Remember when you were a kid and summer was ending, sending us all back to school? Inevitability on the first day the teacher would assign a paper entitled, “What I did on my summer vacation.” And we would write about going to summer camp, or trips to grandma’s farm, or family trips to Cedar Point or Myrtle Beach. Well, this is my ‘what I did on my summer vacation’ paper. My hope is that this story encourages you to courageous leadership and to consider choices available to you.
Have you ever met someone who just thinks they are invincible? That’s me. It had never occurred to me that I might die. Now, I’ve experienced death in my family. I am well aware that no one lives forever. But, I hadn’t thought about dying because I’ve been so busy living. I love my life. But that changed on June 5th of this year.
It was a normal Wednesday morning. I headed off to work with my coffee and oatmeal in one hand, laptop bag in another. But, instead of heading to my office in the suburbs, I drove off toward downtown Columbus for an important meeting. During the commute, I ate my breakfast, drank my coffee, and put my make-up on; all things I normally do while driving to work. But, that nagging stomach ache that had started just as I left the house soon turned into pain so severe that I decided to divert to the emergency room; which was a big deal because that downtown meeting was really important. I couldn’t figure out was was happening as I hadn’t been sick, in fact I had worked in the yard and garden the night before. But the pain just persisted and worsened with each passing mile.
While calling my husband, and someone on my team to report I would miss that important meeting, I drove to the hospital and parked in the garage. But, I couldn’t even walk over to the hospital building and emergency room, because the pain in my stomach was so severe. So, I got back into my car and called 911. The emergency squad drove into the parking garage, located me, and took me over to the emergency room. There I confided to the kind woman who checked me in that I would be mortified if they determined that the problem was constipation. Soon enough, I would wish that was my problem.
As it turns out, calling the squad helped out because I was taken right into the ER, and didn’t have to wait to be assessed. Shortly after my arrival, my husband met me, and I had a CT scan. And moments later there were three surgeons standing at the end of my hospital bed. That severe pain was the result of a ruptured colon. My colon had perforated, my abdomen was filling up with waste, and if not corrected promptly I would soon have sepsis infection; literally a deadly state of affairs. My response to the lead surgeon, who as it turns out happened to be the pretty well respected in his field? “Shut up!” Yes, my brain just could not comprehend the message my ears were receiving. I had not been ill. I was healthy. What on earth was happening to me?
Let’s fast forward a little bit. How did I spend my summer vacation? Choices. I made a lot of choices. Intentional decisions that directed my behavior. I chose to focus on the positives. Faced with a decision to either become self-absorbed or turn my thoughts toward others, I chose to develop a long prayer list including others recuperating from illness. While, to be frank, I started many a day in tears, the decision faced me everyday to push a little more and own my recuperation. It was difficult work. I spent the entire summer of 2013 making choices that would directly impact my future.
What did you do during summer 2013? I’m sure you made choices of some sort. Take a vacation or work through on the big project. Spend time with the family catching all of your son’s baseball games, or answer 10 more e-mails. Coach that associate who owned up to a mistake or procrastinate, leaving them feeling lost and uncertain. Speak up and answer with an honesty that comes only from the very core of your being, or sit back in silence. Oh, you made choices this summer. The real question is how do you feel about your decisions? Did you intentionally choose in such a way as to positively impact your future; or that of someone else in your life?
I just want to get you thinking about choices. We have the power to change the trajectory (a path, progression, or line of development) of our lives through our choices. We’ll talk more about how choices changed not only my big summer blow out, but my outlook on life overall, in part 2.
I hope you’ll join the conversation.