A friend keeps describing himself to me as being a “glass is half empty” type of person and questions risk with “what is the worst that can happen?” type of questions. While it is good to be conscious of the potential failure side of a situation, isn’t the very act of taking a risk the definition of living?
My view is that the glass is refillable, that taking risks is the very source of feeling alive – that taking action and stepping out of a comfort zone towards something unknown – with the promise of it being ‘amazing” and exciting and worth exploring – is the very foundation of living, of being “closer to life” (a quote from a friend of Peggy Payne’s).
I love this phrase, “closer to life”, for it’s the heart-racing moments in our lives that define us. These acts, where we step in the direction of something unknown, pursue something on faith because we are drawn, become unforgettable life experiences. These are the moments we never forget, either because the act caused pain, or immense pleasure.
Each step taken in faith, towards whatever we are drawn to, is a step worth taking. We explore outside our comfort zone to expand ourselves and to grow. Some of the best lessons in failure lead to the most amazing, and unforeseen, discoveries.
Upon completing my book, Finding Joy (to be released soon), I realized it is about risk. A 90 year old man took a huge risk – by sharing a deeply personal regret. He asked me to find Joy, literally. What I did not realize at that time is that he was sending me along a life changing journey to find joy in my own life. He asked me to live my life with joy – he asked me to live, to be “closer to life”.
We have an obligation to live. We are here, so why the hell not?
It doesn’t happen often that I experience an interview where I cry…
Lately I have had a string of emotional interviews.
Scott Wise, founder of Scotty’s Brewhouse, THR3E WISE MEN Brewing Co, Scotty’s Dawghouse (Butler University students and fans are geeking out over this one, as it’s the first bar on campus in over 200 years!), cried while sharing his story of recovery from a brain infection. Scott was brought to tears again in the same conversation several minutes later as he described the amazing impact to his team by integrating people with special needs at his latest restaurant in Muncie (which has become a model for all of his restaurants).
In my prior blog post, I shared the story of Kim Dodson who runs The Arc of Indiana, providing a voice for people with special needs (and is directly connected with Scott Wise’s second round of tears).
Last week I interviewed Luke Canterbury and his family. Luke is “Boy of the Year” for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He’d been diagnosed with stage 4 Burkitt’s Lymphoma two years ago. When I asked him what it means to him to be Boy of the Year, Luke said, “It means I beat cancer.” (tissue, please!)
Then today I interviewed Luke’s pediatric physical therapist, Alissa Moody, who is running for “Woman of the Year” for the LLS. Alissa’s story begins with an uncle who passed from Leukemia shortly before she was born. Each year her family plants a tree in his honor and the row of trees is substantial. Alissa felt it was her duty to serve those with cancer to honor her uncle that she’s only been able to know through stories. Her uncle Randy was 19 when he died.
Alissa was also the PT for another young man, Michael Treinen. Michael passed away in 2008, just 6 days prior to his 20th birthday. Michael had an incredible spirit. He played three sports and insisted that a stationary bike be placed in his room at Riley Children’s Hospital during his treatment. Alissa was able to get Michael a bike, but it was rather shabby and had taped handles. Michael didn’t care, he rode it daily anyway. He’d vomit from his chemo treatments and get back on the bike to stay in shape. Alissa credits his devotion to exercise as his stress management, which kept Michael off of anti-depressants.
While on the bike, Michael was inspired to help ensure that every patient on the oncology and stem cell transplant units have access to an exercise bike. His mom, Kelly, is the Principal of Promise Road Elementary School, and started a weekly fundraising campaign where students and faculty would pay a dollar to wear jeans to school on Friday. These dollars allowed the Treinen family to help outfit Riley Hospital with a slew of new bikes that were used on the oncology unit and throughout the inpatient hospital at large. Michael’s full name is Michael Thomas Treinen, with the initials MTT. Each stationery bike was given a license plate saying, “Moving Through Treatment”, MTT, to honor Michael.
Alissa’s mom would repeatedly say how if her brother (Randy, the uncle who passed) had been around today, the treatments would have saved his life. Alissa isn’t so sure – as young children are lost in great numbers to Leukemia and Lymphoma.
Alissa now has two young children and has taken a hiatus from work to be with her kids. She is honored to be able to give back to the LLS through her Woman of the Year campaign for LLS. She was nominated by Kelly Treinen. Alissa didn’t hesitate to say “yes”. Her story will be the cover for the April issue of Broad Ripple Magazine.
As I write her story and wrap up Luke’s, a box of tissue sits beside me…