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!

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“Isn’t it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties? Perhaps hopelessness is the very soil that nourishes human hope; perhaps one could never find sense in life without first experiencing its absurdity.”- Vaclav Havel.

When a horrendous situation is thrust upon us, we often lament “Why me!?” However, a  better question is “Why not me?’ Terrible things happen every day  to guilty and innocent  people alike.  Each of us at birth were not promised a problem free life. In fact quite the opposite as our new Parents worried increasingly as we grew up. Because, at that moment  they knew what we didn’t; that life is difficult  and dangerous. Therefore, they sought to protect us as best as they could without confining  us solely  to the house. It’s not a question  of why did it happen,  but since it has how will you react to it? What will you do under the circumstances?  Will this reveal your character or diminish it?  Some people believe in fate, that our lives have been pre-orchestrated for us. This is not so, life is a series of choices no matter how small. The choices we make continuously throughout life culminate into our circumstance. When those choices are taken away and we find ourselves in a bad circumstance, we still have choices.  When bad things happen it’s easy to give in, but ultimately at some point  we must choose to get out.  You can  take steps no matter  how small(mentally or physically) to escape your bad circumstance.  When I first was injured the last thing I wanted to do was get out of my warm comfortable bed  for therapy or a painfully early doctor appointment. Except I pushed through and did it anyway. At that point I had no choice but to get better, because I was starting from the lowest point reached in my life . Each day you make the choice to get better your adding  to the  bank of your future and making it brighter. Your seemingly small action is priceless and will culminate into better days ahead. So, have heart brave soldier and carry on. I promise you won’t regret it!

keep on keepin’ on!

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“A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”

― Theodore Roosevelt.

Every day we choose to move forward  with hope,  with determination, with perseverance, and tenacity we have  casted our vote. Because, not every election is political. Many times we need to vote for ourselves, our future, our dreams, and above all choose life over death. Throughout my recovery I have had to choose between giving up, giving in, or, giving it everything  I’ve got. When faced with insurmountable circumstances  the struggle and the “race,” is very real. What you decide to invest in or vote  for, will determine the direction in which your life goes. However, in order to win or finish the race, you cannot quit running. No matter how you feel it will do you well  to get up and face the day anyway.   Whatever  place you’re in there is always a chance  for progress. The gains are not always instantaneous but with diligent  work they will soon become evident. Therefore, have heart  and ignore the naysayers! My friends, you’ll blow right past them by maintaining your focus on  your main goal. Whether it be the oval office or  to  attain your dream, both are achievable. Just as sure as the sky is blue I believe you can do it. More importantly, do you believe in yourself?   The indomitable human spirit is capable of  amazing  things I  promise you that. Therefore, get out of bed even though you’d like to hide in it because your resolve feels weak.  The vote you cast in yourself and for your future, will give your feet a strong reason to hit the floor every morning and get moving.

here’s to victory!

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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!

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“Having hit a wall, the next logical step is not to bang our heads against it.”- Stephen Harper.

Whether the wall is a physical one(visible) or an emotional one(invisible) we all are facing a wall of some kind. These walls separate us from our goals, desires, forward movement, and even other people. It is interesting to note that the  non-physical can literally stop us in our tracks. Among the lies we tell ourselves  are fear and worry. These two things have an especially good knack for stopping us from what we really want. Because of these negative emotions and their mind games we  tend to lose the ability to move in  a forward direction. Beyond  this wall is a more positive self image that will spurn us upward and onward! To change  the circumstance, we need to change our self image. The  trifecta of anger, complaints, and ungratefulness is a sure road to failure. It is  with a positive self image and thankfulness that we’ll find the keys to success. However, this is more then just positive thinking, we literally must change our self image in order to succeed. This is not an easy feat, especially when you’re caught in the midst of circumstances you hate. The trick is, by finding things you are grateful for in  the middle of  life’s storms, they will hold less power over you and  their effects won’t be so devastating. This in turn will open up an in road beyond the wall that you face.  By recognizing your strength rather then weakness, the good over the bad, and taking a reflective moment each day to see these things, you’ll be well on your way beyond the wall that is stopping you. Be the victor rather then  the victim, and the healed rather then the sick!

see your way through it!

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“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,

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“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. Yet  today it  still  stands  strong and as beautiful as ever. Just as the ocean waves rushed in causing destruction, the residents have returned  and 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 shore  have survived and are thriving, so are these relationships. In  fact 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 withstood  the tests of time and  the battering ram of a  horrific hurricane. In this case  it was with long time and much loved friends that have been with me since before  the massive stroke. Anything that can  withstand 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.  They  give us hope, they give us strength, and  remind us  of why we keep on going. Therefore,  we need to hear even more  stories like these. Surrounded by the newly rebuilt homes and beautiful beach front, I observed a community that rallied together and rose up under the  East Coast sun. There was life, laughter, and plenty of love coursing through the streets  that were once threatened with total destruction. It  reminded me that even though life may  put us through  unsuspected and  seemingly 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 that  survive the storms with us are like little protective cacoons of love. Just as we become stronger because of the storm, so do they. While  it’s difficult  to find any thankfulness for these  life storms, I am thankful for the aftermath. These  storms leave survivors stronger, with wisdom, and highlighting the love we sometimes forget  exists.

Lavallette strong!

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“Who are we but the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and believe?”

― Scott Turow, Ordinary Heroes.

Stories of triumph, stories of success, and stories of dreams coming true. These are the kinds of tales that keep us alive and keep us going. For me, these stories were a life boat in the middle of a dark and stormy ocean. The stories you and I tell ourselves make a tremendous impact on how we feel and in which direction we go. The difference between a good story and a bad one can  put into motion either success or failure When every avenue seemed bleak, I could always pull  positive stories from my memory library to serve as an escape. My current life circumstances(post stroke) were a sinking ship of titanic proportions. However, reaching back into my memory banks, I could pull a story from a happier time. Without these invisible books I was headed for the bottom gasping for air, another casualty of life’s  bad circumstances.  While these books seem imaginary, the life lines they offer are very real. These stories told me I could accomplish my dreams as I had before, that the impossible was possible(as possible is part of the word itself) and gave me a reason to get up in the morning rather then languish in bed. A good story will motivate you and give you confidence, while a bad one will take away all of your hope. Do you suppose that the  legends of our time told themselves stories of failure?  I’m certain it was just the opposite! I posit they reassured themselves that their mountains could be conquered. In this way we need to do the same thing. Whatever your goal, tell yourself that you can and then  pull examples of all your past successes. The longer you ruminate on past or current(perceived or real) failures, the longer you’ll remain in unwanted circumstances. By dwelling you effectively anchor yourself in shallow waters. Therefore, use positive stories to  put  the wind  in your sails and venture to deeper waters. It is there you’ll find more to explore and myriad possibilities. Furthermore, surround yourself with people that add to the positive stories rather than help anchor you in shallow waters.

row, row, row your boat,

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“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 Mother  gave me a creative  nature, 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 a  five 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 world  that contains many different outside influences. It is neither small nor  closed 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 you  pay attention it absolutely did! People and societies that exhibit high levels of selfishness, often don’t do as well, and are least liked. On a  large scale  it would make sense if the world were more  giving(and forgiving) but even more so on a personal level we need 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 invisible  action. A sweep of your arm is first triggered by tiny signals  in the neurons of your brain. What you eventually see and feel  physically, starts out somewhere unseen. The same  applies 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 and in your own life.

cheers!

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The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”- Marcel Proust.

Memories can be a blessing  or a curse to us, or sometimes  even a torment.We all have memories of better times in the  past than our current  circumstances, that  can serve as cruel reminders. However, what if we had no recollection of our past at all, but only awareness of the present?  This would allow us to remove the usual blinders we have on and see our lives from a new perspective. Not only this, but we would experience  a new(even heightened) level of gratitude for what we do have, rather than always compare things to what we had before. Not to mention, the problem many have of constant comparison to others.This doesn’t mean we should forget our past,  because we can learn so much from it and use  it as a guide.For a good number of months my memories of life before the stroke would torment me.  I dared not linger in bed too long and let the negative thoughts traverse my mind. Because, I could remember what it was like not to have so many doctor appointments,be free of braces,run, walk normally, drive a car,live independently, and not have any type of rehabilitation. I surmised that those who had never experienced a “normal,” life  had it better because they had nothing in which to compare  their current circumstances to. Therefore, they were likely experiencing more gratitude and happiness  than I was. However, as life often does, perhaps this was my lesson to learn. Regardless of my circumstance I had to learn to look for the roses among the thorns. Each negative thought needed to be taken into captivity, inspected for helpfulness, and thrown out. Because, if a thought that floats into your head isn’t helpful,  it doesn’t deserve to be there. I cannot afford to entertain  or accumulate these negative thoughts, and neither can you. They only serve to create sprawling toxic black trees in our brains, rather than healthy green ones. This certainly does not bring us life but only death. We need to practice mindfulness, so don’t hesitate to police your thoughts! Very often what we’re thinking will determine what we’re experiencing.

be mindful!

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