Taking Her For “Granite”

February 14, 2011

Early 1992

It wasn’t long after acquiring my BA in English from BYU that I noticed I’d become something of a stickler about the proper use of the English Language.  Hearing people say that a point was “mute” instead of “moot”, that they were doing “good” instead of “well”, or that they’d taken a person for “granite” instead of “granted” about drove me up a wall.

I’ve gotten better about it in the past nearly twenty years, but from time to time, I still end up finding myself correcting others.  Not that I don’t think they should learn the proper way to use their native tongue, I’m just not sure they should have to learn that lesson while they’re waiting for their table at Chilis.

Earlier this year, sitting somewhere hoping that Kolette could get better faster, heal more quickly, and get out of the hospital, I heard someone talk about how they’d taken their loved one for Granite.  As I worked to suppress the desire to correct them, I thought aboutt what they were saying  and learned that I felt the same way.

When you take a person for granted, your assuming that they are just always going to be there, and that since you believe they’ll always be around, you don’t nurture or take care of them.

Now there’s no doubt that I take Kolette for granted–I try not to, but I know that I do, and that I probably have in some form or another since the middle of October 1991 when we went on our first date.

But, I do believe I take her for “granite” too.  Granite is one of the hardest rocks in the world.  People build on and with the stuff all over the world, because it’s strong, sturdy and beautiful to boot.  This last year, when Kolette was so sick, and there was talk about her not making it, I was scared to death because I began to realize how much of my life was built on her indomitable strength.  Those who know her, in person or through the net, know what I’m talking about.  What’s more, is she has a way of sharing that strength, so that just by knowing her you find yourself stronger than you ever thought you could be.

She’s also the definition of sturdy.  She’s confident.  She know who she is, and isn’t afraid to let you know. That kind of courage is difficult to find.  And Kolette has a way of making those around her feel more confident and sturdy about who they are as well.  That sturdiness also translates to a dedication that’s unparalled. When Ko decides she’s going to something, you’d better get on board, or get out of the way.

But, as strong, and sturdy as Kolette is, she’s even more beautiful.  Both inside and out she is simply the most beautiful person i’ve ever know.  I love to be around her.  I can truly say, that I have never been in a place, or experienced a day that wasn’t more beautiful because she was in it.

I love her, and that’s the truth.  In fact, even with my BA in English I still don’t have the words to describe how much.

And on this Valentines Day, I’m going to try not to take her for “granted” and enjoy her strength, be grateful for her sturdiness, and revel in her strength instead.

In short, I’m going to take her for “granite”

I love you Ko,

Jason

 


The Other Side Of The Bed

October 14, 2010

I’ve been away from the blog for a while, but to say that things have been a little crazy around the Hall Home is an understatement to say the least.

For those who don’t know, on May 1st Kolette was admitted to the hospital with Gall-Stone Pancreatitis.  When she was admitted, the doctors in the ER told us that this illness was one of the most painful they ever see.

 

Kolette in the ICU

 

Over the last six months we’ve learned that they were right.  She’s had multiple procedures, one major operation (where they removed 80% of her necrotic pancreas), and has spent nearly two months in the hospital (about a week of which was in the Intensive Care Unit).  In addition, she’s been on high doses of pain medicine, fed though an IV, had her stomach swell to the point where one doc assumed her to be 10 months pregnant, and nearly lost her life.

Without hyperbole, I can say Kolette has been pushed to her ultimate limit—and the whole ordeal is far from over. (Who knew one little gallstone could cause so much grief…right?)  She still fights tremendous pain, and struggles everyday to have the energy to take care of our 20-month-old Cole.  She has to go to the hospital multiple times a week for things like physical therapy, dressing changes, and infusions, and spends nearly all her effort working to be able to eat again without dire consequences–C’mon sing along…”Nausea, Heartburn, Indigestion, Upset Stomach, Diarrhea.” (click on the link if you can’t recall the tune)

 

Kolette's swollen belly

 

The truth is, it’s been difficult on everyone.  Coleman’s had to learn how to live out of a suitcase. Our little rock star has been on a whirlwind tour that’s taken him all over the state with frequent stops at Aunt Kara’s, Aunt Carolie’s, and his all-time favorite—Grandma’s.

 

Coleman on a rare visit to the hospital

 

As for yours truly, on one hand, I’ve had to step up to a whole new level of independence. I’ve had to learn how to take care of myself in ways I never imagined that I could. Part of that has meant making sacrifices—I mean sometimes you realize meals like breakfast, lunch, and dinner are way overrated. On the other hand I’ve had to accept more help. When you’re a C5-6 quadriplegic, you feel like it’s impossible to accept more help (Heck, if I listed the things I needed help with before all this, we be here for a month.) But, I’ve learned to humble myself and have been grateful for the people in my church and my neighborhood that has stepped up and helped with anything I required.

I’ve learned so much through this whole experience. However, of all the things I’ve learned, I think the most powerful has been the understanding of what it’s like on what I call, “The Other Side of the Bed.”

Throughout my life I’ve always been the one in the family who’s been ill. Just look at my record…Broken neck—check, multiple surgeries—check, infection and hospitalization—check, life-threatening car wreck—check, and so on. It was my role in the family, and I played it well if I do say so myself. I was the person in bed, sick and with his life on the line.  To this point I’d never been asked to be, “on the other side of the bed” watching the one you love suffer.

Then, on the 1st of May, things changed.  Ko now was fighting for her life, and all I could do was watch.

It is by far the most helpless I have ever felt in my life (and this coming from a guy who can’t move 7/8 of his body.) There was absolutely nothing I could do but sit in Ko’s room and tell again and again how I loved her, and how proud I was to witness her courage and fortitude.

I know some might wonder how much control a person really has lying in the bed after a major accident or illness. Yet, for me regardless of how much control I had over my physical situation, I had control over my attitude. I could be happy. I could be determined. I could make a sad situation less gloomy for those who visited, and all of this would give me a sense of control.

“On the other side of the bed,” you have absolutely no sense of control at all. In fact, to the contrary, you feel totally completely out of control. You watch, and wait, hoping your love and support is enough, but in the end it’s all up to the person in the bed.

People always tell me how amazed they are that I’ve been able to endure the challenges of my life. These past months have taught me an invaluable lesson. The amazing ones are those who’ve spent hours and hours at my bedside. I’m sure they’ve felt as helpless and out of control as I did, and yet they stayed still.

This experience has also reminded me that a little understanding goes a long way. Trading places with Kolette has helped me understand her point of view. It’s allowed me to understand how she felt in those dark days after my accident, and helped me to realize why she was motivated to push hard when I felt she’d already pushed too much. This understanding helps me appreciate and love her all the more.

Similarly, the prejudice and judgment that exists in the world today can be as easily removed if people will simply try to see things from “other sides.” When we look at others and don’t understand why they seemingly get all the breaks, have all the chances, or get to live a life that we perceive is free of difficulty and strife, we have to try and see things from their point of view. The more we see their side, the more we will understand. That understanding will breed love and remove hate. It will spread humility and alleviate pride. It will bring compassion and eschew cruelty.

At the end of the day this experience has taught me that two things are true. First, I am truly blessed to have people like my sweet wife and wonderful mother who have spent hours at my bedside to show their support and let me know that I was loved. Second, even though it’s often hard, I like my life. I’m lucky and blessed. I want to try and concentrate on how wonderful my side of this existence is and quit worrying about everybody else. I want to fill my heart with gratitude and rid it of judgment.

For, when it’s all said and done, I’ll stay on my side of the bed thank you. For the “other sides” out there are simply far more difficult than advertised.

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


True Inspiration

February 3, 2009
CJH

CJH

Throughout the course of my life I have seen, experienced, and been a part of many things that have motivated me to do the undoable and inspired me to believe the unbelievable. I have found great power and direction in the common and the uncommon alike. My journey has been a truly wild ride and has given me some unique perspectives.

However, I can say without equivocation that on Tuesday, the 27th of January I had the most inspiring and motivating moment of my life. At 4:50 in the morning I watched my first child, my son Coleman, come into this world.

Never in my life have I seen anything more pure and good and right. Never have I been a part of something more spiritually powerful. Never, have I believed more strongly that anything can happen.

In the days since his birth I have relished the quiet moments when I hold him in my arms and look him in the eye. In those moments I have felt inspiration and motivation without equal. I have felt inspired to become better that I might set a proper example for him. I have felt motivated to never quit so that through me he might know the power of perseverance.

There are those who say that everything good and worth fighting for is no longer a part of this world. I’m here to tell you that at 4:50 AM on Tuesday, January 27 Coleman Jason Hall proved them wrong.

My boy inspires me.

Jh-

For more information on the birth of Coleman Jason Hall check my blog www.manontheinside.com


Just A Way To Travel Down The Road

December 16, 2008

freeway1

You pick anyone on any street anywhere in the world and you’ll find there are things that they want that they cannot yet acquire. Each of us has wants. Everyone of us has things we wish that we had that we don’t have now. It may be a bigger house, or a nicer car. It might be new clothes or the latest gadget. No matter how old we get each of us could put together a list for Santa. We usually don’t, but it’s not because there aren’t things that we don’t wish for. It’s because we know the total in Santa’s bank account.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting things that we don’t have as long as we don’t allow those wants to get in the way of our happiness today. So often I hear people talk about the things that they want and how they are connected to their ability to be happy. They’ll say things like, “If I just had a bigger house, then I could be happy,” or, “If I just had a nicer car, then I could be happy.” Whether it’s a house or car, a higher income or vacation people seem to qualify their wants with the fact that receiving them would make them happy.

It’s always amazing to me. “Then… I could be happy,” they say. As if the only thing standing in the way between them and a happy life is the acquisition of a want.

Unfortunately, almost without exception when people do finally acquire the bigger house, nicer car, higher income, or vacation the only thing that follows is not happiness but additional wants. If the bigger house becomes theirs then they began to talk about how something else on their list will “then make them happy.”

The reality is that happiness doesn’t come with things. It’s not something you achieve at all. There are people in the world who spend their whole lives chasing those things that they believe will make them happy and end their lives never acquiring the joy they pursued all their days.

I remember when I learned this lesson myself. I was 16 years old and barely home from the hospital after my diving accident. I was working hard to find a way to live my life in a wheelchair. There were so many days when all I thought about was walking. I was sure that if I could walk again, then I could be happy.

As each new morning would come I found myself still paralyzed and in a wheelchair. It was more difficult to be happy always concentrating on this want. One day I made the decision that with all my heart I would hope to walk tomorrow. But as for today I would be happy in a wheelchair.

Twenty-three years later I still hope to walk tomorrow but today, I am happy. Had I not adopted this frame of mind I would have spent the past two decades wishing every day that I could walk–waiting for that day to come to finally be happy.

So too it is with everyone. There’s nothing wrong with wishing. There’s nothing wrong with wanting. The problem comes when those wishes and wants dictate our daily happiness.

Happiness is not so much a place we will ever reach as much as it is a way that we travel through our lives–a highway of experiences and moments. If we think about joy as an interstate for life’s journey we have to watch for the on ramps. Just like trying to get on our local freeway on ramps are the key.

The on ramps in our lives are those things that bring us happiness in the moment. A child’s smile may be an on-ramp. Remembering the kind deed from a friend may be an on-ramp. A little service may be an on-ramp. Each of us has different things that allow us to merge into the traffic of contentment and joy.

But, if we don’t watch for our “on ramps” will never find our way. Each of us must look around our lives and find those things that bring simple happiness and remind us to travel meaningfully through each day.

Joy comes in the journey and happiness is not a destination, it’s just a way to travel down the road.

Jh-

Remember that the DVD contest closes Tuesday, December 16 at 9 PM PST. If you’re interested in winning one of my autograph DVDs follow this link and go to my previous post and leave a comment.

Also, if you’re a blogger check out alphainventions.com to increase your traffic.


Be A Fan

October 29, 2008
Once a fan, always a fan.

Once a fan, always a fan.

Everyone has their little addictions. For me, it has always been sports. As far back as I can remember I have been a sports fan.  Throughout my entire life one of my true pleasures has been watching nearly every sport out there.

I love college basketball and football (big BYU fan) I love the NBA (particularly the Jazz, Celtics, and any team Danny Ainge played for). I love the NFL (don’t even get me started talking about the Cowboys). I love Major League Basball (crazy about Jeter and the Yankees). I love the NHL (I have two Rangers jerseys). I love tennis, and golf (Lendl, Jimmy Mac, Agassi, Nicklaus, Woods).  I love Major league soccer (go Real Salt Lake). And,like everyone else on the planet, I love the Olympics (USA! USA!)

However, as much I was ever a sports nut, I just couldn’t get into racing. NASCAR, Indy Car, all of it just seemed boring to me. I mean how many times can you watch someone make a left hand turn. How much strategy could there really be?   So, when the auto racing portion of my morning SportsCenter came on, I just tuned out and waited for them to get back to the “real sports.”

Then my brother Brandon married a girl whose father was involved in both stock-car and open wheel racing. This got me a little interested. Wanting to know more about my new sister-in-laws family, I started to watch the races. I was surprised, they weren’t earth shatteringly interesting, but there weren’t immensely boring either. As I learned more about the sport, I learned which cars and which drivers were associated with her family. The next time I watched, I had someone to root for.

This changed everything. I was totally and completely hooked. Four and five hundred mile races that before seemed to take an eternity were now over far too quickly. The pitstops that were previously just lulls in an already long race were now critical pieces of a clear-cut strategy where .10 of a second could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

What changed? The sport certainly didn’t. The heads of NASCAR and the IRL weren’t sitting at their headquarters wondering how they could hook Jason Hall.

I had changed. I had become a fan. Cheering on a specific driver and a specific team made all the difference. The races became more interesting and more fun. What used to be long, dull, and boring was now exciting, invigorating, and always all too short. I rarely miss a race now. I can’t always watch them live, but through the miracle of TiVo I catch every one.

Like my experience with racing our lives can become exciting and inspiring to be a part of if we will simply become fans. We need to be fans of the people we know, cheering them on to victory in whatever pursuit they choose. We need to root for our children, our spouses, our friends, and our neighbors.

We need to root for our country and the values that made it great. We need to cheer for our communities and our churches and our schools. For, whether we attend them or not, they are still part of us. We need to cheer for good art, movies, and music. We need to stop sitting on the sidelines and start becoming involved. We need to become fans.

People today have become too dedicated to the “scarcity mentality.” They believe that someone else’s victory somehow decreases their chances to win. When we become fans, the, “scarcity mentality” goes away and is replaced with an, “abundance mentality.” We then began to realize that everyone can succeed.  In truth, success breeds success. Therefore, when we see another do well it only improves our chances to do the same.

So be a fan, and notice how much more you enjoy every inning, quarter, half, lap, set, hole, minute, and second of your life.

Jh-


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