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Shortly after returning from McCall with my dreams in hand and my intentions in motion the storm began. I came back home knowing that it would be challenging to maintain my focus and commitment to making a real difference stepping WAY outside my comfort zone to embark on a new career I feel compelled to follow. I had no idea the chain of events that would define my December and forever change my life.

I arrived home from McCall just in time to take my daughter to dress rehearsal for her winter dance recital. Saturday was spent attending that winter dance recital all day. I love watching the culmination of all the hard work, effort and growth they put into it! Sunday we went over to the nursing home to decorate my mom’s room for Christmas and had a wonderful visit with her. Finally, my daughter and I settled in to watching the Sound of Music for a little unwind before we hit the ground running Monday morning.

Just as we finished up the movie I got the call ,”Your mom has been non-responsive for a couple of hours”. Jenna and I were stunned. Any other day this call wouldn’t have been surprising. Mom had been on hospice for several months as the effects of her stroke 4 years ago had continued to deteriorate her mind and body with pain, paralysis and dementia. She had been so alert and conversant just hours earlier… Jenna mentioned “Grandma is doing really good today!”

As we walked into her room it was clear to me that she was experiencing another massive stroke. Because she was on hospice care we chose not to transport her to the hospital but rather keep her comfortable as she released this broken body and returned to her heavenly home. It was also obvious that it wouldn’t be long. She was unable to respond, swallow, or follow directions. She knew we were there as she would press her ear closer to the phone to hear the person speaking or squeeze your hand gently to acknowledge your presence. So I stayed. My sister came. She stayed. Night turned into day. My brother came. He stayed. Day turned into night. It felt like someone pushed the pause button as we held our breath.

During this time we began notifying family and her lifelong friends of 80+ years of her imminent death. Memories and love were flowing in from all over the country. My mother’s life had been defined by compassionate service and as a caregiver. I was taking notes and reminiscing as we kept vigil keeping loved ones up to date through a social media group, texts and phone calls. Sunday blurred somehow into Friday when she peacefully passed.

Being the youngest of the 4 kids I wasn’t around for half of my moms life so many of the memories my older siblings have, I don’t. Many of the experiences and memories I have, after my dad died and it was just mom and I left at home, they don’t. What we do all share, ironically, is what I came back from McCall determined to intentionally build and leave for my children, the legacy.

The legacy is what you leave behind when you are gone. Some think of it as the financial inheritance. Mom’s intensive medical care in skilled nursing for 4 years took every penny of that. Some think of legacy as the posterity you leave behind when you are gone. Mom had 4 children, 18 grandchildren and 29 great grandchildren (to date). Her family and posterity filled the chapel last week at her funeral services. That’s quite significant, especially being winter and 3 days before Christmas…not the ideal time to travel for a funeral service.

To me, as we sat and reminisced and as I put together her life sketch to sum up 84 years of life and hundreds of memories into a 15 minute summary, it became all about the legacy. The impact left behind when one is no longer present. My mother’s legacy I summarized into 4 threads: Fun & Family; Stubborn; Faithful & Faithfilled; Compassion & Caregiver. All of the memories, thoughts, and experiences shared with me throughout my life with her and those shared with me throughout the week from others could fall into those 4 threads. Her legacy.

So as I go about trying to put life back into motion after 3 weeks of pause I can’t help but pick up where I left off, only with a bit broader perspective and slightly slower pace. What is my legacy? Am I leaving the impact on the world that I want to leave? How will I be remembered? Who have I touched? Have I made a difference? What have I taught my children? If my daughter was putting together my life sketch from the memories and thoughts of others, what would that look like? What are my life threads…are they what I want them to be?

Like all of us, I am a work in progress, and as I stand at the crossroads of 2018 and 2019 looking at my goals and dreams with a good amount of faith and determination I will take my mother’s legacy and build on it. Like David I hope to bring down Goliath. Introducing and creating a culture of Living WOW rather than SAD.  To help those who are on autopilot surviving remember who they were born to be and find their thriving truth. To gift health and wealth to as many as will open their heart and mind to receive it. To fix our health care crisis by keeping people out of the system as they take personal responsibility for their lifestyle choices and eliminate chronic disease. I will use my last decade of learning and transformation to create my next decade of teaching and legacy.

Those who say it can’t be done, it’s too hard, just step aside for those who stand beside me and behind me as we do it. We are going to take RisetoShine.life to a whole new audience with a podcast launch February 1st and expand the Living WOW lifestyle program resources throughout January. We are booking now for speaking opportunities all across the nation spreading the message of inspiring healthy living with “Change Your Story” throughout 2019.

Are you ready to transform your life? We are all a work in progress! It is so much easier to be who you were born to be with cheerleaders and coaches than naysayers and doomsayers. As the old saying goes, “A rising tide lifts all ships”. We are rising and shining to reach out to those who feel like they are swimming and maybe even drowning. Stop! Reach out and take the lifeline. That is why I am here. I was born to reach out to you and help you climb into the rising ship. That is the legacy I wish to leave with you. Shine on!

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