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The Power to Decide

Updated: Jan 16, 2019

In 2004 my sister died. It was sudden. It was tragic. It was unexpected.

It was the brutal, gut-wrenching discovery late one night at a hospital in Gainesville, Florida that we might go home without her...we never, ever saw it coming.

After the single darkest night, the sun rose the next day and...we drove back to Orlando, a family of four. That's where our New Normal began, but even that took weeks and months and years to develop. I won't even say we've perfected it now, all these years later.

I cannot tell you much about life, that moment, I knew the desperation of wanting something with every fiber of my being - and having the outcome fill me with a bottomless sadness. An uncertain fear. A fiery anger. A sea of confusion.

There were days that felt empty, hours that felt the revolting surge of pain, weeks of mind-numbing torment. Yet, still...the sun continued to rise. Birds still sang. Gusts of wind still swept by. I could stand in a crowded store...and the world kept moving. Eventually, I'd just pick any old toothpaste off the shelf and sludge through the quicksand that filled the space between me and check out.

Then the morning came where I had to decide. I was two weeks shy of 21 - a kid trapped in an adult's body, "Am I going to live the rest of my life like this..."

I shook the thought off. I immediately knew it wasn't my answer - unless I wanted to someday arrive in Heaven myself and have Kellie promptly kick my ass. I wasn't going to stay here. Grief could come along for the ride with me...but I was going to call the shots.

I still had no idea what the other way to live was though. How do you pick up the pieces and figure out a New Normal? I mean, I really hadn't even figured out the OLD Normal, if I'm being honest...

That's the moment I decided to get out of bed and just accomplish one thing every day. Maybe it was just putting clothes on and throwing my hair into a pony tail that first day. A few days later I tried to put on makeup (still with waterproof mascara - just in case) and a week later...I went back to work.

Eventually that decision to accomplish one small thing every day was the motivating factor for me to Live Out Loud.


Live Out Loud, to me, isn't about going sky diving or learning how to breathe fire (although it very well might for you) -- but, to me, the art of Living Out Loud is to accomplish that one thing every single day.

Put one foot in front of the other. Do the things that scare you. Find your comfort zone and race past it. Big things count. SMALL THINGS COUNT. Every day. In a week, a month...365 days later -- you'll see how far you've gone.

That's how I found my New Normal. It's also how I learned to fight for my Silver Linings.

I was mad at the sun when it dared to shine the morning we left Gainesville without Kellie.

I was mad at the sun's warmth nearly every day for weeks after when I could feel nothing else.

I hated that the sun allowed the world to continue moving when I ached and hurt and couldn't function.

But, here's the thing I realized the day I discovered I had the power to decide -- the sun gives us a new chance every single day to get it right, to try again, to live out loud. So, just because one day was a miss...doesn't mean the ones after have to be.

You have the power to decide.

You can fight to find those Silver Linings.

You can choose to be happy.

You can Live Out Loud.

And you can start any moment you're ready.

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