Author Archive

A Moment

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!

Autopilot

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.

Dear Hope

Hello,

 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. 

Thank You.

Posted in Life // Comments Off on Dear Hope

Perspective

I don’t always take my own advice, and today I was reminded of a  glaring truth that I sometimes choose to ignore. What was it?  “ It is within your power to change your circumstances.”   I  internally grimaced at the phrase. Because, change  means you( and I) have to stop making excuses. We have to grit our teeth and face our fears. We have to voluntarily put ourselves in  uncomfortable situations. It is essentially a process of self enforced growth.  We even have to accept the possibility of failure. However, one can never be defeated!  The only thing that can truly defeat us is death. Short of that, (or instead of)  you have a lot of work to do to reach your goals!  Whether it is seeing or creating a beautiful space when you live in the NYC Projects, envisioning fluid movement in a paralyzed limb, or  going after  a job you want, all three require perspective. You could see the projects as  a  one way ticket to failure in Life, that paralyzed limb as dead or lost to you, or- that dream job as just a far off illusion. Except ( and this is a big exception) you could instead view all these things as their opposites. The walls of those projects are not barriers, but places that can be beautified and a starting point. The left hand (or foot) that refuses to take orders from your brain or somehow has fallen into a deep slumber, is merely in an invisible cast until it’s fully healed.  The  interviewer of your dream job  just hasn’t met YOU yet, and therefore the position remains open. More than anything,   in order to change your circumstances for the better, it certainly helps if you see the unfavorable circumstances, of which you are  currently  in,  as a catapult, rather than a barrier.  You may not be where you want to be right now, but viewing your current position in a positive light, is the beginning of getting to your ultimate destination. I’m not living in my own apartment in New York City, like I was (or still should be) before  suffering a massive stroke. But, in the mean time until I get  back to that day dream, I am living in a wonderful home  that allows me the space and time for self growth, physical recovery, and  enjoyable activities.  Much of what goes on in our heads manifests in the outer world either positively or negatively. Since self fulfilling prophecy is indeed a thing,   begin to prophesize good things for yourself. Whether BIG or small,   You can achieve them all!

New Year, New You.

In anticipation of the events happening in the next two days, surely thousands have already worked out the plans they have for the next 365 ( or  approximately 8,760 hours)  to come.    However, in your pursuit of self improvement remember  that it’s a journey rather than a destination. As much  as you’d like to fast forward to your goal completed, it would be a mistake to miss  out on all the steps that took you there. Because each one holds in it a refinement of  who you are, and no detail should be forgotten.  It is within the work of self improvement that you’ll find  the greatest lessons. Each New Year, thousands of  confetti pieces ( a square inch in size) with wishes scribbled on them rain down on the heads of revelers  in  New York City’s Times Square. I  should know as I was one of the hopeful Souls to write my wish on a little piece of   brightly colored paper,  along with others  every Year.  It seems  sad  that these sentiments  will be swept away by street cleaners after the celebration ends. Yet even  so, the authors of the wishes will not forget them. One wonders how   many will come to pass, and how they will be fulfilled.  By sheer self determination? By chance? By   Life’s own serendipitous ways?   It’s difficult to leave anything up to fate, as we tend to relish control. But,……. Newsflash! The only thing you truly  have control of  is your response to the  circumstances of Life.  So, you do get to choose. Will you choose to be defeated or work towards  victory?   When your carefully laid plans are unexpectedly derailed, how will you choose to respond? This is as important of a question as  it is to  chart your goals for the coming Year. Because  as  any survivor of trauma will tell you, plans change, people change, and you will change right along with them. And that’s okay. In fact it is inevitable  that you  will change in the face of a derailment.  Except, in which direction will you choose to change? For the better, or for the worse?   If  the goals you set for this coming Year go terribly awry  will you choose to work towards them irregardless? Or  in a dark mood, will you scrap them?  I have a better (and diifficult)  suggestion. Keep going after them.  Not only will  this help maintain your motivation, but guess what? In spite of  a perceived  loss, you will gain, gain, gain.

Happy New Year!

Out Pictured

People call it making plans, ambitious people call it making goals, and Mystics call it what you’re conscious of being brought to Life by your subconscious. However, whatever you call it, it is at its most basic level the Life you are currently leading. The problem with making plans is that plans can change, you may fail to reach your goal, and ultimately no one has a handle on it all. Personally speaking I’m a goal setting and  achieving type of person. However, what happens when a near death experience( in my case)  throws those set goals out of whack and lays waste to your carefully set path?  What do you do? How can you cope with the inevitable bad feelings?  Well, save for  inventing a time machine, you’ve got to figure it out. Here’s  something I’ve concluded after  years of therapy, multiple self help books under my belt, and  rebuilding my path. It is not in the quantity of the stuff you have, or the years you’ve got to live. It’s in the QUALITY  of them. I now put real time and effort into everything I do. I’d rather get to know someone deeply than just on a surface level, I consider what the impact is  of everything I eat or purchase on  others, and the Earth. Because it’s not always about you. In fact, most people are pre-occupied with themselves. Funnily enough, the less you think only about yourself and more about others you are the one who will benefit!  Having  faced immense difficulties I don’t  consider  the loss, I focus on the gains. Rather than have perished  from the stroke at 28, I’ve lived another ten years. That’s 3,650 days where I opened my eyes, breathed in, made plans, and felt the warmth of the sun  brush across my skin. At one very scary point in time those days could’ve been considered borrowed. Therefore, it is not lost on me to slow down and really soak in the days I have. Time is our most precious and unrenewable resource, so consider carefully how you spend it. Choose  the things which bring you light rather than darkness, the things that bring others closer rather than push them away, and give, give, give! I promise you  it will always come back to you double. So, don’t fear giving from your heart in order to fill it.

Posted in Dreams // Comments Off on Out Pictured

Multiplicity

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!

Endurance

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.

TO LOVE NY

” 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!

\

The perception of loss

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
– Winston Churchill.

Some events in our lives are so vile, we can only truly reflect on them(or share them) many years later.  So, what happened on October 12th of 2012? Well, I lost everything. For me, those many years later happen to be a decade. I suppose I can thank  cognitive dissonance for helping me to navigate through the impossible.  No matter how many times a  well meaning therapist or loved one attempted to  label me disabled,  waxed poetic about a “new normal,” or looked at me with complete disbelief when I declared my goals, none of it mentally deterred me.  Because, deep down I know I have lost nothing, only gained. I can clearly recall bellowing out in emotional pain  from the deepest darkest place of my soul, whilst laying on a therapy mat in a  hospital rehabilitation gym among other broken people, who were  crawling around like worms unable to  walk/sit up, or rolling around  on their backs like flipped over turtles. I didn’t want to be among these people, and I  certainly did not want to  BE one of these people! However, nonetheless I was. There was no denying the medical records, or the gravity of my unexpected circumstances. Not grasping that my brain wasn’t cooperating I would punch my paralyzed left arm  with anger and hate. The   reality is that for all the time I felt I’d lost, I actually gained  time. In fact, since that vile day in October, rather then it resulting in my death, my Life was spared.  Per my calculation, since then I’ve  navigated through 86,400 hours that I almost never had. I almost never saw my surprise Breakfast at Tiffany’s themed 30th birthday. I almost never met Lucy aka Goose the dog love of my Life.  I almost never felt the Summer sun  gently warming my skin, or  felt the beautiful Fall breeze  brush across my face. Instead, I now drive by the funeral home where my wake would’ve been held  and see other people’s names on the  sign.  Loss is only perceived, and in the face of any “loss,”  you can choose to push through to gain.  Therefore, do not weep over a failure only see it as an opportunity for growth. Because, as long as you are living there is a purpose and a hope.

Posted in Uncategorized // Comments Off on The perception of loss

1 2 3 28