Change Your Life and Be Thankful!

On November 17, 2007 my 13-year dance career ended abruptly during a student-teacher performance at the studio where I taught ballroom dance. I was accidentally dropped during a lift fracturing 2 ribs, herniating 3 discs in my neck and causing nerve damage in my back, arm and hand. While the ribs healed quickly, the neck and nerve damage were severe and the proverbial dance was literally over.

It was a devastating day for me.

It was definitely one of the best things that ever happened to me.

The first 2 years were really hard. Preoccupied with pain management, I was also coping with the loss of my primary form of expression for the last (nearly) 30 years. All the while, I was fighting. As much as I tried to feel thankful for all the wonderful things in my life, the resentment was eating me up inside.

But I was lucky. Within the first 6 months of my injury I found a sales and marketing position in the entertainment industry. I began to shift my focus to feeling thankful that I had a job that I could be good at. But in a year and a half I had become good at my job and the results that I brought in were recognized by my company and even the competitors in the industry. As soon as I had accomplished what I set out to do at my job, I felt my attention shift back to feeling sorry for myself. And oh what a pity party it was! I became ill.

Doctor after doctor after doctor. I changed my diet. I changed my priorities. I changed my attitude. I changed my life. I remembered to be thankful again. Thankful that my body and my mind are my vehicles for being happy and kind, and thankful that I have the capacity for healing.

So as my attention shifted to feeling thankful and as my actions became in line with my thoughts an incredible thing happened. I realized the accident was my teacher, not a disability. I became grateful for how much my neck had healed. Grateful for all the emotional support I had received from my family and friends. I let go of what I could not control and for the first time, I moved on.

A little over a week ago I found myself in a Pilates session with a teacher who gave me a very basic exercise for strengthening my neck. My neck immediately released all tension and pain. For longer than a moment, it was literally like the accident never happened. I knew it was the exact, right thing for me to be doing. I was inspired. My whole body smiled. I knew I was healing. I was told that if I kept this particular exercise up, I would be able to fully heal and go back to dancing. Whoa.

It has been 4 years and 3 days since the day of my accident and I am stronger, happier and healthier now than I’ve been in a long, long time. I am incredibly grateful.

So long story short, what “they” say is right on point: Be thankful for what you have right now. It really will change your life.

Keep on keepin’ on and Happy Thanksgiving Zenful Dancers!

-The Zenful Blogger

Counting Down to Day 10 (Day 119 out of 129) of the Middle Path Makeover – Juice Cleanse Part I

Whoa. It’s amazing what doing with a little less (in this case no solid food, only specific kinds of juice, water and herbal tea) will give you in return. Today was like a celebration of life! Totally silly to say, I know, but it was! Instead of spending a lot of my time throughout the day thinking about food, I spent it focusing on other things that were important to me like my work (I was more productive than usual), my friends, my music and occasionally trying to not think about food. I definitely seemed to have more time on my hands. 🙂

I felt a little lighter today, literally… and a little happier. A change in perspective can do that for me sometimes. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m hungry but I got through my first day without cheating at all. I really didn’t want food except when I saw someone else eating. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Keep on keepin’ on,

-Leah Joy, The Zenful Blogger

Counting Down to Day 19 (Day 110 out of 129) of the Middle Path Makeover – Balance

What goes up must come down. What you throw out there will come back to you. What you think most often you will attract more thoughts like that to you. There are (at least) two sides to every story; which side are you? Listen to them both before forming an opinion.

Stand on both feet with your weight distributed evenly and your body will expel less energy than if you stand on only one. But stand on one foot and your other limbs (head, arms, leg of the second foot) will automatically answer the call of the first foot by extending and expelling more energy to balance out the lack of the first. Falling or not, that IS grace. It is the balance of life. And life can be a little off sometimes. How wonderful that we have the opportunity to witness our own unevenness!

One foot or two, or no feet at all. It is all just life working in balance with what we throw out there. Hang on to your sense of humor! 🙂

-Leah Joy, The Zenful Blogger

Counting Down to Day 20 (Day 109 out of 129) of the Middle Path Makeover – Waiting For Greener Grass

Many of us wait our whole lives for something more: a more important job, a nicer car, better vacations, 2.2 kids and a house with a white picket fence, a different spouse, skinnier thighs, more hair… we’ve all heard the story. For me, the times when I finally got the greener grass turned out to be something I rarely even wanted or needed- I just thought I did because someone else thought it was greater than sliced bread.

And what is so great about the other side when fewer and fewer folks are really appreciating anything that they have anyway? Good question, right? BUT, if I can remember that thoughts are just things (and I’m the one giving these thoughts their meanings), then the only thing between me and greener pastures is me.

What are we waiting for?? Whether or not it’s within our grasp in this moment isn’t important. Most things in life are impermanent. Appreciate it all right now. 🙂

-Leah Joy, The Zenful Blogger