Sometimes messages come from the least expected places. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Bushnell where Maya Angelou presented stories and poems, inspiring her audience. One of the messages she left was that often we look outside of ourselves to find happiness. We are looking for someone, or something, to guide us and touch us, to inspire and motivate us. But, within each of us, we have the opportunity- the gift- to help others.
As a parent, I’m always searching for the balance for how to raise kids that are selfless, yet strong. Kind to others while building confidence in themselves. Open to diversity, yet disciplined and structured. You get the picture. But, it’s harder than it sounds- well, it is for me some days. But I keep striving.
So in striving- I share my stories with my children of how I learned these life lessons…you know, the “war stories.” Often, I get the glazed look and a lecture about how I worry too much or I’m being too sensitive. And I sigh and wonder if I’m getting through?
And then the lacrosse magazine shows up. Now anyone that knows me knows I love lacrosse. I like most sports, but I love lacrosse! Partly because it’s a fun sport. But, much of it is because of the good memories and lessons associated with the sport. I had the most amazing high school coach where I learned so many life lessons above and beyond being conditioned and the technical aspects of the sport. I’ll save those lessons for another day…back to the magazine.
I actually missed the magazine coming in this time, but my son picked it up. We’ve had many magazines (and other tools, of course) over the years trying to inspire! But, mostly we shake our heads if there’s not much interest, dust ourselves off and say, keep at it…you can’t give up. They’re listening…on some level, they’re listening. But tonight, my son brings the magazine to me. He finds an article that grabs his attention, the article about Mikey Stolzenberg.
Mikey Stolzenberg is a 12 year old lacrosse player. But not any lacrosse player. He lost his arms and legs at age 8 due to a rare disorder called Chronic Granulomatous Disease, a rare immune deficiency. But, Mikey and his parents have an incredible outlook on life! Mikey’s parents told him, “Your hands and feet do not define who you are.” From the moment he was hospitalized, they chose to fight and focus. They said, “All I want is all you’ve got” and used words like, “grateful.” I’m sure there has been grieving along the way, but it is clear- they live up to Mikey’s motto: Figure it Out!
The emotional fortitude and strong work ethic are admirable. What’s more, the prosthetics cost between $10,000-$100,000 and are not covered by insurance…and because he’s growing, he has to get fitted for new ones twice a year! So guess what else he’s learned, fundraising!
“Read this, Mom….you have to read this.” Later- “You really need to read this, Mom.” When a 13 year old boy comes to you twice and asks you to read something, you take it seriously. Boy am I glad I listened. Inspired by two boys. Wow! Hmmmm….who are the teachers and who are the students? Sometimes lessons come when and where we least expect it.