The Sunday Series (73), with Mark Brodinsky

Resiliency. It is the ability to overcome challenges of all kinds–trauma, tragedy, personal crises, plain ‘ole’ life problems–and bounce back stronger, wiser, and more personally powerful. It’s important because this is what we need to do when faced with life’s inevitable difficulties. (https://www.resiliency.com/what-is-resiliency/)

The way life comes at you, from all sides, it really is the only answer.  Face forward, fight, overcome and never give up.

I am Mark Brodinsky and this is The Sunday Series.


The Sunday Series (73): Eat, Pray, Love

dan and family

“My kids are very resilient. They have been my strength and my son dealing with his food allergies… they are just amazing. All my kids finished at the top of their class , they worked hard and they still work hard and I’m so proud of all of them. Daniel’s Dad would be so proud of him, how well he did this past year and a half, I was just feeling that pride when I wrote to you. So I just wanted to share, I was bursting with pride.” – Randy Berman Reisfeld

Pride is exactly what Randy was feeling when she reached out to me just a few weeks ago. Not only pride, but also to share her son’s story, one of great accomplishment for overcoming the hurdles to get where he is today.

Daniel Reisfeld recently finished his senior year as Valedictorian at Franklin High School in Reisterstown, Maryland. His speech centered around this one quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.”

I might add a line… never forget, everyone has a story.

This is an excerpt from Daniel’s speech that day:

            “Hard work and motivation is the key to success. I know that I would not be at the point I am today without the work ethic and motivation that I have.  And for that I would like to thank a few special people. First, I want to thank my teachers, who have motivated me in the classroom to be the best student that I can be.  I want to thank my friends, who when school became stressful, offered a break to uplift my spirits. I want to thank my mother, who always encouraged me to do my best at whatever I did and always offered her support. I want to thank my sisters, who are always there for me whenever I need anything. And lastly I want to thank my father, who although is no longer with us, has given me the utmost motivation to get to where I am today and make him proud.”

A moment of pride, a sense of accomplishment and deep reflection.

Just 18 months prior, Daniel lost part of his motivation and had to regain his momentum, when his Dad Bill Reisfeld passed away after complications from kidney surgery. So even before his grand moment up on stage, Daniel and his sisters had experienced deep sorrow, but it’s not the only challenge Daniel has faced head-on in life.

dan and dad

For nearly all of his life Daniel has faced an enemy, one which will never completely retreat. He can battle back, but he cannot defeat it, at least until some miracle of modern medicine is created. Daniel has severe food allergies.

From the time he was only ten months old Daniel and he had a severe reaction to his mom’s breast milk, it has been a constant in his life…his body’s aversion and severe allergic reaction to certain foods we all readily consume: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, peas, sesame, mustard and lentils. If he eats these, he can break out in hives, swell up, stop breathing…and without swift treatment… much worse.

Daniel is not alone, 15 million Americans have food allergies, including those at risk for life-threatening reactions. It means constantly being on watch for what foods you touch and those you consume. Food is life, but for those with severe allergies, it comes down to a simple equation, don’t eat what could potentially kill you.

Daniel’s mom Randy says when Daniel was first diagnosed it was an eye-opening event for the entire family: “I’m an occupational therapist”, says Randy. “I was working with special needs children and there was a child I was helping to care for who had food allergies. I thought how could someone be that allergic to food? But when Daniel was diagnosed I learned a lot. And over the past 18 years the awareness, support and information surrounding this has been amazing. And Daniel has been amazing.”

Randy says from the time Daniel could speak, he was on top of his game, making sure others knew he had to be careful: “I remember even at the kid birthday parties he would tell his friends to wash their hands just in case they had touched a food which would cause him harm. Every step has been a big one, from preschool through high school. I thought it might be an issue, because of the allergies, for Daniel to socialize or to play sports, but he has never let it hold him back.”

She continues, “he played football, basketball, and baseball. Daniel talked with the coaches and let them know his situation. He made sure his friends were aware. In high school everything revolves around food. Sometimes Daniel would eat beforehand and then go out with his friends. He also joined the youth group, BBYO, (B’nai Brith Youth Organization), and his chapter friends would make sure they would eat at the places where Daniel could as well.”

dan bbyo

But some challenges seemed to big to overcome. Randy says Daniel never went to sleep away camp because she didn’t know how they would be able to feed him there. But with BBYO, there were overnight conventions Daniel wanted to attend, especially one in Dallas, Texas. She says she didn’t know how Daniel could possibly make the trip, but he really wanted to go, so he convinced her he would take his own sandwiches and his “safe” foods. Daniel made it work and Randy says he had the “best time”.

Daniel became President of his BBYO chapter and attended a leadership program at Capital Camps, a program which ran for three weeks, all that time away from home. Randy says if she knew now what is possible, compared to what she knew years ago, then Daniel could have easily attended sleep away camp, but the prevent defense kept her from letting him do too much on his own.

Daniel’s constant companions are two epinephrine (adrenaline) injectors, more commonly called “epipens”, an inhaler and Benadryl. Epinephrine is a medication that can reverse the severe symptoms of anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. The flood of chemicals released by your immune system during anaphylaxis can cause you to go into shock; your blood pressure drops suddenly and your airways narrow, blocking normal breathing. In short, not treated properly in a timely fashion, the person can die.

Randy says on two or three occasions Daniel has had to use the epipen, including once when he ate pancakes he did not know were made with milk. He started having trouble breathing and started to swell, his airways closing. Daniel used the epipen and then followed “standard procedure”. This procedure after use of a epipen is to call 9-1-1 and take a trip to the emergency room for monitoring, mainly because of the secondary reaction, which can occur hours later and prove fatal. Just last year a 13-year-old girl  with a peanut allergy  went into anaphylactic shock and died after eating a nighttime snack at a California camp, (http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/health-and-medicine/article2596198.html).

Death from food allergies is not a common occurrence, but how many events in life which leave us all in shock are ever planned? So Daniel, just like millions of others with these allergies, must constantly be on alert.  Don’t touch, don’t eat, be aware.

When Daniel was younger Randy says he sat at a nut-free table in school, until he wanted to be with his friends. His friends learned to be careful, right along with Daniel, though there were a few instances of taunting, and one instance in high school sports, where as a prank, someone put crushed peanut butter crackers in Daniel’s locker. The family got the school involved, Daniel’s coaches involved and all was resolved. It’s no joke – a prank could prove fatal.

But situations like those are few and far between and Randy says Daniel’s closest friends are just incredibly supportive and accommodating.

dan and friends

Daniel is the biggest advocate on his own behalf. And as the best of the best always do, Daniel has overcome and refused to let his food allergies stop his forward progress. He has excelled in sports and academics.

dan playing sports

I see it fitting to let Daniel wrap up this story with his words.  I can’t think of a better way to end then with another excerpt from Daniel’s valedictorian commencement speech to his senior class. It takes someone with vision to lead, nothing worthwhile has ever been accomplished by those who think small. Daniel Reisfeld has decided to live the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson and encourage others to go in life “where there is no path and to leave a trail”:

“Tonight, we stop being followers and become leaders, forming trails that others will come to follow. Yes, I know that it may seem easy to take that first job you find, hold back your belief against a majority, or keep a genius idea tucked in your imagination. But is this the best that you can do?  Why take that first job you find, when you have the ability to be an entrepreneur of your own company? Why hold back your beliefs, when you can speak out and lobby to congress and create change? Why keep that genius idea tucked in your head, when you can help it become a reality and save millions of lives? All of these things are possibilities.  You just have to go for them.

Class of 2015, we are at a crossroads. We are now high school graduates and we all have unique opportunities that we can pursue.  Each of us has to decide in what direction we are going, and what opportunities we will take.  Are we going to take the easy path with markings all along it, or are we going to venture off the path and find out what else is possible? We are all capable of great things, but it is up to us whether we get to the place we want.  Like I said earlier, we are now the sole authors of our book and it is up to us to determine how far our stories may go. Be followed, don’t be a follower. Do what you want to do, even if means going off the beaten path.

Thank you and congratulations to all.”

dan speech

Until next time, thanks for taking the time.
Mark

(To learn more about food allergies and for support, tools and resources visit: https://www.foodallergy.org/)

Mark Brodinsky, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Emmy Winner, USHEALTH  Advisors
(http://www.ushagent.com/markbrodinsky)

Author, The #1 Amazon Best-Seller: It Takes 2. Surviving Breast Cancer: A Spouse’s Story
(http://www.spouses-story.com/)

Feedback and ideas are always welcome! Leave a comment, or suggestion on the blog, reach out on social media, or send an e-mail to markbrodinsky@gmail.com

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End Of Your Nose: It’s Just About… Life

girl smell flower isolated on white background

The nose knows.

If you only get as far as the end of it, you’re not really accomplishing much at all. What the heck does that mean? It all comes down to you, the conversation you have with yourself, your perception of others and your goals. Your nose knows.

Read this:

“If you get the feeling or belief that you can’t make a mistake or that everybody is always successful, you won’t let yourself do things you’re capable of doing, or you set your goals so close to the end of your nose that they’re easily attainable. You never stretch to be what you’re capable of being. You need confidence or reassurance that you can attain the vision and reach the goal even when you don’t have the slightest idea how you’re going to get there at the outset.

How do you change your self-image? By controlling and changing your self-talk. Language has power over behavior. If you control your self-talk, you can use your subconscious to help you achieve your goals.”

The excerpt above is from, Smart Talk for Achieving Your Potential, by Lou Tice.  And it’s all about getting past the easy goals right at the end of your nose. It’s about stretching to go much, much further then you ever thought you could by changing the way you talk to yourself and your self-image, compared to who and where you are now – NOT COMPARED TO OTHERS.

Comparison to others is the thief of all joy. No one is perfect and just as Lou Tice says in that excerpt, if you allow yourself to think that way, that others simply have what you don’t, or do what you can’t, then you are finished before you even start.

That is until you have a smart conversation with yourself.

Get your head in the game – the word game and use words to overcome your brain’s core function: survival. Your brain has just one goal in mind, to make sure you survive, at the most basic levels. It doesn’t know what is positive or negative, it only knows what you feed it. It can only see what is at the end of your nose and then decide whether what it senses is safe, or dangerous and then make you act accordingly.

Taking risks, finding your why, reaching your potential means you need to feed your brain positive food – self talk.

I’ve lived it and continue to live it every day, for life is a journey, the only final destination is death. To get past my own challenge of stuttering, which was holding me back from my goals and dreams years ago, I had to feed my mind positive self-talk, the words, images and vision of seeing myself succeeding in situations which before I thought there was no way I could accomplish. Working on this changed the direction of my life – I faced my fears head on, and built a new reality – I got to be on live TV for ten years, a dream I had as a kid and one I thought was never possible. I became an author/blogger/speech writer and now do live speaking engagements. I’m in sales for god’s sake – talking with people every day about health insurance and using words which for most of my life I thought there was no way would ever come out of my mouth – in place of those words I would chose silence and avoidance.

Not anymore. I’ve trained my brain to overcome, I’ve trained my mind to think big, I’ve worked to face my fears and to prove to myself every day that “I can”. I am a stutterer but you would never know it, because I rarely think about it or show it – my self-talk and my self-image say otherwise. And as Lou Tice explains, “Whatever you repeatedly tell yourself with your own self-talk determines your beliefs and self-image, which affect your behavior. You become like that which you think about.”

So what about you? It’s your turn. It’s always your turn because there is no perfect time, remember we are on a journey and the train never stops until you reach the station – the end of life. The ride speeds up, it slows down, it gets off track and then it crosses back. Where are you going? What do you want to do? What are your dreams? And what are you telling yourself, what is the conversation in your head? What do you say when you talk to yourself?

Change the conversation and change your life. Look past the end of your nose and see your potential, then go out and live it.

Until next time, thanks for taking the time.
Mark

Mark Brodinsky, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Emmy Winner, USHEALTH Advisors (http://www.ushagent.com/markbrodinsky)

Author: The #1 Amazon Best-Seller: It Takes 2. Surviving Breast Cancer: A Spouse’s Story
(http://www.spouses-story.com/)

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Seize Your Dream: It’s Just About… Life

ushealth

We must move toward our dreams, they will not move toward us.
– Troy McQuagge, President & CEO, USHEALTH Advisors

OK. So what is your dream?

Have you taken the time to think about it? If so, have you taken steps to pursue it? If not, what are you waiting for? The right moment? It doesn’t exist. A sign? There is none. Timing? Last time I looked the clock was moving forward, are you?

We all have dreams, everyone does. It’s a matter of realizing your dream, your vision, and a thought process to get you where you want to go. Moving that dream from your mind, to paper, to strategy, to action, that’s the difference. There’s dreaming…and then there’s doing.

So what are you going to do about it? After spending a week with the best-of-the-best in Los Cabos, at a meeting for USHEALTH Advisors, it’s easy to see you are set up for success, so the only missing ingredient in the recipe for your better future, is action.

The goal is always to take away at least one thing you learned from your time spent listening to ideas and best practices which can propel your career forward. Sometimes it’s the smallest tweak, the one adjustment, the tiniest change in your strategy which can move you from good to great. Or in some cases, help you simply get you up off the mat and move in the direction of your dream.

Listening to Troy McQuagge speak at this week’s event, the one takeaway I am using to move forward is this: Be different. Never forget you/we are different. Live it, breathe it, share it.

Troy said:  “There is so much power in differentiation. There is no advantage to simply following the herd.”

Rarely have truer words been spoken. Being different, with a purpose, leads to absolutely incredible results for all involved. Think Apple and Steve Jobs. Think Under Armour and Kevin Plank. Heck, think of the light bulb and Thomas Edison. These people thought differently and have helped light the way for others.

People, including your prospective health insurance clients, love what’s different, as long as it is in their best interest. They don’t want to hear how you are just like everyone else, they don’t want to hear this is more of the same, they don’t want to listen to you clobber the competition. What they really want to do is to share their story, they want you to truly listen, (because most people don’t listen, they just talk, remember BE DIFFERENT), and then they want to learn how your unique approach can help them improve their situation. Change their lives and your life is transformed as well.

You are part of a unique culture at USHEALTH Advisors, where the Agent is King, where the people at the top, your leaders, spend their time thinking about how you can better serve your clients with new and innovative products and strategies. Help your clients to improve their lives and in turn help you to improve yours. For in the end, it’s the client that matters. Help Other People Everyday and then watch what happens as the universe conspires on your behalf. It’s not magic, but do it often enough, do it consistently and it will certainly start to feel like something magical is happening.

Be different. It works. If you don’t believe me, if you don’t believe Troy, then believe Lou Tice, author of Smart Talk For Achieving Your Potential:

“The only difference between average and high-performance people – those who constantly seem to get the breaks – is that they see more because they think differently. As you change the way you think, you change the way you are.”

It takes way less effort than you think to change one thing about yourself which in turn transforms you and your practice.

The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is one small word. 

Extra. 

The extra call, the extra appointment, the extra drop-by, the extra networking event, the extra trade show, the extra effort to listen, not only to those around you, but when you are face-to-face with your future, or current client. Listen, truly listen and it all becomes easy. Commit to doing one thing different today. Start now.

As Troy said, “When your purpose becomes bigger than your problems and your determination becomes bigger than your fear, then you have a real shot! The only reason we can’t accomplish something is because of the limitations we place on ourselves. Go big or go home.”

So which way do you go? Going home is comfort, familiarity and security.  It’s all nice and easy, but no one ever did anything remotely interesting, or special, by taking the easy road. Those who forge a path for the rest of us, as you can do for yourself and your clients, is by doing the hard work. You know what is hard…to be different, to be consistent, to truly care for the outcome of other people’s lives. Be different, make a difference, then stand back and watch what happens.

It’s the mission, the vision of USHEALTH Advisors: Helping Other People Everyday. You know how that begins? By helping yourself to get better, to get in the game, to get out there, to share your message.

To Seize Your Dream.

Until next time, thanks for taking the time.

Mark

Mark Brodinsky, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Emmy Winner, USHEALTH Advisors
(http://www.ushagent.com/markbrodinsky)

HOPE-Public-SKeretz-LG-0515

Author: The #1 Amazon Best-Seller: It Takes 2. Surviving Breast Cancer: A Spouse’s Story
(http://www.spouses-story.com/)

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The (Father’s Day) Sunday Series, with Mark Brodinsky

fathers-day

If there’s one thing that never goes out of style, it’s gratitude. Being grateful for what you have, it’s pretty simple.

With this in mind, on this Father’s Day, I have decided to repost a blog from two years ago about the meaning of this special day for me, because sometimes the story is personal.  And it’s living proof the more things change, the more they stay the same.


The Sunday Series: A Father’s Day Reflection
(Originally published June 2013, Revised Today :))

“And I’ve done all I can, to stand on her steps with my heart in my hand.”
 – lyrics to Daughters, by John Mayer

For me, and I’m sure for most Dads, it’s the most dangerous place in the world, a father’s heart. It’s not easy to go there, because it’s about as deep as it gets.. the very center of my, or of any father’s soul.

Yes, I know it’s Father’s Day, a day for my girls to show their appreciation to me (if I’m lucky). But I wanted to take a shot at turning the tables, and reflecting on them, on what any Dad must feel on a day like today.

girls by the shore

“On behalf of every man, looking out for every girl,
you are the God and the weight of her world.”

John Mayer and the lyrics to his song Daughters hit about as close to home as you can get, especially today. Look, it’s my responsibility to watch out for them, to make sure they are provided for, to make sure they are OK. But the crazy thing is this, I’ve spent more than a dozen years of my life, and will spend many more years still, trying to build a fortress around their hearts, trying to guard them against what life will send their way, to save their hearts from ever being broken.

But since the day they were born, since the moment they took their first breath, my girls have been breaking mine down, every laugh, every tear, every hug makes my heart softer, to the point that it is now the most vulnerable part of my being. I would imagine for most Dad’s, whether it’s daughter or son, the heart is forever transformed.

girls in cart

I can only hope  my girls will forever look back and view me, their Dad, as their first love. If I do my job right as a father, I hope my daughters will love like I do and seek out someone who might love them even half as much as I. It won’t be an easy task, because I love them to the moon and back. Actually, it’s bigger then that… how about to the Milky Way and back. Even that might not be deep enough. But if I’m lucky, one day they’ll find someone who can come close.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I actually wrote this blog two days ago, on Friday night, after a full day with the family, as we vacationed near Cancun, Mexico. Earlier in the day, we rented a Waverunner and my girls took turns riding with me. One at a time I took them speeding through the ocean, hearing and feeling them laugh and enjoying every second, every spray of water, every jump over the waves. As they took their turn each of the girls had their arms wrapped tightly around my waist, holding on as we sped through the water. It was exhilaration, with a touch of fear, showing them we could push the envelope but still make it back to the shore safe and sound.

girls on beach

It’s just like life should be, and what I try to teach the girls. Push yourself a little further than you think you can go, feel a little fear, but never fear to fail. Take chances, go for what you want with all you’ve got inside you.  Face your fear and keep riding the waves.

“Girls become lovers who turn into Mothers,
So Mothers be good to your daughters too.”

One day that will happen too. Their mom, my wife Debbie, sets the bar high as an example for my girls to follow.

And as their father, I now get it. I can see the future and what it would be like for my girls to carry on, to see the legacy continue, a piece of me, of my wife, brought to life inside the soul of the next generation. It’s parenthood coming full circle. Life’s greatest reward.

the fam

In the meantime, “I’ll stand on the stairs with my heart in my hand.” And I’ll love my girls like there’s no tomorrow.

Sophie and Emily, thanks for giving me life’s greatest honor.

I love you both, to the Milky Way and back.

girls b and w

All My Love,
Daddy

Mark Brodinsky, Father, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Emmy Winner
USHEALTH Advisors, (http://www.ushagent.com/markbrodinsky)

Author: The #1 Amazon Best-Seller: It Takes 2. Surviving Breast Cancer: A Spouse’s Story
(http://www.spouses-story.com/)

For ideas, comments or suggestions for The Sunday Series, e-mail: markbrodinsky@gmail.com

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