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Archive for November, 2011

I will be away for the next 2 weeks; I will therefore not be writing new posts.   

I want to put out a post-Thanksgiving “what am I thankful for” – I’m grateful for my growing readership,  my growing subscribers  and my growing connections in the blogging world.  Thank you to all.  I’m loving this blogging journey.

Tomorrow my husband and I are flying to Prague for a few days and then on to Israel to visit my daughter and family, specifically 5 adorable grandkids who I only get to see once or twice a year.  I’m obviously excited about all this, but at the same time my heart is heavy with loss over the sudden “amputation” of a close and very special friendship. (One commenter used this term in her comment to the blog posting and it sounded so perfect for the situation.)  Just about every nite after saying good-nite to my grandkiddies, my friend and I would sit out on her porch and talk for hours, giggling, confiding, munching and relaxing together in the beauty of Jerusalem.  We’d make time to go to a favorite fish restaurant and eat the best St. Peter’s fish.  We’d take a day and travel either south to the Dead Sea or north to the Sea of Galilee.  Even within an only 7 – 10 day visit, there would always be time built in for us.   

And so I go with a bittersweet taste in my mouth, and soul.   That needs to be O.K. for now.  I allow myself to feel the hurt.  I am sure when I eat my St. Peter’s fish my eyes will sting with tears.  And that will be O.K.   I will walk through her neighborhood (near to where we stay) and long to knock on her door to say, “let’s talk or yell it out.”  But I won’t; I will feel sad and a bit angry and continue saying to myself, “this is just so bizarre.”

I will go and do, and feel even and especially what is beyond comprehension.  For this is life; we must feel it to live it well.  These things we don’t understand and can’t control  – eventually they get absorbed into the mysteries of life.  And we go on and try to exert positive influence where we can to regain our equilibrium of goodness once again. 

Having said that, here is one of my favorite uplifting stories about making a difference.  Apologies if you’ve read this one too many times already.            

THE  STARFISH  POEM

Once upon a time there was a wise man

who used to go to the ocean

to do his writing.

He had a habit of walking

on the beach

before he began his work.

One day he was walking along

the shore.

As he looked down the beach,

he saw a human

figure moving like a dancer.

He smiled to himself to think

of someone who would

dance to the day.

So he began to walk faster

to catch up.

As he got closer, he saw

that it was a young man

and the young man wasn’t dancing,

but instead he was reaching

down to the shore,

picking up something

and very gently throwing it

into the ocean.

As he got closer he called out,

“Good morning! What are you doing?”

The young man paused,

looked up and replied,

“Throwing starfish in the ocean.”

“I guess I should have asked,

why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?”

“The sun is up and the tide is going out.

And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”

“But, young man, don’t you realize that

there are miles and miles of beach

and starfish all along it.

You can’t possibly make a difference!”

The young man listened politely.

Then bent down, picked up another starfish

and threw it into the sea,

past the breaking waves and said-

“It made a difference for that one.”  (Loren Eiseley)

 Thanks for reading.  I’ll be back Dec. 11th when I’ll be posting my December interview, a little late.  Stay tuned, it’s a very interesting one.

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I’m trying to soothe my soul.  It’s been deeply hurt.  I’ve also inflicted tremendous hurt to a friend  whose response in a Dear John email is that we are no longer friends and I am not to reach out to her again.   She has cut off our 40 year friendship like a branch snapped off from a tree.     

Actually we met some 45 years ago in school, were close friends for about  7 years; she then moved to the other side of the world and we were in touch periodically; and then about 7 years ago we reestablished ties and resumed a very close relationship.

I am one to look at my part, at my responsibility.  I make no excuses; I did her a terrible injustice.  She published a book about her mother growing up in Europe pre-World War II, whom I know well, presented me with one of the first copies, and I did not read it.  It’s been over a year since I have it and it still sits on my night-table unread.  I had told her I would read it in the summer as I had many books to read for my 5 book clubs I was leading at work last year.  But no, I still didn’t ‘get to it.’

After reaching out to her a few times recently via phone and email, as I am going to Israel next week to visit my daughter and family and wanted to make plans to spend time together, as we always do, I got no response.  I reached out again yesterday and finally got what I wished for- a response back with an explanation, but also with a shocking final statement that we’ve come to the end of our relationship.

No space left for apology, discussion, argument.  A cold turkey ending.  Whew, this hurts.  This will obviously sit with me for a long time, this sadness, this loss.  The loss of someone who knows me so well; the history, the future travel plans, the laughter, the appreciation and gift of a friendship reignited  – all gone so suddenly.    

I am guilty of causing a dear friend pain by not making time for her most meaningful and important accomplishment.   I hurt her to the core.  I accept complete responsibility.  No excuses; I am wrong.

There were some other itemized points of wrongdoing on my part, but this was the last and most comprehensive- the one that cut to the core.

 I want to offer this:  We all let things go, small hurts or injustices to one another.  We don’t want to bring up every little thing.  We look away, in our attempts to be benevolent, knowing we all have flaws and limitations. 

But when something is brewing and starts to get in the way of feeling good in a relationship, or resentment starts to build, that’s the time to speak up to the person and air the problem.  It’s obviously not a place we necessarily want to go – to bring up a discomfort or bad feeling-  but it beats the alternative of having something blow up in someone’s face or end up with nothing at all. 

I am a straight shooter and prefer to be told straight on what the problem is.  I don’t like BS and I’d rather hear the truth, even if it hurts, than some nonsense excuse.  I like to know where I stand.   

So if something is starting to bubble up inside and the relationship is important to you, bring it up.  Talk about it, argue about it, do something about it.  But don’t let it die.  Relationships are what life is all about. 

Relationships are easy when everything is sailing along smoothly.  The real test is when trouble sets in, when misunderstandings occur, when wrongdoings occur, when mistakes are made, when hurts are inflicted  – how do we handle it?  What do we do with those difficult feelings?  We can’t be mind-readers and we don’t always know how our actions and words affect another person.  We need to be open to telling and open to receiving.  That’s what makes for the authentic, meaningful and deep connections. 

So please go out and tell your friend/important person  what’s bugging you, if it’s a relationship you want to preserve.   You might be surprised; it can bring in a whole new level of connection.  When we’re able to grow in healing, we grow in closeness.     

Thank you for reading.     Check out Caroline McGraw’s website,  A Wish Come  Clear :http://awishcomeclear.com/blog/  She writes beautifully on the topic of relationships.

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Time for some video inspiration.   

This week I’ve strayed from the typical blog posts and I ventured into two new (for me) types of postings:  the compilation of responses from a group of great bloggers, and now this video posting.  I pull from many sources and incorporate suggestions and ideas that resonate for me.  I owe Lori Deschene of Tiny Buddha my thanks and appreciation for suggesting this idea of putting out a question to many bloggers and then creating a post with all their responses.  It certainly sent a lot of traffic to my site, which was her intent for me. 

Today’s blog idea I owe to Jimmy of Life Architects.  I’m ‘copying’ one of his blog posts where he featured a couple of uplifting videos.   “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” (Charles Caleb Colton) 

There is so much inspirational material at our fingertips via social media – quotes, photos, utubes – that after awhile a lot of it blurs together.  But you know you’ve found a winner and a keeper when it plants itself in your gut and finds a home in your feeling and thinking states.  You talk about it, think about it and ‘re- feel’ the emotions it originally stirred up in you.   Such is the case with these two videos that I  share with you now.

In this first one, I’m enthralled with the way this photographer has used his artistry to create beautiful positive images in the hope of changing the perspective of the world-at-large towards a different-abled population.   It’s education in the truest sense in that it opens us all up to see the beauty in an often over-looked (and at the risk of sounding harsh but truthful, an often shunned)  group of people.      

This second one revves me up.  It’s totally exhilarating with the message of, get out there and live it up while you still can.  These guys push beyond their hardships and challenges.  Ready, set, go!

I’d love to hear your reactions to what you just saw.

Thank you for coming by.  If you’re moved by either of these videos, please share this post.  And if you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to this blog so you will automatically receive my postings  in your email.

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Here’s to some fresh perspectives on coping.  I decided to reach out to some of my favorite bloggers and pose a question that’s in line with the theme of my blog – rising above adversity. 

As the saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  What helps you get going when you encounter obstacles in life?

I’ve compiled responses from 14 bloggers: 

Alex Blackwell    The Bridgemaker

My faith.  My faith helps me overcome the obstacles I encounter.  When things don’t go as planned, I step back and remember that I’ve been successful in difficult situations before.  This knowledge fuels my faith and helps me to keep moving forward.

 Annabel Candy    Get In The Hot Spot

When I encounter obstacles I tap into my inner stubbornness.

I really believe anyone can do anything if they put their mind too it but having a positive mindset is crucial.

For me staying happy, and healthy are keys to achieving success in anything so I exercise most days. It doesn’t need to be a full on sweat session. A brisk walk will set me up for the day and make sure I’m in the mood to handle anything.

The other thing that helps is knowing that nothing lasts forever. Those tough times you’re having now will be over soon enough. If you can only just keep going one more day you’ll come out the other side stronger and wiser.

I’ve also learned that progress is never linear. Life always throws new obstacles in front of you but that’s part of the journey. Keep going no matter what and you’ll get over them. Sunnier days are always just round the corner.

Courtney Carver    Be More With Less

When I encounter obstacles in life, the first thing I try to do is put the obstacle into perspective. Is it really as bad as I think it is at this moment?  After receiving an MS diagnosis in 2006, I realize that when our emotions take over, things can seem much worse than they actually are.  The months just before and after my diagnosis were so scary and unnerving, but just a few months later, I settled into my new normal and realized that much of my panic was unnecessary. 

Once I rationally assess the reality of the situation, I live to be proactive in working through it.  This often requires asking for help and being open to change.  Both of those things can be challenging, but neither have failed me yet.

Barrie Davenport    Live Bold and Bloom

 I have found that the best way to overcome obstacles is to stop thinking and start doing. I used to spend a lot of time in my head, trying to figure out why something was happening, what it meant, and how I could fix it. Now, I spend just enough time in my head to ask myself some practical questions about the situation — and then I act. Forward movement, even if you aren’t 100% sure you are going in the best direction, is the remedy for inertia, fear, and difficulties. When you take action, you feel in control of your life and your circumstances. Fretting and worry only make you feel worse.

Lori Deschene    Tiny Buddha

 The one thing that helps me get going is to ask myself, “What would the person you want to be do?” The person I want to be has fears, but acts in spite of them. She has challenges, but chooses to learn from them. She stumbles, but works to get up a little more quickly with each fall. When I remember these ideas and do my best to honor them, I feel proud of myself, because I know that even though I am not perfect, I am doing the best I can. I can’t always control my circumstances, but I can control whether or not I deal with them with courage, strength, and integrity.

Tracey Jackson     Tracey Jackson

I often times want to give up; not give up so much as not put so much out there. I want to pull in, as I find these days  people are very tense, nervous and they are lashing out.

I put myself out there in what I do, and often get attacked. People think I’m tough as I’m transparent and they think I don’t get hurt. I do, quite often. Many times I feel why bother?  Why write? Why blog? Why not just be with my kids and do the things I want, take the classes I want and see my friends?

I often lay myself bare for others to step on. Then I see that I help one person, one person sends an email or a note how much something I said or did helped them, made them feel less alone or got them to do something they were afraid of. Today a woman emailed and said she is getting her first mammogram because of a blog I wrote and in those moments I get the strength I need to keep putting it out there.

And when those things don’t come through I somehow have this inner voice, it is the voice on the sidelines that has kept cheering me on my entire life. When I have faced rejection, disappointment or not the success I had hoped or worked for, it just says what’s the point of being here if you don’t do something constructive with your time. We are her for such a brief time, make it count?.

And then there are the words of my grandfather, the last words he ever spoke to me, “Do something with your life.” And I hear him and sometimes I keep going to make him proud and because he was so right.

Tess Marshall    The Bold Life

 I step-up my spiritual practices and principles. I attend a support group where people will support me and get me on the straight and narrow. I ask for help. I walk my talk, I do what I tell my clients to do, I journal, I pray, I do the work, I study A Course In Miracles, I meditate, I take any action I can in the right direction. After that I surrender and let the rest go.

Justin Mazza    Mazzastick.com

What obstacles, Just kidding!  Whenever I feel myself get stuck I always stop what I am doing and center myself through breathing exercises and meditation. This really works and I will tell you how.

Whenever we perceive obstacles in the outer world they are a direct reflection of blocks in our “inner world” better known as subconscious limiting beliefs.

While I was in the process if finishing my latest eBook: Guide 4 New Bloggers, I began to experience a block. I was 98% there, almost at the finish line and I just had to upload the Ebook and publish the promotion post.

So, I allowed my subconscious thoughts to surface after centering myself, so I could find out why I was feeling resistance to promoting and selling my latest eBook. Well, the subconscious beliefs were, what if no one buys it, what if I get a lot of returns, what if someone steals it and so on.

I had to “squash” these limiting beliefs with new and empowering ones. I said to myself that people will buy this book because I have provided much value in it. No one is going to steal it, they can’t. Every business gets returns, it’s part of doing business.

After placating my limiting beliefs I was able to get going again.

Marcus Sheridan    The Sales Lion

I think there are a few different things I do Harriet, and I appreciate you asking.

1. I expect resistance– Although I’m certainly not willing resistance into my life, I understand that stuff happens. It’s not always going to go perfectly, and in fact it’s usually in the moments of most difficulty do we learn the most about ourselves as persons.

2. Family perspective– When bad things happen, I often times think about my wife and 4 children. They always bring me perspective. And when I consider the fact that they’re in my life, other problems seem much smaller.

3. I get to work– I’m not one to sit around and feel sorry for myself. I also chock up problems quickly. Once done, they’re done. Can’t change ’em, so the only option is moving forward…and working as hard as I can to get better and fix whatever the issue is.

4. Balance– Problems just aren’t mental. They’re physical, spiritual, etc. This is why I try to maintain balance. I workout everyday. I attend church. These things and much more bring balance to all areas of my life.

Adrienne Smith    Adrienne Smith.net

 I look at obstacles as just a bump in the road. No one breezes through life with no problems, worries or difficulties. I just take some deep breaths, I look at this as some lesson I’m suppose to learn and I keep the faith that I will get through this. I know it doesn’t seem possible at times but had it not been for some road blocks in my life, I don’t believe I’d be where I am today.  So I keep my faith that God will bring me through this and it’s just another lesson I am suppose to learn. I quit sweating the small stuff years ago and only remain in the present moment. I quit worrying about things that are out of my control. I just concentrate on what I’m doing at that very moment and know that everything will work out like it should. That’s how I encounter obstacles in my life.

Jacob Sokol      Sensophy

One of the things that helps me get through tough situations is developing strategies for coping with them before they arise. For instance, when I approach a situation that makes me nervous – let’s say public speaking – I know that I need to CONSCIOUSLY focus on my breath. I take deep breaths and they starts to relax my mind, body, and soul. Another example is sometimes I’ll have a “negative” thought pop up in my head. In the past, these thoughts would sabotage me, but now I’m lightning quick to label that thought as what it really is – usually anxiety or fear – and I don’t take the “negative” thought personally. This enables me to not dwell on it but instead notice that I’m anxious or afraid and plan my next step accordingly. Having pre-determined methods for making it thought life’s madness are a key component for how I’m able to get thought things when “the going gets tough!”

David Stevens    PersonalPower4Me

The “going” is quite tough for me at present in certain areas, so this is timely and again allows me to reflect on my situation.

I firstly do a check on my “defenses”. These are my assets, my strengths…..are they still holding or do they need reinforcing? If I am coming from a strong enough base then I am confident that I can withstand the tough challenges. If I feel that my base has weakened I will review my strategy and rebuild to a place of strength.

This all may sound complicated but really it’s about reviewing one’s situation. Times change, situations change and challenges at times become tougher. Therefore you need to be vigilant and make sure that you are fully equipped. One needs to have Traction before taking effective Action.

My killer weapon is keeping the Big Picture always in mind. This won’t allow obstacles to put you off track, at least not for too long. Keeping your bigger picture firmly in frame will give you the motivation to defeat any obstacles.

P.S.  Make sure that your “Big Picture” is clear enough. The clearer the better otherwise the motivation will wane.

Katie Tallo    Momentum Gathering

Sometimes writing about the obstacle helps flesh it out, but more often than not, a walk out in nature gets me grounded again and feeling balanced enough to take those first steps towards facing the problem head on. You see, in nature, there’s a letting go, a distancing from the emotions of a situation, and an embracing of what truly matters. A stroll through rolling hills and lovely trees reminds me that nothing is so terrible it cannot be worked through and that life is unfolding naturally. I flow back into life’s rhythms instead of fighting them. Sometimes it takes a few long walks to get there.

Jimmy Tong    My Life Architects

I view obstacles in life as something that creates discomfort in our life. Anything that make life uncomfortable are therefore negative, supposedly. But that is the old way of looking at things. Obstacles are in fact something that will force you to do something different. As a result it will grow you.

When obstacles show up in our lives, the way I have learnt to deal with it is in the following steps:

1)    Refocus on the end result not the obstacle.

2)    Study the obstacle. Find out all details you can about your problem. Seek other people’s opinion if you have the time to get alternative perspectives.

3)    Evaluate all available resources.

4)    Brainstorm for ways to overcome the obstacles.

5)    Choose the best intuitively and take action.

6)    Repeat with next idea if first plan fail.

Step one is really crucial for me. Focusing on the end brings hope and strength. You will know that one day, you will reach you destination no matter what. That’s important.

Knowing other people who have gone through the same obstacles also helps.

And so you have it.  Fourteen responses from personal development and inspirational bloggers.  

Care to join in and share your ways of handling obstacles?  Let’s hear from you.

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The Time To Live Is Now

I am happy to share with you all my guest post featured today on Alex Blackwell’s wonderful blog, The Bridgemaker.

 

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  Maria Robinson

I learned about the power of living Now while I sat at my daughter’s bedside listening to the beeps, bleeps and other scary sounds emanating from the numerous machines she was hooked up to in an attempt to keep her alive.

I witnessed life’s fragility from the most horrific and terrifying perspective – that of a mother possibly losing her child.  I watched and listened to her life hang by a thread as she was in an induced and paralyzed coma for three months.

Miraculously, Nava survived, and miraculously again made a complete recovery.

 Click here to continue reading this post.

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In looking at my last interview to pull out a theme to hone in on, I realize there are a few common themes running throughout many of my interviews with these inspirational people.  They have truly been able to rise above their adversities and create good lives despite…whatever circumstances have befallen them, by developing and exercising a positive attitude, choosing not to live their life as a victim and living with purpose. 

Attitude

Choice

Purpose

These are concepts and ways of thinking that we can actively work on within ourselves. 

We can work on our attitude.  As Ms. Garrison says, “your attitude is the only control you have left in your life….”

We can begin to see we have choices in how we respond.  We don’t have to be locked into one way of reacting.   We can choose what we focus on – do we hone in on the negatives or do we bring more of the positives to the forefront of our attention.  It’s in our control to make conscious choices.    

Living with a sense of purpose can help us carry on through our difficulties.  So the mother who’s grief-stricken over the (early) death of her husband has a purpose of raising her son.  The woman who’s been raped has taken on a cause of changing the system so other victims don’t wait years and years before rape kits are examined.    

 On a smaller scale of purpose, here’s an example that I focused in on last week.  It was a pretty icky and nasty day last Saturday here in New York, weather-wise.  We had an early, out of the season, snow fall.  My daughter, Nava, who just had her gallbladder surgery 4 days prior, was up for going to synagogue.  And so we walked, not too far, about 6 blocks, to Sabbath services.  While we’re stepping in puddles and getting pretty wet despite our raingear, I’m almost at the point of complaining how we’re one of the few nuts out walking in this,  when I thought of our specific purpose in going out.  And that was to express my gratitude, in prayers, for a successful surgery and a healthy outcome.

The point being when we have a cause, a purpose, a reason, it propels us forward and helps us get beyond the hardship.  There is something greater, bigger and more important ahead to work towards which make the immediate smaller obstacles easier to deal with.

Purpose is a biggie for me.  It’s helped me go through lots of tough times.  Being aware of that bigger picture helped move me along despite the {daily} difficulties.  That’s not to say I didn’t get exhausted, upset, angry, frustrated and anything else you might think to add to the list, but it was and is a key factor that I can consciously pinpoint that has kept me afloat and intact.     

What has done it for you?  Is it your attitude, your choices, your purpose that has helped you through your difficulties?    If these are too big to think about on a Friday afternoon, then think along smaller lines – something concrete that’s helped you.    

Tune in next week when I post a list of bloggers’ responses to a question on getting through tough times. 

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I am pleased to present Julia Fox Garrison, a very funny woman who has rebuilt her life after suffering a near fatal stroke 14 years ago at the age of 37.  She is now an author, motivational speaker and patient advocate.   Her book, “Don’t Leave Me This Way Or When I Get Back on My Feet You’ll Be Sorry attests to her witty, finding-the-humor in everything, personality. 

“Your attitude is the only control you have left in your life – that and your nail polish color, of course.”

 

  1. What personal qualities have helped you carry on and move in a positive direction?

I use humor to cope.   I also grew up in a family of 8 brothers and no sisters, the only girl of 9.  I think that prepared me for what I was going to face in my future.  You can’t be a shrinking violet in that type of dynamic.

I’m very strong and I get my strength from all the support around me.  I feel that I’ve been given qualities by God.  My faith is what sustained me through the really tough times.  I was never one to say, ‘poor me’.  I hate the word ‘pity’. 

Wow, that brings me right into the next question:

         2.   Did you go through a period of self-pity? 

I never ever said ‘why me’.  It was always, ‘this happened to me, let’s move on, what do I need to do.’  I talk about pity parties in my presentations.  It’s important to have a pity party; I had them at night when no one was around as far as crying and trying to figure out where to go from here.  I did suffer; not feeling sorry for myself, but I went through an identity crisis.  I was in the corporate world climbing the corporate ladder and then a day later I’m fighting for my life, having brain surgery, coming out of that totally paralyzed on my left side.  I couldn’t even feed myself, or go to the bathroom on my own without three nurses lifting me.  Those were the things I felt sad about but I never felt ‘why me’.  I know that that’s a gift. 

What I asked of people when they came to see me was not to come in and say, ‘oh poor Julia, oh I’m sorry this happened’, because pity is really a worthless emotion.  It does nothing for the recipient; it might be an emotional reaction for the person giving it but it’s not helpful.  I made every effort to create an upbeat, positive and happy atmosphere in my hospital room (where I was for several months).  I know it may have been a façade;  of course it was because there I was drooling with a face like a melted candle, but I felt it changed the air of the room and made me not feel like I’m in a dire setting.  So everybody who came across my threshold knew they had to bring a good joke.  I used to get in trouble by the hospital staff because they were always saying, ‘is that room having another party?’ Because there would be so much laughter and that’s not a normal thing in a rehab setting. 

  1. Did you have a strong support system in place?  If so, how did that help you?

First of all, my son Rory, turned 3 years old just a few days prior to my stroke.  He has always been my little sonshine of inspiration.  He was the primary reason I worked even harder than I thought possible.

I never ate one hospital meal, except for breakfast.  Every meal was provided by my family.  Each of my brothers had a day that they came in, sat with me and fed me physically.  And my parents were phenomenal.  People who read my book think I made up my husband because he’s so good.  I couldn’t have written him as good as he is.  He’s the kindest, purest, gentlest soul. He and my mother; I think I married my mother.  My husband is my left side that doesn’t work anymore.  I feel like I can never complain because I’ve been given so much. 

I’ve done a lot of radio shows and one host asked me, ‘you’ve been given so much support, what do you say to the people who don’t have that?’  I thought for a second and felt ‘geeze he just threw me under the bus’, because we were live on the air.  Yeh, there are people who don’t have as much as I’ve been given and blessed with; but I think it’s about the choices you make in your life.  Hopefully the choices I made prior to my stroke were what helped foster the positive relationships I had; and I didn’t do a one-sided relationship with people.  I always tried to give as much as I could of myself. 

  1. Was there a specific moment/thought/epiphany that helped  guide you to a better place mentally and psychologically, or did it evolve over time?

After my brain surgery, the first words I said when I came to were, ‘I have a purpose.  There’s a reason I am here; and I may never know that purpose but there is a reason.  It has evolved in the sense that I thought I would never learn what that purpose was, but I do know it now.  Every person on this earth has a purpose but not everyone gets the opportunity to learn what it is. Mine has come full circle for me.  What I need to do is impact someone every single day. 

During my emergency surgery, I had a vision of a girl climbing a ladder and the ladder had no beginning or end.  This ladder represented my relationship with God; and I instinctively knew that I could stay on that rung or come back, albeit in a broken body (and I did ask for Beyonce’s body but He said no, clearly), and just keep working and climbing the rungs toward becoming a better person.   

Five years prior to my stroke I had a dream that I was going to be in a wheelchair and that I was going to be a better person in this wheelchair.  I think we all have some kind of intuitive projection of what can happen to us in the future; we just have to open to it and pay attention to it.  I do pay attention to my dreams now; I’m looking for that lottery one now!

I am so wealthy in the lottery of life.  I would never trade my life for anyone else’s.

      5.  What are your day-to-day coping skills that keep you afloat?

Every day I get up I say thank you for another day.  I truly feel that every day is a gift. It’s so cliché, but it’s so true.  I have gratitude for everything.  I think we cannot have enough gratitude for what we’ve been given.   

Humor is my vehicle for getting through the day.  My left-side neglect can get me in a lot of trouble.  My brain doesn’t realize I have a left side; I’ve had some great fun with some of the predicaments it’s gotten me into.

 It’s a choice – do I want to survive or be a victim.  I don’t want to be a victim.   Victims are underground.  Everything is based on a choice.

 For me happiness is a choice.  That sounds so simple and basic but it takes a lot of work.  Some days happiness doesn’t land in your lap, you have to really work at it.

I’ve learned not to be embarrassed.  Embarrassment is what I think other people think of me. Nobody can judge me but God.  So I’m free-spirited now.  It has made me a lighter person in how I view things.  When I’m true to myself I’m true to others. 

I celebrate my ‘homage to my hemorrhage’ every year (July 17th) ; I have a party.  It’s a day of reflection and of gratitude for these extra years.  When people ask, how can I celebrate such a horrific day, I say, ‘that gives me power over it’. 

  1. What advice would you offer someone going a rough situation, so they can come out intact?

It’s all about choosing how you approach it.  My motto is positive outlook equals positive outcome.  If you illuminate the positives, you’ll get more positive outcomes.  It doesn’t mean the problems go away; the problems are still in the dark, but they’re in the shadow.  They’re not getting as much power.  What you concentrate on becomes more powerful.

I never talk about my deficits; it’s clear I have them but I don’t talk about them.  I don’t think of myself as handicapped and that gives me a lot more freedom.  If I think of myself that way, then I’ve handicapped my mind.  And then I’ve handicapped my family, and it spreads.  As a person surrounded by loved ones, those people are affected by everything you do.

One of my other messages that I think is important for anybody is to perform simple acts of kindness daily.  When people think of doing something for another, they always think of it as something grand and sophisticated; but kindness is really simple and not sophisticated.  I don’t think we do enough of that.  We get caught up in routines and lose sight of humanity. That’s what we’re on this earth to do – to help each other.      

We need to stop saying can’t, or at lease use the word ‘yet’ with it.  That way you’re keeping the doors open to opportunities.  We say ‘can’t’ so often that it’s become second nature in our conversation.   So I can’t rollerblade yet, but I plan on it someday, maybe. 

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