Tag Archives: positive attitude

Accept yourself with no exceptions

“Positive thinking isn’t about expecting the best to happen every time, it is about accepting that whatever happens is the best for that moment”

We all have had those moments where we go to check Facebook for a quick second and end up spending a half-hour on there, scrolling through our news feed, comparing ourselves to other people. Asking ourselves questions the entire time like “They look like they’re having so much fun and do so many cool things, why is my life so boring?” Or “I wonder why they didn’t invite me? Maybe there’s something wrong with me.” Or “How do your selfies look so perfect? It takes me at least 5 shots to get a picture I don’t hate.”

Admit it. We’ve all been down that road, comparing ourselves to the people around us. Even the most confident and self-assured people are guilty of this. If you have never done that, well kudos to you.

Tonight I had my high school reunion and to be completely honest, I was kind of anxious about it. Seeing what everyone has been up to is awesome and how much everyone has changed. I am so happy for my friends and everything they’ve accomplished. But at the same time I couldn’t help compare myself, it’s human nature.

So after throwing a pity party and momentarily freaking out about my life, I started to come back to reality. The thing is although I am happy for my friends, I would never want their lives and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t want mine. Where I am in life right now may not be where I expected to be but as we all know too well, life is a wild journey. Having expectations just leads to disappointments.  And comparing ourselves to others is pointless. The world would be incredibly boring if everyone was exactly alike. When we accept ourselves and love who we are, we become empowered and respect ourselves. Therefore attracting respect from others too.

The other week, I met up with a friend for brunch. After spending hours catching up and laughing, we both went our seperate ways. As I was heading home, I thought how nice it was to see my friend and what great things she’s doing with her life but of course, I started comparing myself. Because of my disabilities, I will most likely never be able to drive and although it seems like no big deal, I feel like it holds me back in life. As my mind started to think how if I could drive, my life would more exciting like hers and started to get depressed, my mom and I were rear-ended. Everyone was fine thankfully and besides some minor damage, the car was okay. But in the quick second, I remembered why I’m glad I don’t drive. As a cancer survivor, I would rather go out in another way besides a car accident. Maybe something a little less dramatic. But moral of the story, guess that’s what I get for comparing myself to someone else.

“When you know yourself, you’re empowered.  When you accept yourself, you’re invincible”

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Filed under Positive attitude towards life

Take time to appreciate

Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do posess and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours

-Marcus Aurelius

Why is it that when you’re frustrated or stressed out about life, that you typically take your anger out on the people closest to you? When I am stressed, I usually take it out on my family. I haven’t been very appreciative of them lately but that needs to change.

For the past couple weeks, I have been in a funk; stuck in a constant bad mood and feeling overwhelmed. Worried about my life, my future, and focusing on what I don’t have instead of being thankful for what I have right now. I feel like most people can relate when I say my life is not what I planned. There are definitely moments when I look at Facebook or talk to my friends and think “Your life is so exciting and mine is so lame, what is wrong with me?!” I’m at that age where looking a my news feed consists of someone getting engaged, married, having a successful career or travelling the world. And don’t get me wrong or take this as offensive, nothing makes me happier than when my friends are happy, but it’s so easy to compare yourself.

Although life has not played out exactly how I planned, there are plenty of things I am grateful for. For example, this time last year, I thought I’d never find a job and here I am now with an incredible job. Maybe I’m not living with a bunch of friends from college, going out every weekend, and constantly meeting new people. Maybe I live at home and I’ll admit, there are times my family drives me crazy but overall, I love living at home. It’s nice to wake up on a Saturday morning to your mom making you breakfast just because. Or sitting outside on my patio, enjoying the peacefulness after a long day. Life has not gone how I planned but there are still many things to be thankful for and to appreciate.

 The other day, I was reading a blog with some advice about life. Something that stood out to me is how when you take time to appreciate your family, friends, and the present moment, you will be infinitely happier, better recognize what you have and how fortunate you are. You’re probably thinking that “duh!” but in our society and throughout life in general, it’s easy to forget this. (I do all the time) When you stop to truly appreciate those around you and the present moment, it will make your world brighter. That sounds super cheesy but it’s true.

I need to start better appreciating those around me, to live in the moment, and to not let what I don’t have make me forget what I do have.

Gratitude doesn’t change the scenery. It merely washes clean the glass you look through so you can clearly see the colors

-Richelle Goodrich

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Filed under Life in general, Positive attitude towards life

Keeping the faith

Providence has its appointed hour for everything. We cannot command results, we can only strive.

-Mahatma Gandi

For anyone who knows me, you probably are aware of how important my faith is to me. Being Catholic is a huge part of who I am and without my faith, I probably would have given up a long time ago. A couple weeks ago, writers block had hit me hard and I was searching for ideas of things to write about. After texting my friend, she suggested to write about God’s providence in my life.

 
Although, I speak at retreats and share my faith with others, I’m always hesitant to write about it in my blog. Maybe hesitant isn’t the right word, I just don’t want people to see the word Catholic or God and immediately be turned away. Not that I am ashamed of my faith, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I just understand that not everyone has a strong  religious foundation like I do and sometimes because of past experiences or a couple of over zealous individuals, religion isn’t your thing. Look, don’t let a couple bad eggs ruin the rest.  We’re not all crazy.
For me personally, instead of preaching my faith, I would rather live my life as an example.
 
Second of all, to write a blog about God’s providence specifically in my life, it would be a super long post. From growing up with brain cancer, watching my dad die of ALS, surviving cancer and radiation damage, becoming physically disabled, nearly dying too, overcoming those disabilities to succeed in life, going onto high school and college, graduating college and now working for the state of Maryland; think it’s safe to say I’ve experienced God’s providence in many ways throughout my life. There have been plenty of times when I’ve felt alone and in the dark, just stumbling along, trying to find a light or some sort of hope. 
For example, after graduating college, I spent a long time looking for a job. With a degree in Communications, I applied for jobs in writing, marketing, social media, grant writing, and development but interview after frustrating interview, none of them seemed to work out. I was annoyed and began to fall into depression, questioning my purpose in life. I did internships throughout college, wrote a book, and wrote for a successful newspaper; what else did I need to do to prove I was a worthy canidate?
In November of last year, I spoke at a cancer event which the governor attended and after handing him my resume, I had an interview with his office. One thing led to another and several months later, I had a job and it was right in my own backyard, like 5 minutes from my house! Shortly after starting, I found out, the director of my building has the same first name as my dad and his last name is ironically similar to someone very close to me that just passed away. What an odd coincidence! 
All of those jobs I applied to with their long commute and the time wasted worrying about my future and being depressed, now seems ridiculous. It was as if this job was waiting here for me all along, I was just too blind to see it or was looking in all the wrong places. I am so blessed and so thankful!
Whether you’re religious or not, you have to admit providence is all around us. And that somehow, someway, everything happens for a reason, no matter how messed up it seems at that moment.  
To go back to those dancing balloon men that I used in my last blog. I know they don’t have feelings but let’s just pretend.  Those poor guys are just waving in the air, struggling to gain control of themselves, and the only thing that keeps them grounded is the fact that they’re tied down. The business owners who use them as an advertising gimmick,  need to have  hope and faith that a really bad wind won’t come and take these guys away. Just like they also have to have hope that these airdancers will grab people’s attention and bring in customers. We are very much like these dancing balloon men, dancing through life, not really in control of our lives. But unlike the dancing balloon men, we can step forward and take that leap of faith into the unknown. 
It’s easy to give up when things are not working out as you planned but you must have faith. Whether it is in God, in yourself, or in those around you. But if you  are willing to work hard,  stay determined, and keep trying, providence will find a way.
 
This quote may seem kind of crazy and out-there but I felt like using it. Doesn’t everyone put faith and Eminem together?!
 

‘Cause sometimes you just feel tired
You feel weak and when you feel weak
You feel like you wanna just give up
But you gotta search within you
You gotta find that inner strength
And just pull that out of you
And get that motivation to not give up
And not be a quitter
No matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse

-Eminem

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Filed under My faith, Positive attitude towards life

Laughing at yourself

“To make mistakes is human, to stumble is commonplace, to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity”
-William Arthur Ward

Have you ever passed by a grand opening of a store or a business that has a giant dancing balloon man, just waving in the air? Dancing balloon men are popular advertising tools and although they succeed at getting one’s attention, personally, I find them annoying and shake my head whenever I see them. They look ridiculous. Like what if that thing comes unhooked and blows away?

airdancer 4
The other day, while driving, my mom and I noticed one of these guys, bending over sideways and flopping in the summer heat. Immediately, she pointed it out to me, making some sarcastic comment.  Rolling my eyes and without skipping a beat, I responded “it looks like me on a bad day”.
This poor guy, (I know it’s just a balloon but work with me here) he’s waving in the air, has no control of himself or where he goes. Because of cancer and radiation damage to my brain, I’m very much the same way, swaying side to side as I walk or looking as though I have no control of my movements. My family has nicknamed me “Gumby”  because I bend backwards, forward, and sideways,  struggling to keep my body upright and appearing as though I have no spine.
Thankfully, not everyday is like that and after a long, frustrating Monday at work, I was being a bit over dramatic but the truth in that comment made me laugh. As much as my disabilities and lack of balance irritate me, sometimes taking a step back, laughing at myself  or making a joke out it, reminds me to not take myself so seriously and that it’s okay to have flaws.
Laughing at ourselves may seem like something that doesn’t really affect one’s attitude on life but for me personally, I have to regularly laugh at myself in order to let go of the past, remain focused on the future, and remember that I am in control of my own destiny.  When we are unable to find humor in what we lack, obsess over being perfect, and allow other’s perceptions influence our lifestyle, we are no longer in control. We start to become like those dancing balloon men, waving in the air, swaying all around, influenced by our enviroment, and only grounded by mental stakes. But when we laugh at ourselves and accept our flaws, we are empowering ourselves; releasing all of those negative thoughts and replacing them with confidence and positive vibes. And who doesn’t like being confident and empowered?
“More important than talent, strength, and knowledge is the ability to laugh at yourself and enjoy the pursuit of your dreams.”
-Amy Grant

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August 15, 2016 · 11:00 pm

Expectations are the worst

“Anger always comes from frustrated expectations”

-Elliott Larson

Between work and life in general, I haven’t really had time to write or been inspired with new ideas but today  feels like a good day to write.

If you ask anyone who has experienced a traumatic brain injury, they will most likely tell you the humidity and change in air pressure tends to affect them, causing fatigue, headaches, or pains in their joints. Personally for me, the humidity is not my friend. It has a tendency to affect my walking, causes achey joints, and to be extremely tired. And for those who know me, my walking isn’t the greatest to begin with so adding humidity makes things extra fun.  I weave in and out of places, like I’m driving on a windy road. Over time, I’ve learned to deal with pains in my legs, to pretend they don’t exist (all mind over matter) or to spend most of my time inside with the air conditioning and limit my time outside.

This other week, I fell twice at work. The first time I fell into a split (which thanks to being a former gymnast, that fall was pretty graceful) but the second one wasn’t as smooth. I didn’t get hurt physically but it definitely hurt my ego and was embarrassing. After years of physical therapy and trying every possible thing to perfect my poor walking or lack of balance, I was disappointed; I expect better out of myself. I’m in my 20s, people my age aren’t supposed to be falling flat on their face. They’re supposed to be confident, strong, independent and to have their lives perfectly planned out (which I barely know what I’m wearing tomorrow, let alone my 5 year plan!) And not only was I disappointed in myself but my confidence in myself also started to waver. I started to allow myself to be put into that stereotype of a poor disabled girl who struggles to do anything on her own and always needs special assistance. It was easier to just sit quietly, hiding away at my desk and do my job, instead of dealing with people, obstacles, and real life. I didn’t want to stand up, walk around or do anything that would acknowledge the fact that I’m different from most people. And this wasn’t just at work but it affected every aspect of my life. For anyone who knows me, you know this is not like me. I thrive on being confident and comfortable with who I am; embracing my disabilities and uniqueness. (yes, that’s a word, at least in my vocabulary)

But here’s the thing with having expectations of yourself or people around you, like the quote at the beginning hints at, expectations often lead to anger and disappointment. For example, when you expect or assume a certain thing from someone else and they come up short, it’s annoying and causes you to be irritated or discouraged. For me, I was irritated with myself, mostly because I know I am capable of better and expect more of myself. Someone once told me that when you release expectations, you are free to enjoy things for what they are instead of what you think they should be. And that was exactly my problem. In my mind, I have an image of what I should be and when reality doesn’t meet those ideas, I get frustrated.

And it’s not just something I struggle with, so many others have this problem. We have expectations for our lives, our relationships, our family, and friends. And when they fail to meet those expectations, we are disappointed,  discouraged, and sometimes start to think differently about that person or life in general. The beauty of life (although  it’s annoying at times) is that everyday is a new adventure and that we can’t predict our future, we can only enjoy the ride and the surprises that lie ahead.
For a brief moment, I let my failure to meet my expectations of myself keep me down and eat away at my confidence. But those expectations ot myself are not realistic and although I am not perfect like I think I should be, I am who I am and proud of that.
So today and everyday from now, try to let go of your expectations and just appreciate the world around you.
“Trade your expectations for appreciation and the world instantly changes”

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Filed under Being disabled, Life in general

A brief reflection

Typically I try to write a blog that has a moral, a lesson, or something to think about but today I’m totally abandoning that idea.

Most of you have probably seen or heard about the movie Me Before You which hits theaters next week and is based off of Jojo Moyes’ book. The book is about a man who is involved in an accident and becomes quadriplegic. After living with his disability for several year, he decides he no longer wants to live and seeks out physician assisted suicide. As a last hope, his family hires a companion to take care of his mental well-being and show him that life is worth living whether disabled or not.

 

After reading several critiques of this book and negative Facebook posts from my friends, I was initially very bothered by this book. Because of my own personal experiences, I am completely against physician assisted suicide. Growing up with a father who had ALS, I saw firsthand how much he suffered because of the disease and he would have been the perfect candidate for physician assisted suicide but wanted nothing to do with that.  Instead he chose life and lived with disease for eight years despite being told he only had two years.  I can only imagine the pain he went through on a daily basis, both physically and mentally, but having him there when I was younger has shaped who I am today. Strong, determined, and fearless.

Two years after his diagnosis, I developed childhood brain cancer. After several surgeries to remove the cancer, it kept growing back, proving to be just as stubborn as I am. So I was forced to undergo radiation which destroyed the cancer but scattered throughout my brain, leaving me physically disabled and nearly killed me. Within months, I lost all of motor functions including being able to crawl, let alone walk. One of the worst things is I lost all facial movement and couldn’t smile or frown. Thankfully with the help of a couple surgeries, my smile came back. But anyways, at my worst point, I basically laid around my house looking lifeless. Months after the radiation, my parents were told I would be dead within weeks. That was about 18 years ago. Since then I’ve slowly regained a majority of what I lost. I am able to walk but have a very unsteady gait and tend to look like I’m drunk when walking, awkwardly taking one step at a time. Learning to live life while being physically disabled has not been easy but if I would have given up on my life at 8 years old, I would have missed out on so many wonderful experiences. So long story short that is why I oppose physician assisted suicide.

After seeing that this is what happens in Me Before You and how it is portrayed a romantic film, I was disgusted. And especially with the idea that this is what some of society believes about the disabled, that it is better to be dead than disabled. Like seriously?! What is wrong with people?! Immediately I bought the book with the idea of reading it so I could complain about everything that was wrong with it.

Besides the ending, I absolutely loved this book which I did not expect at all. Yes, it is over-dramatized at times and it does include stereotypes about being disabled but it is also incredibly realistic. There were times I cried, times I laughed out loud, and times when I just thought “I know exactly what you’re feeling, been there, done that!”

This book shows someone who goes from being able-bodied and career driven to becoming disabled and has their perspective of life completely flipped upside down. Yes, maybe the author isn’t disabled herself and yes, it is just a fictional piece but I can say the feelings Will Traynor has are similar to my own at times. Not to be a spoiler but there are definitely moments where I thought “This sounds strangely familiar, have you been following me?!”

Although I was only 8 years old when I became disabled, it is difficult to let go of what was and accept what is. I still have memories of running and walking carelessly on the beach when I was younger and even though I love my life and have accepted being disabled, there are times when I miss what was or think what if. This book really captures that idea.

It also touches on how people who were once your close friends before, tend to distance themselves from you because they are unsure or uncomfortable. Society can be so cruel, so self-centered, self-righteous, and narrow-minded, that they inadvertently treat all people with disabilities like they’re contagious or just shouldn’t exist at all. And the sad thing is most people are extremely blind to this.

The most important message, if you get past all of the issues about suicide and all the other critiques; it is that more than often people who disabled need extra support sometimes. They need a constant cheerleader or even a whole squad to help push them forward. I know if I did not have my best friend, my mom, my family and close friends, that I would probably have given up a long time ago.

In my opinion, this book does a fantastic job portraying what it is like to be disabled, how society tends to view the disabled as an inconvenience or a burden, and how even when you are surrounded by people who love and support you, it is still very easy to feel alone, overwhelmed, and depressed with your situation.

I encourage everyone to read this book and see the movie. (Hopefully Hollywood doesn’t mess it up too much) It will give you an insight into what it is like to become disabled. I expected to hate this book and not even be able to finish it but this is one I want to read again and again.

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It’s all coming back

Never forget who you are or where you came from.

It is in this you will find your strength

Isn’t it strange how a song can bring back a memory, certain feelings, or even cause you to relive moments?

When I was first diagnosed with brain cancer, Celine Dion was at the peak of  her singing career. Most people think of her for the song she did in Titanic but in my opinion, she has plenty of other great songs. Whenever I was in the car, driving to an appointment in Baltimore, one of her song’s was usually on the radio. Between 1995-1998, while I was fighting childhood brain cancer and struggling to stay alive, Celine Dion was creating chart-topping hits. By March of 1997, when my cancer came back a second time, I’m dating myself by saying this, but my Celine Dion Falling Into You cassette went everywhere with me. I would listen to it in the car to and from Johns Hopkins, during MRIs,  and even radiation treatments. Celine Dion and her music got me through some difficult times in my life.

The other morning, I woke up with It’s all coming back to me now stuck in my head. My mind was immediately flooded with memories. Being at Johns Hopkins hospital, walking through the hallways, the distinct smell of the offices. Or the hospital rooms surrounded by other kids, often crying or even those who could not speak English but receiving medical care in America is better compared to what they’d receive in their country.

Not all of these memories are bad, some of them I look back on with fondness. Although the children’s center has completely changed, there used to be a pretend zoo in the lobby, outside of the cafeteria, with stuffed animals in cages. My family and I used to spend hours down there just so we could escape my hospital room. One of the cages had a camera in it that connected to a TV channel so the kids could watch people walking by. After visiting my mom and I, my dad and brothers would wave up at the camera to tell us goodnight.

I had so many wonderful nurses, always caring, kind hearted, and a ray of sunshine, which when you’re stuck in a hospital room, sunshine and positive vibes are not something you typically feel. And all my amazing doctors, I am so beyond grateful for them. They would always check on me and sneak me treats from the cafeteria.

I remember receiving radiation, I had to wear a lead vest that felt like it weighed more than me and this lovely mask that held my head to the table. The radiation had a distinct, burning smell. During treatments, the radiologist would play my Celine Dion tape (the music was a good distraction) My radiologists were so kind and always made me laugh. After each treatment, they would give me a little gift. One time, they gave me a Little Mermaid washcloth that grew when you ran it under water. As a 7 year old, I was pretty fascinated by that. The one radiologist used to jokingly flirt with me, always saying how I was so brave, and he would try to sing along with Celine.  Maybe it doesn’t sound like fun but it was, it’s important to find the positives in everything.

One of my favorite places in Hopkins to visit whether I was recovering from surgery and cooped up in my room all day or if just there for an appointment, is “the big Jesus” statute. I always found such peace in that statute and often thought if I could just crawl into His hands, everything will be alright. This past summer, after years of not going to Johns Hopkins hospital, my mom and I went there to visit close friends. Because they have expanded and added on to the main building, we weren’t sure if “big Jesus” was still there.  But the funny thing was, as we walked down one of main hallways, my memory came back and I found myself rushing towards Him. I turned the corner, entering into a big room with a domed ceiling and there He was smiling down at me, just like when I was younger.

Like most people, I get so caught up in life and moving forward that I often forget where I come from or what I’ve accomplished in life. For example, after months of searching, I finally have a job and I am beyond blessed but I still want more. (I feel like Ariel in The Little Mermaid) My mind is already thinking about what I need to accomplish next in my life. When I speak at certain places and tell my story, I usually just give an outlined version of specific events. But that Celine Dion song brought back so many memories, some great and some not so great. It reminded me of where I’ve been, what shaped the person I am today, and what is important to me. And more importantly, to be thankful for what I have now and to live in the present moment. It’s easy to get caught in worrying about the future but we all need a flash from the past to remind us who we really are.

Remember who you are

-The Lion King

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