One of my favorite metaphors for life is the sea.
Some days the sea is calm, the sky is clear, the wind blows in the right direction and the sailing is smooth.
Other times the waves are high, the rain is strong and wind is facing us head on and you forget what smooth is.
And like a ship on the sea, so are we in life.
We can just float along letting the winds and currents take us along with them, never knowing where we will end up and hoping we don’t turn over along the way.
Or we can take the helm and choose our own course.
The winds and the currents might not always be in our favor, but if you are willing you can learn to navigate your way through almost anything. And as you get better at it, sometimes you might even avoid the storm completely.
I’m not a sailor myself, but this metaphor works really good for me and that inspired the name of the blog.
That’s all cool but what’s it all about?
“Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.” – Steve Maraboli
We all have some issues in life, something that can make us sad, angry, depressed…
We can let them define and consume us, or we can learn how to handle them and continue with our life.
My issue was polio.
TLDR: Poliovirus can cause anything from a headache, fever, vomiting, sore throat and pains in arms, legs, abdomen to various degrees of paralysis and muscle weakness and in some cases even death.
Like most kids, I got the polio vaccine when I was a baby.
Unlike most kids I got polio after getting the vaccine.
The way it affected me is that some of the motor neurons that go to my legs, especially my left leg, were damaged and that lead to muscle atrophy and poor muscle control of the remaining muscles.
Luckily I had a great doctor, good physiotherapists and amazing parents that never gave up, even when some doctors told them I would never walk. I did learn to walk but my balance was bad, I was falling quite often and couldn’t run very well.
I was kind of ok with it while I was a kid, didn’t really comprehend what actually happened and not being able to do some things like the others wasn’t that important. But by the time school came and all the cool kids were playing sports and going out for bike rides and jumping and running and I was just sitting on the side it hit me hard.
And for a long time, I was like that boat without a course, just floating around, letting the winds and waves take me wherever.
I had friends, went to parties and clubs and holidays but none of that mattered.
In my own head I was wallowing in self pity, feeling disconnected from everyone, alone in my pain, so down that I didn’t even allow myself to dream about things like family, kids, doing anything public. Because who could love or even look at someone who is so messed up like me.
To say that it sucked would be the mother of all understatements.
Then somewhere along the way, I ran into personal development. As I started reading stories of people who overcame all kinds of obstacles and now had these amazing lives a tiny spark of hope flickered inside me and a thought occurred “If they can do it.. maybe, somehow.. maybe I can too”.
And it came to me that this thing that I was obsessing for so long is not what defines me. It is a part of me, there’s no escaping that, but I am and can be so much more that just a polio patient. If I just gave it a try.
The possibilities seemed there, but I had to go get them myself.
I had a choice to make.
Either I continue like before, feeling sorry for myself and doing as little as possible just to get by.
Or take responsibility for my on life, give it my best and see what happens.
I don’t know exactly when and how, not even sure I was completely aware of it until some time later, but the choice was made and I was on my way towards a big change.
I’m the captain now
Realizing that I was now effectively the only one responsible for my life was both scary because there is no one else to blame now, and incredibly freeing and exhilarating.
But that was just the first step. I’ve just set my hands on that helm and now it was time to learn to sail and navigate.
Countless books, seminars, conferences, coaching sessions and workshops later I have to say it wasn’t easy but it was definitely more than worth all the time, money and energy invested into it.
I’ve traveled on multiple continents, I’ve spoken in public, coached people and made them laugh, met some incredible people along the way and found myself in an amazing relationship.
None of that seemed possible before. And all of it seems so normal now, it’s unbelievable.
When I say it like this it might seem like I’ve mastered this thing called life.
Oh no, not even close.
I’ve learned a lot, no doubt, and grew much more than I could’ve ever imagined, but I’m not done yet.
There are days/weeks/months when life is easy, everything happens by itself, and you can just relax and enjoy. But sooner or later life finds a way to bring new challenges and new experiences and you have to grab the helm once again and find your way in the unknown waters.
I am still learning and growing and I would like to share some of the experiences I had and some of the things I learned along the way.
The highs and lows of it, dos and don’ts, hows, and whys…
And I can only hope that my stories might help some of you, like the stories I read helped me and made me think that change is possible.
Welcome aboard and enjoy the ride 🙂