Imagine your life changing in the blink of an eye almost as if you’ve been sucker-punched with the wind knocked out of you. You find yourself feeling like you’re lying flat on your back staring at the ceiling as if the proverbial rug was pulled out from under you. Right now you are asking yourself, “Why me? Why now?” This is a normal occurrence among us mere mortals and the last time this happened to me I stopped asking, “Why me?” and started asking, “What’s NEXT?”

It was 11:20am on April 26, 2006. While sitting at my desk working on an important proposal, I began to notice a tingling sensation in my right hand and a slight loss of vision in my left eye. These are my typical warning signs of a migraine so I took my medication and kept working. Oddly, the symptoms neither diminished nor increased so I took even more medication. Over the course of days I began to realize that the entire right side of my body was numb and I had lost about 50% of the vision in my left eye. As I looked in the mirror trying not to panic while saying to myself, “something is dreadfully wrong,” thoughts of a stroke swirled around in my head.

At first the doctors diagnosed me as having a stroke. Then after countless tests, the diagnosis went from stroke to brain tumor to finally hearing the dreaded words, “my dear, beyond a shadow of a doubt you have Multiple Sclerosis.” Did I hear the doctor correctly? Did I really have some illness that would never go away? Could I not be cured with a pill or surgery? How had my life come to this?

To make matters worse, within a year of being diagnosed I was laid off from my senior-level, high-pressure job. At first I was surprised. Then I became angry followed by, quite honestly, relief. For the past year I had been treated like someone who was sick and I realized the overall stress of working in a toxic, unhappy environment was not conducive to my staying well over time. With a mission to stay healthy and pursue my passion, I began to think about what the NEXT chapter in my life would be.

Gifts come in strange forms and our job in life is to recognize them and make them our own. They do not come tied up neatly with a bow; sometimes they come in torn packaging with ratty strings. During our journey life can be messy, painful, wonderful, exhilarating and, most of all, unpredictable. Life throws obstacles our way all the time and it is a question of our perspective or outlook to see the opportunity. Have you heard the saying, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I do not believe there is a higher power that is judging us and deciding whether good or bad things happen to us. Life just is. Most of us suffer in one form or another at some point in time and each of us has the power in choice to decide whether to look upon that as a negative or problem versus a positive or opportunity.

How we unwrap a gift is sometimes the best gift to ourselves. It is our personalized roadmap for an ever-changing experience we all face that is called Real Life. Working through our struggles helps us grow and develop full, rewarding lives. It is about growing from challenges and achieving strength and emotional freedom. It is about releasing yourself from what happened yesterday; facing today and tomorrow with a positive attitude; and learning to allow life to be so you can experience high energy, joy and fulfillment. And who wouldn’t want that?

Here are 4 easy steps to turn adversity into a GIFT™:

1. Get Clear
Assess your situation, embrace all of the emotions you’re feeling, and be clear on what is happening to you. Remember to be grateful, have faith in yourself that you are strong.

2. Increase Awareness
Learn all you can, reach out to anyone and everyone who can help you, do a self-assessment to check-in with how you feel emotionally and physically. Authenticity – be who you are in all areas of your life. Find your own Truth.

3. Focus
Set SMART goals, hold yourself accountable to someone, clarify your top priorities and values and Community – stay connected to positive, like-minded people.

4. Take Action
Lasting change occurs when you make small sustainable choices. A habit takes 21 days to form and 90 days to make stick so don’t give up too early in the game. Be supported over time and learn to navigate life’s ups and downs while you keep moving forward. Choose what you “want” instead of doing what you “should” in order to feel empowered.

So next time the proverbial rug is pulled out from under you, recognize the opportunity that lies within. You might just surprise yourself and wake up to actually living your life with high energy, inspiration, purpose and fulfillment.

To your wellness!

Author's Bio: 

Have you ever received good advice that you were unable to follow? Has your doctor ever recommended a lifestyle change that you found to be unsustainable? Have you ever wanted something in your life, but found you couldn’t achieve it on your own?

I practice a holistic approach to health and wellness, which means that I look at how all areas of your life are connected. Does stress at your job or in your relationships cause you to overeat or lose sleep? Does low energy prevent you from exercising or doing the things you love? As we work together, we will examine how all parts of your life affect your health as a whole.

My approach is to help you focus on your unique life vision so as to realize new insights and a greater awareness of self. With me by your side as your strongest advocate and nonjudgmental accountability partner, you will wake up to living your life, see clearly what choices you have, be able to focus on exactly what you want and thrive.

Together we’ll work to reach your health and wellness goals in areas such as achieving optimal weight, reducing food cravings, increasing sleep and maximizing energy. You will develop a deeper understanding of the lifestyle and food choices that work best for you and implement lasting changes that will improve your energy, balance and health.

As a seasoned professional with over 25-years’ experience, half of which were in the healthcare sector, I authentically walk-the-talk every day. After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in June 2006, my life changed forever. This “gift” made me realize the importance of waking up to living my life and helping others do the same. Take a journey with me, whether through Individual Coaching, Group Coaching, Seminars and/or Workshops, to Be Present, Be Purposeful and Be Well.

To Your Wellness!

Barbara B. Appelbaum

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