Twelve years ago, I had a massive brain hemorrhage—the result of my struggle with a large brain tumor and the many interventions to try and remove it—which left me suddenly dependent on life support and with a right-sided hemiplegia.
The day it happened, I had been out walking our dogs. I remember watching a field of dragonflies that morning, appreciating their beauty, the shining sun, and the sense of quiet and peace. I could just hear the gentle buzzing of their wings as they jostled with each other. I got home and sat down on the sofa when suddenly, I had excruciating pain in my head and everything went black.
I don’t remember anything from that moment until six weeks later when I regained consciousness at the hospital and saw that my whole life had changed.
The last 12 years have been extremely challenging for myself and my loved ones. I have had to relearn basic bodily functions that most people take for granted: breathing by myself, holding my own body weight, talking, walking, and feeding myself. It has been a difficult and long journey, one that I couldn’t have traveled without the help of my devoted family.
There were times when I didn’t know if I could make it, it just felt too difficult… I considered ending my own life. But, I made a choice that saved me: I chose gratitude. It was gratitude that had always lived within me, from the appreciation of dragonflies to treasuring my opportunity to travel and live abroad, regardless of the difficulties.
In the face of hopelessness, I chose to be grateful for what I could do rather than focus on what I couldn’t do. To recognize the baby steps, for example, that I could urinate by myself without the need for a catheter, or that I had a rehabilitation program where I could relearn the simple daily living skills that I could no longer do. I live in physical pain every day. I continue with rehabilitation and challenges every day. And it IS worth it.
Why? Because I have lived to experience the joy of watching my daughters marry, of becoming a grandmother, and of exploring life again through the eyes of a life coach. It has been intensely rewarding to mentor other coaches as they fulfill their calling. I feel that I am contributing to the flourishing of humanity, something that I have wanted to do for a very long time.
Making the Impossible Possible
What I have come to cherish most deeply in my heart from my experience and what I want all humans to know and to feel deeply is that when things feel almost impossible, remind yourself to start off small. Remind yourself that many seemingly imperceptible improvements lead to big changes over time… that repetition and gusto for the process are the essential energies for lifting yourself up.
Starting with the small to get to the big has been the wisdom of this phase of my life, and I see it so clearly illustrated in one of my passions: swimming. What does swimming look like for me? Well, at first it was just being able to wade in the pool. Now, I swim 30 laps every day with the aid of fins and with my arm strapped to a kickboard. Sometimes what feels impossible is only so because it stretches our imagination.
When people watch me swim they tell me how inspiring I am. I feel like I’m just getting out there and living. Whatever you are struggling with, no matter how visible or invisible, you can do it too—you can live life, you can inspire others. Dare to be vulnerable and always live in gratitude.
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About the Author:
I’m Lynn Carey, now retired. I consulted for Newfieldnetwork for 12+ years, I’m passionate about coaching; its positive effect on those it touches; the opening it offers for engagement in transformational conversation and the positive shifts it produces in the lives and wellbeing of others. I feel privileged to have lived and coached across many cultures including Europe, the Middle East, South America and USA. Such diversity and inclusion offered a unique opportunity to develop as a wise, caring and intuitive coach. Although I gained a Master’s in Leadership, I consider my greatest achievement to be as a mother to three wonderful daughters. After surviving a brain hemorrhage, I spent 9 yrs regaining my independence which provided many valuable insights that enhance my coaching. I love working with people facing a challenge in life, whatever that may be.gs.