This time last year I was walking on sunshine. Literally. I was in the US Virgin Islands enjoying a post-holiday reprieve, fresh off my run at a fast paced startup that had been acquired. I was ready to catch my breath and turn my focus on new opportunities the year could bring. What transpired in the coming months were events I never saw coming, yet had unknowingly been readying for. The thing about the unknown, the future or what tomorrow holds, is that it is chalked full of uncertainty.
Developing a business often carries loads of uncertainty and inevitably results in change for both the company and one’s personal growth. I used a time of relative calm in my own journey to strengthen myself for what the future could hold. Struggle is a given in life, there will be surprises along the way and I wanted to prepare the best I could for unknowns. Whatever I could sure-up emotionally, spiritually, professionally, within my marriage - I did. Even the biggest storms struggle to rock a solid foundation and this is exactly what I wanted, a solid foundation for whatever could come my way.
Entering the new year, I was thrilled to immerse myself in new creative ventures. I was working with founders and execs on their business ideas. Meeting with investors and newly exited CEO's that were looking to give back. I had renewed focus and energy to pour into others. All of this meant that coming into the new year was, well, a ton of fun.
All of this fun also meant that I was coming across new opportunities to plug in - as an investor of my own human and financial capital. All of this while being fresh out of the job I left.
Some playful ribbing from my husband suggested the timing of my wanting to invest while having just shut off my income was well, risky. My husband being the pragmatic one. We're competitive (we met on a college swim team after all) so it took a second for me to come back with the suggestion that we knock down expensive line items from our budget and a pricey life insurance policy for my husband was right up there. To obtain a new policy, an MRI was necessary to expunge a decades ago "pre-existing" concern that never amounted to anything. With this concern wiped clean, the policy's premium would be reduced. Plan in place.
It turns out, the job I walked away from would initiate a string of events that would change our lives forever.
The MRI was scheduled. Results came back. There was a brain tumor. What?? This would require surgery. Stunned. Playful ribbing around an investment that led to a financial discussion which led to an MRI would now lead to brain surgery. I'll jump ahead, this story ends happily. We can breathe.
In what would become the first of many miracles over the next few months, my husband works for a neurosurgery group. The best in the nation. His colleagues would be providing care. We were in great hands with access to enormous resources. Also, new to our hospital was an intraoperative MRI machine. This technology is transforming outcomes of tumor surgery resulting in more accurate and less invasive treatment. The machine, which Mike was involved in acquiring years and months before any of this was on our radar would go in and be fully operational one week before Mike's procedure. He would be the first patient.
Testing began to map my husband's brain to ensure that a procedure could be done safely and with limited to no impairment. My bright, ambitious, strong, father of two, friend to many, COO of a neuro group, loving husband was having to go through this. Neuropsych testing, functional MRI's, you name it, it was done. How many of us have the freedom of trying to park our issues or concerns while we go to work or leave them at work when we go home? Mike was dealing with brain concerns while working for a group that treats brains! Suddenly tumor talk was everywhere, all the time.
A child psychologist was consulted, our children were informed, we set a surgery date. Our daughter's birthday was going to be a week after surgery. How do we pull this off and not scar our children forever? Will Mike be ok?
The hospital arranged for me to have a private waiting room during surgery. Mike was brave, I agonized as he was wheeled off. After a few hours and what should be near the end of the surgery, I was awaiting a call that everything went well. I had spent the time that Mike was in surgery toggling in and out of prayerful meditation and tears. It was hard to breath, I felt like I was sitting under an elephant. This next part is difficult to put into words so I'll just tell you what happened - out of 'nowhere', I experienced an overwhelming calm. I suddenly heard, knew and felt that everything was going to be ok with Mike. The wave of peace was so surreal that I paused, wondering if I should tell Mike's parents (who were sitting right across from me) about it. They were in agony over what their son was enduring, wouldn't this sound ridiculous? But knowing what I had experienced was so certain, I shared it. To my relief, this experience brought comfort. Moments later, Mike's surgeon turned the corner and shared that the surgery was a success. Chills. Praise God.
Mike's recovery was swift. Seeing a towering man walk laps around the hospital floor, determined to bounce back brought the physicians and nurses to tears. There was such admiration. I remember seeing Mike walk, hoping his head would clear the low hanging exit signs. It was a sight to behold. His first morning back home I searched the bed for him in a panic, where was he? I looked down and found him doing planks. Planks! On the first day home from invasive brain surgery. He was going to be fine! More than fine. We were going to kick the $h*t out of recovery.
Throughout we received enormous love and support from family and friends. Mike was back at work in record time. We came out on the other side of uncertainty, better for the wear.
Needless to say, "didn't see this coming" could be an anthem. Not every blind corner has something scary in store, but unknowns are a given. Are you ready?
The events that resulted in my being able to walk away from a company I helped build were ultimately leading me to create healthy space in my life. Space I used to support my family during a time of uncertainty. I couldn't have known that only a few short months in to a fresh new year, the year would take a turn. But isn't this life? Full of winding paths with twists, turns and the occasional dip? If you aren't ready, get ready. Time is precious, your gifts too valuable to not use them at their fullest. A positive mindset, faith and putting in the work in before it was even necessary to draw upon got us through. We are better not bitter for it.
Now, as I kick-off another new year, picking up with renewed entrepreneurial ambition, I'm walking on sunshine again. It's actually raining as I write this but the world is bright around me and I'm / we're ready to go! Let's do this.