My Story about a stroke of luck
I’m from Texas so I couldn’t resist the boots, and at one time, this was a keynote I offered (less the pivot), so it made sense. In fact, for years, my blogs, articles and communication have ended with the phrase “see you on the road.” The road has been rocky at times, but I earned this year not to take work so seriously. That keynote I mentioned was about the strength to walk away and seems ironic now. Maybe you’d walk away because whatever “it” is isn’t healthy (emotionally, physically, financially or spiritually) in the short or long term. It seems many of us get so caught up in what others will perceive. We often think it means “quit.” I challenge you to consider walking away from anything as a beginning or an opportunity for what’s next.
Best laid plans
I was scheduled to speak at the DeW retreat last November. God had other plans. On Friday, November 1st, in the ER with the stroke team, I just kept repeating, “I have to get on a plane Monday. I have to speak in Phoenix on Tuesday. You don’t understand. I committed. I need to call the client as soon as possible. People are expecting me.” After all, I’m serious about the work I do. As my face drooped and my body had a total deficit on my right side, I was going to take control of this situation.
That’s what a professional speaker does; we talk it out. I trained to control the situation, and everything happening in the seminar room becomes part of the program. We plan, God laughs! (Anne Duffy says this, and it’s true.) Long before COVID-19 would wreak havoc on the speaking business worldwide, I began to pivot.
My mother suffered a massive stroke at 30 and was told she would never walk, talk, write or speak again; a remarkable woman who battled for, and believed in, her future until the day God won the battle with cancer and showed her the road home. Told to terminate a pregnancy, she refused. My husband is thankful. The youngest of 7, my older siblings shared stories. They said she dressed to the nines, had beautiful penmanship, and loved to water ski and dance.
I knew a mom who would sometimes struggle with simple tasks but had unshakeable faith. Partially paralyzed on her right side, my beautiful Mexican mother spoke in broken English and exuded love. She prepared three full meals a day, sewed our clothing, and regularly drove us to cheer, dance and church. A stroke broke her speech but not her spirit! She was an intentional and exceptional communicator. This inspired everyone who met her!
The stroke seems a significant setback and certainly enough to put a story around. For me, it’s been another rocky road. “It’s a long and winding road, that leads me back to you.” Hearing this Beatles tune, I think of God. When I’m in the trials and challenges of life, feeling sad or alone, whether business or personal, I work to stay on the road that leads me back to Him. Even if it means I walk away or pivot to a different path.
Consider how you’ve managed to pivot with everything happening. Our budgets have been beaten to Hell! Some of you are home-schooling children and trying to keep your career going. Look deep inside at your strength because it’s there. He’s there too. Ancient men went to the mountain to meet God and pray. Well, ladies, listen up; God meets us right where we are, and He always has! He meets us in all our “labor,” whether in the kitchen, at the desk or on a drive.
He met me bedside, July 2019, as I prayed my son would recover. Talk about a pivot. I went from preparing for a 25th-anniversary celebration and beach trip to a ridiculously expensive ticket to Rapid City, SD. JC had become seriously ill on the road for work. He needed surgery, had a high fever and was septic when I arrived. Talk about disappointing. We worked so hard, planned so well I even managed to get back into my wedding dress. (I should probably mention that was before my COVID curves!) Somehow this didn’t seem fair. Truth is, we can take it; but mess with a momma’s kids, and she will go to her knees.
Guess what; God will meet you there too!
He recovered and followed up with a local surgeon. As I drove the 1200-mile trek home, I learned our downstairs AC was out, an unexpected $7600.00. Admittedly feeling some self-pity at this point. Some anniversary, why me? Within no time, the road my mind was on led me back to God. Feeling thankful I wasn’t in Cozumel, unable to get to him. Grateful my business allows me to have a countrywide network, including a special mom who met my son at the ER that night. Our second AC went out the following week, $8600.00, blessed to beat the Texas heat and be able to pay for it. I’ve always said, “When you can’t see in the fog, put both hands on the wheel and pray for peace and direction. Once you get past the storm, look in your rearview mirror, and you’ll see clearly what He wants you to see.”
Post-stroke, I’m told to eliminate the stress in my life. LUCK is an acronym for Laboring Under Correct Knowledge. My knowledge following the experience gave me a new vision. I could see that no job, person, perception or problem was worth the stress that could take my life. Only by God’s grace did I have an opportunity to learn this first hand and have the ability to share it in such a magnificent way. My voice is the same, but my message has changed. We never know how being brave about faith will matter, until it does. Thank God for Dr. Michael Spohn who saw our tears, understood our fears, took our hands and boldly asked, “Can I pray for you?”.
As he prayed to the mighty physician, I began to release the need to control. Once again, God met me where I was. Within an hour (without the clot-buster medication), I was fully functional besides a stutter. A second physician said, “The gift is not that you survived the stroke; the gift is that He allowed it to happen. You can’t take your work so seriously.” At that moment, I began the most significant pivot ever.
Friends say, “That sounds like a documentary; it’s so unreal.” My stoke prepared me for the pandemic and what would follow. Before this pivot, I’d panic to think my speaking schedule would be crushed. I’d collapse at the thought that my son would live in Utah and have two more surgeries this summer, knowing I couldn’t be with him even if I got there. I would’ve crumbled to learn my amazing and talented dentist husband has struggled with severe pain in his thumbs, has no cartilage; and now we navigate what’s next.
Pre-stroke, I’d be anxious to think I’d do more behind the scenes than in front of the room. Yet, this pivot allowed me to license my content to others for resale or to augment their product, service or technology. It is someone else’s value-add now. Like many of you, I’ve had feelings of disappointment, concern and apprehension. However, I believe God will meet me on the road I am on.
He will meet you too!
Creating dental content and connecting others when it is mutually beneficial has always come easy for me. I have no pride of ownership nor the desire to be the hero. Truth is, I enjoy making “the other guy” look good. It’s the reason I’m jazzed to emcee events: I’m giving people a glowing “personal” introduction, and they feel like a superstar when they hit the stage. Being behind the scenes watching a video or written content I create benefit another business (and ultimately a practice or patient) gives me genuine pleasure! It’s what I do. I’m still in the trenches weekly, so it’s not a stretch for me to try the content or system I create. Helping to give clarity or solving a pain point in the dental world is something I understand. Thanks to some special friends for seeing this long before I did.
Today, I work with companies that have a product or service and need their message to truly resonate with the dental buyer or end-user; companies that need integrations, custom software or marketing services. I’m also helping other speakers and trainers get their content online, which benefits them and doesn’t break their bank. I love my work again. The best part of being on the road less is time with Chuck, our kids and those six grandkids!
All this helps me realize that God’s plans are more significant than mine and more likely to come true. Life changes and these moments are a part of our path. Don’t miss an opportunity to be where He wants you because you’re waiting for an answer you think He should give you. Remember, the battle for your mind starts between your ears. Don’t be so hard on yourself or take your work so seriously. Time isn’t as long as it used to be, and isn’t as short as it’s going to be!
My PIVOT POINTS to share:
- Be PURPOSEFUL in your work and the path you choose.
- Whatever it is for you, IT should bring you great joy most days, and then many won’t feel like work.
- You will see it VIVIDLY when He reveals it, and not a moment before.
- Don’t get so caught up in what someone might perceive is happening with your change that you miss the OPPORTUNITY it brings.
- TAKE the time to smell the flowers, love your family and pray that love wins!
As I finish this story, we’re packing our RV to head for Utah to see our son and dental colleagues. Maybe, I’ll “see you on the road!”