Day 58: Looking at courage through Paula’s window…



Some of us take on quests because we choose to, others have no choice.  A friend said I really needed to contact a woman he knows because her story was one that displayed great strength and courage.  When I heard her story, my heart broke.  I could hardly fathom what she was going through, but I also felt humbled to have the opportunity to hear her story and share it with the world.   The last I wrote in this blog I had sent her a note and waited anxiously to hear back from her.

I woke up early the next morning and opened my email and found her response.  I sat there for a moment before opening the actual email, took a deep breath and had this cautious, hopeful feeling that she would allow me to learn about her life.  I opened the email and found in front of me words that were written in such a delicate and gracious way.   Paula went on to say that she had read my email and that I could contact her at any time.  She then proceeded to say that she was in a lot of pain and dealing with depressive feelings and she didn’t think she was that brave of a person…  It was at that moment that I pushed myself from my desk, shook my head, furrowed my brow and tried to find some semblance of understanding in that statement.  How could she think that what she has shown is anything but brave?  I stood up and walked to the window to look out in search of understanding.


I knew a couple of pieces of information about Paula, who lives in Portugal.  “Bravery” was an obvious attribute in everything I had learned about her.  How could she not see that?  As I looked out the window, I felt grateful to feel the sun’s warm rays on my cheeks and see the deep blue sky dotted with white puffy clouds.  I stood and thought “It is a perfect day for a walk, but I have to take on a mission that unsettles me.”  I knew I needed to return to my desk and continue to read Paula’s email and face her demons as if they were my own.  What Paula didn’t know was that I was scared to delve into her life.


When I hear, when I read, when I see… I can’t help but feel.  I feel deeply every ounce of pain and discomfort.  I feel a need to help and the inability to do so cripples my spirit with sadness.  My only gift that I can give to those who suffer is to lend a hand or appreciate their spirit.  It is not mine to take away their pain.  In hearing their stories they energize me to be more grateful, to be more humble, to better myself in their honor, to share their story so that others can appreciate the gifts they have in their lives and learn to strengthen their spirit so they can help others through their efforts.  So, with a deep breath and a passing glance at my desktop Buddha, I sat in my chair with my hands on the keyboard ready to peer into Paula’s window…

stormy window

The email was opened and I was struck by her pure unedited honesty, love and a voice that sounded weak yet strong. Her body needs healing but her mind is saturated with a unique wisdom to be shared.  I saw before me a spirit that has walked long miles in this life over rugged terrain.  She is in need of shelter and relief from the unrelenting elements that have worn her thin, but have not yet extinguished the light that glows from her.


She is a woman who fights a disease that has paralyzed her ability to “live” life as she desperately wants to.   Her pain is constant, strong and does not respond to conventional medications.  The migraines alone would be enough to do me in.   She explains in her own words the symptoms she frequently endures, “Extreme fatigue, pains all over my body, loss of muscle mass, migraines, brain-fog, problems with short-term memory, muscles and joints pains, problems with certain food, abdominal pains, hand tremors, anxiety, high levels of stress, extreme sensitivities to noise and light as well as to some smells, insomnia, muscle weakness, loss of libido, mood swings and of course, depression”  “How could you not have depression with all those symptoms?” I thought.  Paula went on to explain to me the everyday difficulties she has with her condition.  I felt a pull as if my mind were exhausted envisioning what each symptom might feel like. I had to look away to re-center myself in order to continue.


Her struggle brings a powerful question that plagues my mind… “WHY?”  Why do people suffer so?  For what purpose?  So that others can appreciate their comfy lives?  That hardly seems like the right and just argument to someone suffering!  Because we are only given as much as we can bear?  Really?  Then almost all of us would be suffering in the ways I have seen in my career.  I have witnessed just how much the body can take before it succumbs…  No, this can’t be the answer… then why?


As I sat for a couple more minutes feeling ever more frustrated, I had to concede there were no obvious answers… just more questions.  I had to remember my mission… to share the power of courage with the world.  As hard as it is to hear about the suffering she faces, what lies beneath is power much greater than the forces that struggle to take her down…  The power to rise again and again is what astounded me… the decision to rise above the obstacles, the power to decide that some days the body needed to rest and regroup, the power to share the infirmity with the world knowing that it provided no relief to her symptoms whatsoever, the power to explain her story to an absolute stranger, the most amazing strength were the words that she lived for… She went on to say that the she continued to fight for the love of her life, the one that sustains her…  I was left speechless by those tender words.


I set out on a mission to find Qi people who exemplify strength, courage and bravery. Today I did not need to look hard because a good friend knew one such person.  Her story is one that cannot be told in one sitting. Paula’s life has so much more to it.  I will leave her story to rest to be shared in more detail in a near post.  For now, I will sit and think about the times when pain is free, worries are none, and goals are in the distance waiting to be conquered….  I will think about Paula and how she overcomes her pain daily and makes the decision to “live” rather than give in or give up… Her courage energizes my spirit from thousands of miles away…


The power of Qi transcends the physical body… when we think we can’t, we do… when we think we have nothing left to give, it is shared… when we think we can’t seem to find the strength to endure, we overcome… when our light is diminished… sometimes it is the light of others that keeps us warm and bright… today, I was reminded of all of these powers through the struggling yet determined voice that spoke through the words I feared to read.


There is still so much of her brave story to share…

Feeling encouraged, enlightened and energized… Thank you, Paula!

Wondering what tomorrow will bring…





2 thoughts on “Day 58: Looking at courage through Paula’s window…”

    1. No, thank you Paula for letting me share your life with the world. There is so much we can learn from the strength and courage of others and it is an honor to share your journey! Still more to share and looking forward to it! Take care my friend! 🙂

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