By the time you reach my age you’ve learned a lot about vulnerability and adversity. Unless you’ve been extraordinarily blessed there’s no way to avoid them. It’s no secret I was struggling with extra health issues for many months. This left me feeling a little blue and vulnerable. I was home for weeks on end, unable to drive due to MS and experiencing pain from SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth.)
I cancelled countless social and work-related engagements, unable to have an active life. Like Ferris Bueller said life moves pretty fast. I miss the old me.
To make matters worse I had to cancel a networking event sponsored by my employer, Health Union. I was really looking forward to it for months. It was a chance to finally meet the people I work for and the contributors I enjoy working with.
I was feeling pretty low when I decided to do something I often do when I need inspiration. I looked at a few TED Talks.
I was completely galvanized by Aimee Mullins, an American athlete and model, famous for her athletic achievements and born with a medical condition that resulted, at the tender age of one, in the amputation of both legs.
Aimee talked about looking at disability through a different lens than the definitions offered in dictionaries:
Useless? Wrecked? Decrepit? I found myself grinding my teeth when I read this.
She explains her idea that:
“Adversity isn’t something we need to get around to live our life. It’s part of our life. Our responsibility is preparing for adversity and to meet it well. Adversity opens door for human potential.”
I encourage everyone to watch Aimee’s talk. It will empower you to think about the endless possibilities of what you can accomplish in your lifetime.
“Truthfully, the only real and consistent disability I’ve had to confront is the world ever thinking that I could be described by those definitions.” ~Aimee Mullins
I’d love to meet Aimee and give her a great, big hug for helping me change the way I see myself.
I also found inspiration with Brene Brown. She’s absolutely brilliant and I’ve listened to her speak hundreds of times. Her thoughts on humanity in “The Power of Vulnerability” always resonates with me. It’s about connection, heartbreak, the feeling of being excluded, shame, fear and being fully vulnerable.
These are subjects we may talk about on a therapist’s couch or to our closest friends. Otherwise they’re discussed in hushed tones. That’s nonsense. These feelings are experienced by the majority of people. We needn’t be ashamed of simply being human.
I often struggle with these emotions. It’s part of the fun of living with chronic illness!
As Brene says, “We’re imperfect and wired for struggle but are worthy of love and belonging.”
We need the courage to be imperfect,
To have compassion and kindness for ourselves first and then to others,
To have connection as a result of authenticity,
To let go of who we think we should be, and instead, be who we are.
We need to embrace vulnerability. It is the birthplace of joy, creativity, of belonging and love.
We need to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen.
We need to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee.
Practice gratitude and joy.
Believe that we’re enough.
TED Talks are amazing. They can inspire, educate, encourage and give us hope. My spirits were lifted by these two intelligent, passionate women. I hope they’ll lift your spirits, too.
Thank you for allowing me the honor of sharing my journey with you. I hope by breaking myself open I’ve helped you feel better in some small way.