Top 10 Life Lessons – from a brain hemorrhage survivor


I’m re-posting this Facebook entry created by a very inspiring human a couple days ago.  I had the immense privilege of traveling with this woman a couple months ago and she not only embodies every single element of her Top Ten Life Lessons but is one of the warmest, most peaceful, most pleasant-to-be-around people I have ever met.  So I’d venture to offer that her insights are worth some attention.

She says it so perfectly in her own words, and I adore her raw honesty but I did change a few to keep the blog and website family-friendly, hehe. 😉  Otherwise, without any further ado… I give you my friend, Sue Harris. 😀


Today is my 7th Brainaversary…. The day when I visited 2 hospitals, took 2 ambulance/rescue rides, lost 14 hours of my life and woke up to a room of people asking if I knew my name, not being able to stand light or noise, machines squeezing my lower legs, multiple needles in each arm and a CATHETER (nasty!).  Over the years, I’ve had people who are going through the same thing, reach out to me because I had a good turnout.  There are so many bad stories, people who will live the rest of their lives with brain damage or people who have lost their loved ones. And I think about this a lot.  I am one of the very small percentage who survived and doesn’t have any resulting deficiencies.

We are all on a path.  Our life is a path.  On March 23rd 2011, I was on a path… It was a Wednesday, I went to the gym, went to work, took care of the kids, went to bed… and then on Thursday morning my path changed.  Instead of going straight, it now turned and went “this way.”  I envision it literally as walking down a path and oh, ok…. We are going to turn left and start going down this path now.  Good and bad events dictate our path, where we go next. Everything you do leads you to the next thing.  If you hadn’t done A, then you wouldn’t reach B and so on.  And these events, including the small non-important daily events, shape who we are and what our next direction will be on “the path.”  I don’t remember if I thought about this stuff much pre-hemorrhage… I may have, but I was also in my 30s and dealing with all the drama of having young kids, a new home, etc.  But things are clearer to me now, probably because I’m getting older too.  My perspective about many things has changed over the years.  And I hope the “wisdom” I have acquired rubs off onto my kids.


Top 10 Life Lessons – from a brain hemorrhage survivor

10.  Enjoy food. There is no need to deprive ourselves of things we love BUUUUUT, don’t eat like an [idiot]. Cakes, ice cream and donuts were put on this earth for a reason.  Moderation is key.

9.  Take the trip, go to the show If you are on the fence about going somewhere but really want to go… then go. If you can afford it, do it. There will never be a convenient time to leave the house or pull the kids out of school for a few days.

8.  Work isn’t life. Most of us have to work, it is the unfortunate reality. But there is a time and a place for everything.  Work when you need to and then leave it when you can.  When you are laying in a hospital bed, you will never wish you worked more.

7.  Figure out what you like to do. This goes hand and hand with the whole work thing. There has to be something more to your life than work.  And for you moms (we all love our kids), there has to be something more to your life than your kids.  As they get older, they will start having their own lives, start doing things without you.  What are you going to do then?  Sit around looking at an empty house?  Again, there is never a convenient time to start something new, so just go and figure it out now.

6.  GET OUTSIDE. We tell our kids to go out and play (or should) but then we sit inside with the TV on. I get it, I like to have my quiet time in the house to watch my shows.  But I go stir crazy, especially in the winter when going outside is just not ideal and my eyeballs will freeze.  Fresh air and moving is such good therapy.  You will never come back in from a walk and think, “I really feel like crap now.  I wish I hadn’t done that.”  Putter around the yard, pick up trash on the street, whatever.  Just get outside more.  I cringe when I see a full parking lot at Chucky Cheese on a beautiful day.  What are we teaching our kids???

5.  Less is more. This can apply to ALL parts of life. Take a look at Route 1 on a weekend… people buying and shopping and buying more and more.  Yes, we all need things to live but figure out the difference between ‘need’ and ‘want.’  Most of us, me included, have more things now than we truly need.  Making life more simple starts at home with how much we consume and buy.  Buying less means items to deal with, fix, care for and someday pack or bag for a donation bin.  Again, when you are laying in a hospital bed or trying to walk down a hallway for the first time in a week, you will not be thinking about that other pair of jeans you should have bought.

4.  Clean up your life. This sort of goes with keeping things simple. I feel relaxed when things are in order and in place.  I love walking into a relatively clean and orderly house.  I like when the yard looks good.  My house is usually pretty neat, but I would not recommend eating off my kitchen floor.  My house has 4 people, a dog and a cat… lets be real.  But disorder and chaos lead to more disorder and stress… Try and keep your [stuff] in some sort of order.  That applies from housekeeping to financials.  Make sure things are in place so that if something happens, you aren’t leaving a burden for those around you.  Yeah, it’s a [nasty] morbid thought but it happens.  Make a “death book” which contains anything that someone else would have to know if you aren’t available to ask.  Everything from financial accounts to insurance to wills. It’s just good old-fashioned planning.

3.  Surround yourself with good people. When something happens, like a stroke, you find out very quickly who is there for you. We had so many great people that stepped up and helped with the kids (Aby was 6, Caleb 3), helped Kyle while I was in the hospital, fed us and then helped when I was unable to drive.  And the ‘drama seekers’ also come out then.  People who you never hear from until there is drama – [forget] them.  Surround yourself with people who are good for you, good for your family, good for your life.  There isn’t enough time to deal with negativity and drama.  Someday we all will need some sort of help.  And the best kind of people are those who know you have their back and they have yours.

2.  Stop trying to make everyone else happy. I’m not saying don’t bring joy or happiness to others. But don’t sacrifice how you feel or what you need to get done for someone else.  We all have choices every day.  Those things that will dictate “our path.”  And only you can control what you do.  You can’t control the decisions or choices others make.  You can offer advice and guidance but, everyone has free will.  And you can’t bring happiness to someone else’s life if they aren’t trying to do it themselves.  Besides your children, you are not responsible for anyone else but yourself.  We are all adults here… take care of your own [business].

1.  TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY. This is the most important thing EVER. And it is something everyone can do regardless of age, geography or income.  The doctors told me the bleeding in my head had stopped on its own, probably due to my low blood pressure.  Not as much pressure on the walls of the vessels had “calmed” things down.  Also, I was strong enough to get myself up out of bed and walk around ICU (when allowed), dragging my IV pole with me.  I was the ONLY patient up and walking around ICU.  If I hadn’t been in the shape I was, my outcome may not have been as good.  I may have been like my ICU neighbor Joe who was unresponsive.  We all makes choices of what we eat, what we put in our bodies.  We make choices to sit on our [backsides] or get up and move.  All that is needed is shoes, the street is right outside and always available.  You don’t like going to the doctors or you have [crappy] health insurance with high copays for office visits and prescriptions?  Then do your best to keep healthy and stay away.  It is that simple.  There are illness and conditions that can’t be avoided but there are [tons] that can.  You can control that.  And if you don’t like how your feel or how you look – what the hell are you waiting for?

‘Till next year…