10 Common Traits of Uncommon People

Guest column:

Craig Hysell shares his thoughts about uncommon people. He owns a unique training facility for body and minds in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Family Pyramid

Craig Hysell and his Family

 

4 Common Traits of Mediocre People:

  1. They have no idea what they want to do with their life
  2. They have no idea how to do what they want to do with their life
  3. They have an idea but are afraid to try
  4. They have an idea, they “tried” it and “it didn’t work” so they quit

Mediocrity is easy. It’s comfortable. The pursuit of commonality and the avoidance of adversity, criticism and the unknown are the surest possible way to die without expressing your full potential. Or worse, to die feeling like a failure. Is that you?

10 Common Traits of Uncommon People:

  • Uncommon people believe they have a purpose, know their “Why” and live their dream.Think about that. Do you know why you’re here, do you have enough stamina to live your most passionate calling and do you know what conviction(s) you will fall back on when things get hard? To establish these answers, you must accumulate life experiences and then sit down in the quiet and think. There is no timetable on this accumulation and introspection. It could take years or decades. It is constant.
  • Uncommon people are not absent of fear, they just do not let fear make their life become absent.Fear exists for all of us. But fear is crap. It is not real. It exists only in our minds. When you face your fears daily, you conquer fear. You realize that fear is indeed nonsense. It is the main control mechanism for commonality. You must not let fear, any and all fear, hold you back from pursuing your purpose.
  • Uncommon people practice self-mastery. Uncommon people work relentlessly at mastering their mind, body, emotion and spirit (the four pillars that make up your life). They harness these things through daily study and practice. They understand that without a strong mind, all else will fail. They are patient. They enjoy The Process. They are positive. They structure the development and awareness of these four pillars- their emotional content- into a daily practice. They reflect upon these four pillars daily.
  • Uncommon people are self-reliant. This does not mean that uncommon people do not ask for help: on the contrary, being part of a team is vital to growing and sharing larger success. To be self-reliant is to trust that your critical eye, your logic, your reason and your wisdom are tools enough to help you continue to grow. This is not absolutism. Absolutism is folly. This is the ability to understand what is worthless to you and what is not, no matter what the crowd may think, and pursue this relentlessly.
  • Uncommon people have an unwavering discipline. You cannot learn anything worthwhile if you are not devoted to it fully. Uncommon people are disciplined with work, with rest and with play. They make time for all of it and they are fully present at each exploration. This is a lifetime pursuit.
  • Uncommon people are obsessed with the cultivation of their purpose. Uncommon people do not complain about trivial things. They are focused on where they want to go, paying attention to each deliberate step along the way. Silly things like the accumulation of stuff and then complaining when the stuff isn’t just right or gossiping about others is not part of an uncommon person’s life.
  • Uncommon people are extremely durable. Uncommon people remain undeterred by setbacks, failure or defeat. They recognize these things as learning tools and nothing more. They do not falter or waver for long. They do not wallow in self-loathing. They possess supreme confidence in their ability to continue forward. No matter what. They are fully accountable for everything that happens in their life. With accountability comes control and with control comes the ability to change.
  • Uncommon people inspire change.Uncommon people inspire others to follow suit. They show what is possible and make it possible not only for others to come with them, but for others to improve upon what they have provided.
  • Uncommon people act. Uncommon people understand that you are what you are. Best to link your actions with your dreams and your purpose. Best to ask of yourself often, “Is this the best I can do?” Otherwise: a thought without action is simply a wish.
  • Uncommon people do not care what others think. Find your voice. As soon as you begin to talk, others want to talk over you, critique you, tell you how you should do things, twist your voice or use your message against you. Uncommon people persevere through this. They learn to ignore what others might think and realize that you cannot be all things to all people. Uncommon people speak their mind and follow their heart. Their honesty is clear, concise and principled, attracting others who are like-minded. And things begin to expand, slowly at first and then… BOOM!

You must have fun with the practice of becoming uncommon. It’s serious business to be sure, but BE something you love and enjoy,

You must practice “un-commonality” daily. You must be patient. You must shut out negativity and seek the mentorship and guidance of others who have been there before you. You must look long and hard at yourself and those around you. Is this who you want to be? You must be accountable for everything, and I mean everything, in your life. It’s all up to you. Any thought to the contrary is commonality in devious forms.

Hilton Head

Craig Hysell – owner of Conviction Training Facility

Listen. Observe. Act. Adapt. Evolve. Repeat.

“Un-commonality” should be a lifetime pursuit. There is no timetable save this: realize that you are going to die one day and you have no idea when that day will come. There is no time to waste. Meet your death with the satisfaction that you gave this life all you had to give. That will be enough to die well, perhaps even unafraid.

Thank you, Craig Hysell, for allowing me reprint a condensed and slightly revised article about uncommon people. Craig’s Conviction Training Facility in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Be sure to visit his website and his uncommon blog.

 

 

Finding a Fit after Fifty

Sometimes finding your “fit” takes time.

Linda-the-Pastor

Linda Whitworth-Reed in the Pulpit

When Linda planned to abandon her career of short-term jobs to go to seminary, she was 52 years old. She had supported her husband through seminary a decade previously. They relocated many times for his two different careers. “Now it’s my turn,” she said. “David has not received his next calling. We may need to live apart awhile. I am well aware of the challenges.”

Linda’s dad was a Presbyterian minister. He lived with them after her mother died. When David quit an excellent technical sales job to become a minister, she and her dad applauded loudly. They understood the pitfalls and pleasures of life as a minister.

“Linda,” I wailed. “You’re over 50. Are you sure you want to graduate when you are 56 years old?”

“Well,” she responded, “I’ll still be 56 or 57 anyhow.  The timing is right and I’m sure the call is real.”  The love of learning flows through Linda’s veins. Returning to graduate school would invigorate this energetic lady.

Linda’s work history is one we call “patchwork.” She’s been a French and Spanish teacher, a publisher, an Information Technology Instructor, an exercise expert and held many other jobs. Would this be another two or three-year stint? Teaching and speaking demonstrates a recurring theme in her career.

I questioned how she knew this rung in her career ladder would be a better fit.  Linda is super-intelligent, introspective and gregarious. Before her dad passed, Linda and David took her father to visit people from his past. Within a two-week period three of his friends, who had watched her grow up, inquired about “her church.” They assumed she had followed the same career as her dad and husband. That was the sign she needed. With David in transition the present looked promising for her to begin her studies. The rocky road to seminary took five years to solidify. She registered at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin. Fortunately, David became an interim pastor in Waco, 98 miles from the seminary.

With age discrimination rampant, I worried about my friend. I didn’t need to fret. Her quick smile, unconventional wisdom, and perky personality endeared her to the other students.  Linda expected to fly through all her classes, but Hebrew and Greek gave her heartburn. Although fluent in Spanish and French, she struggled.  Discussions on theology, evolution, and creationism stirred her intellect.  Text books rarely put her to sleep. Volunteer work with the homeless while in Austin opened her eyes wider to poverty. Additional study in family dynamics increased her strength in what she would face in her ministry. Driving back and forth with their two dogs to visit her husband caused horrendous challenges with time management and their schedules.

 

Linda sings

Linda Singing a Happy Song

When she graduated, David and Linda moved to a town in South Texas, a town of over 80% Hispanic. Since Linda is fluent in Spanish, she loved the ability to converse in Spanish daily. David and Linda were called co-pastors. The situation for any new pastor is challenging and this was no exception. She loved the town, the people, and the green parrot in a nearby tree. Relationship building began in earnest.

David went to serve another church as an interim pastor. She became the Senior Minister, giving her a chance for new responsibilities. Her next call took the couple to Little Rock.

My comment:

If you are thinking of becoming a minister, she cautions, you must love and learn how to cope with diverse personalities from a Christian perspective and much faith. Linda has found her niche. The job is difficult, the hardest one she’s ever had, but she loves it.  She found her niche at 57. Risky, but worth the effort and hard work.

Currently Linda has been a minster for nine years. David is “honorably retired” and finds part-time ministry and musical gigs wherever they live. He does wood-working while she writes the sermons. Now they live in Iola, Kansas.

As we worked together on this article, she stressed, “In working with myself and others in order to give myself grace, I must realize we do the best we can with what we have.”

Are you doing the best you can with what you have? From exercise guru to minister, we find peace with what we have, no matter the age or circumstances.

 

 

Loving Others

Valentine

Smile. It’s contagious. Photo by R. Glover

 

February is the traditional month we think about love. Our new President scares the “snot” right out of some. We need to love and pray for our government and leaders. I don’t want to get preachy, but, doggonit, smiling is better than frowning. Wringing our hands is not fruitful. Nasty, rude comments solve nothing.

Christian religion says, “Give it to God.” Sometimes that seems the only or best answer. We cannot help the angry police officer who is wiping spit off his face from an accused predator.  We cannot help the jerk who cuts in front of us on a busy highway. We cannot help the pilot when the plane is late. But…we can try more thoughtfulness before responding in a heated conversation. Helping others soothes the soul but fear brings a raft of emotions.

Subways

statue of liberty

Statue of Liberty from the Harbor by R. Glover

Before I visited New York City last year I feared conquering the subways. Would someone accost me? Rip my backpack off? Would I become confused traveling to the theater? A friend assured me the New York City subways are safe, but I should not stay out late. I looked at the subway map and nausea enveloped me.

The doorman at the hotel, where we stayed near Washington Park, helped me understand the reality of “uptown” and “downtown,” along with suggestions for taking the A-line or B-line for best results. His kindness and raucous laughter assuaged my fear. Only later did a recall managing the subways in France when I was 21 years-old.

Success

Never got lost! Had a great time. Glad I overcame my fear.

Fear

The French suffer a reputation for caustic communication. I know France is struggling with fear of foreigners. Many French Jews are moving (again) because of fear. Israel’s geography may change as the borders become unsafe for their citizens. The world is in chaos. Certainly, not the first or last time.

Eiffel Tower

Under the Eiffel Tower-Photo by R. McMichael

Love One Another

What can we do? We must love one another. We must try to understand and cope when our values are diverse. Each day let’s concentrate on kindness to others. At the end of each day where did we deposit kindness? At the very least, show respect.

It’s February. Hug a friend. Send a note to a neglected relative. Love others. Respect diversity and value difference. It can only make the world a better place to live.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Peace Be with Us.

Dignity in Death

Genevieve-headshot

Genevieve Keeney-President of the National Museum of Funeral History
Photo Courtesy of the Museum

Little Genevieve Keeney’s curiosity focused frequently on death and dying. Her mother, a bit incredulous, encouraged her questions. Fearless at age seven, Genevieve never lost her fascination with how we care for our loved ones during death.

Genevieve thought about medical school but money for additional education was scarce. So, instead she joined the Army. While in the military she worked in the medical field managing life and death situations. Her basic medical training led to a career path as a Non-Commissioned Officer and Senior Medic.

When she left the Army after 12 years, she researched what offered decent pay, fit her skills, and matched her interests. Smart lady!  Her new, part time job at the Veterans Administration Medical Center steered her to become an expert in palliative care, helping patients and families during their final chapter in life.  Returning to college became reality. She completed a Masters in Science in Non-Profit Organizational Management in 2015. Long hours and hard work are a way of life for her.

Originally wanting to be a coroner, her studies and profound experience led her to become a funeral director. During her studies for the license, she volunteered at the nearby National Museum of Funeral History. The staff recognized her diligence and passion for helping with whatever needed to be accomplished.

Soon after she began her volunteer work, Museum leaders decided to build a small tribute to the passing of the Popes. The plan started small but when others saw Genevieve’s creative talent in helping with the project, they hired her full time, beginning in 2007. She has a gift for creating thought provoking exhibits that support the Museum’s mission and make an often difficult subject more tolerable for visitors. She has truly helped take the museum to the next level, helping grow awareness, change perception and increase attendance. Innovation and willingness to speak with diplomacy suggest the perfect match for her talents. Her quiet demeanor and empathy on the job soothes the souls of her listeners. Yet, when she needs to be direct, watch out!

Whether speaking to a group of children about death and dying or working with the issues that confront the Board of Directors, her communication skills aid in her countless duties. The newest special exhibit she created, in remembrance of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, offers memorial books signed by a grieving nation and pictures drawn and colored by children to honor those who perished that fateful day.

When I interviewed her, we talked some about Halloween. The main goal at the Museum is to honor the compassion and dedication of the funeral services industry, enlighten visitors on one of man’s oldest cultural rituals and celebrate the heritage of the funeral services industry. The museum takes great care to present information in a respectful and tasteful way. Genevieve is not a big fan of people who disrespect the customs of others. She assures the Halloween displays, like the annual family-friendly Haunted House, epitomize, not ridicule or mock, the unique ways others celebrate the end of life.

When you visit the museum, you may see her wandering throughout the facility, making sure the exhibits and displays are well-lit and shiny clean or talking with the gift shop manager, where all items are tastefully displayed; she might even be leading a tour or visiting with museum goers. She tries to circulate but much of her time is devoted to speaking and coordinating events. She also still holds her job at the local veterans’ hospital. I loved her comment, “I continue to work at the VA where I am honored when I hold the hand of a dying Veteran. I get to use all of my skills every day, both at the VA and the Museum. Who would have thought when I was young, I’d be a part of such an elegant, thoughtful career?”

I, too, am honored to meet and write about this gifted lady. Marathon runner, mother, new grandma, and lifelong learner—she understands the joy of life and preserves dignity in death.

A big thanks to Monica Rhoades and Genevieve Keeney for their assistance with this article.

 

 

 

How to Become Uncommon

 

Implement ideas

Take time to develop your ideas.

What ideas are you not sharing with others? Are you a fourth grade teacher with a system for keeping your students organized? Are you a retired gentleman with an idea for a duck call you know works? Are you passionate enough about the baby toy you created for your child that you would like to be on Shark Tank? Are you uncommon?

To write I must read and listen carefully to others. To prepare my articles about uncommon people today, I watched several YouTube videos. I read Chris Anderson’s book titled TED Talks: the Official Guide to Public Speaking, which is fabulous. I considered writing about Chris. He is renown as he is the Curator and “inventor” of TED Talks, which means he decides who speaks at their conferences.

Chris personifies the ultimate entrepreneur. During his 20s he played in the rock band REM (a rock band from the 80s. He jumped from business venture to business venture, some created winners and others failed miserably. His list of employment includes Los Alamos National Laboratories, known for nuclear physics projects for the government and wide variety of other entities. He applied his tech savvy when he became the editor of numerous scientific journals, most notably as the former editor-in-chief of Wired magazine. While playing with his children in the backyard with their remote control airplanes, he realized the power that drones bring to government and private industries. DIYDrones and 3D Robotics became realities. Plus, he’s a writer and speaker. He has a wife and five children.

Leads coworking Nod

Chirag Gupta

But many uncommon people are unrecognized nationwide. I thought about featuring Chirag Gupta, who started his own company before graduation from Northwestern University in Chicago. His current business, called NoD, is a coworking community space in North Dallas. He gathers various entrepreneurs for collaboration and community. They lease space from him where their businesses flourish. Chirag attracts people of all ages and cultures. He schedules tours for enlightening the public about the company’s energy and atmosphere. He writes, he speaks, and he teaches social media classes. Under age 30, yet he is uncommon. Down to earth, loves music and plays the drums. He understands the power of networking and cooperative efforts.

How does this relate to the fourth grade teacher with an idea to organize her students or the guy who wants to build a better vacuum cleaner? If you want to be uncommon, you need guts and not glory. You need to form your ideas regardless of the naysayers: pretend you work for Nike and “just do it.”

Words bring power to your ideas whether it is writing or speaking. You don’t need to be an extrovert, but you must pull words together to express your ideas. You must be willing to fail. If you don’t try, you can’t fail. If you try, you can refine your idea or find a different idea to move forward. After the fourth grade teacher watches the YouTube about Khan Academy for motivation he or she must articulate the idea to the right people for funding and implementation. Take Chirag’s advice, “You can read the news or be the news.”

Collaborating for fun and work at Nod.

Collaborating for fun and work at Nod.

What is your uncommon motivation? Are you passionate about your idea? Is the idea workable?

It’s September. A new school year started. You’ll be celebrating New Year’s Eve in five minutes. Start now to mold your idea, to nudge it, to polish it. Can you make progress by the end of the year?

Promise yourself today, right now, to start your plan. Do a little research. Determine if your idea is viable. Write a short proposal to share with friends and family for their input. Refine the idea and rock on! You can be any age to focus your idea into reality. You can become uncommon.

 

 

All Aboard for the Glacier Express

mountain top

The Matterhorn-Photo by T. Glover

Wine, cheese and chocolates at every stop appealed to me. My husband and I traveled through Switzerland for ten days in 2003. Every stop on the itinerary left us in awe of Swiss beauty. If you ride with me on this trip, you may want to buy a ticket for the next flight to Europe.

My cousin suggested we visit Zermatt where he spent many vacations throughout his life. He loved the place, both summer and winter. I discovered the Matterhorn Mountain, one of the most photographed sites in the world, looms over Zermatt.

A friend told me about her ride on the Glacier Express, which travels from St. Moritz to Zermatt. Research increased my enthusiasm for riding this small train, which is neither an express train nor a glacier but travels slowly towards St. Moritz.

St. Moritz

Our trip took place in late May. Upon our arrival at the airport in Zurich we boarded a train to St. Moritz.  After an extremely long travel day, we sighed with relief for the bright light over the hotel door and the friendly innkeeper, who spoke English, French, German, and Italian.

In the morning we hiked around the lake with the warm sun shining in our eyes. The snow-capped Alps surrounded us. We drank hot chocolate near the town square.

When we explored the back streets of the hilly, little town I expected to see Hansel and Gretel or hear someone yodel from a balcony. We discovered a small waterfall. We could touch the icy waters splashing down the brown rocks where green ferns dotted the rocky hill. I recall a plethora of yellow flowers growing out of cracks in a stone wall along a narrow road. I ate white asparagus for the first time, drank superb, regional wine, and gorged on chocolates.

The Glacier Express

little swiss train

Glacier Express Train

We departed St. Moritz on the Glacier Express, a small train with few passengers aboard and no tour guide that day. The weather report reflected heavy snow storms on our eight-hour train ride from Saint Moritz to Zermatt on Memorial Day at home.

Huge pine trees and cows (each with a different bell) in the pastures peppered idyllic views as train ride began. Frigid rivers raced beside the tracks.

As the train clicked along the track the snow began to fall. We rose higher with increasing snow around us.  I don’t mean the sideways snow crossing a road which I would have recognized from living in the Midwest. My husband thought it looked like we were traveling inside a full milk carton. Nothing but white appeared outside the windows. At times the engineer used cog wheels to climb and descend through the snow and ice.

A new, more glamorous train takes tourists on this panoramic experience today through a nine and a half-mile tunnel on the 180-mile adventure. The data shows 91 tunnels and 291 bridges across the Oberalp Pass at 2033 meters in altitude (almost 7000 feet). Arches, some built in the Middle Ages, stand like aqueducts with the small train rumbling along the tracks to Zermatt.

Zermatt

Dusk surrounded us as we departed the train when we arrived in Zermatt. Cars are forbidden in Zermatt in the tourist district because of limited space. However, small trucks rushed through the narrow streets finishing daily deliveries to the hotels, gift shops and restaurants.

hotel ceiling

Hotel ceiling with hand-painted tiles

A five-minute walk dragging our roll-arounds through snowy slush led us to our hotel. The hand-painted flowers on the ceiling of our hotel room fascinated me. Later, we ate pizza at a cozy restaurant with a roaring fire, a glass of local Swiss wine, and stinky cheese for dessert. What a way to spend Memorial Day!

The Matterhorn

Crow

What is he doing here?-Photo by R. Glover

After wandering through town the next day we boarded another, small train, which rattled up the side of the mountain for tourists to see the Matterhorn Mountain more closely. While we ate sandwiches on a chilly patio at the top, a crow lit on the railing. As a little boy in a red and white snowsuit tried to feed the bird; the crow seemed as far from home as we were.

Thanks to Gay Vencill who suggested the Glacier Express. If you’d like to hear more about this trip, let me know. Next stop was Montreux on Lake Geneva.

 

 

 

Sachse-Home, Sweet Home

caboose

Railroads play a role in Sachse history.

Is Sachse uncommon? Sachse cannot claim a destination location for weddings or vacations. If you have relatives or friends who live in Sachse, you may choose Sachse. Otherwise, a small beach town in Hawaii or location in the mountains might be more likely. I write about Sachse to tell you our little town offers “uncommon” opportunity.

Three years ago we chose Sachse for its location. Our son and his family lived in a neighboring suburb. Would I adjust living in a smaller town? Would I miss my friends? Would it be too close to family? As with most plans, surprises arose. Our son transferred to Houston after we moved, but we are not planning to relocate. We love Sachse.

The railroad which runs through the town has played an important role in the history of the town, since the mid-to-late 1800’s. The population of Sachse was 10,251 in 2000 and the 2010 census shows the population as 20,472. I noticed an estimate for 2015 at 24,554. Sachse lies about thirty miles from downtown Dallas with “a little bit of country.” Horse farms exist on the other side of town. A goat farm exists near me. Our “little bit of country” disappears daily with new homes and businesses blossom like bluebonnets along the Texas roads in spring.

Lake Lavon Sunset

Nearby Lake Lavon at Sunset

Involvement

The people are friendly. On my regular walk with the dog in our sub-division people grin and greet, even when my little dog grumbles lustily at their dogs.

When I asked the librarian to recommend an authors’ group three years ago, she encouraged me to start one. I joined the Library Board. I’m on a first name basis with the Mayor. I see Mike Felix, the long term leader of this small growing town, at the Council meetings, celebrations, the annual car show and other events. The Chamber of Commerce presents good programs with active participants.

Instead of attending a church of 3000 (or was it 5000?) members we attend a small, growing church, another opportunity to meet new, exceptionally friendly people.

Unemployment is low. For example, one of our neighbors is a Fire Fighter who sells real estate. My next door neighbor sells insurance. Technology engineers live around us.

Recently I attended a meeting about Sachse’s long range plans. Hearing the ideas and plans

to grow the town helped me appreciate what is happening behind the scenes.

Quotes from Sachse Residents:

“I’ve lived places where my store was not safe. I feel safe in Sachse. When I moved my business to Sachse, I have saved a considerable amount of rent.”

Sherri Arwood-Co-Owner of Arwood Custom Jewelry

“I’ve lived here long enough to remember when we didn’t have a Krogers on Highway 78. Now we have two nearby.”

Laurie SteenisKeller Williams Real Estate (and Packer fan)

“Sachse has the charm of a smaller country town…yet close enough to shopping and restaurants.

Dr. James Moebius-owner of Murphy Road Animal Hospital

“Ive had my business in Sachse since 1998. I like the small town atmosphere near Dallas. It’s always nice to come home to Sachse.”

Frank Milsap-owner of Sachse Rod Shop (ongoing business in the same location, since 1982)

“I never intended my business to be more than part time. Before long I had to quit my day job. We have unlimited growth opportunity in this community.”

Mike Felix-Mayor

“Our events bring families together for fun and friendship.”

I never lived in such a small town but for me its advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Is it uncommon for a small town? I do not know but it is “Home, sweet home!”

 

 

 

 

 

From Bucket Challenge to Bucket List

Traveling with an Advocate for ALS

 

Ice Bucket

The Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS

Do you remember the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014? Andrea Heaberg, my uncommon friend and former colleague, recalls her participation. She volunteered with the ALSA (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association) with a sneaky suspicion she might have a neurological issue. The Ice Bucket Challenge began as a “grass roots” effort to raise money and awareness for ALS, a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease. The Challenge rode the social media wave around the world for a number of months. Other philanthropies joined the melee to earn money and awareness, but ALSA realized $115 Million that year in donations, which helped fund several new research studies.

A Few Statistics

ALS is difficult to diagnose; it is a progressive, neuromuscular condition without a cure. Three doctors and a year of costly medical tests determined that Andrea Heaberg’s weak hands would never become strong again. She is gradually losing muscle control in her arms and legs and has a caregiver, her husband.

More men than women are afflicted by ALS. A new case is diagnosed every 90 minutes.

Military veterans are 50% more likely to develop ALS than the general population.

There are more than 50,000 people in the U.S. living with ALS; the average lifespan, from diagnosis to death, is 2 to 5 years. By comparison, the FDA drug approval process takes twice that amount of time.

Generally, the ALSA  budgets about $39 Million per year to fund research projects and provide grants for specialized equipment, among other support activities for ALS patients; their Board includes patients with ALS. The Muscular Dystrophy Association  is involved in similar activities, but ALS is a small part of their focus. When both groups lobby congress for resources, they compete with each other, except where proposed legislation benefits all patients. But…Andrea does her share to help improve the statistics.

The Conference

at the conference

Andrea with Penny, her fierce service dog, at the conference.

Last May, a major, world-wide ALS conference occurred in Washington, D.C. Andrea attended, along with more than 1000 others. One hundred and twenty-eight patients from around the world attended. Her husband flew with her or she could not have gone; she can no longer carry a bag or fasten a seat belt. She planned to meet legislators at the conference.

I asked her what she liked about the conference. Her response shows her heart. “I loved hearing about the ongoing drug trials. Seeing the new, marvelous equipment to help with my speech issues encouraged me. The drug trial results may not provide hope for me, but may for those in the future. All the patients we met were extremely positive in their outlook.”

The Advocate

Andrea defines herself as an Advocate for ALS in Texas, not as an ALS patient but as a Person with ALS. She expected to speak to the legislators during the conference, but she wound up visiting with their “specialists” whose roles revolve around improving laws for medical care. She met in the offices of six congressmen and one senator to seek support of three specific bills that would provide immediate or short term benefits to those whose lifespan might be measured in months. The legislative update can be found at alsa.org/advocacy/advocacy-day.

Andrea is eligible for Medicare, but because she will not get better, only worse, Medicare refuses to pay for physical therapy. She can pay for it herself or go without. She has learned many techniques to keep her muscles as flexible as possible at home. “Get on living or get on dying. While there is no bright future for me, I choose to find a new normal every day with something positive to keep me going through my journey,” she says. Her daily struggles include finding alternative ways to remain active without the use of her hands and arms.

Using the phone is a chore, because it is difficult to tap a key. She works from her home office for her ALS organization by contacting legislators and sharing the stories of others. She participates with the local ALS organization during fund-raising walking events (while she is still mobile) and support group activities. As technology improves, she will record her voice (in a voice bank) to use when she can no longer speak, and use her eyes to ‘type’ her communications.

Her personal ‘Bucket List’ includes filling The Ice Bucket. The Challenge is still around, but “we need other local events to find new methods to increase awareness and donors; there are ALS chapters in all 50 states where folks can volunteer.”

As she becomes weaker, her will to live is stronger with her willingness to advocate. If you are looking for a new way to serve others, please think about Andrea, who continues to make a difference in the world while traveling with her illness.

A huge thanks goes to Andrea and Jim Heaberg for their help with this article. More statistics are available at the ALS website.

 

 

 

 

10 Reasons to Read Gift of the Suitcase

 When I graduated from college I received a large, gray suitcase and a round trip ticket to work in France the summer before I started teaching. Within a few days I lose my suitcase, followed closely with the loss of my summer job. The trip changed my life forever. Travel to France taught me more than how to speak French.

You meet a co-worker, Christine. I introduce you to the baggage handler in Calais and the railroad clerk in Nice. You hear from the doctor who attended medical school in Switzerland in 1947 to help us understand how quickly we forget atrocities. My family makes a brief appearance. The return trip to Central France takes you through scenic beauty and inspirational situations.

Unexpected events, such as divorce, illness, and deaths change our lives. Flexibility, faith, and friends help us through hard times. As we travel through life we find new, meaningful ways to cope.

The book allows you to:

  1. Forget your chores for a few hours
  2. Travel to faraway places
  3. Recognize yourself in similar predicaments
  4. Laugh at mistakes
  5. Cheer when good news arrives
  6. Discover the joy in acceptance
  7. Spend less than a plane ticket
  8. Ponder your progress
  9. Consider letting go of your baggage
  10. Update your plans for your next trip

Let me know how the book impacts you. You can buy the paperback directly from me or from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IBooks. Click “Buy Now” for immediate attention.

You can purchase it through my website or Amazon and several other sources. The e-book is available for your Nook or Kindle and other distribution sources.

After you finish Gift of the Suitcase you may want to write a quick review on Amazon. You do not have to purchase the book from Amazon to write a review. May you enjoy the journey.

GIFT OF THE SUITCASE

 When I graduated from college I received a large, gray suitcase and a round trip ticket to work in France the summer before I started teaching. Within a few days I lose my suitcase, followed closely with the loss of my summer job. The trip changed my life forever. Travel to France taught me more than how to speak French.

You meet a co-worker, Christine. I introduce you to the baggage handler in Calais and the railroad clerk in Nice. You hear from the doctor who attended medical school in Switzerland in 1947 to help us understand how quickly we forget atrocities. My family makes a brief appearance. The return trip to Central France takes you through scenic beauty and inspirational situations.

Unexpected events, such as divorce, illness, and deaths change our lives. Flexibility, faith, and friends help us through hard times. As we travel through life we find new, meaningful ways to cope.

The book allows you to:

  1. Forget your chores for a few hours
  2. Travel to faraway places
  3. Recognize yourself in similar predicaments
  4. Laugh at mistakes
  5. Cheer when good news arrives
  6. Discover the joy in acceptance
  7. Spend less than a plane ticket
  8. Ponder your progress
  9. Consider letting go of your baggage
  10. Update your plans for your next trip

Let me know how the book impacts you. You can buy the paperback directly from me or from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IBooks. Click “Buy Now” for immediate attention.

You can purchase it through my website or Amazon and several other sources. The e-book is available for your Nook or Kindle and other distribution sources.

After you finish Gift of the Suitcase you may want to write a quick review on Amazon. You do not have to purchase the book from Amazon to write a review. May you enjoy the journey.