Sunday, 21 December 2014

Challenges and Overcoming

The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance — and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.~ Oprah 

While reading this quote I reflected on how true it is for me, particularly during the throes of my illness with diabetes Type 11. In 2003 I was diagnosed with diabetes and I was told by my doctor that I can manage it by exercise and diet. I don't think that I really tried then. While I continued my walking, my diet drastically changed. I began consuming two gallons of mocha almond fudge ice cream a week as well as baked and ate sweet bread and made cassava pone and I dozen pamees (a delicacy made of corn flour, grated pumpkin and grated coconut). You may ask me, if I had an appointment with death. Sometimes looking back I felt that unconsciously I might have had an appointment with death, but I certainly was bent on sabotaging my chance to live a healthy life. I am still trying to be pragmatic — I will say that I was going through a very difficult and challenging time. 

I often say that when you have to rely upon others to achieve your personal goals, your life can be in the mouth of a lion. If he closes his jaw, you are gone. You have to rely upon him keeping his mouth open, and you being nice to him. You just cannot afford to speak your mind if you want his/her support. What a position to be in? Reliance or dependency on others is the worst dis-empowering position to be in.

I have found that reading for your doctorate can be a challenging experience. You have to be dependent upon your thesis supervisor and that is not where it starts. Getting a supervisor can be a very tasking experience. You have to get his or her support for your thesis idea. How do you achieve this? You must make yourself familiar with him or her. You have to take a few courses that he or she teaches and be interested in the research that they do. It some times takes a year before you can fully negotiate a student-supervisor connection. However, when that is formed, you now have to convince him or her that you know what you intent on researching or else he or she can redraw his/her support. You have to be passionate about your research topic and you have to show it. You must exude the passion that you hold for your research topic. There are so much more in this relationship. 

Your thesis committee also has to be formed. You have to make sure that it is comprised of people that your thesis supervisor can work with. People that he can communicate with and have a connection with. What I did was ask my supervisor to recommend whom he think would be able to contribute and support the research. By having my supervisor choose the people that he would like to work with, I believe it would lend itself to a committee that can work together; and then I approached them for their support. This strategy worked quite well. They had a working relationship. They knew each other as well as respected each other. This worked for a great team. You must however be reminded that even in a great team, human dynamics can still change or threatened to change — and this is what often happened. It was often difficult to get all of the members of committee to read my thesis draft; as a result it had an effect on my doctoral defense date.

Food became my long lost friend. I remember leaving the university campus on evenings to go home. I would basically run home to eat my "favourite things". It did not take long before I gained forty pounds on my one hundred and ten pound body. I gained a lot of weight but I did not show; or so I felt. I did not look fat or obese. As a matter of fact, and in my home culture, I was “real thick”. I was sexy for the first time in my life, according to the standard of beauty from a culture where a woman must have some fat on her bones. So when I am asked today by medical practitioners with whom I work with to get my diabetes under control, were you obese because Type 2 diabetes is related to obesity. I have to respond maybe I was, at 150 pounds, because I went from 110 pound — won't that be regarded as obesity. 

I am realizing that as I work on transforming myself, that I have to take it very slowly. I must also take the change with all of the pains and un-comfortableness and I must be focused on my goals. What do I want to achieve? Do I just want to get better? In 2006 when I became ill for the first time with this same symptoms, I got better within 2 years. It was a very hard road to recovery, but I didn't learn any real lessons. My lifestyle had not changed. I went back to doing everything that I did that was bad for me. I began smoking again and that surely did not help me. Information that you read about diabetes, will tell you that if you have diabetes, you should quit smoking. Well I haven't recall quitting. Here I am sick again because I did not learn any lessons from the first time. We are suppose to learn lessons from every experience we may encounter, I didn't. 

According to the quote, we need someone to be there for us to help us through the thick and thin. They are the ones on whom we lean for support and courage. We look towards them for a kind word and a word of encouragement. I remember when I was sick the first time around, my grand-son Matthew was only 4 years and I remember him looking at me with great concern and love and one day he said "grandma you are not sick, you are just not feeling well". That said a lot to me. I was glad that at least he wasn't seeing me sick and unable to fend for myself. Another evening as I sat on the porch as usual just reflecting and having some quiet time, he came out and said, "Grandma is he coming?" and I ask who? and he said, "Jesus, "aren't you waiting for him to come?" My response to him was that "Jesus” is always here . . .you just don't see him." A couple evenings after, as I was sitting on the porch, he came out and sat with me very early on my "time-out." After sitting quietly for a while, he came off his chair, and stroked my right leg from the top of my leg down towards my calf, and said, "grand-ma, Jesus is here." This was a very significant moment for me, I actually felt that Jesus moved within my grand-son and created a healing effect on me. I felt wonderful. I said thank Matthew for relieving my pains. I was relieved to know that Jesus intervened into my life through my grand-son Matthew. 

My daughter was also a significant person in my life during my state of illness. We were on sabbatical in Trinidad and Tobago. We had gone with the goal of hosting a conference in 2005 which we did and which was pretty much successful. It was launched at a large and prominent hotel. We received a great deal of coverage. The local newspaper did a write up about the workshop that showcased both of us with I as the host. The "mother-daughter" joined concept worked. We were able to catch the attention of many people. After, our seminar was hosted, we decided that we would the Christmas holiday in Trinidad and Tobago, and to contemplate what we would do afterwards. 

In January of 2006, I got sick. My diabetes got worse and I started to loose weight resulting in the loss of over 20 pounds. My muscles atrophied and following that I got neuropathy — I began feeling a burning sensation throughout my body. The only piece of clothing that I could wear was a sarong rap. It was indeed a very difficult time for me. I visited my doctor and started a rigid medical regiment. I also had a mental and physical plan to work on my mental, physical and spiritual well being. My daughter decided that she would stay with me in Trinidad to help me to recuperate. We had the option of going back to Canada, but I felt that I would receive medical treatment that is comparable with Canada and the fact that the weather was also great. 

My daughter stayed with me during the whole duration of my sickness and recuperation. I was very much dependent upon her for preparing my meals, administering my medication, taking me on my doctor's visit. She was basically responsible for meeting all of my needs. I really appreciated her and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for putting her life on hold for so long — almost two and a half years. To her, I am eternally grateful. She has always been loving and caring, but to put your life on hold that's a sacrifice — a sacrifice she made for me. I love you with all my heart!

While I discovered that it is important that you are the one in command of your change, it is important to have others in your corner for support. While we can rejoice in the change as it is achieved, having others to celebrate and acknowledge those advances and achievements, is very rewarding and provides incentives for moving on. You must also set goals, and make sure that your goals are further divided into smaller ones, gradually moving to the achievement of the larger goal. When your goals are too broad they can be seen as insurmountable and prevent you from tackling it or striving to achieve it. Remember also that Rome was not built in a day, thus your transformation will not come over night. It is not speedily achieved. It takes time. Some days you might even feel that you are taking two steps forward, but also two steps backwards. Some days it does feel that you are standing in one place, and that can make you feel that your efforts are fruitless. Take every day that you have risen
gotten off your bed, and strive towards your change no matter how small and insignificant the activity you do might seems do it any way. It makes a difference.

I will like to share an analogy with you that a friend
a support during my wellness transformation shared with me during my first trial. She said, that I should see my change in the same way as if I am a passenger on board a very large cruise ship. She said, picture, the captain decides to turn the ship around, and it begins to turn. It will take a while to do so and during the course of its change in direction, as a passenger you will not feel the turn. You will only see the turn after it is completed. You cannot give up, if some days, you are not able to see your change. Visualization and faith, helped me to see where I would be and it gave me the hope that I will get there. I also strongly believed that with time, change will occur. How much time I had? I had no idea, but I believed that if I received another day as a gift of life from my creator, I will use it to work on my change. It worked. Two years and six months later I was feeling strong —  psychologically, physiologically and spiritually.

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