What if you viewed fear as a gift? Failure as a gift? It may sound very contradictory on the surface, but in reality it helps unveil the path for growth opportunities. I didn’t know it then, but I do now more than ever before. When my brain AVM rupture happened to me at the age of 31 on Dec 12, 2016, I was filled with confusion, anxiousness, and of course loads of fear. For me, that fear and all those failures turned into absolute beauty!
I tell you, it always has not been that way for me. I have been succumbed to deep fear. Fear of not having a life after this AVM. Or one that would be very miserable and unenjoyable. At first, I was so motivated for a positive recovery outlook post craniotomy even though my right side was paralyzed when my AVM ruptured while on vacation in Iceland. I was blessed to have my parents fly out to Reykjavik and be at my side as I relearned how to add 2+2 and how to feed myself with my non-dominant left hand. Even though my memory is quite foggy during these moments, I do distinctly remember continuously asking the doctors how long it would take to recover – “three to six months and I’ll be back to my old self right?” The responses I would receive were along the lines of “we will see how you progress” or “it is hard to say, but it will take time”. This was so difficult for me to bear as I was a very goal oriented and results type person so to not have something concrete started to chip away at my motivation and created the space for fear to further start to permeate inside of me.
Nevertheless, I stuck through it asking my parents to get me crossword puzzles and grade school worksheets to start to build that cognitive strength back. This lasted the entire month of December until I was cleared to fly home to Seattle on December 30 which is when I was faced with another challenging moment in my life. Being out in the world after being indoors for so long was quite a treat that made all my senses go haywire. We got through the airport where I had landed such a different person just a few weeks ago and was cleared to board the plane. This process was everything but conventional as I was in a wheelchair where I was lifted to the plane by a contraption controlled by a joystick like an Atari game. With my parents and I finally aboard, I was told that I would not be able to move for the duration of the 9hr flight.
About five hours into the flight, disaster strikes – my leg bag was full. I wake my parents from their peaceful slumber and inform them of what was happening. We came up with an idea how we should ask the flight attendants for some cups. Before I knew it, my elderly parents in their 70s and 80s were on the floor of the plane using an iPhone light to finagle and empty the bag while other passengers just stared. At that moment, I had felt absolutely powerless. Undeserving. Unworthy. The fearful thought had entered my mind that I was witnessing what my life was now going to be like, and it was not pretty.
As the next couple months progressed, I remember feeling the weight that my life was crumbling and falling apart into a downward spiral. That downward spiral went as far to hit my rock bottom one evening where I didn’t want to do it anymore. That night, I sat at the dinner table with my parents and flat out stated, “I don’t want to live anymore.” I felt like a burden. I felt unlovable. I could see their faces change from upbeat to devastated, a sudden grief and fear shining out of their eyes. My body curled up further, my head hanging low between my shoulders. They paused for a moment, turned to me, and their next words changed my life forever. They said, “Jason, we love you so much and are so sorry that we did this to you.
The words blasted through my body with the force of a hurricane. Hearing their confession was leveling. My parents taking the blame for an AVM congenital condition was unacceptable to me. I felt this was mine to bear. I lifted my head and met their gaze head-on. “No,” I said. “It’s not your fault. It’s on me.”
And it was. It was up to me how my life would play out going forward. I couldn’t change what happened, I could only change everything that would happen in the future with how I acted. This thought snapped me out of my funk and slung shot me on the trajectory to fight and show the world that anything is indeed possible! I haven’t looked back since. This is now a key anchor in my life.
The fear I had instantly vanished and I was overwhelmed with determination and hope. On the surface my circumstances did not change, but what did was choosing the lens that I decided to view my life through. That golden realization is literally what saved my life and turned my perspective of my AVM into positivity! With this newfound mindset, I became more conscious of how grateful I was for the simple things in life – every morning the first thing I do before meditating is give gratitude to the higher powers at be for just being able to wake up and take a breath because I know one day I won’t be able to. It may seem rudimentary, but the power of expressing gratitude has helped shape me into the person I am and have all those previous fears melt away.
Expectations can be a slippery slope. Expectations set too high can cause us to falter, lower our vibrations, and just give up along the way. It’s an equation that is hard to balance. But why even have it in the first place? I realized that you have the ability to remove it all from your mind! Contrary to popular belief, at the end of the day, we individually have the choice to create what we desire — and not what society dictates. I have learned that, day to day, WE have the power to change the outcome of anything, any day, at any time.
Perspective is everything, and it is such a powerful energy. Why play it safe being comfortable when, being uncomfortable, you can be an unstoppable force? You may completely miss the boat and the beauty of how life is intended to unfold. I find myself asking, “What would be the worst thing that could happen if I simply surrendered, took things as they came, then dealt with them?” In reality, what if everything is beautiful? When the right side of my body became paralyzed I eventually chose to see the beauty over fear. I went through it, embraced it, and now have the gratitude to see it as the most beautiful gift that I have received. Life unfolds and happens exactly as it is intended!
My intention is to share with you some of my daily practices that I hope can help create as big an impact in your life as it has in mine.
- Bring on the high vibes — all day, every day!
- Showing a simple sign of gratitude by thanking a store employee for all their hard work and efforts or sharing a silly joke to brighten up someone’s day goes such a long way, and they benefit as much as you do!
- Set intentions — reflect and check in with yourself throughout the day.
- Is the source of the feeling/thought I am having coming from my heart or my head? After answering, I list actions that I can take to influence or change that.
- Awareness is gold.
- Be present. Show up for yourself. Becoming more tuned into your energy is one of the most beautiful things that you can do to help influence your life trajectory.
- Perception: Who cares?!
- Why beat yourself up based on something that someone else says? No one knows you better than yourself. If you like me, great! If you don’t like me, that’s also great! Either way, it’s all great!
Today, four years post my AVM rupture I have found beauty and joy in my life through radiating love and embracing any fear that I encounter. If a fear does come up, I choose that positive lens to view it through. My fear of being accepted by society as I limp around was all something that was in my head, where in reality so many are actually inspired! No matter where you are on your life journey or how you feel, I promise you are exactly where you need to be in life because everything all happens for a reason! This entire experience has opened so many opportunities, doors, new connections, and even all of you in the TAAF community! It’s all blessing in disguise that is life. Reality is no matter what happened, no one is at fault. So I was faced with the choice of giving into my fear or fighting. My purpose on earth is so much more than just me but the lives that I can touch and make a difference in. Be the change you want to see in the world, live into it, breath it in and step into it as I did!
As Robin Sharma said, “The fears we don’t face become our limits”. So cheers to all of being limitless and go on to thrive in your life! Sending many blessings to you all and know that we are all in this together!
“It’s only a fear if you want it to be” – Jason B Flores
Click the photo to learn more about Jason Flores.