I am coming up on the two year anniversary of the worst and best day of my life. On February 12, 2014, the blood in my brain decided to back up and kill some cells. That’s WAY oversimplified but I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I did have a slight crush on Sara Ramirez, Kali, on Grey’s Anatomy, but I don’t think that counts. But I digress. These damaged cells were primarily responsible for allowing my brain to communicate to my left side signals like: “Walk now”, “ Move your arm”, and signals to my frontal lobe that monitor and filter my thoughts and emotions like, “Don’t laugh at that, it wasn’t funny.” “Why are you crying? You just walked again for the first time.”
If you have been following my blog since early on, you know that my recovery has been mixed with truly horrible and amazingly eye-opening. I don’t want to rehash the horrible in this particular blog. Instead, frontal lobe malfunctions aside, I choose positive. This is hard for us Western Hemisphere people to do. We are surrounded (bombarded) by negative from the moment we wake up, until we are able to drift into sleep. We are exposed to non-stop negative noise on the news, from our peers and in his book Introduction to The Art of Thinking Clearly, by Rolf Dobelli, News is toxic to your body. It constantly triggers the limbic system. Panicky stories spur the release of cascades of glucocorticoids (cortisol). This deregulatea your immune system and inhibits the release of growth hormones. In other words, your body finds itself in a state of chronic stress. High glucocorticoid levels cause impaired digestion, lack of growth (cell, hair, bone), nervousness and susceptibility to infections. The other potential side-effects include fear, aggression, tunnel-vision and desensitization. (1)
Okay. There’s your science lesson for the day. More grim news, sorry. But my point is, even if we are constantly exposed to negative, it is still a choice to hold onto it or to let it go. I can feel bad about world events without clinging to it all day. Practicing gratitude is one way that a lot of people have started to rewire their brains. It doesn’t come naturally for me but I believe just like learning to play an instrument, you learn a little, practice, get better and eventually you don’t have to think about every chord change, you just do it. Ta da!
There are so many things I have and keep even after being kicked out of the privileged club of the able-bodied. Don’t get me wrong. I wish my stroke would never have happened but instead of asking “Why me?” I can ask “Why us” and better yet, “What next?!”
Losing privilege/insider group status can be deeply unsettling and frightening at a visceral level that requires resilience, empathy and tolerance of the unknown. Being a part of the non-privileged/outsider group requires a greater sense of humor, community, strength, inner resourcefulness and self-love to counteract the constant and incessant messages of less-than. Not everyone is equally equipped to navigate this successfully.(2)
I tap into my inner Super hero “One arm Wonder” and ask, “What would it take?” Why not me? I definitely have a highly evolved sense of humor, inner resourcefulness, resilience, and just –enough self-love. Ii many ways, I am a great candidate for having a life-changing, privilege-losing experience! And now I get the gift of lessons from being in another group, seeing the world with another set of eyes, being grateful for things I used to take for granted, like putting a glove on my left hand. Going into the bathroom without an escort. And the list goes on. And I get to use the big stalls in the bathroom! Righteous!
I wish I had met my inner Super Hero before the stroke. She was always there. Some of my life choices could never have been made without her. But I didn’t know I had all the power. I was conditioned to believe (as are many of us) that my good fortunes and adventures were a fluke as opposed to a conscious decision to be brave and follow my heart and my needs. My belief in flukativity (yeah I made up that word, badass verbulater that I am)kept me from taking more risks most likely.
So now, with the infinite and permanent world of the internet being my witness, I reject you flukativity, I spit on you. I step on you; I hope I don’t slip on you. I step forward into the world of What would it take? Look out world. One Arm is on a mission.
But my mission has been impacted by other gifts. For example, the gift of love and compassion; the gift of knowing life is temporary and Carpe Diem is not just another fish species. I want to participate and make a difference. If reading this blog made you smile, even once, I have left an imprint on the world. (If it made you laugh out loud, you may be in need of therapy. But my challenge to you who are still in the privileged club of able-bodied, find your inner super hero today! Don’t put if off waiting for when there is more time, money, opportunity. This moment right here, right now, that’s all we get no matter what club you’re in. You can do it. What is it you want/need? A job change? A trip around the world? What if we all listened to our super hero instead of the dream-stealers and naysayers? Find out!!!!! Come up with a fight cheer! Design your costume. Go crazy. Be grateful, even when there seems to only be negative. Your super hero will find the gifts!
Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen. ~ Brené Brown
“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting “Holy Shit, what a ride!” -Mavis Leyer
“We are the sky. Everything else is just weather” – Pema Chödrön
Have Fun!!!!! Be fun!!!!! Wax on, wax off. Kim Hunt
(1)) The Art of Thinking Clearly, by Rolf Dobelli,
(1) Susana Rinderle Consulting, LLC, WordPress blog