Tag Archives: health

I no Longer Choose to Be More

For the past five years, I have been choosing to be more that the limitations of the stroke and my disability.  It was only in the last weeks that I discovered that I need not choose to be more, for the stroke and my disability had given me the potential I was reaching for.

I have discovered a new dawn (nudaan) where it is not my physical or mental ability that defines my success and happiness in the world but the strength of my love for my self and the world. This love and strength revealed the path to my, and I believe all of our, healing.

This path includes attitude and faith, as will be shown in upcoming profiles of great people such as Ashley Fiolek (shown left), a deaf professional motocross racer, and Dick Straum (shown right), an amputee who once ran the New York City Marathon and now helps people with disability achieve their potential through sports.

Returning to optimum emotional and physical heath also means I had to focus on diet and exercise. Thus I have added 2 pages, physical conditioning and eat to live, to share what has worked for me in my healing, welcoming anyone who wants to share their stories.

A part of my brain is dead, and the right side of my body is still healing and cannot function as my left side. Yet I feel more able and useful than ever. I now choose to be me, the new dawn that was gifted to me by stroke. My journey forward, though not always painless, is teaching me more than I could have imagined. I am compelled to share these lessons with the world, as I experience them up close, and uncover the true meaning of my potential, of human potential.

Showing the World What it Means To Be Successful and Able: Gabrielle Giffords and Jean Sok

Last week I saw former Congresswoman Gabby Gifford, walk on to the stage at the Democratic National Convention, to face a cheering and tearful crowd. As tears fell from my own eyes, I was reminded of what it is to be courageous despite the many obstacles we face in our life. I was not thinking of the horrific shooting that almost killed her. I was not thinking of her as a severely brain-damaged woman who struggled with ever step she took and every word she spoke. Instead, my heart exploded as I felt the triumphant smile on her face and the resounding joy in her heart.

Check out the video below and see if you can see what I saw, hear what I heard and feel what I felt.

As I watched her, I heard the following words in my own mind.

I am defeating my fear of facing the world with my growing ability. I am extraordinary, for I can rise no matter how low I must fall. With your love and support, I am rising to the true greatness I can now express to you all!

Sooner or later, we all go through some sort of misfortune that can virtually destroy us.  It could be a health crisis such as a life-threatening disease, a financial issue such as loosing a job, and so on. These misfortunes can be see as God’s gift to helping us find the greatness within ourselves.

Like Gabby, I had to find the courage to face the world with a body that appeared disfigured, a brain that could not perform as it did before, and the fear that everything I did risked killing me. Yet I faced all that physical disability, I faced the world, and I allowed many others to help me physically heal.

Yet what happens when our misfortunes are no longer as noticeable, yet the largely unseen emotional damages are still felt deep within our blood, and shows us our deepest fears? For example, we get another job, but we have such fear of losing it and causing further financial woes that we cannot rise. Or, someone like me is so scared of having another stroke that he or she will not let himself or herself out into the world. How do we find the courage to get beyond that?!

Perhaps we can use the example of Jean Sok, the amazing b-boy dancer with only one leg,  who I saw on ‘So You Think You Can Dance‘ yesterday. I found his dance absolutely beautiful and memorizing. What is different about him? As you will see in the video below, he came across as fearless, confident, and absolutely loving.

It is not easy to reach for and achieve our goals, despite our greatest tragedies. We must let go of the illusion and deceptive nature of the fears that hide out in our mind. We must also believe with complete faith in who we have been, who we are, and who we shall be. Then we must work hard for our dreams, be persistent and never give up, despite the rambling voice of our fears.

It is not an easy or short road, but it is a road that we can choose if we want to see our extraordinary selves. I am at the beginning of that road, walking behind role model like John Sok. With each step I take, I approach the wonder of me. I can then go back and help others travel the path from their misfortunes to their extraordinary selves.

Something Good Always Comes From Bad: Resolving the Constipation of My Life

For the last few weeks I have been severely constipated.  You think I would have more pride than sharing information about my bodily functions with strangers! However, this is not about my body, it seems I am being lead in an amazing direction for my life!

This morning, I felt totally without motivation.  I was feeling lonely and a little depressed at all the troubles and lack of seeming progress in my life. So I prayed, and got the message that I should apply to volunteer for a few hours with the major stroke hospital in my region. I immediately called up the Office of the Director of Volunteers. I was told that a position just came in specifically related to stroke!

I do not expect that I will get this position. However, I am clear that my life has been put on a track that will resolve the constipation of my life. There is increased energy in my body, and some strange kind of enthusiasm about what this all means.

The bottom line is that while I work online with others, this work does not allow much face-to-face contact. I was awakened to the fact that virtual without face-to-face can lead to emotional constipation. It took the physical blocking of my body for me to really get this.

What about you? Do you ever find that something bad happens in your body, which leads to some remarkable enlightenment in your life?

Going for Gold: We All Need a Reminder

Following is the very first article I wrote when I started this blog. I needed to read it again, for when the journey is long many of us lose our faith or drop out. Now as I re-motivate myself, I say thanks to the spirit that wrote this article through me. I must also thank you, for being a listening so that I can keep writing and using myself as a vehicle for God.

In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, I watched South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius (above, left), a double leg amputee, barrel his way down the track in the 100 metre sprint, to a triumphant last place finish. Equally victorious was South Africa’s Natalie Du Troit (above, middle), a leg amputee, who qualified for the 10K swim. Likewise, Poland’s Natalia Partyka (above, right), born without a right hand and forearm, qualified for women’s table tennis. They clearly established themselves as Olympic athletes, thereby the best in the world. The fact that they didn’t take home any medals didn’t matter. More importantly, they represented a huge victory for those of us who need to see that there are no barriers to achieving our goals.

In 2007, I had a no-cause stroke which damaged the muscles and nerves on the right side of my body. It also diminished the functioning of my brain. After a year, I was labelled permanently disabled and unable to work. I had passed the point where most stroke survivors retrieve the vast majority of whatever functioning that will come back. My dreams of being a great business woman seemed impossible. My hope to marry again was dwindling into hopelessness. Who would want me for anything?

I saw Pistorius and I was reminded that God had a great purpose for us all. I knew that I couldn’t give up on my dreams of being an accomplished woman, who achieved great success by helping others be the best of themselves.  I just needed to make a shift. So I did what I always do, I searched for my answer.

In my quest, I saw that disability highlighted the greatness of Olympic stars like Pistorius, Du Troit and Partyka.  It was the heart of people like Michael J. Fox, Christopher Reeves, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Helen Keller, all of whom followed their true paths and catapulted to greatness.  These were ordinary people who achieved extraordinary things through belief, hard work, and an in-conquerable will to achieve.

Self-defeating thoughts didn’t suffocate these role models, and they certainly were not going to take over my life.  I knew deep inside that if God left me here on this earth, he wanted me to be the awesome person I always felt was inside. My stroke was a call to open my eyes and see the world in a different way. Like many, I needed to change my perspective so that I could see my God-given beauty, strength and brilliance, so that I could be what I was meant to be.

Before that point I was trying to be everything. I focused on being a manager, a trainer, an activist for the disadvantaged, and a writer, to name a few. Trying to move forward was like moving through quick sand. For example, working toward being a corporate manager was like banging my head against a solid brick wall. I clashed with my boss’s nasty personality, though I am clear I was also seeing reflections of my own nastiness. I felt no joy, no exhilarated fulfilment in my life.

Since having my stroke, I have been dramatically slowed down and even immobile for a while. I could barely speak for some time, and when I did it was at times hardly intelligible. Through my stillness, I saw my life clearly pulling me down a specific path. People came to me for information about and help with technology, writing, research, leadership, positive thinking and more. I was effortlessly doing what I claimed as my life mission years ago “helping the right people, find the right information, at the right time.” Interestingly enough, I have a graduate degree as an information specialist!

Some say God knocks you down so you can look up at him and see the truth. I looked up and saw my truth. There are no barriers to achieving my goals, but my self-defeating thoughts. When I face my fears and listen to the internal voice which guides me, I stick to my path, and I find my way. It is only then that I see the countless opportunities to make my best contribution to this world.

Choosing to live my life without barriers, without my self-defeating thoughts, I am unstoppable. Months after my stroke I was confined to a wheelchair. One year later, above-left, I was struggling to move around with a quad cane, a brace on my right leg, and a brace on my right arm. Now three years later, above-right, I move fairly well without braces and with the aid of a regular cane; most importantly, I am living my purpose of helping people, find the right information, at the right time.

I am a part of an unstoppable world of people, all going for gold, all nullifying barriers.

—-

I needed this reminder. I hope it also serves as an inspiration for you.

A Prayer for Justina

Good news! I just got into a government program, which for 10 months will be paying me to develop a live web-based learning centre. I will tell you all about it by the new year, and if you like you can come and visit. Since I am busy working on the development of the centre, I will only commit to adding an updated post on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. I will get back to People Skills by Bolton next week. 

Today I would like to send out special energy for a young lady and her family, who are undergoing a devastating situation. Though this is not a religious post, I am compelled to reach out to God and plea for mercy.

On July 11th I was in church, having a great time singing and dancing to the gospel songs. My eyes were drawn to Justina, the 15-year-old daughter of one of the Church’s pastors. I noticed how connected she was to Spirit. Her body rocked gently to the music, as she held her palms open and upwards, as though speaking love and gratitude to all that surrounded her and all that was within her. I was momentarily transfixed by her being, for I have never seen a young girl so spiritually connected.

During the following week, her family found out she had brain cancer. This was also he fate 4 1/2 years ago; fortunately, after surgery and chemotherapy, she had beaten the cancer. Now here it was again. I cried. No, not her, not this beautiful family! (I worked with her father, and I have never seen a man so giving of his time, his home and his love – especially to young people). I don’t know what God is up to, and to tell you the truth, I don’t particularly like it. But I have learned the best thing to do is to surrender to what is happening, and watch and listen, for something wonderful always comes forth (especially in the case of someone so blessed as Justina). Still I know that something wonderful may or may not be what we desperately hope for; nevertheless, I would like to put in my specific request to the creator of all beings. 

I bow down to you, dear God, with my eyes staring into the sky, and my pleading hands clasped together. Give Justina and her family an over-abundance of support in this difficult time. Open our eyes and our hearts so we can fully see your works, in this beautiful young lady and her family. Bring us all through this stronger in spirit, mind and heart than ever before. Provide the most amazing outcome for Justina and her family.

4 Strategies to Keep the Pounds From Piling On

Our body is like our automobile. It looks and performs like a Mercedes, if we take care of it (see Healthy Bodies). Or it can be more like a huge, sluggish old truck, if we don’t give it the maintenance it needs.

My last vehicle was a  2001 KIA Sportage.  The dealer closed. Without reminders, I never took it in for regular oil changes and maintenance. I don’t know how long I waited, but I do know that the engine light often came on, and I was regularly taking it to the mechanic for one problem or another.

Having too much weight on our bodies can cause the engine light to go on in our brain. For many of us, as we grow older, we become less active.  We continue eating the same amount of food, more than needed by our less active bodies. As a result, the weight piles, which may cause the engine light to go on.

The inevitable question therefore becomes, how do we train our bodies to eat less? When I was discharged from the hospital 2 years ago, I didn’t want to grow wider, like so many home-bound folks. I was doing less, so my body needed less.

Below are 4 strategies that have kept me growing in health and 15+ lbs lighter than my pre-stroke weight.

  1. I eat small portions of heavier foods, such as complex carbohydrates and protein. I never eat 2 eggs anymore and I always only eat 1 slice of bread with my breakfast. But I am sure to eat when I feel hungry, so my body gets what it needs.
  2. I focus on eating plenty of delicious vegetables with my meals. This is crucial. Before, I would sometimes be too lazy to ensure there is a vegetable or salad dish with every meal. Now I often make it the major part of my meal. But I don’t want my food to taste, look and feel like I am on a diet. So I have to make scrumptious veggie dishes, such as those accessed on the site profiled on the Healthy Bodies page.
  3. I avoid negativity like the plague. I let other people’s opinion and ways, be their way of being. I can comment on what they say and think. But, for the most part, I don’t get mad when we don’t agree. When I do blow my top, my anger passes quickly like a fast and gentle hurricane.
  4. I try always to be with what is. My stroke happened. I accept what I cannot change, open my eyes to see the opportunities that life presents, and find my happiness.

Emotions are often an important aspect of how much we eat.  Many of us try to satisfy whatever emptiness we feel with food. As a result, we eat like a horse and risk growing huge like an elephant.

Faced with the tragic circumstances of my life, it was my choice not to let my body grow less healthy, without proper care and maintenance. I chose to treat it like a cherished vehicle, giving it the best care it needs to ward off that awful “check engine” light. As we grow older, we all should consider that choice.

Multiple Sclerosis: a Healing for Jane

On Saturday, I went to the gym for my usual morning workout. I started out walking around the track with my third leg (my cane) by my side. Suddenly a young lady came up on my left. She was walking in a zig-zag, unsteady motion. She was Asian, slim, short and looked like a teenage girl. She was pretty, not only because of her physical features, but because her spirit exuded beauty.

We said hello. She said her name is Jane and told me all about herself. She is 26 years old and suffers from Multiple Sclerosis (MS). 

She shared that she has problems balancing and feels disconnected from her brain. She asked a lot about me, including how often I came to the gym and what I did. I was glad to share.

“It is nice to talk to someone”, she said with a heart-warming smile. I believe, she meant it was good to speak to someone who could relate to her physical challenge, and her need for hope and inspiration. I need that too.

It was a bit difficult walking beside her. Her zig-zag motion made it difficult for me to walk straight and keep my own balance. I believe my own slow movement and my limping, made her even more unsteady. After a few minutes, she walked ahead, and got off the track.

I did another lap around the track, got off, and met Jane again. She said I gave her hope.  How could I give her hope? MS is a disease that keeps getting worse and worse. There is no cure. I was overwhelmed with compassion. What could I do? Who must I be? What can I say to God?

Perhaps there is nothing to say, just believe with her, hope with her, persevere with her, and love her. Moreover, together we must know there is cause for hope. New medicines can slow down the progression of MS. In addition, scientists are working on breakthrough treatments at this very moment.

God’s will is God’s will. Still we can choose to see our misfortune as a gift that enables our spirits to show our greatest selves. Jane and I can choose to let God show the world his power through our connection, inspiration and perseverance. We are mirrors of each other.

I pray for more miracles and continued hope to keep Jane and me believing in some sort of healing or new treatment. Yet perhaps the greatest miracle is in who we choose to be. This morning, we chose to be love, and I can feel that love even now.

Jane uplifted me with her hope and her willingness to show herself to me. She reminded me that life is what we make it. We can lift ourselves up, by choosing to connect with and touch each other.

Jane approached me. God made her the source of her own hope and inspiration. She inspires my choice to keep pushing for my own continued healing, for her healing, and the healing of us all.

 Thank you, Jane.

According to the National MS Society, “Multiple sclerosis (or MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.” See the You Tube Video below for further information.

Copyright © 2010 M. Dawn Armstrong. All rights reserved.