Life is what happens to you while you're making other plans. And when life throws whatever it's gonna throw at you the only way to thrive, not just survive, is to pivot. Because we aren't here just to survive. At least I hope not.
Keri and I had big plans for the summer of 2018. In April we welcomed our 8th child, Rhythm Sterling, our 6th daughter. And we had it all figured out. We would spend the rest of April, and part of May bonding with this precious gift and adapting to having a newborn in the house (again). And then we would get back to work.
We are fortunate enough to have been successful in Network Marketing and we were about to push for the next 90 days, June, July and August, to level up in our organization and reach the next rank. One that would graduate us from time freedom into financial freedom. It is a goal we have had for a few years now. Everything we were working on was coming to fruition and this was to be the crowning moment. To top it off, the icing on the proverbial cake if you will, the company celebration that was planned for achieving this goal coincided with our 20th wedding anniversary. We could not think of a better way to celebrate that milestone than with our team and our friends at this giant formal affair. Everything. Was. On. Track.
Was. Because life is what happens while you are making other plans. 4 weeks after Rhythm was born the truly unthinkable happened. My wife, the love of my life and the most important person in the world to me, had a stroke. On the morning of May 15th, as she was getting ready to leave for the day, my oldest daughter noticed Keri slurring her words in an abnormal way. Within minutes I was calling 911 and shorty after that she was on the way to the hospital. A CT scan showed a dissected carotid with a 100% blockage of her right carotid artery. Before I could even comprehend what was happening she was being whisked off to surgery and I found myself sitting in a hospital waiting room contemplating the events of the previous 2 hours, and what the hell the next 2 hours, and the next 20 years, would like like. And this is where I remembered the words of Byron Katie.
So what is it that life was doing for me? In that moment I had no idea. And how was I going to like it?!?!?! Even now, three months and 2days later, I am still unclear. I do know this: the only way to thrive in that situation is to pivot. To know that there is very little in this life that we control, and that recognizing what that is, and mastering it, is the only way to move about this adventure with grace and joy. The only thing we control is how we respond.
Everything we had planned for was now gone. Everything I thought I knew about the next 6 months and beyond was now a giant question mark. And the answers were going to come slowly and often with more questions. How we would respond was the only thing we were in control of. How I chose to pivot would define whether or not this chapter of the adventure would make or break us. Luckily for the both of us the decisions we had made earlier in our lives had set us up for this journey. We did not know it then, but I know it now. The opportunity doTERRA affords us, the work we have put in to build residual income, the network of friends and providers we have access to....all of it were aspects of what life had done for us to prepare us for this moment.
Keri came out of surgery with what her surgeon called 'zero deficits'. And all things considered that is mostly true. Neurologically she is a miraculous story. Anyone we have spoken with who knows what a carotid artery dissection (CAD) is has responded in similar ways, "people don't survive that". Well, she did. But surviving is to just get by, and she is far from just getting by. She is thriving. We have put everything we thought we were going to do this summer on hold; cancelled trips, cleared our schedule and shifted our focus. We have built a team of providers and become diligent in scheduling our day to insure that she is set up for success. Nutritional changes as a foundation, working with both our primary care physician, a doctor of acupuncture and a naturopath, as well as digging into genetic markers and how to manage them. We have even included restorative yoga and energy work.
This doesn't mean that our day to day isn't very fluid. Brain injuries are funny that way. And many people don't think of strokes as brain injuries. The reality is though that the danger of a stroke, at least in this case, is that the lack of blood flow to the brain causes various levels of unseen damage and consequences. Our day is full of pivots. As scheduled as we keep the day, and the things we need to do, that schedule is driven by the needs of my wife. And those can change on a moments notice depending on light, and sound, and energy levels. Keeping that understanding at the forefront of our minds, and respecting the unknowns is what keeps emotions in check and affords us grace within our experience. All of these things together has brought her to near normal health (whatever normal is) and we are now entertaining how we can get back to work.
Different work though. Not just the work of sharing health and wellness with others as we have done for years now, but doing so with a renewed focus and a fresh set of eyes. Even deeper does my passion run now to help people see the freedom that residual income can bring. We are not alone in having a tragedy hit our family, large or small. We are in the very large minority of people though that can take 3 months off and not have to worry about finances. That time freedom was one of the major factors in allowing us to pivot. The adjustments we made and the added appointments we endured would not have been nearly as casual or seamless had I, or Keri, had a full time job that required our attention. This doesn't mean that you can't pivot if you have these types of commitments in your life to attend to. But I would like to invite you to consider what you would do if you had a major life event that needed your attention. And how you can begin now to make choices and pivots in your life to be prepared for what is inevitable, because life will throw you an unexpected thing or two your way on your journey. How you choose to respond is what will matter. And how you choose to respond then, can be effected by your choices today.