Sunday, July 10, 2016


Two years ago I was diagnosed with partial facial paralysis, the doctor informed me my face would never be the same again.  To describe my emotions during that time is impossible.  I spent several weeks in the hospital, when released I was told to try and live a 'normal' life.  Whatever 'normal' is to the world is not my normal...only 2% of people in the world have facial paralysis due to a nerve dying.  The first year after my diagnosis I was miserable, trying to talk was unbearable knowing what       I must look like to other people.  My self esteem and self worth were in the toilet.

This past year I have been concentrating on loving myself.  Focusing on who I am, where I came from and finding out where I want to be has been liberating.  It has been the perfect prescription; it costs no money but required time and patience.  I've studied the science behind happiness and in my studies have been completely blown away with what I didn't know.  Evidence has proven that the connection between mind and body-between well being and physical health--it's real, I mean really real. There is no big secret here, sometimes I know at least in my life I've been in such a race to find what will ultimately bring me pure joy; when actually trying to FIND happiness is what has slowed me down.  I do think there is some strategy involved and for me I deal with it daily to keep myself in check.

So many people have asked me "How do you stay so positive with all you have going on in your life?"  The truth is I have times when I am feeling down or needing my well to be filled by someone else's truth, faith or hope.  I've had a tendency to focus on being the 'perfect' wife, mother, sister or friend.  I'm not saying those things are not important however there is a balance, at least for me that needs to be met.  I've been forced to learn this amazing concept.  I see so many people, just like I used to be who give up their personal happiness to make sure everyone else is happy.  Slowing down and focusing on the thing that is right in front of me, right now has helped me to be present.

I recently read an article about living in the moment and being present, according to a study done on 5,000 people by psychologists Matthew Killingworth and Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University, adults spend only 50% of their time in the present moment.  Basically what that says to me is we are mentally checking out half of the time.  In addition to checking when people's minds were wandering, they collected information on their happiness levels.  What they found was when we are living in the present moment we are also at our happiest, no matter what we are doing.  So when we are doing a project we really don't find pleasant you can still be happier if you are 100% consumed in the activity than when you are thinking about something else while doing it.

This concept is so hard for some people to master, including me.  Trying to bring your mind into the present moment can be a daunting task, however I have come up with some ways to help myself.
I am constantly thinking about my next surgery before I've had a chance to recover from the last.  When I notice myself doing this, I try my hardest to nudge myself back into the present consciously learning to observe my mind wandering behavior away from the future and into the moment.  To retrain your mind you need to be consciously aware of the pattern your brain takes you in while it's wandering.  Having my grandchildren around has helped me to stay in the present, I don't want to one day say "Wow, here I am with all my family around and I can't focus on them, I'm too worried about this or that."  If you are with your family, put your phone away, turn off the television or radio.  Take a break from modern technology and seriously enjoy life for a day without the stress of the phone.  Who ever developed the 'smart phone' was truly smart, but did they take into consideration how much time would be taken away from family? On Sunday's all of our children and grandchildren come for dinner.  Last night I was trying to discuss with them a new idea I had for our family to better strengthen our bonds.  I looked up and every single one of them were on their 'smart phone' they didn't hear or listen to one thing I had to say!  Them not listening to me was not the shocking part, it was watching all of them engage in whatever was so important on their phones.  I decided we will drop the phones at the front door on Sunday's to enjoy the moments with each other.  I'll have to get back to you on that one, I'm not sure how it will go over with everyone but I'm willing to try.

So how do I bounce back?  Through my studies I've found that with practice, everyone can develop resilience.  It's not easy, at least it hasn't been for me.  I've learned my capacity to adapt to challenges has been unwavering.  I'm not sure why, I haven't attended any resilience training I just know I am in tune with my own body and spirit.  Just when I think I can't handle anything else along comes a new trial but I seem to thrive in the aftermath of adversity.  Every person is different and needs to find what works for them.  I find doing acts of kindness helps me with my resilience and helps me cope with the past, present and future.  This is what I think it takes to be a strong resilient person:

1.  Have core beliefs that no one or nothing can shake.
2.  Try to find meaning in the stresses of everyday life.
3.  Try to always be a positive person.
4.  Face the things that scare you; don't run from them.
5.  Reach out for help from others---I'm working on this one.
6.  Keep your brain active by learning new things.
7.  Get out and move, exercise everyday find something that is reasonable for you and stick to it.
8.  Do not dwell in the past, or beat yourself up over things you cannot change.
9.  Own your strengths and weaknesses, recognize why you are unique and write it down.