PSA: One wrong choice *can* change a life forever

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Thirteen years ago, an officer rang my doorbell to inform my 12-year-old daughter and me that a drunk driver ran a red light and T-boned my husband’s vehicle. Rescuers completed fatality paperwork onsite and the Jaws of Life extricated him from the wreckage (pictured above). He flew in a helicopter to a Level 1 trauma hospital where the head of OR performed emergency surgery. My husband sustained a ruptured spleen, cracked ribs, a displaced clavicle, crushed hip, collapsed lung, lacerations, contusions and a diffuse traumatic brain injury. For 59 days, I watched (and cheered) my husband on through a medicated coma, and five weeks of inpatient therapy where he learned how to feed himself again, to write, to walk. Following two months of outpatient therapy, and approximately a half year after the accident, he returned to work full time. His injuries and the subsequent life-long deficits are because someone chose to drive while intoxicated. Do the right thing: call a friend or a taxi. But don’t drive drunk.

Transformative change: finding comfort in your own skin

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On the topic of changing one’s mind (see “It’s okay to begin again…”), there’s a word for that which also encompasses changing one’s heart, self or way of life. According to Merriam-Webster, metanoia is a “transformative change of heart especially: a spiritual conversion.” I like to think it’s validation of where I find myself these days—in part due to the mindfulness journey I embarked on more than two months ago. As a daily exercise between conscious thought and a willing spirit, I’m drawn to life’s simpler things and able to find joy within both the hills and the valleys. Not only has my heart softened toward those closest to me and to the plight of the human condition, but I feel a richer compassion for myself. Although unsure of my next step, I’m okay with that because I’m moving forward. And, for the first time—maybe ever—I’m comfortable in my own skin. Perhaps Club 50 is “the new metanoia.” 

What recent transformative change have you experienced?

 

It’s okay to begin again. And again.

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If you feel like you’re starting over at square one today, pat yourself on the back for starting at all. Lately, I’ve not only begun the process of reinventing myself (again), but I’ve changed my mind countless times on how I envisioned my future—my “Someday.” Lesson number one: How many times do I have to remind myself that I am a work in progress? That means there are days when it looks like I have it all going on but others where I’m a hot mess from head to toe. It means my canvas might be covered in swashes of pinks and purples and a splash of glitter. Or blank when my sparkle needs to recharge. Lesson number two: I recently read that changing your mind equates to self-respect, and that “you owe nothing to your younger self. You are not failing because you are no longer chasing a dream you’ve outgrown.” Even if that younger self was last week.

How do you start over each day?

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Finding hope in the most unlikely places

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On a Monday morning I drove to work as is my habit, my mind preoccupied with a litany of tasks I hoped to accomplish. In addition to eight hours on the job, I needed to pick up a couple prescriptions for an infection I’m battling, get to yoga to create a little breathing space and decide what color my painter will be painting my kitchen cabinets. Plus make room to practice my Spanish. Underneath the surface, I whispered prayers for close family and friends struggling with illness and grief, those undergoing surgery and others wrestling with financial and spiritual drought. When I pulled into my parking spot, my mind still flitting from thought to thought, a flowering branch caught my attention. Its peachy blossoms, the only blooms noticeable in my row of stalls, encouraged me with its new growth. A simple reminder—in the midst of shadows, hardships and yes, my friends, Monday mornings—that infused my spirit with restored hope.

What is something that renews your hope?

Loving yourself: a lesson on self-worth

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Perhaps, we should love ourselves so fiercely,
that when others see us they know exactly
how it should be done. ~ Rudy Francisco

It’s funny how we can learn how to operate something complex, like a smartphone, in a matter of hours (maybe minutes), but it can take a half century or more to figure out the simplest of truths. My self-worth, for more years than I care to think about, had been wrapped up in how others perceived me: Was I pretty enough? Witty, skinny, engaging, smart, creative, strong… enough? Admittedly, over the years, I have not measured up in my own eyes—whether true or unfounded. To see my value from a higher perspective has required trial and error, (mental) kicking and screaming and a conscientious effort. It means extending grace rather than criticism. And perhaps, instead of labeling our flaws as flaws, we should view them as perfect imperfections that set each of us apart as originals.

What one thing do you love about yourself?

Photo courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

10 ways you’re making your life harder than it has to be: reposted (+ 10 ways to turn it around)

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This is it in a nutshell: https://thoughtcatalog.com/tim-hoch/2014/06/10-ways-youre-making-your-life-harder-than-it-has-to-be/. Plus 10 quick tips on how to make life easier (repeat after me):

  • When we continue to rehash (supposed) offenses: Let it go.
  • When we look for affirmation from others: I’m enough.
  • When our worries escalate to panic-attack proportions: It’s temporary.
  • If unrealistic/uncommunicated expectations eclipse our blessings: Be grateful.
  • Sometimes we pray, sometimes we wait but we must always do our homework: Be wise.
  • It’s okay to be picky and/or less bold when taking risks: Failure is better than not trying at all.
  • The truth on comparison shopping: The grass is not greener.
  • We cannot retrieve time we’ve lost or fast forward to the future: Practice mindfulness daily.
  • Let go of [fill in the blank]: Focus on what we can control.
  • About giving back: In the end it’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the life in your years. ~ Abraham Lincoln.

How do you make life easier?

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Falling into place: when the pieces of your life come together

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It’s been two months since I embarked on my mindfulness journey (see “A month of mindfulness…”). While some days—moments even—prove easier than others, there are the days you return home from work and devour a half bag of sweet potato chips without a second thought. And you know what? That’s okay. Because part of practicing mindfulness means you recognize a behavior or emotion but, instead of obsessing over it, you accept it for what it is and then let it go. My recent post, “The secret to letting go…,” focuses on what you can change or control. Based on this premise, I have since discovered a newfound freedom: When I let go, other pieces of my life begin to fall into place. From renewed relationships to a healthier self-image to hope for the future, I’m reaping the fruits of right choices. Most importantly, I’ve learned to be happy regardless of my circumstances, because I choose to be. Every day.

When will you take the mindfulness challenge?

Photo courtesy of ponsulak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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