Where do you live? Which county, town, and city? We can all answer this question for one reason, and one reason only. Boundaries and limitations. As Humans we simply can’t stand not being labelled. We label everything, we need them. Due to this we can stand in nearly every location and give it a name or an address. But do you know who cannot do that? Animals. Animals, do not comprehend boundaries. For them, the World is their home. Perhaps, we should take a cue from them and just live, rather than theorize everything. I know that I need to do such a thing, and more than likely so do you. More importantly, is it possible to dissolve the boundaries in our minds? It is, it’s uncomftorable, and you’ll probably feel like a leaf in the wind. Should I tell you how I know this? Well….. after the Stroke happened to me, my plans and sense of direction dissolved, so I had no choice but to learn how to drift on the wind gracefully. I tried my best to overcome uncertainty, I did my best to accept the change of my “plans,” and I definitely tried to circumvent the whole ordeal. But, like a Warbler (bird) in the woods, I had to fly about not knowing anything about the places where I landed, nor for how long I’d be there. Working on my balance? That flight was a bit delayed, and I’m still working on sticking the landing. You’d be shocked at how difficult walking feels, when your brain has decided to pretend that one side of your body doesn’t exist (i.e hemiparalysis) So, rather than be angry that my balance seems to constantly threaten me with falls, I am simply grateful to be walking at all. Just like with my balance, I’m also constantly working on getting better. Not just physically, but in everything. Whilst it is mainly physical improvement I strive for, I don’t forget something equally as important, that of my mind. After all, you may not walk a straight line to your end goal, but as long as you’re steering in that direction you will not fail to reach the desired destination!
Life is a series of moments continuously strung together like the individual cells of a film reel. Often, these individual screen shots blend together, and pass without our notice. Since time moves on without us (whether we like it or not) how can we possibly stop it, or slow it down in order to fully absorb these precious individual moments? After realizing what an absolute GIFT everyday Life is (and has been) since I suffered a stroke, this time thing has been a struggle for Me. I wanted to stop it, and pick up where I left off, not to mention remain the same age I was when the stroke happened( 28). But alas, time moves on. Therefore, I instead had to take a different approach. I included a picture of the sign I try to look at everyday in my House. Whether I like the particular moment I’m in or not, I must accept that it is happening and in real time! I haven’t perfected slowing time down yet, but reminders like that sign, and using mindfulness techniques, help me to notice and make the most of my Day. More recently, rather than thinking only of myself I’ve begun to more closely observe other people. It has been through watching the sweet faces of my loved ones that has signaled to me, when a moment I need to slow down is happening. For example the look on the face of the closest person I have to a Brother(I’m an only child) while I was playing peek-a-boo with His Son told Me I was in the midst of a moment to remember. It was a look that clearly communicated His feeling, that He was touched I was alive to play with His precious Son. It’s something that when the stroke first occurred, my Family wasn’t sure would ever happen. Especially since, I was given slim survival odds. I’d rather the stroke never occurred, but it has had some upsides. Namely, forcing me to learn Life lessons much earlier in my time on Earth than I expected to! It’s taken a near complete loss of Life in order to wake Me up to its Beauty. I imagine, such is the case for many people. However, those people didn’t make it through to have the same realizations that I have. I’ve never met another survivor of a massive stroke like mine, because they’re all passed on. It’s a sobering thought, and one that reminds me not to waste the Day. Whatever your circumstances are, I highly recommend mindfulness, practicing gratitude, and savoring the moment. Because- one way or another all your precious moments will come to an end. So, don’t waste or be ignorant of them!
Dear Reader, I do not know you, but perhaps you need to hear this Today. How many times have you “forgotten,” to lock the door, unplug your curling iron, or check work emails? Only to find that you already did!? Many of us operate from our subconscious a.k.a on autopilot. We think that autopilot mostly runs during day to day tasks, -but- as I have found many times it also runs our emotions. As we grew up, our emotions also began to take root in a foundation, where autopilot can often operate from. For example, you may at a base level always expect(or suspect) rejection as a natural defense mechanism against disappointment. Or- if you’re especially well adjusted(not many of us are!) you may operate from a natural place of optimism, determination, or perseverance. The list is as endless as it is varied. The tricky part is, that we don’t often know or even realize when we’re on autopilot! Being unaware of this, it can have the power to stir up unpleasant feelings, complicate situations, or cause us to make incorrect assumptions. There is real danger to not recognizing that we have this “program,” running in the background. Especially because, just like in a computer, it could potentially be harboring a virus that harms our Lives and our ability to function successfully. The question is, how can we figure out our particular program, and work to make it healthy? Rather than figure it out by consistently making the same damaging mistakes, there is a much less consequential way to learn it. And for some of us, it may be uncomfortable. Ready? …… Deep Self Reflection! This doesn’t necessarily mean meditation either. Rather, taking a serious inventory of your current circumstances, how you got there, and where you want to go. Are there any noticeable patterns to your successes? Your failures? And in what ways, have these patterns ebbed and flowed to create your current stream of consciousness? Sometimes the realization will hit you during a familiar interaction(like me) after a Life altering event, or better yet, you’ll figure it out after taking stock and making a list of potential patterns. No matter how you figure it out, I urge you to do it. Why? Because, having such a tool in your box will only help you.
You and I have been acquaintences for some time. In the preceding years after my birth, I will admit that at times our relationship has been stronger than others. However, you have never completely waned from my Life. Nor have I ever given up on you completely. After I nearly died from an unexpected stroke, and once the fog that enveloped my brain had lifted, I needed you more than at any other time. Feeling like a ship adrift at Sea, I discovered that when I began to look for you as if for Land, you did not leave Me. In fact just as Earth’s crust has been steady underfoot for eons, you too did not falter. Rather (to paraphrase Jane Eyre) it was as if during the darkest night of my Life you had traversed in my sleep and left each morning brighter traces of your steps. The Day any person loses you completely, I’m convinced it will be the death of their Soul. Because, you bring light that helps piece the shards together of any broken mirror. You rouse one out of bed when they’d rather not face the Day. You inspire positive thoughts and outlooks for the future. Without you, I daresay we’d all be lost. Lost to overcoming. Lost to the ability of drumming up strength. Lost to trying in spite of insurmountable odds. Lost on the idea that a rising tide can lift ALL ships. Hope, I don’t know if YOU realize how important You are. And my wish is that Humanity always comes to your doorstep when they find themselves in need. Because, I know that whence they knock the door is surely opened.
Happy New Year!
There is no Multiverse, but there are multiple versions of you. Throughout your Life, within every person that’s been close with you, lives a version of you from that time period. Every version is different, and they culminate into the person you are in this moment. After I suffered a debilitating stroke, I wanted the versions of myself that lived in my friends minds to be what existed in the current physical realm. Therefore, I actually hid from some people, preferring to be the version that they remembered over the version of me that is. This sentiment crossed my mind again more recently upon the impending reunion with a long time friend. However, I pushed those notions away in favor of anticipation. Where I once wanted to stay hidden away in favor of a memory was no more. Because, I’ve realized staying stuck as the same version in someone’s mind correlates to being stuck in the here and now. There is no growth in that. Besides, with the right person you won’t be afraid to be yourself. Even if I was in a wheelchair, they could see me walking. Even though my left side may be currently paralyzed, they could see me moving fluidly. In fact, whatever the current physical reality was, they would see me. And, just the same, I would see them! That’s the beauty of knowing. It’s not that we have the ability to recall a preferred version of each other, but rather that we can see each other through whatever version we are currently inhabiting. The ability to do this with one another is not only true authenticity, but it’s what creates a safe place. It is a space in which we can be messy. A place in which we can be vulnerable. A place in which we can truly share a laugh. Furthermore, one in which, failure is okay and successes are celebrated. My wish is not to be an old version of myself that is remembered by someone, but to be brave enough to shatter that memory and replace it with who I am today. More importantly I hope to always have people in my Life that I can do that with, and I hope you do too!
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.
” Somewhere between living and dreaming. there’s New York.” -unknown.
To love this bustling city full of skyscrapers whose lights mingle with the sky, turning into stars of their own is to love yourself. The city will test your strength, test your resolve, and give new meaning to manifest destiny. Rent isn’t too expensive, it’s simply the admission price you pay for a ticket to the best ride of your Life. This “town,” will present you with hurdles to access the most ordinary of activities, and then reward you with inumerable opportunities. The streets have worn down the rubber soles of my shoes like hungry children eating cake at a birthday party. It is not so much a glamorous life here, as it is a rewarding one. The apartments overflow with interesting individuals, that possess all levels of potential. However, there is no vacancy for mediocrity! If there is a diamond to be produced from a lump of coal, New York City will squeeze it out of you. If you’re open and willing you’ll climb the ladder in an upward direction. Here there aren’t streets of identical little box homes with cars in the driveway, and manicured lawns. Instead, everything is jumbled, different, and there’s a subway entrance that can take you around more than 665 miles of track. Laid end to end the Transit train tracks would stretch to Chicago. Riding a subway train opens up more opportunity to you than any car ride you could ever take around an identical block of houses! You see, there’s no special club you must join to live here. One only needs a heaping helping of ambition. If you find the prospect of getting groceries, washing laundry, or a trip to the Post Office becoming more arduous too much to bear, I’d be quick to point out that just as the mundane becomes ever more so, the same can be said of enjoyable activities. Suddenly there are oodles of openings in your chosen career field, leisurely and cultural events are within walking distance, and they happen frequently, often even for free. If you’re a person that can see openings where others only see closed doors, this place is for you. I don’t love New York for its image or even for the food, but for what it has contributed to my Life. I’ve learned that hitting the pavement, talking to everyone, and binge willing to hustle harder than everyone else, means your reward will be greater than what everyone else is getting. If you allow it to be, the city will be the stone that sharpens you. So, I’d suggest wherever you are don’t be afraid to put yourself in the uncomfortable position to be sharpened. However, it’s something that will happen a lot faster in New York City!
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