Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

Archive for the ‘challenges’ Category

Not Waiting — Overcoming Excuses

“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

Weekly Serving of Optimism: Quotes & Thoughts (Proud Mom of TKD Black Belts)

Thousands of hours of practice.

A lot of hard work and sweat.

A few tears shed. Bruises painting their bodies.

Ace bandages to wrap what the braces don’t completely fix.

This came together to create their path to

Black Belts.

Black belt ceremony with Master John Park 08-09-14

Black belt ceremony with Master John Park August 09, 2014




“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”   Bruce Lee

photo 2

Black belt testing August 02,2014

photo 1-1

Black belt testing August 02,2014


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”   Aristotle




Yes, that is a piece of the board going towards the spectators.

Yes, that is a piece of the board going towards the spectators. Black belt testing August 02,2014


Black belt testing Tae Kwon Do

Black belt testing August 02,2014



“Failure is always temporary, only giving up makes it permanent.”   Unknown



Thank you morguefile.com for the use of this photo.

Thank you morguefile.com for the use of this photo.


A black belt is a white belt who never quit.

The World Is Too Big


Life Design September 2012.  Thanks Ciesco for taking this picture.

Life Design September 2012. Thanks Ciesco for taking this picture.


I have become frustrated often trying to figure out how to get invitations to speak at schools and community organizations. Yet, I cannot blame groups I reach out to. Until they have heard me speak and understand the message I deliver, I can only imagine their mistrust when someone writes and says, “Hey, I have a whole lot of brain damage. Want me to come and speak to your group about the amazing lessons I can teach?” Okay, I do say it much more eloquently than that. I admit, regardless of how wrong I would be, I, too, would doubt a person with significant brain damage could deliver a coherent message applicable to a group I was responsible for leading. Therefore, how do I get more invites? What do I do to reach more people? How do I share the wisdom I have gained from life?

Probably the most frustrating –yet telling- thing for me is the response I receive once I have spoken to any organization. Every speech I have finished has ended with the leader inviting me back and promising to tell other people about my eagerness to educate groups on neurological conditions. Teachers, leaders, and community organizers all felt I impacted the lives of those who heard my message.

I have been told I need a platform -to narrow down- to a specific lesson I teach. In other words, I need to focus on only one cause. This will draw in a prime group of supporters. It will be easier for people to grasp the message I can share. While I understand the theory behind this statement, I also find it frustrating. All of my experiences link together. If it had not been for developing epilepsy while in middle school, I would not have had brain surgery. No brain surgery would have meant no stroke. If I had not had a stroke, I would not be the person I am today.

Maybe I am the “jack of all trades and master of none.” Yet, the number of people I have touched, and the countless others I will, makes me fear narrowing down my focus to a singular topic would leave out those who need to hear this message. I am concerned this would limit the variety of audiences who could learn from my experiences and realize they are not alone. It is a big world out there with a lot of different people and needs. The world is far too big for me to find a single platform.

Thank you morguefile.com for the use of this photograph.

Thank you morguefile.com for the use of this photograph.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” Harriet Tubman

Its Name Is Stroke

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.” Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym

There is an old American idiom, “kick butt and take names”. I had to make a choice. I understood what had happened. I understood my body was not going to patiently wait for a response. It was by no means a conscious immediate choice to face this challenge. Yet, the choice was mine and mine alone: Learn to fight for what I lost and use -to the fullest- what I had remaining. No one else could make my leg and arm work. Not even the most specialized doctors could fix the areas of my brain the stroke took away.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. I want people to know that strokes affect everyone differently. Where the damage hits the brain, and how severely it hits, will change the possible outcome. This reality should be neither misunderstood nor denied. Everyone has to have hope. Healing will come in different forms and at different speeds. But, no one should deny that the spirit and tenacity with which brain injuries are fought will also alter the recovery outcome.

There was a chance I would not walk again without assistive devices. There was a chance I would not see again. There was a lot unknown. The brain surgery and following stroke tried to kick my butt. However, I am too stubborn and way too competitive to allow this.

I still do not have any left peripheral eyesight. I also have several remaining disabilities you can’t see. People look at me and assume I have a completely able body and mind. The key is I face my challenges. They do limit what I am able to do, but I never stop fighting against those limitation and daring to have hope of where I believe I can be. Below is the picture from a walking tracker I use every morning when I go out for walks. These numbers represent what I have done during the month of May. The doctors were right; I will never get back my eyesight. The doctors were sort of wrong… I can walk independently again, but I cannot run – yet.

I will fight to create my destiny with an immense amount of gratitude. The stroke came at me. It attacked my brain. It left me with a brain injury. I accepted the challenge and fought back. In the end of this struggle I want it to be known, I kicked the stroke’s butt and I am eager to share its name!


“Challenges in life can either enrich you or poison you. You are the one who decides.” Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience


Not running yet, but I am on my way. Never give up!

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