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Dear Uppity “Christians.”

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

-Mattthew 7:5

I’m no theologian, but I am an excellent observer.

The last time I checked,  Jesus  didn’t win people over by  criticising, converting, or shaming them. In fact, He did it by being the human embodiment of radical love! I cringe every time I hear a Pastor proclaim He(or She) is going to reach the world outside of the church walls. Because, more often than not they don’t. The funny thing is, a highly criticised person like Kanye West is more effective then the modern church. Today’s culture doesn’t hate Christianity. What they hate are holier than thou people telling them how to be a  good person without actually being an example of one.  If you want to change the world  go  out  into your community and be an example of who God is, rather then just talking about him and telling people what’s wrong with them. Prior to the stroke, I never went to church,  didn’t actively try to fulfill  a set of rules to be  a good person, and was more concerned with living my life. However, if you’re a legalistic externalist Christian  you’d know this  behavior would disqualify me from going to heaven. Right?  BUT IT DOESN’T!    I can confidently say that I’ve had a firsthand encounter with God and He saved my life even when I was unconscious and didn’t know my life needed saving. I don’t call myself a Christian, an Atheist, or even a good person. I call myself a student. Because,  I’m still learning, you’re still learning, we all are. Therefore, don’t assume to  be the master and tell people what to do with their lives. Just show them love. Why?  BECAUSE LOVE ALWAYS WINS!

Lets Get Real.

When you stop living your life based on what others think of you, real life begins.”
-unknown.

For most of us were thankful that our private thoughts  remain unknown by most of the people around us. But what if they weren’t? Would you be embarrassed,  shamed, or uneasy?  Most likely  it’s a mix of all three. Therefore I’m sure you’re thankful that no one can read your mind! However, what happens when(and if) you meet someone that can see right through you? It’s uncomfortable to say the least. Well, more recently  that very thing happened to me. But you know what? After the initial horror it was quickly followed by a mixture of relief and a feeling of  refreshment. That’s certainly  due to the fact that I needed to be called out! I think you probably do too. How are we to live an authentic life(that is the trending hashtag is it not) if we can’t be real with one another or even ourselves? The problem seems to  be with safety. How safe do you  feel with others? How safe do you feel venturing into the void of your own heart? And  finally, in this upside down world, do you feel safe at all?  Not many of us come across people we feel safe  with. If you’re  blessed you will find  a person that has your best interest in mind. Today, for the first time ever I met one of  those people. It was scary! It was refreshing! Last but not least I am blessed for it!   When you get called out personally, see this as a chance to grow. If  you’re not  uncomfortable  you are not growing. So grit your teeth, clench your eyes, or stay silent when you want to scream, and get uncomfortable. Somewhere in your loss of comfort  you’ll find the kind of gains that will make you a better person.

At the crossroads of strength and determination.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, “plans to  prosper you  and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.

When someone is empowered they will use their power to do what they feel they are able to do. Knowing that you can direct your intentions to choose the reality you want to experience is a game changer. However,  as we know life does not follow a straight and orderly(much less expected) path. So, what do you do when a traumatic event turns your life upside-down? Well, you can stew in misery for awhile feeling stuck in your circumstances-OR- you can choose to overcome them. This becomes possible when you are told that you can overcome them! Indeed, for a time I felt powerless as if I was aimlessly drifting along on the waves of time. But then someone much more enlightened than I, told me  that I had the power to break free from such circumstances. Lately I have been meditating on these truths. With each passing day that I  do,  it becomes clearer and clearer that I have  an exciting future. No longer am I fearful that  I will have a life lived inside a small box, but rather I can see the possibilities. And. Let.Me.Tell.You. It is exciting! The massive stroke did not kill me, it did not steal my humor, lessen my intelligence, or revoke my creativity. In fact, in the oddest(and sometimes worst) way possible   this major setback has become my setup. Therefore,    I have learned that  I am an overcomer. And  just in case you’ve been misinformed…  SO. ARE.  YOU.

Your Credit Score has decreased by one point.

Life is full of little setbacks, but thankfully there are just as many gains. In 2012  I suffered one major setback. Ever since, through one gain at a time, I’ve been chipping away  at what was a huge block in the road. By making the decision to carry on in the face of adversity, and achieving little gains, that block is turning into a pebble. When I first woke up in the hospital I perceived this giant roadblock to be immovable. There was a giant  road sign next to it that read “YOUR LIFE ENDS HERE.”   -But- I didn’t take into account one important factor. And that factor was, as  any physics professor could tell you…. An object of large size is easier to move with a force  that’s strong  enough to oppose it. In other words,  I alone was not strong enough to face the ramifications of the stroke. However, when I  had the right group of supportive individuals with me I could  better  recover. After the  fog of confusion and agitation lifted, I was better  able to understand my situation. At first, I felt that my life circumstances were insurmountable, but as I continue forward(with a strong  support system) I’m discovering that the gains become larger and they happen fairly quickly. Of course, I would  LOVE everything to go back to the way it was prior to the stroke  in a days time. But,  Rome wasn’t built in a day was it? To  cultivate a remarkable life you have to go about it in extraordinary ways. There is no shortcut to the finish line.  In the end, the best views come after the hardest climb.

Cheers,

Leah

 

What Dreams May Come

One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”  -Tom Wolfe.

Most of the time, we can control  what drops into our subconscious at night, no  more than we can control the weather.  It has become apparent therefore, that my brain still lives in New York City while my body is about a 9 hour and 27 minute drive away. Because, on most nights you can find me and Mr Sandman still haunting the subway. While mentally I’m more than capable of masquerading through Manhattan, physically I have some serious work to do. It’s funny that even after a massive brain attack, such an assault cannot erase things like…. 1 Why you never get on an empty subway car (something awful is likely inside) 2  Navigating the  subway is not that scary( although it’s helpful to know the difference between express and local trains!) 3 It’s likely that locals will never agree on which  Borough is the best. And finally #4.  New York City may very well be the last bastion  for the American Dream. Why?  Quite simply because the other “kids,” I met there were chasing such impossible dreams as  getting my body to  transport itself into the middle of Times Square. However, you know what? They did so without giving one iota of attention, to the naysayers who said their dreams were  impossible. Oddly enough after the stroke happened to me I have more in common with them then I did before!  Even though  prior to the stroke I had been sharing the same physical space,  I wasn’t in the same headspace. According to the dictionary, the definition of headspace is the unfilled space left above the contents in a sealed container. I think it’s rather important to fill that space with things that lift you up rather then bring you down. If living in the city of dreams(and often hard knocks) taught me anything it’s that you are far  more capable then you think! Attitude definitely dictates your altitude. So, don’t let the words  or ill intentions of other people, crash your plane into the ground.   

Shoot for the moon!  
-XO-  BLEU

Blur

“Whether you think you can or you can’t you are  right.” -Henry Ford.

Perhaps when you wake up from a coma, not only are you seeing the world with new  eyes but the world is seeing you with new eyes as well. After a traumatic brain injury,  once the fog of confusion lifts, you  eventually realize there is no use in looking back only forward. Because, you are no longer who you used to be, so rather than  chase the same dreams ,you invent new ones.  In many ways reality becomes “unreality,” as you keep hoping it’s all just a bad dream that you’ll wake from. The problem arises when it   becomes apparent, that in fact this is your reality. Daydreams, imagination, and fleeting entertainment become your modes of escape. However, when those things end you have to drop back into waking life and  take action. Just make sure you’re moving in the right direction, and not just treading water spinning memories of what you believe your life was supposed to be like at this point in time. Sometimes, in fact, most of the time. Our life story is not linear.  Indeed, after the stroke  occurred mine became somewhat circular. I had to relearn walking, talking, eating, and I’ve fallen short  in my attempts like a toddler often does. But you know what? Now rather then such things  being a setback it’s more of an annoyance! It’s annoying being reminded that there’s still so much work to do. Not only on  myself  but in seemingly every arena outside of  myself  as well. At times it’s like putting back  together a shattered mirror. You just need to get everything to fit correctly, so you can see yourself  again. Until that point there are small pieces of you everywhere that are incomplete. So,  all you can do is carefully collect each piece, inspect it, repair the damage, and then place it back into it’s correct position. In stroke recovery and traumatic brain injury recovery this takes years. However, no day spent on self improvement is wasted. A day becomes wasted if we give up on trying to move  forward. Therefore, never let your spirit become idle my friends.

Stir things up!

Discovery

“Life is too short to be at war with yourself.” -unknown.

After  a traumatic brain injury  our souls tend to get lost in the fog. Actually,  after any serious trauma, every person  needs some time to get a strong foothold on reality once more. However, with strokes and injuries of similar circumstances there can be personality changes.   I remember my Mother saying “You’re still there!” As I giggled with joy at the fact, She had recognized in me  a character trait that had been unchanged by my stroke.  Much like Robin Williams is not recognized by the lost boys as Peter Pan; I had to let my personality shine through so I could be recognized. I was so afraid that besides stealing my life circumstances the stroke had taken my personality too. I spent a great deal of time questioning the what-ifs, buts, and making excuses. Such self doubt led to me over explaining my intentions and questioning myself.  Resulting in a further retreat of my personality. It was when I finally let go, and receded into peace while my circumstances washed around me like water; that I was able to find my way   through the fog of such a traumatic event. If only I had learned to let go sooner, how much further along would I be now? I was clinging to life as it  was, rather then how it IS. Accepting your circumstances doesn’t mean you’re going to settle for being stuck, quite the opposite! Instead, through acceptance comes peace and THEN the real battle can begin.  We all have a variety of battles to fight on our individual paths through life. However, that fight becomes much more difficult when your own ego gets in the way. When you finally embrace the path you’re walking, it is then you can choose which way to go. The fun part comes, when you realize that can be ANY direction.  As a survivor of  a trauma you have been given the tools to write a new book.  I only advise to aim for that book to be on the best sellers list.

The Formula.

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” – Gerard Way.

I’ve been asked on many occasions, how I’ve dealt with a landslide of changes and perceived losses  yet continued to move forward. That’s just it, perception. All of the things that were uncontrollable for me, could happen to anyone, but then again most people don’t have massive strokes in their twenties. As rare as such an event is(thankfully) it’s just as rare to survive it. Besides the initial question of how such a thing could happen, the question became what to do when it does. I have been  attempting to answer that question for the last five years. At first  it was just a matter of survival. While I don’t recall my time in  intensive care my family certainly does. They and the medical team were fighting for me at the time. However, now that I’m able it’s my turn to enlist in the battle for myself. As I have steadily made physical and cognitive gains, many people are impressed. However, what they don’t fully realize is that anyone can achieve what I have, including them. There’s a formula.  Once I became more fully  aware of what had happened to me I became deeply depressed. Except at some point I knew that I couldn’t let that depression be a road block in my recovery. After all, I was in the fight of my life! When push came to shove, I wasn’t going to let the stroke continue to push me down. Certainly it did while I was still in the hospital. But now,  I felt an obligation to getting my life back.  It’s funny that after you’ve been railroaded, a great determination is built up in you as a result. I simply used  this determination to kick some proverbial butt. Along the way I have set some lofty goals for myself. Even if I fail, I will have failed  above other people because I’ve set the bar so high. In the last 1,825 days following my stroke I’ve met and had the pleasure of working with some of the most amazing individuals. Besides, the stroke really showing me what I’m made of, it has unveiled a different side of life. The side we often don’t notice and the places we oft ignore. It is in these places I have found beauty, love, friendship, and thankfulness. A lot of the formula boils down to gratitude and acceptance.

 

Practice gratefulness!

 

 

Happy Holidaze.

Love is a strange emotion. It is ever evolving. Lust is transient. With time, one realizes that love and togetherness are two different things. Very few people are lucky enough to experience the two emotions simultaneously.” -Randeep Hooda.

Happy Holidaze everyone! I hope today’s blog finds you swell. If there’s one thing people enjoy during this bustling time of year, it’s unity and community. However, my inquiry is, why make this an annual event? While the Christmas season is important, aren’t the people you love special 365 days of the year? One of the important lessons that nearly dying has brought me is that time is of the essence. While I was in ICU in a  coma, unbeknownst to anyone my Father had been listening to a voicemail of me singing him happy birthday, and when He thought He had accidentally deleted it He sobbed, thinking He might never hear my voice again. That story was so touching, I am now utterly joyful to sing him happy birthday every year that I’m with him. That little tidbit only reveals the kind of heart that our immediate loved ones have toward us.

You can easily fill up your days with tasks, but you cannot create more days on the calendar. Therefore, besides  the things you have to do to  live in this wild world, try to fill your free time with things that are meaningful. Because our existence on this plane should  help us to grow as people. You can’t do that with your face stuck in social media! I advise some face time  away from the  screen with people that help you grow. As difficult as some people are to deal with, deal with them because the challenge they present actually helps you.   Understand that other people are like water that rushes around you and shapes who you are. This happens in nature as well when rocks are reshaped by the river running around them.  The different currents result in varying shapes, just like  different people you encounter shape you. Lest we forget, the water never breaks the rocks down, only reshapes them. If you’re  running into people that tear you down rather then build you up,  jump into another river!  After all, life is  too short to spend it with toxic people. If  I’m going to go out, I’d rather go out with a bang then be  a slowly smoldering heap of dark smoke. When you spend time with healthy individuals, they will exert light  into  your life  and thus you’ll go out with a bang rather then a dull thud.

Cheers!

-XO Leah-

 

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

You’ve always had the power dear, you just had to learn it for yourself,”  -Glinda the Good Witch.

This post will not be as long as my journey after stroke. Much like Dorothy’s house was picked up in a storm, my life too was hauled off. Except, it was by a stroke rather then a fictional tornado. 

In surviving the fall from the sky, I seemingly eradicated the grim reaper much like Dorothy’s witch. In my travels since emerging from the wreckage, I too have been periodically tormented by fear. While fear is not easily destroyed by a bucket of water as in the film, it  can be destroyed by dousing it with its opposite.  The substance of love, hope, kindness, and healthy support.  You  must ignore that nagging voice in your head that insists everything will go wrong, you won’t be able to achieve your goal, and life is just happening to you. That’s a funny thing because you have the ability to exercise your will and build the road that you desire. The fear you encounter while working  away on your goal can be diffused by declaring the opposite of what it’s trying to  convince you of.  In fact as you follow this path treating yourself with love, and receiving  it from others, you’ll stumble across some breakthroughs. Not only will you experience breakthroughs, but you will also meet people to help you  of an excellent caliber. People who possess hearts full of love, have infinite patience, and a true desire to help. You won’t meet these people while following the path of least resistance. As it turns out after surviving the equivalent of a thousand foot fall from the sky, you can learn to walk again(literally) just as a bird with a mended broken wing will eventually spread its wings and fly. Life doesn’t happen while you stand back and watch but when you press into it, even if it pushes back. Most of my success has happened when I dove into something head first. If you’re afraid then do it afraid! You’ll be surprised by just how much your capable of. However, if you let the fear lay a brick wall in front of you rather then a road you’ll never know. So as the song goes…. “Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick road, follow, follow, follow, follow…. And I’m pretty sure there are no lyrics  concerning  coming to a halt.

Cheers!

bleu

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