“Everything hasitsbeauty, but not everyone sees it.” -Confucius.
What value does being pretty really have? Is it financially gainful?In somecases, yes. Is it morally upright?Does it validate your existence?It would appear that in many societies it does. Especially if you’re of the female persuasion. There was a time, when I felt validated only by my pretty face. Coming to the conclusion that if nothing else, at least I was pretty. However, I’d much rather have a functioning left arm thanbig pretty eyes! Another important question, “What reallymatters?” I found myself resigned to awheelchair, a cane,bulky(heavy)braces, and at one point the ugliest shoes I have ever seen in my life. Where there was oncefreedom of movement, cute littleshoes, and fashionable clothes I found myself stuck with the opposite at the time.Being in these unwanted and unfavorable circumstances made me question my self worth and evensexuality as aWoman. Ino longer felt attractive. In turn this effected how I felt and perceived the world around me. It brought with it the questionof, for many other Women who are(or have become) disabled, how do they feel? Because, until certain aspects of your “normal,”life experiencechange, there are so many nuances you don’t realize or perceive. Sure, it’s quite nice to be told how pretty you are. But really, in the big scheme of things, what does it matter? I remember one comment I receivedin particular(though funny at the time) was quite telling of ourgeneral attitude towards physical appearance. “Well, at least it didn’t mess up your face!” In regards to the stroke, although I’ll readily admit I’m thankful it didn’t. However, what if it did!?Would I find myself relegated to the forgottenintheworld’s population?What a sadtruth this is for oursociety. We place valueon things where there isn’t a whole lot and no value on things where there is much. In fact for some time I had to be stopped from giving away all mybelongings, because after what I went through, the valueof them dropped!At one point in time where I would spendfrivilously, I now carefully(and delibrately) saved. We all know beauty is only skin deep, but how often do we act on that truth? If we actually did, the cosmetics industry would plummet, bank accountbalances would rise, and eating disorders would be arcane. Therefore, take care of your physicalhealth and appreciate the body you have. Especially since it’s on loan and you can’t take it with you!
“You realize that our mistrust of the future makes it hard to give up the past.”
― Chuck Palahniuk.
We’ve got to look forward and keep moving, notdelvinginto the past.This is especially hard if youhave fears about what the future holds.As astroke survivor I found thateven my worries had worries.It wasthat much harder to think of the future not only because of fear, butalso because my heart was stuck in the past.Wemust not let our hearts be offended. Why? Because,taking offense(at someone or something) keeps us in a place of pain and inhibits our growth. If we choose to live in a place of unforgiveness we’ll becomethat much more cold,and hardened, the good things of life cannot grow or flourish inrocky soil! Therefore, we need to let go of the past and of thosethings that hold us back.For what seems like ages I’ve lived in my past. Because quite frankly, having my independence was farbetter than my current bleak reality.However, I am no longer the person that I was, in fact none of us are. To remain the same would be to stunt our growth and limit ourselves. No matter what happens toyou remember that “ You are not a victim but a victor!”In trying times it’s easy to get stuck in the former “better,” situations of our past. However,you must continueswimming forward or even in some cases treading water. Because, if you stop to consider the past too deeply, the weight of it will not only tie you up but cause you to sink. By remaining in my past I missed the good things in my present. The good news is, it’s never too late to begin moving forward. Indeed the sooner the better, and making a habit of it isn’t a bad idea either. Therefore, do not stop to consider your past for too long or too often. Far greater things lie ahead!
“I have found adventure in flying, in world travel, in business, and even close at hand… Adventure is a state of mind – and spirit.”- Jacqueline Cochran
We all want control and have visionsof what our future will hold. However, usuallywhile we’re making plans lifejust happens. In these “derailments,” we find things we didn’t know were there. Such as strength, love, purpose, dreams, and new goals. Whatever your vision is, with perseverance, hope,faithand determination that life is definitely possible! Sometimes we fly above these visions to revisit what we thought our life would be, before coming back down to earthto what our lives actually are. When we’re looking down from above timewill reveal it’s perfect timing inour life’s narrative. While some realities seem better than others, none are completely perfect. After all life really is what you make of it.We feel as if we let go of the steering wheel that we’ll crash;but sometimes the opposite is true. Oddly enough, it is when we let go that we’ll find ourselves going in exactly the right direction. While life can certainly be a cruel mistress, She also has the capacity for grace. A grace that lends itself when you feel undeserving, a grace that finds you in your most trying times, and a grace that never ceases to surprise you. In these surprises you may come to find that the fork in the road was a detour youneeded to take, before reaching the final destination. I’d like to believe that my own detour of a massive stroke not only nearly killed me, but also gave me life. Because without it, I would not have discovered my true strength, seen the beauty of true love, and even more so learned what having faith can accomplish.
Stretching out over many miles and through space and time there exists invisible threads that hold us together. What is it that keeps us close despite time and distance? There are those places in the heart reserved for a special unforgettable few. If you’re lucky those few will be many. Itnever ceases to amaze me that even if far awaysomeone can have aprofound emotional impact on us. This holds true foryou too, and forthose of you that have experienced your heart shift inside of your chest, or a tear has welled up in your eyebecause of the impactofanother person on your particular piece of the world. This bond seems to only be strengthened by theshared experience of trauma. When we go through inexorable circumstances, be it with friends or family, those invisible bonds become solidified. Because, when you come acrossthose who willingly(and happily)hold you up duringlife’s disastersyour more then happy to neverlet those storms stealthem away from your heart. In fact surviving a disaster together only brings us closer!Without the darkness and shadows that lifesometimes presents us with, we couldn’t then see the sunshine and lightin life.The shadow proves the sunshine. It is because of those dark moments that our light onesare able to shine even brighter. Within the light we’ll find those unforgettablefew. They inhabit the depths of our hearts, the caverns of our memories, and remain on the other end of our invisible thread.Aftersuffering the event of almost dying and losing it all, I have gained and found more love then I ever knew previously. Nearly all of this love came from the people on the other end of those invisible threads. They were always there it just took an act of darkness to bring themto light. A bigger tragedy than what actually happened is that I didn’t see them sooner, and so many of us don’t. Therefore, even though the threads are invisible, when you slow life down enough to consider it, they will become more clear to you. Don’t go too fast and miss them.
“With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve.” -Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Each generation wants to think they’re betterthan the last. It’sat the point when you start seriously noticing the differences between your generation and subsequentonesthatit makes you feel old. Well, my friendsI guess I’m “old.” I’m considered part of the annoyingmillennial generation, which has been watched by the world most of our lives. However, as a millennialI have noticed some things about the yet to be officially named generation of current 20- somethings. Not to be confused with baby boomers, the millennialgeneration as well ascurrent 20- somethingscould easilyfall under thesame umbrella, the “Me Generation.”With the rise of social media, apps that doalmost everything, and new technologies,self absorption has never been easier. Unfortunately, along with self absorption comesa lack of ambition, laziness, and anear complete disregard for other people. It’s far too easy to think(and talk, and Instagram, and Snapchat,and Facebook)about yourself all day, rather than more outwardly consider the rest of the world around you. Therefore, if you are an individual that hasn’t beenbrainwashed by social media, get out there, do something, and help someone other than yourself! I promise it feels really good to help someone else. This leads into the question of “ Would we be more fulfilled if we helped each other more?” Not only would a movement of selflessnessmake our lives more enriching, but collectively easier. If we were able to count on someone other than ourselves it would lead to a lotless stress and a lot more breathing room. Having less stress means less physical ailments and evenmanydiseases!Everyone wins. We don’t have to imagine a world like this when we easily have thepower to startamovement like this today. All it takes is one person and oneact of selflessness , simply just do it , and help start a chain reaction of kindness, love, and helping.
“You can’t get rid of fear, it’s likeMother Nature.You can’t beat it or outrun it, but you can get through it, and find out what you’re made of.”– the good dinosaur(Pixar)
Whether your influence is of the dark or of the light, both really matter. Because likein bumper cars, sometimes life hits usandwe getsent in all sorts of directions, but after the initial impact we can usually choose in which direction we’regoing to go. We all deal with things differently, and over time like butterflies, we experience a metamorphosis. Where one person can turna bad circumstance into good, others mistakenly follow or choosea darker path. The world expertly presents us with things that are“good,”but areactually cloaked in darkness. For example, all that yummy processed food that will eventually kill you, or the allure of tarot cards and the occult.This was pointed out to me in a dream recently.No matter whatyour trialis you have a choice in how to deal with it. Oftentimes our trialschangeus,like water running over rocks and changing their shapes and textures. Not only do trials and time change us, but they also show us what we’re made of.Some of us will be pleasantly surprised by our resilience, while others bitterly disappointed by our brokenness. The fact is, we all have the potential to be either built up or broken down. That’s why it’s so important to choose the paths that lead you intothe light of happiness, faith, love, and hope. Rather thanthe darkness of negativity,hopelessness, and depression.Whatever your going through there are many positive resources available to you, you just have to do some foot work! Not only that, but pay attention to and remind yourself of all the things thatgive life beauty. Whether it be in nature or in human kindness(like the video below )
Florence and the Machine sing to and for a young girl with cancer in Her hospital room that couldn’t attend their concert.
“Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.” -Thomas Paine.
I came into hisEmergency Department unresponsive ona gurney. This man had never seen me before andWe had never spoken. Yet, evenso He took it uponhimself, bound and determined to save my life. The life of a person that had never includedhimuntil it nearly slipped away. I’m not sure why I was so blessed to have been chosen as aspecialcase for him, but I was and I’m sure that I’m alive to write this todaybecause ofthat.Not too long ago this very man passed away from this world intothe next. It was a loss not only for his family, but for everyone. Because, that day the world lost a unique and special soul. For me, I losta guardian angel. Who knows why certain people come in and out of our lives? However, inspecial cases not all of them are merely human. Without even knowing it, yourlife’s path may very wellcome acrossan angels. It’s difficult to convey in words how much of an impact a man I didn’t really know had in my life. The fact that a near perfect stranger rushed to my hospital bedside at all hours of the night to rescue me was surely an act of love. No ordinary(and naturally selfish) person would do that. Uponlearning of his passing it was incredible to take into account the impact that this individual had, hadon my life and so many others. It would be acrime to waste the incredible gift that He had given me.This triple board certified physician specialist(in ICU and stroke) possessed a brilliant mind, big heart, and a pair of talented hands. The first(and only) time I met himafter the stroke, my Mother observed him quietly staring at me for several minutes while I talked to other hospital employees. We both wonder what He must’ve been thinking. Surely, still working outsolutions for his “ special case,” even then.Even though our second trip to see him again did not come to pass, his prediction did. “ The next time I seeyou, you’ll be walking.”Indeed I am not onlynowwalkingbut the next time I see him I’ll be running! In this journey through life none ofus complete it entirely on our own.As if it were aniditarod(see here) there is always someonespecial that appears and helps you on the way to the finish line.For me, during the long anddifficult race, I had avery capable and giant helping hand in Doctor Devasenapathy, or better known as “ Dr. D.” Henot only helped me to complete the race, but tostay in the race at all. Therefore,show kindness and love to your fellow man, because you never know when you might be entertaining an angel.
“Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.” -Winston Churchill
Perhaps you’re afraid of commitment, a strong independentWoman, or claustrophobic. Therefore, youlikelydislike and understand feeling tied down. Everyone wants to feel free to do what they want to do. However, there are things in life that can restrict us, and understandably so, we really hate that. Anything that serves to hold you back, hold you up, or hold youdown must go! We forget that these things aren’t always physical, but many are emotional too. If you cannot at least rid yourself of the physical circumstances, the good news is that the emotional ones you can. After all, give anything time and work on it with determination, perseverance,with grit, and it will change. For a time in my case it was the ball and chain of medications. Ileft the hospital with a tray full of nearlyten(10!) different daily medications, a feeding tube, a daily shot, and confined to a home hospital bed. That was three years ago(2013)and what do I have now?Well, only two(2!) daily medications, no feeding tube, and a supremely comfortable new queen bed. You see? Give it time. Granted, my family and I worked very hard to get here. Even in those times of feeling defeated or utterly disdainful, I can proudly say Ialways got my butt out of bed to face the day.Why? Because like certain foods, you eat it anywaybecause it’s good for you.This is telling of the fact that you just need to facelifeno matter how scary it becomes. Because, like a taunting grade school bully, if you stand up to it, it will back down into a more manageable situation. At one time I needed medication to keep me sane, yetmore recently said medication is no longer needed. It’s been kicked to the curb. You can do thistoo, no littlepillcan “fix,” your problems as well as you can by changing your way of thinking.Perhaps, you’ll surprise yourself in finding that life gets ever better when you jump at it, rather then shrink away. If you need any reassurance of that, just ask the girlwhowas at once downtrodden but nowfinds victory in everyday living. Because, simply having the privilege to liveout each day is a victory.
“ ‘Closed timelike curve’ is the jargon for time travel. It means you go out, come back and meet yourself in the past.”-Kip Thorne.
As I stood at the gates next to my FatherI could nearly grasp those lost childhood years. The now abandonedpark that I gazed into was once teeming withactivity. However, now it stands a silent and still monument toan era of magic.Originally built in 1963 and closed down in 1999,The Prehistoric Forest (or “Dinosaur Land”)encapsulated a few years of my life within it.While Igazed into the park with a myriadnumber of mixed emotions welling up inside me; Iimagined as I shrunk back into a child the park grew upfull life again. There exists throughout time and space pieces of us and our hearts wherever we’ve passed. In this case a road side attraction hadpieces of my beloved childhood memories within it. Beyond the fencemeant to keep me out, lay 8 acres of overgrown trails, random dinosaur(some broken)sculptures, anda precious piece of me. It nearly felt as ifthere was an invisible wall and I could walk through intomy memory. So badly did I desire to relive that period, but alas time marches on with or without us. What it does leave behind for us are the memories. Even though I couldn’t physicallybe back inside of that memory,I was surrounded by the ghosts of it. I found it funny that present day I was standing in front of this park with the very people who lived in that memory with me, my Mom and Dad. Nothing will make youcherish your life more then standing in front of the ruins of it, from a marvelousperiod gone by. I could see a little me excitedly grabbing my Dad’s hand and crunching across the gravel to the now empty souvenir shop. “I want theneon triceritops stuffed animal Dad!”Although this place was fading away as each page of time was turned, it remained as vivid as ever within my memories. My Parents aregetting older and showing signs of wear, but here, in my memory they are always young. Never had inanimate objects made me consider my mortality more. I thought of all those moments that seem to go by unnoticed while they’re happening, but later become wholly significant. Because even as your living it that timewill hold great value in the future. Therefore, take lots of pictures, slow down, and tell the people whom deserve it that you love them every chance you get. To learn and see more about my memory, click here!
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. -Dalai Lama
How much better could we understand each other, if we were ableto actually inhabit each other’s bodies? Like some version of the movie Freaky Friday.I certainly know that I wished someone could inhabit my body(other than me) so theycould better understand my point of view. However, there is the ability of empathy , but even that wasn’t enough for me or othersthat are in a crazy situation. Mere words were not enough, I wanted an absolute understanding and connection with someone. The support group I had gone to before,I left because it was too negative and seemingly a group of people sitting around griping and being sad.More recently I actuallyrevisited the group and found it to be better. Although, there was an overwhelming sentiment of people just wanting a relationship. Some had even never really had a romantic relationship. Whether romantic or not, it seems thatwell and“sick,” people are looking for a real connection. Why is that?Even in an age that is so well connected.What makes it so difficult to connect with another human? Have we built up our walls of protection to betoo resilient? Is it a lack of empathy?Perhaps it’s a mix of both. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that we need to be connecting to more than just the internet. Except for anyone in an isolated circumstance, the internetbecomes the connection. When you can’t really leave your house and your social life ishanging on by a thread, the internet offers some much neededsocialization. Personally, I’m very social and I like talking to people so this was crucial for me. However, what about those who only see a caregiver and don’t really use the computer!?I have often asked the Woman that comes over to help me, how much She knows about the other people Sheworks for. Of course, this is not done only to be nosy on my part. Knowing that some of those people likely desperately needa social life, why nothelp provide them withthat?Sadly, not everyone realizes how important that is until it happens to them. Again,where is thatbody switching machine!? We really do need more understanding among us. Since this occurred to me I have become so much more aware ofthe spirits inside ofsome people. The World may see a smelly, street person, but I see the person inside who really just needssome compassion and acknowledgement. You don’t have to be religious, a guru, or “new age,” tosee someonestrue spirit. You just need to pay attention in those places that the rest of the world(or those around you) ignore.