Two Realities of CP: Adapting and Stillness

Having lived with Cerebral Palsy for 34 years now, I have come to a few conclusions, however painfully obvious they may be. Allow me to elaborate more in the following paragraphs:

One: I am not “normal” I get it, no one is. But I use crutches to walk around, sometimes a wheel-chair, I scoot down steps (at times) and sometimes I still crawl around. Furthermore, crawling around for me, is sometimes easier, yes others can and do help me and I’m grateful for it. But the reality is, if I can’t carry something in my mouth while walking, well, crawling on the ground while moving something works just great. Again, I know it’s not ideal, or however else one would describe it. But it works for me. I’m not ashamed of it, and it honestly saves my legs some strength and even prevents me for slipping and bonking my face on things.. Which has happened before.  I have come to terms that, some things in life need various levels of adaptation.

When it comes to be a father some day, I might not be able to carry my child in my arms in the middle of the night. Walking them around as most good fathers (and mothers) do, but I can find ways to hold them and other ways of doing things for them. I’m not normal, and I parent or raise my children normal either.  I’m actually very open to this reality and am very excited about discovering what works and what doesn’t in all aspects of my life.   The world most become more open to the realm of possibility, rather than being stuck in the world of impossibility.

My faith in God also plays a huge role in this, because I know that he is faithful and good. Providing all that I need and working everything out for my good (Romans 8:28). It’s learning to trust him, even when I cannot see how things are going to happen, or even understand what God is doing.

Two: I’ve come to terms with the amount of pain that my body is in everyday. Much of the pain, I believe anyway, has much to do with A) getting older and B) the amount of stress I put my body through while in the gym . Both in strength training and Jiujutsu. Again, I’m ok with this, I do the very best I can to combat the daily aches, pains and stiffness . Yet no matter, what anyone does it’s going to be there in some degree. In many respects, I’ve come to a place where I am at peace with the pain. Meaning, I know it’s there, but it will not be the defining factor of my life.  I will not allow it to stop me from being the person that God has destined me to be. This is not to say, that I don’t have days where the darkness sets in, in much thicker shades. They do, yet I have the greatest light in times of darkness, and the deepest anchor in times of trouble.

In conclusion: Not one of us is “normal” whatever that means anyway. Each of us, how are only problems, worries and battles we fight on a daily basis. Life is hard, but that is no reason to quit, we keep an open mind to how we can greater adapt with the circumstances that life throws at us. Lastly, we learn to make peace with the contexts that we find ourselves in, but that doesn’t mean that we become complacent in the fight. No, we keep fighting and moving forward. We teach ourselves to become more resilient and adaptable in the fight. We find joy, hope, wonder in the bleakest of circumstances. If not, we will die a quicker death emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Which is reality that is all too often easily accepted.

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How To Endure Suffering and Embrace All of Life.

 

Life is a series of moments, moments that are quickly escaping us. Whether we are aware of it or not. Which is breath, each month, each year, with every word and with every thought. And what we do in these moments is up to us. What we believe in these moments is up to us.

We can choose to be a pessimist or we can choose to be optimist. Sure, each day brings trials and worries of its own, yet the choice is still ours. Even in the darkest of times, we don’t have to be completely swallowed up by suffering.

Suffering does not have to crush or destroy us. One of the ways I have found to endure the hard times of life, is to condition myself in the midst of suffering. The same way I condition my body in the gym and on the matts. I condition my mind to be strong and stable in the harshest of conditions.

Am I always successful at it? No, I am not. I fail at it a lot, but if I/we do not condition ur minds to endure suffering. Life will in fact crush us. How do I condition my mind, you ask?

two ways:

  1. Patience’s in suffering- this is something we humans do not want to hear, but it is true none the less. Wishing the pain away, really does nothing for us. But being calm and as steady as rock, thus allows us to pray, ask, seek and knock. It allows us to endure and learn optimal lessons about ourselves. Consider the words in James 5:7-8 (NIV)  Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.    When we know that the Lord is near, nothing can shake us. When we truly know his character and his love for us. The suffering and adversity is momentary compared to his steadfast love.

2. Learn the art of Joy: Psalm 30:

 will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up
    and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
    and you have healed me.
Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
    you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.[a]

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
    and give thanks to his holy name.[b]
For his anger is but for a moment,
    and his favor is for a lifetime.[c]
Weeping may tarry for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

 

The poet David knows suffering all too well, and even he has endured much difficulty and despair. And yet he has learned the secret of rejoicing in the Lord, for he understands that God will not let the darkness triumph over him. Yes, I know that others may not share my same belief and faith in the Christian world view- but I believe that it is the only world way, that has anything to say about suffering. And it is the only world view that confronts suffering head on. Some say that faith in God is a “crutch” per- say, and yet most of us, that have been put the ringer of life, understand what it’s like to walk with a limp.  And so yes, Jesus comes along side us in our suffering and gives us himself to trust and lean on.

After all, he was plunged into the deepest sea of darkness for us, to show us his mad love for us and that we are not alone in suffering. He knows our suffering, temptations and weakness very deeply. The blessing of life then, as I said in the beginning, is a bundle of minutes and precious moments, passing us by whether we like it or not, believe it or not. As such, it is up to us to embrace the moments, darkness in all. We all have a choice in how we handle and view the suffering.

I say embrace it, head on, knowing that God is the great shepherd. Who can lead you beside still waters, regardless of where you have been, what you have done or have scared you may be about the future.

You are loved, it is never too late to accept the hand with the most amazing love and grace.

Caught in the Storm

When You Feel Like A Failure

Feeling like a failure is probably one of the worst feelings in the world, wouldn’t you agree? There are days when I myself feel like a failure, where I wished that I would have done things differently in life.

I think to some degree everyone has felt like that, but what are the roots of such a paralyzing feeling?

  1. We lack a core identity or truth about ourselves,  as a Christian and follower of Jesus. My core identity comes from him and him alone, nothing else. And when I know who I am in his eyes and what I am in his sight. Nothing else truly matters in the end. Nothing can separate me/us from his love:

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38, NLT)

2) You are not your past mistakes: No matter what you have done in your past, it does not mean that the past has to dictate your future. Yes, there may be consequences for a past action, but the good news is, is that we can take extreme ownership of our actions, and decide to be a different person here and now. Furthermore, there is forgiveness in Christ and He can make you a new creation:

2 Corinthians 5:17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.

3) Persevere: Life is hard yes, people will doubt you, they won’t believe you can change, they will want to see you fail. But you can’t let that stop you. You have to tell yourself, that you will choose to keep moving forward, every second of everyday. You will even have moments where you want to give up, you may even have  moments of break down. And I’d argue, that that’s okay, but then get up, dust off and keep moving forward.images

 

Do You Want to Get Well?

One of the most pointed questions, Christ ever asked Do You want to get well?

John 5, Jesus spots a paralyzed man, who wants to go into the pool of Bethesda. All kinds of other people with various aliments are going into this pool for physical healing. But everyone is passing him up, going in ahead of him.

The man says to Jesus: Sir,’ the invalid replied, ‘I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.’

Jesus replied Then Jesus said to him, Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

There are a few things that we can glean from this passage:

  1. his inward disposition of self- sorrow: he feels that he will never get well, he is focused on his circumstances and  he has no idea who his near him. It is our own inner thought process from seeing the power of God and who He is.

 

2: I believe that God heals not just the physical, but spiritual: You see, when Jesus asks if you want to get well, He is pointing to a much deeper reality. He is pointing to getting well spiritual speaking, He is talking about making our mind, emotions and hearts come alive to the truth He offers. He is the true path way to healing, that is not found in any other spiritual method or guru. For every other enlightened person, has claimed that they are a path way to the truth. But Christ says, that He is the truth and He has come to set you free! It does not matter what you have done in your life, it doesn’t matter your pedigree, education or anything else that we think can take the place of Him. He wants your heart, then He will make your more in His love and character.

 

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Do What You Were Meant To Do.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

― Howard Thurman

Finding your soul purpose, is not a exploration through outer space. I repeat:

Finding your soul purpose, is not a exploration through outer space.

What does this mean?

It means that God has endowed us all with things that we are passionate about, and talented out. What ever those things are for you, are the things that I truly believe that you should be pursuing.

It doesn’t matter if its painting, web design, clothing, public speaking, mentoring, coaching or something else. If we are not doing the things we love in some fashion. We are living a horrible existence.

As a society, we are caught in the 9-5 trap, working for our bank accounts. Now, if you like what you’re doing, good. Keep doing it. But I feel that most people hate what their doing and as such they are dying on the inside. Living for the Fridays and drinking some beer… Not that that’s bad at all.

But I just think that we could be living a more meaningful existence… You have to work an odd job to make ends meet. But to not do something that makes you come alive, is utter foolishness.

Write down what makes you come alive, make a plan and go do it.

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Remembering Chester Bennington

I’ll never forget being a teenager, lying there in my bed watching MTV, when MTV was actually MTV. Meaning that they actually played good music videos. It must have been early morning I remember seeing Linkin’s Parks video for the song One Step Closer.  I was hooked from the first sound of the guitar, the break down and the perfect hybrid rap Rock vocals. The lyrics hooked me as an angsty teen. The lyrics were speaking to me in a way nothing else could.

I was a fan and will always will be. There was not a LP album that I was not a fan of. To be quite honest though, it was the lyrical depth that drew me in. The fact that the band was armed with a great live show was even better. I had never gotten the chance to see the band live, but I remember seeing them live on a show called Reverb Nation. There was so much emotional connectivity with the crowd, it was all so intriguing and inspiring to me.

To think that someone like Chester, or any member of the band could command such attention. When ever I was sad, depressed or angry it would be linkin park that I went to the most. The interesting thing is though, even through Chesters heavy, dark and even hopeful lyrics. I never truly connected that fact that he struggled with depression or mental illness. In my young mind at the time, I thought he was only telling stories of people that he knew.

There was no way he could be depressed right? I mean he was a world wide celebrity and had everything it seemed. That the was the younger, less wise part of myself. Now that I am bit older, I realize that it is truly possible to have everything and feel like you have nothing at the same time.

In my own journey with depression and anxiety, it was the lyrics of Chester B that gave me the room I needed to give voice to what I was feeling on the inside. I was never blessed with the chance to meet Chester, and tell him thank you for his words. And that I in some ways considered him a friend.

On a personal level, I often feel so up and down. Happy one moment and either want to scream or cry the next. I have had a handful of psych professors tell me that life, for most is very up and down or much like scribbling on a piece of paper. But thats never been a soothing or satisfying response for me.

The more I listen to the lyrics of Chester, the more I sense that he was truly crying out. Duh right? As a psychology major though, I have learned to pay more attention and see more deeply into a person. Are they truly happy when they smile or is there more going on below the surface?

Better yet, are we happy in a public setting and then fall apart behind closed doors? It’s almost been a year since his passing, and I honestly cannot believe that he is gone. I keep waiting for some FB article to pop up saying that he is alive and well, much like 2 pac. ..

But I guess that a big part of me is still in denial, that he is truly gone. All I know is that, we cannot afford to keep losing people this way. Regardless of what we believe about life. We must be willing to ask and have uncomfortable conversations, about how and where we are at in life.

We have to be willing to say **** the stigma behind talking about depression and suicide, for it is the only way to break free. We have to be willing to say enough is enough.

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A Tighter Grip.

I don’t even know where to begin

All I know is that I want to get a grip on myself.

My anxiety has been so bad.

My emotions have been everywhere.

And sometimes I feel like my chest is going to implode.

I find myself crying when I am alone.

I find myself utterly sensitive to the energies around me.

One moment I am happy and the next, anger, sadness, frustration rage.

I hate this…. I hate this.

My soul is desperate for change.

I want to know what it’s like to feel stable.

I hate feeling like such a wreck.

Perhaps its only a season or moment in time.

All I want is to break free. And not be dominated by this internal, unstable and insecure war inside me.

I want to get to the bottom of this, one breath at a time, one step at a time.

 

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Cerebral Palsy. Body Image and Internal Healing.

I’m starting to see a correlation between cerebral palsy and body image, this correlation stems from being in contact with numerous people who live with cerebral palsy through social media. In this particular regard, I’m speaking about having a negative self image.

You may look at the image of me below, and not think that I am “fat” all, but when I look at myself. That is what I see.

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When I look at the sides of my stomach, I think “Ugh gross” then I start thinking or obsessing over what I eat and upping the intensity of my daily workouts. Which is not a bad thing at all. It is a problem though, when you are in the middle of your workout and you can’t stop dwelling on how disgusting you feel and look.

I posted that above photo on instagram a few weeks ago, lots of people said that I looked great, or that we all had those feelings, or even “that’s just skin!” The comments were heart warming and helped me to think more positively.. For awhile, but then I would find myself in the downward spiral of self destruction and sabotage.

My workouts have consisted of lots of burpees, probably two-four hundred every single day. Along with Kettle and Bar Bell lifting. I sweat a lot, recover well but am utterly hungry the rest of the day.  Nor am I afraid of eating my carbs, protein and Beer… My one beer after work.

The engine is constantly stoked, and I’m constantly pushing my mind and body.. But there is this area of my life, that needs change. I’m tried all the thought stopping methods, all the positive affirmations etc. And still nothing helps the crap shoot stop.

After CF today, I came home, ate and then went to wash my stinky self. There I was, looking at my body with contempt. And then I thought, “this has to stop!” Truly the only thing that gets me through life is my faith. So after redirecting my thoughts back to it, I whispered to God:

“God, you don’t want me to hate my body, I know that. Help me to see myself differently, as you do.” At that moment, something clicked on inside of me. I’m not saying that you have to do, as I do, that is something that you have to decide and work through for yourself.

What I am saying though, is that these destructive thinking has to stop, or at least be put in its rightful place. A vast majority of therapists would saying that working out is killing me, and steer me away from it as they would most addictions. But I don’t think that that is the end all be all solution.

Yes, some things might need to change, or pause. But this is less a physical issue, and more a mental, emotional and spiritual issue. And until those issues heal, nothing we change the way we long for.

So! We have to understand that this is going to be a long journey, with plenty of ups and downs and twists and turns. We have to accept where we are at. I know that this is something that will not want to be heard, you might spend lots of time in a wheel chair, and be on lots of meds. Okay, we can work with that, the fact is that we cannot give up.

There are plenty of exercises that can be done from a seated position, plenty of ways to even build stamina too. I should get on making videos regarding these topics. Yet the biggest component is learning to take care of ourselves from a place of love and not so much a “I have to” but an “I want to” there’s a huge difference.

Change your forward thinking: Think less on your image, and think more about prolonged health, mobility, strength and focus. So that we can be the strongest version of ourselves, not so much for ourselves but for others.

The internal healing is more tangible than we believe, more closer than we think. Much like any medicine though, it takes time for the benefits to show up, but rest assured. Through discipline and diligence change will come.

Blessings!

-Brandon

 

 

 

 

Anxiety. Jesus. And How To Cope

Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith. I don’t agree at all. They are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the Passion of Christ. -CS Lewis (Letters to Malcolm)

Anxiety is a very crippling affliction, for me it consists of a tight chest, racing thoughts, anger, fear, dread, panic and intense sobbing when the tears are able to pour forth. It can be debilitating in some sense, sometimes I don’t even want to people around people, mostly I just want to escape to a quiet and peaceful place.

In our modern society, anxiety is either as a mental health issue, and thus prescribed anti anxiety/anti-depressants. On time of counseling of some form or another. I have mixed emotions about it, sometimes when they anxiety is so bad it doesn’t seem like anything helps calm the rage inside me. Honestly, in these moments I turn to an ice cold beer to aid in helping numb the numbness.

I know that there are healthier ways of dealing with it, physically and spiritually speaking. So I’m sorry to disappoint. On the other hand some in the scientific community are saving that the war against anxiety lies within our gut and what we eat. I don’t have with a problem with this idea, other then the fact that some within this community try a pit the physical against the mental and so on. Rarely is it ever both at the same time.

In recent years I have taken a more holistic approach to self-care, being sure that the body, mind and spirit are all taken care of to the best of my human ability. No, I’m not always perfect at it, but I do the best I can by Gods grace. Jesus knew anxiety very well, and was a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). To see this, all one has to do is look at his reaction in the garden of gethsemane, His reaction to what was about to come before Him, was not just a physical, spiritual, mental or emotionally one but rather the harshest wave of each of them.

Be that as it may, if Jesus experienced this sort of anguish (which I believe He did) then He is the most vital figure to look at. This is not to imply that others who struggle with anxiety aren’t worth gleaning from,  but because how He (Jesus) understood deeply and overcame triumphantly, our affliction. He is the truest path to peace.

Even when words fail, when everything else fails us. He will not. He will uphold us with an out stretched arm. Furthermore, it is vitally important to note that Jesus does not minimize anxiety as some in our culture do. He knows it, He has jumped head first into the deepest anxiety for you and me.

Again I say, medicine, therapy, exercise, community etc is not bad, but more than anxiety is the calming serenity and joy that we long the most for.   He will hold you close to His chest, He will hear your cry when no else has a moment to spare.

Know that this moment will pass, it might not pass when we want to. But it will.

Pray,

Journal,

Cry out to God, for He hears you before anyone else will,

Find a few loyal friends you can depend on, in the darkest moments.

Eat healthy, avoid processed food and sugars

Exercise daily, get your body moving.

Go to a counselor if you want to.

Cry. Scream. Slam things if you need to. Just don’t stomach it any longer.

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God Spoke To Me

There I was sitting on the toilet this morning, as I always do. Taking care of the demons in my stomach. Truth be told, I have not been feeling all that great about myself the past few days. For reasons that I do not wish to share on this blog.

But there I was, the few places that I pray are when I am in the shower, working out or on the toilet. I tend to pray more privately these days… As I was sitting on my throne, I was noticing all the negative thoughts coming out from my mind, making their way to my heart.

When I heard and felt a soft whisper say from underneath all of the crap coming out of (non pun intended).

Your my son… 

I know its crazy, and this blog might very well make you think that of me. So be it. For many religious crack heads have said that God spoke to them, well, let me tell you quickly why my experience is different. The words that were spoken to me, can be back up with scripture.

Psalm 2:7

Matthew 3:17

Luke 15:11-32

To name a few, I don’t think this is as crazy, because God speaks to various people in various ways through out the whole of scripture. Further more, the Lord reminding me that I am his son, is far (far) different than some other Christian claiming “the phone rang and that was a sign I was meant to marry this person!”

I know my soul needed these words today, I needed to be reminded of my true identity today. Does this happen often to me? No, but when it does. Its very special to me. Today my hope and prayer is that you know that God loves you, in Christ all things can be made new.

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