No one is brought up in this World and taught that Life is difficult from a young age. Rather we all seem to come to that belief later in Life! I used to wonder why after about age thirty ,it seemed that for most people there was a problematic decline in their level of optimism. Therefore, I vowed at an early age never to lose my child like wonder or become a cranky elderly person. Rather, I wanted to hold onto my optimistic view, youthful vigor, and appreciation for the small things. I’m actually proud to report that I’ve managed thus far to uphold my youthful promise to myself. It certainly hasn’t been of a conscious effort. Rather, I owe it to my natural disposition, sub conscious mind, and of all things a near death experience. While I’m admittedly not thankful for the vast number of physical difficulties(painful ones too) I have come to realize that there has been an immense strengthening during those stretches of time. In a way time stopped for me on October 12th, 2012 when I unexpectedly suffered a massive stroke. After that point, my plans for ages 28 and 29, were taken on an extended detour. I struggled to bridge the gap and maintain things for awhile, but- as Dylan sings “The times they are a changin,” and that’s okay. Because there is good news rolled into the bad news of that reality. It meant, my suffering(and yours) would not last forever, just as the good times don’t last forever. Although my plight could’ve led to imminent disaster, quite the opposite occurred. I found those cliche’ sayings to ring true. It really is the darkest before the dawn! For me it was a slow dawning to the realization that, in what I once saw as a complete loss, was actually a complete gain! A gain of time rather than the loss of it. A gain of appreciation for beauty rather than the ignorance of the beauty Life holds. Most importantly, a leap in wisdom that usually only old age or tough trials can bring. I don’t claim to know it all, quite the opposite. -but- I do know that if you look closely at the trials in your own Life, you’ll find the strength to overcome rather than be overcome.
Posts Tagged ‘stroke’
Wherever you go, there you are
Little Drops of Water
“Life is not important, except in the impact it has on other lives,”
Just as a minuscule drop of water falling into a pond creates a ripple that expands out until we can no longer see it; so do our lives in the oceanic universe. You may not be able to see how far reaching your actions are, but for every action there is a reaction. That being said, if your action is one of kindness, then the reaction you receive will be equally kind! It also serves to note, that people remember acts of grandeur no matter how small. One such act was made by a dog named Hachiko in the 1930s for His owner Hidesaburo Ueno. This tiny soul waited for nine years(that’s 3,285 days of His life) for His owner to return home from work. Today, a small bronze statue stands in remembrance of this story outside of the busy train station where this dog left so much of His love behind. How many people per day scurry past this unassuming statue without ever knowing the enormity of the story behind it? How many people or places have you scurried by without ever knowing their significance? Furthermore, how many people have not acknowledged your significance? Do you reckon, that if we could all slow down enough to actually see these things, Life would become more meaningful? Or perhaps, recognizing these things to be true, we’d discover increased value for and endeavor to create a better Life? One, that does not revolve on what we can get, but rather give. No matter how much I have supposedly given away, it has come back to me ten fold! A little known universal secret is that nothing you give away is ever truly lost. In fact, if you give with a heart of joy and gratitude you’re more likely to get it back and then some. Our society is entirely too focused on what we can get, or we get to keep. However, I have personally observed and experienced the opposite to be true. I have no qualms about “giving away,” money I don’t have, or extra time to volunteer; because it always comes back to me. If you don’t know already my Life itself was given back to me, and in many ways I’m living a second life! Rather than dying from a massive stroke in 2012 at the age of 28, I survived to continue on. Therefore, I’ve already been given more time, more money, and abundance. And I challenge you to share some of your abundance. Because, I promise if you slow down enough to look for it in your Life you will find it.
The Plight of Angels
“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.
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.
The Second Life is a Charm.
“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!
“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!
The invisible Equator.
“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.
“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yeats.
This is a short post about a subject that is far reaching into our personal stories.The invisible lines that intersect our lives and bring us together with various strangers has always fascinated me.
To think, there was a time when you didn’t know that your best friend or significant other even existed. What was going on in their lives before you met? More importantly, why did you meet? Because, as we all know, each person that comes across your life via an invisible thread has an impact. Each impact, whether good or bad slowly molds you into what you are at this moment in time. It’s as if you’re a planet turning through space that gets struck by various comets, leaving indents upon you at various depths. While some marks are shallow, others are deep. As we take stock of these interactions, often we focus on the negative ones the most. However, there are as easily more positive interactions than negative, if we only shifted our perspectives. Why not resolve to build someone up that you come across rather than tear them down? After all, it is the highest skyscraper in the city that stands out the most. Be the architect of that monumental steel giant that withstands time in the city of your life and others.
leave a positive impact!
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