When it comes to inspiration, the more present I am, the more access I have to it. That alone is enough for me to try really hard, every day to align myself with mindfulness. The benefits of this practice far exceed one’s ability to express themselves creatively, but for me personally, everything in life is tied into some form of creativity. Whether it is story-telling, music, physically writing, or day dreaming, being fully alive makes everything a part of the process. And today, in this moment, my biggest inspiration is a beautiful little family, whose current life experiences have moved me to write.
The Schwartzengraber’s are comprised of Jenny, Scotty, and their 6 month old son Lincoln. I have known both Jenny and Scotty for many years now, having grown up in the same communities as they did. As most small towns do, we all watched their young love blossom into what is now a beautiful marriage, always just knowing that they had something special. Jenny is a pediatric nurse, and Scotty a school teacher, these professions being no accident, as they were born to serve and spread their love to as many of our children as possible. This inevitably means their son Lincoln is immersed within this love cocoon on a daily basis. Although I have not had the honor of meeting Lincoln, I can share with you what I know about him and his inspiring journey. Lincoln is a devastatingly handsome, loving, little boy who lives with a congenital heart defect called Ebstein’s Anomoly. Lincoln has faced and conquered more hurdles in his young life than most adults I know. And yet everyday he wakes up, with a smile, positive energy, and gratitude. And I can only imagine how inspiring that is for his parents, who are fighting right alongside him.
The Schwartzengraber’s are currently in Rochester, Minnesota at The Mayo Clinic where Lincoln is due to have open heart surgery today. He is in the hands of a highly skilled surgeon who is world-renowned for his work regarding Lincoln’s specific heart defect. And as if that wasn’t enough to work through mentally as a parent, Jenny has also started a blog documenting their journey on a daily basis. By doing so, she has not only opened up their network of support, but she has reminded all of us that we truly are one, that we are all intrinsically connected. It is within those raw details, the exposed nerve of emotion that we can all tap into a portion of what they must be feeling and we immediately have an urge to connect to it in some way. And it was on that wave of emotion that I began to dive deeper this morning.
I read her most recent blog through a veil of tears, wanting so badly to say something, anything that would resonate, help, and alleviate their fears. But nothing felt right. I have no advice, and I know that is the furthest thing from what they need, I did not want to draw attention to their fears, and I certainly did not want to make their situation about me. This is something that I think we are all guilty of doing, without having any knowledge or ill intention tied to it. We come across a story on the news, or hear about a situation from a friend and we walk away saying “wow, I am so lucky to not be in that situation”. It is a harmless thought that we hold onto as if it were true. But what we tend to forget is that in that moment of praising our luck, we are in turn categorizing the affected as “unlucky”, as if what they are going through is something that is far enough away from our reality that it is an unknown phenomenon like “luck”. I don’t think that we can truly understand the depth of that misconception until you are are on the opposite end of that perspective. Because the truth is, Jenny, Scotty and Lincoln are far from unlucky, I’m sure if you asked them they would tell you the exact opposite. What they are, is grateful. Grateful to have their sons hand to hold, his cheeks to kiss, and his heart to love. Grateful to have their family and friends supporting them. Grateful that their little boy has opened them up to a layer of vulnerability that allows them to experience life’s joys in the simplest and most inspiring ways.
I believe, Dr. Brené Brown put it best when she said “When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability. Joy becomes foreboding.” This is one of those sentences that resonates so deeply with me. We are raised in a culture where it is taught that being vulnerable is weakness, when in reality, it is within vulnerability that we have access to all of the beauty that life has to offer. We are afraid to feel joy, because of the fear that it can be taken away. So we never allow ourselves to live fully in the simple moments where joy is present, and we are constantly dress-rehearsing tragedy. But that way of thinking is the real tragedy.
So if you find yourself in a situation like I was in this morning, where you are wanting to alleviate someone else’s pain, please remember that the best way you can do that, is to practice gratitude. Choose to take the moments you dedicate to stressing about the future, and focus that energy into being present enough to appreciate the joyful moments that are happening right in front of you. In doing so, you are sharing that love, light, and energy with those who need it the most. Because like I expressed earlier, we are all connected, and we could all use a little more love in our universe.
If you would like to learn more about Lincoln’s journey, please visit Jenny’s Blog. Also, if you have the ability to help alleviate the impending weight of medical bills, their family has set up a Go Fund Me account for them.
Love, Light, and Gratitude. Send it out when you can. Jenny, Scotty, and Lincoln, you will be receiving as much of mine as I can muster today. Xo