Swerves and Curve Balls — It’s Time To Reflect, Respect, and Reject
Who knew that 2020 would carry with it the most incredible challenges in modern times? We gathered our 2019 wins, learned lessons, and made resolutions for 2020 to be our best year ever…
This Time Last Year
This time last year I was preparing to send my daughter to Europe for her first international solo trip in the company of Health Sciences Academy chaperones and fellow future doctors. Her class had prepared for over a year to take a medical education tour around Europe as an enrichment experience. In the summer of 2019 she attended the Congress of Future Medical Leaders followed by Ivy League college tours and attendance at Unleash the Power Within to get ready to fly without me. The experience would be transformational for her. I made sure of it.
As a TEDx Curator, I was putting the finishing touches on my first TEDxPleasantGrove event to be held on January 25, 2020 at Ann Richards STEAM Academy Auditorium. My team and I had confirmed our top ten speakers, engaged top notch coaches to polish the talks, secured the best-option venue, and accelerated our rehearsal schedule. I knew that the experience would be great — and it was.
In late 2019, I had applied for and received confirmation of acceptance into Cohort 1 of The Mission Continues (TMC) Women Veterans Leadership Program (WVLP) which was the first of its kind in the country. I was over-joyed for what 2020 was shaping up to deliver for me and I was ready.
Then It Happened
In January, rumblings had made their way to my ears about COVID-19 but it wasn’t clear how or if the virus would impact us. I don’t watch TV so I didn’t have much background info on what was happening. At TEDxPleasantGrove and at work, it was business as usual. At TMC and at the Health Sciences Academy, we stayed on track with our plans for travel in March.
I had no concerns about going to Washington, DC for our first face-to-face session of the TMC Women Veterans Leadership Program. We had a fantastic launch and returned home ready for our next session. A day later, I was very uneasy as I watched my daughter go through security at the airport to board her flight. After her flight took off I drove home slowly trying to calm my nerves. Six days into her trip she was back on the ground in the US due to global COVID-19 travel bans. I was super excited to have her back home, but I didn’t expect to literally stay home for the rest of the year.
Then in mid-June right after I had completed one of the most incredible events of my career, I was thrown some crazy non-COVID-related swerves and curve balls in the form of a saddle embolism, paradoxical embolism that went thru my heart and lodged in my left arm, and a stroke followed by days of massive hemorrhaging and a second large pulmonary embolism all in the span of ~6 weeks. This health drama was accompanied by multiple calls to 911, multiple surgeries and extended hospital stays, multiple blood transfusions, and multiple iron infusions overseen by seven specialists. Yes — I’m a miracle. My docs continue to tell me so. They’ve gone the distance to put me back together. By amazing grace I’m still here to continue my journey.
If my leaders at work had known that I was logging in from the ICU or from my hospital bed, I’m certain that they would have shut me down. I didn’t know it at the time but I now know that having something other than health challenges to focus on made it easier for me to move from one crisis to another without dipping into fear, anxiety, and depression. Instead of focusing on leaving, I focused on living and giving — and here I am. After graduating from the TMC Women Veterans Leadership Program and hosting my all-time favorite events, I made it to the end of 2020 and exhaled.
I rang in the new year with love and joy as I continued cleaning out closets, drawers, and electronic files in preparation for an amazing take off in 2021. As soon as I logged on at work I received some great news about a program that I had applied to in mid December. I made it in — again. Off to a great start.
Wait — What?!!
Monday and Tuesday were exceptional days of quiet resolve to get back on the work horse. Wednesday was different. While I was typing an e-mail my daughter bounced downstairs to tell me that “they’re breaking into The Capitol!!”. I slightly acknowledged her then I did a double take. Wait — what?!! I watched in shock and awe to see The Capitol under attack by a massive mob of rioters. How could this be?!! That’s our Capitol!! I was just there last March marveling at its grandeur.
My shock quickly shifted to sadness, disgust, and disbelief. Maybe I didn’t see what I thought I saw. After watching coverage for a bit I confirmed to myself that this madness had actually occurred during my lifetime. There are so many questions to ask and answer. For now I’ll continue cleaning my internal house so I can be of service as the lengthy rebuilding process begins. As an American and Veteran of the United States Air Force, my pride is deeply wounded. However, it’s time to move forward in search of unity as the rule of law is restored.
It’s Time To Reflect, Respect and Reject
Despite the tragic riots that occurred on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, I’m looking forward to a year of power, purpose, and progress as we build back better than ever.
While I’m getting my ducks lined up, I challenge all of us to reflect, respect, and reject.
REFLECT on our personal obligations to help make our society and our world better
RESPECT others who may not agree with us but who have our common good in mind
REJECT those who seek to destroy our way of life and who ignore the rule of law
We are America and despite our hardships and our differences, we will prevail to the good. We always do. Let’s move forward in grace and gratitude.
Happy New Year!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lillian Gregory advocates for Veterans, Women Veterans, Women in Leadership and Women in Technology through extensive support networks and by providing research, strategies, tools, workshops, and events to help close gaps. Connect on-line at www.humanexcellence.org and be ready to climb!
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