Celebrate Life

November 1997

November 1997

At this very moment 11 years ago I was in the intensive care unit at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center fighting for my life. On November 21, 1997 at 10:45 in the morning I was traveling down the interstate thinking of the appointment I had at 11:00 and listening to local sports radio. It was a regular drive on a regular day.

Just then I heard what sounded like a shotgun going off in my left ear. It was my front left tire exploding. My handicap accessible van traveled across the three lanes of traffic heading southbound, went through the median, and into the oncoming traffic. The next thing I knew I was waking up to the voice of an EMT. I was obviously dazed and confused as to why I was looking up at the clear blue sky.

As I looked around I saw my van’s radio antenna. I remember thinking to myself that that was odd being that my antenna was on the passenger side of the car. There I was lying half in and half out of the passenger side of my van. Scared, frightened, and afraid that further neurological damage had been done I came in and out of consciousness while the emergency workers used the “Jaws of Life” to get me on a gurney and into the ambulance.

I was rushed to the ER where Kolette met me. I’ll never forget watching her enter the room unsure of what her response to this possibly fatal injury would be. It was then when I experienced one of the sweetest moments of my life. When Kolette first saw me her face turned white and she looked as though her knees were going to buckle. Then, in vintage Kolette style-she stood up straight and gained her bearings. She walked over to me and put her arms around me as best she could while whispering in my ear, “We’re going to be okay.” It is difficult for me to express in words what that quiet vote of confidence from the mouth of the woman I loved with all my heart meant to me.

After things were stabilized in the emergency room I was rushed off to seven hours of surgery. The weeks that followed were harrowing at best. On one of the very first days the doctors pulled my family aside and told them that if they wanted to say goodbye to me they’d better do it immediately. As my family tried to understand what my odds were really were, the doctors told them I wouldn’t live through the night.

Luckily, doctors aren’t always as smart as they think they are. I made it through that night, and through the nights that followed. My situation was serious enough however, that I was hospitalized for a full 13 months.

When I broke my neck in a diving accident at 15, I was in the hospital for three months. At that time I was convinced I could never do another day in the hospital. Thirteen months seemed an eternity.  But, the damage was that serious and extensive.

I will never forget 12 months later, November 21, 1998. I was still in the hospital and all I could think about on that day was how much my life had changed the year before. It reminded me of July 13, 1986, one year after my diving accident. As that day approached I had to make a decision. I had to decide if I would spend that day wallowing in self-pity, thinking of all the bad that happened, or if I would concentrate on the improvement I had made over the previous 12 months. I had to decide if I would put my energy and time into thinking about how I had become a quadriplegic, or if I would concentrate on the fact that I was still alive.

I chose to celebrate. On July 13, 1987 one year after my diving accident I invited all of my friends over my house and we had a party. We celebrated my “anniversary.” We celebrated life.

Following suit, on the first “anniversary” of my car accident I did the same–I celebrated. Kolette and I had some friends up to my hospital room and we had a party, being joyful about the life I still had to lead, about the gift simple existence was.

In every year that has followed, July 13 at November 21 are days that I celebrate. Every member of my family takes a moment to call me on the phone and congratulate me. Kolette and I always go out and do something special.

So today on my “anniversary” I invite you to join me. I invite you to take a moment and leave a comment telling me of something that is good in your life. I will give away one of my DVD’s to the winner (I’ll even autograph it). It will be your “anniversary” present to me.

Join me in focusing on all the pleasure you get and forgetting the pain.  Join me in realizing the blessing every minute in every day is. Join me and celebrate life.

Jh-

FYI: DVD GIVEAWAY CLOSES AT 9PM PST SUNDAY NOVEMBER 23RD

32 Responses to Celebrate Life

  1. Ali W says:

    Jason – you inspire me. My family and I have had the hardest year, losing jobs, returning home from the other side of the world not knowing what fate awaited us, economic uncertainty and an emotional rollercoaster. But everyday I look for the good things (I did you and Kolette’s class at CE!) and I read your blog and I believe in the power of positive thought. The best thing has been the strength of my relationship with my husband, and the way our 7 year old just breezes through everyday. The good thing for me is seeing how my daughter gets up every morning as fresh as a daisy and happy as a songbird. I take inspiration from her, and I think we could all learn a lot by watching our kids and adopting their “joy in everything” approach to life. Happy anniversary – may there be any more to come.

  2. Janet H says:

    In October, 2007 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Part of my life changed. It has been a challenging year but I am grateful everyday to be alive and to have the most incredible family and friends. I like the idea of celebrating the anniversary of my diagnoses. Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Hi Jason! I linked to you from Tim Holz’s blog. What an incredible adventure your life has been so far. I love your attitude! I am blessed with a husband of 24 years and two adorable children. God Bless you!!

    Take care and STAY POSITIVE!

  4. Lyn Meeker says:

    I just celebrated two years since diagnosis of Breast Cancer .. Nov 8 – ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING IS GOOD! .. even when I do get a little “down” .. I always view it as it could have been worse – now I have the Monte Python song running thru my brain… “Always look on the bright side of life” .. If I am still singing it by bedtime .. I’ll be calling you! – I have ways of getting your number … wait.. I have your autographed DVD … I bet there is some type of number to call on it!!!!! LOL!

    Congratulations on the celebrations in your life!

  5. KristiG says:

    My daughter had open heart surgery in June 2007. She was only 6 months old at the time. We celebrated this year on the anniversary of her surgery also! Every day we wake up is another reason to celebrate, but these anniversaries are even more special in my opinion. So congratulations on the anniversary of a life-changing accident, a day that could have been MUCH worse, but ended up being something to celebrate! You & Kolette are an inspiration to us all, and I can’t wait to spend the next year with you both in a Life Well Crafted!

  6. Sue Kelemen says:

    Six years since my diagnosis of Breast Cancer. It was a hard time for my husband, my boys and my extended family and of course for me.
    I consider every day a gift and I don’t like to waste even a minute on hard feelings, mean people (I’m in retail, LOL) or anger. I just don’t have the time!
    Cancer did change me but it is all good!
    You are an inspiration and I appreciate your stories and your insightful way of looking at life! Thank you for sharing your “anniversary”!

  7. Mindi Pierce says:

    Hi Jason: Thanks for sharing this story. 3 1/2 years ago, I thought I had a bad case if the flu. Finally after 24hours of extreme abdominal pain, I went to the ER, still thinking I had the flu. To make a long story short, I woke up the next morning and the Dr. came in and introduced himself. He said, “Hi Mrs. Pierce. If you hadn’t come in last night, you’d be dead right now.” I was very surprised to hear that. My colon had ruptured, infecting my entire insides. The surgery he had performed had saved my life. After living with a temporary colostomy for 3 months, I was grateful to go back into surgery and be “put back together.” I remember at about the 2nd month of recovery, I complained to a friend, “Gosh, I have lost 2months of my life to this thing.” He quickly and wisely replied, “No, you have gained 2 months of your lie.” Ever since then, I try to remember that. Every day, I have gained another day. Now, I am back to normal with no real side effects. I am thankful for another one of my children’s birthdays, another Christmas together, and sharing another sunset together. I am thankful for my life.

  8. Cara says:

    Jason,
    we went to high school together, while I did not “know” you, I knew who you were and what you went through and was impressed at how you handled yourself in high school, not an easy place to be for the best of them. I myself have been blessed enough to not have gone through such traumatic experiences in life, the most blessed event was the brith of my child after several close calls for her life and mine. She was almost lost at 25 weeks of pregnancy and one month after she was born I hemorrhaged and almost lost my life. We celebrate her birthday with extra care and love because she is the only one we will be able to have and we are so thankful for the love and joy she brings us and that fact that we both are still here to share that day.
    Thank you for sharing your story and helping us all to remember what really matters in life.

  9. Linda Miller says:

    Jason, I had been divorced two years when I attended CKU-A Stamford where I took Kolette’s class and was introduced to the incredible power of joy as a choice that you and Kolette brought to the class. From the initial story of the lost wheelchair, to the 10 days in Connecticut with the back to back crises, and all the other stories of life at the Hall’s, I was captivated. My divorce had been the hardest thing I had ever been through. I felt my whole purpose in life had been wrenched from me. I had been knocked off the pillar of Mormon Motherhood and would never be the same. You and Kolette showed me that I was wallowing in the dust of my shattered pillar by choice, and that I could be happy again if I chose to be. You were saved for a very special purpose Jason, I am convinced. You radiate joy and it is contagious, but you also let people know that they have the power within themselves to find their own joy. Congratulations on you anniversary. May you have many, many more.

  10. Heidi says:

    Jason, you continue to inspire and motivate others! Thank you for sharing your story. I remember 1986 very well and all the prayers and fasting that we all did on your behalf. You are a loved person and that you maintain a positive attitude in spite of all your challenges in life sets an incredible example to everyone who meets you.

    Something to celebrate in my life that is most important to me is my family. I have a loving, supportive husband, 3 beautiful and healthy (and rambunctious) boys, and parents, siblings, nieces and nephews that are such a great joy in my life.

    Keep up the good work! Tell the family hello from me!

  11. Debi says:

    My greatest blessing is my family. My husband of 36 years, and our 4 grown children are a constant source of joy. I also still have my father, for which I am very grateful, as well as 8 brothers and sisters, and dozens of nieces and nephews.
    In our family, when something happens to one of us, we rally round and do whatever is necessary. I know that no matter what happens in my life, I have my family to help me through it. That is BIG!
    I love reading your blog. You are a constant source of inspiration. That you are continually able to find something good and positive in any bad situation says alot about you, and the kind of person you are. You are truly a blessing to everyone who comes in contact with you, whether personally, or through your blog.
    Happy Anniversay Jason!
    Debi

  12. Kam says:

    I also came here from Tim’s site.

    HAPPY ANNIVERSARY JASON!!!!

    I was having a very bad day (car issues) and reading your post helped me remember things could be far worse. Your positive outlook in the face of some far more serious incidents reminded me not to sweat the small things in life. And nothing is more important than life.

    Thank you for bring me back to reality.

    k

  13. Sally sTo says:

    Hi Jason-

    Thank you for sharing your amazing a story. You are an absolute inspiration. I am happy to wish you and Kolette Happy Anniversary!

    I am so very grateful for the love of my husband and for all the gifts in my life. This quote is from Melody Beattie and it seems so perfect to share it with you:

    Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates vision for tomorrow.

    Happy Thanksgiving too!

  14. Aimee says:

    Jason, I like so many others, found you through Tim…Your stories are really inspiring to me. You seem like an awesome guy and have such a strength of character. Thanks for your postings, they really cause one to think.
    Lots of love,,
    Aimee

  15. Mary L says:

    Everything seems to be in a fog right now and I’m having a hard time and choked up trying to think of one good thing that is going right in my life right now. I don’t know exactly where to begin but I’ll start by saying that I’m thankful for the gift of teaching and the lives I touch. For the student who said he needed me today, for the student who said thank you just because, for the student who skipped nutrition to ask help with homework…and more…I thank you for making me feel needed and loved.
    Thank you.

  16. Hels says:

    Hey Jason, I linked here thru Tim’s Blog too…thanks for sharing your amazing story, it is an inspiration to me. Wishing you and Kolette all the very best..Hels x

  17. Ann Kapusinski says:

    Jason, I met you and Kolette at CE and you were both so inspiring! I love reading your blog. It makes me focus on all the good there is in life. You are a survivior and and an inspiration to us all. Thank you for Sharing.
    Happy Anniversary!

  18. In the summer of 2003, I was driving a minivan, towing a U-haul trailer. The connecting hitch snapped, sending us across 3 lanes of the highway and into the median divide. The trailer rode up the back of the van before coming to rest at a V, with the van resting on the dividing rail, on its side. All five of my children were in the van. Of the five, only my younger son, who climbed out a broken window, had a single cut. He needed a bandaid. I had whiplash and a concussion, which led to post-concussive syndrome. Sure, it’s a pain. I’ve got a headache that doesn’t go away. But when i think about what *could* have happened?? How can I fail to be grateful? We’re all alive and nothing major is wrong. My children are absolutely fine. That is the most important thing to me.

    Thank you for reminding me how fortunate we are. Happy anniversary.

  19. Jonesy says:

    Hi Jason (and Kolette)

    I met both of you at CE. I so appreciate the honesty of your and Kolette’s emotions in your blogs! Thank you for sharing so generously, and reminding us all that life is so good and precious. Reading everyone’s comments on the blog has been helpful to me and another “good thing” I can record in my Good Book!!! God Bless You Both at this special time in your lives!

  20. Susan says:

    Jason, Happy Anniversary. With each writing you continue to inspire me and teach me to look at things with a new perspective, I thank you for that. I have many good things in my life, but the one that stands out for me during this time of my life are the words,”I’m on my way, eta 15 hours.” My “almost” husband spends a significant amount of time in the Middle East, he and his team take on the tough jobs, the ones that don’t get any recognition or support. Without a doubt they are also the most hazardous. When he climbs back into the cockpit, his team safely tucked away in the jet and sends me that note, I relax a bit and know that once again they will all be home safely in about 15 hours. Of course then I get busy and make the arrangements to get to where he lands so that I can meet them when they arrive. No fanfare, no one else waiting, just me and a whole lot of gratitude and love. Thank you for sharing your inspirations and stories, many days they are just what I need. I look forward also to spending the year with you and Kolette at BPS in 2009. It will most certainly be BIG.

  21. Jacquetta says:

    Jason ~ since I was able to hear your amazing story at CE2008, you have been an inspiration to me. So here is my little inconsiquental story, so hopefully I can win your great DVD to share with my family when things get rough this next year.
    I have been married to my high school sweetie for 23 years, 2 years ago this month, we made a decision that has now severely impacted our lives. Jeff was in the National Guard for 9 years when we were first married and decided to get out. Well 2 years ago we decided for “retirement” reason he would re-enlist, now granted we knew that he could “possibly” be called to IRAQ, yet in the back of my mind at least I truly felt this would never happen. Well guess what it has, on January 7, 2008 he got THE CALL. His unit is being deployed, well after a very long 11 months of waiting, the time is now getting short. Jeff and his unit will be deployed to Baghdad, Iraq on February 23, 2009. As we try to prepare our family for this 14 month deployment we look at everything with new eyes. All those things we have always taken for granted have new meaning. Veterans day, being able to Vote, the 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, wow so many memories to try to shove in as quick as possible to hold us through the next year. Ever since hearing you speak, my new saying when things get rough is “things could be worse!”. my son-in-law will also be deployed with my husband. I am proud of my husband to be willing to make this sacrafice, even more I am thankful and proud of amazing children that also will be making this sacrafice with me. Once again thank you for your amazing spirit!!
    Jacquetta Hough

  22. Betty says:

    Jason
    Happy Anniversary! I check your blog daily and enjoy reading all of your adventures. You inspire me. You remind me of all of the good things in life. You remind me that I have the power to make change in life. When you share your stories I always end up walking away with something…a thought, a reminder, a lesson. Thank you, Jason. You’ve been very inspiring. Thank you!
    Betty

  23. collee edson says:

    Jason,
    Happy Anniversary, I found your link from tim holtz blog. You have touched my heart and soul. I am a public health RN who take care of all the peds patients along with adults on ventalators that are paraplegics and quadraplegics. You have rolled the walk as I say and are an inspirations to so many that are where you were. I will be sharing your web site and story with my patients to inspire them and hopefully allow them the find the champion in them. I was raised with my stepfather who was a paraplegic from polio w/c bound all my life and was able to take care of 2 acers sitting on his bottom owned his own buisnees as a cpa. So I know anything is possible, I am blessed with the life I have , in return It is through my work that I can give back and truly hope that I can inspire my patients that there is something possitive in the situation that they have been delt. Thank you for the insite to life and what really matters. bless you and your family Colleen Edson

  24. Sue Borda says:

    Hi Jason and Kolette
    HAPPY “CELEBRATION” ANNIVERSARY!!!!
    I stumbled across your blog and have read all your entries with a huge admiration towards the journey and courage you have both shown. I could not stop reading your entries as I travelled your journey through your ups and downs. Whilst I have often wondered as I read your blog how on earth you could have seen a shining light at the end of the tunnel, I believe that your positive thinking and belief in a better future have helped you go forward each and every day. We all have experienced hurdles in our life, but after reading your story I have adopted a new approach that there is always someone who won’t believe in you, but it is your own inner belief and inner strength that will ultimately pull you through each day. We have to believe in ourselves. I have tried to adopt this inner belief as I have tackled many recent hurdles with my family and would like to thank you for encouraging me to believe the need to be thankful for the positive things in our life and celebrate what we have around us. You are both a true inspiration and I applaud you for your strength, determination and success!
    thank you for sharing your journey.
    from Sue (Australia)

  25. Veronica M says:

    Almost 4 years ago I was rushed into an emergency csection at 25 weeks pregnant, I was told that my baby probably would not live. I willed her to live, I begged God to let her live, to bring her into our family. They pulled her out and there was no cry, I waited in tears, holding my breath, begging my husband and the dr’s please don’t let her die. It took over 8 minutes to get her breathing, they rushed to take her to the NICU to save her life, but not before they brought her to me to look at–her dark tiny soulful eyes looked into mine–silently in her dark gaze she told me that she was here, she was alive, she was my miracle. Her tiny 11lb body fought valiantly for 3 months in the NICU, surviving more than was thought possible. But you see she had made up her mind, she was here and she was going to stay on this earth. It’s been almost 4 years and she still struggles but with a smile and a giggle and “I’m alright Mommy” She’s my hero, we celebrate her life, her struggles and her spirit everyday. She was more than a gift of a child, she is a testament to the fact that miracles are REAL. I’m forever thankful each time I look at her scars, her spirit, her love for life and it all began the first moment she looked into my eyes.

  26. Rosie says:

    When I was 19 my dear father lost the battle of depression and committed suicide. It has changed my life. There are times that I have wallowed in self pity. Other times–the good times I try to focus on the 19 years that I DID HAVE with him.

    Every year on the date of his death I feel quite somber. It happened right before valentines day. For years I didn’t like valentine’s day because of this. It was just too raw. However, in the past year or two I have realized that I don’t want to ruin or taint a perfectly good holiday. A holiday that represents lOVE. So, I turned over a new leaf. I decided to celebrate life around Valentines day. I know that my sweet Dad would not want me to wallow in despair because of his poor choice. So there will be even more celebrating this year and I really begin to understand this choice I have made “To Live”.

  27. José Roelen-Schouten says:

    Hi Jason and Kolette,

    Happy Anniverserary.
    It’s a day I never forget, because Yvonne, my sister, Tineke, my friend and me were in New Canaan to celebrate your Mam’s fifties birthday. Now it’s her birthday again.
    Eleven years later and so many things to be happy for.
    Now and then I read your and Kolette’s weblog and I thank you both for the inspiration you give me. It brings my family an little bit closer.
    Lots of love, José from Belgium.

  28. Joy says:

    Happy Aniversary, I too found you via Tim’s blog and here is me feeling sorry for my self beacause I dislocated my thumb and my arm hurts – I shall no longer wallow in my self pity. You are truly an inspiraton I wish you happiness and thankyou Tim for leading me to your blog – I’ll be back soon xxx

  29. Lori says:

    Thank you Jason for being an inspiration for us all. You have taken the trials that the Lord has given you and made them into teaching moments for us all.

    So many things are not as I would have them right now, but they are probably as they should be. I just need to change my persepctive around until I see even the worst situration as a blessing. When I do this, I realize that all is good.

  30. Julie says:

    Jason…

    You and Kolette are such an inspiration to me….I had the honor of meeting Kolette a few years ago at a CKU event.

    Right now we are struggling with learning of my fil’s cancer….that it is getting worse. I am trying to focus on the ‘positive’ with our children…and reminding them that every day is a gift…and we need to make the most of it.

    I am trying to find ways to celebrate the true meaning of the season during the holidays so that our children will remember the love, laughter, and memories we make together….not just what kind of gift they receive.

    Thanks again for such a great blog! And congrats on the new baby to be!
    Julie

  31. Lynne says:

    Wow Jason…stories like yours puts a new perspective on life. I survived my husband’s suicide when I was pregnant with our second child, but I’ve never had to survive and overcome a life threatening illness or accident. For you to do that not once but twice …I can only imagine. Your view of life and how to live it is an inspiration. Happy Anniversary!

  32. First of all Happy Anniversary Jason!!!! Whoo HOO!!!! You are a survivor!!!!
    Ok, good things, mainly my life is fulled with good in this most negitive world at times.
    Here is a little synoposis of my life:

    I grew up in a very abusive household. My mother turned to alchol when my older sister whom is 61 was 13 years old. My mom’s dad died at 58, and I guess my mom had alcohol to help her cope. She used to be very religious, I was told.

    She was so very mean to me as she had 4 daughters. She used to beat me up so very bad, she left me without food, I saw things at a young life, I should of never. I was hit, cuz I smiled too much of all the many things I did. Life was tough as I moved out at 16 as all I wanted was a mom and a dad. That was all, just a family. But, I always knew God was there for me as my bestest Friend. He would protect me and keep me safe. I always prayed for safety as I still do.

    If I was safe, that meant I was able to live a life.

    I never have been depressed at all. I had my mom’s 1st husband as my dad, as my bio father never wanted us children. My mom was married a total of 4 times and was always miserable. She was trying to find happiness in men and not within herself. She had no coping skills and generally cried at Holidays. She was jealous of her own children that rose above. Even as she is dying now, she is so hatred upon me. She needs to find peace.

    I was married at the age of 22 in 1986, had two children after having surgeries to conceive, at 26 and 29 years old, and divorced at the age of 30. My ex cheated and left me and remarried 2 weeks after my divorced to this women that had married 3 times before.

    I then re-married (my Juan and only) hehe at the age of 35 and we had a child together. I love this man beyond any words. I used to cry for joy as he is always so good to me. He adores me and thanks me for everything I do for him daily. Truly a Blessed person. I prayed for 3 children and that is what I received. YIPPEE!!!

    I wanted my children and never have I ever been depressed. I get only get sad when people die but I know they will be better off then we are on earth. They are going to a better place. I decided to further my life and the gifts I have to help others. I used to go into the newspaper and find families that needed help and go and help them. I used to find a homeless person that needed a meal and then let them use one of my storage sheds for their needs. I then became a mentor of pregnant and parenting teens for 5 years.

    At one point, I helped 10 different organizations. My one son Andrew put me on bed rest from 16 weeks on, and he was born in ICU. He has numerous problems as to date has been hospitalized 15 times for health and mental issues. I advocated the state and put him in the group home, over 4 years ago at the age of 12 as he has Autism, MMR, ADHD, Phychosis, and seizures.

    I find in myself such good things. I feel confident, Happy, true Happiness. I want people to experience my joy, positive attitude.

    My van now had a bumper sticker that reads: Because Nice Matters.

    I am often told so much about me that gets me quite embarrassed. I am not afraid of anyone, I talk to anyone but, to get recognized, makes me shy. LOL
    I am told I am a magnet to people. People need to my positive energy to function. OOps I had no idea what they meant.

    I believe by faith, I am doing what is right, but, I had experienced alot in my life as well. I have had 7 surgeries and I also had mono and lived through encephalitis. that is where your brain swells and most can die. I often wonder if my abuse had caused this.

    ok, well I am great, and I love life and happy, carefree living. What a remarkable life I lead. I have so much to give!
    You can’t change circumstances and
    you can’t change other people but,
    God can change you!

    God Bless you Jason,
    Your spirit and williness to help others of what you have to give, truly is an inspiration!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: