Man Aimee Mullins got me all filled up with tears last night in this amazing Ted talks lecture. Her story of embracing adversity immediately brought to mind the first female role model who embodied strength and courage in the face of life’s challenges. My Nana contracted polio in 1950. While I knew her to be wheelchair bound, I have heard numerous stories of how she went up and down the stairs on her derriere to get clothes for washing and how she used the sides of the house to help her stay stable while she got her way out to the yard to hang those clothes. She was a strong woman and a funny lady. Her humor was like Bob Newhart, dry and matter of fact. She never once complained and she I never imagined her to be someone who fit any of the horrible definitions of disabled that Mullins sites from the dictionary. My Nana was anything but maimed and mutilated. She buried her husband and two sons during her lifetime. She also cared for a son who was a quadriplegic after being in a life altering car accident. She was a mountain; unmovable and never on the pity potty. She embraced her adversity as a part of her but it definitely was not all of her. She was a true rolling stone. So within Mullin’s story and my Nana’s there’s a lesson that seems to be escaping most these days….the challenges life gives you are an
opportunity not something to be taken away.
Now a days a lot of people are faced with challenges they never expected would happen to them. See that’s the thing about adversity; it’s not something you can necessarily predict and it’s certainly nothing that any of us would ask for. People are struggling to find work after having been laid off. Every day you hear stories of people struggling to make ends meet with limited prospects for work in their future. There are certain parts of the country where homelessness is on the rise and hunger is a very real issue in America. But the every day struggles can be just as difficult right? The traffic, pollution, work stress, family stress. Hell the increase in the cost of living these days is enough to crush even the person with a more stable income. It is easy to get bogged down in all these daily stressful realities and get to the point of wondering “why me?” I know, I do it, I have my pity parties at times, we all can struggle with that. Knowing that there are less fortunate people out there does not remove your own struggles. It is all relative and personal. But when your wails are getting so loud even you are getting annoyed, guess what? There is someone on your street, your block, neighborhood, town or cityho is right there with you. Humans struggle. We struggle differently but we do all struggle at times. The piece of this that connects to our own health and wellness is what we do with the struggle. How we understand our struggles and handle them can make the different between dis-ease or
There are examples everywhere of people who have taken their life’s struggles and made them into beauty. People who discover the lotus growing right up from the mud. One of my favorite example is Bethany Hamilton, the young female surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack in 2003 only to get right back on the board? Wow did that young girl have some spirit. Lynn Sanford, a teacher of mine from graduate school, wrote a book “Strong at the Broken Places.” She spoke about how the places within us that have been broken become the windows to our soul; they are the places we are most strong. To get rid of challenge would be getting rid of the knowledge of your own power and strength. If life were easy, we wouldn’t learn how to deal with the rocky waters when they come; because they will come. As Mullin states “adversity is just change we haven’t adapted to yet.” ahhhh so true!
Ubutu is a South African term loosely translated as knowing that you are human through the eyes of other humans. The mirror neurons in the brain allow us to connect on a deep level with empathy when we see another human
suffering. We all know what it means to hurt and the healing of those broken places comes only through sharing love on a collective level. You may not know what it’s like to be homeless, to have an addiction, or to be starving or to have your arm bit off by a shark, but you do know what it’s like to have life challenge your will to keep going, right? Through compassion we find love for ourselves and ultimately for others. .Kindness is compassion in action. What kind acts can you do for yourself today to ease the struggle of life’s challenges? Maybe it’s watching a funny movie, playing with your children, sitting in the sun or giving a hug to someone you love. Just
like we spoke about in our chat The sun will come out….tomorrow the sun always ends up coming out. The light comes as a contrast to the dark. By knowing, embracing and loving both we see that life is really just a myriad of amazing experiences. Beauty doesn’t just come when things are light and airy but actually they often come in those dark moments when we least expect them:)
Enjoy the moment, wherever you are as this is how our rolling stone becomes polished and smooth:)