By Guest Blogger Alyson Lindsey Taylor-White
They looked at me like their cat had just talked to them. The kidney surgeon and his nurse had just delivered what they thought would be devastating news – that my case did not merit a life saving transplant – and I had responded with words of hope.
What they did not know is that I had prepared for that outcome and was already strategizing how my future would proceed without a new kidney. This looked less like a barrier to me and more like an opportunity. In many ways, I was relieved. The transplant process has its own challenges that are seldom mentioned in the literature. My healing would proceed without this ordeal.
However my perspective was clearly not the reaction they anticipated.
Having suffered for years with failing, and finally failed kidneys, prepared me for the potential outcome that a transplant might be my only hope for survival. During those challenging years, additional health complications became a factor. In the fall of 2015, my heart and kidneys gave up at the same time, and my survival was extremely iffy for about a month, when I struggled for life in a local hospital intensive care unit.
While coming out of the haze of medications and dealing with other affects of organ failure, the medical staff told me to prepare for the worst. They said my life, if I made it, would never be the same again. They assured me my old life was dead, and that I might have diminished abilities for the remainder of my life.
As difficult as it was to hear, maybe them telling me how awful my life could be actually made me more determined to recover and create a life worth living. Six major surgeries and a year of daily dialysis later, it is.
I had stuff to do, and I was not going to let these new disabilities derail me for long. For two years, I’d been working on my first book and it was at a crucial stage in the publication process. My pets and my husband needed me.
In fairness to all of those medical experts, I had a secret weapon: My ability to believe in myself. This has always proven successful. My life has had serious setbacks, but since early childhood I have been able to count on the soothing comfort of imagining the positive potential outcome of every situation. What saved my life, and has sustained me to this day, is being able to see the positive side of things.
It is not always easy to have faith when faced with doom; but my determination to heal has enabled me to persevere and succeed. Whether I have six years, six months or six minutes of life left, it is my job to live every day to its fullest and jettison whatever is not inspiring joy. You can do the same.
Alyson Lindsey Taylor-White is a University of Richmond certified adjunct instructor with a background in journalism and museum education. She has researched and written about Richmond and Virginia history and politics for more than 20 years, and is passionate about sharing these stories with others. She creates and gives public and private tours of Virginia historic sites. Her first book, Shockoe Hill Cemetery – a Richmond Landmark History, will be published this year.
Welcome to Wednesday. Whatever positive things you long to experience or achieve today…
* See them as real in your mind’s eye: Visualize your new reality – in full color, with specific details.
* Speak those desires into existence: Words and prayers hold power.
* Move deliberately: Resist all doubt.
* Trust the process: Success cannot be birthed without struggle.
* Give thanks in advance: Put your faith into action.
And then…be ready for the blessings that materialize.
By Stacy Hawkins Adams
I spent some time this week in the company of writer friends who reminded me that the beauty of our words and our written works – whether literary, commercial, for adults or for kids – is always needed.
It was a well-timed reminder that what one tenderly and carefully creates does indeed matter. What you produce can change a heart, fill a soul, light the imagination, give hope to dreams or render some measure of joy.
All of this has value. So create with love, and trust that your devotion to your craft will be enough.
By Guest Blogger Renee Spivey
I vividly remember the day 25 years ago when I sat on a bathroom floor with a knife to my wrists, ready to end it all. I was tired of the devastating challenges I was enduring, and thought death was better than what I was going through.
That’s not the only time I was suicidal. The second time was when I was sentenced to prison for eight years. Me, the church going, good grade-getting, mostly-obedient child. I had no business going to prison, but sure enough, it happened. Even though I was a first time offender, I was convicted of felony theft by check, and I would go on to serve almost two years of that eight-year sentence.
The day I arrived at the minimum security women’s prison, I was so devastated that I was put on suicide watch. I was asked during the intake process if I was thinking of killing myself and I said yes, because honestly, once again, I thought death was better than what I was facing.
Every hour or so, an officer was at my cell calling my name, making sure I was still alive. After the first two days, I was fine. I had read, cried, prayed and accepted my situation, and a peace finally came over me. After that second day, I told them I was fine and no longer thinking of killing myself. They took me at my word and didn’t perform the hourly checks anymore.
Being locked up for 22 months was the roughest thing I have ever experienced. To be treated as simply a number and not a person was a very humiliating, but humbling experience.
Even though this was the worst time of my life, it ended up being the best time of my life. It took me going to prison to realize that God had more in store for me than just a continual life of heartache and pain. He had a calling specifically for me.
The road has definitely not been easy, but through it all God kept me and blessed me. I did not let my past dictate my future. I refused to be known only as Smith #744519.
I’ve gone on to do some incredible things, such as go back to college at age 40 and obtain an associate’s degree in Information Technology/Web Design. I am currently working on my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. I own a business called Literary Signature Services, where I work with authors and small businesses, helping them with their website and graphic design needs. I’ve held the same full time job since my release in 1997. And now, I am working on becoming a published author.
I am a wife, a mother, a homeowner and founder of the Women of Worth ministry, which was started to encourage women to step out of the shadows of their past into a brighter future. ~ © Renee Spivey, 2017
Renee Spivey, an avid reader and aspiring author, owns Literary Signature Services, a company that focuses on graphic and web design. Her client list includes authors Suzette Riddick, Regena Bryant, and New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Brenda Jackson, to name a few. Renee also has a short story in the recently released anthology, When Women Become Business Owners. Learn more about Renee at her websites The Masters Vessel and We Are Women of Worth. She is also active on Facebook at Empowered Women of Worth, Instagram at Renees1971 and Twitter @empoweredwow.
By Stacy Hawkins Adams
Here’s a resolution most parents should consider making a habit: practicing self-care, and viewing it as a gift to their families.
Many — in particular moms, and especially those of young children — tend to feel guilty if they take time away from their sons or daughters to focus on themselves. However, research and anecdotal evidence show that when parents are fulfilled and balanced, that contentment permeates their lives, including their interactions with their families.
So while they may have taken time away to pursue a career endeavor, hobby or some social time, for example, if they return invigorated or restored, that joy adds to the quality of time with their beloved youngsters.
With this in mind, I encourage my fellow parents to take off your superwoman or superman capes in 2017, and neatly fold and tuck them away for special occasions.
Because day to day, the person you are is the person your kids will emulate.
If your goal is for them to honor and value themselves while treating others kindly and generously, you must remember their best and first teacher is you.
Taking some “you time” gives your children a chance to watch you thrive at something you enjoy or that simply makes you smile, and it gives them a road map for how to someday support the goals and interests that are important to anyone they value.
During this resolution season, consider finding a few minutes of quiet time to reflect on what you most enjoyed “BP” — my newly coined phrase for “Before Parenting.”
If it’s helpful, write a list of five or 10 things you once considered fun or meaningful, but put on the back burner.
Depending on the season of parenting you’re in, you may or may not have time or interest in revisiting the things that once held your attention, but even if your list feels dated, it can serve as a reminder of who you are and what gives you energy.
Simplicity usually yields success, and here are some suggestions:
- Commit to getting more exercise, whether that means joining a gym that has a kid-friendly playroom or finding a neighborhood walking or running partner with whom you can forge a friendship and fitness accountability.
- Check in regularly with your friends by phone to stay abreast of their lives, or invite them over for dinner or a game night, and allow their kids to come. It’s great for your young children to see Mom and Dad have “play dates” or for your older ones to see you enjoying life beyond parenting.
- Trade babysitting with a trusted friend or relative, and use your free time to visit your favorite bookstore for a few hours, go to a movie or hang out at your favorite coffee shop or eatery.
- Informally pick a parenting mentor (or two) a few years ahead of you, who can help you navigate decisions and ease your worries during certain developmental stages. If you know that middle school is an awkward time for most kids and how that plays out for each gender, for example, you may assess your child’s behavior from a calmer place.
- Try something new, and don’t be afraid to let your kids see you struggle or fail. Show them the right way to handle new opportunities or to withstand their own challenges by managing yours with grace, maturity and responsibility.
Commit to being the best version of yourself possible, and watch yourself and your children blossom as a result.
Editor’s Note: A variation of this post first appeared in Stacy’s Richmond Times-Dispatch parenting column, Life Notes, in January 2017.
The world is depending on you, and on me, to get this right.