A Great Gift for Valentines Day

loveIf you are like my daughter and a lot of kids, you know that Valentines Day is not just about romance. It is about showing love for everyone. A great way to fill ourselves with love is  to have love in our heart for someone we don’t like.

In the spirit of Valentines Day, I chose to love the mobility supervisor, who secretly watched me, and cancelled my disability transportation service, concluding that I was not disabled enough to qualify. The greatest hurt to me was that she did this without giving  me any time to prepare, without empathy for someone who had used the service for 7 years, and without respect. Despite this:

  • I choose to love her for helping me see that my physical and mental disorders are not visible to some eyes, and perhaps should be less visible to my own.
  • I choose to love her, for though she did not give me any time to prepare for exposure to winter condition, I found strength and resilience in myself.
  • I choose to love her, for even though my resulting pain and depression from exposing my stroke-damaged body to extreme-cold weather, I have learned how to be active and outdoors in the worst of winters.
  • I choose to love her for giving me the opportunity to share the importance of treating all people in a loving and respectful way.

I send love and light this Valentines Day, with a hope that you too will choose to love someone you find hard to love. Consider that every time we do not love, we fill ourselves with darkness, and block the good that everyone brings.




Are you mentally healthy?

Depression, anxiety, suicide, bi-polar disorders, substance abuse, and so on – did you know the world in a mental health crisis?

Some 20% of Canadians and Americans and 25% of British people reported mental health/illness concerns. The correct figure is probably far higher than that – I for one, would never have reported a mental health issue. I didn’t know I was seriously depressed; and even if I did, fear of the stigma of mental illness would have stopped me from admitting it.

What about you? Take a look at the following chart, do you see yourself on one side or the other. Why?

Mental Health-1

You are Increasingly likely to Have a Stroke

Stroke for me was like  a journey into madness.
Journey Into Madness –  Illustration by Ashley Blackwood

If stroke has not touched or disrupted your world, please do not relax. Stroke is the second leading cause of death, and is growing more likely to affect a loved-one, or God-forbid, you!

According to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, where you can find a powerful video about young stroke survivors:

…recent international studies predict that stroke rates among younger people (ages 24 – 64), will double in the next 15 years.

That many younger people are having strokes wasn’t a big shocker to me, since I had a stroke at 45. However, I still find it hard to believe that 30% of all stroke victims have absolutely no risk factors! I had a stroke even though I was labelled one of that 30% of stroke victims, who had no weight issue, no cholesterol, no diabetes, no high blood-pressure, etc. What that means is that we are all at risk!

As seen in my book, Rising Like a Phoenix: When Life Cuts You Off at the Knees, Available in CanadaUS or at Amazon stores world wide, my life before and after my stroke, felt like a journey into madness.  However, instead of accepting my potentially lethal brain damage, crying my guts out and allowing stroke to kill me, I was pushed to fight back.  I fought back by accepting the madness and the gift that it gives to us all.

I invite you to read my short and very inexpensive book Rising Like a Phoenix: When Life Cuts You Off at the Knees, and together we can help our selves, family and friends heal from this madness.   You can get it in Canada, US or at Amazon stores world wide. If you are unable to buy it, please read the sample chapter available on Amazon, and if you want it and are still unable to pay for it, let me know and I will send you a PDF copy. All I ask is that you do a review.

Together, we can inspire each other to rise in body, mind and/or spirit after stroke and other debilitating illnesses. As seen in my story, we can find a way to replace the madness with gladness.


Exposing the Authentic Me

I can now say without a doubt that the greatest prejudice against me comes from me! I had it in my head that organizations would not hire me and men would not want to go out with me, once they know about my stroke!

There are two main problems with this. First, these thoughts are coming from within me! If I think that way, there is little doubt that my experiences will support my thinking. Second, because of my own prejudice against my stroke, I spent a lot of time trying to prove I have not lost some level of my former abilities. That is a lie! Enough with defending what I was, what I am no more!!!

I say without pain, that I cannot do certain things as well as I used to, such as public speaking without adequate notes. Instead, I have been forever transformed into the stoke-blessed-me, the authentic me! Here I find, a new found specialness.  I can speak more powerfully than ever before, on the right topic and with sufficient preparation. Moreover, I passionately write, I innovate, I find creative solutions, and I am more committed to whatever I take on!

This is the authentic me, the stroke survivor. I am ready to expose her to, to share her with, the world. Here is a piece I was moved to write in celebration of our authentic selves.

Introducing the Authentic Me

Confidence in Our Health and Beauty

ellipticalYesterday I was in the gym working hard on the elliptical machine. Like a Duracell battery, I was full of energy, moving my arms and legs joyously back and forth to the positive reggae music, which was piping through my ear phones.

A guy, who I have not seen for a long time, appeared in front of my machine. With a bright and friendly smile, he said:

I haven’t seen you for a while. You must be coming at a different time. Are you completely better now?

It was a question, but he spoke as though there could be nothing but an affirmative answer. He wanted to know if my limp, and all signs of my disability, that he had seen slowly improve for several years, had finally, or almost completely, disappeared. The question, which I get quite often, triggered my uptight self, and made want to say to him:

I was well the last time you saw me and I am still well. My physical disability remains, and it may or may not go away. Yet I am in as great emotional and physical health as I could ever ask for, able-bodied or not.

My cheeky self wanted to say that, but instead my more God-centred self just smiled as I nodded my head cautiously, to indicate there was some progress, and I was happy. He lingered a minute to chit chat; then off he went , jogging away as happy as a lark.

Why did I choose to respond the way I did?

The guy meant only to be friendly, and bombarding him with my hang-ups would have been a certain buzz-killer. I am the main person that needs to know and be happy with how well I am in the moment; for it is this knowing that pulls people to me and projects a vision of wellness. I am not perfectly able-bodied and I am wonderfully well!

Finding Our Way

I felt like I  had been run over by a bulldozer, when my doctor wrote that I was permanently disabled and unable to work. I could not accept that I may never again be a corporate trainer, never again able to help people.

It took some time for me to see that if we look at things as they truly are, not as they used to be or as we would like them to be, we can see the gift that is being given to us.

Once I opened my eyes to see what surrounded me, I saw the computers. I looked closer and saw that the Internet was growing with applications that would enable me to contribute to any person and any organization, from anywhere. I had found my way.

In a couple of months, I will be travelling to Ottawa to be a part of a virtual facilitation team for the 23rd Annual International Black Summit. I will be helping off-site people who cannot get to Ottawa, both able-bodied and physically challenged, participate in this weekend event. Together, we will be focusing on bringing into being our visions for black communities and the world.

To find the way to help people be the best of themselves, I had to be in the present and find my way to myself.

Sometimes Killing Is Necessary

I hate to say it, but this is how I felt after reflecting on some cruel words, from a twisted friend.  She said:

Men are visual. If I were a man, looking for a woman to date or marry, I wouldn’t look at you. These are just certain realities that you will likely have to deal with. You limp, which, to put it bluntly, does not exactly pull a man’s heart strings. You can’t wear heels, so it doesn’t matter how great a figure you may have, you can’t dress in a way that would make men notice.

With her words lurking in the back of my vulnerable mind, I stubbornly went on-line in my quest for that special guy. However, I had to do the noble thing, which meant initiating conversations about disability and what is wrong with me!

Imagine that, a man goes on-line looking for love, looking for joy, looking for what is right, and meets pain and discomfort, what is wrong! The silly thing is that I rarely experience pain and discomfort, and when I do it rarely holds me back. Even more telling, I am overflowing with joy and love, what is wonderfully right with me.

‘What is wonderfully right with me’, I said to my friend, ‘should take the focus in my introduction to others’.  Still, she bombarded my head with noise about reality, my disability, and fairness. She wouldn’t shut up. So I consulted God. It was then that I knew. She had to go!

It’s not my way, but I had to kill her! I had to kill my friend, that disheartening part of me!

With God and no bickering controlling my head, I can clearly see that I, Nudaan, am love. I am not hindered by anything, but negative perceptions of self. I will forever kill any part of me that turns off the light in me, the beauty of me. As my light shines, I share with others the beauty of every part of me, even my sometimes stubborn right leg.

My life today is not about being transparent about my flaws or changing my marital status. It’s about my eternal quest to enliven the love in me, and one way to do this is to find and kill or disable, the negative parts of me.

How Surprising? Did I do that?

I was walking down a street yesterday, looking for a specific bank. I had already made several wrong turns and had to ask for directions. I saw a lady walking towards me; but I was scared to ask her, for she rocked and limped as she walked, as I do. Therefore I thought she may not be capable of directing me. Why? I concluded that she may be mentally disabled. How shocking! I was prejudging someone who was just like me!

Fortunately, I was able to push passed the ignorance in my head and force myself to ask the lady for directions. She happily gave me clear directions to exactly where I wanted to go.

However, what does it mean when prejudice is so ingrained in us, that we are unknowingly prejudiced against ourselves? A disabled person looks down on the disabled, the poor look down on the poor, one race looks down on itself, and so on.

There was a point in time when I thought that I was the exception. How foolish? The bottom line is that if I look down on one in my group, I am looking down on me too! All the misfortune I am bringing on them, I am bringing on me.

How do I change my thoughts, so that I can see myself as I truly am, be all that I am meant to be? Perhaps asking the question is the beginning.