Beauty in the Brain

My body was a pincushion, my brain a pile of broken glass.

Imagine you are a long distance runner, running fifteen miles at a time, the most you’ve ever done. Today, you decide to go twenty. At mile sixteen, you feel a twinge in the knees, a tug at the lungs. Mile seventeen, your feet are tired, your legs sore. By mile twenty you are exhausted, every bit of your body aches.

Imagine that pain every day of your life, multiplied many times over. Imagine it as pins and needles skidding across your nose and cheeks, poking into every muscle, every joint, sliding through your gut, your brain, your spleen. Imagine your life nothing but pain.

Brain injury victims are tortured constantly, both mentally and physically. Each injury is unique, leaving even the best doctors and scientists baffled. The brain is complicated, filled with approximately 100 billion neurons. It’s no wonder that when someone takes a bonk to the brain, the body turns into a mass of pain.

My chiropractor once told me the reason my body was in so much pain was because of all those neurons, those tiny little wires that got mixed-up when my brain got tossed around. I think he was right.

That chiropractor was the first person to discover the root of my pain, and he knew exactly what I needed to begin healing. Laser therapy would be my first step towards recovery.

I’m not exactly sure how laser therapy works. When I try to research it, I get funny explanations that involve words like ‘nanometer’ and ‘wavelength,’ things my mind will never wrap around. But I do know this, when the laser was aimed at my brain, I began to improve. That first simple step led me to find other ways to heal.

The next step was food, whole, healthy protein, and tons of fruits and vegetables. Because of my husband and my naturopath, I learned that the source of life is life itself. I learned to eat again.

The more I healed, the more I wanted to. It was during my third step that I knew I was in for a drastic change. I discovered yoga. I learned how to breathe, relax, let tension fall from my body. My blood pressure went down, and my pain began to decrease.

Such simple steps. Such amazing results. As I look back, I remember thinking my injury was this big cumbersome thing I could never get over. At the time, it felt like it. The fact is, healing was waiting for me, behind every small step I took. I just couldn’t see it until I stepped away.

There is beauty in the brain, in its ability to take life away, and to give it back. I found it all, one small step at a time.

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Regrets, I’ve Had a Few

Regrets. We all have them. Arguments that lead to failed relationships, bad financial decisions, a haircut gone terribly wrong. If only we could go back in time. If only we could do it all over again. But we can’t.

I remember when I was little, how I giggled at silly moments, and cried when I watched Bambi. I remember running through the park, playing Frisbee and soccer. I remember creating concoctions, painting, and drawing funny pictures. A childhood like everyone’s. Each day a memory waiting to be created.

But I began to grow up, and slowly lost pieces of me, until one day, I was a mere shell of the child within.

We all grow older. That’s not the part I regret. What I regret is this: I regret not having enough fun as a young mother. I regret not showing my children the joy of being an adult. I regret not telling my sons to hold on to childhood, to dream like there’s no tomorrow, to laugh like it’s your last, and to play. To always play.

And I regret this: That my children saw a mom in a pencil skirt who stressed over perfectly-made beds and well-scrubbed floors; That they saw someone too serious, who didn’t giggle enough, or play, or dance beneath the rain; That we never painted daisies on the dining room wall.

I was lucky. I was given another chance. And I took it. I turned my regrets to laughter, my remorse to dreams. No, I couldn’t change time, but I could change my ways. Though my children will probably always remember a too-solemn mother, I hope they now see a new and different me. I hope they see a mom with a little girl left inside of her.

My boys had fun when they were little – I heard it in their shrieks of laughter, saw it in their smiles of delight. And as teens, each day was a new day just waiting to be discovered.

But now they are young men, determined, hard-working, qualities of which I have no regrets. I watch them, tired and worn-out, and wonder, did I teach them how to play? Did I teach them to keep a piece of the child inside?

I want them to see the joy in being an adult, to know they can still dance and play, that they can still sing in the rain. I want them to know that growing older isn’t the same as growing up.

Regrets. We all have them. I know I do. But I learned, and found pieces of me I had forgotten. Though none of us can change time, we can change our ways.

Laugh a lot, dance a little, sing often. Find a piece of the child inside of you.

A note from Frank Sinatra:

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High Expectations

Hints of a hectic life sit by my desk. Two long lists, the first a detailed one of everything I need (or is it want?) to do to help me achieve my work goals. The second, though shorter, contains household chores I am certain will never be completed.

Without these lists, I know I wouldn’t remember everything. Yet with them, I am reminded daily of what I haven’t done, of all I am not capable of. I am frustrated, often filled with shame. Such guilt, such horrifyingly high expectations of myself.

Much of my guilt is placed there by me, I know this is true. We are victims of ourselves. But the rest of my shame is placed by society, by the harried, frenzied demands of an overworked world, a world that tells me I am not enough. A society that encourages me to do more.

But I can’t.

I am tired, of guilt. I am tired, of shame. I am tired of feeling like I am not enough. And I’ve decided to do something about it.

I’ve created a third list. But this isn’t a list of things to do. It is a list of all I have done.

Here is my list from last week:
Made the bed, cooked dinners, made breakfast, shopped for groceries, completed errands, washed dishes, cleaned bathrooms, dusted, cleaned the kitchen, scrubbed floors, vacuumed, washed clothes, exercised daily, walked, organized drawers, paid bills, made phone calls, wrote and posted three blogs, wrote and posted on author page, worked on memoir, finished reading one book and began another, social media, worked on class, watched a soccer game, went to the farmers market, spent time with husband. I know there’s more – little chores tossed between the big ones, insignificant, tiny things we often think don’t matter.

We do a lot in a week, more than we remember. I encourage you to make your own list. Write down all you have done in a week, a day, or even an hour.

You are enough.

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Be Still. Listen.

Mindfulness. It’s a practice, a reminder of the world around us. Phones ring, salesmen knock, work calls from every direction. Life sometimes feels like a constant, mindless activity. But I don’t think it is supposed to be that way. I think we are meant to stop, enjoy life and live, not only for ourselves, but for others, and for God.

It’s hard to find time to be still. And even when we do, it is even harder to quiet our minds. But if we don’t stop? What if we choose to live in a constant state of stress, what will happen? Turns out, plenty.

Stress brings on many problems, everything from the common cold to heart disease. www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress.aspx Stress is more than a feeling in our minds, it’s a factor wreaking havoc in our bodies.

In the book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, by Dale Carnegie,* Carnegie interviews people whose lives have been severely affected by stress. When stress was removed, diseases were often eliminated.

What can you do while living in a society that seems to promote stress? First, learn to breathe. Deep breathing has been shown to have many benefits, including lowering blood pressure and improving mood. Second, take time to be still. Listen to the world, and appreciate all you have. Third, there is plenty to read online. If you need a few ideas, I encourage you to check www.michelleacker.com. Michelle has some great tips for learning to be mindful, even in the midst of chaos.

Learn to be mindful, even in the midst of chaos Click To Tweet

It’s taken me a long time to learn how to be mindful. Yet, with all my practice, I still struggle. Some weeks I schedule it on my calendar, or tape a note to my computer-a quiet reminder to stop and listen to the world around me.

This is for you, for those whose lives are in constant motion, whose harried days never end. Stop, be still and listen, if only for a moment.

 

Be Still. Listen.

 

Be still.

Listen.

To your breath.

To the beat of your heart.

To life.

 

Listen to the world.

To the whisper of the trees,

And the dance of the hummingbird

On a red-laced rose.

 

Listen to the wind

That whispers your name,

That dances through the trees,

And stands among the weeds.

 

Listen to the frogs

And crickets sing,

And praying mantis plays its funky tune.

 

Listen to the children

That laugh and cry,

And scream at bubbles in the air.

 

Listen.

To your heart.

To life.

 

Be still.

Listen.

 

*Note- I am an Amazon Affiliate, which simply means if you purchase through my site I receive a commission.

 

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It’s All a Lie

They line the fronts of magazines, flash before us in television commercials: Girls with impeccable skin and immovable glossy hair; buff young men with pearly whites glistening against artificially tanned bodies, tossing back bottles of beer and bags of crispy chips.

But wait, there’s more: Ads of shiny silver cars careening on winding seaside roads, drivers and passengers laughing, donned in seamlessly-pressed attire; Women smiling widely, barely a wrinkle on their aging skin; Older men, not a gray hair in sight.

Pictures of perfection.

They are all a lie.

We are fed lines of grand illusions, shown images that lead us to believe if we wear certain shoes we will be popular; if we dine at restaurants, wear irresistible lip gloss or spicy cologne, our lives will be better. We will be better. Because, according to advertisers, we are not perfect. And without these things, these images placed before our eyes, we can never achieve perfection.

In some weird way, they are right. We aren’t perfect. And society has led us to believe that that’s not okay. We are told to wear makeup to hide our skin, perfumed lotions to hide our scent, and to cover our bodies with brand-named jeans and t-shirt. We are told that our faults, our crinkles and lines, uneven ears and crooked noses, will be shunned by society, will make us unwelcome and unpopular in our world.

I don’t believe advertisers, and I don’t want you to, either. It is our unique imperfections that make us so beautiful. It is our flaws that set us apart. We were created to be imperfect, tilted noses, uneven eyes, and crinkled ears.

Each of us is flawed, full of beautiful imperfections. Click To Tweet

None of us is perfect. Even the models on television are flawed. They hide behind screens and touch-ups we cannot see. But at the end of the day, their hair falls flat, their eyes turn bloodshot and weary, and their face no longer glows. At the end of the day, they are as human as we.

Accept your imperfections. Be perfectly imperfect. You were meant to be that way.

That is not a lie.

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