,

Are you already failing at your New Year’s intentions?

We’re only halfway through January and already I’m failing.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions or goals? Less than a third of the people I talk with say that they do. Some tell me they set goals; others have a general notion of what they want to change or accomplish. A few just continue on with the status quo. A small handful does as I do and sets a particular word or phrase to focus on for the year. In one way or another, we all set intentions. Even if you don’t intentionally set an intention, you have set an intention to change nothing. As the old adage goes, not making a choice is still a choice.

This year, my word is HABITS. After nearly five years of feeling like I’m only moving from one health calamity to another, I’ve fallen into some unproductive patterns. Let’s not call them “bad” because they served a purpose, but basically, I’ve become very good at resting. While that’s a wonderful contrast to my old workaholic ways, it doesn’t exactly accomplish all that I set my mind to. On New Year’s Eve, while on the plane flying home from San Antonio, I laid out my Top 10 list of habits I want to embed in my life. By practicing these things, they will simply become a part of my being.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Interestingly, this was not Aristotle, as it is so often attributed. The statement was actually penned by Will Durant in his book ‘The Story of Philosophy’ while summarizing a portion of Aristotle’s ‘The Nichomachean Ethics’. Nerdy sidenote: One of my final papers toward my degree in Philosophy was a review of The Nichomachean Ethics. I do love some good ol’ Aristotle.

But I’m already missing the mark on excellence.

How do you handle the inner critic voice that tells you that you’re not good enough, that you’re failing? We all know that voice. I call that negative B—- ‘the Discourager’. The Discourager tells me I’m failing, missing the mark, never going blah, blah, blah. You know the drill. BUT IS IT TRUE? This is the question we must continually examine. Which brings me back to Aristotle. Basically and simply stated (because it could get really deep into philosophy and let’s face it, you don’t actually care about that), look at what a thing really is.

I shush The Discourager by saying, “Oh really? Is it true that I’m failing; or is it true that I am trying?” Failure can’t be determined, because we are just not done yet. You are a work in progress. Whatever intentions you have set for yourself, if you feel like you’re failing, give grace. So long as you continue trying, the story isn’t over. The first key to excellence, then, is a habit of not giving up. In the words of those famous philosophers, Monty Python…

“I’m not dead yet!”

 

, ,

A Perfectly Imperfect Christmas

Photo of my 3 kids in front of a Christmas tree when they were little

Our favorite ornament on the tree was received by my husband 16 years ago. A round red globe holds a small framed photo of our children. When you press a button, 3 little voices ring out in an offbeat chorus, “I love my Daddy! I love my Daddy! I love my Daddy! Merry Christmas!!” The kids and I laugh every year about struggling to get them to say that in sync. I finally gave up and ‘settled’ for having it in a round. The imperfection and shared memories are what makes the ornament a treasured memento.

I said a long time ago — When life doesn’t go as planned, lean in and laugh. That’s where the magic hides.

This year, on Christmas Day all but one of our family of five will board a plane to San Antonio to celebrate the holiday with our sweet red-headed Alex. He has been at Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT) since October 30th. I have missed him so much!! 

Unfortunately, this Christmas our family is dealing with more injuries and disappointment. This time it’s not me; it’s Alex. Both my husband and I have had a hard time focusing on Christmas or much of anything else because our hearts are already with him in San Antonio. I know God won’t give us more than we can handle, but geez I wish he’d stop trusting our resilience so much!

With only a week and a half to go in BMT, Alex was persuaded to get the pain in his legs checked out. He had been pushing through it because it’s what we do when we’re on a mission to meet a goal. Right?? Sometimes that isn’t enough. Like when I was pushing through extreme pain walking only to learn after 3 months of effort that my pelvis hadn’t actually healed attached to my spine and I broke one of the bolts holding me together. I made YouTube video the day I received that news. (When life gives you lemons, make a cup of tea.) I bet you can think of a time you’ve been pushing hard toward a goal, proud of your 100% committed effort, only to have a wrench thrown in the whole deal. How did you respond?

But back to Alex…. He has level 3-4 stress fractures in both lower legs. Thankfully no joints are involved. He was pulled from his squadron and put in the Med Hold unit where he waits to heal until he has the ability to re-join another training flight in their week 6 of BMT. As we know, fractures of any kind take as long to heal as bones take; there’s no speeding it up. He and the others in Med Hold are in a…well, a holding pattern. Now they work at training their mental fortitude and resilience. Which is so much harder than training physical ability. In the example from your own life that came to mind, how well did you play the mental game? Did you give up or did you persevere despite a disappointing set-back?

Alex was supposed to be in the graduation activities December 27th – 30th, including leaving base on town leave and being one of the Airmen selected to unfurl the U.S. flag at the Alamo Bowl. He doesn’t get any of that now. BUT…. he still gets base leave on those four days and we are still flying down to spend the time with him. What a blessing!!! AND…. he still wants to see his buddies graduate, to congratulate them and celebrate with them. This is one PROUD MAMA!!

When life hits you like a truck and things don’t play out perfectly the way you imagined in your head, how you react determines everything. (It seems the holiday season itself produces all kinds of those examples.) Look for the humor, the gratitude, and the reasons to celebrate. Our resilience muscles grow stronger every time we get out of our own head and look around for the magic hiding in plain sight.

From me and and my family, we wish you a perfectly imperfect and magical Christmas! 

Wholeheartedly,

Elisa

, ,

07: The Lessons of Failure from Wilma Rudolph

What does it take to be a winner? Do winners ever fail? Failure and struggle are important processes to go through to fully enjoy the beauty of winning. Failure is painful and hurts in many ways; no one likes that feeling of failure, but it’s an important part of life. There is no better example of all that comes with winning and losing than the subject of our show today.

“Winning is great, sure, but if you’re really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated ALL the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.” –Wilma Rudolph

Show Highlights:

  • Wilma Rudolph was born in 1940 in Tennessee into a poor black family, the 20th of her father’s 22 children
  • A premature birthweight of only 4.5 lbs. and a childhood filled with illness preceded a bout with polio that took the use of Wilma’s left leg
  • Leg braces, treatments, massages, and help from her large family were Wilma’s life until she pulled the braces off at age 9 and started walking
  • Soon she was playing basketball, running, jumping, and challenging her brothers in sports
  • At age 14, she was noticed by a college track coach, so she started running, soon qualifying for the Olympics in Melbourne in 1956 at age 16
  • After winning a bronze medal, she went back to college in TN, but fought repeated illnesses because of her drive to always win
  • In 1960, she was the first American woman to win 3 gold medals in a single Olympics in Rome, as she tied and set new world and Olympic records
  • She was an instant celebrity in Europe and America, but was intent on making change 
  • She refused to attend a ticker-tape parade in her honor in TN because it was to be segregated, as everything was in the South in the 1960’s
  • She overcame incredible odds and personal failures, and soon retired from amateur athletics and became a teacher, coach, and mother of four
  • She wrote an autobiography and allowed a movie to be made of her life
  • Her greatest accomplishment was the Wilma Rudolph Foundation, a non-profit sports organization
  • Wilma died of brain cancer at age 54 in Nashville in 1994

Resources:

  1. Amazing Women in History 
  2. Notable Biographies
  3. ESPN 
, ,

”FEARLESS”

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Each year I choose one word to be my focus for the year. Typically by the last quarter of the year I already know what my Word of the Year needs to be. For example, 2016 was a brutal year that included the death of my beloved grandfather and a fierce case of shingles. Then in the fourth quarter the year wrapped up with a badly broken right wrist that cost all of independent mobility. By then I knew that my word for 2017 would be FEARLESS. Read more

,

A Strong Funny Bone Can’t Be Broken

On an ordinary sunny afternoon, after an energetic workout at the gym, I tripped at home over a shoe (my shoe) and sprawled face first with outstretched arms onto the tile floor of our kitchen. Ouch! Two broken elbows, a cracked wrist and several strained ligaments later I once again experienced everything changing in an instant. I wasn’t laughing. At first….

Have you ever felt slammed with problems and dependent on others for help? One misstep, just a slight misjudgment, is all it takes to equal disaster. Sometimes it’s not even your misstep, but you’re the one left to deal with the fallout. Then what? Read more

,

Be Genuine while Faking It

Elisa Hays Speaker

On June 14 three years ago, I woke up in my own bed for the first time after three and a half months in hospitals. It was a Saturday and we had a birthday party for our daughter Sarah. I stepped into a bright new day and the beginning of getting on with living.

Only two days prior in the rehab hospital I had charmed my way into convincing the doctors to send me home a week earlier than they had planned. I had been hospitalized for St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, my wedding Anniversary, and my 47th birthday. I was determined to be home for Sarah’s party. My husband Steve did all the preparations of course, but I chatted with the giggly 14-year old girls and joined in festivities. In brief conversations and on Facebook posts I seemed completely cogent. Like myself. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Read more

, ,

Coming Full Circle…

Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo 2017

They say that everything happens for a reason.

I say they’re wrong.

It’s easy to believe that when something tragic happens it’s because it has a “deeper” motive. You catch yourself saying phrases such as: “This happened because I need to learn something,” or “Bad things happen to good people.” Some would even go as far as to say, “I deserved this.” Our minds become incredibly overwhelmed as we try to justify a life event and how it will affect our now altered future. Sometimes life hits you like a truck. And now you’re stuck.

Stop. Take a breath. Pause. And ask yourself: What about right now?

Read more

, , , , ,

The most raw, honest and profound interview.

Friends, this is the most raw, honest and profound interview I’ve ever given.

Please listen and allow it to change how you connect with people everywhere.

Read more

, ,

How To Eliminate International Women’s Day

international womans day

I’m really struggling with International Women’s Day. Anyone who knows me even a little would think I’m a big fan but truth be told I have mixed feelings.

Very rarely in my life have I actually allowed any experience of limitations because I’m a woman to stop me. I’ve seen it, heard it and felt it. I’ve been literally patted on the head and told I couldn’t do a “man’s job.” I simply refuse to listen to such idiocy. How about an ‘International Not-All-Men-Are-Idiots Day’?

Read more

The Secret To Managing Overwhelm

Feel overwhelmed? I truly get it. Brain injury makes me feel like the photo all the time! So I work at reducing anxiety as if it’s my job. Actually it kind of is. In fact that’s not even unique. We all feel pushed to do more with less. So what’s the secret to managing the overwhelm?

Well, remembering to breathe helps. After that it’s all about understanding that no matter how much piles up only one thing can be done at a time. Multitasking truly is a myth.

Read more