Grateful for Good Timing

November 27, 2010

The Thanksgiving week forever changed for me in 1997. For, on November 21st of that year, I was driving down the interstate when my front left tire blew sending my van careening across all three lanes of traffic heading my direction, through the median, and into the oncoming traffic. I hit a car, a car hit me, and it about killed me.  The doctors told my family there was no chance that I’d ever make it

I spent the next 13 consecutive months hospitalized, and really the majority of ever year after that in hospitals across the country throughout the next ten years. 2008 was the first year I didn’t stay at least two consecutive months in a hospital bed.

In many ways, this second accident has been more difficult than when I broke my neck. Some may think it impossible to have a paralyzing diving accident surpassed, but where the first accident had an instant totality; the second has had a persistent longevity.

In large part, two years after my diving accident I knew what my life was going to be like. I was back at school full time, driving, with the stamina of my peers. I knew those limitations, and other than a few bladder infections there was a baseline I could count on.

The second time around has been the complete opposite. It’d probably be easier for me to name the bones I didn’t break, than to list the ones I did. It brought with it a chronic pain that for much of the time kept me in a narcotic fog or debilitating pain. It’s been anything but dull though. Oftimes it’s felt as though just as one issue is resolved, another rears its ugly head.

Now, make no mistake, there’s been more joy and happiness in the days since November 21, 1997 than doom and gloom. We even celebrate the day of my accident. It’s an anniversary after all, and anniversaries are made for celebrating. (for more on the second accident and the anniversary tradition, click here.)

That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been hard though. It doesn’t mean that, try as I might, I don’t find myself wondering what might have been. It doesn’t mean I don’t get tired, down, frustrated and depressed. There are days when it takes everything I’ve got to keep on smilin’.

But every time that week in November rolls around, the 21st hits and it gets as difficult as it is at any time in the year, I get a blessing most don’t—Thanksgiving—a day when all you do all day long is think about your blessings. I know a lot about adversity, and there is nothing you can do to light up depression’s darkness than shine bright gratitude upon it. A thankful heart is the antidote to depression’s deadly venomous sting.

For some reason, this 21st was harder than most. I’m not exactly sure why, but my spirits were way down, and my chin was far from up. Things were hard leading up to the day, and for some reason I really got thinking about “Could have been’s,” and, “Why me’s?” (and we all know those don’t ever do anyone any good) and the fact that I wasn’t as vigilant about celebrating my “anniversary” didn’t help at all (see what comes from getting lazy!)

But then, just when things started getting their bleakest, four days later my annual blessing—Thanksgiving.  And ironically, in a year when this day was the most difficult in recent memory, I had more to be thankful about in recent memory.

Here are a few of the gratitudes that topped my list:

My Faith: In a year where I’ve been pushed to the brink, I know that I would have gone over the edge without my faith in God. His words, His Spirit, and His love have helped me get through those un-get-through-able days, and allowed me to find peace in a world swirling all about me. I know God lives and there is nothing in my life I have to be more grateful for than that.

 

My Girl: You don’t have to be around me long, or read much of what I’ve written to expect this one on this list. But this year is different. On the first of June, Ko was hospitalized with acute gall-stone pancreatitis, and on the third at 3:00 am I almost lost her. Just writing those words makes my eyes well up. But, as I think of the courage she’s shown and the valiant way she’s fought every day from that first day to this very day, makes me weep. She’s my best friend, my love, my hero and my inspiration—my everything. I am so grateful she’s still alive, and am blessed to have witnessed and continue to witness her strength and courage.

My Wingman: He’s been with me through it all this year. I don’t know what it is, but he has wisdom beyond his years. He always seems to know the right thing to say, the way to make me smile, or just the right look to lift my heart. I’m never alone with Coleman around. I am grateful for the light he’s been in my life. Just hearing him bust through the door screaming, “Dad!” brings light to my darkest day.

The Chorus:  A chorus by definition is a group of voices that come together. There’s no soloist, in fact, the reason great choruses sound so beautiful is that everyone contributes equally with everything they’ve got. I wouldn’t have made it any day of any year since 1997 without my chorus. But it hasn’t been shown as clearly or exhibited as perfectly in any year since ’97 than this one. The people who have pitched in to help me and mine make it through the hardest days than the support my chorus has provided this year. Many of the faces are ones you’d recognize. Parents (on both sides), brothers and sisters from the same, cousins, friends, and neighbors—they’ve all been there. In hospital rooms, bringing meals, watching Coleman, sharing a kind word, a compliment in person or on the blog have lifted my spirits more than anyone will ever know. I am lucky and grateful to have such people blessing my life.

These big gratitudes have lifted me, obviously through the whole year—but especially through the last few days. One of the things I love about gratitude is that it always makes me feel rich.

With things like this to be grateful for, I dare you to show me a wealthier man in all the world. I’m blessed—In so many ways. Not the least of which is that Thanksgiving is so close to the 21st of November.

I encourage you to partake of some of this “good medicine” for yourselves. Take a moment to leave a comment about something you’re thankful for. Doesn’t have to be a big act or blessing, it’s amazing how sometimes the littlest things bring the most mercy. The more of us that share—the more we each get to think about the great and wonderful in our lives. And the more that attitude of gratitude spreads the more the doom and gloom, the frustration and consternation are chased from our souls letting the light of hope shine bright.

I am grateful for the power of gratitude.

Jh-

PS: in an effort to show my gratitude for your sharing, one person leaving a comment will win a set of my motivational cards,  one of my autographed DVD’s (both seen here) and a $15.00 gift card from Walmart for munchies. ‘Cause what DVD’s not better with a little treat to go with! —Right?

And spread this one around; let’s see how many gratitudes we can come up with. Comments must be entered by Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 10:00 pm PST.


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.


100 Things

November 28, 2009

About eight months after becoming a quadriplegic, I was enduring a particularly difficult time.  I’d been blessed, and up to that time hadn’t really gone through and depression of any kind.  But, now it seemed as though things were beginning t mount.   I was more frustrated, depressed and discouraged and down than I had ever been since the accident.

I had been taught often about of the power of gratitude in the home I grew up in, and felt that if I had any chance to find a way out of the darkness my feelings had brought with them, it would be in large part because of some increase in my own gratitude.

In an effort to find a way to feel blessed, I pulled out a piece of notebook paper from my backpack and numbered it to 100.  I felt like 100 would be a lot, but nothing that couldn’t be easily handled in 15-20 minutes.

I was right—about the first 25.  They were simple and easy.  They were the big ones—stuff like family and friends, where I lived and what I had.

The second 25 took a little more thought.  The third 25 really made me think.  And, at 16, in order to finish the last 25, I wrote down anything I could see.  I was thankful for stuff like light bulbs, pencils, and the tacks that held up the posters in my room.

In fact, Number 99 on my list was the fact that I could pick my nose. (For more about that read here.)

It took the entire afternoon and most of the evening, but, when I was finished, I had my list.  Just having it in my hands made me more grateful; and by being more grateful, I began to feel the beginnings of a more positive attitude.

Through the next weeks and months, every time I felt down or depressed, frustrated or fraught with negativity, I pulled out my list—and each time I read my list, I started concentrating on what I did have and quit worrying about what I didn’t.  This new tool helped me to see the best and forget the worst.

This Thanksgiving I have been thinking about that original list more than usual.  So, in the spirit of the season and in honor of the original list, I spent some time yesterday creating a new list.

The thing that surprised me the most, was that my heart was as lifted as much this time as it was when I created the original list on that lined notebook paper all those years ago.

Here it is then.  I share it with you hoping that maybe seeing mine will inspire you to make a list of your own.  If you will, I promise a spirit filled with gladness and hope and a excellent tool in the fight to stay positive.

Remember what I’ve said before, “There’s not enough room in the human heart for depression and gratitude at the same time.”

Jh-

Jason Hall’s 100 Things To Be Thankful For

  1. My Faith
  2. Kolette
  3. Coleman
  4. Mom
  5. Dad
  6. Kendra
  7. Clinton
  8. Brandon
  9. Nathan
  10. Mom Coleman
  11. Dad Coleman
  12. Brothers & Sisters In-Law
  13. Grandparents
  14. Nieces
  15. Nephews
  16. Living in the United States
  17. Chance To Have Freedom of Religion
  18. Power Wheelchairs
  19. Accessible Vans
  20. Opportunity to get the best Healthcare
  21. Powerful Friends
  22. My Car
  23. Our Home
  24. Heat
  25. Air Conditioning
  26. Clothing
  27. Computers
  28. iPhone (and the return of the bar phone)
  29. Voice Recognition Software
  30. National Ability Center
  31. Disabled Skiing
  32. Bi-Skii’s
  33. Sight
  34. Hearing
  35. Sense of Smell
  36. Full Use of My Mental Faculties
  37. Growing up in Boise
  38. The Chance to live in The Eastern US
  39. Interfecal Pumps
  40. Graduating with my High School Class
  41. Attending BYU
  42. Working as BYUSA President—and all the people I worked with
  43. IVF
  44. I CSI
  45. TESI
  46. Rock Band
  47. The Million Dollar Round Table
  48. Mutual Of New York (and the people there)
  49. Garrett Burger, Large Gems, and a Cherry Scotch and Soda
  50. The Bible
  51. The Book of Mormon
  52. My Testimony
  53. My Eternal Marriage
  54. Pistachio Dessert
  55. My Eagle Scout
  56. The Scouting Program
  57. The Chance To Serve
  58. Football
  59. Words Written in my Journal by my Mom When I Was a Kid
  60. Baby Ruth Bars
  61. Broadway Musicals
  62. Cougars, Cowboys, Jazz, Celtics, Yankees, Real Salt Lake
  63. My Letterman Jacket
  64. The Ten Lepers by Jack Christensen
  65. Electricity
  66. Television
  67. Ability to Move My Arms
  68. Atonement
  69. Repentance
  70. Fasting
  71. Prayer
  72. Plan of Salvation
  73. Miracles
  74. My Boys in New Canaan
  75. The YM in Syracuse
  76. Optimism
  77. The Ability to Speak Publically
  78. Disability Insurance
  79. Workmans Comp
  80. The Inspiration to Go to Work on 21 November 1997
  81. Great Nurses
  82. Great Neighbors
  83. My Cousin David
  84. Love of Singing (and how it literally saved my life)
  85. Family History
  86. Great Music
  87. Uplifting Music
  88. Movies
  89. Showers/Shower Chair
  90. Forgiveness
  91. Repentance
  92. Having Kolette at My Side.
  93. Good Parking
  94. Straws
  95. Ramps
  96. Elevators
  97. Family Dinners
  98. Goals
  99. The Fact That I Can Pick My Nose
  100. Lists of Gratitude

I Can Do Anything For 80 Years

October 22, 2009

Hospital Traction 1st Acc._2

I have been taught the importance of being positive from the youngest days of my life.  I don’t remember a time when having a PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) wasn’t a regular part my parents instruction on the proper way to live a life.

Therefore, growing up, I tried to make a positive outlook a part of my life.  I tried to look at the glass half full, tried to see the best in those around me and tried to concentrate on the good and forget the bad.

Then at fifteen and a half, on the 13th of July 1986 my life changed in a second.

I went from a completely healthy young man in the best shape of my life to paralyzed from the chest down with only partial use of my arms and no use of my hands.

As difficult as that transition was, it was the first nights that were the most harrowing.  My lungs filled with mucus to the point where you could barely see any clear part of my lung on the x-ray.  My pulmonologist told me it was the worst case of pneumonia he had ever seen.

You didn’t have to have a medical degree to understand that my life was in the balance.  In those days, I had one wish.  It wasn’t to walk, it wasn’t to be accepted back at home, and it wasn’t to have a normal life-It was to live.

All I wanted was to wake up the next morning.

After a few days when I began to feel, not quite out of the woods, but on my way there, my dad came to the side of my bed and asked me if I felt like I could deal with life as a quadriplegic, I replied, “I can do anything for 80 years.” I was so grateful that I’d kept my life—everything seemed better.  Even paralysis seemed doable.

In the days since then, I’ve almost lost my life at least one other time.  And in those days, good or bad, I’ve tried to recall  that same feeling.  Whenever life gets difficult (as it often does) I try to remember that no matter how bad it gets, I still have my life.

Knowing that I am still breathing makes everything else challenging small in comparison.  It makes a real difference in my effort to live a happy life.  It is difficult to complain about the stumbling blocks when you find a way to remember that you are still around to stumble.

When things get hard, remember to love life.  Be grateful that you are still here.  Be glad that you have a chance to struggle and the negativity will be replaced with that Positive Mental Attitude I was taught so much about in my youth

Jh-


Freedom

July 4, 2009
Independence Day

Independence Day

On this Fourth of July people’s minds begin to turn to their freedoms. They begin to think about how grateful they are to live in a country where they can live, act, and worship freely.

I too am grateful for these freedoms. I am grateful for the price paid by so many to allow me to have those freedoms. Often, I think it becomes easy to forget that the freedoms we sometimes so easily take for granted can, if were not careful, be taken away.

On July 13, 1986 I very nearly lost my freedom.

I was involved in a diving accident that caused me to become a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down. So many things were taken from me that day. Many of them were simple and basic freedoms. Like the freedom to feed myself. The freedom to get around without a wheelchair. The freedom to get in and out of bed on my own. The freedom to bathe, shave and dress myself.

Then, on the 21st of November, a car accident took even more freedoms.

But truth be told, through it all, some pretty incredible people have allowed me to keep the freedoms that matter most.

After my diving accident, friends sent me pictures that reminded me of their love and support. Along with the posters they also sent, those photos were plastered all over my room. These good people reminded me that I was free to be a part of their lives, and free to let their support lift me up when I felt down.

Good Friends

Good Friends

Good Stuff

Good Stuff

During both accidents, and through any other little bump in the road, my family continues to support me all the way. They made it clear that I was free to be a part of a family all my days on the earth. They reminded me that I was free to dream; free to go and do anything my mind believed that I could achieve. They  taught me I was free to ignore the negativity that so often others tried to surround me with.

Good Support

Good Support

Good Fun

Good Fun

Literally, weeks into meeting Kolette she let me know that I was free to expect the same kind of relationship that able bodied young men did. From the moment we were wed, she showed me that unconditional love was also a freedom I could count on. The moment she stood in that emergency room after the car accident she made it abundantly clear that her dedication was a freedom I could never lose. Throughout my life Kolette has taught me that I’m alway free to love life.

Good Love

Good Love

Good Times

Good Times

Now, Coleman’s innocent eyes seemed to communicate that I’m free to love and be loved in return. Over and over, he reminds me that I’m free to try and, although things may not always work out the way I’d planned, we are free to figure things out on our own. We may not get things on our first try, and when we do get them, it may not always be pretty, but he allows us the freedom to find our own rhythm and our own path.

Good Boy

Good Boy

I know there are others who aren’t as lucky as I. I know that there are many in my situation who simply go home from the hospital and stay there. I know one young man whose family brought him home from the hospital after his diving accident, built him a large bay window, and every day sat him in front of that window. He ended up spending every day of what ended up to be a very short life literally “watching the world go by.”

So on this day of celebrating freedom, I celebrate mine. As I do so, I celebrate the countless numbers of people who have helped me to fight for the freedom I have, and so I celebrate them as well. I celebrate the freedom my future holds.

I celebrate life.

Jh-

Two weeks before my accident

Two weeks before my accident


…And Now For Something Completely Different

January 5, 2009

I thought today I’d offer up something different.  I’ve attached a video clip of me doing what I do. This is a clip of me speaking about gratitude. If it sounds familiar it’s because I’ve already posted this story written here. But, reading it and seeing it presented are two different things. Enjoy, and tell me what you think.

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-


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