Yesterday, the Grimsley Whirlie women’s tennis team played a match against High Point Central. The team won all six single courts and what a thrill to watch my youngest daughter play as a sophomore on court three. One of the things I noticed about Emma Freda is that she smiles when she serves, misses a ball or when she’s chatting with her opponent in between games. She smiles when she posts pictures on Instagram, when she gets out of the car in the morning heading to school (well, most days), smiles when she swims the backstroke during summer meets, and even smiles when she does her homework (except for Latin). I’m glad to see her smile, because at one point I wasn’t sure if I would see her at all.

I didn’t talk about this for a long time and have only shared the story with a few people and even fewer audiences. Not sure the reason behind that, yet, this morning God put it on my heart to share it now. You see, when I was pregnant with Emma Freda, I had preeclampsia and was admitted to the hospital a few weeks before her delivery date. Like any good professional, I took my briefcase, telephone, client files, to-do lists, etc. to the hospital room to do my work so I would not get behind. I remember my doctor looking at me saying, “What are you doing?” I replied, “Working.” He shook his head in disappointment and said something like, “Well, you are supposed to be resting.”

A week into my glorious stay, the doctor informed me that I needed to have an emergency ‘C’ section because my blood pressure was all out of wack (my terms of course). Thankfully, one of the delivery nurses was a friend from high school, that I used to play soccer with, so that made me less nervous. This was my third go-round on delivering a baby, second ‘C’ section and I had learned all the Dale Carnegie stress and worry principles, so I thought to myself, “You got this.”

Well, I didn’t have it…in fact at one point, I looked at my doctor and said, “I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest.” Then I don’t remember too much. There were lots of people moving around and I noticed one of the nurses going over to a telephone and heard her say, “We have an emergent situation.” The next time I woke up, I was in a hospital room, the nurse explained that my placenta had grown into the uterus and when the procedure was taking place I almost bled to death. Well, that didn’t sound good, and seeing Emma Freda’s cute little face made it all worth it. Later that evening, I started seeing stars and crosses and pushed the call bell, “Hey, I think I’m gonna meet Jesus tonight.”

Then I don’t remember too much again. I woke up in the ICU and was attached to a bunch of tubes and wires. Magnesium Sulfate was the drug prescribed and it made me groggy, unable to breast feed well, yet, it was supposed to be helping my blood pressure stabilize. Thank God my sister was there (a registered nurse) because she made sure everyone was on their toes, she prayed with me, fetched me ginger-ale, ice chips and kept me from going over the edge. After three days on this stuff, I had my arms stretched out wide open, eyes closed and my sister asked, “What are you doing?” I said, “Well, I am praying that the Lord either takes me home or makes me well because this sucks.” That’s pretty much how I pray – it’s like talking to a friend. Thankfully, a few hours later the doctor came in and reported my blood pressure had stabilized and I was released on Easter Sunday fifteen years ago.

This experience is part of what drives me to make every day count, to be a catalyst for change, to take risks to grow professionally and personally. The experience was also a great way to apply stress and worry principles learned over the years. I’m not sure how Hurricane Florence impacted those of you in the Carolinas. I hope and pray you are safe and that your homes were not damaged too much. My oldest daughter, her husband and their dog evacuated Wilmington and their second story apartment is okay. The condo my sister and I share at Caswell Beach somehow survived. One of the worry principles applied during the storm was to ask myself, “What’s the worst that can possibly happen?” This is a Dale Carnegie principle that I apply almost daily. Here are a few more strategies to help you weather the storms ahead.

  1. Pray and read inspirational material to launch your day
  2. Identify the problem, all the solutions, best solution and then take action (Dale Carnegie)
  4. If you must worry about something, set your timer to 5 minutes, when time is up, move on
  5. Don’t give your power away to toxic people or thoughts
  6. Use Peace & Calming, Believe, Joy, Abundance (Essential Oils)
  7. Call a trusted friend to discuss issues and then create an action plan
  8. Yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, journaling, exercise, light candles, healthy food and red wine
  9. Surround yourself with amazing people and activities that inspire you and make you happy
  10. Set boundaries with people at home, work or volunteer settings & ask for help when you need it

Years ago, I researched the impact of a smile to help encourage hundreds of volunteers to adopt the principle of smiling to greet people as they interacted with patients and families at the hospital. The studies showed that if you smile at a group of people at least 50% will smile back and smiling boosts your immune system. Maybe that’s another reason I love to see Emma Freda smile – it makes me smile and it’s good for my health! There is power in a smile and there are no guarantees for tomorrow. What are you holding back from doing today that you really want to do? Be a catalyst for change. Make every day count. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others. You are worth it!