Monday, June 29, 2015

Are You Living the Life You Want? Don't Wait!

Seventeen years ago I was diagnosed with Guillianne Barre Syndrome.

GBS is an autoimmune disorder that destroys the myelin sheath around our nerves.  As this happens, the muscles those nerves control become paralyzed.  It is a very rare disease.  Only 4000 people each year get GBS in the United States.  Some people get very mild cases while some, like me, get it more severely.

I was completely paralyzed from the shoulders down.  I was on life support for ten days, in the hospital for two months and continued to need occupational therapy and physical therapy for a full year after that.  I had to relearn how to do everything, walk, feed myself, scratch an itch, everything!!

In the old days, I would have died within the first week, but with modern medicine it is survivable.  Before he sent me into the Intensive Care Unit, my neurologist told me this wouldn’t kill me but as you can imagine I was terrified! 

Here are some trite sayings that may have lost some meaning in their overuse:
  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
  • This was a life changing experience.
  •  Life is short. You never know how much time you have.
Let me tell you, those sayings couldn’t have been more true when it came to my experience of overcoming GBS. 

When you are in the ICU and on life support, all you can do in your lucid moments is think. (There are no televisions, magazines or people sitting next to your bed visiting to distract you).  I thought about my daughters and how I would get through this for them.  I thought about my marriage and the changes that needed to be made.  I thought about my family and how much I loved and appreciated them.  And I thought about the direction my life was taking.  I spent time thinking about what was truly important to me.  

The first words I spoke to my husband when they pulled the tube out of my throat were “Things have to change.”

My top priority form that day on was to create memories for my girls because suddenly that phrase about life being short became very, very real.  We started taking trips, going to concerts, spending more time laughing and appreciating each other.  I made sure people knew how much I loved and appreciated them, and I got much better at not taking anything for granted.  I also got much better at not being reactive to little things and less reactive to big things.  Basically, this experience helped put everything in a proper perspective.

Now I take advantage of every opportunity to travel, be with family and friends, see live music and attend any event I think I would enjoy.  Last week a friend told me “You really LIVE your life!”  When he said this I felt such pride and joy.  He was a mirror for me at that moment and I loved what I saw!  So I ask you –
  • Are you really LIVING your life?
  • Do you enjoy how you spend your time and the people you spend it with?
  • Are you excited about your journey
  • Are there things in your life that need to be changed for you to be the best version of yourself?
I encourage you to take a good, honest look.  If there are changes to be made, start the process of making the change.  I’m not saying it’s easy, but I can promise you it is worth it.  Please don’t wait too long because, as the saying goes (and it bears repeating), “Life is short and you never know how much time you have!” 

Go Ahead.
Get Started.

Photos: gemoomay, Dave B

Friday, June 12, 2015

Are You the 'REAL' You?

In our lives we go through many incarnations. I’ve been the flower child, private prep school mom, business owner, wife, patient, Texan, employer, employee, and the list goes on and on.

When I’m being honest with myself and I look back, I can see that in each and every one of these roles I have conformed in some way to fit what I thought those around me needed for me to be most effective, most liked and most comfortable. I was not as confident and comfortable in my own skin as necessary to truly be myself without worrying about what others thought of me. As much as I try not to live with any regrets, I do wonder how things would have been different if I had felt then as I do now. 

It can take a lot of time and focus to know ourselves, listen to and honor our inner voices, learn to take pride in our accomplishments, love our bodies and become excited about our journeys. I’ve come to a point in my life where I can say I am (almost) always my most authentic self. It is in the comfort of this place where I no longer need to get anyone’s approval on a personal level. I try to be as open and honest as possible, living a life of compassion. I know that when I accomplish this, those that are meant to like/love me and be in my life will be. To get to this point, I needed to make a concerted effort to be constantly exploring and trying new things, making new friends, continuing to evolve.

When self-doubt creeps in, and of course it occasionally does, I ask myself:
  • Do I have my own approval?
  • Why do I need theirs?
  • What would it take to get theirs and what will change if I have it?
So I ask you: are you comfortable and confident in your body? Are you proud of who you have become and the path that you are on? 

Try to take some time to slow down, be quiet and listen to yourself. I’m not talking about lots of deep meditation (although that’s pretty awesome!). Just try turning off the radio when you’re in the car alone. Take off the headphones when you’re walking or doing whatever activity makes you happy. Give your mind a chance to be peaceful. The thoughts that pop in may surprise you. Your intuition speaks to you all of the time. You just have to give yourself a chance to hear it!

Do you have changes you’d like to make in your life? Don’t be scared or overwhelmed by them. Treat them like you’d treat the proverbial elephant, one bite at a time! Above all – Be Kind To Yourself!!!!! If you feel like you can’t make the changes you want to make on your own, get help. Let your intentions be known and ask for support of your family and friends. If you don’t find it there, don’t give up! Sometimes the people around us are uncomfortable with our ‘new and improved’ selves. Sometimes we realize the people around us are no longer the people that we feel comfortable with. I hear how scary this sounds. But know that as you change life and as the faces around you change you are becoming the best version of yourself. I promise, you will not be sorry in the end. There is not a more freeing and fabulous feeling than loving yourself and being proud of yourself for who you are and having the confidence to use your voice.

Go ahead, try it! I double-dare you!