Posts Tagged ‘life’

The Plight of Angels

“All God’s angels come to us disguised.”  – James Russell Lowell

Love may not be tangible, but the objects that result from it are. I can look around me and see gifts from each person that loves me. They adorn my walls, my desk space, and take up residence in my record cabinet! Each object is a token of love from an irreplaceable human. However, not all of these seemingly  ordinary people  are human, some  of them are angels. Indeed  one of these creatures was actually my nurse while I was sedated in  the ICU. She prayed over me, sang the same songs, and today we share the same understanding.  Much like a palindrome, where there are words hidden within, and it’s understood in both directions, an invisible  river  of a s shared experience runs between us that ties us together. We knew nothing of each other before She  walked into my room, but that didn’t matter to Her, nonetheless She was going to put 200% of Herself into caring for me. Even now, I don’t believe I fully grasp the gravity of my situation in 2012. I have since learned that I was discovered on the floor gasping for breath in agony(a sign of a brain in the process of dying) and needed to be resuscitated. This was the state  from which a team of humans(and  many angels) were tasked  with bringing me back from. I was on the brink of death, and they weren’t going to let me completely fall! During the time that I spent in a coma, I wish I could  recall something, anything. However,  that time instead is one big blank in the  continuum of my timeline. While I lay unaware of my surroundings, the people that were there to observe felt the pain for me. Therefore,   they experienced it just as much(if not more) then I did!    Because of this lapse in consciousness, I’m discovering my own story  as if it is happening for the first time. It’s a rather weird  thing to have had such an earth shattering experience, but not to recall it.  As many of the details that I’ve missed, I certainly have not failed to recognize the key players in my  tale. Although, my story nearly ended in  total tragedy, now that I’m awake(and alive) to take over the narrative you can bet I’ll have a happy ending. Life is what you make of it!

-XOXO BLEU

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 Second Life is a Charm.

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“First, I have to thank God for giving me the gift that he did as well as a second chance for a better life.” –unknown.

I’m only 33, but I’ve lived two lifetimes. Currently I’m on my second. In the first one I was a fiercely independent twenty something living in New York City, keeping busy, and working in a promising professional career.  It was the beginning of my “adult,” existence. Living in a tiny room  that I rented in a nice apartment in the best city in the world. I had a 401k  under my belt, and nothing but big plans for the future in front of me. But of course, as they say  “ Life happens while your busy making other plans.”   And in my case, that saying proved to be true. Because I unexpectedly had a massive stroke and all those big plans suddenly fell through. In my second life I’m now a fiercely independent thirty something. Living in a pretty house in the woods, trying to figure things out, and life this time around has a lot less noise in it. However, despite my first go around I’m still making plans but they’re in a different vein. Rather then building on top of what I already have, I’m in the process of rebuilding.  I used to despair over the loss of my former plans, but slowly I have begun to realize that in the new plans I can do anything. It’s similar to the joy I felt in moving to a new neighborhood where nobody knew who I was. I could go to the grocery store under dressed and not run into a soul I knew. The freedom of that was rather nice. Except, this time around that new neighborhood is practically the whole world. After the stroke I was thrust into a new plane of existence. I had a past but it did not define me, in fact I could choose to omit the parts of my past I did not favor. After the stroke it was as if most people were meeting me for the first time. There were no expectations or preconceived notions. I could tell them what I wanted and in being able to choose the past I liked, that eventually also meant I could choose whatever future I wanted as well. The massive stroke cleared the game board of my life so I was now free to set it up again how I liked. This by no means has been easy. In fact it’s the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. I am just now beginning to see the freedom in what I previously thought was a death sentence. My future is still bright, and this one single event does not  hold true for every area of my life. Because, although life is short there is still plenty you can do with it. Therefore, aim to live yours to the fullest.

Life is a gift, savor the unwrapping of it!
bleu

Make Gratitude your Attitude.

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Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie.

As seen through the lens of a near death experience, you have no real problems. Paralysis? That’s a problem. Being stuck in a wheelchair for awhile(permanently for some) that’s a problem. These are just a couple of the problems I had after the stroke, and although the wheelchair is a thing of the past(see here) I still have many mountains to climb as I move forward in my recovery. Most of these mountains are things people take for granted. Like, gainful employment, driving, and generally living an independent lifestyle. If anything, that was my modus operandi before the stroke. I’ve always been and am fiercely independent and some would say stubborn. However, like everyone else I took my independent existence for granted. Imagine losing your lucrative job, nice NY apartment, a significant other, and waking up incapacitated in a hospital in one fell swoop? That is the reality(or more like un-reality) I woke up to in 2013.Many miles away from where I had built my home. As I grappled with my daunting circumstance, I often asked my distraught Parents to take me back to my apartment in NewYork. However, that was not to happen because I didn’t yet fully comprehend what  had happened to me. Fast forward to 2018… Today, I stand here having completed years of therapy and hitting some pretty big milestones. After climbing all those mountains, taking things for granted has generally been beaten out of me. In light of what could(and what did) happen, I have no problems. I had money in the bank, great health, and love before the stroke.Yet I still have them after! Although, maybe not in the capacity that I would like. Regardless I have them. Thus, I am working away  like a little construction worker rebuilding my life  after pouring the foundation of regaining basic skills. I have had to get back to eating solid foods, re-learn how to walk and work on social skills in order to function normally again. Although, it’s still a work in progress, aren’t we all? I figure, as long as you’re still alive you have a reason and a purpose to be here. Therefore march on brave soldiers!

bleu

Transient.

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“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 Tibetan  Monks. 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 or  become 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, creating  something beautiful while you can, and the eventual  end to  a bad situation. In that vein I’d encourage you to “ Make something beautiful while your here, because it’s temporary.”  Use the  bright colors  that dwell in your  heart   to make a beautiful pattern  with your life.

don’t forget to add color!
bleu
 
 

20 Days.

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“It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.”- Paul Cezanne.

It only took twenty days to upend twenty eight years of progress, now at the age of an adult I was starting over like a child. After waking from the coma(all twenty days of it) and being cleared for  a med flight to a rehabilitation hospital I had arrived. Not only was I physically back in the same location I had started from before I moved(to New York) but also mentally starting over. With no job, apartment, car, or social life, I was left with only one thing… rehabilitation. I found myself  so far down in the depths of life I had nowhere to go but up!  My view from the bottom was one of complete hopelessness and  loss. However, once I was farther along in my physical recovery(walking, eating, and communication skills) I began to see some light, and the burdens of the hospital were no more. I still had(and have) a mountain to climb but it’s much easier with the right tools and attitude. Once I began to shed the weight of piles of pills, a feeding tube, and the discomfort of a hospital bed I was free to breathe again. I quickly came to the realization that material belongings are meaningless, you  reap what you sow, and that life is but a blur. Once I regained my determination and strength, it was clear what I had to do. It may have taken but a moment to tear down the life I had built, but now I had a chance to repair it and even better this time! One can only be so lucky(or unlucky if you will. Now,  instead of hanging out  in my New York City apartment on a week day night after work, sometimes I hang out with people at a brain injury support group. Is it somewhere I ever expected to be? No, but I can still see the beauty in it. I have enjoyed having conversations with people that are usually invisible in mainstream society and very likely by me too prior to the stroke. Except that I now I see them.  It’s not a place I ever wanted(or expected) to be, but I’m going to make the best of it. Because rather then dwell on the past or get stuck, sometimes we just need to tell ourselves “Let’s just get on with it!”   Do I suppose I am an injured little bird stuck in  my circumstances? No, because in making the decision to get on with it I have found the hope  to fly again.

unclip your wings,

bleu

one by one.

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“Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”- Hans Christian Andersen.
Every time I shed a little responsibility I imagine a pair of scissors cutting the string to  a tiny man that’s holding  me down. This makes the shedding of unnecessary  belongings and responsibilities a lot more fun. My inherited beta fish died, not much sadness there… *snip snip*! One less thing to do. After nearly losing everything(my life included) material possessions suddenly became  unimportant. I now view the accumulation of things as a burden.  If  I’m going to buy something new I  get rid of a few old things to counter balance the amount of things I own, simply because you can become a slave to inanimate objects fairly easy. Not to mention, I evaluate each new purchase with one question, “how will this add value to my life?” If it doesn’t, I don’t buy it.  Since life is fleeting I’d rather fill it with experiences over things that I  have to  pay for and then subsequently take care of. Give me a  tasty gourmet meal over another tee shirt, an outing to the movies over some more expensive makeup, or  a Broadway show instead of a birthday party and gifts. Why? Because  lovely memories are a much greater gift then more material belongings. The object of the “game,” is to cut away as many strings as possible.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWl0PsBEPeQ?ecver=2%5D
Granted, this doesn’t mean you should shirk all reasonable responsibilities, just that due to consumerism we add so many more unnecessary ones. In an already over  burdened existence I find relief in cutting the strings. I believe you will too, so consider minimalism and find freedom!
Get out your scissors,
bleu

The Work of Your Hands.

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“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 on  those around  you. Even the most simple tasks done well can  give a sense of pride. Since I have not been able to work in my busy fast paced  career 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 something  to 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,  or too big.  When you start by tackling the “small things,” with ease, the big things  get a whole lot easier. 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. At  one 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), folding  that 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 can  take their first steps on the moon.

one step for man….

bleu

Fervor.

07-09-2011 Tracey

“In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. That means we have 1,440 daily opportunities to make a positive impact.” -Les Brown.

Just as the ebb and flow of a river is changed when a large boulder is dropped into it, so are our lives when we encounter the large impact of another human being.  Ever since the ebb and flow of my life was radically impacted I’ve been contemplating the effects  that other people have on the course of our lives.  Are we  predestined as if by fate and have everything chosen for us? -or- are we but an energetic pinball bouncing off of different circumstances in an infinite universe? Perhaps it is a combination of the two. However, neither of these take into account the random impact that  others can have on us. Some people will change your direction while others help spur us forward, and yet some will stop us in our tracks. While the impact from each of these is different they are all  equally helpful. Why?  Because,  each one has brought you to where you are now  or taught you a lesson in some way. Some of these human boulders are extremely helpful while others feel extremely unhelpful(at least at the time) but  each one can teach us  a valuable lesson. Besides the rivers of life being changed due to a boulder, we can also become stuck as if a dam was built to stop us. How does one get around a dam when it happens? Simple, you must find a way to open it and let the river flow again.  Even rivers start with  a small drip(headwaters) until they form a puddle which  will begin to run down a slope in a trickle and eventually  become a  river. Although  very small, this is where it all begins.  Nature itself has  shown us that big  things can originate from just  a small  action. As with a river even if you’re going downhill, by beginning with a small (positive)action that accumulates into many, you too can become a mighty rushing river!

keep dripping!

bleu

All or Nothing

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“I refuse to let others walk thru my mind with their dirty feet.”

-Gandhi.

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!

bleu

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