When the time came for me to step away from the corporate world to care for Mom, my mindset was riddled with fear of the unknown. I convinced myself that I could start a new career or even return to my old career if need be. Then when I had to have back surgery, I could only focus on the pain, and once again, the fear of the unknown crept into my mind. When I finally reached a major milestone a month after this surgery, I experienced a huge setback in my progress with a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. You guessed it, fear did not just creep in, I was consumed with fear.
Who would step in to take care of Mom and protect her as I have if I didn't make it? By the grace of God, I did not have to answer that question. I did have to find the courage to accept what I began to see as a setback to be a set-up for what is yet to come. I had to find the power to persevere towards a new beginning, no matter what. Self-talk can work in two ways. We can either build ourselves up with our hopes and dreams or tear ourselves down.
My next guess is the website founder of Power of Beginning, Theresa Patino, joining me to share how powerful a positive mindset can be in reclaiming your life. After suffering from a chronic illness for twenty-two years of Ulcerative Colitis, one might wonder how giving up was not an option. Going from 24 pills a day, an infusion treatment every six weeks, to multiple abdominal surgeries, finding peace in each new beginning was challenging. Restoring her health became a life-or-death priority.
Each surgery led to improvements with the hopes of it being the last. Each surgery also reminded Theresa about the importance of what she now refers to as medical maintenance. Theresa needed to find happiness while still being productive for work and family without allowing any negative self-talk to hinder her recovery. Rather than giving in to defeat and despair, Theresa kept searching for the meaning of each set-up.
During my recovery, Theresa began to share the countless struggles and setbacks she endured after her surgeries. When I experienced a pulmonary embolism, I was grateful to survive it, but it made me feel weaker than the back surgery. Theresa experienced a far more dangerous PE and shared valuable insight that helped me reclaim a place of calm. As a person who believes everything happens for a reason, it is still hard not to ask, “why is this happening?”
Since we made it across the medical cavern of uncertainty, it is easier to look back to see we had nothing to worry about all along, after the fact. The day would come that we could reclaim physical and mental strength. However, at the moment, the overwhelming feeling of fear and even loss clouded most mindful practices to remain positive. I laid in bed and read my book from Pat Sheveland, Living Life in the Middle: The Caregiver’s Guide to Healing, Hope and Harmony Through Multigenerational Living, to reclaim my hope through envisioning my physical body whole again, restored.
No sooner than I felt better about maintaining a slow but steady progress routine, I felt the winds through my mental sails go stagnant as I stared at my body in the mirror. It took me so many years of therapy to understand my past, find my source of motivation, and let go of many things, including perfectionism. My positive self-talk became reminders that there is only one, the one, the God, to be revered as perfect. I began to accept that I am imperfectly made in the image God had for me. And yet, I stared at my belly and back in the mirror with shock and disgust.
Sadly enough, my new body image was enough to make me forget I was given a blessing from the doctors, nurses, and my spouse to help me step into my new beginning. I was able to take steps again without pain, even though I knew my incisions would heal and lighten up. The swelling from inflammation post-surgery would eventually go down, but my mind was fighting to let go of what I saw before as perfect to what I was staring at now.
The more Theresa described how she felt both before and after surgery, the more I realized the difference between us at the moment was her strong, mindful practices. When it came to caring for Mom, I had no problem using my mindful practices to keep the progression of Dementia in an objective understanding. Somehow, as I looked at my body in the mirror, I struggled to do the same. Being mentally comfortable in my skin took practice to love myself unconditionally. Being physically comfortable would take what Theresa calls “medical maintenance” to another level.
Over the years and most recently, post-surgery, I have learned that God works in our weaknesses. He uses our life experiences to help us learn and grow. I did not understand how this worked for many years, so my only response was the perpetual childlike response of “Why is this happening?” When I took the time to reflect on events leading up to the moment, I could see how He was redirecting me. How He was teaching me to let go of things in this material world to embrace the path He had chosen for me.
Before my surgery, I did not listen to my body. I was incapable of tuning into the Spirit whispering within because my mind was clouded with painkillers. I did not believe I could do anything more than what I had been doing as an accountant. I started to allow the physical changes to identify me in place of capabilities. For us to succeed, we must first believe that we can. Every momentary, medical, financial, or spiritual setback is an opportunity to reset and tune in to God’s plan for your life.
There is power in delays because we can find our place and cultivate movement in our lives to redirect and reenergize. If you find yourself stuck from a perceived setback, consider this to be a new beginning with the following pointers.
1) Life feels like everything is piling up – Shake it off! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
2) Ask God – What is my purpose? Some are very focused, using their energies to reach unrealistic or materialistic goals. Others drift through life with little purpose or direction without considering where they are headed. Do you know why you live the way you do? Do you feel like life is unfair or just cannot recognize your purpose yet?
3) Painful endings – When one door closes, another door opens. If someone has tried to console you after losing a relationship, job, or life-long goal, then give this more thought. We hang on to things or people long after serving their purpose in our lives, so they become distractors from our purpose. God does not work in mysterious ways. He makes deliberate decisions.
4) Comfort zone – Sometimes painful endings come when we become too complacent in ordinary life when God has an extraordinary direction for you to grow towards. When gentle nudges do not work, then life may happen in such a way as to force us out of our comfort zone.
5) Reengineering your self-image – While we can’t always see the new beginning taking place when going through a painful ending, there are hidden blessings that flow throughout your experiences each day.
6) Fear NOT! – Psalm 23:4 (NIV) “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” We experienced the darkness of our mother’s womb before experiencing the light of life. Each hurdle you experience will be elevated into a higher level of being if you allow the change.
7) Shift your perspective – What you focus on will magnify and intensify. If you believe you deserve it, then focus on a plan to achieve what you desire most.
8) Express Gratitude – Allow your heart to connect to the countless things going right in your life. They are the stepping stones to a new beginning. If your mind and heart are set on gratitude, no fear, doubt, or worries can sabotage your plan.
9) Highlight your SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Every business has to acknowledge these four areas if they expect to succeed. When you apply these areas to your personal life, you are given a reliable road map to your new beginning or navigating your current journey.
Make a list – Sometimes, life happens while our mind is on autopilot, so we do not appreciate the magnitude of all the challenges we have overcome. Listing them out on paper or mentally may help you acknowledge the levels you have surpassed, the darkness is driven out, and the potential to rise even higher is revealed.
Thank you for joining in and listening today. I hope this episode gave you more food for thought. Until next time, BE PROACTIVE. Take care, everybody.
Intro: Vacation Time by Khris Paradise
Outro: Misty by Khris Paradise