What I Learned from Donald

I met a man named Donald recently and the moment I first saw him, I knew he was in trouble

Donald, (or Don as he soon asked me to call him) was about to be literally blown over by the 20 MPH or so wind we were having that day in Central Ohio.

In fact, when I first noticed him, he looked like he was “frozen in time” because he was tilted heavily upward and to the right and he wasn’t moving.

When I saw this, I thought he was going to topple over (or worse) so I sprung into action to go help Don.

What I didn’t know was that in my efforts of being helpful to Don, it would turn into such an amazing set of life lessons for me that day.

My new friend Don was 75 and had a stroke when he was 54. Quite a bit of the left side of his body was paralyzed.

He couldn’t walk normally like me and most other people at the shopping center that day.

All he could do was shuffle half-step after half-step after half-step, first with his 4-prong cane. Then when I came to his aid, he took his shuffle steps with his “good hand” placed firmly on my right shoulder to keep himself from falling.

It took us about 30 minutes to finally get Don to the customer service line of the store he was going to.

I waited for him to do his business and then lent my shoulder to him once again, as I helped him take those small shuffle-steps once again back out to his handicap-equipped car.

Before I saw Don that day, I had spent the better part of the morning working myself into a nice little funk–not appreciating the wonderful life I have and pissed off at myself for not being farther ahead than I am in some parts of my life.

And then I met Don.

Not an ounce of self-pity

Just pure will, grit and determination.

What would take him 30 minutes to do, You or I could do in 30 seconds

And here’s the best part…

There was no whining, no playing the victim and no sense (that I felt anyway) that there was anything to fear or a reason to quit when things got tough.

The other thing I noticed was how his situation literally forced him to be in the present moment and not focused on his painful past or anything else. He knew better than anyone that he had to be completely focused on THIS moment or else.

What a great example Don was for me that day.

It puts a whole other perspective on my choice of whether to give in to the voice in my head that says, “You’re too tired to go to the gym.”

It puts a whole other perspective on whether I’m going to be a victim (even if only in my head) about some of my own not-so-smart life choices in the past.

It puts a whole other perspective of what loving myself could look like and what the importance of not quitting is for me.

It also puts a whole other perspective on what being kind to myself could look like.

Think about it…

An hour or more to walk about a hundred steps and all he said about this was…

“I guess this wasn’t the best idea to come out on a day that was windy like this.”

How inspirational….

What a gift Don was to me that day.

All I can say is…

Thank you, Don, for a magical hour together.

If you’d like to find a more positive attitude toward your life, contact me here…


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