Posts Tagged ‘Love’

Faith louder than Fear

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”- Plato.

In these uncertain times it’s easy to fall prey to fear and worry. In fact during any uncertain time in our lives, it’s easy to fall into the worry trap. However, as with everything  we have a choice. It is a choice between  avenues of thought. Do we focus on fear or walk in faith? Do we choose to believe that the present moment informs us of what our future will be? Indeed, in trying times the best advice my family(and I indirectly)  ever received came from a strong woman who ran a house that sheltered those in need during a storm.(The Danielle House).   It was simply… “ Look no further than the tip of your nose.” Because after all looking too far ahead into the future  can be perilous. As most know, nothing lasts forever. That includes the bad times as well as the good. Which is why we should try to savor  the good times and not dwell in the bad. I’m often met with wonder from others as  to how I remain strong. The answer to that is, that I make a choice daily to walk in faith and not dwell in the negatives. Not only is Life a gift, but my life  has been double gifted! Therefore, I choose to use my time wisely and encourage others. For a time, I was able to survive each day by mentally holding back the walls that threatened to cave in on me. I did this by ignoring  my present reality(a paralyzed left side, living in a  different state, and having lost nearly everything) and choosing to look at  a brighter future. Instead of a deadened left side, I saw a body that was on the mend. Instead of looking at an empty bank account, I chose to focus on saving my money. Instead of being upset over the losses I tried to see the gains in them. To be honest, this took many years, lots of self improvement books, and finding the right support. I have not only been blessed with a second chance at life, but also the  “loss,” of things led to large swathes of time that I could now fill nurturing my well being. Where once I worked sixty hour weeks in a bustling city, I now had stretches of empty time in a quiet little town to fill with reading self improvement books. Or  exercising, or volunteering, or simply  enjoying a lazy afternoon on  a deck swing.  Rather then fill my days with seemingly mundane tasks in exchange for sums of money, I was  investing in myself and filling up on the things that would last a life time.  With each finished book, added dollar to my account, debt paid off, and   strength from physical exercise I was elated. I had discovered something profound AND helpful!  Even when we are faced with daunting adversity we can prevail.

Dear Uppity “Christians.”

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

-Mattthew 7:5

I’m no theologian, but I am an excellent observer.

The last time I checked,  Jesus  didn’t win people over by  criticising, converting, or shaming them. In fact, He did it by being the human embodiment of radical love! I cringe every time I hear a Pastor proclaim He(or She) is going to reach the world outside of the church walls. Because, more often than not they don’t. The funny thing is, a highly criticised person like Kanye West is more effective then the modern church. Today’s culture doesn’t hate Christianity. What they hate are holier than thou people telling them how to be a  good person without actually being an example of one.  If you want to change the world  go  out  into your community and be an example of who God is, rather then just talking about him and telling people what’s wrong with them. Prior to the stroke, I never went to church,  didn’t actively try to fulfill  a set of rules to be  a good person, and was more concerned with living my life. However, if you’re a legalistic externalist Christian  you’d know this  behavior would disqualify me from going to heaven. Right?  BUT IT DOESN’T!    I can confidently say that I’ve had a firsthand encounter with God and He saved my life even when I was unconscious and didn’t know my life needed saving. I don’t call myself a Christian, an Atheist, or even a good person. I call myself a student. Because,  I’m still learning, you’re still learning, we all are. Therefore, don’t assume to  be the master and tell people what to do with their lives. Just show them love. Why?  BECAUSE LOVE ALWAYS WINS!

Lets Get Real.

When you stop living your life based on what others think of you, real life begins.”
-unknown.

For most of us were thankful that our private thoughts  remain unknown by most of the people around us. But what if they weren’t? Would you be embarrassed,  shamed, or uneasy?  Most likely  it’s a mix of all three. Therefore I’m sure you’re thankful that no one can read your mind! However, what happens when(and if) you meet someone that can see right through you? It’s uncomfortable to say the least. Well, more recently  that very thing happened to me. But you know what? After the initial horror it was quickly followed by a mixture of relief and a feeling of  refreshment. That’s certainly  due to the fact that I needed to be called out! I think you probably do too. How are we to live an authentic life(that is the trending hashtag is it not) if we can’t be real with one another or even ourselves? The problem seems to  be with safety. How safe do you  feel with others? How safe do you feel venturing into the void of your own heart? And  finally, in this upside down world, do you feel safe at all?  Not many of us come across people we feel safe  with. If you’re  blessed you will find  a person that has your best interest in mind. Today, for the first time ever I met one of  those people. It was scary! It was refreshing! Last but not least I am blessed for it!   When you get called out personally, see this as a chance to grow. If  you’re not  uncomfortable  you are not growing. So grit your teeth, clench your eyes, or stay silent when you want to scream, and get uncomfortable. Somewhere in your loss of comfort  you’ll find the kind of gains that will make you a better person.

The Formula.

“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.

 

Practice gratefulness!

 

 

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

You’ve always had the power dear, you just had to learn it for yourself,”  -Glinda the Good Witch.

This post will not be as long as my journey after stroke. Much like Dorothy’s house was picked up in a storm, my life too was hauled off. Except, it was by a stroke rather then a fictional tornado. 

In surviving the fall from the sky, I seemingly eradicated the grim reaper much like Dorothy’s witch. In my travels since emerging from the wreckage, I too have been periodically tormented by fear. While fear is not easily destroyed by a bucket of water as in the film, it  can be destroyed by dousing it with its opposite.  The substance of love, hope, kindness, and healthy support.  You  must ignore that nagging voice in your head that insists everything will go wrong, you won’t be able to achieve your goal, and life is just happening to you. That’s a funny thing because you have the ability to exercise your will and build the road that you desire. The fear you encounter while working  away on your goal can be diffused by declaring the opposite of what it’s trying to  convince you of.  In fact as you follow this path treating yourself with love, and receiving  it from others, you’ll stumble across some breakthroughs. Not only will you experience breakthroughs, but you will also meet people to help you  of an excellent caliber. People who possess hearts full of love, have infinite patience, and a true desire to help. You won’t meet these people while following the path of least resistance. As it turns out after surviving the equivalent of a thousand foot fall from the sky, you can learn to walk again(literally) just as a bird with a mended broken wing will eventually spread its wings and fly. Life doesn’t happen while you stand back and watch but when you press into it, even if it pushes back. Most of my success has happened when I dove into something head first. If you’re afraid then do it afraid! You’ll be surprised by just how much your capable of. However, if you let the fear lay a brick wall in front of you rather then a road you’ll never know. So as the song goes…. “Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick road, follow, follow, follow, follow…. And I’m pretty sure there are no lyrics  concerning  coming to a halt.

Cheers!

bleu

Make Gratitude your Attitude.

2537839_0

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

The invisible Equator.

equator-photo

“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’s  the 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 as well 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 fact  that 85% of our worries do not come true (read here).Combined, these two mental objects set in the landscape of time have helped  the “after,” side of the equator  become 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 enlightened  by 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.

fight on!
bleu
 

I get By

AskingForHelp

We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.” -Orson Welles.

With an over two month inpatient hospital stay and constant therapy or doctor appointments upon discharge, my social life was dead on arrival. Not to mention I was practically on house arrest, not being able to drive anywhere. This just added to the great sadness that plagued me; a culmination of living upside down in a world that was not of my choosing. This “new world,”  lacked the independence I had once known prior to the stroke,  possessed no social life, and  had way too much parental supervision for my liking.  I often found myself alone making up things to keep busy and to keep sane. Luckily,  growing up as an only child provided sufficient training for such circumstances.  Living in  a constantly moving world and being so unusually busy myself, friends were a rare sight. However, despite all of the hurdles there are those wonderful souls who have stepped forward and really offered their time and support. These humans are what I like to call rare birds, that stand out in an overwhelming flock of conformity and status quo. They are colorful when things are dull, different when things are uniform, and most of all  compassionate. I’m happy that  along  life’s rocky road  I picked up these hitchhikers and can call them my friends.

Whats more, these  passengers I have  procured aren’t the type to bail out as soon as the car breaks down. Instead of looking for another ride, they patiently wait and help me while I try to fix  mine. For years now it is on these little pebbles  of good moments that have  added up to create a road  I am able  to move forward on.  It’s not only  good company, but it serves as therapy too!  It has improved my soul, AND aided in the recovery of my brain. Therefore, these rare birds  are certainly more then just flights of fancy. They also serve as part time therapists and free of charge no less! You can’t beat that. It  is often that when life beats you down  that  these birds will rise up to meet and surprise you with their goodness. Because, it is when you find yourself in the dark that you need to be reminded of the light. This was(and is) especially true in my case and perhaps yours too. It seems the things we need most will find us when we least expect it.

cheers!

bleu
 

The pleasure principle.

 

“There are no pleasures in a fight but some of my fights have been a pleasure to win.” -Muhammad Ali.

Sometimes, the greatest pleasure of your day is a cup of coffee in the morning.  In coping with life after a near death I have  in no way minimized my expectations or goals, but I   have simplified   what brings me happiness or fulfillment. When your life gets put on pause(or seemingly rewind) during a recovery from something like a stroke, jumping in the car to go and do what you please becomes impossible or  non optional. Often, I am  stuck at home, in therapy,  on errands, or in a doctors waiting room. When one’s freedom is seriously compromised, you begin to find it in other places. Many of these places were  just passing moments before the stroke, but now they have taken center stage. The little things became my main thoroughfare.  For example, the promise of a good breakfast was all that could rouse me from my bed on many days.  An event  previously so inconsequential, was now a reason to get up. I began to structure my life around the  goal of getting better, rather than work.  My new career was  to be a reconstructive surgeon on the body of  my own life. Suddenly, I  legitimately  yearned to fight the hectic city traffic again!  A two hour commute home after an eight hour day, was a dream compared to what I faced during the early days of recovery. How little we realize what a gift our lives are when everything is going to plan. In order to feel just as productive and accomplished as I was previous to the stroke, I shifted the types of things I wanted to accomplish. Now completing a list of chores became fulfilling. Not to mention it’s  beneficial therapy! Folding hordes of towels with one arm works on a myriad of physical skills. Many that will naturally benefit me, all in the process of doing a mundane chore. Never underestimate the value of  crossing things off a to-do list, no matter how simple it seems. Making up daily work for myself has saved my sanity, contributed to further recovery, and given me a sense of accomplishment. Once I realized that many mundane tasks  propelled progress,  they became par for the course. We don’t always need to do show stopping things in order to feel good or create value.  It is what happens behind the scenes that creates a stellar show. The world normally sees the finished product without witnessing the intense work that it took to get there. It is for this reason  you shouldn’t quit  putting in the work.  Because the work you put in will amount to what kind of life you experience.

Never give up!

bleu

Find your Tribe.

d31d6bd5f1b7ae8c390b1d866f55daa6

“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.”

Chuck Palahniuk.

I have always felt a little out of place or like an observer of this great big fish bowl earth, that’s teeming with life. This was especially true after I was injured and found myself displaced from where I had been thriving in New York City. I woke up at the bottom of a pity pit in a hospital rehabilitation   center in my home state, back where I started before I moved away.  I had hit a snake  in life and slid right back to the beginning of the game. This couldn’t be more true since I had to relearn basic life skills that I had at one time already mastered. You would think a clean slate would be a good thing, but not  so in this case. I had witnessed all the dominos I  painstakingly set up, tumble down at the push of a bad life circumstance.  I would soon be tasked with rebuilding  it and that’s what I am now, a full time construction worker. The sixty four days I spent in the hospital  and even more before that saw me inching towards the starting line.  Although I had a supportive crowd cheering me on, I had lost my “tribe.” A group of fun like minded people that helped motivate  me to be better were missing from the hospital setting.  Therefore, I went to many therapy appointments(after discharge) with a different kind of tribe. They weren’t bad just fellow people that were hurt like me, so   it was dark and depressing in that village. I missed the glittering happy atmosphere that I had been used to, since  it lifted my spirits. Although, I certainly tried to get back there with weekend workshops like Blogcademy.(Glitter!)However, after  two days of sunshine, on a Monday I had to return to that same dark village that was therapy; never was the importance of your atmosphere so obvious to me. Since then I have stumbled unexpectedly into members of my tribe(like this)which always makes me feel much better.  Each day as I run into these like minded individuals and recover more, I  can see the entrance to my village getting closer and closer. Never take for granted or underestimate the importance of being  where you feel  you belong, it will save your life!

Cheers!
bleu
 
 

1 2 3 8