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How Lucky We Are

O, to be able to walk without concern, to have good vision, to be able to lift things, to throw a ball, or to traverse stairs

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An occurrence two summers ago awakened me to a profound insight. I’m in the airport in Raleigh, North Carolina minutes away from boarding a flight to New York City.

Hopping down the long airport hallway is a young lady with a deeply pained look on her face. She is on crutches, not the kind you often see for a broken leg, the kind that you use with your wrists. This young lady is missing her right leg, not a little, like above the knee, or halfway above the knee. She is missing ALL of her right leg. She is wearing black tights and, it is apparent, her leg has been severed, right across the top.

There But for the Grace of God…

She is too young to have been in the military. Her left leg is toned, athletic, and shapely. You easily can discern that she was some type of athlete – is some type of athlete: in skiing, soccer, possibly track and field. I’m guessing she’s somewhere between age 18 and 20, perhaps 22 at the most.

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She is ‘model’ beautiful, not unlike a young Kim Basinger or Michelle Pfeiffer. The expression on her face tells me that she has not been in this condition long, and has not done a lot of traveling as of late. I sense that this is her first airport trip, alone, since the operation.

While everyone else in the airport ‘manages’ to not notice her, I decide I will look straight at her and smile. As she passes, however, she is forward-focused. She does not see me… or maybe, peripherally she does. Subconsciously, maybe, she receives it – one tiny ray of sunshine in a world of utter despair. While she didn’t appear to notice, I hope perhaps that some minute level of cosmic healing occurred.

The Shock, and the Horror

I surmise that she had bone cancer. I mentally run through what might be the sequence of events: Her leg is very sore, for weeks or perhaps a few months. She and her parents go in for a diagnosis, they’re called back later, and the doctor offers the dreaded diagnosis, she is going to lose her leg. This can’t be accurate. This must be a mistake. Is there no alternative? Finally, she slumps back in her chair, as do her parents, reeling from the shock and the coming horror.

Not only her parents, grandparents, and cousins, but her friends, classmates, teachers, coaches, and anyone in her circle, share in this misfortune. They will know the difference in who she was, her prowess, her silhouette, her very being, before and after. It’s likely that the nature of her relationships with everyone she’s known shifts, subtly or dramatically.

If she’s 22, or less, that likely means 55 years or more of life in this condition. Hereafter, every TV commercial she ever sees about fashions, shaving your legs, hiking, anything that has to do with being bipedal, will be a reminder, as will every time she opens up a woman’s magazine or almost any magazine.

Casual No More

Go on a casual bike ride? No way. Participate in a golf outing? Not a chance. Play miniature golf? Attend dances? Visit the gym? Take a zumba class? Go on a hike? Spend a day at the beach? If she’s going to drive a car, it will require modified rigging. Wherever she lives will have to be carefully configured: The bathtub or shower, everything will have to be logistically correct.

Anytime she buys shoes, it’ll only be to use one shoe. When she buy socks, she gets a two-for-one deal that she’d rather not have. Any pants, shorts, and other clothing all likely will serve as reminders of her condition.

Even if she achieves peace of mind for herself and is mentally and emotionally acclimated to her condition, every time she steps out into the world of 7.7 billion two-legged people, she’ll undoubtedly encounter dozens if not hundreds of others who look away, or look with pity, and don’t know what to say, what to do, or how to respond.

In my 800+ flights, occasionally I’ve seen one-legged military veterans and older people, as you have, with various prosthetics. They are ambulatory, they get around. With the nature of her condition, how are specialists going to fashion any kind of device for her to walk on her own? (Later, I discover that, thankfully, it can be done.)

This particular young lady, being so beautiful, will attract a mate if she doesn’t already have one. Some young man will decide that he will be her life-time champion. She will likely have children and, mercifully, from infancy with their one-legged mom, as they grow-up it will be the family norm.

What about the less attractive one-leggers? Or, young kids who, from an early age, are not able-bodied? What about burn victims… those who underneath it all scream out “see me,” “see the real me,” not just the scar tissue?

The Firefly

At a convention dinner many years ago, a woman sat next to me. She was burned on at least 80% of her body, including all of her face. When she first sat down, I felt a sense of dread. What would I say? Yet, by the end of the meal, I could see her.

She told me her story. She and her fiancé were flying to the Caribbean when their small plane crashed and burst into flames. He died. She lived, but with 80% burns and in rehabilitation for years. I learned that her email address included the word ‘Firefly’ and that today, she is a speaker – a motivational speaker.

…Weeks pass and I recall seeing the young lady in the airport. Does she think back about her earlier life, an existence that will never be the same? Or, more accurately, does she ever not think about it? Going forward, will there be a day in her life when she truly knows peace? At 32, or 42 will conditions be any better for her? Will the world’s fixation on youth and appearance diminish?

When she goes to sleep at night, and lies on that horizontal plane, and finally nods off, does that bring her a sense of peace? Does she dream of running through open meadows or dancing ‘til the wee hours? Even so, she has to arise in the morning, and it all starts again.

This summer, for days on end, after I saw her, I looked at young women and young men everywhere – in shorts, in bathing suits – and thought to myself, you don’t know how lucky you are. Who among us would not be totally humbled? I thought about how lucky I’ve been, and how lucky most of us have been, at least for most of our lives.

Without a Second Thought

O, to be able to walk without concern. To have good vision, to be able to lift things, to throw a ball, to traverse stairs, or to do nearly anything that we seek to do without a second thought. In my entire life, I don’t think I have ever been as mindful as I am right now as to my highly fortunate existence.

In so many respects, we are all lucky.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Faith

From Mental Illness and a Cult to Christian Ministry and Political Office

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A young man turned his life around after getting involved in a cult and suffering from schizophrenia, and now later in life is a leader in Christian ministry and running for Phoenix City Council. Nick Griemsmann has gone through a lot, but through the grace of God he was able to turn his life around and now helps others. He recently wrote an autobiography called Becoming God’s Friend

Griemsmann wasn’t raised as a Christian, and having trauma as a young boy no doubt set in motion some bad things. He developed addictions and dropped out of high school. He found a job working as a bartender at Barcelona’s, a nightclub in Scottsdale, Arizona, but realized after a while that the party lifestyle was unfulfilling.

But he then went to the other extreme, deciding to become a monk. His attempt failed, as he ended up walking around hot and thirsty in the New Mexico desert, never making it to the monastery. The onset of schizophrenia was starting. 

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However, he still yearned in his heart for God. When he was 22, he found a flyer on his car from Tony Alamo Christian Ministries. It said they provide a place for people to stay, which sold him. He called and spoke to a woman there on the phone, who prayed for him during their conversation. He could feel something changing inside of him that was supernatural. However, they wanted him to move to Arkansas, and his parents warned him that it was a cult. 

He moved anyway and it was the beginning of a deep, dark experience. He was taught that if he ever left that ministry, it would blasphemy the Holy Spirit, which can never be forgiven, and he would go to hell. They said his family and friends were “of the devil” and instructed him to cut them off. 

Alamo claimed he was one of the final two witnesses written about in the book of Revelation. His teachings were so disturbing, frequently focused on hell, that Griemsmann would see people shaking while listening to his messages. Cult members were required to attend church every night. Griemsmann started having spiritual hallucinations, likely brought on by a lack of sleep from the rigorous work schedule, which consisted substantially of long hours placing flyers on cars. 

He eventually tried to leave the cult, and voices in his head told him to loudly pray at the airport, which he did until the police took him to a mental hospital. Another time the voices told him to take his clothes off in public if he wasn’t ashamed of Jesus, which he did. During this time, a psychiatrist told him that he would be catatonic in 10 years and had no hope for recovery. 

Finally, God intervened in his life, and he was able to leave the cult for good and seek treatment. He became involved with several regular churches in Phoenix, and eventually felt a spiritual force leave him. With the help of his family and supporters, he weaned off all medication for schizophrenia in 2007 despite the fact that he was told that it was incurable. He found a job helping others with the exact type of mental health problems he’d gone through. As for Alamo, he was eventually prosecuted for the sexual exploitation of women and girls and died in federal prison.

Griemsmann started a ministry called The Father’s Friends. He wrote a book called Defeating Mental Illness about his journey, which did well and he was invited on large Christian TV shows to talk about it. 

He learned that “letting go of carrying the burdens of others is vital to one’s own emotional well being.” He also discovered that “Individuals do not end up with a big issue like schizophrenia randomly. It usually has been built inside the person over time through continued lies, trauma, substance abuse, etc.”

His interesting journey continued, taking a trip to Juarez, Mexico, with others and discovering through prayer that some people experienced the miracles of healing. He became an assistant pastor in Phoenix. He started livestreaming street evangelism in Harlem, New York and Europe.

Later on, he traveled to remote villages in Pakistan, where his team prayed to heal people miraculously. He did big events ministering in Kenya, where he continued to preach the Gospel and pray for sick people. Some reported healings of what he used to have, schizophrenia. 

Griemsmann talks about the negative aspects of life that he’s had to learn to deal with and overcome as “Misters.” For example, Mr. Condemnation keeps a person stuck in negative mindsets and emotions, inside a spiritual prison. He makes you feel like you are never good enough for God or anyone. Others include Mr. Discouragement, Mr. Self-Righteous, Mr. Fear, Mr. Anxiety, Mr. Lust, Mr. Addiction, Mr. Mental Illness, Mr. Rejection and Mr. Anger.

What worked for him was not focusing on the bad, like making a list of all your sins. Instead, he focuses on spiritual freedom, and teaches others to look for the good, since the fruits of the Spirit are positive attributes; love, joy, peace, kindness, etc.

Griemsmann’s journey has now taken him into politics, taking on incumbent Democrat Phoenix City Councilman Carlos Garcia in District 8. Although the district leans heavily Democrat, it’s a nonpartisan race and Garcia has a hostile relationship with Phoenix Police. When Garcia was pulled over by the police for driving a car with suspended license plates, he tried to intimidate the police by pulling rank. Political consultant Stan Barnes told KNXV that “the councilman is anti-police officer, and he’s playing it out in real time for all of us to see.”

Griemsmann wants to represent everyone, and says, “I am a supporter of the Phoenix police.” Due to his background with not only overcoming schizophrenia and his vast ministry experience, but also his past career as an administrator in behavioral healthcare, he can be a real champion for solving homelessness, community safety, healthcare, education, and helping the incarcerated transition back into society.   

 

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Education

When America Loses THIS, It Loses Everything

We are in a battle for the soul of our country. And that battle is over truth.

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We are in a battle for the soul of our country. And that battle is over truth. Truth must be the foundation of everything that we believe, honor, value, and esteem. If we don’t know what truth is, how can we stand for America? The left is at war with the truth and tries to reposition what it is that we believe to be true so that they can change society. We must stand for truth. PolitiCrosssing founder Chris Widener expands on the need to fight for truth in the short video below.

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