Learning to “Look Forward” Helped me Enjoy the 4th Again

I had a great vacation week at Lake Tahoe around the 4th of July. Mixed emotions, of course – it is, after all, where I had my stroke. But I love it there. I can’t enjoy it the same way I used to, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it. I spent some good time with Steve out on the lake in our Kayak (with pedals for me and a paddle for him) and a few good bike rides the way I can now do them – on the back of our tandem. But the best part of the week was time with family and friends – a reminder of how lucky I am, stroke and all.  My mom was with us most of the week. My two best friends from growing up in Detroit – Debbie Landau and Debbie Steinberg, and their husbands (the biking picture) came out to visit and play with us. And all three of our kids made it up for the long weekend.  Various friends of theirs cycled through, bringing some great “20 something” energy to the week.

Frustration? Of course. I didn’t go skiing with Steve and Sarah on July 4th – only possible on huge snow years and really fun. But my skiing just isn’t up to the mushy snow and crazy crowds. I couldn’t do the longer/harder hikes that others were doing. Sometimes it’s hard not to get pissed off. When I did, Steve reminded me there’s a great book out there I should read (Identity Theft). My life now includes the constraints of my disabilities. There’s still so much I can enjoy, so I try my best to stay focused on the good – “looking forward, not back”.

On one of our Kayak trips, Steve and I listened to a great podcast – Oprah’s Master Class, with Robin Roberts, anchor of “Good Morning America”. Robin has such an inspiring personal story, including her journey, as an African American woman, to break barrier after barrier in sports broadcasting and broadcasting more generally, as well as her journey to overcome health issues with both cancer and MDS, a serious blood disorder. There are so many ways her message was helpful to me, and resonates with the message I’ve tried to deliver through Identity Theft. And in her case delivered with such grace and humility. Just a few of Robin’s many pearls of wisdom:

  • ”…the point is that my life went on better than I could have imagined, and yours can too.”

  • “Optimism is a muscle that gets stronger with use.”

  • “It takes courage to believe that the best is yet to come.”

Vacation is always a good time to recharge, and now I’m back home and back to my new career – promoting my book and beginning to build Stroke Forward, our non-profit initiative through which we’ll advocate for more attention to the emotional journey following stroke and other traumas. And more awareness about identity as a critical concept for all of us, and how we can choose to build one that we want after trauma – or in life generally for that matter.

Hope you all had a wonderful July 4th holiday.

All the best,