It’s a gray world out there!

“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.”

-Mark Twain

Have you ever faced a decision in life where the right choice doesn’t feel like the best choice? A decision where society and duty says one thing but your heart and your conscious says another.

I don’t know about you but there are times when I tend to think only of things as being black and white, having a right and a wrong answer. But the truth is life is full of gray, full of differing opinions, perspectives, and emotions. What’s right for one person isn’t always what’s right for another.

I recently re-read Les Miserables by Victor Hugo and although it is a very long read, it is probably one of my favorite books of all time. I love the underlying story of mercy, forgiveness, and redemption. The story challenges the reader to not only see the black and white in life but also the gray.  To understand that there is not always a right and wrong. That some situations require a different approach and that approach may be taking a step back to examine the problem and instead of doing what is right by society, doing what is right by your conscious.

“The gray area, the place between black and white. That’s the place where life happens.”

-Justin Timberlake

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Stay humble

“Be humble in your confidence, yet courageous in your character

-Unknown

Life has a way of constantly keeping us humble, knocking us down just as we start to get arrogant or forcing us to look past our opinions and see from a different perspective.

The other day at therapy, someone pointed out some basic flaws and bad habits I do while walking. For example, kicking my feet to the side instead of forward when a taking a step or walking on my toes.

As they talked to me about all the mistakes I make while walking, I couldn’t help but think “I know, I know! I’ve heard this a million times before.” Assuming I already knew the exercises they were going to suggest, I reluctantly listened to their ideas; trying to stay humble and open. And I’m glad I did because their suggestions and approach to helping me was completely different from what I’ve heard before. My goal for this year (and probably the next couple years) is to correct my unsteady gait once and for all and to learn how to run again. After years of doing standard practice physical therapy and not always seeing long-lasting results, I decided it was time to look outside of the box. By doing that though, I need to be open to different ideas and new approaches to the same old problem. I need to be humble instead of thinking I know it all and willing to see from a different perspective.

Our society tends to think that we are always right, that we know what’s best for us, and that we don’t need to be open to anyone’s opinion but our own. In order to grow and make progress in life, it is important to be open to the opinions of others and to new or different ideas. In order to grow, we need to be willing to humble ourselves and acknowledge that we don’t know everything. By humbling ourselves, we often are able to see more clearly and from a perspective that we might have not considered before. We all make mistakes and have areas of our lives that need more work than others but by staying humble, we open ourselves to finding a solution and creating a better life for ourselves. And isn’t that we all want?!

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less”

-C.S. Lewis

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What’s in your rearview mirror?

“One person can make a difference and everyone should try”

-John F Kennedy

The other day, I was talking to a friend about life when he mentioned something that caused me to stop and think. We were discussing making a positive impact on the people around us and making a difference. To me, I believe it is everyone’s responsibility to make a difference or to change the world for the better, even if it’s in the tiniest way. His response to this statement was how not everyone is like this, not everyone tries to make a difference or a positive impact.differenceII

It’s so easy to become wrapped up in our own daily life and to only be concerned with what’s going on in our bubble or what directly affects us. But when we stop to recognize those around us, we allow ourselves to broaden our perspective and to see the needs of others. When we are willing to help others instead of just ourselves, we not only feel good about who we are but also improve the lives of others. If life came with a rearview mirror, we could see how our actions have an impact on those around us and how important it is treat everyone with kindness.

Have you looked in your rearview mirror lately?

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

-Mother Teresa

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The ugly habit of toe-walking

A bad habit cannot be thrown out the window, it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time”

-Mark Twain

As I touched on in a recent post, lately I’ve been focused on trying to permanently correct my walking and unsteady gait. I’m at that point in life where it’s exhausting to constantly worry about tripping over my feet, struggling to carry things when I walk, not being able to walk in a straight line, etc.  After 20 years of dealing with an unsteady gait along with other walking-related issues, I’m determined to fix these issues once and for all. 

 

In order to achieve my goal, there are several bad habits I’ve developed overtime that need to be broken. One in particularly, which is probably the hardest to break, is that I have a tendency to walk on my toes. Years ago, when I first re-learned to walk, I used to fall all the time mostly because weakness in my legs and poor foot placement. As a last resort measure to keep myself from hitting the ground, I started to walk on my toes.  Overtime, toe-walking became the norm and how my body would compensate for not always being able to control my foot placement.  Toe-walking became a learned behavior and how I taught myself to adapt to my situation.

Although toe-walking at first seemed helpful, I’ve come to realize it actually increases my risk of falling. It has also caused my ankles to become weak and has made it very difficult for me to walk in a consistent heel-toe motion. So basically now I have to break a 20 year-old habit, learn to not walk on my toes, and instead walk heel-toe. (not confusing at all)

bad habits

  

 

As I consciously try to walk heel-toe and avoid walking on my toes, I can’t help not get frustrated at myself for wasting all those years creating this bad habit. Toe-walking has negatively affected my walking in many ways! But the thing is I have to let it go, be patient with myself, and remain committed to breaking this habit. It is often through our mistakes that we learn the most about ourselves and are able to change for the better.  

There are some days where everything seems perfect and my heel-toe motion is on point. But there are also days when I struggle to stay off my toes and feel extremely discouraged. Days like that I can hear my therapist shouting in my head “Get off you toes! Get on your heels!” As annoyed as I feel at times, like I’ll never walk normally, it’s important to push forward; remain dedicated and determined. Even as I write this, my heels are on the floor while my toes are in the air, as if I’m about to take a step. Not sure how much that will help with walking but at least it helps my bran become familiar with that feeling.

So maybe I developed a bad habit overtime, that’s in the past, I can only focus on improving myself now. Once you hit rock bottom, the only place you can go is up. But the only way to do that is through discipline and constantly being aware of the issue. It’s like trying to lose weight or eat healthier, you have to make a conscientious decision. After awhile, it just becomes second nature and turns into a good habit.  What are some of your bad habits?

“We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit”
-Aristotle

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Quantity vs Quality

 

“Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles”

-Steve Jobs

Quantity vs. Quality? This has always been a lingering debate in my head. Which is more important in our daily lives, quantity or quality.
My dad used to always bring this argument up, questioning which mattered most. In his case, having ALS, quality far outweighed quantity. Because of the disease, his life was cut shorter than most. He would’ve liked to live longer with the disease but at what cost? Most likely, he would have needed machines to assist him with breathing, eating, and almost all of his daily functions. Choosing to live longer, he might have sacrificed the quality of his day-to-day life for quantity of years and that was something he didn’t want to do. Ultimately, he chose quality over quantity. He chose to try to live in the present moment and not think about the future or how much longer he had to live. He wanted to maintain the little bit of independence he still had instead of depending on assistive devices and maintain quality relationships.

I was reading an article the other day about the difference between quality vs quantity. It described quality as a characteristic, a feature or state of being. Whereas, quantity is the extent or sum of a value. It goes on to say how quantity cannot change or be argued, what is 2 will always remain 2. Quality however, is subjective and has the ability to change over time.

I think it’s safe to say that our society tends to value quantity over quality. How much money we make, how many gadgets we have, how many tasks we can juggle at once, etc.  Although I’m pretty sure most people would agree with making lots of money, this thought process can be dangerous, especially when it comes to relationships. By focusing on quantity, we often sacrifice quality.

What do you want in life, quality or quantity?

“It’s better to have fewer things of quality than too much expendable junk”

-Rachel Zoe

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Just take the next step

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

Muhammad Ali

In my last post, I wrote about how important it is to me lately to once and for all correct my unsteady gait. Perfecting my walking has been something I’ve struggled with for a long time and it’s now one of my top priorities to fix this. I read a book by Matthew Kelly which talks about becoming the best version of yourself. He described how often we worry so much about where we will be in five years and how are we going to get there, that we often overlook the present moment. Just taking the next right step.

So after doing a little thinking, I decided my next right step to becoming the best version of myself was to focus on correcting my unsteady gait and my walking. My ultimate goal is to be able to run again. Not quite sure what my next step will be after correcting my walking or where life will lead me in five years but for now I’m heading in the right direction.

I recently joined a boxing class which is definitely not your standard practice therapy but it’s an incredible workout and really helps with balance. The organization was originally founded to help those with Parkinson’s battle the effects of the disease but they are open to helping anyone with a movement disorder. As I mentioned in my last post, my approach to physical therapy this time around is “outside of the box”, I don’t want to  focus on only one option of treatment and ignore the rest. A key to recovery is being open. 

Most people think of me as very quiet and nice but don’t know I have a hidden “aggressive streak” (how a friend kindly refers to it) When I was in high school, we had a punching bag and speed bag in our basement that my brothers would use and wanting to be like them, so did I. Boxing is actually a great workout for your core and upper body.  It also helped my balance, in terms of standing still and not getting knocked by a swinging bag or focusing on tiny but quick foot movements. My brother actually brought me a pair of boxing gloves. Perhaps because he was tired of me using his or maybe he thought I needed to learn more self-defense. Either way, I have pretty, royal blue boxing gloves. So upon learning about this class, I was very interested and ready to pick up my boxing gloves again.

boxing

To me, my boxing gloves are a symbol of empowerment and help me to feel confident in myself.   They embody strength, determination, hard work, and perseverance. They may appear to be simple boxing gloves but to me, they are a sign of a fighter. They are a sign of what this next step is life means to me. It is not only about gaining muscle strength and improving my walking but also gaining confidence in myself and self-esteem. They are a sign of why this next step in my life is important to me. Because once I achieve my goal then I will be able to build off of it and start working on the next step in my life. As Matthew Kelly says “Just take the next right step”. And  something I’ve come to realize is the next step that’s right for you, is not necessarily the next right step for your friend, your family members, or your neighbor. It’s what is right for you and will help you become who you are meant to be. For me, I always compare myself to my peers and ask myself “they are doing this, why am I not doing the same?” But the thought of taking the next right step reminds me of why I am not following their path and instead following my own. Boxing and spending hours working out will help me to take the next in life.

But maybe boxing isn’t your thing but what is the one thing that will help you become closer to a better version of yourself? Something that gives you confidence and fulfillment. What’s your next right step?

“Show me the way I should walk”

Psalm 143:8

 

P.S. A little shameless self-promotion but please check out my newly updated version of my autobiography, In my own words

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Hard work is really hard

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

-Martin Luther King Jr

 

For many years, it has been a goal of mine to be able to run again, to re-teach my legs this motion, and correct my unsteady gait along the way. I would like to walk with confidence and ease, instead of worrying about falling flat on my face with each step or feeling like a pin ball bouncing off walls as I struggle to walk in a straight line. 

So after taking time away to focus on finding a job, it’s back to physical therapy again. I’ve noticed going back to physical therapy ever couple years has become a reoccurring trend in my life. It’s like losing weight or trying to have six-pack abs, in order to achieve and maintain those results you have to constantly be working at it.  For anyone who has gone through physical therapy, they’ll probably tell you that at some point they hit a plateau or no longer felt challenged. This plateau is something I’ve come across many times and it is frustrating to say the least. Once you hit this plateau, therapists often have a difficult time finding new exercises or thinking outside of the box. (No offense to any therapist reading, this is just personal experience)
 
So when considering therapy again, I wanted to make sure it would be challenging and help me achieve my goal. I found several places that offer exercise-based therapy which immediately grabbed my attention because this was something I had never heard of before. This type of therapy offers a different approach to therapy and encourages the patient to continue working out after hitting this plateau. It sounded like I finally found a therapy that might help me achieve my goals!
Shortly after starting therapy though, I was pretty disappointed. My therapist had me doing things like bridges and planks, all which I had done before. They were challenging but nothing different from what therapists in the past suggested I do. 
But here’s the thing, nothing worth having ever come easy. It will require hard work, discipline, and determination to achieve my goals. As much as I’d love to snap fingers and perfectly walk and run again, that’s not how it works.  For anyone who has tried to lose weight, you know it’s a constant battle and no matter how good of shape you’re in, you have to start with the basics. Once you perfect the basics and set a solid foundation, you are able to build on that. Which is why doing exercises such as planks is important because they’re basic exercises.
“Sometimes God doesn’t give you what you think you want, not because you don’t deserve it, but because you deserve better”
-Anonymous

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