Notable Quotables

March 16, 2010

For those of you who know me, have heard me, or have read my blogs, you know how I feel about positive affirmation.  When a person is working on having a positive mindset, few things help them get there like a good positive reminders, and when it comes to positive reminders, few work as well as a good positive quotes.

With this in mind, Kolette helped me design 8 new cards that have positive quote on them for 8 great subjects.  We rolled them out at a recent presentation, and they went over like gangbusters.

Here’s a look a the cards.  If you think they might help you, go on over to the store (or click here) and pick up a pack.  You can use them as a motivator by placing them in places where you’ll see them, frame ones you like, or frame one and change it every month.  They even make great gifts.

The packs go for $5.00 a piece, plus $1.50 S&H.  I think you’ll agree that the quotes are moving, and Ko’s design is flawless.  I hope you enjoy them.

Jh-

Quotes:

Positive Attitude: The greatest weapon in the fight to be happy is a Positive Mental Attitude.

Drive: Any dream can be your destination; Just pick a direction and go.

Gratitude: There’s not enough room in the human heart for depression and gratitude at the same time.

Creativity: When you take the best of what you have and combine it with all that you can dream – That’s creativity.

Laughter: Few problems in the world can’t be cured by a moment of laughter.

Service: The kindest gift ever given of man, was a kind word and an open hand.

Cooperation: The more you wonder at the good in others, the less you wonder about the good in yourself.

Persistence: Be better today than you were yesterday, and better tomorrow than you were today.


Choose the Right!

May 18, 2009

Me in my first handicapped accessible van

Me in my first handicapped accessible van

After my diving accident, it wasn’t long into my junior year of high school that, other than being in a wheelchair, life began to return back to normal. After a lot of work, and because of some great friends and wonderful family, I was back in the regular flow of my life living just like any other 16-year-old boy.

I was taking a full load at school. I was very socially involved in school. I elected junior class president, was going out on dates and was even back at the dances. I was attending basketball and football games; pretty much living with a full scholastic and social calendar.

One of the great contributors to this return to normalcy was the fact that I could drive. I had finally become licensed to drive with hand controls and my parents had helped me to get a handicap accessible van. I’d gone out and gotten licensed to drive with those hand controls, so I could actually use this van to give me all the freedom it promised. There was only one hitch. I couldn’t make left-hand turns.

I’m not exactly sure how a person gets licensed to drive without being able to make a left-hand turn, but I was 16 and the state was willing to provide me with a license, so I was off.

I did however have enough sense to know that it was going to be tricky only driving with right-hand turns. I would therefore coerce my brothers and sister to go with me to the church parking lot so I could practice doing figure eight filled left-hand turns. I had to take someone with me so that on the way to the church–or in the church’s parking lot, when I couldn’t pull off the left-hand turn, there was someone to throw the wheel keeping me from ending up inside the church while still inside my car.

The idea was that as soon as I knew I wasn’t going to get the wheel all the way over I’d ask for help. This didn’t always work exactly to plan. There were many times when on our way to the empty parking lot I’d realize that I wasn’t going to pull off the turn without enough time for the person with me to do anything about it.

I recall many a time when, with my sister as my copilot I would call out, “Help, help, help!” and she, working as quickly as she could to help get the wheel rotating to the left, would understandably be a little late on the draw. With the wheel not completely turned, we would end up off-roading through a ditch, crossing over someone’s backyard or through a makeshift fence made of stakes and chicken wire.

During those few months while I was learning to make my left hand turns, I needed to find a way to drive safely on my own. In order to do this I would map out every destination so that I could get there making only right-hand turns. In essence, I’d begin at my home and, right turn after right turn going around and circles that continued to grow in size until I reached my final destination. In order for this to work, everything had to come off perfectly. Roadwork and detour signs wouldn’t just slow me down, they  would stop me altogether.

Even my best planning didn’t always fix everything. When I drove to high school the only way to get into the parking lot was to make a left hand turn. This meant I had to park along the street across from my school.

If there was a morning when the street was full,I would simply have to use my right hand turns to go around the block again hoping that when I returned a spot would be open. I would do this over and over until someone either moved, a spot freed up, or I ran out of gas and had to park.

In the middle of this adventure my life, there was a buzz beginning at school. The big Christmas formal was coming up, and everyone was waiting to see if they were going, and who they’re going with. It It was a girl ask guy dance and so as young men we waited with anticipation to see if we were going to be lucky enough to be asked.

Then, one day I got picked. My friend Susie Wilcox asked me to be her date. I was so excited.

This was my first formal dance, and this time I could drive. The only other dance I’ve ever attended was before I had my van and I and had to be lifted in and out of the car by my date. This time there was no lifting. I was so happy to be able to drive my date to the dance instead of having to have her throw me in and out of the car.

With anticipation and exhilaration at an all-time high I rushed to rent my tuxedo. I went into the shop knowing exactly the look I wanted. It was the 80’s and, working hard to be hip, I had the clerk fit me for a white tuxedo with a lavender tie and cummerbund (lavender so that my tie and cummerbund would match her dress). I opted against tails as, sitting in my chair, they looked more like mudflaps than tails.

I left the tuxedo shop and went directly to the florist to order the corsage. With tuxedo and corsage taken care of, all I had to do now was wait. It seemed like it took forever for the dance to finally arrive. But, like all things, the waiting eventually ended and it was time for me to go pick up Susie and go to the dance.

Since it was an “girl ask guy” dance, she was in charge of doing all the planning. Susie and her friend Shannon had decided to make it a double date, and together planned where we would eat and what we would do.

This was important information for me to procure. I knew where the dance was, that was public knowledge, so I was able to plan my way there in all right-hand turns. But, if I didn’t know where we were going to eat I wouldn’t have the same lead time to plan my route.

I was nervous to ask as I had decided to keep my “right turn only” information to myself. It didn’t seem very masculine to me at 16 to accept Susie’s invitation only to let her know that my driving wasn’t exactly perfect. I asked where dinner was going to be unsure if I would get response. At my high school it was en vogue to keep these kinds of things a secret or a surprise, so I wasn’t sure she was going to give up the goods at all.

To my joy and happiness she told me where dinner was going to be held. I got out my little map of Boise and planned out our journey. I figured out how to get everybody picked up, off to dinner, away to the dance and finally home never making a left hand turn.

On the night of the dance, I made my way to Susie’s house. I arrived, and her mother came out to get photos just like a good mother should. I presented Susie with her corsage. I opted for a wrist corsage versus one that pinned on. Without the use of my hands having her slide the corsage on her wrist seemed a lot safer than me pinning it on her chest. In fact, had I opted for the pin corsage I probably would’ve had to map out my way to the emergency room with right-hand turns as well.

With everyone in the car, we were off and on our way casually driving to dinner.  About 5 miles down the road we came to an overpass that crossed over the interstate. Just as we started down the other side of the overpass Susie turned to me and asked me to get in the left-hand turn lane at the upcoming light. I knew the intersection was there, but since I couldn’t make a left hand turn was planning on going through the light and continuing on down the road.

I told her that she was mistaken as turning left wouldn’t get us to the restaurant where we were to eat dinner. She smiled and told me I was the one who was mistaken. She continued to inform me that original instructions were a ruse to keep me off of our dinners real location. She said it was her  “big surprise.” I remember thinking that both the words big and surprise were an understatement, and that her efforts to surprise me had definitely paid off.

I began wrestling with myself wondering what I should do. I didn’t want to tell her I couldn’t make the turn, but I didn’t want to be unsafe either. We finally arrived at the light, and I pulled into the left-hand turn lane. I thought if I was very careful and conscientious then I could pull this left-hand turn off, leaving me free from explaining my unique driving situation, and keep my manhood intact.

The light turned green, and the row of cars I was behind began making their left turn on-ramping to the interstate.

I positioned myself the best I could, and as I entered the intersection the wheel was actually turning to the left. I was sure that my confidence and care had paid off as I watched my hand pulling the wheel to the left. I was paying attention to the laws my instructor had taught me to keep what he taught me to drive, and I was paying attention to the laws of the road I’d learned during my driving test. The only laws I’d forgotten to remember were the laws of physics.

In retrospect, these are laws that really should have been the easiest to remember. I had learned these laws as a little boy.

Growing up in my family, whenever my mom had the five of us in her station wagon we paid special attention to these laws in a little game we used to call “Corners.” Whenever she would make a left-hand turn we would do everything in our power to see if we couldn’t shove whoever was sitting on the far right of the seat into the door paneling. The secret was that we knew, in addition to our own pushing, we had the momentum created in the turn.

This was a secret I forgot that day and halfway through the intersection I began to feel that momentum pulling me to the right.

Now normally, I’d have been wearing my seatbelt. But, when I put my tuxedo on that night it was apparent that either the tuxedo was too tight (or my chest was too large) for me to be able to have all the movement I needed to make right or left hand turns. So, my 16 year old mind hypothesized that I’d be better off without the belt. This too ended up a costly error.

Without the help of my belt, the farther we went into the intersection the more the momentum pulled. This, coupled with my inability to get the steering wheel to turn caused me to fall over the side of my chair and into Susie’s lap.

Instant runway van! Without anyone manning the steering wheel the van crossed the two lanes of traffic going our direction and into the traffic going the opposite direction.

Somehow we made it across all lanes unscathed. Thinking quickly on her feet, Susie threw my body back up into an upright position. As I worked to get my bearings, I looked out the front window and scared to death saw that we were heading straight into a green pole.

Susie grabbed the steering wheel and threw it to the left, turning the van just enough that we cleared the pole without a scratch. I then was able to put my hand on the break and stop us in the middle of a field that was in between the on-ramp and the freeway.

Susie and I looked at each other with a look of shock, fear, disbelief, fright and thankfulness all wrapped up in one. It took everything we had just to try and catch our breath. The couple we were double dating with was sitting in the backseat. when I turned to look at them, they had a completely different reaction. Smiling, laughing and slapping their knees they looked like they just been through a ride at Disneyland with such excitement that you’d think they wanted to do the whole thing over again.

I turned to Susie and said, “I think you should know, I can’t make left-hand turns.”  Without saying a word, she returned a look that said, “Oh really!” I told her that it would probably be a good idea if she told me where we were going to dinner so I could map it out in right-hand turns. Since we both felt the evening had plenty of surprise, she agreed and we were off.

The moral to the story, is always, always, Choose the Right.

All kidding aside the thing that got me in so much trouble that night was an unwillingness to do what I knew to be correct and a prideful desire to impress others by doing something I knew in my heart to be wrong.

I had so many opportunities to do the right thing. I could’ve told Susie when she asked me on a date. I could’ve told her when I picked her up. I could’ve told her at the top of the overpass when she told me we were changing the location for dinner.

I could’ve gotten out of the left-hand turn lane, or even asked for a little help. But, I didn’t and my decision to keep my pride and give up what I knew was right could have had very serious consequences.

Every day each of us is put in the same situation. Every day we have countless opportunities to decide if we’ll do what’s wrong or we’ll do what’s right. Knowing what’s wrong and what’s right isn’t the hard part. There’s something inside of each of us that tells us that. We’ve all been in situations where are doing something we shouldn’t, and no matter how hard we try to shut out that voice, we can’t. We know it’s wrong but our pride keeps us moving forward.

If are not careful those times when we “Choose the Wrong”, will come with serious consequences. You may not do yourself bodily injury, but you may end up emotionally injured, or find that you’ve hurt another.

On the other hand, when we “Choose the Right” we keep ourselves safe. No one anywhere, anytime has ever regretted the decision they made, or the way they felt when they did what they knew was right. It may cost us some of our foolish pride, but that’s okay, we’ve all got plenty of that.

Choose the Right. It may not always be the popular thing, and it may not be the easy thing, but it will always be the “right” thing. And everyone knows it’s good to be right.

Jh-



Go With What You Know

April 1, 2009
Jason Hall and Kolette Coleman Spring 1992

Jason Hall and Kolette Coleman Spring 1992

Seventeen years ago today my life changed. Seventeen years ago I asked Kolette to marry me. As I think about this day and what it means to me I think about what led up to that day and how decisions I made then make me the luckiest man in the world.

In 1992, as we approached mid-March Kolette and I were in two different places when it came to marriage. We spent every open waking minute together. I picked her up every morning for school and from that point to the point I dropped her off at night we are together. This togetherness brought with it an ample amount of kissing. As far as I was concerned all was well with the world. I liked seeing Kolette and loved kissing her and figured we could just stay put in our little bubble of time forever.

Kolette on the other hand had enjoyed our time dating but felt that the time for moving on to the next step had come. Both then and now Kolette has been a woman of checklists. And as far as engagement went, her pencil sharpened and she was aching to fill the empty box.

As has usually been the case she was right. Not that there is any specific timeline on how long a couple should date, or that we had dated for an excessively long period of time, but we had spoken often about how marriage was our next step.

On a side note, I think it’s interesting how this subject gets broached by most couples. It seems like generally it happens the same for everyone. First, in conversation you start saying things like, “If we were ever to get married, not that we ever would, but if we did then we would…” Then it begins to turn to “If we were ever to get married, not that we would for a long time, then we would…”

Not long after this is a part of regular conversation, the sentence seems to evolve further to something like, “When we get married, not that that wouldn’t be for a long time, but when we did, then we would…” For me, this was the sentence that seem to have the shortest lifespan. As before I knew it, we were saying just regular old, “When we get married.”

The first time we went to look at rings I was so nervous I didn’t even set one foot in the store. Kolette looked at rings with the salesman who, knowing that I was the buyer, shouted through the store so that I could hear him while I was sitting just outside the doorway.

This went on until one day I dropped Kolette off at school and she had a look on her face that broke my heart. Her eyes told the whole tale. They said, louder than any words ever could, “We are never going to get married.”

That was it. I knew I had to make a decision. I had to decide whether I was going to ask her to marry me and move forward, or simply break things off. Staying where we were at and causing her that kind of disappointment was not an option.

I packed my bag full of books written by wise men on the subject of living life well and headed to a local hotel. I checked into the hotel with the help of a bellman. The bellman took my bag, unpacked the books, helped me order dinner through room service and left. When he did, I shut the door so I couldn’t leave, and dropped the remote on the floor so TV was no longer an option. This way, it was just me, my books, my God, and my big decision.

(In case you’re wondering, my cousin who had a date that night with his future wife, agreed to come to the hotel and lay me down around one o’clock. I know there are some out there thinking that if he was locked in his hotel room how did he ever get out. My cousin also stayed the night and help me get up the following morning.)

I ate my dinner and began some deep reading and heavy prayer. Not long into the evening I called my dad to get his advice. He said he couldn’t understand what I was doing since it seemed to him I already knew the answer.

I remember thinking, “Thanks a lot, Dad!” and went back to reading and praying.

The more I read and the more I prayed the more I realized my Dad was right. I already knew the answer to my question before I even went up to the hotel. As I thought about it I knew she loved me, and I knew I loved her. But, I let doubt and nerves get in the way of that knowledge. Luckily, what my fear questioned, my heart had figured out a long time ago.

I loved her.

I called the bellman, had him bring up some dessert, open the door and hand me the remote. My decision was made and all that was left was the asking.

I returned home put together a plan and with the help of a lot of family and friends pulled off this extravagant plan. I was able to rent a place at Sundance, convince Kolette that we had a meeting with the president of the University (I had just been elected BYU’s Student Body President), get her to wear my favorite dress, get a candlelight dinner set up in the room at Sundance, and get the ring (a few weeks earlier I had actually found the courage to go into a jewelers with Ko).

On our way up the canyon, from Provo to Sundance, Kolette asked me if I had made any headway on getting the ring. She knew that there was no way I was going to be able to afford the ring we had looked at without some help. I was just a poor college student. I told her that I was going to meet about financing on the following Monday. Her face got all sad and frustrated because she knew that once I met with the people about financing it would take at least a week to get the money for the ring.

She told me that she had a conversation with her Dad earlier that day and he was beginning to wonder if I had commitment issues. What she didn’t know was a miracle happened just days before and not only had I ended up with a check for nearly the entire cost of the ring, but that the ring was waiting for her up at Sundance (I knew I wasn’t going to be able to pull the ring out of my pocket when I asked her so when they set up our candlelight dinner I had them set the ring box open on the table).

We got to Sundance and it was great. She was right with me believing the whole thing. She had taken the bait and bit hook, line, and sinker.

We opened up the door to the room and with romantic music playing in the background I led her to the table and in front of the candlelight dinner took her hand and said, “Kolette, will you marry me and make me the happiest man alive?”

She looked at me and quizzically asked, “Are you kidding?”

I remember thinking that this was not the response I expected. My mind raced and I wondered if I’d read the whole situation wrong. I thought maybe the best answer was, “Yeah! Ha Ha! Funny Right?” But, as often happens my mouth got in front of my brain and I exclaimed, “No, I’m not kidding. the ring’s right there.”

She looked at the table and saw the ring that she had missed before and said, “Yes.” Immediately after I started to breathe again and we kissed.

If I remember right, we kissed so long the food got cold. But, we were in love and none of that mattered. The next day we went to school and told all of our friends that we were engaged.

There’s not many days that aren’t good ones for asking the one you love to marry you. But, the 31st of March is one of those days. For, the day that follows is April 1st more commonly known as “April Fools’ Day.” This made it difficult to convince many of our friends that we actually were engaged. But on April 2nd everyone knew we were telling the truth in nearly three months later we were married.

It’s been the ride of a lifetime. Any happiness that has been a part of my life since that day is in some way or another a direct result of Kolette. She is the love of my life and the joy of my journey. She is my best friend and my heart is hers forever.

When I think about all the good that has come into my life because of Kolette I think about how it would have all been lost if that day in the hotel room had I decided to doubt things I knew were true. It’s like I was over thinking and under feeling–so worried I was going to make the wrong decision, I was making no decision at all. Fear that I might fail, or be wrong kept me in a holding pattern. Those emotions of anxiety and apprehension cause us to hesitate moving forward with answers we know to be right.

We have to do all the we can do to get the best information out there. We have to study and learn to gain wisdom and understanding. But there will always be more to learn and more to understand. We have to get all the knowledge we can crammed into our head, but at the end of the day that won’t be enough. Our gut has to be included in the conversation, our heart has to be given a place at the table. Along with the knowledge we gain we have to have the courage to act, the courage to trust what we know in our heart is right. There is a reason God gave us not only a head, but a heart to go with it.

There is little question that we’re at our best when we use all the tools at our disposal. When we use our heads with our hearts we gain the courage to go with what we know.

Jh-

PS To increase your blog views check out alphainventions.  It’s improved my stats, and belive it will yours too.


Chores

March 6, 2009
Hospital TV

Working on my chores--Watching "The Private Eyes" with Don Knotts and Tim Conway.

On the beach directly after breaking my neck I wondered what life held in store for me. The EMTs that finally arrived by boat were fairly convinced that because of the way the accident happened the damage to my spinal cord would not be permanent. This was the news we wanted to hear. About three hours later, the doctors told me that the EMTs on the scene were wrong, that I had broken my neck and become quadriplegic; paralyzed from the chest down.

This was a lot of information for a 15-year-old boy to disseminate. Shortly after receiving the news, I was whisked away to over seven hours of surgery. The next morning as I laid in a specially designed hospital bed that moved back and forth to keep pressure from building up, my parents informed me that while I was in the hospital I had chores to do.

I knew what chores were, I had had them most of my life. Whether it was cleaning my room, setting the table, dusting the house or mowing the lawn, chores were something I was intimately familiar with.

Being in the hospital, I wasn’t necessarily looking for special treatment, but I did think that my current situation was maybe going to buy me a little break from making my bed.

I gave my parents a curious look wondering what they could possibly mean. I wanted to believe the unbelievable as much as anyone, but without a miracle there was no way I was mowing anyone’s lawn.

They proceeded to tell me that the chores I was going to be assigned in the hospital would be a little different. My dad pulled out a set of cards. On the first card was a list of what I had to do. The rest of the cards were part of the work. These were my chores:

1.) Read a list of my talents three times a day.
2.) Read a list of my blessings and things I had to be grateful for three times a day.
3.) Read a list of my dreams and spend time envisioning them coming real.
4.) Read a list of my goals.
5.) Have someone read something positive or uplifting to me once a day.
6.) Have someone read to me from the Scriptures three times a day.
7.) Watch or listen to something funny once a day.

These were my jobs. My parents took these assignments as seriously as they did the ones I had at home. Regardless of whether I felt sick or well, up or down, frustrated or content I had to do my chores.

There are some days I was glad for my list of things to do, and there were others when they were the last thing in the world I want to think about–much like the chores I was assigned at home. But in the end, those chores had payoffs I never would have imagined. Each task brought with it its own reward.

Reading my list of talents reminded me that although physically I had been limited, there were still many things that I could do. I was reminded of all the wonderful abilities I had–and in a world of “disability” that  was huge. Reading the list of blessings and things I had to be grateful for reminded me of all I still had in a time when every day I was reminded of things that had been taken away.

Reading my list of dreams reminded me that I still had dreams. In a time in my life when the world seem like one big dark nightmare that incandescent glow of my dreams kept the darkness at bay. Reading my list of goals reminded me exactly what I was in pursuit of, and kept that pursuit firmly ensconced in my mind. Listening to someone read things that were uplifting of a spiritual nature nurtured my soul. They reminded me of the unconquerable strength of a spirit that is well fed.

The humor made me laugh (even on days when I wasn’t sure there was much to laugh about.) In all my days dealing with difficulty and discouragement I have found humor to be a faithful ally. Some of the greatest therapy I have ever had is thinking back to the events of my life with a smile.

Having these chores also gave me something to do. When you first break your neck, your time in ICU is spent laying down and watching TV. I would receive an hour or so of therapy every day, but in those first weeks I simply allowed my body the time it needed to heal. Not to say that this wasn’t difficult, or necessary, it was just slow and without a lot of action. There were necessarily drastic changes every day which made it difficult sometimes to track exactly what was being accomplished.

Completing these chores gave me a sense of accomplishment. Although many of the things were very small things, in my world at that time finishing them each day gave me value and helped me to feel important.

In all the time that I have spent in hospitals I never went through any depression of any kind. I attribute this to a number of things, not the least of which are my chores. Learning the blessings that come from reminding myself of the most important things in my life, of my goals and dreams, and of the laughter left in the world benefited me then and benefits me still today.

I still have chores. I’m still not really good at mowing the lawn or making my bed. But I still have chores.

There is a feeling one gets after a hard days work. There is a feeling one gets after a hard days work. It’s a feeling of complete exhaustion and total contentment. It’s the knowledge that we’ve given something back to the world and that things are better both in our life and the lives of others due to our efforts. Chores taught me that if I ever wanted to succeed I needed to work to have that feeling everyday.

Give yourself chores, not just tasks, but chores like I had. Remember your talents, remember your blessings. Dream and envision those dreams becoming reality. Set goals and work to accomplish those goals. Read or listen to things that lift and make you laugh. Never forget to nourish your spirit and sense of humor.

When you do you’ll find a sense of fulfillment, accomplishment and well-being. Chores will make your life more rich, full and bright. As a young boy I never thought I’d say this, but I am grateful for chores.

Jh-


Number 12

February 28, 2009

football_2

It seemed that every elementary school year I ever had was one I couldn’t wait to arrive. Each one from kindergarten through the sixth grade brought with it little more responsibility and new opportunity. The fourth grade was one I remember had a unique excitement about it–a special anticipation.

Being old enough to attend a fourth grade meant I was also old enough to play Little League football. Growing up in my home this was something I was really excited for. My dad played high school football and always felt like he may have been good enough to play college ball. This meant a lot of talk and instruction about football from the time I was very young. He was never out of control and didn’t ever exert an inordinate amount of pressure but his excitement seem to breed a little more excitement in me.

So my mom signed me up, I got my gear, my helmet, my jersey and I was off to my first practice. It was great! I loved every minute of it, and couldn’t wait to go back.

Every day after school I had football practice. Now, some kids go hoping for the coach to tell them what positions they’ll be playing and others go with their dream position set in their mind. I was most assuredly the latter.

My favorite team in the whole world was the Dallas Cowboys, and my favorite player on the Dallas Cowboys was Roger Staubach. So on the first day I showed up for practice I knew I wanted to be number 12 and I knew I wanted to be quarterback.

This worked out great. I had always been able to memorize things well which made it easy for me to memorize the plays. In the first year of Little League football pretty much all the plays are running plays. In the fourth grade you rarely have anyone well developed enough to accurately throw or accurately catch the football. This meant that my job as quarterback was to remember who to give the football off to and which “hole” they were going through.

It was perfect. We had some good running backs and I always remembered exactly where to put the ball. This led to a season filled with wins and high expectations for the season to come.

It seemed like forever but eventually it was football time again. I don’t know if it was ingrained in me genetically but every time you taste the crispness in the air and smell the leaves beginning to change my body craves football. So it was with great anticipation that my teammates and I showed up to that first practice of our sophomore Little League season in the fifth grade.

There were a lot of great things that happened on that first day. First, you could tell that everyone had grown. That meant we were going to be stronger, faster and just all around better. Also, the coach pulled out the playbook and there were pass plays all over the place.
This was wonderful. Now our strong ground attack would be complemented with an air assault as well. I went home after practice and began to memorize the plays for the upcoming season. The following day at practice we learned that there was going to be one problem with the new approach. I couldn’t throw the ball.

Try as I might I could not get the ball into the receiver’s hands. Over and over I worked on getting the ball from my hand to the receiver. Over and over balls kept ending up too far ahead, too far behind, too high above or too far below their targets.

I went to the coach and worked to convince him that I could change this. I told him that I would practice as hard as I could and learn how to throw a good ball. The coach gave me my chance and determined to succeed I went to my dad.

In the backyard, he set up a litany of drills for me to work through to improve my ability to throw the ball. There was a tire swing, a target drawn on the fence, and even time set aside to throw the ball to my brother.

After nearly two weeks it became painfully evident that no matter what I did I was not going to be able to throw a straight ball. The coach pulled me aside to let me know that being a quarterback just wasn’t in the cards for me. With all his powers of persuasion he worked to convince me that quarterback wasn’t the only position of importance, and that there were many other places I could contribute to my team. But it fell on deaf ears. All my life I had dreamed of proudly wearing number 12 and now it looked like those dreams were dashed.

A few days later my dad asked me why I like to play football. I of course told him that about all the accolades and glory that the quarterback received, but I also told him how much I loved the drills that allowed me to hit somebody. My dad told me that maybe I should concentrate on that part and move on from the glory.

My coach, seeing the similar thing in practice the following week had me work out at nose guard. This required a whole new set of skills. I wasn’t the biggest guy on the team and not the natural choice to play this position. But, my coach felt that I could combine my love of hitting and my brains to be an effective defensive lineman.

He was right. I used everything I had learned to be an effective quarterback against the quarterbacks I lined up against. I would watch their feet, and knowing what it meant when I put my feet in that position, would be able to detect which direction the quarterback was going to go. I had a season filled with sacks, lining up on the defensive line in my number 12 jersey.

I thought I could only be happy wearing number 12 lining up behind the center. But circumstances didn’t allow that and I had to find a way to maximize my abilities. No matter how bothered, frustrated or annoyed I was at the fact that I couldn’t throw the ball didn’t change that fact.

 One week after my diving accident.

One week after my diving accident.

The importance of this lesson was only reinforced when I broke my neck. As a quadriplegic, circumstances didn’t allow me to do many of the things I loved to do prior to my injury. There  were countless physical activities that although previously a regular part of my life could now no longer be accomplished. Not only things I enjoyed recreationally, like skiing, football, and running, but normal every day things as well, like dressing, showering and getting up out of bed.

Just like my inability to throw the ball, no amount of frustration or anger was going to change my plight. I had to decide to maximize my abilities; to play the game of life with the same vigor as a quadriplegic as I did an able-bodied person. I couldn’t just quit because I didn’t have the “skills” to play the “position” I was used to–the cost of that decision would have been unthinkable. I had to learn to find how I could contribute to the “game” with my different skill set.

We have to approach our lives in the same way. They are many goals we want to accomplish and things we want to do. Most of them can be accomplished with hard work, discipline and dedication. However, there are some that, regardless of how hard we work, cannot be achieved . When we encounter these situations we have to be willing to make adjustments; we have to be willing to change.

In today’s economy we see this everywhere. Hopes, dreams, and aspirations that just six months ago were well on their way to being realized now have been dashed. Much like the change between my first and second season of Little League football things are different and no matter how much we wish they weren’t doesn’t change how much they are.

But we can still find a way to success, we just have to be willing to look at new ways we can contribute; at different “positions” on the team. We have to look at how we can maximize our talents to net the greatest results–even if that maximization means changing our goals and dreams to ones that can be greater served by our abilities and situation.

From that first day in my fifth-grade year that I made the change to the day in July of 1986 that I was no longer able to play football, I played on the line and loved every minute of it. Had I not been willing to look at things differently my football career would have been even shorter than it was and memories that I hold onto with such fondness never would have happened. We have to be flexible. Sometimes we have to be willing to make changes in our dreams to suit our strength and circumstance.

Doing so will lead to winning seasons and ultimately, happy days.

Jh-


It All Trickles Down

January 7, 2009

chart

During the 80’s there was a lot of news about an innovative way to look at economics. It was called “Trickle Down Economics.” It was a new idea for stimulating the economy and sharing wealth.

The basic tenant was to structure the tax code so the wealthy had more money in their pockets. This wasn’t done solely as a benefit to the wealthy but also conceptually as a benefit to those in lower tax brackets as well. The idea was that the more money those with money had in their pockets the more money everyone would be able to call their own.

For the wealthy would want to use their money to become more wealthy. This would motivate them to take those extra dollars to expand their businesses or invest in others. This expansion or investment would create jobs. More people with more jobs would equal more total revenue and therefore more taxes overall. This idea would allow taxes to be lowered without lowering the total amount of tax the government needed to do its business.

Just like anything in government there are some that agree with the idea and some that don’t. Some believe this is a good way to go about running government and there are some that believe it to be total foolishness and a complete failure. Frankly, for our purposes it doesn’t make any difference which side of the fence you’re on; for the purposes of this argument all that matters is that you understand the concept.

Whether or not you believe it works in economics you need to know the “Trickle Down Effect” does work in attitudes. Every day when you choose to be happy or sad it doesn’t simply affect you, it affects everyone around you. Your attitude “trickles down” to people literally all over the world.

The idea of “Six Degrees of Separation” dictates that you can start anywhere in the world with any person and through six connections find your way to you. In essence, someone they know will know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone, who knows someone, who knows you.

Think about how much that changes your responsibility with reference to the attitude you choose. Your attitude is going to “trickle down” to the people that you know. “ Six Degrees of Separation” later your attitude has  “trickled down” to someone you’ve never met in the middle of Africa. There they are just living their lives, doing the best they can and if you choose to be negative eventually it will “trickle down” to them.

By the same token think about all the people your positive outlook could change. Think about all the people you know and interact with, and all the people they know and interact with, and so on and so forth. Think about all the good your positive attitude can do.

There are days when it can be hard to find anything to be happy about. On those days it is easy to simply selfishly assume that our attitude only affects us. If we have a bad day and act negatively what’s the damage?

Whether or not you accept that your negativity could really “trickle down” all the way to Africa. It’s not hard to accept that it does “trickle down.” It’s not hard to see your attitude affect those around you. The people you love and care about most will have an easier or harder time to look at the good in their lives based on the outlook you choose to have.

When we realize our decision to project positivity or negativity doesn’t just affect us, our responsibility to keep a positive outlook increases. If we ever hope to live in a world filled with peace, we must take care with the attitude we fill our piece of the world with.

It all comes down to economics. The next time you feel a little down and feel inclined to take time to wallow in negativity, remember your choice affects more attitudes than just your own. Work hard to find the best in your life and live with a positive attitude–not just for yourself, but also for those around you. It all “trickles down.”

Jh-


The Gift of Home

December 4, 2008

[Christmas 1986]

( Christmas 1986 )

Each year as December begins and our thoughts turn to Christmas I believe everyone has those few Christmases that stand out above the rest. The Christmases that come to the fore of their mind before any else. For me, one of those Christmases is the Christmas of 1986.

In July of that same year, I had been in the diving accident that caused me to become a quadriplegic. After I was life-flighted to the nearest hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado, the doctors diagnosed my injury. The damage was severe and permanent. I had broken my neck and was paralyzed from the chest down. I lost complete control of my legs and partial control of my arms. I could no longer walk or stand, I could barely breathe or speak.

I remember the first night I was in the hospital. I was so scared. I had what seemed to be a thousand doctors and nurses who would come and examine me and then go into the corner and talk about their findings in private. They took X-rays, gave me shots, put me in traction, brought in waivers to be signed, and attempted to explain my injury to me.  All this, while I came in and out of consciousness.

A few days later, while I was getting my daily medication, I pulled my nurse aside. I told her that although I was aware that my injury was going to require a long hospital stay, I needed to know how long; I needed to know when I could go home.

The nurse turned to me solemnly and said, “Well, Jason, if you work hard, maybe you’ll get to go home before Christmas.”

Christmas! I thought. You’ve got to be kidding! That’s six months from now! I can’t stay here for six months! Besides, what’s this maybe stuff? I’ve got to be home for Christmas.

It was then I decided that no matter what the cost, I would be home for Christmas. Little did I know that achieving this goal would mean hours and hours of therapy and days and days of work.

The months that followed were filled with sweat, blood, and tears. I sweat during physical therapy where I spent days trying to lift an ounce and weeks trying to sit up again. I bled when I was given a tracheotomy to help me breathe, and traction to support my neck. And I cried myself to sleep, wondering if I would live through the night. The only thing that made it all worth it was that I was working for something. I was working to go home. All I wanted was to go home, and I knew that the only way to get there was to get well.

There were many times I wanted to give up, days when I just didn’t think I could lift another weight, or even have the strength to push myself back to my room. Frustrated, I would convince myself that the task was too difficult, that I couldn’t work anymore, and that it was impossible anyway. I would think about all of the hours that I had yet to work, and how badly my body ached now. I would be discouraged that the progress seemed slow and the routine repetitious. I looked around me, and it didn’t seem that anyone else was all riled up about getting out, and so I wondered what I was all excited about. But then, I would think of home.

I would think of the smell of my mom’s kitchen, I would think of the family in stitches laughing around the dinner table. I would think of the live nativity my dad would have us put on each Christmas Eve (my sister is the one girl amidst four boys so she had a long run as Mary). I would think about my family kneeling in prayer around the couch downstairs.

This remembering would give me the motivation, strength and power to continue to work, and somehow I would find the fortitude to fight another day in my quest to go home.

Finally, the day came when the nurse let me know that my hard work had paid off and I would be to return home earlier than expected. On October 17, 1986 I was discharged. I would be home for Christmas.

In many ways, that Christmas was like any other Christmas. My little brothers woke up at 4:30 a.m. to see if Santa had come yet. When they found that he had, they waited outside of my parents’ room anticipating the glorious time when Mom and Dad would say it was okay to open the gifts. Finally, the go-ahead was given. The boys scrambled downstairs to the tree. The boys got their action figures, my sister got clothes, and I received the stereo I had hoped for. With the festivities over, my Dad took a moment to gather us all together.

He began to talk about the importance of Christmas while we sat amidst the piles of wrapping paper and boxes. We were more concerned with the spoils of the day than what Dad was talking about, until he asked each child to take a minute to talk about the favorite gift they had received that day.

The frivolity that once filled the room was instantly replaced with a quiet somberness. As Dad went around to my brothers and sister, each of them, who had earlier been so concerned with their physical gifts, answered with the same response. They said, “My favorite present is to have Jason home again.”

With tears in my eyes, I had to agree. It felt great to be home.

As Christmas approaches our thoughts turn to many things. But, whether Yuletide spirit makes you think of Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or carolers, hot cider, or Christmas trees, Santa, or the Christmas ham, everyone thinks of gifts.

We think of the gifts we’d like to receive. We think of the gifts we like to give. We think of  the crazy “White Elephants” we need to pick up for the office or neighborhood parties. We think of how we’re ever going to be able to help Santa cross off the gifts that found its way onto the letter our children sent him this year.

Through all of that it is easy to forget those gifts that matter most. It’s easy to forget about the value of friendship. It’s easy to forget about the blessings of family. It’s easy to forget how wonderful it is to have a job. It’s easy to forget the magic of love.

Let’s then decide that this holiday will be different. Let’s decide that as the countdown to the 25th begins we won’t just worry, stress, and be frustrated about the gifts we may not be able to provide or receive. Let’s decide to take a different tack and help ourselves and others realize the power of the simple gifts in our lives; the gifts that matter most. The gift of love, the gift of life, and the gift of home.

List a simple gift you want to concentrate on this season.

Jh-


A Grateful Heart + Winner

November 25, 2008

First, congrats and an autographed DVD to Sue for her winning inspirational thought.  I love her spirit about the “change” cancer has brought to her life.

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!

Now Today’s Post:

My Hands

My Hands

With Thanksgiving on it’s way, I wanted this weeks posts to center on gratitude.  I’ll post today and Wednesday and then be off for the weekend.

During my hospital stays, I have never had any real depression.  The closest I ever came was in the middle of the three-month stay after breaking my neck.

When I was in the ICU, I was so ill and so focused on staying alive there wasn’t much time left to think too far into the future.  As I continued to get better I began to wonder what life after the hospital would be like.
Moving from ICU to the Rehabilitation wing brought the thought of “after” permanently to the fore of my mind.  That’s their job there—to get you thinking about living versus just staying alive. It was there I began to understand what it meant to be unable to move my hands.

In rehab, I was working every day to get the most out of the few parts of my body that still worked, trying to sit upright on the mats, increasing my strength with the weights and working to push my chair.

At night in my room, I would watch my hands. I would see them move in my mind, concentrating until it hurt, hoping for them to work; needing them to work. But they didn’t.  Not a single movement.
One night lying in my bed, I struck a deal with God.  I told him that I would live the rest of my life happy without the use of my legs if He’d just give me back my hands. “Keep my legs;” my soul would scream,” Just let me have my hands.”

It didn’t seem like too much to ask.  Most kids at fifteen were worried about what they would wear the next day to school.  I couldn’t feed myself, clothe myself, or get myself into or out of bed.
Day and night I would pray, “Please God, heal my hands, make them move, make them work,” and every time—the same result—nothing.

I knew that having my hands would open up a whole new world for me. I knew it meant that I could push my own chair, put myself in and out of bed, pick something up off the floor, wash my face, brush my teeth, comb my hair—things that would make my life easier a hundred-fold.

I knew that if God were ever to accept my deal, He would have to see me working hard every day. So, I had decided that in daily therapy I would give everything I had. Hour upon hour I exercised— stretching and pulling, doing everything in my power to strengthen the remaining muscles.
The work was tedious and the progress slow, but the tiny daily victories coupled with my hope made it all worth it—until Daniel came.

Dan had been in an accident similar to mine, but had escaped with the total use of his arms and hands and partial use of his legs. Every day the therapist would offer to work with Dan. “Today, let’s concentrate on your upper body.  Today, let’s strengthen your arms and hands.” the therapist would plead, only to hear Dan’s all too familiar response. “No,” he would reply, “Today I want to watch my legs, maybe today they’ll move—maybe today they’ll work.

Frustrated to no end, I thought, “Don’t you see what you have?  Don’t you understand that you have access to blessings and opportunities that I can only dream of, that I can only pray for?  Yet ,you’re so wrapped up in what you don’t have, you can’t even see what you do have.”

Ready to quit I headed back to my room.  On my way there I stopped in the room of a friend, Rich Hullinger.
Rich was also a quadriplegic.  As I spoke to him that day, I noticed that he wore leather braces on his wrists. I had worn similar braces at the beginning of my hospital stay, but as my wrists had become stronger, I was able to function without them.

It seemed odd to me that Rich, who had been in hospital longer than I, would still be wearing them.  Our injuries were similar. We were both quadriplegics at about the same level. But, he had been in the hospital longer than I, and so I began to wonder why would he need the leather braces on his wrists?

Curious, I asked Rich about them. I told him that because of the time that he had been in the hospital, he could remove the braces from his wrists.

It was then Rich had his beautiful young wife come and remove the braces.  I watched his wrists fall.  He explained to me that the break in his neck was one pinhead higher than mine.  He told me that because it was, he was unable to move his wrists up and down or even hold them against the power of gravity.
I returned to my room so ashamed. I had found in myself, all the things I hated in Dan.

That night lying in bed I watched my hands, but this time for a different purpose. Instead of waiting for them to move or work, I watched as my wrists moved up and down.

Over and over I moved my wrists up and down, all the while thinking of lessons Rich had taught me.  I began to think of how blessed I was to be able to move my wrists up and down.  I wondered how many people were praying that night for that one singular blessing.  I wondered what else I had access to that others could only dream about.  Each time I moved my wrists up and down I would think of a blessing that was mine.
I thought about the family who loved and cared about me.  I thought about the friends who cared little whether I was sitting or standing and cared only that I was their friend.  I thought about the fact that I had never wanted for food, clothing, or a place to stay.  I thought about how I had never had to find shelter from the rain. I realized that I lived in a country where I was free to worship as I pleased; where I could get the best medical care.

As I moved my hand up and down I became thankful in my heart for things that I had otherwise forgotten.
I had spent the bulk of my time concentrating on what I did not have when I should have been focusing on what I did. By wishing for different circumstances, I had become totally oblivious to my life’s many blessings.  This oblivion caused my outlook on life to become tarnished.  It affected the way I dealt with others and my zeal for life.  It affected the way I felt about myself. 

With this new realization, I began to feel more blessed.   As I felt more blessed, I became more thankful. As I became more thankful, I developed a sense of worth which brought with it new vigor for life.

Rich’s lesson to us is to take a moment each day to look around our lives and realize our blessings.  There are blessings all around.  Each of us needs only to take a moment and see how blessed we are, no matter how dark the night or difficult the day, no matter what adversity stands in our way. If we will open our eyes and look, we will see that we have blessings that others only think about; blessings that others can only dream of–that we have blessings others can only pray for.

Jh-


What You See Is What You Get

November 17, 2008
My friend Krishel and I at Prom

My friend Krishel and I at Prom

My sophomore year in high school the choir group I was in embarked on the annual “choir trip.” We were going to Salt Lake City, Utah. I grew up in Boise, Idaho and at the time Salt Lake was the big city and quite the adventure. Everyone in the choir was excited for the trip. I had not been home from the hospital for very long and therefore did not yet have my power chair or accessible van. So, in order for me to go I would need a little help.

I wouldn’t be able take the bus with the rest of the choir so first, I needed a ride. I couldn’t do my own care so I needed someone to go along and help me get up and ready for the day. Also, because that would be in my manual wheelchair I needed someone willing to push me from place to place.

My mom was dedicated to keeping me involved and therefore offered to take care of the ride and my care. There was a caveat however. She knew the kind of hotel our choir budget would put us in and said that if she was going to go she and I would be staying somewhere nicer.

With my first two requirements taken care of, I spoke to my friends in the group and they agreed not only to push me from place to place but to also take me to and from the hotel my mom and I would stay in to the hotel the choir would be in. With all my needs taken care of, I was good to go.

The trip finally arrived, and my mom and I followed the bus down to Salt Lake City. We checked into the Marriott as the choir checked into their motel. As soon as everyone was settled, my friends walked down a few blocks to take me to where they were staying. True to most trips of this kind we hung out eating pizza, talking and laughing. It became time for me to return to my hotel and my friend Krishel offered to take me back.

On our way we came to a crosswalk. We waited for the lights turn green and when it did Krishel began to push me across the street. About halfway across a man in a power wheelchair passed us going the opposite direction. Once he was out of earshot, she leaned down and whispered in my ear, “Can you imagine what that would be like to be in a wheelchair?” I chuckled and told her that I felt like I probably could. We both had a pretty good laugh about it as she pushed me the rest of the way to my hotel.

Later, laying in my bed in the Marriott I took a minute to consider what had just happened. There we were crossing the street, Krishel’s hands were on my chair pushing me across and still she forgot that I was in a wheelchair.

She saw me. She saw Jason. She didn’t see the wheelchair, or quadriplegic. She simply saw her friend.

My life has been richly blessed by people like Krishel and I have been better for it. They say “what you see is what you get” and I have found that to be true. My days have been filled with people who saw me and not my chair and because of those people and their view that’s exactly what they’ve gotten; me and not my chair. I have little doubt that I have reached higher goals, achieved more, become more and overcome obstacles I otherwise would not have because of what others have seen in me.

Think about that the next time you interact with someone the little different than yourself, a little different than the norm. Much of what what you get from them will come from what you see in them. A little vision pointed in the right direction will allow you to see the incredible in others, while helping them accomplish it themselves.

Jh-


Declare Your Independence From The Weather

November 13, 2008
If a tree falls on your cottage it definetly makes a sound

If a tree falls on your cottage it definetly makes a sound

I’ll never forget the time Kolette and I spent living in New Canaan, Connecticut. But there are seven special days that stand out above the rest. Kolette and I were living in a little cottage. It had one bedroom, one bath, a living room, a kitchen, and a loft. The bedroom at one time had been some sort of a stall to house animals, and the rest had been built on from there. The older part of the cottage didn’t have any insulation, and so, like the pioneers, we had to hang quilts on the walls to keep the cold air out. It was old and it was tiny and we loved it.

The place just oozed personality. I called it, “The Love Shack” (Kolette thought the title was a bit optimistic). One night, amidst a major storm the cottage was struck by lightning. This incredible surge of energy fried the computer, the expensive laser jet printer, the television, and worst of all my PlayStation. The week before we had spoken about the importance of getting renters insurance, and it was one of those things we’re going to do “tomorrow.” We weren’t making much money and without any coverage we were going to have to pay to replace everything on our own.  I had heard that people were able to live without television and now I was going to find out for myself.

Just a few days later, the youth group from my church was making a trip to Boston. I had some responsibilities with reference to that group, and so I was making the trip as well. But, before I could go I had to get a few things finished. In the middle of running around town checking tasks off my list my car died. Now, it didn’t just die anywhere, it died in the middle of the busiest intersection in town at the busiest time of day. There I sat inside my dead car getting honked at and called names I hadn’t heard since high school.

Finally, a tow truck arrived and hauled my van to local auto shop. The owner of the shop was a family friend and when I explained that I was trying to accompany this youth group to Boston, they put my van at the top of the list. For two straight hours they worked on my van and at the end of those hours the result was the same. The van was dead. With the youth group well on their way to Boston, the shop owner and I agreed that there was nothing left to do. They would start back up on the car on Monday and I would head home.

Heading home brought it’s own set of challenges. Because of my chair I couldn’t exactly hop in the courtesy vehicle, so I drove the two miles home in my wheelchair. By the time it was dark, I pulled up to the front door of the cottage

I spent Saturday puttering around my TV-less cottage hoping that fixing the van wouldn’t take too long or add too much to the already mounting bills. On Saturday night, Kolette and I discussed whether or not I should attempt going to church.

If I were to go to church it would mean getting up pretty early in the morning. Services began at nine, and for me to make the journey from our cottage to the chapel would take an hour or so at best. We figured that the way the past few days were going we could use all the blessings we could get. So, we decided church was in. I got up early that morning, dressed for church, and headed out on my own.  The journey was long enough that it was most likely going to take all the juice my batteries could carry.  Therefore, Kolette would follow later bringing the battery charger so I could charge up during services which would give me enough power to get home.

On my way to church one of the streets I took was fairly steep and had a sharp curve. As I began down the road for some reason the power in my chair gave out for just a second.  This break in the power forced my body hard against the back of the chair and then through my torso forward towards my legs. Being a quadriplegic I don’t have control over my trunk, and so when I fall I can’t just use the muscles in my midsection to sit back up.

As I lunged forward, I reached to grab something, anything to keep me from falling out of my chair. I grabbed the joystick. Unfortunately, when I did the power surge was over. With my chest laying on my lap and my hand pushing the joystick forward I began to fly down the road. Both the way that I was laying, and the lack of movement in my arms made it impossible for me to take my hand off of the joystick.

Faster and faster I flew down the street. I tilted my neck just enough to get an idea of where I was heading. To my dismay I saw that I was coming up on the sharp curve in the middle of the road. I had driven up that road in my car many times and knew how difficult it was to see cars coming the other way, let alone a runaway wheelchair. I could  see the whole thing in my mind. Some unsuspecting motorist would make the turn without seeing me and wheelchair parts and people parts would fly in every direction.

Just then, my foot fell off the foot rest. My foot skimmed along the road for a second until my front left tire ran it over. This provided enough force to throw my body from my chair onto the street. I remember knowing that hitting the street was inevitable, but I could choose whether my head or my shoulder took the brunt of the damage. In that split second I chose shoulder.

Laying in the middle of the road I began to yell for help. 8:00 AM is not a real busy time on Sunday morning. Luckily a woman from one of the neighboring houses heard my call. She carefully, pensively, walked up to where I was lying. She asked me if I needed any help. There are few times in a person’s life when they are absolutely positively sure about a thing. This was one of those times. I told her I did need help. She called Kolette who in turn called the ambulance. They took my broken shoulder and I to the emergency room.

The doctor took x-rays, gave me something for the pain, and told me to come back in a week and get my shoulder looked at again. Not quite sure how I was going to get back to the hospital we followed the doctor’s orders and went back to the cottage.

For the next three days all I could do was lay in my bed in pain. I could barely roll from side to side. On my third day home the clouds had turned dark and the wind began to blow. It was in the middle of this little storm that lying in bed I heard one of the loudest crashes of my life. Looking around trying to find what could cause such a noise, I noticed that every window in the cottage was covered with leaves. It looked like “The Love Shack” had been transported to the middle of the Amazon jungle.

Kolette rushed down to my room to see if I was alright. After confirming that I was no worse for wear, she told me that the nearly hundred foot tree that grew next to our cottage had fallen. The roots of the tree had become weak trying to grow too close to a nearby creek causing the tree to fall onto the cottage directly on top of where I laid in bed. I was so grateful that the beams making up our roof had actually held.

Within seven days we had some of the worst luck of our lives. A lightning strike  destroyed every valuable piece of electronics that we owned, my car died, I broke my shoulder, and a tree nearly crushed our cottage.

These things didn’t happen because we were bad. These things didn’t happen because we deserved them. They just happened. Bad things happen to good people. It’s just a fact of life. When they do we can start running around asking, “why me?”

Isn’t it interesting how we never ask, “why me?” when good things happen. We never wonder why we got that promotion, why we have good kids, or why we were blessed with good health.  What then gives us the right to start asking these questions when things don’t go our way.

We need to “Declare our independence from the weather.” We need to make a conscious decision to have a good attitude regardless of our circumstance. We need to live the way we want independent of the good or bad that comes into our lives. We need to be happy in the sun and in the rain, find joy whether it’s beautiful or bleak. We need to stop letting the forecast dictate our mood.  We need to smile and enjoy the adventure.

Jh-


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