Power of Optimism

Just because Greg had a double lung transplant and has been given a second chance at life doesn’t mean that life is easy or that everything in our lives has changed. Ironically, after overcoming a peril such as life-saving operation and terminal illness, the mind starts to forget what it has learned from the experience and sometimes we go back to the same behaviors, even the bad ones, that we had before the life-altering experience.

What am I talking about? Well, unfortunately, my husband had been raised with a very negative and pessimistic role model for most of his life. Interestingly enough, when this person talks to anyone, especially Greg, they spew words of negativity and make the person they are talking to believe that they can’t accomplish certain things in life. You would think that after we have been shown that anything is possible in life, that both the role model and my husband would have learned the power of optimism. Alas, Greg did but has now started to forget…

Where is this all coming from? Well, every year or so, I sit down and write up a personal goal list for the next 1-3 years. From that list, I choose the top 5 and concentrate on accomplishing those goals in that timeframe. Since Greg is my best friend, and some of the goals involve him, I have shared these goals with him and was met by criticism. “There is no way we can get out of debt by that date.” “What makes you think you can accomplish that?” “That is impossible!”

Let me back up here for a moment. When Greg was very ill and at home on a ventilator, I wrote my first goal list after listening to Tony Robbins. Among those things on my list were to get out of credit card debt, buy a house, have straight teeth, lose weight, and get my MBA. Want to know how many of those goals were accomplished within 3 years? All of them! Within days I made an appointment with an orthodontist, set up a budget, started to eat healthier, sent in my graduate application, and kept my eye out for mortgage rates. This was while I was working full time, taking care of Greg on a ventilator at home full time, being the only bread winner for the family, and taking care of the normal things.

Now, we have two incomes, Greg is healthy, and not only do I work full time for a great company but I own my own web development and graphic design business. That is why I am having an even harder time with the pessimism that I am faced with. I have proven once before that written goals can be accomplished, even in the worse of situations and yet this learned behavior of his has resurfaced. Why? I believe it is the trickle down effect. You see, we are leaving for Florida in a couple of days and the “role model” started telling Greg how he hadn’t thought through our flight well – he mentioned something about how Greg never flew after 9/11 and is underestimating the airport rules and such. Well, hello there! I flew to NYC just 2 months after 9/11 and travel between Milwaukee and Boston frequently for business. But, alas, I am just a woman and this “role model” and even though I was able to pull my husband through a terminal illness while doing everything else and assist him through his transplant, I don’t have enough brain power to make it through an airport.

So, I had a few choice words for my wonderful husband. I told him he could either shut up or learn how to be optimistic because after all God has shown us in our lives, there is no room for doubt and negativity. Not to worry though – shortly after I made this comment, he applauded me for taking an active role in our lives and striving for the goals I have set. I am glad to see that he hasn’t truly forgotten the role of positive thinking in our lives… I just wish it didn’t take so much of my energy to keep reminding him of it!

After her husband received a double-lung (bilateral) transplant in 2004, Shannon founded the Angel Cove Organ Donation Awareness Shop, which provides awareness t-shirts and gifts products for transplant recipients, living organ donors and donor families - giving 100% of the profits to help heart and lung transplant recipients with medical costs. Shannon lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her wonderful husband and two chocolate Labrador Retrievers.

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