Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

          I think of all of the ways I have defined “success” throughout my life.  It’s a word which, like so many others, has a definition that evolves with where we are in that moment of our lives.

          Success is defined by Webster’s dictionary as: “The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”  Once, when I was very young, success was being able to ride a bicycle with no training wheels.  I wanted to be on my own, supported by nothing except sheer will.   This independence to ride alone on the sidewalk was what I then labeled as my greatest success.

          Throughout the years, my goals changed.  At twenty-seven, these goals became simpler but the chance to succeed was seemingly even more difficult.  I only wanted to do everyday tasks known to the rehabilitation world as “activities of daily living”.  I wanted to walk from one doorway to another.  I wanted to get dressed all by myself.  I wanted, believe it or not, to be able to change my daughters’ diapers. 

Recently, I heard from a twenty-four year-old female.  Her unexpected, unbelievable success came not long ago when she took a shower all by herself.  She was even able to reach up and run a wash cloth through her hair!  She, too, had a stroke at a young age.  Labels of success depend on where you are in your life.

          My most recent success was painting stripes on my daughter’s bedroom wall.  I measured for the stripe’s length and width.  Okay, it took several times measuring/removing painter’s tape/holding up the leveler again and again and again before pressing down the tape one last time.  I found success in all the things I did during this project.  I had enough eyesight necessary to judge the evenness of the lines where they met on opposite sides of the window.  I had the ability to dip a brush into the paint and the strength and stability to hold onto this brush and color the walls.  I had the balance to climb a few steps up a ladder.  I made my daughter smile as we worked together to reach her goals.

Stripes = Success

          Success should not be defined by others peering into your life.  It is not a word which can be fully defined in a dictionary.  Success is found in your own head and your own heart.  Believe in yourself.  Reach for your goals.  Define your own success today.


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