I had a stroke on June 20, 2013 at the age of 36. I was in the shower when all the sudden I felt a jolt of pain shoot down the left side of my body leaving me with the feeling that I could not move my left arm or left leg. I was terrified because I knew something was wrong and I did not understand what was happening to me. I was later admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with having had a stroke. The morning of my stroke was like any other normal day, except, I vividly remember having this thought: “what if I suffered a major illness or accident, would I survive? Would I be able to handle something like that?” I remember thinking to myself, no, I don’t think I would be able to. Then, just hours later, I was in a hospital bed unable to control the movement in my left leg. Amid facing and adjusting to my new unwelcomed reality, I learned a lot about myself, and the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.
Prior to my stroke, my entire perspective on health was solely based on the number on the scale. I spent most of my young adult life on fad diets. I had never seriously considered the impact that living with that type of short-term view on health could have on lasting wellness. While the experience of having a stroke was shocking, the impact has changed my life for the better. Here are three important things I learned: Wellness is a marathon, not a sprint. Inner peace comes from having more trust in the universe and that there is a sense of being supported in life that comes from embracing spirituality.
Wellness is A Marathon, not a Sprint
The key step in my journey towards lifelong wellness was shifting my mindset and letting go of just focusing on weight, and the habitual eating patterns of “dieting”. I became intentional and mindful about food and exercise and established a more balanced lifestyle. I began to look at everything I put in my body as either a step towards health or towards disease. The more I educated myself on the impact of what I was putting into my body, the easier it became to make better day-to-day choices. I no longer felt prisoner to that constant inner battle over everything I was eating, because that struggle was being overpowered by a deeper desire for real wellness. I now live with the comfort of better health because I no longer focus on short term goals.
Trust in Life
Having a stroke taught me that I am not always in control of everything that happens to me. I began to realize that believing I was in control of everything, had been unhealthy and robbed me of a lot happiness. During that time, life seemed difficult and I always felt like a fish swimming upstream. When things weren’t working out, I thought the answer was just to try harder. And when trying harder did not work, I felt like I failed. At that point in my life, it hadn’t yet occurred to me that these experiences that I saw as disappointments were truly opportunities. I was surprised that I was surviving and managing changes that I believed I would be unable to handle. I developed a sense of trust that the difficult experiences I faced allowed me personal growth. The seemingly unfair events I now could see were nudges or wake-up calls from the universe that the direction I was trying to go was not serving my greater purpose. I felt happier and lighter, like a burden had been lifted. Accepting that I couldn’t control everything and that I didn’t need to have all the answers, relieved a lot of pressure I had been putting on myself. Having more trust in life and in the universe allowed me to flow more with life, live with more ease, and be more open minded.
I think of spirituality as the vastness of teachings, beliefs, tools, ideas, vibes that inspire positive change and bring a greater sense of peace and well-being day-to-day. Through becoming more spiritual, I discovered a richer and more meaningful way to live. Instead of my old “go it alone” way, I now ask for guidance, sometimes through prayer, or mantras, or meditations when life seems overwhelming or I feel confused about what I should be doing. It is amazing how answers show up, sometimes in mysterious ways, but always providing me with faith that I am being supported by the universe.