I have started using my Instagram to post my videos. I will not be posting on my website as much but I would be so grateful if you would follow me on Instagram. @alexlevesqueinspiration
“I’m the darkness and the light. I’m the sunshine and the storm. Yes you’re right I was there in her laugh; but I’m also here now in your pain. I’m the reason for everything! I’m the only why. Don’t try to live without me.” (Character playing Love in Collateral Beauty)
I have recently been thinking about this movie and the concept of collateral beauty a lot. My Uncle Paul has been having heart issues for many years. He has had many open heart surgeries and always baffled doctors by his ability to fight and overcome some pretty insurmountable odds. He recently turned 82. Something that a few years ago we never thought would be possible. One of the things that has been a key factor in his health has been my Aunt Suzi. Much like my mom has been here for me, my Aunt Suzi has been there for my Uncle Paul; talking to doctors, researching the best care facilities and doctors, and being there to translate the doctors medical terms into something that the rest of the family can understand. These two women are angels living on earth!
Recently my Uncle Paul has been going through some tough times. He has entered a care home and seems to be declining in his mental and physical strength. My Aunt Suzi has been making friends with the people in his new care home and thanking the people for taking such good care of her husband. She has still been very stressed which is why she thought nothing of the stomach pain she had been having. After going to the doctor to get herself checked out for a change, she was told she had pancreatic cancer and given six months to live. As difficult as it is for us family members to try to comprehend God’s plan, there is something truly beautiful about Him taking these two lovebirds into heaven together.
We have to remember to look for the collateral beauty in these situations. We need to cherish the time we have left with the people we love. My Aunt Suzi always looks for positives in life and turns everything into a happy experience knowing that God has a plan for all of us. We should take that into consideration as we live our lives, and look for the beauty in every situation.
I have talked a lot on my blog about my Aunt Shell and her battle with cancer. Even though I am very proud of my Aunt Shell, this blog post is not about her. This blog is about my other aunt. To all of her friends she is known as Honey-bug; to her nieces and nephews (one of them being me) she is known as Auntie, and to the younger generation of nieces and nephews she’s known as Auntie Bug. My aunt is one of the most creative and smart people I have ever known. Being an artsy person she would always buy us kids coloring books and cool nicknacks when we were little, that we all thought were awesome. As we grew older she would teach us that Superman was the best superhero and Jerry Seinfeld was the funniest comedian. She read so many books that her house and desk at work started to look like a library; at least until she got a Kindle. There was only one thing about my aunt that I never thought was cool…. she smoked.
Every year she would ask all of her nieces and nephews what we wanted for Christmas and every year at least one of us would ask her to stop smoking. These requests always went unfulfilled, and with us being kids, we were always still happy with our cool new coloring book or toy. However, my dad came home from work a few weeks ago and told me that Auntie was going to quit smoking. I was so happy that I wanted to call her right away and tell her how proud I was of her. I told her of my joy and pride in her for making this tough but necessary life decision. Her response almost brought me to tears when she said she made this decision because she saw how hard I was working to get myself stronger in my videos on Instagram and Facebook and was inspired to make a change in her life too. Many people have been telling me that my videos are inspiring but I didn’t know I had the power to change the habits of a 40+ year smoker. I love my aunt and am incredibly proud of her!! I hope she will inspire you too.
Too often in todays world people are caught up in their phones or too busy listening to music in public areas to make a connection to the people around them. I was talking with my friend Freddie the other day about how it is easy for us to just sit down with anybody and start up a conversation. We believe that this is one of the reasons that we were able to be successful during our time at Saint Mary’s College . I told Freddie that I used to join random conversations in the middle by just jumping in and agreeing with someone. Most times it would be a boyfriend/girlfriend conversation that I felt could use a random third party assistance in making a decision. In my mind this benefitted everyone; the two people I joined will have no more conflict, if they take my advice, and I would have made two new friends.
By being so friendly with everyone on campus, I became popular throughout different groups of people. One day as I was walking back from a class with my friend Giuliana when she expressed her frustration with me. She said she was upset that everyone always says hi to me and doesn’t say hi to her. She made it a goal of hers to beat me in the amount of people that say hi to either of us in our short walk back to our dorms. I think she might have even won a couple of times, but I claimed she started texting her friends to come out along our path and say hi only to her in order to win.
With the growth of technology in the world today paired with the fact that people fearful of having a different opinion, good communication skills are becoming a rare thing. One of the main reasons I have been successful in my life is my ability to communicate effectively with the people around me. Whether it be having to ask somebody to help me open a door, or reach something high on a shelf, or even something as simple as helping me tie my shoes; my communication skills and ability to make a connection with the people around me have paved the path for my success.
When I was younger I used to run around with my friends on the playground and walk everywhere I went. However, when I started high school I had to start using a mobility scooter in order to keep up with the other kids, and not be to exhausted to do my homework when I got home. My decision to use the scooter worked well and I was able to graduate from De La Salle with good grades and an acceptance letter to Saint Mary’s College. I also used the scooter when I got to Saint Mary’s and was also able to successful there too. I graduated in 4 years with my degree in communications. With all the successes that I had over those eight years of school there was one setback. I had used the scooter for so long that I had lost a lot of my muscle in my legs and with that I also lost the ability to walk on my own.
Recently I have started the process to get back to walking. One of my brothers friends from high school, Kaitie Kinser, reached out to me, telling me about a gym/therapy place she is working at called SCI-FIT. SCI-FIT was founded by a man with a spinal cord injury who was told he’d never walk again after his accident. He now walks with a pair of canes and is still using the program to get stronger. Even though the workouts kick my butt I really enjoy going to SCI-FIT. The people there, both trainers and trainees, are all working and encouraging you to reach your goal. I believe that by working with SCI-FIT I will definitely be able to get back walking.
Throughout my time of going to SCI-FIT I have had my mom taking videos so I can post them on Instagram. My hope in doing this is to remind others to never stop reaching for your goals and never put a limit on what you can achieve. One day after I posted one of my workout videos on Instagram, I got a text from my friend Nick. He told me that when he got off work one day he was going to skip going to the gym until he saw my video. He was inspired by the effort I put in to make myself stronger even though I knew how hard it was going to be for me. He ended up going to the gym and working extra hard fueled by the inspiration of a friend that refused to give up. I will continue to post these videos in hopes to inspire more people or if nothing else just document my progress in my goal to walk again.
Today when I opened up Facebook my heart sank and I immediately felt sad for my friend Freddie. If you have been watching the videos of “The Alex and Freddie Show” over the past year, you have heard many stories about Freddie’s mom and her struggles after a bad car accident many years ago. You are also likely to have heard the love and pride in Freddie’s voice as he talked about her. The post I saw on Facebook this morning was Freddie saying that his mom passed away. After Freddie’s mom was in the car accident, Freddie became a care-taker for her. He made sure that if his mom needed him he would be there for her. No matter what time of the day or night it was or what he had going on, he would be there if she called. Even though I never met his mom I felt a connection to her because the relationship she had with Freddie reminded me a lot of my connection with my parents. That is one of the connections that make our partnership so unique. We have both perspectives of the patient/caretaker relationship. As both my parents and Freddie know, it’s not the physical ability of the person that makes them special but the personality and love they share with those around them. Even though it is tragic for all of us here on earth to lose somebody we love, it is the greatest thing for the person that has passed. They now get to go enjoy the beauty of heaven and watch you as you live your life with love and happiness the way they taught you.
Valentine’s Day is a day to spend with your loved one. Freddie and I don’t have valentines this year but we did have a lot of fun making this video. After we called “cut” to stop filming, we just started laughing and making jokes with each other for a while. Once we composed ourselves, we were able to get back to filming more episodes. I hope you enjoy our Valentine’s Day video.