We all deal with obstacles, stress, and anxiety in life. Some are easier to deal with than others; yet, the survivors hang in there and keep on plugging along. What you are about to read discusses my life as seen through the eyes of my disability, the philosophy of Mindfulness & Wellness, and wisdom. Each provides inspirational thoughts and insight into the human condition that cannot be found in any publication or from the experts.
My disability, Bipolar, has been part of my life ever since I was born. At the beginning of my life, I had emotional problems in which the Science and Medicine fields did not have much hope in my survival. Fortunately, with love, warmth, compassion from my parents who taught me never to give up hope and keep on fighting, I survived and overcame an emotional rollercoaster lasting for the first 45 years of my life.
Throughout the years, I found the philosophies of Mindfulness and Wellness soothing and comforting to find peace, harmony, tranquility, and closure. It was through these practices that I began to emerge and evolve as my own person, with my own beliefs and values.
As I reflect upon my past to see where I have been, and look in the present moment to see what direction I am headed in, I must digress for a moment, and reflect on the years of service my eyes and ears provided me listening and observing society as a whole, and figuring out what is acceptable and unacceptable in my world. For years, other people would tell me how to do things and act. It was only recently, where I took control of my life and made the leap in maturity to acting my age.
My past is deep and dark; however, it is important to live in the present moment and not in the past because if you do, it will eat up inside of you. By treating the past with dignity, integrity, respect, and honor; I can provide myself a service of taking the lessons learned, and making them applicable to my existence and life.
During the Middle and High School years, members of my peers made my life miserable while I was receiving an education at school. Looking back, I now realize that they were making fun of my disability because they were probably uncomfortable being around me and did not know how to deal with my actions. Their reaction was to pick on me and tease me. However, I must give them credit…..they always did it with class and dignity by never shoving me in a locker, never taking my lunch money, never using violence, and always allowed me to leave school at the end of the day in one piece.
Between the ages of 15 and 22, I was struggling to survive emotionally. My mother was diagnosed with Cancer when I was 15. All of a sudden, I had to take fend for myself and she became the number one priority. In addition, my father took all of his aggression out on me from that point on, until his death when I was 22. It was not his fault; rather his way of dealing with my problems and her in a loving way (eventhough, at times, I felt hopeless, helpless, ashamed, lost, confused, I also had low self-esteem & confidence among other things). This experience gave me the strength, the power, and taught me that when the chips are down, life can bring the best out of you. Today, I have the patience and compassion of a saint because of what I experienced with my parents and what I had tolerate. In essence, I had to put adolescence on hold and leap mentally from age 15 to adulthood. At first, it was a difficult time; however, as time warranted on and I could see the struggles my parents were dealing with, my respect and admiration towards them grew. I know they are in heaven looking down upon who I have become and are proud.
There are few critics, who cannot or will not see the forest from the trees. In my opinion, it is their problem and not mine. They are missing the boat and a wonderful opportunity to have an adult mature relationship that has been long overdue. I cannot force them to change their ways. If they do not want to change, I can respect and accept it. After all, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and lead a life as they see fit. You only live once. Those that want to improve will. There is a glimmer of hope for all individuals to change for the better and improve the quality of their life in one way or the other.
For the first 45 years of my life, I had no direction and people were telling me what to do. Eventually, I had enough of this and got mad at the world. With the help of a therapist, I was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, change my life around, and am now a happy camper and at peace with myself. I now know who I am and if they do not want to accept or respect me for who I am today and not the way I was in the past, then that is fine with me. Life is too short to fight the small stuff.
Achieving and living your dreams is amazing. Believing yourself, being persistent, and not listening to the nay-sayers is the name of the game. Because of I have a disability, most people thought I was incompetent and incorrigible. It was uncommon and rare to find individuals in my life, with the exception of my teachers in Middle & High School, my doctors, and some other people who were in my corner. They offered emotional support when I them saw during business hours at their place of employment. For years, I was fighting an uphill battle to be accepted and respected in society by other people. Through trial and error, I eventually realized that I had to change for me and nobody else. Once all of my ducks were in order, and my focus shifted towards me, I became grounded and disciplined in how I conducted myself mentally, physically, emotionally, psychologically, and physiologically. These elements provide a powerful network that makes me a whole person.
When I was 16, I wanted to learn how to drive a car. With the limited depth perception in my eyes, members of my family thought I was crazy to do this. Then one day, an uncle of mine, offered to teach me how to drive a car. PS, I took the road test and passed with no mistakes on the very first try. My parents could not believe it and for the next year, we were fighting over of when I could drive a car.
I started my college career at a Community College. It was always my dream to attend one of the local colleges since I was a child. People told me that my dream would never become a reality. However, low and behold, I applied to the local university, got accepted, and almost graduated Cum Lauda with a BA in Psychology.
Mindfulness and Wellness provides me the tools and foundation of my core’s existence in life. By practicing and believing the science of both philosophies, my life has been enhanced and enriched in terms of being in peace and grounded with myself. No longer am I depending on someone else to maneuver my buttons. I am steering my own ship and making my own decisions.
Since I was born, I have been a student of the human condition. Throughout my life, I have witnessed and observed different aspects and capacities of what life has to offer in terms of strengths and weakness, optimism & negativity. Each individual is unique and beats to their own drum. In our society, we live in a melting pot where we agree, disagree, fight, argue, etc. Those are the fibers in which we live and subscribe to. Finding common ground is sometimes easier said than done when one or more individuals at a time are trying to reach the same goal but from different angles and points-of-view.
Discrepancies require good communication from all parties, where the senders and receivers of the message are listening & digesting what is being heard before responding and throughout the conversation. Healthy dialogue is more effective than arguing. It is good for the mind, body, and spirit because one is at peace & stressors are not visible on the body.
Speaking of stress, one of the rituals I practice on a daily basis for 15 minutes, is mediation. At first when I was approached to try it, I was skeptical. However, once I tried it and got used to it, I began to relax. The anger of being mad at the world began to subside, I became less anxious, my body was relaxed, and you know the rest.
Being kind and respectful towards others is an art and discipline in its own right. The rewards themselves speak volumes of goodness to one’s heart and soul. Kindness provides an outlet to show your caring side (whether it is donating your time to a not-for-profit organization such as a church, or funds to a charity. It comes in many ways.
A Random Act of Kindness, is where you do something for a complete stranger of the clear blue. For example, you might pay for the person’s groceries who is standing behind you at the checkout counter at the supermarket or hold the door for a stranger. The list goes on and on. You might not feel the benefits, however, making someone’s day is a good deed which says a lot about character.
As human beings, we each have our own rituals, idiosyncrasies, habits, strengths, and weaknesses (just to name a few). Those who tolerate and respect the differences among each other, have a better chance of getting along than those who do not.
We all have our likes, dislikes, tastes, and preferences. That is the uniqueness of each individual. Conflict of interest arises when acknowledgment of expressing opinions is presented in brutally honest ways. It is better sometimes to bite your tongue and be evasive, rather than express your thoughts to individuals who are different than you. This could possibly prevent uneasiness, anger, frustration, sadness, etc. to the individual being attacked. Over the years, I have experienced these elements and many others. I must tell you, it is not fun living in a society where you are stigmatized just because you do things differently, or act differently than a non-disabled person.
Our lives and lifestyles go hand-in-hand. Some are busier than others, while some are simpler and easier than others. Making the appropriate decisions to accommodate one’s life and way of living, might be different from household-to-household. Respecting and accepting this, goes along with friendships and relationships.
As a direct result of this metamorphosis and change in attitude and behavior, I tend to feel the presence of my deceased parents looking down on me from heaven and hugging me. For those of individuals who have lost a loved one, I hope you can relate. There is nothing more beautiful, spiritual, and self-fulfilling than having this experience.