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.
“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 the moments 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’s within these moments that what makes life worth living can be found. It is also within these moments that we can forget where we are. Not recognizing this, we take a lot for granted. One of my bigger frustrations was the realization that like many of you, I missed my moment. Before my life was inexplicably changed I 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 value of 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 never could justify being sad(or selfish)about anything. In fact quite the opposite, I’d be that annoying overly giving and happy person all the time! How little do we know what a gift our lives are. Even now, though my circumstances are less than 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 had become 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’t know 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 make more money but you can’t aways make more time. Therefore, use your time well, and value experiences over material possessions. While I was bed ridden and trapped in a hospital, my previous life circumstances seemed like a dream. In many ways they still do. Little did I know at the time, that I was living a 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 will seem like a dream even to you. All I wanted in the hospital was for my life to be the way it was. To think that I ever spent even a day of it depressed or sad was a travesty. Because, in comparison to my current position the 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 huge joy. I lived for the weekends when I was off from work, now I’d happily put in extra hours. Sometimes I wished I was somewhere else, 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 not think so. I promise you do.
stop to consider!
“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.” -Confucius.
What value does being pretty really have? Is it financially gainful? In some cases, yes. Is it morally upright? Does it validate your existence? It would appear that in many societies it does. Especially if you’re of the female persuasion. There was a time, when I felt validated only by my pretty face. Coming to the conclusion that if nothing else, at least I was pretty. However, I’d much rather have a functioning left arm than big pretty eyes! Another important question, “What really matters?” I found myself resigned to a wheelchair, a cane,bulky(heavy)braces, and at one point the ugliest shoes I have ever seen in my life. Where there was once freedom of movement, cute little shoes, and fashionable clothes I found myself stuck with the opposite at the time. Being in these unwanted and unfavorable circumstances made me question my self worth and even sexuality as a Woman. I no longer felt attractive. In turn this effected how I felt and perceived the world around me. It brought with it the question of, for many other Women who are(or have become) disabled, how do they feel? Because, until certain aspects of your “normal,” life experience change, there are so many nuances you don’t realize or perceive. Sure, it’s quite nice to be told how pretty you are. But really, in the big scheme of things, what does it matter? I remember one comment I received in particular(though funny at the time) was quite telling of our general attitude towards physical appearance. “Well, at least it didn’t mess up your face!” In regards to the stroke, although I’ll readily admit I’m thankful it didn’t. However, what if it did!? Would I find myself relegated to the forgotten in the world’s population? What a sad truth this is for our society. We place value on things where there isn’t a whole lot and no value on things where there is much. In fact for some time I had to be stopped from giving away all my belongings, because after what I went through, the value of them dropped! At one point in time where I would spend frivilously, I now carefully(and delibrately) saved. We all know beauty is only skin deep, but how often do we act on that truth? If we actually did, the cosmetics industry would plummet, bank account balances would rise, and eating disorders would be arcane. Therefore, take care of your physical health and appreciate the body you have. Especially since it’s on loan and you can’t take it with you!
“You realize that our mistrust of the future makes it hard to give up the past.”
― Chuck Palahniuk.
We’ve got to look forward and keep moving, not delving into the past. This is especially hard if you have fears about what the future holds. As a stroke survivor I found that even my worries had worries. It was that much harder to think of the future not only because of fear, but also because my heart was stuck in the past.We must not let our hearts be offended. Why? Because, taking offense(at someone or something) keeps us in a place of pain and inhibits our growth. If we choose to live in a place of unforgiveness we’ll become that much more cold, and hardened, the good things of life cannot grow or flourish in rocky soil! Therefore, we need to let go of the past and of those things that hold us back. For what seems like ages I’ve lived in my past. Because quite frankly, having my independence was far better than my current bleak reality. However, I am no longer the person that I was, in fact none of us are. To remain the same would be to stunt our growth and limit ourselves. No matter what happens to you remember that “ You are not a victim but a victor!” In trying times it’s easy to get stuck in the former “better,” situations of our past. However, you must continue swimming forward or even in some cases treading water. Because, if you stop to consider the past too deeply, the weight of it will not only tie you up but cause you to sink. By remaining in my past I missed the good things in my present. The good news is, it’s never too late to begin moving forward. Indeed the sooner the better, and making a habit of it isn’t a bad idea either. Therefore, do not stop to consider your past for too long or too often. Far greater things lie ahead!
“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 visions of what our future will hold. However, usually while we’re making plans life just 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,faith and 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 earth to what our lives actually are. When we’re looking down from above time will reveal it’s perfect timing in our 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 you needed 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.
fly above and not below!
*This post was inspired by my best friends*
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. It never ceases to amaze me that even if far away someone can have a profound emotional impact on us. This holds true for you too, and for those of you that have experienced your heart shift inside of your chest, or a tear has welled up in your eye because of the impact of another person on your particular piece of the world. This bond seems to only be strengthened by the shared experience of trauma. When we go through inexorable circumstances, be it with friends or family, those invisible bonds become solidified. Because, when you come across those who willingly(and happily)hold you up during life’s disasters your more then happy to never let those storms steal them away from your heart. In fact surviving a disaster together only brings us closer! Without the darkness and shadows that life sometimes presents us with, we couldn’t then see the sunshine and light in life. The shadow proves the sunshine. It is because of those dark moments that our light ones are able to shine even brighter. Within the light we’ll find those unforgettable few. They inhabit the depths of our hearts, the caverns of our memories, and remain on the other end of our invisible thread. After suffering 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 them to 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 better than the last. It’s at the point when you start seriously noticing the differences between your generation and subsequent ones that it makes you feel old. Well, my friends I guess I’m “old.” I’m considered part of the annoying millennial generation, which has been watched by the world most of our lives. However, as a millennial I have noticed some things about the yet to be officially named generation of current 20- somethings. Not to be confused with baby boomers, the millennial generation as well as current 20- somethings could easily fall under the same umbrella, the “Me Generation.” With the rise of social media, apps that do almost everything, and new technologies, self absorption has never been easier. Unfortunately, along with self absorption comes a lack of ambition, laziness, and a near 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 been brainwashed 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 selflessness make our lives more enriching, but collectively easier. If we were able to count on someone other than ourselves it would lead to a lot less stress and a lot more breathing room. Having less stress means less physical ailments and even many diseases! Everyone wins. We don’t have to imagine a world like this when we easily have the power to start a movement like this today. All it takes is one person and one act 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 like Mother 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 like in bumper cars, sometimes life hits us and we get sent in all sorts of directions, but after the initial impact we can usually choose in which direction we’re going to go. We all deal with things differently, and over time like butterflies, we experience a metamorphosis. Where one person can turn a bad circumstance into good, others mistakenly follow or choose a darker path. The world expertly presents us with things that are “good,” but are actually 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 what your trial is you have a choice in how to deal with it. Oftentimes our trials change us, 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 into the light of happiness, faith, love, and hope. Rather than the 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 that give 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.
if you slow down and look closer you will find it. I promise you it’s there.
cheers + love + hope!
“Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.” -Thomas Paine.
I came into his Emergency Department unresponsive on a gurney. This man had never seen me before and We had never spoken. Yet, even so He took it upon himself, bound and determined to save my life. The life of a person that had never included him until it nearly slipped away. I’m not sure why I was so blessed to have been chosen as a special case for him, but I was and I’m sure that I’m alive to write this today because of that. Not too long ago this very man passed away from this world into the 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 lost a guardian angel. Who knows why certain people come in and out of our lives? However, in special cases not all of them are merely human. Without even knowing it, your life’s path may very well come across an 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. Upon learning of his passing it was incredible to take into account the impact that this individual had, had on my life and so many others. It would be a crime 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 him after 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 out solutions 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 see you, you’ll be walking.” Indeed I am not only now walking but the next time I see him I’ll be running! In this journey through life none of us complete it entirely on our own. As if it were an iditarod(see here) there is always someone special that appears and helps you on the way to the finish line. For me, during the long and difficult race, I had a very capable and giant helping hand in Doctor Devasenapathy, or better known as “ Dr. D.” He not only helped me to complete the race, but to stay 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.
walk in love!
“Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.” -Winston Churchill
Perhaps you’re afraid of commitment, a strong independent Woman, or claustrophobic. Therefore, you likely dislike and understand feeling tied down. Everyone wants to feel free to do what they want to do. However, there are things in life that can restrict us, and understandably so, we really hate that. Anything that serves to hold you back, hold you up, or hold you down must go! We forget that these things aren’t always physical, but many are emotional too. If you cannot at least rid yourself of the physical circumstances, the good news is that the emotional ones you can. After all, give anything time and work on it with determination, perseverance, with grit, and it will change. For a time in my case it was the ball and chain of medications. I left the hospital with a tray full of nearly ten(10!) different daily medications, a feeding tube, a daily shot, and confined to a home hospital bed. That was three years ago(2013)and what do I have now? Well, only two(2!) daily medications, no feeding tube, and a supremely comfortable new queen bed. You see? Give it time. Granted, my family and I worked very hard to get here. Even in those times of feeling defeated or utterly disdainful, I can proudly say I always got my butt out of bed to face the day. Why? Because like certain foods, you eat it anyway because it’s good for you.This is telling of the fact that you just need to face life no matter how scary it becomes. Because, like a taunting grade school bully, if you stand up to it, it will back down into a more manageable situation. At one time I needed medication to keep me sane, yet more recently said medication is no longer needed. It’s been kicked to the curb. You can do this too, no little pill can “fix,” your problems as well as you can by changing your way of thinking. Perhaps, you’ll surprise yourself in finding that life gets ever better when you jump at it, rather then shrink away. If you need any reassurance of that, just ask the girl who was at once downtrodden but now finds victory in everyday living. Because, simply having the privilege to live out each day is a victory.
[vimeo 145898953 w=640 h=360]