Plateau

They warned me it would happen. When you are improving, getting closer to your goals, and showing great strides, there comes a time when you just get stuck. (I know, thanks.) No matter how hard you work, you feel like you’re on a treadmill going nowhere!

I am there. I am on the plateau. I haven’t really progressed lately. I need a ‘new trick.’ That’s what I’m experiencing. Up until now, when I greeted people I had a ‘new trick’ to show them. Now I’m stranded out there on a tall monolithic mountain with nowhere to go.

It’s not as exciting, that’s for sure! I understand the need for resignation (that means hanging in there with a driven purpose,) especially at this juncture in my rehabilitation. Endurance is the keyword in anything we are working towards. Don’t quit. We really might be advancing, but we just can’t see it. Just keep swinging. (I gotta say to all of you sitting on the plateau, “Hang in there.” But I’m really speaking to myself!)

12 Truths

I saw these 12 Truths online. The author is unknown, but it led me to some serious pondering. I retyped and added an autumn background. (Hey, ’tis the season.) Every one of these rang true to me. See if you feel the same.

1. The past cannot be changed.

We all have a past. (We weren’t born yesterday.) Our baggage might be filled with cherished memories or some things we would rather forget. It could be some of each. No matter what our past encompasses, it was what it was. And it will never change. We don’t possess a miraculous time machine to alter our pasts. (I’d be the first in line!) Looking back in retrospection, would we really want to? Those years formulated who we are. If we allow those times to mold us into a negative, unkind person, then all those years of experiences were for naught. My past is sprinkled with good and bad, but it’s my goal to mix all my year’s of life adventures into a potpourri of valuable knowledge and cherished wisdom.

2. Opinions don’t define your reality.

There are as many opinions out there as people. Many think that you should adopt their belief system or be hated. We should accept others despite their views, but we don’t have to conform with them. (Love the person, not what the action.) If only warring societies could only understand that concept. Various groups endeavor to sway us to embrace their current agendas or opinions, but we have the free agency to choose our own paths. When an opinion tries to limit you they can peacefully be proven wrong. (Like the doctors who said I’d be a vegetable the rest of my life. I will eventually walk up to them and say, “Ha!” I will do it on my ‘Victory Tour.’) Be true to yourself. Make your own choices. Just because the idea is popular doesn’t make it correct. (Don’t be a lemming!)

3. Everyone’s journey is different.

If you have numerous children you understand all too well. Their origins stem from the same place, but they are vastly different. Their paths follow different roads due to their personalities, choices, and sometimes just plain dumb luck. Everyone out in this great big world is experiencing their own trials and hardships. (Some are more public than others. Take it from me!) We all have our load (or loads) to bear in this life. No one is charmed, even if they look the part. You just never know what they could be going through. When the stranger in the car next to you does something brainless or rude, before you get mad, stop and think for a minute. What is their story? Why could they be acting this way? (Yeah, there are flat-out jerks out there.) But I have faith the majority of people are inherently good. Try to live with an understanding that behind the perfect curb-appeal facade or the jerk facade people struggle with a myriad of trials that we can’t even begin to comprehend. Be more forgiving of others and their weaknesses. We have them, too!

4. Things always get better with time. 

I know my recovery is moving at a caterpillar’s pace, but I will not give up just because I’m feeling a little impatient. (Or a lot!) Events always appear to be the worst when we’re in the thick of them. Time does help heal any wound, maybe not fully, but it helps. Keep the wound clean and well cared for so it doesn’t fester. (That means have a good attitude!) Example: I like Peeps when they’re rock solid, just less than petrified. (I know I’m weird.) I will buy a package, poke a big hole in it, hide it, and wait about a week. If I want to enjoy them the way I like them, I must wait. That’s my crazy example, but many things in our lives get much, much better with time. My marriage is a prime example. I thought we were great at first, but times that by 10,000 almost thirty years later. To sum up my thoughts: Be patient, and try. (Take a chill pill. I’m speaking theoretical, of course.)

5. Judgements are a true view of character.

Picture the “Mirror, mirror on the wall.” This magical reflective oracle was painfully honest. The way you judge others also reveals your true inner attributes. Many grapevine gossip stories start with one making a snap judgement. How many storylines involve misconceptions? (More than I can count!) How more simplified would life be if we eradicated these altogether? We should avoid judging altogether. It’s not our job. When we judge, informed or not, we display to the world the worst versions of our self. Like Dieter F. Uctdorf said of judging “Stop it!”

6. Overthinking leads to sadness.

Take it from a professional over thinker, I have hashed and rehashed every detail of my live countless times. (I especially did it when I couldn’t move!) Your overactive, worrisome brain can cause unrelenting turmoil for yourself. My husband always says, “Don’t waste a worry.” This time-squandering process of remembering and speculating is pointless. (You know how the worst day’s details run over and over through your head in a loop. Some call it PTSD.) Take on the attitude of ‘it was what it was’ or ‘it will be what it will be.’ Do you really think you can change the past? (Let me know when they invent that.) You can, although, create a better future. Don’t spend your precious time on the negative or self-torture with unneeded rehashing of the past or worrying about the future. Follow Elsa’s advice, “Let it go!”

7. Happiness is found within.

You know those people who are unbelievably happy while their house is figuratively burning down around them? Why do you think that is? Attitude, a positive one. I would love a luxurious mansion and a sleek sports car with all the conceivable bells and whistles. Then give me a full-size Barbie closet with a huge wardrobe and every cool piece of bling. Take me to a tropic isle several times a year. I could have it all materially and still be unhappy inside without my family, faith, and hope for the future. (Many don’t possess those!) True happiness can’t be bought on Amazon. It is only something you can conjure up inside yourself. (Get crackin’!)

8. Positive thoughts produce positive results.

This one’s a no-brainer, but it is so incredibly hard to actually do. It is so easy to say, “Woe’s me!” when times get hard. But keeping your chin up, head high, and spirits elevated is a little harder. When I was working in accounting, I had a sign on the wall that said, “I Can Do Hard Things.” It was there to remind me when the books didn’t balance, I have it in me to keep hunting down that error. Or when I was on hold on the phone with the IRS for five hours, I remembered that I could be doing something worse. (Even after hours of that annoying hold music!) Mentioning phones, don’t forget you can phone a friend. Being positive is easier with company. If they’re a thoughtful friend, they will help you see a sunny side of the situation you haven’t considered. (You can’t grow roses with turnip seeds!) You only recieve what you give. Give it a good one!

9. Smiles are contagious.

Have you ever tried walking down the street with a big grin on your face? I have. It’s a great experiment. I traveled a block with a sour expression, and everyone looked away, were super quiet or equally returned a blank expression. Then on the next block all I did was smile. The people I passed spoke to me with a happy greeting and consequently returned my smile with a smile. How can you possibly be unhappy with a smile on your face? Smiling should be on the top ten most contagious diseases list. (Kill ’em with kindness!)

10. Kindness is free.

Speaking of kindness… it acts as another magnifying glass to the soul. It might be an inconvenience, but nothing can be a substitute for the awesome feeling you’ll take away. (Kindness is addictive!) Most of the time all it takes is a quick split-second gesture. Pay attention to your conscience to assist you in identifying who and what is at need. All you must do is forget yourself and take the first step. Then your heart will take control. (Engaging your auto-pilot.) Kindness will never go out of style. Those simple gestures don’t cost a cent to perform, but they’re worth way more! (I remember every kind act I have performed!) When you show care for another it is the most human thing you can do. Be human, be kind.

11. You only fail if you quit.

No matter what your current goal is, “Keep on swimming, keep on swimming!” Dory knew the secret. (When she remembered it.) Don’t ever quit. If you continue to persevere, failure is not an option. You might stumble, you might fall, but the race isn’t over until you cross that finish line. It might be a lifelong race! Who knows? Don’t ever throw your hands (hand) up and admit defeat. It might involve a portion of the “P” word. (Patience.) You will get Heavenly points for trying. But seriously, it will be worth it!

12. What comes around goes around.

You know the saying. ‘What you give is what you’ll ultimately get.’ (Destiny.) Fate is an unforgiving reward squad. I personally don’t want negative just desserts. So my little kismet insurance policy is to be a good person. Kismet is a Turkish word which originally meant ‘to divide.’ Now they use it to describe fate or destiny, what one deserves. I enjoy those movie scenes that show a bad person’s fate strike them. But good people also get what’s coming. I believe that’s how it works. Usually it won’t be rewarded here on earth, but we will get what we deserve at one time or another. (I wish you the best of kismet!)

Shake It Up

​It hearkens back to an old fifties exercise machine. (Let’s jiggle the fat away!) And it also seems like bit of a preposterous notion. This vibration machine really does exercise your core and legs, with not a big effort on my part. I just had to hold on and not let my legs buckle. The first experience I was given a goal of ten minutes, but after six I was toast. As you can tell from the video, I had mounds of fun talking and singing while I shook. Sometimes the therapist had to stop it, because I was laughing so hard. (Keep on wiggling!) “Good vibrations!


The Dance

Much Beckstead history is related to this song. When I hear it, I am carried back to days gone by. We lost three important pieces of the family puzzle within about four years. My husband’s nephew, brother and father all left us prematurely. We named our son after all of them, in a way. (Riley is Ryan and Billy combined, and his middle is a family name.) This family is not strangers to loss and hard times. At each funeral the song, “The Dance,” by Garth Brooks was played.

The haunting, yet beautiful, beginning and ending measures of solitary piano notes mean love and loss to me. It is difficult to hold the water works due to the history it encompasses for me. I adore the message of this song.

The other day I heard it on the radio and back washed the memories of those beloved, but I also possess a new perspective of this song post-stroke.

I am truly happy it wasn’t sung for me in August 2016. (I can’t lie!) I have experienced loss though. Loss for my former life. Loss for what could’ve been. Loss for over a year of the everyday times I missed with my family.

What would I have done if I was aware this event was coming? How would I have prepared? What would’ve I appreciated more? Would I have cleaned the house more or spent an increased amount of time expressing my love. (Would I have ridden a bull named Fumanchu? Wrong song.) But my attention might have been elsewhere. I could have missed “the dance.” So many wonderful times I experienced before… 

I believe it’s more advantageous I didn’t comprehend what the future held. But if I could have changed it, would I have? (Well, yeah!) But looking back on the things I have learned, the actual wisdom I now possess, the awesome people I have met, the dear friends who have reached out to me and grown closer, the unbelievably kind acts of service given to me and my family, the home remodel I’ve wanted for years (a big-time honey-do,) the heartfelt “I love you’s” spoken, the incredibly loyal and capable husband I rediscovered, and the faith, hope, and sheer will I have acquired, or enhanced – I wonder. 

Did this great tragedy shape who I am now? Is this my ultimate test? (How long will it last? I am seriously over it.) But I understand I don’t get to pass go and collect two hundred dollars. I won’t receive a free pass through the pearly gates. I still must continue to endure and genuinely be a good person throughout my life.

The moral to this story – Live each day to the fullest. Be “the king,” and take charge of your life. Grab life by the horns, and hold on tight. With the sour comes the sweet. See the good in each and every one of your trials.

“I could’ve missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss – the – dance.”

Creativity

I was asked to speak to our local Stroke & Soup support group about Creativity

Mmmm, where do I begin? I have always prided myself on being pretty creative. It’s my key personality trait. (Well, I think it is.) I was voted the female Senior Superlative in high school as Most Creative. (It was my thang.) I tried every lesson in the book. I had to try it ALL! Throughout the years, I’ve spent countless hours on piano, dancing, calligraphy in many styles, singing alto, sign design, violin, silk screening, guitar, ballet, button design and construction, drawing, tole painting, manual and computer graphic design (I had to adapt over the years- things change,) photography, scrapbooking, party planning, rubber stamping, paper arts, chalk painting, flower arranging, jewelry design and beading. (Whew!) Some of these I even did as jobs! I constantly need to throw myself into something, not just watching the grass grow. (Too passive.) My mind must possess a project to chew on.

My husband calls my crafts “craps,” and he thinks I’m a hoarder. He doesn’t comprehend that crafters must hoard to be productive, and the work space might appearto be crazy when we’re in the “zone.” (Deal with it.)

So then one day the Creative Queen relinquished her title when she lost the use of her dominant right hand. She felt as though fate slammed the door on all things creative in her life. (I just slipped into third person! And, back to first.)

This creativity topic is a sensitive subject for me. 

“Leftie” has always been a helper hand, not a doer hand. Now that “rightie” is hibernating, “leftie” has been a champ and stepped up to the challenge. But it has spent it’s whole life being the helper. What can I expect from it? Every time I struggle, I must remember it is my left hand. It has performed as my helper hand for forty-seven years. Many additional things take two hands to accomplish than I realized! My family has been incredibly supportive. They are very patient with my shortcomings, and they even eat Sunday dinner with their left hands. (See, it’s not that easy!)

“Leftie” has learned to swiftly one hand type and drive my electric wheelchair with precision. (Usually!) I’ve also dabbled with an adult coloring book.

I started writing in Facebook in response to a daily love writing challenge. I also found it was a opportune way to express appreciation to my family and friends, and it turned out to be a wonderful vent for my feeling and emotions. I wrote for a second month on a daily basis about my lucky blessings. (Well it was March after all.) After those two months, I had quite a large group of followers and avid readers. Many friends suggested I write a blog. A blog? Me? (That sounds difficult.) Don’t you have to be a professional writer? I simply put my thoughts on the screen and shared occasional milestones. I enjoyed English classes, but I never regarded myself a writer. The blog has served as an excellent creative vehicle for me. I started out stressing positivity as a self-made pep-talk to help me stay on the right track and avoid depression, but now it is the underlying theme of most of my blogs. I started out writing daily, but I found out about three months in, that my thoughts were becoming tapped out. So now I only write when the ideas hit me.

After I go home, and get all my “craps” organized, I want to utilize my creativity as much as possible. It might just be to teach my daughters and pass on my knowledge. I want to get a table vise, and try jewelry again. I also figure I can rubber stamp one handed. (I’ll make enough cards to keep me supplied for fifty years!) The paper trimmer might be challenging, but hey, I’ve got three girls at home to help me. The computer is always calling my name. I have already completed a few computer generated flyers for my church and family. I also figure I can do digital scrapbooks on the computer. My creativity can also come out in my home decorating (of my new digs) and how I deal with my family. At the moment I cannot sing or dance like I once did, but I can still enjoy and appreciate those physical arts. Photography is not out of the picture (get it?) I just need to master it single-handedly. (I’m full of puns! Stop!)

It is imperative to remind myself that even though my right hand is taking a temporary leave of absense, there are many ways I can express my creativity by hand (singular) and through my mind. We never lose that creative eye, that’s what makes us who we are. We can be creative in everything we do, if we put our whole self into each and every thing we invest our time in.

Graduating

Guess what? I graduated! My Occupational Therapist informed me I graduated from his assistive technology program! (An OT works with arm rehabilitation and teaching ways to be independent, even with physical problems, like washing dishes, folding laundry and dressing.) He will continue to work on my arm and hand to keep them flexible. He offered me a diploma, but I declined. Jordan also offered me a job. (Haha.) Every time he shared a adaptive concept, I had already thought of multiple ideas to be more productive before we discussed them. (Many assistive tools are sitting in my Amazon cart to order when I go home.) He did start some new lines of thinking for me though. 

Another part of the work was the cognitive aspect. (He found out quickly that all of his tests were no match for me.) It is a tender mercy that the stroke had no effect on my knowledge and memories! (My education from school and life wasn’t a waste.)

I’m not sure this can be included on a job resume, but I’m quite proud of this achievement! (Yay me!) 

Cherish the small achievements in your life, even if it is just getting out of bed or not killing your kids today! It’s advantageous to count even your smallest successes. Try writing down one achievement you accomplished each day. That small exercise will help you keep moving and avoid daily discouragement. (This is coming from the Queen of Slow!)

Framework

I received a big surprise when I went home to visit last weekend. My house addition was framed! (Well, almost.) It looked like the dream is real. They all kept it a big secret from me! (Which is hard for some girls!) I was amazed at what the frame made of wood can do for you morale. I wondered if it would ever happen.

The house frame made me contemplate (I’m a thinker, I have the time) what my life’s frame is made of. Since I am so abundantly blessed, I mulled over many facets in my mind. It answer finally came down to my family

God bestowed on me the ultimate framework. Each one of them from multiple extended family (on two sides) to my own husband and children (and now spouses and soon grandchildren) are vital and treasured pieces of my frame. They hold me up, and make me who I am. I could not be strong and stable without their caring service and important influence upon my personal structure. I learned my positivity from the many examples of my family.

Sometimes it is difficult (very difficult) to be kind and appreciate certain family members, but make it a priority. They are your life-long friends. You will be there for each other many years down the road. Show your gratitude for your family. (Just do it!) Express it to them while you can. “How do I live without you?….”