“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.”
― John Lennon.
Do you know what a mandala is? It’s an intricate design made with colored sand created by TibetanMonks. Each one holds a different meaning and at the end of a certain period of time, the monk who created it(taking hours and days) destroys it. Why?(here)What is the lesson we can draw from it?It is one of the impermanence of our existence. Although short, it’s important to make something as beautiful as you can before it is wiped away. This speaks to the temporal state of life and is wholly encouraging. Because, since things are generally temporary, this also means there is no way you can be stuck in bad circumstances forever. In fact,it is assuring to know that there is an end. One can draw an admirable parallel, that despite these monks knowing their creation will eventually be destroyed, they painstakingly create it anyway. As easy as it would be to make one in a hurry or be lazy about it, they choose to break their backs(and maybe cross their eyes) over the intricate design of a mandala. These humans don’t simply give up orbecome laissez-faire about it but rather, the opposite! No endeavor is neglected in spite of its impermanence. In the midst of struggle this creation and symbolic destruction of a mandala brings hope. It points to focusing on the positive, creatingsomething beautiful while you can, and the eventualend toa bad situation. In that vein I’d encourage you to “ Make something beautiful while your here, because it’s temporary.”Use thebright colorsthat dwell in yourheart to make a beautiful patternwith your life.
“If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”
-Frank A Clark.
There is a line that runs across the globe of my life, and you can’t see it. It’sthe day of October 12th, 2012, a space in time that has forever separated my life into a “before, and after.” Well, the before and after the massive stroke that is. Everything gets compared to and measured against this timeline continually. The closer I can get to the before measurement, the better. I used to think that my life was the most valid on the before side of this line. However, as things improve the after side isn’t looking as doomed. If you’re a psychology buff as I am, you will know that we often misremember our past aswell as our futures. This has been proven by numerous studies. In my search to nullify my own psychic pain from all the struggles of recovery I have discovered this fact, as well as the factthat 85% of our worries do not come true (read here).Combined, these two mental objects set in the landscape of time have helpedthe “after,” side of the equatorbecome as sunny as South Florida. The blindfold blocking your mind from this view is that we often believe our futures will be like our present. We can let bad circumstances settle upon us and bury us, or choose to be enlightenedby them like a flint being struck against stone. When push comes to shove, those bad circumstances have to go!Your life is as valid as you choose to view it. Surprisingly, all those traits that doctors worried the stroke would take away have survived. I’ve just had to work very hard to uncover them. The point being, that no matter what the tragedy, few things can take away your spirit.My personality has not been lost(or re-shaped) by the seven blood clots that threatened to make me brain dead. Rather, the human spirit proves to persevere.
“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him.” positively. -Bob Marley.
Whether you’re considered an artist or not, we all create something. What ever that something is, be it cooking, painting, playing an instrument, taking care of a loved one, or simply doing your menial job well, all of it matters.Ensure the legacy you leave is one of love,hard work, and one that leaves an indelible mark onthose aroundyou. Even the most simple tasks done well cangive a sense of pride. Since I have not been able to work in my busy fast pacedcareer since the stroke, I’ve learned to channel that energy elsewhere.Now I put much more care and effort into everyday tasks. None of which are recognized on a stage, by the public ,or sometimes even my own family. However, when I know I’ve done somethingto the best of my ability or taken extra care, I’m satisfied. Because, whether it’s folding towels, washing dishes, or organizing my desk, I aim to leave a trail of excellence, and that’s how I’ll be remembered. No job is too small,ortoo big.When you start by tackling the “small things,” with ease, the big thingsget a whole loteasier. At one point I struggled to even dress myself, it was utterly exhausting! Afterwards I felt as if I’d just had a work out and be angry at the fact it took so much more effort then it did prior to the stroke.As I lay huffing and puffing on my bed, my Mother assured me with a laugh“It’ll get easier.” And you know what?One sock at a time it did. Now it takes me no more effort then it did before to get dressed. Atone point I balked at therapists who assured me doing the dishes would pay off. Even though I once thought all these menial things made no difference, I was wrong. By starting with washing one dish, putting on one incredibly tight pressure sock(with one arm), foldingthat little washcloth, and organizing a drawer… Those things have now become getting fully dressed with ease, doing full loads of laundry, ALL the dirty dishes in the sink, and organizing an entire office. Since I have discovered this secret of starting small,I’m continually up to something. After all,every Neil Armstrong has had to start training down on earth before they cantake their first steps on the moon.
Even crooked trees grow up to be as strong and mighty as the straight ones.
We’ve all felt like the crooked tree in the forest at one point or another, not quite fitting in.
I used towonder how will I (a self professed crooked tree) be remembered?At some point or another we all question how others willremember us after we pass on. Well, I got to find out, except I’m still living. After I nearly diedandthroughout mymiraculous recovery from it, I’ve heard the memories and impressions that people had of me.It’s been a mixture of surprise andincredibly surreal. However, it also bears the marks of sadness becauseas much as I’d like to I cannot revisit and relive the past. Therefore, Ialso can’t go back and change it, but I can change the future. Although, none of us truly have control we do have the power to make choices. In fact we make thousands each day(knowingly and unknowingly) however small they may seem. This begs the question “How would you like to be remembered?” For being strong, tenacious, brilliant, ambitious, or kind? Rather thanunkind, lazy, or at a stand still in life I’m sure. I’ve been more than surprised(and blessed) to hear that the last memories of me would’ve been greatly positive. This confirms that I’ve had a great life and left the kind of mark on it I want to thus far(and I’m not finished! You too can leave the marks you desire, and there’s no time like the present in which to start. Sometimes, life can be daunting and it seems better to take the path of least resistance, but I promise there’s more rewardsto be had from thepath less traveled. You can start today planting seeds for the future(whether straight or crooked) that will grow into trees looming in a forest comprising the memories of you.There are hardly words to describe how truly wild life can be. Since this whole event occurred to me(iethe massive stroke)hardly a day has gone by where I’m not in awe of the things that I’ve seen since. Just as a huge wave of love, and the best came out of New Yorkers after 9/11; I have witnessed much of the same from people after my own disaster. This has left me a better person andwith the conviction, that it shouldn’t require a disaster to bring out the best in us. We canchoose to be our best selves everyday.
“The person we believe ourselves to be will always act in a manner consistent with our self-image.” -Brian Tracy.
I couldn’t write this unless I practiced what I preached. As a recovering shopaholic and a recovering stroke victim I’ve learned by the most difficult way possible, the value of things. Whereas before(the stroke) I was shortsighted and indulged in instant gratification, I do no longer. Because, in the broad view of life material objects only offer short term happiness and pale in comparison to the achievement of your dreams and goals. These days I find more fulfillment in taking steps towards my goals rather than a shopping spree. Not to mention, seeing that money in the bank rather than collecting in the number of objects around you, is far better. A bad habit or overindulgence is indicative of a missing piece inside you. While I am not complete, I’ve realized that too much shopping is a form of self defeat. Perhaps it’s a self image thing, boredom, or just a ” girl thing,” but I certainly don’t want it to be mything! It’s helpful to push that pile of stuff out of the way from blocking your goals. Not only that but our society of mass consumption has blinded us from the fact that all those material objects are mostly unnecessary. I shudder when I think of shopping malls filled to the brim with stuff.Where does it all go? Either into landfills(the Earth is getting sick of our trash), your basement, a spare room, or when you move you’ll get the pleasure of lugging exorbitant amounts of personal belongings into a truck. Did I mention that you have to pay for it all? Never mind all the things you could’ve done with those funds instead. The memories We create together are priceless, your designer handbag is not. As a matter of fact, if you ever try to resell it you won’t receive your money back, and more than likely it was manufactured in Indonesia. Perhaps I’m being too harsh. However, wasting your precious time and money is worse! The more this revelation becomes clear, I move closer to becoming a minimalist. I’m more interested in life experiences,good memories, and achieving my goals than shopping. While I’ll admit I still enjoy it, but I enjoy saving money even more now. Like Mr. T(see here) I pity the fool who pays full price for anything. Just like empty calories don’t fill you, and can cause obesity, so does shopping too much. When you begin to feed on material that nourishes your soul, you’ll feel more satisfied and the only thing that will become obese is your bank account!
and with that I challenge you not to shop for 30 days,
“The secret of genius is to carry thespirit of the child into old age,which means never losing your enthusiasm.” -Aldous Huxley.
Those of us who manage to hold onto our childlike wonder, become like amagnet,and light to others. It is with the simple joys of a child that life becomes and remains magical. Why is it that imagination(or creativity) is so often scoldedrather than fostered?It seems that the World is uncomfortable with the daydreamers. However, before We are able to do anything we must imagine it first. No great feat(personal or otherwise) has been accomplished by following the rules,playing it safe,orby thinking within the box. Unfortunately people like to see others fail, rather than flourish. Therefore, they try to negate thegrand ideas of dreamers. Whether it’s by telling you that you cannot accomplish something or children inschool(a rigid place) teasingthe often aloof daydreamer of the group.The more opposition you’re met with is a clue thatyour on the right track. Although, it’s unwise to be bullheadedand stubborn.At any rate, just don’t give up on your dreams.It is known that fear and doubt only serve to derail you,so ignore thosefalsedirections!Surround yourself with that which is good, and turn a blind eye tothe doubters.Life is far too short to waste any time withthe fears of someone else. Fillyour mind with encouragement and positive thoughts. It helps tremendously to fix your thoughtsonwhat istrue,honorable,right,pure,lovely,and admirable(Phil 4:8). Personally I’ve found thatby just havinglovely thoughts and objects around me, it makes a difference. More recently I acquired an old 1960’s vanity, which I filled with lovely objects that lift my spirit,eitherwith memories or simply their aesthetic. We(family) refinished it back to it’s original splendor, and then I proceeded todecorate it with what makes mefeel good(see below). Some people create shrines to a specific God,but I think it also worthy tocreateashrine to all that makes you feel good(an idea here)whether, you choose a physical collection of objects, or a vision board you cannot go wrong. Before something can manifest in the physical, it’s imperative we visualize it,and this is why imagination is so vital to the human experience. Dear friends,don’t be swayed by the cares of this world,because if youlet it,it will choke the dreams from behind your eyelids. Therefore, keep your eyes seton the sky above,and shoot for the moon!
“For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.”
Not too long ago a friend asked me if I was afraid of death, and She was right in supposing that I am not. In coming soclose todyingand surviving, any fearsof it were removed.Although I cannot completely take the credit. Many doctors,nurses,friends,family,and certainly angels were present. There is no reason to fear death because We are immortal. It has been scientifically shown that, energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Therefore, our energy(or soul) must simply be transferred somewhere else. Thislife is a transient plane. If your circumstances are bad, it helps to remind yourself that nothing is forever. This reminder also helps us to savor the present moment.While no one knows what happens to us when We pass,there are many theories. Some people have actually surmiseda weight for our soul( 21 grams). There is no reason to fear. Through my recovery, love hascontinually carried me through. Each day We have a choice, there is no “wrong side of the bed.” Were notat the mercyofour emotions. This certainly doesn’t mean be robotic,just that We have a choice. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy having some semblance of control. Even though the World seems random or out of control it is oddly enough quite orderly. The Earth obeys laws of nature, the sun rises and sets each day, and even the stars arein patterns that create constellations. Each day your lungs inhale oxygen,you open your eyes, and move about freely(some cannot) We are not like a Fall leaf carried by the wind, so this is actuallygood news!You can make a conscious decision tobe happy(and share it with others)or not. As Yoda says(nerd alert!). Do or do not, there is no try.Hope deferred makes the heart sick, if youfollow the ways of love, you can’t go wrong. Each of us have options(yay options!) We can choose life(positivity) or choose death(negativity) Both have been placed before us. To my knowledge you’ll always winwhen you choose life.