Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

Archive for the ‘hope’ Category

Weekly Serving of Optimism: Quotes & Thoughts (If Everyone Cared)

Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take the step.”  Unknown


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”    Margaret Mead

New Year’s Greeting

It feels good to have my computer up and running again.  I was taking a short break the past few weeks and will be gone again for just a little while.  This short break is allotting time to celebrate our family’s vacation of no school and no work.  This time away has led to extra time of extra baking and lots of playing.

We sang, as our family tradition continues, “Happy Birthday” to baby Jesus before opening our gifts Sunday.  Last week, we sang this song to my oldest as she celebrated her eleventh birthday.  On Christmas, I looked around our tree and was filled with gratitude for the gifts we had received.  It was more than just the monetary value of gifts wrapped with pretty paper and lots of tape.  The value of love uncontained by closing tape was what truly warmed my heart.  I am lucky to realize how rich I really am in so many ways.

Christmas Eve was celebrated with dear friends.  Christmas day brought a chance for us to Skype with my family far away.  All week we have had a table overflowing with baked goods consisting of sugar cookies made from a recipe passed through generations, scotcheroos, peppermint bark covering pretzels and so much more.  We had our family all together.  Most importantly, we had laughter…. lots and lots of happy smiles and laughter.  The old Irish blessing came to my mind:

“In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship and never in want.”

                Yesterday was a day of exploring a new museum and watching wonder fill the eyes of all of those in my family.  This weekend we will greet a new year.  We will say goodbye to the old, and recall memories of the highs and lows the past twelve months have offered.  I know how truly lucky I am.  I have had my share of trials, yet within the trials I have had triumphs.  I am excited to welcome in 2012.  I know there will be challenges.  I accept this.  Maybe I even welcome it.  I know that when I am challenged, it is then I fully comprehend the strength I contain within myself.  Tonight I will be having a kid-friendly party with friends I am fortunate enough to have discovered through our military journey.  Rest assured, next week I will be back ready to continue telling my journey of prosopagnosia and epilepsy.  My journey of discovery and optimism.  Until then, I will leave you with a New Year’s wish from American author William Arthur Ward:

“Another fresh new year is here . . .

Another year to live!

To banish worry, doubt, and fear,

To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me

To live each day with zest . . .

To daily grow and try to be

My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity

Once more to right some wrongs,

To pray for peace, to plant a tree,

And sing more joyful songs!”

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Evolution of Goals: Six Miles and Counting

A few weeks ago I wrote about how our definition of normal always evolves.  This past week I was thinking about other ever-changing areas of my life.  For example, people’s goals are always changing, growing and hopefully getting grander.  My physical goals do just this.

The day after I had my stroke I was told I may never walk again without the aid of assistive devices.  From that point on, it was explained; I may be required to depend on an AFO brace, a crutch cane or a walker to be mobile.  In my mind, at twenty-seven I was too young to accept this news.  I had too much to do in life to never walk independently again.  I set a goal of walking alone.  I was determined to achieve and exceed this initial goal.  I worked hard.  I worked very hard.  I was determined see if Thomas Carlyle was truthful when he said, “Go as far as you can see; when you get there you’ll be able to see farther.”  He was correct.  I was determined to continue with expanding my milestones.  I listened to doctors and pushed myself beyond what even I thought I was capable of.  This determined attitude and hope that I harbored allowed me to complete a four mile walk four years later beside my two young daughters.  The only assistive devices I held that day were the hands’ of my children.  Together we accomplished the Coronado Bay Bridge Walk.

Finish Line For Coronado Bay Bridge Walk

4 Years 4 Miles: Finishing Coronado Bay Bridge Walk

My goals continued to grow.  This past weekend I “ran” five miles and “biked” six miles.  Now I did not actually run these miles, nor did I go out and ride a bike.  Some goals are still out of reach.  I used an elliptical because I still do not have use of some required muscles that would allow me to run.  I rode my miles on a stationary bike.  I do not have the balance to keep a bike upright.  I hope to run again outside some day.  I would like to take my kids out on a bike ride without needing training wheels or a third wheel.  Today though these goal are still beyond my reach.  For now, I will stay inside on fitness equipment.  I make believe the wind blows through my hair.  I hear the sounds of a nearby road and feel the sun beaming through the window warming my face as if I were outside without restrictions.  My body may not offer me the ability to reach my pre-stroke goals.  I do, however, have the ability to make sure my goals are always evolving. I fail occasionally; sometimes I have to lower my expectations.  I may not have the ability to take back all of what seizures, surgery and the stroke have taken.  I will always continue to hope though and always take hold of the next opportunity life will place within my reach.  Bernard Edmonds once said, “To dream anything that you want to dream. That’s the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed.”

I may never run a half marathon, but at least I can keep up with my children on a beautiful afternoon walk.  I may never know a life completely free of seizures, yet my inner strength will not allow medical difficulties to stop me from living a full life.  I won’t remember your face, but I will remember the kindness you offer me through your support, words and actions.  I dare myself to dream, to evolve my goals higher every time I reach a plateau.  I trust myself to not just live an ordinary life but work to leave an extraordinary legacy providing optimism and hope to every life I touch.

RSVP Immediately

I received an invitation to a great, lifelong party.  Now let me explain this party was not a quaint little gathering of a few friends to sip tea and speak of simple subjects.  No, not at all.  This was a party that would last through the night and well into the next few days or even weeks!  I remember clearly this party was set to begin late on a Wednesday afternoon.  The unspoken rumor was it may last for a very long time.  If I was really into it, I could continue this party for months even years.  This invitation was not brought to me with confetti and streamers.  I did not receive an invitation delivered with a quaint lace envelope.  Rather, I was presented this invitation in a darkened room with a bed pan and a wheel chair.  416 weeks ago no one really expected me to RSVP.  My lingering attendance was merely expected by some of the world.  It was silently assumed I had the right to join the International Pity Party.

That afternoon I made an instantaneous decision.  I did not politely say I would not be attending.  I did not use the manners I had been raised with and explain to society I would stop by to acknowledge my place in the pity party before I went off to meet other obligations.  Rather, I turned my back swiftly, forcefully and never looked back.  No, of course, that was not a literal statement.  I was still paralyzed.  I did, however, turn my mind away from the victim perspective and offered up my mind, body and soul to bring on the greatest fight of my life.  That was the best subconscious choice I have ever made.

The day I made that choice I felt like a boxer in the ring.  My supporters did not hold signs for me.  Better than any sign they could have made, my supporters held hope.  That is a gift that cannot be measured and cannot be forgotten.  Like a boxer, I was in for blows.  Having a stroke when you are twenty-seven is not something planned for.  When you graduate from college, you do not expect less than ten years later you will no longer be studying statistical equations; instead, you will be studying just how it is your daughter is better at buttoning a shirt and walking.  I captured success in immeasurable equations.  I learned to scan walls as I walked down the narrow hallways, so I would not bump into anything.  I fought my sight loss.  Again, I had blows as I learned my brain damage had taken away my ability to recognize faces.  Success again tasted sweet as I swallowed my last Keppra (an anti-epileptic drug I had taken for years).  It continues to be a great success as I share information of what it is like to survive brain injury and explain my coping mechanism used to assist with prosopagnosia.  There are still blows onto my bruised body.  In April, I suffered my first major seizure in nearly eight years.  Regardless, the pity party invitation will still not be accepted.

I have placed the invitation somewhere deep in the back of my mind.  Somewhere within my closet of memories.  I am sure between my head wrap that covered my shaved head, behind the dusty leg brace I refused to keep on my shrunken leg and maybe below the cane I have covered with my unused arm brace you will be able to find that invitation.  I hope you don’t though.  Never come seeking it.  As I draw upon my eight year mark in surviving and thriving, I have a secret to share for my long-lasting, much celebrated recovery.  That secret?  This secret is Hope.  Hope is something you will not find in a prescription from the doctor.  You cannot discover it when crying day after day hiding in a dark room.  Rather, you will discover it when you find the love in friends and family.  You will overflow with it when you wake up and acknowledge the gifts that remain and you replace bitterness with an attitude of gratitude.  Hope is rarely an instantaneous finding.  Nonetheless, it is there.  It is in all of us.  For those of you who have shared hope with me, I am so very thankful you are in my life.  For those of you considering the RSVP to your own pity party, I hope you choose to decline.  Remember: happiness and love will come into the life you have discovered you truly love to live.  Celebrate this love!

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