Around January 2014 I got a text from my mom saying that she experienced a minor stroke. I clearly remember my environment while reading those words, saying she had a stroke. I was staring at my phone, getting tunnel vision, on a hill climber machine at SeattleU’s gym and I tried to act normal with my gym buddies as the realization of this medical scare sank in.
As soon as I got back into my dorm room, I called my mom. I asked her how it happened. I wanted to feel included and make her feel like I was there for her. It was so long ago that I don’t really remember our conversation, but I do remember the fear and guilt I felt.
After that blurry conversation, I called my best friend from high school. Both our moms have had health and medical issues for as long as we could remember so we found comfort in sharing these moments with one another. I remember telling her how guilty I felt that I didn’t have the best relationship with my mom and that I wasn’t there for my mom during this time. I talked about my fear that if a stroke happens again, she could be unrecognizable and turn into a “vegetable”. I understand now how insensitive that word is, but I was 19 at the time, I didn’t know what to think yet.
More phone calls to my best friends were made. There were tears and minor freak outs of thinking “it could’ve been worse” and “I wasn’t there” and “my mom needed me”. So after that night, I started talking to my mom everyday and that’s truly when our mother/daughter relationship began.
Around this time I was juggling three jobs while trying to enjoy college life as a 19-year old sophomore. I was working as an finance intern in a wealth management firm after kicking ass my first summer, I was also working in the admissions office, and was also working as a Resident Assistant in SeattleU’s party-building, Campion Hall.
With those jobs, I was proud of my financial independence and continued doing well in school, finding new hobbies and enjoying my funtivities. I was also in a relationship for almost a year and we were both RA’s trying to balance the professional and romantic relationship as two young adults.
The stress of everything around me started compounding after hearing my mom’s news and it was the first time I ever really felt loneliness and the first time I felt like I had the world on my shoulders. Welcome to the adult world, I thought.
Prior to this January scare, I was doing great. I felt balanced, I felt secure, and I felt supported. I was going to the gym regularly, doing tabata classes and discovering the magical practice of yoga. I was also reading books from my finance/sales internship that talked about success and prioritizing yourself so you can help others.
The most applicable book I had read when my mom informed me of her stroke was a book called “The Strangest Secret” by Earl Nightingale. This short book focused on the thought “you become what you think about”.
If you think that you are going to be sad and poor, you will be sad and poor. But if you really push yourself to think harder and be bolder, you will be the great human you aspire to be. Cliche, I know. But it’s the power of thought that can get you through anything. The mind is so amazing and fascinating that way.
I introduced this idea of “you become what you think” to my mom. I told her, “Mom, you probably had this stroke because you’ve been over-exerting yourself and not taking the time to set goals and think about what your purpose is.” She agreed. She was trying to get back into work and get out of a rut. She just had a hysterectomy performed a few months before in September that was painful to recover from. She felt limited and stuck and her negative thoughts got the best of her. She let her thoughts consume her with self-doubt, self-pity, and sadness.
Every morning thereafter, I texted her a quote or something positive to inspire her. I shared that I did yoga on Wednesday mornings and it really helped me cope with the stress of working three jobs, balancing a relationship, and also trying to be a good RA for my residents. It was time for myself to reflect and have a well-deserved mental break.
Alas, this resulted in my coined “Wellness Wednesday”. I kept it to myself at first, then started sharing it with others who also felt the stress of life. Every Wednesday, I would make the extra effort to do something for myself. Whether it’d be morning yoga or a long run to Lake Washington or a walk to Molly Moon’s for a split scoop of lavender and earl grey ice cream in a cup or a waffle cone for an extra dollar.
This positive thinking and daily conversation lifted my mom’s spirits. She started to strengthen her faith with God and bought a book with daily devotions. She’d share pictures with me of quotes she’d find interesting and meaningful and also tell me the good parts of her day that she was proud of.
The power of positive thinking is so important, especially during a time when it seems like things are falling apart. I truly started learning the lesson of the glass half empty or half full during one of the darker times of my young adult life.
Yes, it got exhausting trying to be there mentally for my mom, everyday, but it was worth it. Anything I can do to prevent her from another medical scare and to make her mentally stronger, I did.
Eventually, she turned it around after taking the time to take care of herself and she started sharing her positivity with others. She called this her “Monday Musings…” and she posted quotes and photos that she resonated with and thought would resonate with others.
Levy’s Monday Musings became a part of her identity and it was something she carried with her to her final resting place. When she was in and out of intense medical trials or personal troubles, she would look forward to the time when she’d be well enough to share Monday Musings with others.
She posted Monday Musings everyday for almost a year and half until she got suddenly diagnosed with Stage IV cancer in June 2016. Then it got silent for a few months and she came back online that November with a new zest for life.
This zest was infectious, everyone who saw her posts about Monday Musings, her cooking, and her selfies LOVED it. And she loved all of you for giving her that sense or purpose. I know it meant so much to her that she could uplift others who were struggling as she once or sometimes did
Unfortunately, the last Monday Musings she posted was on Monday, October 2, 2017. This was the Monday after we buried my Grandpa Lu. I say this to exemplify how much she cared about these posts to her friends and family. During my Grandpa’s funeral, I could tell something was wrong and she was off. She was complaining about an intense migraine that wouldn’t go away. It persisted for two weeks, even with medication, but she continued saying she was okay and that it will pass.
As I type this, I am shaking at the thought of the final week of my mom as a relatively normal human in the outside world. This was before we discovered the massive brain tumor. Before she was attached to tubes. Before she lost her speech. Before she spoke her last words to me. Before she died, two and half months later.
The days leading to the knowledge of the brain tumor will come in another post because I want this post to focus on Levy’s Monday Musings and the strength it gave her and others. I just wanted to also share the gravity of that last post because it’s eerie and sad…saying “last” of something or someone who is no longer here.
ANYWAY (deep breath), this was her last Monday Musings:
She posted this because wanted to focus on her recovery and upcoming infusion. She had a life in front of her planned out and she just needed to continue moving forward towards the land of being cancer-free.
So to those who are reading this and following my journey as I share and reflect, whatever you may be dealing with, try to focus on the good. Try to envision who you want to be and don’t lose that vision. Whether you want to be a hip grandma taking your kids to Disneyland or a 20-something working your ass of to earn a promotion, see the dream. Make the dream a reality.
I always tell my mentees: once you see yourself in the future as the person you want to be, don’t ever lose sight of the dream!! Work harder, play harder, and stay humble. Be kind and the universe will be kind back to you.
Til next Wednesday, friends. I hope you took at least a little part of your day to give yourself a pat on the back for being being present and for being you. GO YOU! 🙂
Happy Wellness Wednesday!
I plan to release snippets of my reflections and thoughts every Wednesday so as to recharge my mind and prepare for the rest of the week to come. As I sift through my memories and share the good, the bad, and the ugly, my intention is to promote self-care and self-discovery as we walk, crawl, skip, and run through life.
This blog is meant to be an open space where I share my deepest thoughts, while remaining poised for the Internet and to strangers who may not know me but are reading my story.
This is an evolving blog, with the eventual goal to inspire those to share, to be present, to find balance, and to be fearless.
We all have a story and I am choosing to share mine with you all.
Thank you for your interest! Comment below or contact me if you want to chat 🙂