When Valleys Come

When Valleys Come

First of all, thank you for your thoughtful and encouraging replies to last week’s questions about my work. You are helping me shape what’s next in my life and I am grateful. In fact, this week’s inspiration comes from one of your responses:

The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable, but our wholeness—even our wholeheartedness—actually depends on the integration of all of our experiences, including the falls. Brené Brown


I guess there are no mountains without valleys, right?

But it’s hard to acknowledge the valleys, isn’t it? We like to minimize them, pretend to be unscathed by them, and even discount the lasting effects they have on us.

Yet, those experiences can be the very ones that help us distill what’s really important to us and in the process connect us to others, perhaps even help others, who may be struggling, too.

When I was paralyzed 22 years ago, I lived in great hope that I would walk again. In six hours, transverse myelitis attacked the myelin sheath surrounding my spinal cord. Although the spinal cord was never severed, its ability to communicate was lost and I was paralyzed from the waist down.

One third of those affected recover fully from transverse myelitis, a rare inflammation of the spinal cord that affects one in a million. One third recover partially. One third have no recovery at all.

At the same time, I also lost vision in my left eye from another rare inflammation process, Devic’s Syndrome. I regained my sight in three days. One lone neuro-ophthalmologist said that because of the course of the Devic’s in my eye, I should have recovery in my spine as well.

I had reason to hope. But after nineteen months of paralysis, I let go of that hope. I had to let go of the life I wanted, to live fully in the life I had.

It was a valley like no other I’d known.

I fought hard to keep being the Becky I’d been. I was determined not to let my paralysis define me.

Yet it does. I hate to admit it, but paralysis limits me. I have to be real about that or I set myself up for disappointment and failure every day.

I need structure, routines, lead time, and plans that include an A, B, and C for almost everything I do. My body requires it.

I need quiet time, down time, reflection time, and reliable folks “in the boat” with me who will support and encourage me. My mental and spiritual health require it.

I don’t like it, but I’ve accepted my limitations. I now fight hard to keep nurturing the Becky I can still be.

Brené Brown is right: Our wholeness depends on the integration of all of our experiences.

What it takes to be healthy and whole evolves, I’ve learned. Whether we admit it or not, whether we like it or not, our paths through the valleys and mountains shape who we are and how we live our lives.

We get to choose, however, if we pursue wholeness.

How about you? Has a loss redefined your life? How did you have to change to keep living fully within it? Tell me about it. I’d love to know.

My best – always,

Becky  (Nana B)

P.S. Such fun at book club this week! This group of teachers and parents from a nearby school has been together over fourteen years! Thanks for selecting my book and inviting me to that yummy brunch.

P.P.S. So sorry Madison’s video link didn’t upload last week. It’s below as well as her 1 in 50 Campaign. We are almost at our goal! Thanks for contributing. It means a lot!

Madison's 1 in 50 Final Video

Madison's Donation and Banner

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