Posts Tagged ‘determination’
“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.
“The most pathetic person in the world is some one who has sight but no vision.”
― Helen Keller.
When you look at something, what do you see? Do you see what’s on the surface, the physical, the flaws, the beauty, or the potential? In my experience, if you can supersede your natural instincts and look past the obvious that’s when forward motion in life occurs. It’s easy to see an obstacle that’s been placed in front of you by life, and perceive it as impossible to surpass. However, there are those that see what is possible instead. Whether it’s being born with muscular dystrophy, losing an arm, or becoming a full time model(and actress) in New York even though you were born by society’s standards as irredeemably ugly, anything is possible! What these three women embody is the ability to overcome and look past those barriers with true grit and vision. It would’ve been easy to give up and let the lemons they’d been handed slowly dry out their resolve and souls in the process. Instead, they used those very lemons to quench their thirst. Who says a deficit cannot be turned into a spring board? Also, who concluded that a “big,” problem could not lend you the very strength you need to overcome it? That’s the thing, no one. Which means, with the right vision you’re free(and able) to overcome those obstacles. For every problem there is a solution, and in some cases multiple solutions. Born ugly? Move to New York and shake up the conformity in the modeling industry. A shark bit off your arm while surfing!? Well, just learn to balance, continue surfing, and go on to win multiple surfing contests. Were you born with a debilitating disease and wheelchair bound? Well, it doesn’t affect your face so go to an open casting call for Diesel and become the face of their new campaign. You see? In each unfortunate circumstance they went against their natural instincts. Their perceived handicaps, were just that perceived, not permanent. If we had microscopic vision we’d see that all matter around us is made up of atoms and molecules that are continually in motion. That means things are constantly moving, and there is no reason a circumstance should put your life(and goals) at a stand still. In fact things cannot help but move, and that includes moving forward! Therefore, don’t let a perceived obstacle stop you dead in your tracks. As evidenced by the Ladies above(Jillian Mercado, Bethany Hamilton, and Lillian Gaydos) the only obstacles are in our minds.
“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 my ordeal(the stroke) I missed out on a few social engagements, a tropical vacation, a raise, my apartment in Astoria Queens was no longer, and I 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 York City 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. I can recall myself loudly and randomly letting out screams of emotional pain in the rehabilitation department. However, there’s a catch because, better a delay than a disaster. Also, it didn’t hurt that I am 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 concur that 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’ve been instilled with an indomitable spirit, the determination and perseverance to succeed, and the 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 right glasses on we can still see the light in the darkness. There is never complete darkness in nature or in our lives. Even when we imagine it to be so, the reality is that it is not. I can honestly tell you that it does get better. Except, there is one thing…. No matter the mountain, you must never give up!
may God be with you!
“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 read Stay calm and carry on and on and on! Why? Because we are creatures 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 feels daunting 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’re going through something difficult, the teacher is quiet during the test. Even amidst the silence you are 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 I believe there is more to this world then only what I can see. There is no solid explanation for our 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 this we 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.
reach for the other side,
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
-Thomas A. Edison
If a little seedling can manage to grow through cement, why can’t you do the same with your difficult circumstances? The world worships at the feet of the God of success, but what do we do with failure and catastrophe? Rather than meet these challenges with a smile, We crumble and fade from them. When you’re going through a hard time keep smiling. Make people wonder where that smile came from, and how it got there. Meet life dancing with your hand in the air rather than lying down. Imagine what you’d do if the floor was pulled out from beneath you, because that’s what happened to me actually! In one fell swoop, I lost my high paying job, my apartment, a significant other, and my left arm and leg were paralyzed. I went to bed expecting to go to work and then home to New York City, but instead woke up in a Hospital back where I started with even less than I had as a child. In this situation you can either give up and fall into the arms of a suicidal depression or get up even when you don’t feel like it. Despite my desire to bury myself under the covers in my bed, I forced myself to get up and go to rehab every week. Because, regardless of how I felt, life wasn’t going to hand progress over to me I had to push back to achieve it. I can assure you , that if I can do it, so can you! Just as trout swim miles upstream to spawn, sometimes we find ourselves swimming upstream as well. Perhaps we aren’t swimming upstream to spawn, but our reasons are not so different from the trouts. That reason is simple, both of us are swimming towards Life and not away.
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”-Walt Disney.
My parents were warned I may not live,and I was in a coma. However, I did live and eventually woke up. Now what do I want to do? Well, Ladies and Gentleman a 5K(3.106 miles) because it was believed that I may never be able to do such a thing. Even before I had the massive stroke I had wanted to do a color run. It is a for profit organized run inspired by the Indian festival of Holi(see here)iPerhaps I’m a sucker for gimmicks, but it looks fun and benefits charity From my point of view, Upon finding one near me I signed up and registered, and even getting my Dad to sign up! That is a shining example of the kind of strong support I have. Because my Dad is willing to get covered in colors and even glitter.! I almost didn’t live,had to learn how to walk again,and faced many naysayers. After hearing Doctors and sometimes even therapists tell me what I could and couldn’t do it would have been easy to lose hope or believe them. Except luckily it began to have the opposite affect on me. I was becoming quite the rebellious child. When you so often hear what you can’t do,either a resilience builds up in your soul or a fierce determination makes itself known. While I have always been rather determined, I didn’t know exactly how strong I was until that was the only choice. These days that determination is ever stronger and with a solid streak of rebellion. Because when I’m told I can’t do something, naturally I want to do it. By doing this run(or walk) I wanted to push through the “impossible.” All too often we are told what we can’t do, but what about what we can? I’ve been blessed that for every naysayer I’ve had a friend or loved one that told me the opposite. With love anything is possible. We just don’t hear that enough. So what do you do when people think you can’t walk? The answer is to run a 5K!
Pssst enjoy this glam video advertising this years Color Run too!
“When you see a good move, look for a better one.” –Emanuel Lasker
The game of Chess always seemed like a difficult and intimidating game to learn, much less master,that is until I got a brain injury. Of course I’m in no way downplaying the skills it takes to master this game.After I was injured, perhaps it was my determination or perhaps my ever present stubbornness (I do have a tattoo that reads rebel rebel after all) but I could recall passing by men in Central Park sitting at tables behind Chess boards waiting for a challenge or an opponent.I wanted to be able to sit across from one of these men and play a game under the sunshine in a beautiful park, but passed by not knowing how to play. However(,(rebel that I am) once I was under the impression that people didn’t expect such things from me I absolutely wanted to learn and I had the time and a wonderful teacher available to me, so why not? Furthermore there are big benefits for your mind(read here!?)in learning Chess. A game in the park, the mental work out, and the allure of a new skill all called my name.I just thought “ How cool would it be to learn Chess after this happened to me? Take that life!” After all when life hands you lemons do something it doesn’t expect.When the tides try to pull you under, your strength rises up. Dear reader may your strength too, come unfurled like a race horse charging out of the gate.
“If your always wishing you were somewhere else, you’ll miss most of your life.” -unknown.
All of us at one time or another focus on what we don’t have.
However, when you flip the switch and focus on what you DO have that list of don’ts, suddenly becomes much more positive.
Lately I have decided to make a list of don’ts in order to feel better.
While I may have had a devastating stroke, I don’t have many of the problems associated with one, thus I made a list of what I don’t have.
This is like many positivity exercises, although I’m no new age guru.
While I did previously subscribe to some of it, I no longer do.
Instead of believing in only myself, I do indeed believe in a higher being.
Part of that is still very much positivity,health, and wealth.
While your list may be different than mine, I think you too will find your list puts a spin for the better on an otherwise negative view.
Furthermore by taking note of what you don’t have rather than be saddened by it, you’ll probably be more grateful.
While wallowing in your own problems it’s easy to get swallowed by them.
There are times I’m sure when you’d rather be someone else.
Little do you know there is someone who would wish to be you!
I went on for months wishing I was anyone but me.
Except one day I met a woman bound to a wheelchair, that really wished to be me.Little did I know the blessings I had because I was too busy looking much farther than my nose.
When your studying for a test if your overly concerned with the final grade, you won’t do well in studying for it.
I was so worried about where I would end up I forgot to look where I was at that moment.
The best advice my parents received while I was in an ICU dying was this: “Don’t look any farther than right here.[ taps nose]
To summarize, if you look too far in the future or too far in the past, those thoughts will eat you alive.
Life, for me at least truly is day by day.
After all, we aren’t promised a tomorrow.
The best you can do is take advantage of your here and now.
I am still learning as are all of us, but at least I can share my wisdom in hopes you will avoid your own troubles.
Cheers my fellow friends and travelers! I bid you well on this journey,