as it is a rewarding one. The  apartments overflow with interesting individuals, that possess all levels of  potential. However, there is no vacancy for mediocrity! If  there is a diamond to be produced from a lump of coal, New York City will squeeze it out of you. If you’re open and willing you’ll climb the ladder in an upward direction. Here  there aren’t streets of identical  little box homes with cars in the driveway, and manicured lawns. Instead, everything is jumbled, different, and there’s a subway entrance that can  take you around  more than 665 miles of track. Laid end to end  the Transit train tracks would stretch to Chicago. Riding a subway train  opens  up more opportunity to you than any car ride you could ever take around  an identical block of houses! You see, there’s no special club you must join to live here. One only needs  a heaping helping of ambition. If you find the prospect of  getting groceries, washing laundry, or a trip to the Post Office becoming more  arduous too much to  bear, I’d be quick to point out that just as the mundane becomes  ever more so,  the same can be said of enjoyable activities. Suddenly there are oodles of openings in your chosen career field, leisurely and cultural  events are within walking distance, and they happen frequently, often even for free.  If you’re a person that can see openings where others only see closed doors, this place is for you. I don’t love New York for its image or even for the food, but for what it has  contributed to my Life.  I’ve learned that hitting the pavement,  talking to everyone, and binge willing to   hustle harder  than  everyone else,  means your reward will be greater than what everyone else is getting.   If you allow it to be,  the city  will be the stone that sharpens you.  So,  I’d suggest  wherever you are don’t be afraid to put yourself in the uncomfortable position to be sharpened. However, it’s something that will happen a lot faster in New York City!

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The perception of loss

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
– Winston Churchill.

Some events in our lives are so vile, we can only truly reflect on them(or share them) many years later.  So, what happened on October 12th of 2012? Well, I lost everything. For me, those many years later happen to be a decade. I suppose I can thank  cognitive dissonance for helping me to navigate through the impossible.  No matter how many times a  well meaning therapist or loved one attempted to  label me disabled,  waxed poetic about a “new normal,” or looked at me with complete disbelief when I declared my goals, none of it mentally deterred me.  Because, deep down I know I have lost nothing, only gained. I can clearly recall bellowing out in emotional pain  from the deepest darkest place of my soul, whilst laying on a therapy mat in a  hospital rehabilitation gym among other broken people, who were  crawling around like worms unable to  walk/sit up, or rolling around  on their backs like flipped over turtles. I didn’t want to be among these people, and I  certainly did not want to  BE one of these people! However, nonetheless I was. There was no denying the medical records, or the gravity of my unexpected circumstances. Not grasping that my brain wasn’t cooperating I would punch my paralyzed left arm  with anger and hate. The   reality is that for all the time I felt I’d lost, I actually gained  time. In fact, since that vile day in October, rather then it resulting in my death, my Life was spared.  Per my calculation, since then I’ve  navigated through 86,400 hours that I almost never had. I almost never saw my surprise Breakfast at Tiffany’s themed 30th birthday. I almost never met Lucy aka Goose the dog love of my Life.  I almost never felt the Summer sun  gently warming my skin, or  felt the beautiful Fall breeze  brush across my face. Instead, I now drive by the funeral home where my wake would’ve been held  and see other people’s names on the  sign.  Loss is only perceived, and in the face of any “loss,”  you can choose to push through to gain.  Therefore, do not weep over a failure only see it as an opportunity for growth. Because, as long as you are living there is a purpose and a hope.

Wherever you go, there you are

What defines you? The answer to that question will vary for almost everyone. However, most of those answers will probably be incorrect. Is it your personality? Your  worldly possessions? Or perhaps your zip code? The question of what makes  us human has been debated for eons, and more interestingly  this question could be answered by a  neuroscientist. In other words, perhaps it is the contents of our brains that make us who we are. I contend that it is the strength of your character, the contents of your heart, and the  fruits of your Life.  Sometime ago I would’ve answered it’s your personality that makes you who you are. Except, personalities can change. They only appear to remain constant as long as a person’s Life circumstances remain fairly stable.  Throw a massive stroke in(like I had) or other variation of a brain injury and  what  happens after that, will certainly challenge who you are. Amid  the many words heard  from medical professionals were “personality change,” “ Won’t recognize loved ones anymore,”  and “ We just don’t know how She will turn out.”    I’ll be the first to admit that my behavior at times was outlandish, my social filter was severely compromised, and  everything was up in the air. But- as time goes on( and my social filter has improved) it has become increasingly clear, that I am and have always been me. My interests haven’t particularly changed much, my sense of humor, my likes and dislikes, and so on. What’s stunning about this from a personal and even medical perspective is that, a major trauma or even physical changes have not deviated me away from who I am at the very core of my being.   It doesn’t seem to matter where you put me, I find a way to thrive just as a flower that grows through concrete. Ultimately I’ve learned, what matters most is what you give to others rather than take. And  I’ll tell you a secret. IT ALWAYS COMES BACK TO YOU!

Collide.

This is a tale of  four people(although imagined)  with four separate lives that somehow  streamed  into one river, before branching off into different  directions. It’s funny how  a complete stranger wrote a show that so often  mirrors the spirit (and content) of my Life in New York City as a 20’s something Girl. Discovering not only  what the five Boroughs of New York  could offer me  during my  burgeoning Adulthood, but navigating  the  sometimes complicated relationships too! Just as a  comet speeds through space colliding with other objects and leaving pieces of itself behind, so do we as people. Each relationship, meaningful interaction,  successes, and failures have either built me up or broke me down. However, unlike Hannah Horvath, I never got to have a “goodbye tour,”  of my  Life and neighborhood  in New York. Rather I fast forwarded through what I expected to be my fourth year in the city; instead waking up in a rehab hospital in Michigan. Which, needless to say was a shock to my system. Not  fully grasping what had happened to me( I was unconscious for most of it after all)  I just wanted to be back  in New York. A place where completing even the most mundane or trivial of tasks, makes you feel like a champion. A place that is as difficult to succeed in, as the concrete is hard.   I chose to live there, for it’s electric energy, for the massive amounts of opportunities, and to fulfill my teenage dream. As a  fresh out of college  25 year old  graduate it was the perfect place for me. Why?  Because as I navigate stroke recovery and Life after a near Death experience, New York gave me guts. Not the kind you see in a horror movie, but real guts. The kind that helps you to fake it til’ you make it and go after what you want with no apologies. Do you find that behavior rude?  Ladder climbing? Well, that’s just Life in the city babe. Where I once cursed the contrast of the Michigan trees to skyscrapers, the suburban sprawl to city streets, and  the slow pace to  the city’s efficiency; now I am thankful for it. Just as I found myself in NY at the right time and place, my recovery is    happening at the right time and in the right place as well. I have run long and hard, but now it’s time to learn how to walk again.   

         -XO BLEU

Little Drops of Water

“Life is not important, except in the impact it has on other lives,”

-Jackie Robinson.

Just as a minuscule drop of water falling into a pond creates   a ripple that expands out until we can no longer see it; so do our lives  in the  oceanic universe. You may not be able to see how far reaching your actions are, but  for every action there is a reaction. That being said, if your action is one of kindness, then the reaction you receive will be  equally kind!  It also serves to  note, that people  remember  acts of grandeur no matter how small. One such act was made by a dog  named Hachiko in the 1930s  for His owner  Hidesaburo Ueno. This tiny soul waited for nine  years(that’s 3,285 days of His life) for  His  owner to return home from work. Today, a small bronze statue stands in remembrance of this story outside of the busy train station where this dog left  so much of  His love behind.  How many people per day scurry past this unassuming  statue without ever knowing the  enormity of the story behind it? How many people or places have you scurried by without ever knowing their significance?   Furthermore, how many people have not acknowledged your  significance? Do you reckon, that if we could all slow down enough to actually see these things, Life would become more meaningful? Or perhaps, recognizing these things to be true, we’d   discover increased value for and endeavor to create a better Life? One, that does not revolve on what we can get, but rather give.  No matter how much I have  supposedly given away, it has come back to me ten fold! A little known universal secret is that nothing you give away is ever truly lost. In fact, if you give with a heart of joy and gratitude you’re more likely to get it back and then some.  Our society is entirely too focused on what we can get, or we get to keep.  However, I have personally observed and experienced the opposite to be true.  I have no qualms about “giving  away,” money I don’t have, or extra time to volunteer; because it always comes back to me. If you don’t know already my Life  itself was given back to me, and in many ways I’m living a second life! Rather than dying from a massive stroke in 2012 at the age of 28, I  survived to continue on. Therefore, I’ve already been given more time, more money, and abundance.  And I challenge you to share some of your abundance. Because, I promise if you slow down enough to look for it in your Life you will find it.

Dear future Suitor,

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

Lao Tzu.

   While  at one time I only needed you to be cute, have a reasonable amount of knowledge about punk music, know how to skateboard, and have cool hair…… As Bob Dylan sings(not punk) “The times they are -a- changin.”   These days I actually care about things like integrity, employment,  your moral compass, and our shared future prospects. If  you  don’t know already(or yet) I had a stroke, and besides time changing things, so does almost dying. I’ve always put in a vast amount of effort to reach my goals and stroke recovery has been no different. Except(I lied) one thing has. Besides undergoing an arduous amounts of therapy, I’ve mirrored my physical development  with  meaningful growth of my soul. Neither has been easily achieved. Therefore, I’m not willing to put the priceless  fruits  of my labor(or my heart) into just anyones hands. So, I need  you to step up. Reject me if you will over the effects the stroke has had on my life(this has already happened) but  you’d be making an egregious mistake. This is in no way because I think I’m better than other people. It’s because I know my value. Although, much of it was robbed from me upon waking up in a hospital, the years have added it back and then some. Perhaps it’s age, time, or snobbery, I know it is wisdom! Far too many people(me too) undervalue  themselves. We look into   the mirror of society, and  a distorted image stares back at us. The truth is, we are powerful,  beautiful,  and strong beings capable of ever  expanding knowledge. Nothing is fixed, something I once wished wasn’t true, but am now grateful for it. Change means we can grow, progress can be made, and it makes Life precious. Mine, yours,  everyones. The bottom line is, if you can be half as wonderful as my beloved dog Goose, I think we’ll be fine.

H.E double hockey sticks.

“My favorite driver is always either the bad guy or the underdog.” -Bo Jackson.

  John Colone has always been in on the joke. In fact, most likely He orchestrated it. Hell, Michigan has not only been the catalyst for many events, and caused some local controversies, but it’s also a place that champions the underdog. Wayward travelers, misfits, survivors, and tourists from all over the world visit this tiny town. There is not only an atmosphere of mischief, but of acceptance. Have crazy colored hair? Welcome.  Physically disabled? Welcome. A massive stroke survivor? Welcome.   All are welcome, and if you are a misfit of society, all the better. This is because, not only is there no discrimination in the town of Hell, they understand survivors. The struggle is real, and many who populate this place, from tourists to “Hellbillies.” get it.  The attitude is refreshing and not often found outside of  the borders of Hell. Imagine a place where you are given a chance to do something different, to be who you are, and to succeed. Well, then maybe you should get a job in town, I just did! Yup. After spending  countless hours putting my efforts into finding  employment the traditional way, at the usual places….. All I had to do was go down the street! Because right around the corner from me, is Hell. Michigan. I considered secretary positions, jobs related to my field of expertise(medical) and technological jobs.  However, I ultimately landed in the place I need to be at this time.  You know the saying “If you build it they will come?” Well, John built a town based on a punchline and over the years Good Morning America has passed through, Netflix, The Travel Channel, and even Sundance.  I suspect all the attention is the result of more than a funny name. Because, just like the charm of a stranger or honey to a bee, Hell has a natural magnetism. An energy that can be better understood if you spend any length of time here. Even more so if you meet the man behind the curtain. If you’d like to check it out more  visit http://www.gotohellmi.com  or drop by in person and say Hello. Perhaps, I’ll see you there!

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