“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.
“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.
“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.
― Bangambiki Habyarimana, The Great Pearl of Wisdom.
Today, a newrecord was quietly accomplishedin a corner of the globe rarely heard of. Three once unrelated strangers gathered in friendship, and oneamazingpersonal journey was thrusted ever forward to the “finish line.” While the rest of the world hummed along minding its own business, I was excitedly(and happily) checkingone more daydream off my to do list.Just like most personal goals it was of little importance to everyone else, except in this particular case Iwas accompanied by others that understoodthe importance of such a day. Many of us are skilled at rationalizing our way out of doing something. When in truth, we need to be rationalizing our way intomore things! There is no reason you cannot accomplish what you dream of. As they say, where there’s a will there is a way.By working through seemingly insurmountable circumstances with gritted teeth and a rock solid resolve, I have found that to be absolutely true. You see, what we aren’t told enough growing up is that we can do anything.Be weary of those who tell youany different. Ultimately, the people that believe in you as much as you believe in yourself, will walk right alongside you during the race.
above: My two pillars of support during the race Early on(when I was injured) there were questions of my ability to walk well again if at all, and much less trek a mile! However, with tremendous support and blessings I’ve done just that twice now. Both times were events that originally had been dreamed up in my mind.
above girl in tutu:Tropicolor, color run. the happiest 5k on the planet!
EvenifI completed each goal slowly, the point was to complete it at all and soak up the fact that dreams do(and can) come true. Especially when you put your best foot forward and your mind to it. Therefore, be careful of what you tell yourself and who you listen to. Because, whatever words are spoken get eaten up by our heart. Certainly, your heart deserves only the best things that life has to offer, so don’t let it consume words thatwill harm it!Find windto carry you where there is none, and fly high even when others want you to stay low.
“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.
“Where words fail, music speaks.” -Hans Christian Andersen
Music has been my constant companion. It was with me all throughout high school shaping my social life, and it waftedthrough my room the entire time I lay in a coma. I have played inside of a sonic landscape since before I was born; dancing tosongs with my Mother whilestill inside Her tummy. For the record, my “first dance,” was P.Y.T byMichael Jackson.Since then my feet have found the ground and I continue to dance.I’ve danced through most of school, my family life, and even now during recovery. Without dancing, all these years I’d have just been standing still, stagnant. However, those little black notes have pushed me through to victory after victory. A sureoutward sign that I was improvingwas when I started being interested in music again. Ithas been entwinedwith the neurons in my brain; each song sparking a vivid memory, an imagined music video sequence, or feelingsof elation.Music has not only influenced my life so much as it has dictated it.Friends came and went by route of the current albums I was into.We foundour identities and a common ground containedwithin flat round compact discs, orvinyl if you were “really cool.” Even when there was aquestion concerningthe integrityof my memoryafter a severe stroke, I still rememberedeveryone’s faces and all my favoritemusical artists. The power of music runs deep my friend. There remains few people that can put into words exactly what music communicates. That’s exactly why our souls need it; Because, it communicates what mere words cannot.Indeed as an adolescent I held to the belief that a particularly well homemade mix tape could cause you to fall in love with someone, the music you enjoyed said almost more about you then the way you dressed, and to die and become a music note would be of the utmost honor. Because, if your spirit could inhabit the form of a music note, you’d touch people’s lives and live on in beautiful symphonies forever.Not to mention, once you fall in love with rock n’ roll, it’s difficult to find other people that share your enthusiasm. However, when you do, you know you’ve got an instant friend and you’reheldtogether by the invisible threads ofsound.Therefore, don’t discount its power, and keep on singing even when it rains. Especially when life gets difficult if you continue to sing, those invisible threads will pull you through.
“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.