Sharing the lessons along the way…

Posts tagged ‘inspiration’

Unlikely Gratitude

I have a neighbor who has a little Chihuahua dog and he never kept him on a leash when they were in their front yard.  My boys and I struggled going past the house on our because my boy Amore’ often would get aggressive with other dogs.  When Amore died, Duke met the dog and the dog would often come to the other side of the street to see us on our walks.  Ruby met him too.  The guy seemed like a nice enough guy despite the one negative experience I had.

When I was using the walker and the motorized wheelchair, we didn’t have a choice but to go by his house because the sidewalks on the other street were better and I was less likely to fall.  But we always had to take that chance of the little dog coming and my dog or dogs pulling me off balance.  Once the neighbor yelled at me because I wouldn’t just go on down the same street instead of passing his street.  I yelled back that the sidewalks sucked and that the walker didn’t work well and to please get his dog.

We still exchanged pleasantries after that incident and I had no hard feelings because he couldn’t understand why sidewalks would be a problem or that Amore was often unpredictable—who could who hadn’t had to try using a walker or had a problem dog.

Fast forward from that moment three or four years ago to July 2017.

Hope Fiona and I were walking on a Friday evening past his house, which is our normal route.  I had noticed I hadn’t seen much of him this year and that he appeared to be frail and wasn’t walking that well in the past month I had seen him.  He stops me to tell me he was in a bad car accident in January and when he was having to learn to walk again, his first thought was of me.

He said he remembered me always continuing to walk my dogs whether it was with a wheelchair, a walker or a cane and that he hoped he had the same strength as he was struggling through his recovery.

He shared his journey from wheelchair to walker to cane and was proud to say he was getting around pretty well without the cane now and could walk around the block.  He asked me how I found the strength to do it and continued to say how much he thought of me during and still because he had a tremendous head injury that has to continue to heal.

We talked about muscle memory and physical therapy and water therapy, and even though it was starting to rain and Hope really wanted to walk, we talked about the importance of continuing to move forward no matter what.

He asked me my name because in the 12 years I have passed his house and talked with him, we had never exchanged names.  He thanked me for something I had no idea even happened.

This experience reminded me that I was doing something right in this life, but also reminded me about how someone is always watching you and that making an impact on others’ lives is far bigger than what you deliberately do for someone else.  It is more about who you are and how you are while you are doing the simple, routine things in this life that has just as much of an impact.




Lunch with Preacher

At work today, I was busy moving from one area on campus to another attempting to accomplish what was already on my to-do list, in addition to things that were placed there as I read my emails first thing this morning.

Because I was away from my desk a lot working on a variety of projects, I had opportunities to be outside.  It was sunny with near record (or maybe we beat it, I am not sure) temperatures for this time of the year.  There was a breeze that often gusted out of the east.

When it was lunch time, I knew the only way to take a break while I ate was to go outside somewhere to enjoy the day at the same time.  I needed a breather and some inspiration, and then remembered that I could go sit in the area where Preacher Green is buried.

I put my salad together and headed off to eat with Preacher.

Preacher was the man who started Everybody’s Tabernacle Church, and from his generous spirit and the help of his wife and family, so began what we all know now as the Homeless Empowerment Program.

Otis Green saw the good in humanity.  He believed wholeheartedly that if we helped people to better help themselves, they would benefit more than if we simply gave them a roof over their head and some food.

Not everyone was as lucky as me to have gotten to meet and know the man.  He was inspiring, he was a natural leader and a natural servant.  He never lost sight of the mission at hand and how he continued to trod onward through illness and everything else was even more inspiring.

He and his wife have tables and shelves full of their humanitarian awards, but they remained humble and focused on the mission.

Thousands of people each year pass through the Homeless Empowerment Program (HEP).  A program that has grown by leaps and bounds because someone involved never lost sight of the vision Preacher had at the start.

No matter what my role is in the bigger picture of HEP, I truly hope that I can remain as focused and as humble as Preacher was in his day there.  To me, he ranks up there with the likes of Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr. and many of the other greats who have made such great impacts on humanity.  I couldn’t ask for a better role model.

Day 17 and moving forward with inspired humility and focus after lunch with Preacher.


…wait for it…

wait for it1

Sometimes I feel like a contractor building a demolished house from scratch.  Engineers and architects are being consulted, land surveys are being completed, plans are being designed and redesigned, and permits being applied for—all long before the first footer is ever poured.

By the time the foundation is laid, it seems that an inordinate amount of time has elapsed.  This house is taking forever to build!

Over the years with illness, I have grown more accustomed to being friendly with patience.  Nothing in the world of illness happens all that quickly.

I haven’t always been so patient with my planning and desire for immediate results.  In my 20’s, I would want the house built the day after the plans were approved.  I would have been ready to paint and lay the flooring day two and ready to move in before a week was out.  I spent much of my life getting way too far ahead of myself.

Now I don’t mind making sure the foundation is laid properly, so that the house will stand–long after I no longer live there.  The structure and grounding is more important to me than the décor, and the time it has taken to make that solid will be well worth it.

As long as there is forward progress in the construction of it all, I am satisfied with where things are.  For nearly seven years, the foundation has been in progress.  Now the process of truly rebuilding something  has begun.

The first part of the process—the minutia and the details—have been wonderful opportunities to develop a solid hold on what it is that is going to be built.  Even that can be amended by the architect throughout the process, but the commitment to build here, upon a more solid foundation, has been made.

While I have no idea anymore just how the end result will look, I know it can be legendary!

Humbly Grateful

With Dog...

I wrote a couple of posts about the magic of my Cali trip, and I have to tell you that the magic seems to continue.  Therefore, I have to share.

In the course of a year, the landscape of my life has changed so much, and it seems that the Cali trip was the catalyst for even more change (and fast).

So much so, that I can hardly wrap my mind around it all just yet.

Now, I not only get to go to work with my amazing dogs and hang out with some amazing humans who served our country, but I also get to help roll out a new program that empowers these amazing humans to take control over their health.

As if that wasn’t perfect enough, I get to do all of that as a full time employee as of yesterday!

Since I apparently live in a universe of ironies, I should add that I get to do all of this at the very place I had to go live as a homeless woman in a wheelchair, shortly after becoming ill.  I thought bringing Duke to work there completed the full circle in 2010, but it appears that circles may elude completion.  The irony weaved within the entire HEP experience is mind blowing.

In my wildest of dreams, I couldn’t have imagined being here, right now.  I am not sure I could have imagined it a month ago, quite honestly.

But it is real (and really ironic).  The gratitude is genuine, and interestingly enough, also humbling to me.  These are the fruits of my labor in a way that I couldn’t fathom when my body was betraying me at every turn and when my life was falling apart.

Moving through the worst fears, the darkness and putting a life back together was the labor intensive part of the process.  Were it not for all of that, often called nightmare, none of this, today would be possible.  That is where the humility and the gratitude unite for me.

If gratitude was what I thought was the cure for all that ails, I have to tell you that this combination is far more powerful than anything I have experienced.

Let Go…

Let go

In the course of reorganizing and rearranging my place, I ran across a note I had written myself sometime in 2008.  I did it with a dry erase marker, on what was supposed to be a dry erase board, but it wouldn’t ever wash off the board.

Over the years, it has been on my refrigerator and in various places, but it never made it to the throw away pile because it seems to be so meaningful.  It was around the time I wrote this note that I was really starting to grasp just how much I had a say in what happened next in my life.  It was a time of empowerment and that was only possible because I let go of my old ideas of how things “should” be.

It seems a bit fitting that I should run across this at a time when I not only feel empowered, but confident about where I am and how I am in this life.

Perhaps it will speak to you, as it does me…

Be the Walk

Be the Walk

Each day starts with a walk with my dogs.  Many view this activity as a chore, but I see it more as an honor and a privilege to connect with my companions and teachers.  Yes, I do miss out on another 30-45 minutes of sleep, but I replace that sleep time with cardiovascular activity and just go to bed earlier to make up the difference.

It is hard to describe what happens when I walk my dogs.  It was a bit different with Duke and Amore than it is with Duke and Ruby.  Just the same, they are so happy to be out there walking that even if that is all that I could possibly explain about it that would be enough for me.

A syncing happens after the first block of sniffs and markings that far surpasses any amount of presence I have ever experienced.  It is as if both dogs are moving in sync as a pack, along with their pack leader.  Sometimes it feels like we are all in the zone together with the only goal being that we are moving forward as a unit.

While we are all hyper-aware of our environment during this sync experience, we are also able to communicate almost telepathically.  I move this way or that way, and my pack moves seamlessly with me at my left side.  We are as aware of each other as we are the world around us, but we are so present in our moments and in our movement that nothing else matters.  We are walking side by side by side all the way (walker allowing us to move faster).

This morning I saw the opposite of what I experience on a dog walk.  Two medium to large sized white dogs were pulling her as if she were on an Iditarod sled—they were the length of her extended arms out on their six foot lead, and it was no surprise that they behaved quite badly with each other as we passed on the other side of the street.  It looked like chaos, sounded like chaos, and felt like chaos, despite the order that my pack had and maintained as we moved in the opposite direction.

I thought about the difference between my walk and hers this morning.  My day started with a presence of mind, with a sense of total connection with my pack, and hers had to have been starting with chaos from the obvious disconnect.

I couldn’t help but wonder if she viewed the walk as a chore and whether or not that played a part in the experience for her.  I also couldn’t help but think about the extreme differences in terms of how our respective days might play out.

How I am and how the dog walk goes in my morning very much reflects my state of mind.  If I am grounded and appreciating the experience, then my mind is clear and I am in the walk.  If not, then I am frustrated that one dog is going one way and the other another and there is no sync.  It is usually indicative of my thoughts doing just what they are doing, and my lack of presence.

It is just an interesting thing to note and another reason to appreciate just how grounding and centering my dogs are in my world.  I have the opportunity to re-center and return to the present every morning before I leave my house because of walking my dogs.  I may or may not choose to, but I certainly have the opportunity to self-correct (or have a chaotic walk and chaotic day).

How do you start your day? Is it chaotic from alarm to shower to car?

Kitt O'Malley

Bipolar Writer and Mental Health Advocate


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