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joy

Meet Mikaila + How Her 6th Concussion Changed Her Life

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Meet Mikaila + How Her 6th Concussion Changed Her Life

In the Summer of 2014, I was given a gift in disguise.


An elbow to the back of the head granted me my 6th concussion; a circumstance which I at first perceived as an obstacle, but quickly realized to be a very powerful miracle.


I was hit by the occipital lobe, so my eyes were unable to focus on a screen or words. I had no access to TV, computers, phones, or written content of any kind. Listening to and processing information - visual or audial - was difficult.


Graduation from University, exercise, normal conversation, and large gatherings were put out of question by doctors. I became well acquainted with my bed… and myself.


I had not realized was that I had been given a rare opportunity to live simply; to get in touch with myself, with no access to outside information.


As a high extrovert completely immersed in the “hustle culture” at the time, introspection was a rarity. I had, in the past, searched externally for much of that which I defined as “happiness” or “success”. I can recall mentally straining for months, feeling such unease as I lay in my bed imagining what I was missing at school, how my athletics would be affected, and similar less than productive thoughts.


I quickly began to realize that what we focus on is the reality which we create.

And therein, the overhaul of my thought processes began,

for what we believe to be true for ourselves is how we experience life.

Albert Einstein once said that the most important decision which humans need to make is whether we live in a fearful or loving Universe, and I agree! Choosing to believe in the good, even if my mind couldn’t quite comprehend it, was a very intentional thought, which after a little bit of forcing (hehe), became a pattern.


The starkest of contrasts took root when I allowed myself to relax into life in this sense, trusting what I was experiencing without any logic, except that I had chosen to believe that there was a loving reason for the concussion. When the strain of attempting to control the circumstance dissolved, I began to notice simple things that I had never taken a moment to noticed before.

The vibrance of the seasons, for example. The purples emerging in the spring, to the lush greenery and warm wind of a summer evening, to the smell of crisp leaves in the air of the fall brought to my attention by the winds of change.


My busy mind previously fragmented by multiple thoughts shifted into a knowing that…


To live “here and now” is to be in tune with miracles present in each moment;


To be in conscious conversation with someone is to FEEL their emotions; to be compassionate;


To experience personal emotions of frustration or anger as an observer, simply knowing that emotions come and go like weather;


To begin to realize that absolutely anything is possible to create when you place your attention there, including recovery from physical injury; and


To begin to cultivate only positive thoughts out of realization that they literally manifest in how you view your world; your reality, and what is possible in your life.


Now, sometimes, I dance around the gym or catch myself with a face sore from smiling, walking through the grocery store simply because I am experiencing it: A life where every moment is perfect.


My definitions of certain words in our culture began to shift:


“Success” shifted from “accomplishment” to “experience”;

“Joy” became “this moment” rather than a state I had to reach;

“Comparison” became uncomprehensible, because no two perceptions or life stories are the same

“Judgement” stopped, because “Compassion” took root in my heart.


As such miracle minded concepts took root in my mind, these thoughts translated into a belief that recovery was very, very possible.


Thought turned into action, and my body slowly, through incremental shifts in training, began to believe itself to be more capable, as well: I have completed University and am beyond blessed to be able to move my body again. (Except for the splits; a skill I am determined to have! Currently sitting at approximately 90 degrees out of the full 180. Heheh!)


Choosing love and positive thoughts are the best medicine. After years of treatment, the greatest shift in physical recovery began once my mind truly and wholeheartedly believed it to be possible!!


When we do our best to choose a loving intention to underlie every thought, word, and action, no circumstance can be perceived as an obstacle. 


Here’s to relaxing into the world, welcoming what comes, focusing on abundance, loving all those in our lives, and believing that we ARE capable of surfing that wave.


:) :) :)

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On Grief

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On Grief

I've been sitting staring at this computer screen for a good hour now. I have so many words floating around in my head but I'm not sure how to get them out-what to start with, or where to go from here.

I tell people that I started the Move to Heal Project because I wanted to write about real things. The stuff that no one wants to talk about, but that everyone is feeling. This is true. But there is a reason as to why no one talks about certain things- because its really hard. Today in fact, it is extra hard. Part of me doesn't want to share; another part of me feels compelled to. I feel compelled because if we don't start talking about the hard things, who will? It's important for me to say that if you are reading this, you never walk alone. 

So on that note, I want to tell you about my friend Katharine. I want to talk to you about Grief.

Katharine died 12 years ago today. Twelve years. It seems surreal to actually write that out. The way she died and the story around it is tragic, and contains details I still have difficulty wrapping my mind around. The aftermath of her death; the same. I swung into a deep atheism after she passed away, not understanding how something so tragic could happen to someone so young, and so beautiful. And by beautiful I mean pure. Amidst all the struggles that one naturally moves through when they are 19 and 20 years old, she was actually still a radiating beam of light. I don't think she had a mean bone in her body.

After she died, the only way I knew how to process it all was through writing. I was too shut off emotionally in my life in general to actually feel anything outwardly. In the piece I wrote one month after she died, I talked about how I didn't have any desire to wash my clothes, to brush my hair, or to buy new things. But I did write about how I began to feel an intense compulsion to strengthen my relationships; to find meaning in my every day activities.

Every year now I use April 3rd as a time to reflect on my life- and when I actually sit still to think about it so far I want to say that I still feel that way. When someone you love dies, everything you think matters, doesn't matter anymore. It all begins to shift. At least- that's the way it felt for me.

I think that in some cases, death can completely harden people or break them open. I would say with 100% certainty that part of the reason I am not hardened over is because of Katharine's Mom. Over the past 12 years I have seen that light that Katharine possessed shine so brightly through the actions of her Mother, which doesn't even really make sense. She lost her daughter. Yet she has taken her grief and her sadness and continually pours kindness and compassion into the lives of everyone around her. It's actually remarkable. I also think that this takes a tremendous amount of strength- in order to cultivate joy from pain I think you have to stare your pain deep in the eyes; you have to learn to sit with it. 

I think, with many things in life- but especially in the aftermath of grief- you are always left with a choice: Is this going to harden me or open me? Not to be confused with feeling your feelings. Like- death SUCKS. It's excruciating. I spent a good few years just being angry AF, throwing stuff, binge drinking, sabotaging friendships, acting out in relationships (for fear if I got too close I would lose them), you name it. Feel your feelings. Get it out. But this is why I say aftermath.

One of the most important things I have learned over the past two years is that, while we can't control what happens to us, we always have a choice as to how we are going to react to it.

 So every year on April 3rd, I think about this. I loved Katharine's kindness, her spirit, her heart. And what a gift she has given me because I now choose to fill my life with people who are light-hearted, and caring, and compassionate. 

I am inspired by the strength of her Mother- who, over the past 12 years has, many times completely out of the blue sent me something in the mail, or dropped a present off on my doorstep, or sent me the sweetest message. She has reminded me that this is how I want to live my life. I want my life to be meaningful. I want to cultivate meaningful relationships. I want to sit with the hollowness of my pain and use that space to cultivate joy- and I want to pour that joy into the lives of everyone around me. I want to create community. I want to be a voice for change.

A few years ago, Katharine's Mom sent me a blown glass ornament. In order to make a blown glass ornament you have to take a bunch of glass and smash it all into tiny pieces. Then you take all the pieces and hold them in the fire. She told me that this is how our lives can feel sometimes- something excruciating happens- and we are left in a million pieces. And then you think the worse is over, but it's not- because things heat up and you're thrown in the fire. But the thing is- when the glass is in the fire- this is where the magic happens. This is where all the random pieces that didn't make sense before begin to meld together- this is where the shift happens. A beautiful blown glass ornament is proof that all those tiny shards of glass- all those painful situations and experiences in our lives- can actually bind together to make something extraordinary.

By no means am I one of those people that say things happen for a reason. I actually don't believe that. But I do think that it is natural for humanity to search for meaning in the things that break us open. And I think that if you can find that meaning, and hold on to it, and learn to find beauty in it, it can catapult you into a new way of seeing your world; a new way of living your life.

So today, while I am sitting with my own pain, I want to turn the table around and ask you all the things I am asking myself. 

What are you allowing to harden you? What are you allowing to open you?

Who are you surrounding yourself with? How do they add value to your life?

What about your pain? Are you learning how to sit with it? The pain will hollow you, but it will not end you. The deeper your pain, the greater your capacity to love bigger, harder, stronger. This sound so cliché but it's not- I'm telling you with every fibre of my being THIS IS TRUE.

Where is your focus? Do you want to live meaningfully? If so- How?

 

I want to thank you so much for reading what has been on my heart, for allowing me to share my story freely. If you too are moving through grief, or remembering the anniversary of something that is painful I want you to know that you are supported and loved and strong.

 

xo C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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