I’m so excited that Tara Fall is sharing with us today about perseverance. I found her through her blog (http://findingstrengthtostandagain.wordpress.com/) by chance a couple months ago and am so blessed to have connected with her. I think her story is so inspiring and should be shared with others. She has really inspired me to go after my dream, to persevere, and to overcome obstacles with optimism. Hence, I had to ask her to be part of this series. Check out the video of her story below before you read her interview to see what I mean. Thank you, Tara, for finding the strength to persist and for encouraging others to do the same!
While in my early teens, I experienced my first “spell”. This was later diagnosed as epilepsy. At twenty-seven, I underwent surgery to remove scar tissue from my brain in hopes of ending the seizure disorder. This was successful in curing epilepsy; however, there was a complication near the end of surgery – a stroke. This stroke allowed me to experience the frustrating struggles and unexpected joys of learning, once again, how to walk the same week my youngest daughter was also beginning to learn this skill.
The end result was a much deeper understanding of the gifts we hold within our lives. I still have weakness in the left half of my body. I have lost half of my eyesight. My left peripheral has disappeared completely resulting in hemianopia. Having a condition known as prosopagnosia, I no longer recognize faces I see each day. Even my own face and faces within my family are now strangers. Even with this, I would not give back a single day of the experiences I was able to endure. From these, I learned so much about myself. I also have a much deeper understanding for the value simple pleasures in life can give each of us.
Remember, it is not about a disability; rather, it’s about our ability!
1.What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Who did you receive it from?
Shortly after I awoke having had a stroke a surgeon told me I may never walk again. I was told there was no way to predict what the outcome would be. His advice was to work as hard as I could; only time would tell how much improvement I could make. That bit of concerning news was all I needed. I found hope and encouragement in his advice: He did not say I would “never” walk again. He said I “may never”. There was still hope left. He offered me hope and direction to “work as hard as I could”. That was all what I needed to know. If I pushed hard enough, I had a chance to be independent once again. To this day, I work as hard as I can to accomplish all that could potentially be available for me.
2.How important is mentorship in terms of your success?
I move often and, therefore, am not able to keep a consistent, close relationship. I find many mentors in many different areas. Everyone has a story to tell. I can learn a lot from different people. I take the time to listen; I take the time to learn. There are many pearls of wisdom people do not even realize they have and they can share. I take wisdom from as many people as I can and try to leave them with some also. There is great wealth that can be accumulated if you just try to learn a little about life from everyone you pass by.
3.What has been the best moment in your life so far?
I walked, without assistance, out of the hospital. You are usually required to use a wheelchair when discharged from a hospital. I begged. I pleaded. I was reluctantly allowed to walk out. I told the nurse and my waiting family, “I walked in here, and it is important I walk out.” A piece of my brain had been removed. I was told I may never walk again. Less than five weeks after this chaos – It was clumsy, not very confident, but I used my walker and made my way to the waiting car.
4.What tips would you have for living a healthy life?
Walk. Move around. Some people do not have the ability to walk. If you do have this ability, never take it for granted. People drive for convenience; people drive for ease. The reality though is walking will keep you healthy and allow you to discover more about your community and your neighborhood. Take time to slow down and enjoy the freedom that your legs can give you.
5.How do you motivate yourself to persist despite setbacks?
I remember what it was like to have part of my body paralyzed. I know what it is like to lose the ability to freely move about. This is a place in life I do not want to return to. Without consistent exercise, I quickly become weaker. This physical sensation and knowledge of the road I have been down is all the motivation I need to stay on top of a fitness routine.
6.What has been your biggest setback? How did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?
7 ½ years after epilepsy surgery my seizures returned. During the lobectomy, I had a stroke. It was all worth it when my seizures seemed to disappear, and I was taken off all medication. The return of a seizure was painful in many ways. My children had to stay with neighbors while I was in the hospital. My husband had to fly home from a military deployment. Our world was turned upside down.
I learned my body can bend. I can have setbacks at times that are inconvenient and very hard to accept. Life can throw a lot at us. I can bend though. I learned strength would need to grow from within me. I was strong enough to overcome yet another obstacle. I did overcome it and I realized once again how strong I had the power to be.
7.How do you deal with critics?
I am not certain who originally wrote these words, “God wisely designed the human body so that we can neither pat our own backs nor kick ourselves too easily.” We tend to be our own worst critic. Leave yourself in peace. Tomorrow will bring another chance at accomplishing goals and creating better things.
I also try to remember others that criticize me have never walked in my shoes. I try to never judge someone else when there is no way I could know what they are truly going through, I hope no one else places a judgment on me. I once read a very hurtful comment someone wrote about me after an interview. I realized if I was going to take the time to read the wonderful comments people took time to share, I would have to give equal weight to the negative thoughts people have. I know I work hard, I have big dreams and I do everything I can to make sure I am doing the best I can. I take constructive criticism and try to grow from it. The negative, hurtful things…. I just feel sorry for the ignorance of the person sharing it.
8. How important is social support in overcoming obstacles?
I think support is helpful and wonderful to have, yet I think the power of intrinsic rewards is much greater. It is great to have people around supporting you, but without the drive in yourself, obstacles are extremely hard to overcome. The cheering of a crowd will only get you so far. The belief in yourself is what will take you over the finish line. Social support will help motivate you, yet it takes more than a pat on the back or a word of support to really lift you up when life has thrown you down. Finding the strength to stand again needs to come from deep within you. Your social support, these friends that have encouraged you, they will be there to gleam with pride, proud of you doing such amazing things.
9.What advice would you give others about goal setting?
Make goals. Make short-term goals. Make long-term goals. Work hard to achieve these goals. Many people set out to accomplish great things, but then complain when these goals do not become a reality. No one is handed an answer to their hopes. These answers come through working hard. A lot of hard work. Do not give up though. It you want it bad enough chase it and never give up. Dreams can be answered; goals can be achieved. Work hard and you will accomplish what you are aiming for.
10.What life lesson have you learned that you would like to pass along to others?
What can be given to us can be taken away. Money is not worth nearly as much as hope. Questions can be asked and answers can be given in forms you will never expect. People can offer pearls of wisdom. They can provide encouragement you need to lift your spirits, but no one can lift you up but yourself. There is only one person who will always be there and know the true potential that lies deep within you. You can be your own worst enemy, yet you can also be the one that carries your spirit across a finish line to achieve great things. Be kind to yourself. Be good to the world. Always leave a place a little nicer than when you found it. The rewards will be in your mind and in your heart. You are amazing and the world is waiting to see the full potential of that amazement!
Thanks, Tara, for sharing your thoughts with us! So glad I connected with you. Keep sharing your story with others! You are such an amazing person.