, ,

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

,

How to Be Thankful in All Things

Are you thankful in all things? Does it matter?

On Friday I learned I have a basal cell carcinoma on my lower leg. Although yes it is skin cancer, it can be removed and cured without likelihood of follow up treatment. And yet, I’ve been angry for days. Transplant recipients on immunosuppressive medication have, among other things, a high risk of skin cancer. So here we go. I can add one more thing to an already long list of health problems. I’ve been on edge and grumpy to everyone around me since hearing the news. Logic takes a back seat to emotions when it feels like the proverbial straw landed on the camel’s back. Read more

, ,

March 1st 2018

Letters to My Daughter imageMarch 1st will forever be an extraordinary day. On this day in 2014, at approximately 8:00 PM Central time, EMTs raced my hemorrhaging body into an emergency room in Wichita, Kansas. I was given less than a 5% chance of living. As one surgeon said, “The only time I’d ever seen that much of the inside of a human body was on a cadaver in medical school.”

Ten days later I opened my eyes, surprised to discover I wasn’t dead. It took a painfully long…and well, just plain painful…battle to arrive at the life I have today. But this isn’t a post about the accident, and you can certainly read about it on my website. This is about one piece of what I want to give back…Letters to My Daughter. Read more

, ,

”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

The Extraordinary Impact of Gratitude

This time of year, most Americans focus on thankfulness. (Canadians were thankful last month.) Social media abounds with posts touting gratitude, service, and reconciliation. Let’s all come together!

And then January happens…..

Read more

, ,

Go… And Be of Service

In a mere 14 days, people around North America came together to raise over $54,000 to get a woman back home to her family. A strong and supportive team that had worked day and night to keep this woman alive transported her out of an ICU on Good Friday, 2014. This woman’s dad, the last person to talk to her before the collision and the one caring for her kids back home, was one of the first to greet her after the med-jet flight landed in Seattle.

Every single one of these people sacrificed something, whether that was time, money or services, for me.

While some of these people were ‘simply doing their job’, most of them sacrificed voluntarily. Too often we lose track of what true volunteerism means. We participate in acts “voluntarily” but only if it benefits us personally; i.e. I’m on the Board of the National Speakers Association Northwest Chapter as a volunteer. Yes I give altruistic service but of course it also benefits my career.

Read more

, ,

Put Others First

kidney transplant

If I had died, my organs would have been donated to someone in need. I’ve always believed in the value of organ donation. I survived, but unfortunately my kidneys did not. My family was devastated as I was left with only 13% kidney function. My only hope was a transplant.

My 36-year old baby brother, with the support of his wife and two young daughters, stepped up as a living donor. To our joy all tests looked excellent. We excitedly prepared for a transplant at a top ranked hospital near home.

One day we got the call…but not a good one. It turns out Matt is 1% of the population with multiple renal arteries. Crazy, right?! That means he has 3 arteries to his left kidney and 4 to his right kidney instead of the usual 1. The transplant team felt the risk was too high and they turned us down. My whole family cried. Then we got creative….

Read more

, ,

The Price is Right

What is your life worth?

To the medical community the price for my life last year was $2.3 million. The cash register continues to ring regularly.

Money isn’t all that has been paid. The price for my LIFE was a deeply costly sacrifice on many fronts….

  • Over $54,000 from 440 donors.
  • My once strong and capable body.
  • My formerly easily agile mind.
  • A successful and much loved career.
  • A house that I designed and now can’t live in longterm.
  • Friendships that were damaged, destroyed or at minimum affected.
  • My family’s plans both financially and experientially.
  • Our sense of security.
  • My dignity
  • My dreams

It’s a sobering, even depressing list that I wrote during my lowest point emotionally. It helped me draw one critical conclusion. Many people have sacrificed greatly and paid a heavy price. For what? ME. How can I not also see a spiritual parallel? A tremendous price has been paid to save ME.

Now I can shrivel up in a corner, feeing sorry for myself. Or I can boldly embrace that I am worthy of such a steep price and then ACT LIKE IT. Only then can I turn the enormous investment into compounded value for others.

My ‘problems’ aren’t worse than yours. Just more dramatic. Make your own list. What sacrifices have you and others made so that you can contribute to the world? That is really what it’s about. You and I have been helped along so that we can CONTRIBUTE. The world needs what only you can uniquely bring and you can be sure a price has been paid. Know that and ACT LIKE IT. No matter how steep the cost, your contribution ensures the price is right.