As we start to venture into a new year- with hopes that this year we will actually stick to our New Year resolutions- I thought this was appropriate to share with you all.
After my stroke, I was able to leave a constrictive marriage of 19 years. I was able to start my life completely over, return to school, start living life, and start educating others on stroke awareness.
My life did not end because I had a stroke. It actually did the opposite. My stroke liberated my soul and literally lit a fire under my feet.
I’ve been told many times before that the experience of coming face-to-face with death changes people. However, I have tried to explain to my friends and family that I never once felt like my life was in danger. So, why then, the sudden change in my life’s perspective? Why did I do a complete 180 with my life?
A Harvard brain scientist, Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor, experienced a hemorrhagic stroke on the same side as mine- the left side of the brain. In her book, “My Stroke of Insight,” she explains my own experience perfectly, “In my mind, in my new perspective… Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor died that morning and no longer existed. Now that I didn’t know her life—her relationships, successes and mistakes, I was no longer bound to her decisions of self-induced limitations” (Bolte-Taylor, 2006; pp. 67–68).
Even though our situations were different, and our strokes were different, I was able to relate to Dr. Bolte-Taylor’s reference to a change in perspective. I often laugh at myself because it felt as though I’d lost the (what I intimately call) give-a-shit part of my brain. I saw life as a liberating learning opportunity, for growth and strength after my stroke. It’s interesting that Dr. Bolte-Taylor talks about this phenomenon in her book. I’d literally lost the give-a-shit part of my brain because I was no longer bound to the limitations of past decisions.
Her book was recommended to me by my speech therapist at California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco. Now, I can recommend it to you. Click here to purchase a copy of Dr. Bolte-Taylor’s book, My Stroke of Insight on Amazon. It is very informative and educational for stroke survivors and caregivers. I hope you learn as much as I did from this book.
During my stroke, I’d found a sense of peace for where I’d been, for where I was during that very moment, and for where my life was heading- I knew I was going to be okay.
It wasn’t until I’d read Dr. Bolte-Taylors book that I’d finally understood the reason for this new-found sense of euphoria. Dr. Bolte-Taylor states, “In the absence of my left hemisphere’s negative judgement, I perceived myself as perfectly whole, and beautiful just the way I was” (Taylor, 2006; p. 74). The left hemisphere is where all of our negative beliefs reside. Since the left hemisphere of my brain was under construction at the time, the “give a shit part of my brain” was literally broken.
The really cool thing is, everyone can experience the liberating and euphoric feeling of losing their left hemisphere through mediation and “stepping to the right” of our left brains (Taylor, 2006).
What does this mean? Most of our troubles and worries lie within ourselves. If you want to fix your troubles, you have to move all of the what-if’s out of your consciousness. Stop worrying about what others will think of you for trying to better yourself.
Apply for that job! Go for that job raise! Travel to that beautiful country you’ve been wanting to see! Go see that movie by yourself! Enjoy a dine-in meal alone (it truly is amazing). Reconnect with an estranged family member. Go on that date! Jump out of an airplane (with a parachute, of course)! The list is endless.
This song by Nahko came to mind while writing this post. At the end he says, “What I see in you is a young tree bearing fruit. Place to start, don’t hide behind your heart.”
What this means to me is don’t allow your current limitations to define your healing successes.
You just have to get out of your own way.
Bolte Taylor, J. (2006). My stroke of insight: a brain scientist’s personal journey. New York: Penguin group.