In 2010, I was stripped of who I was through a brain illness called Encephalitis. I lost all physical abilities, much of my memory as well as some of my cognitive function – and was given no hope of recovery. All of this began while I was working as a teacher in the war zone known as the Gaza Strip. After waking from an almost 30 day coma, and discovering the extent of my setback, I realized that I had 2 choices – resign or rebuild. I chose to rebuild.
In rebuilding, I had the gift of being able to do so with intention. It included relearning to do things I had previously taken for granted but now learned to do so with gratitude; starting with brushing my teeth, sitting up, taking a shower, walking, talking and even thinking.
Through that process, I learned what a magnificent and uncharted territory our brain is with its immense yet untapped potential and how vital it is to access my brain’s remarkable ability to restructure, reconnect and rebuild.
My mission is to educate people so they too can believe in the immense capacity of the brain-mind conspiracy to create the life they envision!
A person does not need a near death experience to learn how to transform their life. What they need is an understanding of the miraculous potential and scientific reality of the brain’s neuroplasticity, its ability to create new pathways that can, indeed, revolutionize their everyday lives.
I will forever be grateful that I was stripped of my old ways of thinking and being, and was forced to find a way to rebuild, creating a new identity, and in doing so, discovered immeasurably more than I ever thought possible!
“You don’t have it get it perfect, you just have to get it going” Several people, including Jack Canfield, have said this, or some version of it.
So many times we hesitate in taking the next step because we worry that we won’t do it perfectly. Here’s the good news – WE DON’T HAVE TO! In fact, I would be so bold as to say that it’s better if we don’t! Why!? Because then we have to try harder – and it’s through that sustained effort that real breakthroughs are accomplished!
So often our perception is that we need “more” (more skills, more money, more support, etc) in order to take the next steps. When we learn to see progress as a series of baby-steps rather than one big leap, it is easier to muster the courage to take the next step, realizing that I CAN DO THIS with the skill, money, support, etc that I CURRENTLY HAVE.
After I had finally come out of my almost 30 day coma, I realized that I had extremely limited physical abilities. I couldn’t walk or even sit up, I couldn’t raise my hands very high at all, I couldn’t stand unassisted, so I needed help for everything. One of those things I got help with was to take a shower. For some reason, the nurse who helped me take my first shower seemed to have it in for me. She place my wheelchair in the shower stall so I was facing her and turned on the water. She pointed the water nozzle at me and sprayed me full in the face. Because I was unable to lift my arms and so couldn’t get my hand any higher than my shoulders, I could only flail helplessly while I sputtered on coughed as the water sprayed into my face. I felt humiliated as I sat there, trying and failing to protect myself, while the nurse stood holding the water nozzle on me.
Finally she sprayed me all over, finished my shower and rolled me back to my room. I struggled to get from my wheelchair to my bed and lay down, defeated. As I lay there I reflected on what had just happened. I was determined that the next time I needed a shower, I would do it myself….. but how?
There was no way at all that I could get my hands up far enough to enable me to wash my own hair or body, so I devised a plan. I sat on the edge of my bed and slowly and painfully bent my head towards my right shoulder while raising my right hand as far up as I could and then repeating the process on my left side. When I started, my hands couldn’t even reach my head at all, but I kept trying, day after excruciating day. I had decided that all I needed to do was to be able to reach the tips of my fingers across the centre of the top of my head, as this would enable me to wash and rinse my hair. I wasn’t looking for perfection right away, I just needed to get the job done.
By the time I needed a shower again, however, I still couldn’t reach the top of my head so I asked a kind Turkish nurse if she would please help me. I don’t speak Turkish and she didn’t speak much English but we managed to understand each other and so she helped me. I was grateful but still determined to be able to shower myself.
I continued my practice of sitting on the edge of my bed, bending my head over as far as I could to the right and the left while forcing my arms to lift my hands a little higher each time. Finally, after a few days, I was able to feel my fingertips cross the middle of the top of my head! SUCCESS! I knew I’d finally be able to give myself a shower.
The next day I wheeled myself down to the shower room and backed into a shower stall. I still had great difficulty with my strength and mobility but I finally got everything set up for me to take my own shower.
I turned on the water and wet down my hair, carefully bending my head from side to side so I could make sure my head was properly soaked. I poured shampoo into my hand and carefully rubbed that through, one side at a time, until I could feel that I had washed all my hair. Next came the moment I had been preparing for! Slowly, carefully and painstakingly, I rinsed my hair, bending my head as far as I could, first to the right, then to the left, while bringing my hands up on either side as far as I could. I rinsed thoroughly, making sure I couldn’t feel any shampoo in my hair. I had difficulty washing my body too due to my limited and painful mobility but I did my best before shutting the water off and wheeling myself back to my room.
I checked the time. That shower had taken almost an hour and a half – but I had done it myself! After days of preparing, I had reached my goal! Never again would I need help to take a shower!
But I was completely exhausted and needed to sleep for the rest of the day. I slept with the pride and satisfaction of knowing I had won the day!
Was my life perfect? It depends on who you ask. Compared to the life I had before the coma, maybe things still weren’t looking very good, but compared to the life I had a few days before, I had made incredible progress! For me, that was the perfect end to the day, and indeed, to that week.
You don’t have to get it perfect, just get it going. I had definitely gotten it going!
Our perception can be “I need more before I can start” but reality says, “start now, and you’ll get more”
Don’t let your perception hold you back from pushing forward. Push, and watch the doors open for you, because you don’t have to get it perfect, you just have to get it going.
Linda blends warmth, wisdom and humour into every presentation. Enjoy the ride!