The Sunday Series (76), with Mark Brodinsky

It’s life. You live it – or at least you try – and when faced with circumstances which appear to go beyond what most others have to deal with, you take what is in your control and give it everything you’ve got. It’s all you can do and live with the knowledge that you tried your best, so win or lose, it is a life for which you can be proud.

Everyone has a story and this is The Sunday Series.


The Sunday Series (76): Borrowed Life

“Hi I’m Mia. I,m 45 years old and currently living in Maryland. I have a beautiful daughter (Alhea) and am loving every second of my life. Everyday is beautiful to me.” Those are the first few sentences of Mia McDonald’s website. Life is beautiful, because Mia lives it in gratitude, awareness and appreciation that each of us, as she believes, is on borrowed time.

Mia was looking, as she says in her own words, “extra pretty” on the morning of February 7th, 2007. She was wearing a brand new sweater she had just purchased, and a new heavy coat. A native of the Philippines, Mia had come to America just a few years earlier and only six months ago she had earned the right to drive, having obtained her license from the MVA in Maryland. But Mia was still restricted from driving downtown to work at her job at TransAmerica, so she drove instead to a light rail stop at BWI airport near her home and caught the train into Baltimore.

Mia says the light rail stop was rarely crowded and on this day there might have been only one or two people waiting for the train. She got out of her car with her coffee and her pocketbook and was talking to her sister on the phone. Mia’s sister called her every morning to make sure Mia made it to the train stop safely, just checking in as any loving sibling might do. The train arrived around 7am each work day, and on this day Mia could see the train in the distance so she told her sister she had to end the call and get to the other side of the tracks so she could hop on the light rail.

Usually Mia did hop, right over the tracks, ignoring the pedestrian walkway to get to the side where the riders stood to wait for the light rail train to arrive. But on this cold February morning, following a snowfall the previous night, Mia decided to do it right and take the approved “safe” path to cross the tracks. Carrying her coffee and her bag Mia made her way to the walkway. She could still see the train far approaching, but it was still far enough away in the distance for her to cross the tracks – it’s the last thing Mia remembers before waking up in the ambulance.

“When I woke up I thought I was just taking a nap on the train, but why was it not stopping? I looked up and realized someone was cutting off my new clothes.  I asked the woman sitting next to me why and she told me, ‘you got hit by the light rail train’. That’s all she said. Then I passed out again.”

mia injured 2

Lucky for Mia the train was slowing down and approaching the station when it hit her. Although for Mia the details are still sketchy she knows she was dragged by the train a short distance, her right foot caught underneath. For five days the doctors at University of Maryland Shock Trauma did the best they could to save the toes on that foot, doing multiple surgeries and skin graphs. But in the end even the doctors had to admit there would be no way to save them all. They told Mia two or three of her toes were so badly damaged there was only a 50/50 chance the others could survive without the risk of severe infection.

The decision was made to amputate half of Mia’s right foot. Her broken pelvis, fractured ribs and the rest of her bruised and battered body would have to heal on its own.

A few weeks at Shock Trauma, a week in intensive rehab and then home for more than a month of in-home rehabilitation, it would be up to Mia to accept her new fate and to walk again.

mia foot

“I never realized it would be so difficult to walk without my toes”, says Mia. All my weight depended on my left foot, my right foot was almost useless, I couldn’t do anything without my left foot. It was really hard to accept at the time. I can’t believe I lost my toes, and realize my whole life was affected. When I started trying to walk I had so much trouble, leaning on the wall, not wanting to try. The nurse came to help me in my home and at first I was scared of her because she was tough, but it turns out in a good way. She said to me, ‘If you don’t want to walk you will be classified as disabled, but you are NOT disabled.’ She encouraged me to walk, pushed me to do it, she was excellent.”

Mia needed the encouragement. She still had an 11-year-old daughter to help raise. Mia had moved in with her sister, not far from her home. Her daughter Alhea was still living back at the house with her father, so she could stay in school while her mom went through rehab. Mia says when Alhea came to visit she hid her emotions from her, wanting her daughter to be OK. “I didn’t show her how I felt most of the time”, Mia said. “So if I cried I cried in the bathroom, making sure Alhea couldn’t see.”

mia and daughter

Mia was given eight months of partial disability time (and checks) from her job at TransAmerica and knowing she had a deadline to get back to work she worked hard on her comeback.  After a few months in a wheelchair, she learned to walk again with a special boot and she took a course to learn to drive with her left foot, passing a special test which qualified her as a partially disabled driver. She wanted to make sure she retained her freedom and NOT rely on others to transport her around.

During this time Mia also realized she needed to give back. She applied and was accepted to serve as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, to help rebuild, or build homes for the less fortunate. Mia also did some work with her mother who served as a caregiver for Sunrise Assisted Living. Mia realized from her own experience how important it is to have someone to help you when you are in need – and loved caring for others – especially the seniors trying to make their way through the late stages of life.

habitat mia and senior

Mia applied to open her own home care business but was eventually turned down, not having the resources to make it happen. But her spirit and her desire to do more than simply live out life without making a difference was not to be deterred. She was upset with her setback to open the home care business but still felt like she could “make something happen.”

Then something did. Sometimes it’s the simplest thing, an awareness of what is around you, the desire in your heart, the quest and thirst to become more which makes you take notice of something which has been there all along. For Mia it was the article on her wall at work. Mia says: “I came to work (at Transamerica) that day with my boot on and that morning I was really tired after I delivered the mail all over the building. My leg is hurting so bad. I sat down and looked up at the article on the wall that said life is borrowed. I was feeling sorry for myself. I wish my toes had not been cut off, I wish I was not working this type of job and going through all of this and when I read that title again that life is borrowed it touched my heart and my head – why am I complaining? I am still alive!”

I took the phrase and I simply reversed it to Borrowed Life. I had some shirts embroidered with that phrase and people started taking notice and asking where they could get one. I enrolled in a course for women entrepreneurs in Baltimore and after three months of extensive training I graduated with a business entity: Borrowed Life.

borrowed life shirts

The phrase has meaning to Mia of course, but she tells a story which validates its deep meaning to others as well.

On the last day of her class each student was required to give a presentation about their business with a trio of visitors in attendance. On this day it was the Vice-President of Sun Trust Bank (where Mia has her car loan), a higher-up at State Farm Insurance (where Mia has her car and home insurance) and one of the directors of the Maryland Transportation Authority (the same state organization that oversees operation of the light rail trains, it was one of those trains which changed Mia’s life!).  For Mia the coincidence was almost surreal. She says despite her challenge with the English language to explain her story and her business idea,  she could tell each person was interested, except for the VP of Sun Trust Bank who paid little attention.

After the final day of class Mia reached out to all three individuals by e-mail to thank them for coming. All replied back to her, except for the VP from Sun Trust Bank. But after a few months Mia got an e-mail from the gentleman. The reason he had not responded – he had been rushed to the hospital where doctors found a blood clot in is brain, they had to open him up and remove it. Suddenly the same person who had ignored Mia’s Borrowed Life business thought it was a great idea, he said he could relate to it and offered her the opportunity for funding.

Another borrowed life coming full circle.

borrowed life apparel

While Mia continues to work her job at a pharmaceutical company and continues her volunteer work at Habitat for Humanity she is actively pushing to get Borrowed Life, her mission and her message out to the masses. There is apparel and accessories which can be purchased starting this October at (http://www.borrowedlife.org/) and Mia hopes this could become a worldwide business. But whatever the outcome the lesson learned is clear.

www.borrowedlife.org

www.borrowedlife.org

“I learned we don’t have any protection in life”, says Mia. “Anything you can see, or touch, or feel, even our own lives are not ours – it is crystal clear that anything can be taken from you in a second. My hope for the business is that this phrase really gets people to pay attention to learn and realize what are the most important things in their lives. Look in the mirror and you can sense it. Life is not perfect, we all have obstacles and challenges, but everything is temporary.”

So take Mia’s advice, borrow the best you can from your own life and then go out and make a difference.

mia profile

Until next time, thanks for taking the time

Mark

Mark Brodinsky, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Emmy Award Winner, Field Sales Leader for USHEALTH Advisors
(http://www.prweb.com/releases/markbrodinsky/072015/prweb12862708.htm)

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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Words Need Action: It’s Just About… Life

actions-speak

Words have great power. I’ve witnessed it time and time again when you hear something powerful, read something wonderful, write something meaningful. Words can change emotions, touch your heart, turn your mind in a different direction. Two years ago I created a post on this blog about this very topic:
(http://markbrodinsky.com/words-its-just-about-life/)

But it’s time for an update. Because even with the world’s greatest, most moving, inspiring and meaningful words there can be one thing missing when you hear them, say them, or write them.

The missing ingredient is action.

Without action the words ring hollow, kind of hanging out there in space, floating in thin air, ready,waiting to make magic, if only you would act on them.

Even inspiring words like:
For things to change, you have to change.
If you want more than you’ve got, you must become more than you are.
For things to get better, you have to get better.

Those words make you stop and think, maybe in ways you haven’t before, and they are powerful, but put into action they can be life-changing.  Within those powerful written words there is the call to action: you have to change, you must become more than you are, you have to get better.

It’s not easy, if it was everyone would do it.  Reading the words is part of it, hearing them spoken is part of it, writing them down makes them real, but nothing replaces doing them. Nothing can replace the act of working toward what you want, nothing replaces the act of showing respect, nothing replaces the act of giving all the love you can and that someone else deserves.

I’ve learned as a blogger, as an author, as a speaker, as an insurance sales agent and team leader, as a father and as a husband, for others to believe you can’t just say it, you have to show it,. You must be consistent, be bold, lead by example, be engaged, show compassion, and show love. Even as I write these words I know there are times I fall short, that I am speaking, but not always showing the example, talking, but not always engaging, writing, but not always following through. I also know I am big enough to admit that it is always a work in progress, that you must turn the words into the actions that make a difference, especially in the lives of other people, for when you do, your own life is transformed.

I also know it because when I do it right, I can see the amazing results and if I fall short, then others and in turn myself, are not better off. It’s so obvious, so apparent between the incredible transformation for others and for yourself when you do it right and the mundane, hollow feelings when you don’t, that how could you ever consider missing the mark? Yet we do. I know I do sometimes, after all we are human.

I ask the question of anyone reading this – are you consistent? Do you say what you mean and mean what you say? Do you turn words into “reality”, something tangible you can feel, and others can receive and hold you accountable? We are not perfect. The ultimate goal in life is productivity, to constantly strive to become more than you ever imagined and to live up to your potential. In order to do that you’ve got to give depth to your thoughts, goals and dreams by turning the words you say, speak or write into the one thing that will move other people and in turn enact change in your own life: action.

To Love,to  serve, to care. Take those words, think them, say them, write them down. Then go out and do the one thing which turn those powerful words into a life-changing event for others and then for yourself: action.

Until next time, thanks for taking the time.

Mark

Mark Brodinsky, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Emmy Winner, Sales Leader, USHEALTHAdvisors
(http://www.ushagent.com/markbrodinsky)

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

Feedback is welcome and encouraged. Leave a comment on the blog, reach out on social media or send an e-mail to markbrodinsky@gmail.com

Join the tribe! Enter your name and e-mail on the blog and receive new posts sent directly to your inbox.

 

 

 

 

Sweet Dreams? Maybe Not: It’s Just About… Life

 

Sleeping-Person

It’s all part of the journey: from that first sip of java in the morning, to the final word before I close the book at night, to the minute it takes to close my eyes and appreciate that for which I am grateful, to the family I love, the job and clients I enjoy, the passion to write, speak and inspire – the dedication and the discipline to grow.

Who wants to sleep?

Yet so many people do, at least in terms of ever going inside themselves to change the outside reality of the world around them. John Mayer wrote a song some years ago, Waiting on the World to Change. To me, that’s the definition of being asleep, of allowing life to happen to you, instead of you making things happen. Change is inevitable, growth is optional. And growth is not easy, especially if you are not wide awake.

Are you awake and aware? Do you ever stop to think about what you really want? Do you write it down? Do you know your true talents and abilities…your gift? Do you use that gift to help other people? Do you want to do more, or have more or be more than you are right at this moment?

Or are you comfortable closing your eyes and simply falling asleep to dream about a bigger, better life?

Time to wake up.

As you stimulate tremendous growth in yourself, you will see that many people you know and love are, by comparison, sleeping. They’re sleeping in school systems, in government, in business, and industry. Some of your family and friends are sleeping. People stop their progress when they feel victimized. How do you respond to them? Do you drag them along? Perhaps if they are family or close friends. But you can’t let others stop you. Try to love and enlist them to change the community or the environment that they’re in. Such tough love is mature and effective leadership. You want the people around you to live the life that they deserve to love and are capable of living. Knowing how to help yourself grow, you know how to help other people grow.”

The excerpt above is from the book I am wrapping up, Smart Talk For Achieving Your Potential, by Lou Tice.

He paints a pretty stark picture of what life is like for many – the concept of simply being asleep. Whether you think you are, or you think you’re not, or you don’t want to think about it at all, or you think it’s all just hocus-pocus and hot air – that’s up to you. But the point is you should be UP.  Wide awake not only to the reality of where you are, but where it is you want to go, because from here to there is not a straight line. The line is winding and filled with joy and with adversity. Be grateful for the joy and embrace the adversity. Faced with challenges? Feeling down? Things not going right for you? The world around you off-center? Your life going sideways?

Then it’s time to hug it out. Wrap your arms around the challenges and problems and find a way to bust through.

Maybe you say you can’t, there’s no way, it’s just too hard. I can only tell you this. You’ve got to wake-up, you’ve got to get up and you’ve got to grow up. And I don’t mean maturity (at least not in most cases). What I mean is it’s time to grow. The secret, if there is one, is personal growth. Changing who you are inside to change what happens outside. Changing how you perceive yourself and realizing you are so far from your potential it is simply ridiculous. We all have no idea of the magnitude of what is inside of us. We all use so little of our brains and our hidden talents that if you knew what you were truly capable of accomplishing it would scare the life out of you. Yet the journey is to have no fear, to realize you are amazing and to go out every single day and work toward what it is that you want.

I’m not preaching and I’m not lecturing – I’m just reading, learning, writing, serving, and finding a way to affect and change other people’s lives which in turn transforms my own.

I’m just like you. We all share in this human experience together. I’m nowhere close to who it is I want to be or who it is I am becoming. But I’m determined to work my ass off to get there and enjoy and embrace every step along the way, both joyful and painful.

I’m going to say it again. The secret, if there is one, is personal growth. Change is not easy, it’s hard and it can be lonely and it can be scary, especially to other people, because when you start to change your reality, you also change the reality of those around you and many people don’t like change. They like comfort, safety and sticking with the way things always are, or used to be.

They just want to stay asleep.

sleeping-woman_1342047c

YOU can’t. YOU won’t. YOU aren’t, that’s easy to say and takes no effort to do. If your eyes are closed and your mind is in slumber then your dreams are simply that, just dreams, with no hope of ever becoming your reality.

Bulls**t.

YOU can. YOU will. YOU are. Growth is not for the faint of heart. It’s discipline and action. Daily discipline, daily affirmations, daily visualizations, daily tasks, the daily grind to move forward ever so slightly in the direction of what you really want. It’s called the compound effect. Nothing in life which is of value, especially the opportunity to achieve your potential, ever comes easy.

But there is no way, no how, no shot you will get even close if you are simply sleeping through life. Want a head start, search any word on this blog. There are more than 400 posts. Go ahead give it a shot, search dreams, goals, discipline, change, growth… you name it. Then read the blog related to that idea. Or read even a single Sunday Series and realize people are making it happen every day. They are facing their challenges, or the challenges of those they love and they are moving forward, becoming more.

Time to wake up. Got sweet dreams? Then go out and turn those dreams into your reality. Wake up, get up, GROW up.

Until next time, thanks for taking the time.

Mark

Mark Brodinsky, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Speech Writer, Emmy Winner, Field Sales Leader: 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 on the blog is welcome. Enter a comment here on the post, leave a comment on social media, or email markbrodinsky@gmail.com

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The Sunday Series (75), with Mark Brodinsky

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But the reality beneath what we behold, might not be what we expect.  Sometimes the delicate lines of a pretty face mask a fragile existence, spent facing tough challenges and a road less traveled.

Quite frequently what we see with our eyes only touches the surface of someone’s soul, because everyone has a story.

I am Mark Brodinsky and this is The Sunday Series.


The Sunday Series 75: More Than Skin Deep

She is the reigning Ms. Maryland Exquisite for 2015. Meet Jamella White.

jamella pageant

Beautiful on the outside, Jamella is proving to be as equally as lovely on the inside. After all, to attract others you must live as an attractive person, and you do that from the inside out.

Jamella has launched a company called Beautiful and Living Daily, an appropriate name, since Jamella hasn’t always felt as beautiful as she looks.

“I was about six years old when it started”, says Jamella. “I was diagnosed with alopecia areata. What it meant was I would lose my hair in small patches. First it was random bald spots popping up in different areas, about the size of a quarter. They got bigger and bigger as time went on. Eventually my mom took me to see a dermatologist and I was getting steroid injections, but it wasn’t working. We looked into natural healing methods but nothing was taking. My mom would try to style my hair over the bald areas, but I eventually lost my hair completely and started wearing wigs.”

jamella with wig

Alopecia areata is a prevalent autoimmune skin disease resulting in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. Hair can grow back in or fall out again at any time, and the disease course is different for each person. Jamella says different creams have been created, steroid injections and even holistic treatments that help with growing back the hair follicle, but sometimes it is completely damaged because all of it is internal.

For Jamella, the complete loss of her hair was tough, especially at such a tender age, but wearing the wigs was tougher. “At the time my hair completely fell out in the second grade I started wearing the wigs…and wigs back in the 80’s were not as nice as the ones they have now. I had a tough time in school, swimming or playing certain sports. I was active but would refrain from interacting with other kids, worried about them pulling my hair and my wig falling off.

“Some people did make fun, because the wigs were an old-fashioned design. The hair was short and I had a few kids who would try to pull on it, or touch it to see if it was real or not and then attempt to pull it off. I had to wear a swim cap if I went swimming, the kind with the strap underneath to keep my hair secure. It was hot and I would sweat from the wig and the cap and I realized the chlorine sometimes damaged my wig because I had to keep it on while I swam. Even in other sports I would play for only a short period of time, as soon as I started to sweat I didn’t want my wig to fall off.”

Eventually by age 12 Jamella’s hair was back. “It was fine”, she says. “I didn’t have any baldness or any hair falling out…until I turned 25 and found a quarter-size bald spot. At first I thought it was just stress. I was in college taking a lot of courses, and working three jobs as well. A few weeks later I saw another spot. I knew there was a possibility the alopecia was returning so I went to a doctor and got steroid treatments to my scalp. In every area he would give me an injection the hair would grow back, but then fall out in a different area. The doctor said no more treatments, lets see if the hair will completely fall out again.”

It did.

“I still have alopecia”, says Jamella, now age 31. “But it didn’t affect me at age 25 as it did when I was six. I’ve learned to cope with it, still build my self-confidence and engage in all activities. Currently some hair does grow back, but I still have bald patches as well. Despite that I have done some modeling and promotional work.”

jamella and friend

And just this past May Jamella was crowned Ms. Exquisite Maryland. But for Jamella, it is of the utmost importance for her inner beauty to match her outer appearance.

That’s why she has started Beautiful and Living Daily, (https://www.facebook.com/beautifulandlivingdaily). Jamella says she launched the organization because she started coming across a lot of people who had the same diagnosis as she has and have had trouble coping. She says, “in the 80’s it was a rare disease, and not much research on it. But now there’s a lot more information and awareness and a lot of people being diagnosed with it and I wanted to start this organization to help other people cope.”

dont need hair beautiful business cards

Beautiful and Living Daily, LLC provides services for people who suffer from hair loss for any reason, alopecia, cancer, diabetes, even stress. There is fitness and nutrition education, beauty makeovers, and hair pieces donated to people who cannot afford them.

“So basically my mission is to build confidence and self-esteem for any individual who suffers hair loss and build it as a family support system”, says Jamella. “You have your doctors and your family, but you don’t always have other people going through it to talk to. We also offer support group therapy as well.”

Jamella, beautiful and living with hair loss daily – knows what its like first-hand from the time she exits her home each day: “I know I need to choose to really focus, once I leave my house, when I am wearing my wig. Do others know it is a wig? Is my wig crooked? Do they think I have cancer? Many people do, because they don’t realize there are other illnesses which can cause hair loss. People ask if I’m sick or dying. I have alopecia, I’m not dying. I just lose hair in patches, sometimes it grows back, sometimes it doesn’t.”

“The struggle is wondering how other people see or view you. Do they think you are contagious, or have some type of disease that is going to kill you? Doesn’t matter to me anymore, it used to. I accept who I am and if my hair falls out its OK. Learn to accept it, it’s part of me.”

Jamella continues, “but I also know another struggle I had when I had my daughter. I was in fear she might have alopecia at some point in her life. It can skip generations, but it all really depends.” So far Jamella’s daughter, now 4 years of age, shows no signs of the illness.

jamella and daughter

Jamella’s ultimate goal is to take Beautiful and Living Daily and make it a nationwide organization to bring awareness about alopecia and hair loss for whatever reason, and make other people feel better about their situation. “I want people to embrace their beauty and feel comfortable with themselves”, she says.

“What I’ve learned from all of this is to love yourself. Always love yourself. Embrace everything you are going through and don’t worry so much and consume yourself in what other people think of you because it will hold you back with what you could be doing in life. Even with my condition, the things I could accomplish should serve as an example: getting into modeling pageants and owning my own business. You should embrace the opportunity to do different things and let people know you can do it too and never think that it’s not possible.”

Possibility thinking – seeing beyond convention or conditioning and focusing on what you want in life. Jamella White is taking this to heart. Faced with a life-long challenge, an ever-present obstacle, she has found a way to use her journey to help other people. She is teaching others to overcome and show them that beauty is more than skin deep.

jamella b and w

Until next time, thanks for taking the time

Mark

(For more information on Alopecia and hair loss visit: https://www.naaf.org/  And you can learn more about Beautiful and Living Daily, LLC @ https://www.facebook.com/beautifulandlivingdaily)

Mark Brodinsky, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Speech Writer, 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, or feedback (always welcome) on The Sunday Series, leave a comment on the blog, reach out on social media or e-mail: markbrodinsky@gmail.com