I’m a real sucker for symbolism. That’s why I couldn’t resist this gorgeous puzzle piece necklace. Every time I look at it, it reminds me how the fabric of our lives fit together like puzzle pieces. We might not always realize how our life experiences will fit together but, eventually, we will collect all the required pieces and see the beautiful picture that we’ve created.
I love my life, but it took me time to get here. Like many other people, some of the “puzzle pieces” that make up the story of my life were hard won.
As some of you may know, just under 20 years ago, I had a horrible reaction to Tetracycline, a standard antibiotic. It played around with my brain chemistry (a rare side effect) and triggered a severe anxiety/panic disorder that left me virtually housebound. For years. More or less overnight, I went from being a very social, high-achieving student to someone who had no idea how they were going to come out on the other side of an unforeseen disaster unscathed.
I was in Grade 9 when my world tipped on its axis. I went from planning to become a doctor to fearing that I would never finish high school and become even a moderately contributing member of society. To put it simply, it was a dark and traumatic time in my life.
Fast forward 20 years and I have managed to complete a masters degree in natural health sciences, complete programs in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, pass national board exams to become a registered acupuncturist, and build a private practice that I can be very proud of. One a more personal note, I have wonderful friends and family, including an extraordinary husband.
It might sound impressive when I list all of my accomplishments at once, but I worked very hard to heal my body through good nutrition and healthy lifestyle practices. Name any therapy and the odds are high that I explored it in my quest to get well. I took tiny steps and took on each challenge one day at a time. Some days, I wondered whether I would ever succeed.
It took time but, slowly but surely, as my mental health allowed, I eased back into the world. I went from being able to sit outside on my back porch without having panic attacks to feeling safe enough to walk around the block to eventually traveling around the world. This picture shows me kayaking drown the Nam Xong River in Laos.
It was a glorious day in 2011 following my South East Asia trip to Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam that, after navigating myself through five international airports (making my way home via Vietnam to South Korea to Hong Kong to Canada), after not sleeping for 36 hours, that I finally stopped thinking of myself as someone with a panic disorder. That was my moment. I realized that, if I could do all that, I had managed to heal. I was free to let go of the fear that had ruled me for so many years and pursue my dreams with unfettered abandon.
From there, life got better and better. There were ups and downs, to be sure, but I started to see the beautiful picture that my “puzzle pieces” were creating.
Life isn’t always easy, but there can be so much beauty to be gleaned from experiencing the so-called ugly. Do I wish my hardships on anyone else? Absolutely not. But, if I can help others to see the lessons I learned in a more comfortable way, I am all for that.
We all have different lessons to learn and unique goals that inspire us. That means that our journeys will all be unique. That said, there is no reason why we can't share our stories and inspire each other along the way. Do you feel like you aren't reaching your goals fast enough? Maybe you are just collecting puzzle pieces that don't link together yet. Just give it time. Odds are, the beautiful picture of your life with start to take form before you know it.