Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

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The city’s tourism slogan is “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas”. Are you like me and wonder what does happen? Stop back in two weeks, and I will tell you what really did happen in Vegas. Right now I am full of hopeful anticipation. I will be traveling to Las Vegas next week to speak at two venues.

On Wednesday, September 10th at 7PM, a brand new theater located within part of the newly renovated and exciting Downtown Project has invited me to present. I will be at The Window attempting to inspire with lessons of overcoming adversity. We all face challenges. Everyone needs to remember they are strong enough to face these difficulties. We all have it within us to become stronger after the storm has passed.

On Thursday, September 11th, I have been invited to speak at the world-renowned Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. I will speak to patients and doctors about my first-hand experiences with acquired and traumatic brain injuries. They will hear what it is like to be a patient and live as a survivor.

 

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I am planning on sharing a few stories about what happened in Vegas but pictures… we’ll see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This summer, I spent hot afternoons and long weekends rejoicing with my family in the unexpected value we joyfully placed in money. We worked ferociously towards creating more wealth than the other did. I didn’t fret about taking others down as I attempted to buy up as much real estate as possible. I held nothing back as I practiced and modeled cut-throat negotiations to purchase and barter the right property, so I could put up as many hotels and houses as possible. I am very, very competitive when it comes to playing Monopoly.
You see, I was lucky in that I foresaw my children were not going to like watching cooking shows with me forever on Friday nights. I knew the stage of sitting on the swing and rolling hula hoops to see whose would roll the furthest would be a short-lived phase. One thing I did hope would last was their love for board games. So far it has. Unfortunately, my oldest is slowly moving on from wanting to play as often with us–her friends are becoming the priority now. My youngest, though, is still not only grateful but excited when we claim a spot in the living room and pull out Monopoly for a week-long real estate battle. I value time with my children however and whenever I can get it. We scowl and then laugh at how competitive I am playing games, but then again, so is she. We both rarely take a Monopoly deal the other suggests yet remain in good spirits. We talk, and we laugh. We spend time together.

What people value in life –what they declare important- always evolves. It tells so much about where we are with our wants and needs. I learned the hard way how fast things can be taken from us. I was taught how adversity can sneak up and steal things away regardless of our age and place in life. I learned how quickly one’s current value system can crumble and be built back up into something completely different.
Time flies by. The dollars building in our bank accounts or being held in our wallets, clothes with the designer labels, fancy houses in the perfect zip code, and the impressive cars we drive probably will not matter someday. It is the people you impact that will carry your spirit beyond this fleeting moment. Little things which offer selfless joy and teach the gift of giving will add up to make your big impact on the world.
As for me, I maintain the greatest value is time I get to spend with my family. I prefer a game of spades, rummy, or Monopoly where I can try to bankrupt my family. Then –after they bankrupt me- we will laugh together. I am grateful for the hard life lessons I was taught. I think I have learned these lessons quite well and put them into practice in my own life. My children will have fleeting hobbies and desires. It is up to me to invest time and efforts in getting involved with these evolving experiences. It is up to me to reach out my hand and grab on to their fast spinning lives. For now, my values are right where I want them to be. I have my value locked on hope and happiness paving my way into our promising future…Even if that pavement does include me brutally taking possession of Boardwalk and Park Place.

“The best things in life aren’t things.”   John Ruskin

 

“I had to live in the desert before I could understand the full value of grass in a green ditch.”   Ella Maillart

 

“The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.”   Albert Einstein

 

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”   Albert Einstein

 

Money

 

“The value of life is not in the length of days,

but in the use we make of them;

a man may live long yet very little.”

Michel de Montaigne

“Tomorrow. The word hangs in the air for a moment, both a promise and a threat.”   Thrity Umrigar

 

My goal for celebrating the eleven year mark of my stroke was to go for an eleven mile walk.

 

 

On my stroke anniversary/birthday, June 25th, I set out to walk these eleven miles, yet I knew instantly it would hurt my hip and leg if I walked so far after having attempted to jog the day before.

 I waited until I thought it wouldn’t hurt.

 

For the next few weeks, I thought it would be too hot. We were hitting over 100 degrees(F) every day.

 I waited until it cooled down.

 

Then I went on vacation where I fell walking one day and hit my chin on the cement and broke off a tooth.

 

I waited until I healed.

 

After the vacation ended, every time I went out for a walk I came back after only a few blocks. I could not get over the fear of falling again.

 

I waited until the fear subsided.

 

Late in July, I decided it was time to face my fear and accomplish the goal I had set. I went out to finish that eleven mile walk. Yet, I couldn’t do it. Every single time I walked a mile or more on our neighborhood sidewalks, the sound of my tooth breaking on the pavement pushed into my mind and shattered my will to accomplish this goal.

 

I waited until the sound did not paralyze my mind.

 

Then, early this month, I realized fear and dread were controlling me. I had to walk longer distances again to maintain my strength. I’d come too far in the past eleven years. The stroke and its repercussions were winning. My new limitations were challenging my mind. I have always been too competitive to allow this.

 

I faced my dreaded fear of falling –and everything that came with it- and decided it was better to fall than to never push my limits again. It was important see where my goals could carry me.

 

I could no longer wait.

 

 

I walked and walked and walked. I walked beyond where I believed I could go. My eleven year/eleven mile milestone was completed.

 

Eleven Year following my stroke = Eleven miles walked

Eleven Year following my stroke = Eleven miles walked

 

I won. My goal for tomorrow was no longer postponed. I won!

 

“Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.” Proverb

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