Spread the Secret!

Let me state up front that I don't consider myself an athlete. I would be the first to admit that I tend to veer more toward being uncoordinated and accident prone. I should also note that I'm not very graceful. I’m sometimes the gal with toilet paper dragging from my shoe or the hem of my skirt stuck in the waist of my pantyhose. My husband affectionately jokes that I have the habit of tripping over imaginary objects on flat surfaces.

When Yummy Mummy Club founder Erica Ehm started recruiting members for a Yummy Mummy team to attend the
Midsummer Night’s Run in Toronto, you might imagine that I received this invitation with a certain amount of trepidation. Running is not my forte. I belong to a gym where I use the weight machines and the elliptical - if I feel like it, which is not too often. When I read all the Twitter tweets about the #TeamYM run/walk I decided it was finally time for me to step up to the plate. (Being a left-handed hitter in grade school was not too cool.) Keeping in mind that this was my first running event and my limited time to train, I signed up for the 15km walk.
Let me tell you, panic did set in! The phrase, “What was I thinking?” crossed my mind a few times. For a month I alternated between running on the treadmill, using the elliptical trainer and the occasional run around the University of Western Ontario campus with my very fit and supportive husband. I needed him to scout out those phantom objects that invariably trip me up. The one thing I was lacking was confidence. I desperately needed to psych myself up for this challenge! I knew the physical training wasn’t going to be enough since part of the race to the finish line is mental. This is where I decided to draw on what I’d learned from
reviewing The Secret a few years ago. The Secret teaches about the law of attraction and positive thinking. It’s the adult’s version of the children’s classic The Little Engine That Could, with the mantra “I think I can, I think I can!” Every day I had to tell myself that I was going to finish the 15 km route. I envisioned myself crossing the finish line and getting a medal. It doesn’t seem like a big idea but it served me as quite a motivating image. I mentioned my goal to my sister Kara and she jumped on board joining me for the 15km walk. She wanted to keep up her momentum after participating in various Carabana events. In addition, she thought it would be a good way to mark her fortieth milestone.

During my training, I was introduced to the book
No Matter What! by Lisa Nichols. Nichols is one of the contributors to The Secret and a co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul. In No Matter What! the author and motivational speaker expands on The Secret’s Law of Attraction to include her Law of No Matter What. Nichols believes that in order to succeed we need to have a positive mindset of intention and commitment. Nichols says that an individual can turn a breakdown into a breakthrough by following her nine steps. If we use our mental muscles we can go from sadness and stress to self-fulfillment and success. If you feel you need to find motivation or inspiration then Lisa Nichols’ message can help you to drive and strive for your dreams.
Yummy Mummy Club is promoting a
contest with yummy prizes on behalf of New Aspiration and Lisa Nichols. Be sure to check out the contest and the No Matter What Tour. To read more see the Lisa Nichols interview by Kathryn Bechthold and pick up a copy of the book, No Matter What!
After participating in the 15km event, I feel eager to run in my next event. My friend Brenda says that my enthusiasm has inspired her to do a 6km run in the
Ride and Stride for Autism Ontario at the end of the September. I think I’ve found my next challenge! One thing I can suggest to anyone who finds they are hitting a mental roadblock is the need to be your own personal cheerleader. I’ve learned that the secret to success is to believe in yourself, no matter what!

Neuroscience Meets Nirvana

On a recent visit with my dear childhood friend she asked me what I was reading and we ended up taking about her health. At age of 40 my friend Denise had a wakeup call, but it wasn’t one of those ‘what should I do with the second half of my life?’ moments. One day while at work she didn’t feel quite right. She felt strange, woozy and a bit off-balance so she sat down. A co-worker asked her what was wrong and when Denise tried to speak it was gibberish that came out. This ‘blip’, as she puts it, only lasted a few moments and the symptoms passed. Like a typical busy mom she decided to carry on with her day and made a mental note to visit her doctor the next day. Denise described her symptoms to her doctor and he immediately sent her for tests. The tests confirmed that she had experienced a Transient Ischemic Attack (T.I.A.) or colloquially referred to as a ‘mini stroke’. She had several blood clots in her brain which were later revealed to be caused by a congenital heart defect. In laymen’s terms Denise had a hole in her heart. She was put on heavy duty blood thinning drugs to break up the clots. In the next few days it became noticeable to Denise that her left side was slightly weaker than her right side.
Denise was very fortunate that her stroke was mild and that she decided to seek medical attention for her vague, fleeting symptoms. It took about 6 months to fully regain the strength in the weakened side of her body and she is on blood thinning medication for the rest of her life. It’s been three years since her stroke and Denise is doing well. She practices yoga, watches her diet and takes her medication. Denise wants to stress the importance of recognizing the signs of stroke and the urgency for immediate medical attention.

You might be wondering what my friend's story has to do with a book review. Well, the book I picked up was a copy of the New York Times Bestseller My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. (Published by Plume, a member of Penguin Group USA)
My Stroke of Insight the author takes the reader on an amazing and hair-raising journey through her stroke, recovery and self-discovery. In December of 1996 Jill Bolte Taylor, an accomplished Harvard trained neuroscientist, awoke to a day she would never forget. It’s actually incredible considering her circumstances that she can recall this day at all. At the age of 37 the brain scientist, researcher and teacher got a lesson of her own. She found herself having a stroke. Over the course of four hours Taylor was in a discombobulated state, flitted between lucid thoughts and mental blankness. She managed to challenge her increasing deficits from the brain bleed and call a colleague for help. In this short period Talbot was aware that she was losing her ability to walk, talk, read, write or recall memories or thoughts for her future. Talbot was living only in the moment and noticed the quietness and a sense of peace in her existence. There was an absence of what she calls “brain chatter.” She had a general feeling of well-being. Her brain was in a state of bliss! You might ask how is this? Well, Taylor had experienced a rare stroke in the left hemisphere due to a congenital malformation of blood vessels in her brain. The stroke on the left side gave way to her right side so it could take precedence.

“Your left mind might be rushing, thinking, deliberating, and analyzing, but your right mind is very mellow.”

The two lobes of our brain have different personalities so when Dr. Taylor “stepped to the right“, as she puts it, she found inner peace. This peaceful existence was interrupted only by the pain from her increasing headache which brought her back to her grave situation. If you want to know more about Dr. Taylor’s recovery and revelations then you should read the book. I will mention that after years of rehabilitation which included surgery, it took Talbot eight years to fully recover from her stroke. Compared to most stroke victims, Talbot knows she isn’t the norm. Dr. Taylor mentions that she had the advantage to understand how to repair, retrain and recover her brain. She is in the invaluable position to teach from the knowledge gained in her field and from her personal experience. Taylor is grateful for the opportunity to explain what happened to her brain and the insights she has gained!

“Wow, how many scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain and mental deterioration from the inside out?”

Taylor wishes to offer hope and inspiration to those who are dealing with a stroke or a brain injury. Taylor also mentions that trauma and disability doesn’t necessarily mean disaster. Dr. Taylor writes about her stroke as a miraculous recovery and a metaphysical revelation. My Stroke of Insight is a unique combination of science and omniscience; the physical and metaphysical.

“As a neuroanatomist, I must say that I learned as much about my brain and how it functions during that stroke, as I had in all my years of academia.”

Taylor wants us to pass her story on to our family and friends. My Stoke of Insight is a must read for anyone who works with stroke patients or family members caring for stroke victims. This is not a woe is me tale. Dr. Taylor is grateful to her experience, noting that she gained a shift in consciousness and a new appreciation for life.

If you wish to see a webcast of Jill Taylor’s presentation then check it out on
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor created a mnemonic device to help people remember the most important signs of stroke. She suggests we commit these to memory and share them with everyone you know. Remember, stroke is a medical emergency: Dial 911

Warning Signs of Stroke

S = Speech, or problems with language

T = Tingling, or numbness in your body

R = Remember, or problems with thinking

O = Off-balance, or problems with coordination

K = Killer headache

E = Eyes, or problems with vision

Dr. Taylor recommends theses sites:
American Stroke Foundation
In my Google research I found these sites and links to be helpful:
Heart and Stroke Foundation
CanadaFive Signs of Stroke
Act F.A.S.T. -test list for stroke victim