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!
Posts Tagged ‘goals’
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 are no pleasures in a fight but some of my fights have been a pleasure to win.” -Muhammad Ali.
Sometimes, the greatest pleasure of your day is a cup of coffee in the morning. In coping with life after a near death I have in no way minimized my expectations or goals, but I have simplified what brings me happiness or fulfillment. When your life gets put on pause(or seemingly rewind) during a recovery from something like a stroke, jumping in the car to go and do what you please becomes impossible or non optional. Often, I am stuck at home, in therapy, on errands, or in a doctors waiting room. When one’s freedom is seriously compromised, you begin to find it in other places. Many of these places were just passing moments before the stroke, but now they have taken center stage. The little things became my main thoroughfare. For example, the promise of a good breakfast was all that could rouse me from my bed on many days. An event previously so inconsequential, was now a reason to get up. I began to structure my life around the goal of getting better, rather than work. My new career was to be a reconstructive surgeon on the body of my own life. Suddenly, I legitimately yearned to fight the hectic city traffic again! A two hour commute home after an eight hour day, was a dream compared to what I faced during the early days of recovery. How little we realize what a gift our lives are when everything is going to plan. In order to feel just as productive and accomplished as I was previous to the stroke, I shifted the types of things I wanted to accomplish. Now completing a list of chores became fulfilling. Not to mention it’s beneficial therapy! Folding hordes of towels with one arm works on a myriad of physical skills. Many that will naturally benefit me, all in the process of doing a mundane chore. Never underestimate the value of crossing things off a to-do list, no matter how simple it seems. Making up daily work for myself has saved my sanity, contributed to further recovery, and given me a sense of accomplishment. Once I realized that many mundane tasks propelled progress, they became par for the course. We don’t always need to do show stopping things in order to feel good or create value. It is what happens behind the scenes that creates a stellar show. The world normally sees the finished product without witnessing the intense work that it took to get there. It is for this reason you shouldn’t quit putting in the work. Because the work you put in will amount to what kind of life you experience.
Never give up!
“Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”- Hans Christian Andersen.
Every time I shed a little responsibility I imagine a pair of scissors cutting the string to a tiny man that’s holding me down. This makes the shedding of unnecessary belongings and responsibilities a lot more fun. My inherited beta fish died, not much sadness there… *snip snip*! One less thing to do. After nearly losing everything(my life included) material possessions suddenly became unimportant. I now view the accumulation of things as a burden. If I’m going to buy something new I get rid of a few old things to counter balance the amount of things I own, simply because you can become a slave to inanimate objects fairly easy. Not to mention, I evaluate each new purchase with one question, “how will this add value to my life?” If it doesn’t, I don’t buy it. Since life is fleeting I’d rather fill it with experiences over things that I have to pay for and then subsequently take care of. Give me a tasty gourmet meal over another tee shirt, an outing to the movies over some more expensive makeup, or a Broadway show instead of a birthday party and gifts. Why? Because lovely memories are a much greater gift then more material belongings. The object of the “game,” is to cut away as many strings as possible.
Granted, this doesn’t mean you should shirk all reasonable responsibilities, just that due to consumerism we add so many more unnecessary ones. In an already over burdened existence I find relief in cutting the strings. I believe you will too, so consider minimalism and find freedom!
Get out your scissors,
“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him.” positively. -Bob Marley.
Whether you’re considered an artist or not, we all create something. What ever that something is, be it cooking, painting, playing an instrument, taking care of a loved one, or simply doing your menial job well, all of it matters. Ensure the legacy you leave is one of love, hard work, and one that leaves an indelible mark on those around you. Even the most simple tasks done well can give a sense of pride. Since I have not been able to work in my busy fast paced career since the stroke, I’ve learned to channel that energy elsewhere. Now I put much more care and effort into everyday tasks. None of which are recognized on a stage, by the public ,or sometimes even my own family. However, when I know I’ve done something to the best of my ability or taken extra care, I’m satisfied. Because, whether it’s folding towels, washing dishes, or organizing my desk, I aim to leave a trail of excellence, and that’s how I’ll be remembered. No job is too small, or too big. When you start by tackling the “small things,” with ease, the big things get a whole lot easier. At one point I struggled to even dress myself, it was utterly exhausting! Afterwards I felt as if I’d just had a work out and be angry at the fact it took so much more effort then it did prior to the stroke. As I lay huffing and puffing on my bed, my Mother assured me with a laugh“It’ll get easier.” And you know what? One sock at a time it did. Now it takes me no more effort then it did before to get dressed. At one point I balked at therapists who assured me doing the dishes would pay off. Even though I once thought all these menial things made no difference, I was wrong. By starting with washing one dish, putting on one incredibly tight pressure sock(with one arm), folding that little washcloth, and organizing a drawer… Those things have now become getting fully dressed with ease, doing full loads of laundry, ALL the dirty dishes in the sink, and organizing an entire office. Since I have discovered this secret of starting small, I’m continually up to something. After all, every Neil Armstrong has had to start training down on earth before they can take their first steps on the moon.
one step for man….
“Take a leap of faith and begin this wondrous new year by believing. Believe in yourself. And believe that there is a loving Source – a Sower of Dreams – just waiting to be asked to help you make your dreams come true.” -Sarah Ban Breathnach.
As with every new year we get a clean hopeful slate on which to scribble our aspirations on. Many resolutions are made, but notoriously not kept. They begin with a vigor only to be abandoned half way or later on. Why? Do we have short attention spans, lose focus, get tired easily, or just make goals up for fun? It’s likely a small amount of all of those but mainly what we choose to focus on. Are we keeping our eye continually on the prize and remaining positive or letting fear and doubt creep in on us? Many times in the pursuit of happiness we need to build a defense wall up against fear and doubt. This New Year began with me down in the trenches and feeling hopelessly sad. However, as the new days of January began to pour in, I shifted my focus and the gloom lifted. I had to consciously choose to look at the bright side of the coming year. Even in the little things like a great upcoming film, phone upgrade(I love new gadgets), or paying down my debts. Those are all good things to look forward to and helped nudge that gloom on it’s way right out of the door. Today, I am hopeful about the future because I’m only seeing the good things. I have eliminated watching reading or listening to negative content. Cutting out as much negative(or dark) noise from your reality is crucial. Just like advertising can subconsciously and subtly have an effect on you, so can the negative influences in the world around us. Therefore, keep it light! You may have to cut out a show or certain music, but the resulting clearing of air and your mind is well worth it. The effects of being choosey about what you let in are huge. Don’t accept those negative things(or thoughts) through the gates of your mind. Be a vigilante! Stop those thoughts from entering before they even begin. Better yet, negate those negative thoughts and give them a dose of their own medicine. When you hear a voice that whispers things like “Your never going to get there.” or “ It’s not going to happen.” and “Why even bother?” Declare out loud the opposite of those statements. After all, even Michelangelo’s masterpiece the David; was formed by diligently chipping away at a massive block of marble. Not to mention, marble is one of the hardest rocks out there. Dare I say it’s difficult just as your circumstances or goals may be. Except, Michelangelo persevered and look what He accomplished? A timeless and breath taking masterpiece! In the same way make your life a David.
keep chipping away!
“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!
“I refuse to let others walk thru my mind with their dirty feet.”
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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