Half Full or Half Empty—Mindset Matters

Five months ago my husband had a stroke. The life we shared was over. Nothing would ever be the same.

I cried every day. I blogged about it. Even as his brain began to reconnect with paralyzed limbs and visible progress was made, I still wondered how we would go on.

I’m happy to say the pity party has ended and both of us have come to realize that yes, the life we knew will probably not return. But new challenges, new adventures, and a new life has opened for us.

I saw a quote from Henry David Thoreau this morning on Twitter that said, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” I see a man who can walk again—slowly, not as far, and with a walker, but he does it. I see a man who does everything he needs to do himself, who takes care of our finances, who designs my book covers and critiques my manuscripts.

We read together in the evenings, we go shopping, we go to the library, we go out to dinner. What’s different? Nothing, except that he’s in a wheelchair when out and I’m developing a nice set of muscles because the transport chair has to be pushed. And we haven’t yet returned to boating.

Our adventures and challenges are opportunities to problem-solve. How do we manage luggage between the car and the airport check-in counter if I’m pushing a chair? Will his weak hand be strong enough to help his left hand maneuver the boat into a slip? Can he make it up and down the stairs in our Sonoma house? Does our favorite Shakespeare Festival have accessible spots for viewing the shows?

What’s changed? We have lots of therapy appointments and I have a few more chores. It’s necessary to be super organized. But before retirement, I was anyway. Like most of you, I had a job and a house to manage. For a while, I had both parents and children to see to. Somehow, everything got done.

The other change is I do all the driving. But driving is no longer out of the question for my husband. His therapists are surprised he isn’t driving already. Cars can be ordered with whatever accessibility aids one needs. His eyesight is good, as is his reaction time. We’re almost there.

We’ve been through a rough patch, but we’re back. The glass is half full again, and the water is rising. We’re looking forward to the future. It’s not going to be exactly the same…it’s going to be better.

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