when the universe conspires for you

gratitude, happiness, inspiration, life, loss, Positive Thinking, quotes

PauloCoelho

Something happened this past week that has left me scrambling to find meaning behind it. I am the woman who believes that everything happens for a reason, and as much as I would love to know that reason in that very moment, it usually doesn’t show itself until some time has passed. On Monday, October 22nd, I found out that my department at work is basically being dissolved within the next 6 months. I realize that this announcement probably left some people very upset. On the surface it’s unsettling news. There are hundreds of people in this department spanning the nation, and I don’t think any of us were anticipating a decision like this. I know I wasn’t. However, my immediate reaction was not panic, or disappointment or fear, in fact it was the opposite. How strange, right?

You see I have been questioning my job for the past few months. Before I found this opportunity I was hungry for a 9-5 corporate position where I could learn, grow and achieve success. Then it sort of fell into my lap, and I was happy and content with this new path, up until recently. About 10 weeks ago I started having a quarter + some life crisis. I began to notice that I was feeling unfulfilled with my current career choice. So I began listening to podcasts featuring inspirational stories. Stories about women who quit their jobs and chased their dreams. Women who are building empires and finding success doing what they love. This was truly inspiring, but I was far too scared to try anything like that. So instead of quitting I started this blog, and began envisioning what I ultimately want for Positive Aggressive. But some days I would come home so stressed out and drained from my job that I had no desire to focus on this endeavor.

Now enter the life changing news that I received on Monday. Somehow the universe conspired to do what I couldn’t. There are still many unknown variables that are in play, there will still need to be someone from our department at the office. Only this new job description may include the removal of about 90% of the former job duties. This would relieve the stress that I feel on a day to day level. Even though I was feeling that way about my job I still loved the company and the people that I worked with. Those are characteristics that aren’t always easy to find.

This sudden information made me realize that I was taking this job for granted. It was huge wake-up call in that respect. Even though I was feeling unfulfilled and not entirely happy, I ultimately was lacking gratitude for what I had in the current moment. Just 17 days ago I noticed that I needed to work on my gratitude for the job that I had, and I began to focus on positive affirmations. I surrounded myself with this message: I clearly see all there is to be grateful for in life. I acknowledge the blessings I have received in my life with gratitude.

I put this on my phone, I wrote it on a sticky note, I kept it in my email, I repeated it over and over in my head. Within 11 days the universe decided my fate for me. Within 11 days I got the notification from corporate. How crazy is that?! It gives me chills. Although I have no idea what this next 6 months will look like, I am hopeful, excited and I am grateful for all of it.

Photo Cred: Quite Contemporary

 

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guest of the week: amanda zitzelman

brain aneurysm, friendship, gratitude, Guest Blogger, happiness, inspiration, Kindness, Positive Thinking, survivor

 

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This week’s guest blogger is a woman that I worked with last year, a woman that I admire. Her strength, courage and perseverance is inspiring. Earlier this year Amanda suffered a brain aneurysm, and she survived. Below you’ll read her encouraging words and hear her story of this life changing event. She shares her struggles but also shares what she’s done to turn this experience into a positive one. We chatted the other week for almost 2 hours and sometime in the future her and I are planning on starting a podcast! She inspires me everyday. She also started a GoFundMe page that she talks about in this post.  I’ve included the link at the end of her story. Thank you Amanda for taking the time to write this post, it means so much.

“I’m so excited to have the opportunity to write this post. I want to thank Sarah from the bottom of my heart for giving me a chance to share on her blog.

“Life is all about how you handle Plan B.” – Unknown

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this post. How do I want to share my story? What details, if any, do I provide? I wrote a draft with the timeline and details of what happened. But details can be boring and it’s easy to get bogged down in them. Then I wrote a draft that had condensed details and a brief timeline. What happened and the timeline IS important but doesn’t necessarily add value to this post.

In the beginning of May my brain exploded, or in other words, a brain aneurysm ruptured. Let me frame this for you: 50% of all ruptures result in death and of those who survive 66% have some type of disability. Post-rupture I was out on FMLA. Much of my first month home was spent sleeping, napping, or just resting. A brain injury recovery can take many years and even then survivors are never quite the same.

I said it before and I will continue to say it – I am blessed. I survived and I don’t have any physical deficits. My cognitive and motor skills are in tact. Yes, I get neurofatigue. Yes, I get worn out much easier than I used to. Yes, I get headaches.

It is an odd thing to have come that close to death. One of the things I see a lot in my survivor groups are people who are grieving their old life. I sympathize with them and understand. However, my life is not wildly different than it was pre-rupture. I don’t ever say this to rub it in someone’s face about how well I am doing. I share it because I (now) know statistics were against me. But even for how well I am doing I am still a stroke survivor. I am still a ruptured brain aneurysm survivor.

One of my biggest struggles has been balancing “I’m fine” with “I went through this huge life changing event.” I never want to use it as an excuse but I don’t want to downplay what I went through. I’ve been struggling with what I refer to as survivor’s guilt. I’m so thankful things turned out so well for me but I sometimes feel bad that not everyone who survived is doing so well. I try not to get hung up on this too much because so much of it has to do with where the rupture occurred, timing, proper diagnosis, age, overall health, etc.

Time is valuable in so many ways. It can save a life in a medical emergency (such as it did in mine). It is a currency that you cannot get back. How you spend it matters. Who you spend it with matters. What you do with the time you are given matters. What is unique about time is everyone chooses to spend their time differently but time all spends the same. Once it is gone you can’t get it back.

This is something I have been thinking about a lot the past several months. I had a lot of time on my hands being out on FMLA. Some of it was spent doing schoolwork as I did not drop my last class for my master’s degree. As I mentioned a lot of time was spent sleeping, napping, and resting when I first got home. Eventually, I stopped sleeping as much but still was on restrictions so couldn’t do much. Towards the end of my FMLA I started crocheting again. I thought if I was going to be sitting around I should at least do something productive.

I started a GoFundMe to raise money so I could make blankets for brain aneurysm survivors. I have made three so far that I have given away in one of my survivor groups. This gave me something to do and give back to a group that gave me so much in the days after my rupture. It also gave me something to do with my time.

I really understood the value of my time and how I wanted to spend it. We often work to make ends meet (unless you happen to be born into a wealthy family). But we were not made or meant to work to live. There are so many more things that are much more important. Don’t get me wrong – I definitely have to work or my bills aren’t getting paid.

Pre-rupture I was working through lunches and if it was particularly busy I would be there until 6pm sometimes even 7pm. No more. I made the decision that when I went back I was not working through lunches and I would be leaving at 5pm. And I have pretty well stuck to that. There was one day when I was there until about 5:45pm and one day I worked through lunch but that is it. In both cases there was an extenuating circumstance.

Doing this has brought me less stress and even some peace. We need to find a work/life harmony. This can be difficult but it is vital. It is in our non-work life activities that we do things we enjoy and love. These are the things that bring us joy and help us to weather the stresses of our work life. Our time here is incredibly short. This gift of life can be taken from us at any moment.

Find joy in the little things. Find peace in the quiet moments of your day. When we do this we start to find our mind shifting. It doesn’t mean that life becomes perfect but we start to attract the good things. Positive thoughts become the norm. It is easier to find the good in a situation that is otherwise difficult.

Whatever we fill our minds with will spill out in the forms of our emotions and actions. If a mind is filled with negativity or hate it will spill out. On the flipside a mind filled with love and positivity it will spill out.

Life will never be perfect. Might as well buckle in and enjoy the ride with all it’s twists and turns.”

Blankets 4 Brain Aneurysm Survivors

 

 

friendship: tangled roots

friendship, gratitude, happiness, Love, Positive Thinking, relationships

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This past weekend three of my closest friends and I had the honor of being bridesmaids at our best friend’s wedding. When I think about life and relationships, I feel lucky to have these women by my side after all these years. The bride is one of my oldest friends, we grew up around the corner from each other. If I try to think back to when we first met, I truly can’t remember a time in my life that she wasn’t there.

I’ve had many “best friends” over the years. I used to search for myself in others, this sort of behavior started at an early age. I bonded with girls that I thought I wanted to be. I would go along with everything they did, and I rarely voiced my own thoughts or opinions, just to be accepted. This would become a pattern throughout my young life.

The universe did however, sprinkle some special people in along the way. Friendships where I didn’t feel the need to behave that way. These women always accepted me for who I was and the mask would come off when I was in their presence. What a comforting, peaceful, feeling. I didn’t need to pretend anymore. I am happy to say that I’m still incredibly close with these very same women. These relationships span some 15+ years.

There are 6 of us in this particular group and we’ve all managed to keep our bond going strong. We each have separate lives with friends separate from our group, but that doesn’t change anything. Two of us moved away and yet we’ve never strayed from each other. There are definitely periods of distance and we’ve grown apart some, but at the center of each of our hearts we hold this friendship dear. That is why I picked the image for this post. We are tangled. We grew side by side for many years, we were there for each other when things were the messiest. I am thrilled to see these ladies with their lives [mostly] figured out (because I mean c’mon who really ever has it all figured out?). We’re all building our lives up, the mess is behind us. We can all sit back and watch each other grow and flourish. And if things ever get messy again we’ll be there for one another.

Something amazing happened at the wedding. Our group was originally 7, but she had moved during the earlier part of high school and her and I lost touch. She was at the wedding. The bride brought the original group back together again. It’s been 16 years, I think, my memory is a bit foggy, but roughly 16 years since I’ve seen this person. Her and I were very close for a period of time and wouldn’t you know that nothing has changed in that absence. The first few moments may have been a little awkward, but once the initial shock wore off, we picked right back up where we left off all those years ago.

That’s the magical thing about true friendships. They know no distance, or boundaries of time. I have several of these relationships today, even outside of our group, and I couldn’t be more grateful to the universe for putting each and every special individual in my life. If we haven’t talked lately, or even if we have, know that I love you very much and I am forever thankful that you are in my life.

 

being okay, with being okay.

gratitude, happiness, higher power, podcasts, Positive Thinking, quotes

girlfield

“The happiest of people don’t have the best of everything, they make the best of everything they have.”

BOOM. This powerful phrase just knocked me on my ass. I was driving home and I saw it on the church marquee near my house. I don’t practice any set religion but I have a higher power, a God of my understanding and he/she/it likes to slap profound messages in my face. And I love it. Considering I just had a major discussion with my significant other on this topic two days ago, I don’t think this marquee message is purely coincidence.

I have really been struggling lately with my happiness. For someone who believes that happiness is a choice, you might think that I would or should be happy all of the time. Or that it might be easy for me to change my feelings around and instantly be happy. I know I think that. Maybe that’s my problem. I beat myself up when I am anything but happy. The truth of the matter is that I need to be okay, with being okay. That’s hard for me. I am such an all or nothing person, so even keel doesn’t make much sense to me. At the end of the day if I’m not happy, I’m sad. But I’m not even really sad. I know deep sadness, and this isn’t it. So what am I? I’m just okay. I’m going through the motions. For some reason that is not okay with me.

Some people say to practice gratitude when you feel the way I’m feeling. It’s not that I am ungrateful. I have gratitude every single day when I open my eyes. I should not be alive. But I am. I’m grateful to have a roof over my head, fur babies that I adore, my sobriety, an amazing relationship that I’ve waited 13 years for, a hot shower every morning, food to eat, a bed to sleep in, a job to provide me with income, a car to get me to that job, best friends from home, best friends from this new city, best friends in different parts of the country and the world, family members that are there for me no matter what, and the list goes on.

If I’m being honest with myself, I haven’t felt much fulfillment lately. I’m happiest when I’m creating and helping others. Every few years my creativity comes bursting out of me, and I let it out briefly, then I stuff it back inside, and resume my daily routine. I’ve recently started listening to podcasts created by these extremely talented and fierce women. They talk about pursuing their dreams, and going after what makes them happy but also making a living out of these dreams. It really is awe inspiring to listen to their stories. However, this yearning for what they have and not being there yet myself, I believe, is the contributing factor to my not being okay with being okay. Truth is, none of these stories start out with instant success. There is typically a struggle. Always some barrier to over come. Without the struggle how can we appreciate success? They all started somewhere. This is my starting point.

New mantra: I embrace the beginning, I’m okay with where I’m at. I also have a new goal towards leading a more positive life: being okay, with being okay. What’s one of your goals that you’re working on?