“Isn’t it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties? Perhaps hopelessness is the very soil that nourishes human hope; perhaps one could never find sense in life without first experiencing its absurdity.”- Vaclav Havel.
When a horrendous situation is thrust upon us, we often lament “Why me!?” However, abetter question is “Why not me?’ Terrible things happen every dayto guilty and innocentpeople alike.Each of us at birth were not promised a problem free life. In fact quite the opposite as our new Parents worried increasingly as we grew up. Because, at that momentthey knew what we didn’t; that life is difficultand dangerous. Therefore, they sought to protect us as best as they could without confiningus solelyto the house. It’s not a questionof why did it happen,but since it has how will you react to it? What will you do under the circumstances?Will this reveal your character or diminish it?Some people believe in fate, that our lives have been pre-orchestrated for us. This is not so, life is a series of choices no matter how small. The choices we make continuously throughout life culminate into our circumstance. When those choices are taken away and we find ourselves in a bad circumstance, we stillhave choices.When bad things happen it’s easy to give in, but ultimately at some pointwe must choose to get out.You cantake steps no matterhow small(mentally or physically) to escape your bad circumstance.When I first was injured the last thing I wanted to do was get out of my warm comfortable bedfor therapy or a painfully early doctor appointment. Except I pushed through and did it anyway. At that point I had no choice but to get better, because I was starting from the lowest point reached in my life . Each day you make the choice to get better your addingto thebank of your future and making it brighter. Your seemingly small action is priceless and will culminate into better days ahead. So, have heart brave soldier and carry on. I promise you won’t regret it!
“A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”
― Theodore Roosevelt.
Every day we choose to move forwardwith hope,with determination, with perseverance, and tenacity we havecasted our vote. Because, not every election is political. Many times we need to vote for ourselves, our future, our dreams, and above all choose life over death. Throughout my recovery I have had to choose between giving up, giving in, or, giving it everythingI’ve got. When faced with insurmountable circumstancesthe struggle and the “race,” is very real. What you decide to invest in or votefor, will determine the direction in which your life goes. However, in order to win or finish the race, you cannot quit running. No matter how you feel it will do you wellto get up and face the day anyway. Whateverplace you’re in there is always a chancefor progress. The gains are not always instantaneous but with diligentwork they will soon become evident. Therefore, have heartand ignore the naysayers! My friends, you’ll blow right past them by maintaining your focus onyour main goal. Whether it be the oval office ortoattain your dream, both are achievable. Just as sure as the sky is blue I believe you can do it. More importantly, do you believe in yourself? The indomitable human spirit is capable ofamazingthings Ipromise you that. Therefore, get out of bed even though you’d like to hide in it because your resolve feels weak.The vote you cast in yourself and for your future, will give your feet a strong reason to hit the floor every morning and get moving.
“I refuse to let others walk thru my mind with their dirty feet.”
I’m a walking contradiction, a conundrum even to myself. For I have everything and nothing at the same time. At the onset of myordeal(the stroke) Imissed out on a few social engagements, a tropical vacation, a raise, my apartment in Astoria Queens was no longer, andI lost the job I had been working when the stroke occurred.Oh, and I woke up back where I started before I moved to New YorkCity and physically worse for wear. To add insult to injury my boyfriend also broke up with me. This all accumulated into a waking nightmare. As if life isn’t hard enough, my blood and brain had conspired against me. I rarely(if ever) have written about how I felt after waking up in the hospital in my home state; but its safe to say complete and utter loss while in a black abyss. Ican recallmyself loudly and randomly letting out screams of emotional pain in the rehabilitation department. However, there’s a catch because, better a delaythan a disaster. Also, it didn’t hurt that Iam surrounded by an incredible group of family and friends; who helped me through my pain, and very often their own. At this point and especially in the hospital, most would concurthat I had lost it all and nothing remains. Even as I am writing this with one hand because my left arm is currently paralyzed, I know I haven’t lost it all. In fact just as the night is darkest before the dawn in nature, so is life sometimes. Indeed the days are getting lighter as time passes. How could they not!?You see I have everything because, I’vebeen instilled with an indomitable spirit, the determination and perseverance to succeed, andthe wisdom to recognize tiny daily miracles. This all adds up to my main goal, numero uno… which is to get back on the tracks my train was derailed from.Each one of us encounter disasters in life, but with the rightglasses on we can still see the light in the darkness. There is never complete darkness in nature or in our lives. Even when we imagineit to be so, the reality is that it is not. I can honestlytell you that it does get better. Except, there is one thing…. No matterthe mountain, you must never give up!
“Having hit a wall, the next logical step is not to bang our heads against it.”- Stephen Harper.
Whether the wall is a physical one(visible) or an emotional one(invisible) we all are facing a wall of some kind. These walls separate us from our goals, desires, forward movement, and even other people. It is interesting to note that thenon-physical can literally stop us in our tracks. Among the lies we tell ourselvesare fear and worry. These two things have an especially good knack for stopping us from what we really want. Because of these negative emotions and their mind games wetend to lose the ability to move ina forward direction. Beyondthis wall is a more positive self image that will spurn us upward and onward! To changethe circumstance, we need to change our self image. Thetrifecta of anger, complaints, and ungratefulness is a sure road to failure. It iswith a positive self image and thankfulness that we’ll find the keys to success. However, this is more then just positive thinking, we literally must change our self image in order to succeed. This is not an easy feat, especially when you’re caught in the midst of circumstances you hate. The trick is, by finding things you are grateful for inthe middle oflife’s storms, they will hold less power over you andtheir effects won’t be so devastating. This in turn will open up an in road beyond the wall that you face.By recognizing your strength rather then weakness, the good over the bad, and taking a reflective moment each day to see these things, you’ll be well on your way beyond the wall that is stopping you. Be the victor rather then the victim, and the healed rather then the sick!
“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”- Abraham Lincoln.
In the ever present stay calm and carry on posters they forget two words, and on. Therefore, they should readStay calm and carry on and on and on! Why? Because we arecreatures of great resolve when we’re pressed against the grind stone. Everyone struggles at some point, and no matter what it it is every struggle feelsdaunting and like it is specifically yours. However, there are many people struggling with the same thing, it is your reaction to that struggle that makes it individual. Not to mention, our struggles have a funny way of making us strong where we once were weak. At times when your looking for answers in the midst of trouble you are met with silence. Yet we mustn’t forget that when you’regoing through something difficult, the teacher is quiet during the test. Even amidst the silence youare not alone. It is within these hardships that our determination and perseverance really shine. I have been asked how I am able to continue and remain so optimistic in a situation many would find bleak. The fact is, I remain optimistic because Ibelieve there is more to this world then only what I can see. There is no solid explanation forour existence, just as there is no solid explanation as to how I survived death.One can only assume that there must be a teacher out there helping me(and you) along the way. It is because of thiswe keep on going and do not faint or crumble at the first signs of trouble. Rather, we buckle down to withstand the storm and reach our goals that lie just on the other side of them.
“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” -Louisa May Alcott.
The Jersey Shore is a testament to resilience, community, and triumph. It is a place that was nearly destroyed and its residents run off after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Yettoday itstillstandsstrong and as beautiful as ever. Just as the ocean waves rushed in causing destruction, the residents have returnedand rebuilt.Within the borders of the beach you’ll find a community of close knit families, tourists, and friends. Just as the towns along the shorehave survived and are thriving, so are these relationships. Infact I enjoyed a week in Lavallette New Jersey at the shore because of one of these relationships. It is one that like the shore itself, has withstoodthe tests of time andthe battering ram of ahorrific hurricane. In this caseit was with long time and much loved friends that have been with me since beforethe massive stroke. Anything that canwithstand such an event deserves recognition. Because,stories of victory are few and far between outside of superhero movies.However, there are plenty of real life superhero stories.Theygive us hope, they give us strength, andremind usof why we keep on going. Therefore,we need to hear even morestories like these. Surrounded by the newly rebuilt homes and beautiful beach front, I observed a community that rallied together and rose up under theEast Coast sun. There was life, laughter, and plenty of love coursing through the streetsthat were once threatened with total destruction. Itreminded me that even though life mayput us throughunsuspected andseemingly insurmountable circumstances, we can still emerge on the other side of them just as strong. Indeed we can emerge even stronger than before! They refine us like the ocean waves smooth out rough rocks and bits of glass. The relationships thatsurvive the storms with us are like little protective cacoons of love. Just as we become stronger because of the storm, so do they. Whileit’s difficultto find any thankfulness for theselife storms, I am thankful for the aftermath. Thesestorms leave survivors stronger, with wisdom, and highlighting the love we sometimes forgetexists.
“Who are we but the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and believe?”
― Scott Turow, Ordinary Heroes.
Stories of triumph, stories of success, and stories of dreams coming true. These are the kinds of tales that keep us alive and keep us going. For me, these stories were a life boat in the middle of a dark and stormy ocean. The stories you and I tell ourselves make a tremendous impact on how we feel and in which direction we go. The difference between a good story and a bad one canput into motion either success or failure When every avenue seemed bleak, I could always pullpositive stories from my memory library to serve as an escape. My current life circumstances(post stroke) were a sinking ship of titanic proportions. However, reaching back into my memory banks, I could pull a story from a happier time. Without these invisible books I was headed for the bottom gasping for air, another casualty of life’sbad circumstances.While these books seem imaginary, the life lines they offer are very real. These stories told me I could accomplish my dreams as I had before, that the impossible was possible(as possible is part of the word itself) and gave me a reason to get up in the morning rather then languish in bed. A good story will motivate you and give you confidence, while a bad one will take away all of your hope. Do you suppose that thelegends of our time told themselves stories of failure?I’m certain it was just the opposite! I posit they reassured themselves that their mountains could be conquered. In this way we need to do the same thing. Whatever your goal, tell yourself that you canand thenpull examples of all your past successes. The longer you ruminate on past or current(perceived or real) failures, the longer you’ll remain in unwanted circumstances. By dwelling you effectively anchor yourself in shallow waters. Therefore, use positive stories toputthe windin your sails and venture to deeper waters. It is there you’ll find more to explore and myriad possibilities. Furthermore, surround yourself with people that add to the positive stories rather than help anchor you in shallow waters.
“You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.”
― Roman Payne.
I am not the sole creator or proprietor of my own life. For example, my Mothergave me a creativenature, my Father a strong work ethic, friends helped me learn some life lessons along the way, and my intelligence was(is) God given. Therefore, I am not merely one thing, but many pieces that create a whole. However, I am certainly responsible for which direction I head in, but I cannot take all the credit. It’s actually difficult to pick one singular direction because life offers so many. It’s as if we’re perpetually at afive way street crossing, or fork in the road. This is compounded by the fact that we have so many different parts to us. This is what happens when you exist in a worldthat contains many different outside influences. It is neither small norclosed off, but in fact it is endless! Since we are made up of so many aspects, why then,do we only live for ourselves?To be selfless over selfish is more rewarding and beneficial. It has even been shown in nature, that the most selfish creatures are less likely to survive. Apparently this didn’t cross over too much into human existence, or so it seems. However, if youpay attention it absolutely did! People and societies that exhibit high levels of selfishness, often don’t do as well, and are least liked. On alarge scaleit would make sense if the world were moregiving(and forgiving) but even more so on a personal level weneed to be more giving(and forgiving) to one another. After all, it has to start somewhere. Not to mention, each large and obvious movement(be it physical or societal) begins as a small quiet seemingly invisibleaction. A sweep of your arm is first triggered by tiny signalsin the neurons of your brain. What you eventually see and feelphysically, starts out somewhere unseen. The sameapplies to social movements, dreams, and hopes that you have for the future.Therefore, go forward with confidence and be the change that you want to see in the world andin your own life.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”- Marcel Proust.
Memories can be a blessingor a curse to us, or sometimeseven a torment.We all have memories of better times in thepast than our currentcircumstances, thatcan serve as cruel reminders. However, what if we had no recollection of our past at all, but only awareness of the present?This would allow us to remove the usual blinders we have on and see our lives from a new perspective. Not only this, but we would experiencea new(even heightened) level of gratitude for what we do have, rather than always compare things to what we had before. Not to mention, the problem many have of constant comparison to others.This doesn’t mean we should forget our past,because we can learn so much from it and useit as a guide.For a good number of months my memories of life before the stroke would torment me.I dared not linger in bed too long and let the negative thoughts traverse my mind. Because, I could remember what it was like notto have so many doctor appointments,be free of braces,run, walk normally, drive a car,live independently, and not have any type of rehabilitation. I surmised that those who had never experienced a “normal,” lifehad it better because they had nothing in which to comparetheir current circumstances to. Therefore, they were likely experiencing more gratitude and happinessthan I was. However, as life often does, perhaps this was my lesson to learn. Regardless of my circumstance I had to learn to look for the roses among the thorns. Each negative thought needed to be taken into captivity, inspected for helpfulness, and thrown out. Because, if a thought that floats into your head isn’t helpful,it doesn’t deserve to be there. I cannot afford to entertainor accumulate these negative thoughts, and neither can you. They only serve to create sprawling toxic black trees in our brains, rather than healthy green ones. This certainly does not bring us life but only death. We need to practice mindfulness, so don’t hesitate to police your thoughts! Very often what we’re thinking will determine what we’re experiencing.
“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” -Steve Jobs
For most of us themoments in our lives blur together like water color and form one large painting. It’s easy to forget that a lifetime is made up of a series of separate moments. It’swithin these moments that what makes life worth living can be found. It is also withinthese moments that we can forget where we are. Not recognizing this, we take a lotfor granted. One of my biggerfrustrations was the realization that like many of you, I missed my moment. Before my life was inexplicably changedI was letting everything blur together. If I had but for a moment stopped to consider my circumstances I would’ve been filled with enormous gratitude. Not unlike Scrooge on Christmas morning when He realizes He is alive and the valueof that life. It’s a wonder that more of us aren’t skipping down the street showering gifts upon everyone we come across. Because, quite simply had I realized the magnitude of blessings that I was living in, I nevercould justify being sad(or selfish)about anything. In fact quite the opposite, I’d be that annoying overlygiving and happy person all the time! How little do we know what a gift our lives are. Even now, though my circumstances are lessthan desirable I am still blessed. When in times of self pity, I often consider those less fortunate than myself. While I was in my little corner of the world being angry my left arm was paralyzed, there was a young man(I met him) wishing He had an arm to feed himself with. Because by a freak accident He hadbecome quadriplegic.Many years ago I scribbled the quote “The best thing to do with the best things in life, is to give them away,” on my bedroom wall. At the time I didn’tknow how true this was. Had I known how truly fortunate I was before the accident, I think I would’ve very well done this!After all, you can’t take all those prized possessions with you. You can always makemore money but you can’t awaysmake more time. Therefore, use your time well, and value experiences over material possessions. While I was bed ridden and trapped in ahospital, my previous life circumstances seemed like a dream. In many ways they still do. Little did I know at the time, that Iwas livinga dream!And somewhere in the world, your life is like a dream to someone else too. Maybe at one point like me(but hopefully not) it willseem like a dream even to you. All I wanted in the hospital was for my life to be the way it was. Tothinkthat I ever spent even a day of it depressedor sad was a travesty. Because, in comparison to my current positionthe girl I had been had everything and then some. She was physically able to do everything, had an incredible job, lived in an amazing place, and most importantly was independent. From where I was standing,or rather, laying She was all I wanted to be. I used to gripe about the traffic, now simply driving at all would be a hugejoy. I lived for the weekends when I wasofffrom work, now I’d happily put in extra hours. Sometimes I wished I was somewhereelse, but now I’d do nothing but take in my present surroundings. The point is, I had it all and didn’t realize it. Even now, you have it all too, even though you may notthink so. I promise you do.