When my world was careening out of control, my spirit shattered, one thing helped me dig out from under the chaos and mess. Faith became my refuge and bedrock that helped me to rebuild my life.
It was February 13, 1989, and I was the first family member to arrive in the emergency room. I looked down hiding my tear-stained eyes as the neurosurgeon spoke directly at me.
His words flew by me, and most were a blur. He said, “You better sit,” as I somehow forced my knees to bend and awkwardly grabbed the chair.
“He may not make it!” as though he was trying to prepare me for the worst. I felt the pit in my stomach harden as he continued. “If he does, he will never be the same again. He may never walk again.” Then I could no longer hold back the tears that flowed uncontrollably and be the glue that my family needed me to be.
But I had to be brave, so I wiped away the tears, bit my lip, and propped open the door. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. I felt as though I had walked into an alternate universe.
Staples rimmed his head like a light bulb, eye sockets blackened and looked almost hollow. I barely recognized my beautiful husband Rob, who was connected to long pleated translucent tubes that connected him to life support.
That was 31 years ago, two years after we exchanged our vows, for better or for worse. This was a turning point in my life. I’m not going to say that it was easy. It wasn’t, and it hurt like a twisted knife in my heart and tested every fiber of my being.
So, how can you be happier now when you are hurting or numb?
For me when I sank to the lowest point in my life, I returned to God. My faith and family support and love anchored me, which allowed me to believe and lean into something greater than myself.
My husband Rob’s journey back to health opened my eyes to the beauty, wonder, and gifts that we experience every day. When I stare into his beautiful brown eyes, I am reminded that he is a walking, talking, living, and breathing miracle.
Rob’s tragic 15-foot fall from scaffolding transformed my life and rippled out to touch everyone’s life in our inner circle. That was my wake-up call.
Recently when Dr. Jo Anne White, an international best-selling author , producer and host of Power-Your-Life Radio Show, motivational speaker, life coach, and consultant, took a header down a flight of stairs, it incapacitated her in so many ways. Instead of focusing on her pain and limitations, she became grateful for what she could still do and experience.
Dr. White provides tips to forge ahead despite the chaos, overwhelm, fear, and tragic loss of life that many of you now face during this global health, economic, and racial pandemic as you seek to protect, nurture, and raise your family with love, laughter, and resilience to thrive even in times of crisis.
Tip 1: Be grateful to be alive!
After Dr. White’s fall, she sustained a debilitating traumatic brain injury. Suddenly, she couldn’t walk, talk, do anything that she used to do. That tragic accident broke her stride, but not her unwavering spirit.
I was alive. And I was able to do things and get stronger, and have connections to people, all of that was beautiful.
Just imagine, I had a moment when I was lying on the floor, where I was thinking, Am I dead? Am I alive? I didn’t know, everything happened so fast. I just fell down a flight of stairs on a hardwood floor and hit my head, not knowing if I was dead or alive, and I waited to kind of get my bearings. And then I waited some more to see if I was going to be able to move.
As we move through this difficult unfamiliar time, it’s not easy to stay upbeat, even for optimists, “but the grace of time was, and still is, my overwhelming feelings of gratitude. “I’m alive and I’m grateful that I am able to walk, think, and talk, with no permanent damage or disfigurement.”
At her lowest point, she believes what got her through the years of rehabilitation and limitations was her gratitude for being able to do small things that we often take for granted, like being interviewed today.
Her big takeaway: Everything flows from having gratitude. “Instead of focusing on what you lack and your limitations, be thankful for every part of you, your feet, your arms, your hair, the things we often take for granted.”
Lesson 2: Appreciate nature and your surroundings
Experience nature through the eyes of your child. One day last summer, Dr. White was on her power walk when she noticed something remarkable.
“There were all these butterflies fluttering around which created the oddest light around the bush that I had never seen before. In that moment if I hadn’t turned my head, I would have missed this beautiful almost magical moment of seeing what these butterflies were creating.”
When you experience gratitude through your senses, you can bring more joy into your life and notice the blessings even in the smallest things that surround you–a raindrop, a bird singing, a child, your dog, or butterflies, reminding you just how amazing it is to be alive.
Tip 3: Stop negative thinking
Where you put your focus affects how you feel. Negativity can be toxic to your whole system, your emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health.
Although we live in scary times, feel more isolated, and live with more unknowns, “you don’t have to focus on all the poisonous stuff that causes you to feel more vulnerable.”
“You have to be real with yourself and at the same time you need to cherish the small moments to offset your fear and grief.” She says that you have a choice where you put your energy and focus. Because what you focus on you bring closer to you.”
Ask yourself: Are you putting your mind and attention on fear and doubt?
Or are your thoughts on those joyful, treasured moments that never may come again?
Tip 4: Use positive self-talk
Often, we doubt who we are. We forget how to love ourselves, instead we are even more critical.
“I would hear these voices in my head about not being good enough: You can’t go down that street, you’re going to fall!
You can’t wash that dish; you’re going to break it!
“Those voices in your head sometimes sound so powerful that they overpower you. But, you do have the opportunity to shift your perspective.” You can change the script playing over and again in your head and replace the message with one that nourishes and restores.
Positive self-talk fills you up, allowing you to be kinder to yourself and others. “When we’re grateful, we’re not angry. We are more open, caring, and loving to ourselves and others.”
Tip 5: Find hidden blessings
Dr. White captures the essence of feeling grateful, joyful, and connected in her recently released Joy and Gratitude Music Video and companion JOY E-Book roadmap to bring more joy into your life, written and produced by her.
When this familiar song that she had written years earlier popped into her head again during a power walk, she felt compelled to write it down and share its powerful, universal message with the world.
Several years ago, when she was getting her notes together for an empowerment conference for over 100 professional women, she heard a song in her head with a tune and lyrics that compelled her to write it down.
She sang it with these women, but then it was forgotten until recently, when she immediately understood its grander purpose. So, she partnered with the reputable global agriculture nonprofit the World’s Central Kitchen.
For just a small $2.99 purchase, you can get the Joy and Gratitude Music Video and Joy E-book to be happier now and transform your life, with much of the proceeds going to the World’s Central Kitchen, W.C.K. They are doing incredible work teaching people how to sustain themselves and their community, providing food and support, not only in the United States but also globally. W.C.K. uses the power of food to heal communities and strengthen economies in times of crisis and beyond. “They are a team of food first-responders, mobilizing with the urgency of now to get meals to those who need them most.”
Just click on the link below: Yes, I want to bring more joy into my life and heal communities through my purchase!
Tip 6: Be happier, feel more connected
What’s important now, while living with so much isolation, disagreement, fear, and uncertainty of a triple pandemic–health, economic, and racial injustice—” is the love we have within ourselves that we can share with others, so we can heal ourselves and the world.”
“Just imagine how beautiful it would be,” posits Dr. White, “if we could all recognize the connection that we have to one another. We have choices about how we choose to live on this planet, with joy, love, and connection, to move through everything that we do and touch everybody. “
Hello, my name is Lynda Dell, and I recently started Resilient Families thrive for you!
I reached out to mental health professionals and other experts to create a resource to empower moms with young anxious children to grow more resilient, loving, happier families. Please share your biggest challenges with us in the comment section below. Join our Resilient Families Thrive Facebook page here
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