Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Life Chapters - Stop Complaining and Be Thankful

Different Strokes

When life has you down it is helpful to reflect on the many things you can be thankful for in your life.  Each of us is thankful for different things and for different reasons.  There are many different reasons life brings us down.  Regardless, whether it’s that you cannot buy the new car you want or that you don’t know where your next meal is coming from there are reasons to be thankful.  For many individuals, no doubt life has dealt them a lousy hand that dominates their life.

What we believe we experience in life is based on our perspective of life’s reality.  If this is true, it is easy to see how we can change a bad situation that dominates one’s life with negativity to a life of fulfillment and possibilities.  Rather than struggling with thoughts of never getting what you want, change your perspective to being thankful for the things life has already provided.

Negativity is a Thief

It’s very easy to let negative people influence your life and steal your energy.  Negative people steal your energy and increase their power over you.  When your energy is drained it becomes difficult to remain positive which is all the more reason to understand what you are truly thankful for.  When you understand what you are thankful for the negative issues become insignificant.  It is easy to lose sight of what we are thankful for when we put so much energy into being negative.

What Are You Thankful For

What are you thankful for seems like such a simple question.  However, after speaking with many different people it seems not so much.  On the surface the question is simple but for those I spoke with it is a difficult and complicated question to answer.  Many people are caught in complaining rather than considering the good things life has provided them. 

Spending time constantly rehashing past mistakes is time wasted – those mistakes are in the past but if allowed will drive negativity in the present.  Certainly we can learn from past mistakes but that should be it.  All of us experience events and circumstances in life that challenge us to our very soul.  Our limits are constantly tested by the people in our lives, by those who teach us, by those who guide us, by those in our family, by adversity and by our health.  What we do when our limit is reached makes the difference in how we live our lives – positively or negatively.

What I'm Thankful For

I am thankful for my family.  My family is what keeps me centered and provides purpose in my life.  My family has played a role in shaping me into who I am today.  I have found that being with my family I don’t need much else.

I am thankful for my health which enables me to enjoy the many things life has to offer.  With good health I am able to work and provide for my family.  My good health enables me to enjoy life and my family in ways I cannot buy at any price.

Most importantly I am thankful for today and every day I wake up to a new day.  Regardless of what has you down, you can always be thankful for your life, your family and your health.

“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.  Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.  If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” – Tecumseh

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Life Chapters - 50 Feet

By guest blogger Brian Heiser

Everyone has a Story

Since I've been in the physical therapy community, I have come across many stories and have met many people along the way. Some of the stories are humorous and some are very sad.  I have met some very courageous veterans who stormed the beaches of Normandy and later fought in the Battle of the Bulge.  I have met very wealthy people and some extremely poor people.  I have met people who have no one else to talk to but me and are grateful that someone cares enough to listen to their story.  I have met individuals who after their stroke cannot even use the bathroom without assistance but are happy that they are still alive.  Out of all the patients I have met over the past couple years; I had a patient today that has inspired me more than any other person since I have started.  I will call him Joe; I cannot put his name in writing.  Here is his story.


Today, I met an 18 year old college student named Joe.  He is not your average 18 year old male.  Joe is a very quiet introverted person.  He was raised by both parents who are both high school teachers.  He was not the star QB on his high school football team neither was he a popular person.  Joe is the kind of person that is extremely book smart and plays a lot of video games.  He did not have many friends.
Joe started his freshman year of college in the fall of 2012 at the age of 17.  Since he was younger than the rest of the freshman class with a shy personality, Joe did not make friends.  Although he had a strong family relationship, Joe was lost and felt as if he was alone in this world.
This past March, Joe attempted suicide by jumping off the top of his five story dorm building.  He sustained an L3-L4 burst fracture in his lower back and shattered the bones in his ankle.  He was in the hospital for several weeks.  He sustained a partial spinal cord injury and was told he would be unable to functionally walk again and would be wheelchair bound for the rest of his life due to the nature of his injury.

Small Steps

Today while attending a neuro clinic, I had the opportunity to work with and observe this patient.  He has been working on walking with bilateral ankle-foot orthosis in the parallel bars.  Although he has been able to move his feet forward, his walking is nonfunctional because he bears all of his weight through his arms onto the parallel bars.  Today it was decided to see if Joe could ambulate with a front wheeled walker outside of the parallel bars making him more functional in his house and community.  We set up the walker and assisted him in standing.  Joe began to walk.  His first walk was 16 feet and his second walk was 25 feet.
At the end of treatment, Joe's dad arrived to take him home.  Although Joe was exhausted by the end of treatment, we insisted that he walk so his father could see.  Joe agreed to give it one last shot.  He stood up gathered himself and proceeded to walk - he proceeded to walk across the clinic one step in front of the other.  With every step all members of the staff and other patients became silent and began to watch.  When Joe was unable to walk any further the entire clinic applauded Joe.  His dad was amazed, in shock and in tears.  He videotaped the entire journey his son made walking and at the end they hugged and embraced each other.  Joe had walked 50 feet.

In Darkness there is Light

I did not know this patient nor had I worked with him before.  I will only have this one opportunity to work with him and he taught me more lessons and inspired me in more ways than any other patient.  Joe perceived himself to be a nobody, a loner, a loser.  He sensed he was going nowhere in life and had hit rock bottom.  The only way he thought he could end his self-perceived terrible life was to jump off of a building.  I'm sure there are more reasons to why he decided to jump off which I will never know.
Even in someone’s darkest hour comes light. When Joe hit rock bottom, the Lord blessed him with a second chance at life.  By giving Joe this second chance and giving him the strength and courage to beat the odds Joe has inspired me in many ways.  I understand that attempted suicide is not something to be inspired by but to bounce back from his darkest moment the way he has speaks volumes.  It’s not where you are in life and what you have done but it’s where you are going and how you get there that shows the true character of a man.  Although Joe struggled in the beginning he has bounced back and proved his doctors wrong.  50 feet doesn't seem like that much but to Joe it was everything.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Life Chapters - 10 Rules

Recently, I finished reading a great book by Jon Gordon – The Energy Bus.  It’s a quick read full of positive ideas.  In the book Jon Gordon explores and discusses many of the elements needed for both individual and team success.  Through a story he very clearly demonstrates how important it is to be positive and overcome negativity in one’s life.  Negativity is a power thief that will steal you blind of all your energy if you let it.

In today’s stressful fast paced world, we all need help staying focused on what is important and remaining positive even in the face of failure.  Negativity will destroy an individual or a team’s chance for success and if left unchecked will destroy any hope for future successes.

The Energy Bus presents the reader ten rules for approaching life with positive energy enabling the possibilities for great success.  We all face challenges in life and we all are tested daily.  It is easy to let these challenges turn our thought process negative resulting in every ounce of energy being drained. It is foolish to think we never get down but it is even more foolish to think that when we are negative that we can find our way back to being positive without a road-map.

The following ten rules are outlined in The Energy Bus and represent a road-map to a successful positive life.  I suggest you get a copy of this book to read and keep for your personal library.
  1.       You’re the driver of your bus.
  2.       Desire, vision and focus move your bus in the right direction.
  3.       Fuel your ride with positive energy.  
  4.       Invite people on your bus and share your vision for the road ahead.
  5.       Don’t waste your energy on those who don’t get on your bus.
  6.       Post a sign that says NO ENERGY VAMPIRES ALLOWED on your bus.
  7.       Enthusiasm attracts more passengers and energizes them during the ride.
  8.       Love your passengers.
  9.       Drive with purpose.
 10.     Have fun and enjoy the ride.

“Keep your face always towards the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” – Walt Whitman

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” – Frances Hodgson Burnett

Monday, July 8, 2013

Life Chapters – Family

The Word Family

When you hear the word family what comes to mind?  Does the word make you feel good, happy, sad, anxious, calm, etc.?  The word family can mean many things depending on your culture, your upbringing and your personal experiences.  Family consists of the people who claim you whether good or bad, they are the ones who show up regardless.

I consider family to be my sir name, the family my wife and I created, my siblings, parents, grandparents, in-laws, aunts, uncles, cousins, and lifelong and very close friends.  Each of them contributes to my life and I to theirs.  Sociology defines family as having the primary responsibility of reproducing society both biologically and socially. 

Family is Important

My family is important to me.  Every family gathering we have is an opportunity for the children and younger family members to learn from the family elders.  Family gatherings are also opportunities for family elders to learn from the younger family members.

If families are who you love then it should be clear why families are so important.  Each family is different but that difference is what makes the entire family group so unique.  When families break down many suffer the consequences – from the individual to the family to our communities and in the end society as a whole.

My family is very diverse consisting of family members who are white, Hispanic, black, gay, lesbian and everything in between.  What is important to know about my family is regardless of our differences there is much more that is the same than different.  Regardless of our race, religious beliefs, sexual preference and everything in between we all want to be included, we all want to be loved, we all want to be heard and we all want to know there are people who care about our feelings and well-being.

It takes Hard Work

Being a family is hard work.  It takes love, understanding, devotion, cooperation and respect.  Without these five things families will cease to exist.  The family is the safe haven where family members receive the love and respect needed when it feels as though the entire world has rejected him or her.

Family is the bond connecting us to a life long journey through life.  That bond creates the safe harbor we all need to feel safe and that we belong.  For me, my family is the key to my heart.  My family is not shown in the bloodlines of a family tree but rather by the size of their heart.

I leave you with these two quotes that help define what family means to me.

“What can you do to promote world peace?  Go home and love your family.” – Mother Teresa

“You must remember, family is often born of blood, but it doesn’t depend on blood.  Nor is it exclusive of friendship.  Family members can be your best friends, you know.  And best friends, whether or not they are related to you, can be your family.”  - Trenton Lee Stewart