My intern, Brittney Bash, a junior at Cincinnati Country Day School is so wise beyond her years. In this post she shares her own, very personal meaning of the words courage, confidence and candor.
I’m one person out of 4,404,625,370 in the world, a single face among the masses. I am young, indecisive. I can be stubborn, snippy, and sassy. Life throws me opportunities and sometimes I can’t catch them. Too often I find my beliefs being swayed, like branches in the breeze, by those around me because I have yet to plant my own roots. It can be hard for people to establish a solid foundation for their morals, I believe this is because we have a seeming incapability to feel the same way on topics when we are constantly experiencing new things that have the ability to change how we feel. However, I also believe that once we look inside ourselves to at least try and find what matters to us, we will know what personal values hold steady in our hearts and benefit from incorporating those values into our lives. There are three traits about myself that I absolutely know are important to me and that I search for in others.
Courage is a value of utmost importance to me. Fear is humankind’s most prevalent and powerful obstacle. We fear everything, and there will never come a day when we are truly fearless. The only fear that we have any hope of squandering is the fear of ourselves. By acknowledging one’s worries and weaknesses we have the capability to discover our passions and strengths. Unfortunately, too many of us fear the acceptance of the idea that we are not perfect, and that fear entangles itself into every situation. Once we obtain that mentality of perfection being unachievable we can let go of our shortcomings and focus on the things that make us incredible. It takes a lot of courage to do even little tasks such as admitting when you are wrong, and following your heart. Fear is like shadows, every object has one and even in the light, a certain angle can enhance it, making the shadow (something nonexistent) seem bigger than the object itself. I strive everyday to stand up for what I believe in, even if it means I stand alone. Humans are creatures of constancy and any sort of change evokes an uneasiness within them. Due to this fact I never allow myself to fall into any situation that is too comfortable or easy. By pushing my limits I push myself to experience life in its rawest, truest form.
Confidence is the trend that never goes out of style and looks good on everyone, but it takes hard work to maintain a positive self-image. It takes self-affection and self-reflection. It’s a common occurrence, yet we let others define our own greatness. We crave opinions about ourselves from those around us because we want to know that someone sees goodness in us or to use their criticism as an excuse to believe we will never be “good enough”. Truth be told, we will always have a false perception of who we truly are as individuals as long as we let other people instill in us who they think we are. Instead of fighting for acceptance from others, I fight for my own self-acceptance. Once we free ourselves from the confines and expectations of those around us we can become independent thinkers and will no longer need to rely on their approval.
Life is a precious thing to me, there are so many aspirations and dreams that I have but I realize that the most fun and fulfillment come from the journey. My life is a stream of candid moments, jamming out in the car with my sister, dramatically missing balls at lacrosse practice, and joking around with all of my friends. I’m not graceful, and there are a lot of things that I’m just not very good at, but I live life for the experiences. My quirky personality encompasses both my courage and confidence. I believe that I am my best self when I’m surrounded by various different personalities and get along with all of them. I dance in the rain, I stray from trodden paths, and I climb on my roof to watch the sky. I battle with my fears and I sometimes have to remember its okay to dress down in public. I have high standards and goals and sometimes it hard to not feel discouraged or beaten down when I don’t reach them. Disappointment is a part of life and even if I’m unable to predict my future, at least I can rely on the certainty of my values and morals, which will always remain steadfast in my heart.
Before a vast crowd of more than 250,000 people diverse by race, age, culture and age, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke with bold conviction and heart. He spoke with hope and courage.
His dreams and hopes resonated with hundreds of millions across the globe, and still do. They touch me to my inner core. When I think about my friends, neighbors, co-workers, and colleagues and how much we all have to offer each other, I am reminded that our diversity brings out each other’s strengths in meaningful ways. And yet, at our core, is the most basic foundation in all of us share and that is the need for belonging and love.
For prosperity to occur – and I am not talking of only monetary riches – we must work to look beyond the surface of others in search of their hidden gifts. We must practice forgiveness and forgo hatred. We must embrace differences while also realizing similarities. We must not only dream but pursue goals.
I want to thank Cameron Von St. James for sharing his family’s story of courage and fortitude in battling cancer.
My wife, Heather has said many times that it is hard for her to imagine what I went through as her caregiver after she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. We have not talked extensively about the experience, but I hope by writing my story, I am able to share more with her and anyone else currently struggling through a tough fight with cancer.
It was three months after the birth of our only child that we got the news. Mesothelioma was a term that brought fear and uncertainty into our lives during a time where we had only been feeling joy and excitement about the future of our new little family. When the doctor informed us that my wife had cancer, I felt overwhelmed, but the immediate need to make critical life decisions forced me to focus.
My first thoughts after hearing the diagnosis were full of rage and anger. I was immediately angry at the world for putting my family in this cruel and unfair situation. I didn’t know how to harness the feelings. There were times when my communication with others was laced with profanity and anger. Eventually, I learned to control the fear that was overwhelming me. I knew that my wife and daughter needed me to be strong. I did not want them to sense my fear, as real as it was. My wife relied on me to be her rock of stability and optimism, and in time I was able to become that.
After the diagnosis, my workload included a long to-do list that ranged from work requirements to travel arrangements to taking care of my wife, my daughter, our home, the list seemed endless. I taught myself how to prioritize, so my focus was on the vital tasks. We were blessed with a strong support system. Many people offered help that I quickly learned to accept. Even with friends and family pitching in, I still was overwhelmed by the responsibilities, but managed to keep up with them as best I could.
Directly following her extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery in Boston, Heather was flown to South Dakota to stay with her parents and Lily, who had been staying there during the operation. Heather needed constant care as she recovered from her surgery and prepared for the next phase of her treatment, and I would not have been able to give her the care she needed while working full time to support us. Therefore, we made the difficult decision to be apart for those two months while she recovered. During this two-month period, I only saw Heather and Lily once.
On one Friday after my workweek ended, I drove 11 hours through a snowstorm to spend time with my family. I arrived Saturday morning, so I had the weekend to rest and see them. Sunday afternoon I was back in the car for the 11-hour trip home. It was hard to be away from them, but it was the choice that made the most sense. I don’t have regrets about this decision. It was just one of many difficult choices I made, but I was glad were had options available.
If I learned anything from this difficult time, it was to accept offers of help from other people who cared. I also learned to never regret or second guess the tough decisions that cancer forced us to make. I could take comfort in the fact that we were able to make choices even if they were hard ones. Being able to plan put us in control in an uncertain time. Despite an overwhelming set of odds, Heather made a full recovery. Six years after the initial diagnosis, she is still healthy. I hope that our story of triumph and struggle will help others battling cancer.
I remember Chris Spielman from my days at The Ohio State University, and I knew he was a force of character back then. But I never fully realized what a tremendous person he is until I learned of Chris Speilman, the husband. On the football field he has faced many tough guys but he has never had an opponent like the one he and his wife fought, which would be cancer.
Now Chris has written a book called ‘That’s Why I’m Here’ and it sounds beautiful. His message – If you have challenges, be aware. Be men and woman of courage and strength. Let your faith be your rock. He was on our FOX19 this morning and below is his interview. I can’t wait to read his book.