Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

What has your “disability” (for lack of a better word) taught you about the human race? –Laura Cyrek

          I am sure you have heard the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”.    There is a profound amount of truth to this when you look at other individuals.  It is easy to judge people.  It’s not nearly as easy for us to forego assumptions, and focus on what is inside this person’s heart. When strangers approach you, judgments often leap into your mind:  Their eyes dart too quickly; they are not truthful.  Their misfit clothes have been worn too often and are getting holes; they don’t have much money.

We often don’t take the time or effort required to discover what is inside this person. Have you read Cross in the Closet?  It covers a wonderful, controversial topic.  The underlying message is very powerful.  This book highlights the need to love people for who they are.  This is a challenge we could all work on in our lives.

What have I learned about the human race?  There is a lot of good out there in our world.  A lot of good.  We need to take notice of this good, and try not to get pulled into the negativity stemming from quick judgments we too often apply.

Everyone has a story.  Every person has a pivotal point or experience that helped shape them into who they are today.  Look deeper than what you see at first.  Their story may be outrageously funny or horrifically sad.  Find these stories and you will better understand who these strangers are.  The human race is a beautiful collaboration of people.  Even people who have built walls up to protect themselves and lurk in a world of sadness and anger have a warm spirit under that dark shell.  People are inherently warm and loving.  Be careful not to misjudge what you see in your passing glance.  Find their story, and you will better understand them as individuals.  Everybody has a story.  Every person has a passion and a dream.  What is your dream?



Was there a specific event or moment that gave you the courage to share the story of your condition with the public? – Amanda Feld

          Over the years, I searched extensively for individuals writing and speaking about my four longest lasting conditions: epilepsy, young stroke patients’ recoveries, hemianopsia and prosopagnosia.  Rarely could I find first-hand accounts of what it was like to live with these conditions.  I did not want to linger in the shadows of scientific studies where 28% of patients found this or 68.7% improvement rate was found with this.  I wanted to hear from specific individuals who had faced the world and succeeded in living a full life despite limitations. 

I knew I had a story to share, and I knew other people could learn from it.  It wasn’t until two years ago I met John Riehl that my hope to share this story became a reality.  John is an amazing man.  I am grateful he saw value in my message and helped me take it to a larger population.  John put together a wonderful video that helped tell my story.  Through John, I had great fortune of becoming friends with professor and documentary film maker Dave Gould.  He has helped me connect with even more people.  This summer I will begin speaking with the American Heart Association of San Diego.  My story is slowly spreading to more and more people.  The response of gratitude is overwhelming when I realize everything I have experienced is now helping others find their way through a journey of adversity.

          My willingness to share my story has nothing to do with courage.  This drive to share my experiences stems from being lost and wanting someone to reach out their hand to show me possibilities of a bright future defined by hard work and motivation not medical challenges.  I did not want to be a statistic defined by research found in medical journals and hand-outs in doctor’s offices and hospitals.  It is my privilege to be able to help more and more people see beyond these statistics.  I feel I can now give back and help people realize adversity does not need to take you over and keep you from reaching your full potential.   Regardless of the roadblocks, obstacles can be overcome through our use of optimism.  Every person has the ability to uncover their inner strengths.



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