More than 1.3 million people have taken the time to watch a three-minute TED talk delivered by corporate brand strategist Stacey Kramer. In 2009, a CAT scan revealed a golf-ball-sized tumor in her brain. A year later, she was speaking to audiences about her experience, saying, “The next time you face something that’s unexpected, unwanted and uncertain, consider that it just may be a gift.”
Kramer, who doesn’t wish a brain tumor for anyone, identified gifts that resulted from her diagnosis: Her family was brought together; she felt loved and appreciated like never before; she recalibrated what was most important in her life; the experience redefined her sense of spirituality and faith; and her life had new meaning.
Such is the nature of transformation. We all face challenges. They come and go in our lives. We judge the seriousness of each one differently, based upon our perspective at the time. What matters is how we face the impediments that come before us.
Producer-director-actor Ben Affleck, on accepting the Oscar this year for his film Argo, said, “It doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life. That’s going to happen. All that matters is you’ve got to get up.”
No better example exists than the incredible outlook expressed by Bobby Johnson, husband of noted Twin Cities psychic Tiffany Johnson, who suffered a stroke in mid-January [see story on Benefit for Tiffany]. On March 9, Bobby wrote this to family and friends:
“…Both Tiffany and I find a great deal of comfort knowing that she is able to heal herself. I have complete faith she will restore her Light and shine brighter than ever before. She is the captain of her soul — and if you like her now, you will love her later.”
As sad as this sudden twist of fate was for Tiffany and her family, what remains is an extraordinary display of love and courage, of what is truly possible when we’re pushed to the edge. Bobby and Tiffany are not mired in the past, dwelling on what was taken away, but on what is being revealed in the moment. Their love for each other is being redefined, and recalibrated as Stacey Kramer says, and their souls are being transformed in the process.
Recovery is possible
As I write this, it is the day after Tiffany’s third surgery. It went well, and soon she will be leaving the hospital to focus on rehabilitation. What comes to mind is my recent interview with Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., author of My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, who emphasized that when stroke victims are treated as though they can recover, they are more inclined to do just that. She is committed to a state of gratitude:
“I always encourage people to take the first five minutes in the morning and actually think about your body and say, ‘Thank you!’ There are a group of cells inside of the brain stem that are responsible for you waking up in the morning, so take those moments to say, ‘Wow! I’m awake! I’m awake! I’m alive! Wow! I get another day!’ Because there are people that did not have that opportunity today.”
For all of those who find themselves recovering right now from unexpected illness — including the men and women injured in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan — be strong and know that more people than you realize wish you a speedy and full recovery.