The Power of now


It’s amazing what happens inside of you when you are faced with no choice but to succeed.

5 years after my MS diagnosis, in 2009 at 29 my worst fears were realised. I was forced to completely stop and reset. A big MS attack paralysed the entire left side of my body and I lost the ability to walk. The disease had progressed, and my body was mirroring how emotionally paralysed I felt. If you draw a line down the middle of my face down to my pelvis, the whole left side of my body stopped working completely over a slow, cruel ten days.

I lost my ability to work and my financial independence; I lost life as I knew it. I was forced to completely stop and reset. Simple little things like the ability to wash and feed myself became the most difficult task of the day. I lost my big fashion career. I went from running around, enjoying my life, to paralysed. I had been living life to its fullest, and suddenly found myself in turmoil and darkness. I went from feeling in control of my future (thanks to my denial), to feeling totally helpless.

 In less than ten days my whole world crumbled as my body, day by day, became paralysed. My sister literally had to drag me, on her back, up and down stairs and along the carpet to urgently see Dr Lawrence Cher, my neurologist. He took one look at me and I knew by the look in his face he was thinking, ‘oh no’. They checked me into hospital at the beginning of January 2009, and I knew that I wasn’t going to be leaving any time soon. I had medication to reduce the inflammation in my brain, but I still could not move. After 5 days I was transferred to rehabilitation within the hospital, and this is when the real work began.I hit rock bottom, I had to ask myself “am I ever going to walk again”? I was stretched to my limits emotionally and physically, beyond normal comprehension. I had a meeting with the head of the rehabilitation hospital, who explained that they could not guarantee that I would ever recover and I was faced with potentially being permanently disabled at 29 years old.

In hospital the days were long, broken by neuro physiotherapy sessions 3 times a day, 5 times a week, and visits from my beautiful friends and family. I spent hours alone with my thoughts, unable to contemplate living a life in a broken shell. In my rehabilitation session I was surrounded by people who were suffering ramifications from drug overdoses, car accidents and strokes. So much suffering, so many stories. I found that I had re-evaluated my life and a new barometer of how I measured success and happiness was born.

The power of mindset

Spending a few months unable to use the entire left hand side of my body, I learned about the power of my mind. I had a lot more time on my hands and experienced moments of stillness that I previously never dared to entertain. In case my thoughts were too painful or hard, I did what a lot of us do I learned to distract myself by being busy. With no choice but to now sit within four white walls, I discovered the power and importance of mindset and being in the moment. I used to avoid this, but I now all I could manage was dealing with what I had to do that day to learn how to use my body again. I did not have the luxury to dwell in the past or analyse the future.

Losing my body and learning how to walk again taught me that flexibility builds resilience. A flexible mindset can optimise your health and the opportunities you will create. As I discovered, this is critical when you are going through change and transformation. The health of your mindset will determine the decisions you’ll make, how you will react and show up while solving problems and inevitably, the health of your body. The mind-body connection is so powerful.

The power of now

Prior to my paralysis attack, I used all of my energy being upset about what was out of my control. I now understand that our perceptions mirror in our biochemistry. But I didn't know that before, and so how I was thinking, feeling and perceiving what was going on in my life may have led to more inflammation and an acceleration of my disease.  My body slowly stopped working over a slow cruel ten days. I suffered more and it just got worse, making me feel even more out of control and I became consumed with fear.

But, living in rehab, I was no longer distracted. A change in my environment gave me an opportunity to create a whole new version of myself. I knew I had to tweak my approach to produce a new result. Ironically I actually used less energy managing my relapse this way, as I could only focus moment to moment on what I was tackling everyday because it was just was so big.

It actually felt so much more manageable problem solving like this and I was coping well! I felt guided in fact, like a knowing came over me that was present within. I didn’t feel alone at all and I just did what I had to every day to get through one of the hardest times of my life. I felt happier than when I used to overwhelm myself with worst case scenarios that may happen and we get so consumed by things details that may never even eventuate.

The power of now is being in the moment, can you practice doing this daily so that when you are stressed it is easier for you to access? When there is an opportunity to stop and just be in the now, instead of scrolling your phone - don’t. Practice being in the now, emptying the mind and making this familiar. Focusing on the positive and believing in possibility is hard when you are stressed. To overcome any setback, think of today and just deal with things as they come. We are pushed when we are ready to change, try and find that playful side of yourself again and tell yourself that are are safe and that you’ve “got this”. You are supposed to feel uncomfortable, maybe there is a new path waiting for you that you are ready to walk, and if you have created a new habit to feel familiar outside of your comfort zone, you will make different decisions and you will create a life beyond your wildest dreams. All challenging moments or perceived setbacks are an opportunity to grow and discover what you are made of.

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