No hurricane talk this week.
While everybody around me is counting the days after the hurricane and how it’s absolutely baffling that we haven’t seen a BIGGER change around us lately (power would be nice), I’m counting down the days for something else. You see, I’ve got a big milestone coming up… my 4-year heart-surgery anniversary.
I’ve been thinking about the things I’m grateful for lately, and some of these are the lessons I learned after my heart surgery. I think you learn much more when you’ve been exposed to different experiences or have had a life changing event. Although, I’ve said in almost all my speeches and interviews, you don’t need to have a surgery or a life-threatening moment to decide that you are passionate about life and want to find a way to live it better, I’m going to share with you a couple of lessons I’ve learned after my surgery that I think might prove useful in your everyday life.
Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. This is no cliché. May seem short, sweet, and to the point, but it is also true. You can plan, but expect change, because life throws stuff at you when you least expect it! This is one of the very first lessons that I learned even before surgery. I remember being a winning candidate for class president one day and months later being a candidate for open heart surgery. Things won’t always go as planned and we must be ready for whatever hurdle pops up next. It’s all about how we jump them and find a plan B.
Instead of asking “Why me?” and feeling sorry for yourself, focus on the things that matter. Your situation isn’t going to change so find ways that can make it better. There are hundreds of things you can do to take your mind off things and ways to make your situation more bearable. I remember doing arts and crafts while I was on my hospital bed, which kind of sucked and wasn’t that interesting, but it helped the time go by faster.
You never know why things happen to you, but you need to have faith that if it’s happening to you, it’s because there’s a reason behind it. Watching Forrest Gump 3 times during my hospital stay taught me that it’s not about the situation, it’s about how you face it and keep going. Tough times are meant for you learn a lesson or to get you from one chapter to the next. Unless you want to run away from your problems and “run, Forrest, run.”
And speaking of running… After you go through something this big, people have very high expectations for you and what you have to offer, which is why you have to keep things interesting! When they tell you to run two laps, run four. Trust me, it works! It got me discharged from the hospital a lot sooner. You’re very strong. Stronger than you think. You can push a little further and be a bit extra now and then.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Once you start growing up or experiencing more, your perspective starts to change and the things that were super important before, can be completely meaningless now. For example, my developing 12-year-old self, who thought she was a grown up already told every doctor she met (keep in mind the surgery was in my chest region) “You guys can do the surgery, just don’t look at my boobies!” Seriously? Don’t look at my boobies? Now, you can look at my boobies for all I care, if it means caring for my health. Everyone in the surgery room must have had a good laugh though. Which brings me to my next point: Keep your sense of humor alive, sister. Nothing a good laugh can’t fix! You need to always have something to fall back on and just blow off some steam. For example, singing “My vagina is 8 miles wide” to your nurse…ok that one made my mom very uncomfortable, so maybe a knock-knock joke would suffice.
Listen, bottom line is it’s all about your attitude! No matter the challenge (and some are definitely tougher than others) you need to keep your chin up! Have a laugh or two, and acknowledge that whatever higher power you believe in, gave you whatever situation because you can handle it. Diamonds are made under pressure and strong situations make strong warriors. Hang in there and push through. I’m rooting for you!