Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

I have an aunt who suffered from different side effects from brain surgery, but lived the rest of her life unhappily.  What has been key to keeping a positive attitude in your life? –Ryan Pape

Maybe there is something in some of us that make us more resilient than others?  Maybe there is something some are born with allowing them to be able to embrace challenges?  People often tease me my youngest will be my most trying child because of her strong personality.  I laugh and usually reply that I have a feeling she will be my easiest.  She doesn’t hide things.  She rarely backs away.  She is more like me when I was young.  Her attitude is “I shouldn’t?  Why?  Oh, it doesn’t seem that bad.  Give me my consequences.  Let’s get it over with.  I am going to do it anyway.”  We forge forward, and then we move on with no looking back and rarely with remorse.  My most humorous quotes are: “Well-behaved women seldom make history” and the old Irish blessing “May you be in Heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you are dead.”

          It has always been my intention to live life to the fullest.  I was once told you will regret more the things you don’t do than those you do.  As years pass, I look back with fondness and see a lot of truth in this lesson.  I have lived a full, rich and rewarding life.  Yes, I have stumbled along the way and have had to go around a few road blocks.  I am lucky I’ve always been ready to take on life.  I am thankful I’ve always had a spirit that is willing and able to embrace challenges.

          I saw a lot of people come and go while I was in the rehabilitation wing of the hospital.  It always made me sad when some people yelled at the physical and occupational therapists saying they did not want to have to get out of bed.  Getting out of bed was hard for all of us because of the challenges that had brought us in there.  It was painful for some and stressful for us all.  I knew getting up was the only path that would lead to my recovery.  After all, I was just relearning how to walk, learning how to use my hands and arms and learning how to pronounce words.  My thoughts in therapy: Really life?  That’s all you got?  Bring it on.  I will smile and readily accept this challenge.  Like the younger me and now my daughter, I wasn’t going to hide from this, and I definitely was not going to back away.  It was another opportunity to forge forward and embrace yet another challenge.

What message would you have for us as we leave college and enter the “real world?” – Joe F.

          Sometimes during class visits, I tell about the time I rode the trolley by a college in San Diego?  Did I tell your class about this Joe?  If not, and for anyone else who did not hear it, I was on this trolley with my young children when a bunch of college students all crammed in on their way to a game.  They were screaming, laughing, not being all that appropriate, having a blast and being oblivious that I was there with young kids.  I was irritated.  Then, I don’t know how or why it hit me so strongly, I had the realization these students were who I had been not so long ago.  Somehow I went from a recent college graduate, someone in the “real world”, to a wife and mom of two little girls, to losing my memories and my ability to do nearly everything alone all within such a short timeframe. 

How did this happen?  How did I grow from me being in their shoes into this person who I had become so quickly?  Life happens and we don’t even see it pass by us.  I had an awful lot of stuff thrown at me really, really quickly.  The “real world” was rough.  Yet, Joe, there I was surrounded by such beauty.  The innocence of these students surrounded me as they went on their way to tailgate.  Here, also, were my beautiful children I had created who were excited and awed to see these rowdy, older kids.  This is life.  This is the “real world”.

          When you leave college, take some lessons with you.  Leave some things behind.  Remember to laugh till you have tears rolling down your face and your stomach hurts.  Forget the luxury of having the choice to sleep in and not go to work or class.  I promise life will pass you by if you don’t consciously make the choice to go and experience it first-hand.  Cheer for those you celebrate but do not boo those you oppose.  You don’t know if –or more likely when- you will be in their situation someday.  You may need these opponents to help you get on your feet again.  The “real world” will often give you chances to start over.  Never make the mistake of leaving anyone behind. 

And one more important lesson:  Breathe.  Enjoy this moment.  Sit back and smile.  You’re here.  You have made it a long way already.  Be proud of who you are, who you have become.  Never forget to answer the door when opportunity knocks.  There is going to be fear.  There will be moments of confusion as you wonder where all the time has gone, but those are the moments you can especially realize how lucky you have truly been.

Comments on: "Question & Answer Week 2 – b" (2)

  1. Tara,

    Recently I have been fighting recurring events related to my previous battle with the brain tumor and the ongoing battles with epilepsy, aphasia and the change from verbal thoughts to visual thoughts. These events drove to think about the topic of resilience. I began looking for resources. One book that I have found somewhat helpful to me is “Resilience: the science of mastering life’s greatest challenges,” written by Steven Southwick and Dennis Charney.

    I need to spend more time in the book and other resources. However, I am working on a post related to resilience that I hope to publish in the very near future on my new blog site, By’s Musings.

    May God bless you and keep you as you fight your way forward. You have been an inspiration to many of us.

    • I am so happy you have stopped over to my site! I was just thinking about you the other day. I received a message noting this is aphasia awareness month. I’m sorry you have been again fighting these difficult things your brain is putting you through.

      Thanks for the note on this book and heads-up for your upcoming post. I look forward to reading it!


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