Blogging on The Brightside

"I think I can. I think I can. I think I can." -The Little Engine That Could

Arise and seize the day!

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“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”

— Ann Landers

I’ve noticed recently that I can be stubborn.

(Anyone who knows me understands that this is both a blessing and a curse and in no way a “new” realization, but purely a statement of fact.)

When carrying something heavy (physically, emotionally, etc), it is impossible to realize just how much strain is being placed upon me. It’s only after I set it down for a break or finally make it to my destination that I feel the toll it’s taken. It’s only after some time that I regain feeling, where my blood starts pumping again, filling me up, reminding me that those parts that fought through the pain are still there, still working, ready for the next task.

In those moments, rather than strain and fight through the unnecessary pain, I could just as easily ask for help or allow myself to be helped by those around me. It would be the best thing to do, right? Then why do I insist on doing it all by myself? Why won’t I just let it go?

Why do any of us when faced with something that burdens us, that weighs us down, that hurts us, resist the urge to simply let it go?

We’ve all got something of which we are afraid to let go.

We struggle to decide if, in that moment, letting it be is better than letting it go.

Open your hands, your head, and your heart to something that will better serve you. That will bring you closer to where you really want to be and what you really want to feel. If it helps and if you can, let others ease the burden, lift the weight, and support you in the process.

Remind yourself that if you have the strength to “hang on” and “hang in” that you also possess the immense and incomparable strength that is regained when you loosen your grip. 

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Change your stars.

–A Knight’s Tale

You might be knocked off your horse or take a lance to the face.  Some days you might feel like a blind thatcher’s son, and some days you might think you’re living in the dark-ages.  Pick yourself up off the ground.  Let the lance roll off your armor.  Embrace your father, and be inspired by your contemporaries.

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“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

– Mark Twain

 

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Genius is eternal patience.

-Michelangelo

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Michelangelo, the world’s best known sculptor, was commissioned to paint well over 5,000 square feet of frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  The project required him to learn the technique of buon fresco, the most difficult type of painting undertaken by only the masters, and challenged him to learn to paint perspective correctly on a curved surface 60 feet above the viewer.  Besides these challenges, it was truly an exercise in patience.

He did it mostly by  himself.  Sure, there were assistants to carry his paints up and down the scaffolds, but most of the brushstrokes were his own.  He painted for four years, bent over backwards and painting over his head.  The master complained that the project forever ruined his vision.  500 years later, all who visit the chapel stand awestruck for a few minutes to soak up the splendor of the work.

You’re going to lose your patience this week.  You’ll sit in traffic or get put on hold for hours.  Your computer is going to freeze, probably before you remember to hit ‘save’, and your boss is going to give a ridiculous and tedious assignment.  Your baked potatoes will take longer to bake than you expect.  The check out line will be too long.  Your kids will need to use the bathroom when it’s time to get on the bus.  But if you can take a deep breath and keep it together, your patience might lead to a stroke of genius.

Have a great week everyone.

-rge

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Life Lessons One Year Later

I read this and thought I should share with everyone.  Have a great weekend, all!

BY GRETCHEN BLEILER

A year ago, I was working on double backflips with my coach and I had a very bad accident. While getting ready for the double, I threw my warm-up trick too hard and made a split decision in the air to keep rotating into the double, even though I hadn’t thrown for it. When I landed back onto the trampoline, my knees were still tightly tucked and the force and angle of my body caused my knee to come crushing into my face, shattering my eye socket, breaking my nose, splitting open my eyebrow and giving myself the worst concussion that I’ve ever experienced.

I’ll spare you the complicated and gruesome details of the next week leading up to my surgery, but it was hell. For anyone that’s ever had surgery, you know that everyone heals at a different pace and in different ways depending on who they are and what happened to them. Based on my competitive and pinpoint nature, I expected the fast track to recovery after surgery and it turned out to be a very humbling experience.

After a few post-op visits and debates with different care providers, the prognosis was that I had come a long way since my accident and the quality of my vision was good. It was possible and likely that my vision would continue to get better, but at the same time it was insinuated that if it didn’t, I was in a pretty good place. Thinking back on where my vision actually was at that point now is disturbing because I remember having an extremely short range of motion in almost every direction. Meaning that if I just looked up slightly, I would have double vision. And this was good? They did know that I was a professional snowboarder and that because of this I would need more range than the “average” person…right? In my opinion, though, the “average” person probably wants to look up at the stars at night just as much as I want to look up at that lip that is 22 feet above me and see one lip not two! So, as you can see, not having tangible solutions just didn’t work for me. And after a period of being extremely pissed, frustrated, angry and scared, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands and work with my “A” team (the people who have helped me accomplish my goals in snowboarding and life) to collaborate on a plan to find some solutions and recover.

If I had learned nothing else from this entire experience, then just understanding that doctors are human and most of them are very specialized in very specific areas would have been enough. That’s something a lot of us fail to remember; for some reason we all grow up thinking that doctors know the answers to EVERYTHING in all subjects because they are doctors. Let me tell you my doctor was a super hero in what he did for me. He saved my eye, my appearance and my vision. People tell me all the time that I must have had a really good doctor because they would never have known what had happened to me based on aesthetics. But when the super hero has rescued you, and you’re ready to continue on with your life, you don’t turn around and ask the super hero what you should do with your life now!

And that’s why it’s important for YOU (or someone you trust) to take control over the entire big picture plan of your recovery, no matter how big or small your injury may be. Because at the end of the day this is your life and you get to live it to the best of your abilities. That means if you hear a comment directed towards you like: “this is the best it’s gonna get, so start getting used to it,” then you respond in one way or another with: “I understand that is what you believe based on your experiences and knowledge, and I respect you and your belief, but I’m going to choose to disagree and find someone who believes that they can help me.” It’s taking the initiative and finding a solution. It’s the hard road; it’s the road less traveled. And you may spend a lot of time looking and never find what you’re looking for, but I know that I would sure as hell rather try!

My one-year anniversary of this day has just recently passed and now that I’ve almost recovered, and am back on my snowboard and almost back to my full potential, it seems like this experience is almost behind me and I’m in a place where I can reflect and share the valuable things that I’ve learned. So here goes:

-Don’t let anyone tell you “this is the best it’s going to get” and put limitations on you, whether it’s an injury or life in general.

-S*!t happens. I had just come off a breakthrough season where I truly felt I was on the verge of grasping my full potential, and then I was knocked down to zero. I’ve asked the question, “why?” and tried to look for hidden or not so hidden meanings, but sometimes in life it’s as easy as “stuff just happens.”

-You can’t always muscle through challenges, obstacles and life. Once I got back on snow, I figured that because my vision was back that the level of riding I had been at before the accident would come right back. That just wasn’t the case, and the harder I tried on snow to get back to where I was, the worse it got. Only when I let go of the past and rode just purely for the enjoyment of what it was, without expectations or ulterior motives, did I begin to soften and naturally fall back into stride … which leads me to the next lesson:

-Let go of expectations because they will only hold you back. Being gently and easy on yourself may seem like taking the scenic route when you’re in a hurry, but it’s the only way to truly process and move forward in a true and healthy way.

-Do live in this moment. Comparing yourself to where you were is living in the past. You are a different version of yourself now than you were and living for then will surely rob you of who and what you are now.

-Be grateful for where you are right now. For me, having my vision back was the biggest victory that I could have escaped this experience with, but it took a long time for me to truly understand that concept. In the beginning I could only see what I wasn’t doing and where I was lacking. I just wanted to be back at my highest level of snowboarding. Then I found that beating myself up was actually draining my passion and love for what I was actually doing, which directly affected the way I would perform. Gratitude brings you back to being that witnessing awareness that is whole and unwavering.

-Don’t focus on time or a cookie cutter schedule.  Focus on what your body is telling you.  Your body knows best and intuitively knows how to heal, if you listen and are presently aware.

-Do the rehab every day; even a year after surgery you have the potential to break through any scar tissue or limitations. Just as in life, once you have found what is working for you, you want to apply that routine every day to break through old habits and patterns that are holding you back.

A lot of these lessons are similar concepts but just said or experienced in different ways. But what I’ve found is that we learn the same lessons in different ways throughout life based on where we are in our process. And where I am in my process is heading into summertime riding with a lot of goals that I’m eager to accomplish. And if I’ve learned anything at all from my own experiences, I’m going to go up to Mount Hood and, while I will be aware of those goals, I’m going to detach from their end results and enjoy sliding around on the snow in warm weather and that beautiful environment. I’m going to be grateful for my healthy body that lets me push myself physically and mentally to ride with style and meaning every day because that’s why I love to snowboard, but at the same time being presently aware and listening to my body as I do, and I’m going to laugh and I’m going to soak in being with some of my best friends and husband and dog all the while!

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“The game has its ups and downs, but you can never lose focus of your individual goals, and you can never let yourself be beat because of lack of effort.”

–Michael Jordan

Focus on the moment, on achieving one goal at a time.  With each achieved goal you are closer to victory and success.  Sometimes you will lose, but your overwhelming persistence and hard work will ensure that you have more ups than downs.

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“Failure is nature’s plan to prepare you for great responsibilities.”

Napoleon Hill

When you read about successful people, you’ll likely read about many devastating failures leading up to and intermixed with their wild successes.  And when you meet successful people, you start to learn that the reason they were successful in the first place is because they have a lot of practice failing and have matured and learn from their failures.   If you want to learn to be successful, you’ve got to put yourself out there and take chances.  You’ve go to apply for jobs you might not ever get and audition for parts you might not fit the role for exactly.  You’ll be disappointed and frustrated and angry, but keep pushing.  Then, you will find yourself with great responsibilities, great successes, and a heaping sense of fulfillment.

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“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified or discouraged. For the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.”

–Joshua 1:9

This post was brought to you by a close friend, Katie Trenney. There are moments in life where the “bright side” is more difficult to find. This post reflects about on that kind of moment. In an instant, your world can be shaken to the point of complete and total disorientation. You don’t know which way is up, your faith is shaken. Believing in the good and finding what you can hold onto during those dark times is what keeps us going. We hope that Kevin and his friends are able to find the strength to make it through this extremely difficult times. Our thoughts and prayers go out to each of you.


Two nights ago, I attended the Taylor Swift concert in Pittsburgh with a couple friends.  After tailgating for a few hours and then listening to Taylor sing about her feelings, we piled back into the car to make the drive home.  About 20 minutes into our trip, tragedy struck.  My friend Kevin, who was sitting in the back seat with me, began to have a seizure.  At first we thought he was kidding, but quickly realized that it was real.

Sarah, our driver, pulled over immediately.  The girl sitting in the passenger seat, Rebecca, jumped out of the car and called 911 while Sarah and I quickly tried to get Kevin lay down onto his side.  As Kevin laid on the backseat of the car becoming sick, Rebecca struggled to give the 911 operator our location, and Sarah and I yelled at Kevin trying to get him to respond.  When the police arrived, they tried asking Kevin simple questions.

“What’s your name?”

“What year is it?”

“Where are you?”

Growing more and more frustrated, Kevin tried to answer the questions but he was unable to respond. The ambulance arrived shortly after and decided that he needed to be transported to a hospital.  They took him up the road to St. Margaret’s for preliminary testing, and Sarah, Rebecca, and I continued our drive home – drained and shaken from the events of that night.  At about 4 a.m. I got a text from Kevin’s mother telling me that there were abnormalities on his brain and he was being sent to UPMC for more intense testing.  Later, I got the news of the bleeding in Kevin’s brain.  While his motor skills remained strong, his speech and memory had been affected.
Yesterday, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook were flooded with posts about Kevin.  Positive thoughts and prayers were sent to him throughout the day from his loving family and friends.  Kevin is still in the ICU at UPMC and is being monitored by doctors.  They’re not sure if his speech and memory will come back 100%, but have confidence that he will improve during speech therapy.

 
The words of Joshua 1:9 comfort me.  This verse has become life verse. Over the past 36(ish) hours, I have said it to myself over and over again.  It’s a constant reminder that God is in control.  Kevin is in good hands and will (hopefully) come out of this stronger and better than ever.
If you have a minute to spare today, say a prayer for my friend Kevin. Ask God to help him be strong.

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Kulia i ka nu’u

“Strive for the summit.”

–Hawaiian proverb

To visit Haleakala, a dormant volcano designated national park in 1961, for the magnificent sunrise is a Maui tradition.  The journey to the summit is a perfect parable for this blog.  Yesterday we arose at 2am to travel in the dark to the lookout before sunrise.  Driving up the twisting switchbacks (and down again, later) proved a challenge for some of our travelers’ inner-ears and stomaches.  10,000 feet above sea-level in the dark and wind was surprisingly and uncharacteristically cold for our group that packed for Maui beaches and left its Northface gear at home.  Needless to say, by 5:30 stomaches and tempers were growling fiercely.

But when dawn broke and the sun peaked over the fluffy clouds and filled the crater with glowing light, radiant heat warmed our goosebumps and our attitudes.  Standing in the middle of the south-pacific and observing a once-in-a-lifetime sunrise in full panoramic, the memory of the dark morning seemed distant and making the trip was worth it.

Legend of Haleakala (link also includes time-lapse video of the sunrise)

There is a legend that tells the origin of Haleakala’s spectacular sunrise.

The demi-god Maui and his mother, Hina, lived near Rainbow Falls in Hilo on the island of Hawaii. Hina would make kapa from the bark of the wauke and mamaki tree, and the strips would be dyed with magnificent designs to form cloth. The kapa, however, would still be damp when night fell, and Hina would lament how the sun moved too quickly across the sky to dry the cloth.

Upon hearing this, the demi-god traveled to the island of Maui and climbed to the 10,000-foot summit of Haleakala, where the sun was asleep in the giant crater. Maui hid until morning and watched the sun begin his daily journey. As the first ray of sunshine appeared, Maui snared it with his lasso of twisted coconut fiber.

The sun demanded to be released, but Maui would not let go. “Promise me that you will move more slowly across the sky,” he told the sun. Left with no choice, the sun struck a bargain with the daring demi-god. He would move slowly for six months out of the year, and then move at his preferred pace for the other six months. Agreeing to the terms, Maui hurried home and told his mother the good news. As a reward, Hina made her son a new cape, and sure enough, it dried in one afternoon.

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