Don’t Give Up

ISUOne moment I was living my dream as a professional basketball player in Europe, driving past my opponent with perfect body control releasing the ball so gently it kissed the backboard. The next instance, I was spinning weightlessly through air when our car flipped off a 100 foot embankment into France’s La Meuse River leaving me clawing against an icy current.

The impact of the crash, broke me in half - cracked my sternum, compressed vertebrae in my rib cage, concussed my brain, blocked my intestines and ended my career instantly.

I was only 26 years old. I thought life was over.

In the long days of therapy I slowly regained use of my limbs while living 4,000 miles away from home. I wanted to give up. I had no purpose.

In pain and despair, I hung on, an hour, a minute, a second at a time.Lechaults on the Wolf river

I never ran or played basketball again, but I persisted and went onto to lead a fulfilling life.

I married the Frenchman, who stood by me as I struggled to carve a new identity in a foreign land. Together we raised 2 bilingual, bi-cultural kids, who grew strong, trained hard and entered helping professions, one as a pediatrician, the other as a chiropractor.

Swiss AlpsEilan Doran Castle. ScotlandI lived near the Eiffel Tower in Paris and at the foothills of the Alps on Lake Geneva. I stood on Mt. Blanc and the Acropolis in Athens. I rode horses on the beach in the Camargue and floated down the canals of Venice. I walked in the shadows of my forefathers at Scotland’s McKinzie Castle and along the Norwegian fjords of my Olson ancestors above the Arctic Circle.

When I could no longer play basketball, I thought I would never adjust to sitting the bench, but found my calling as a coach. In three decades of coaching and teaching I had the privilege of working with sons and daughters of diplomats and world leaders from around the globe from whom I learned as much as I taught.

NCAAI wrote a book that led to an invitation to speak at the U.S. Senior National Games, an NCAA Final Four basketball banquet and commencement at the prestigious International School of Geneva, founder of international baccalaureate.

During my lowest point, I thought I had nothing left to give, but I never gave up. In retrospect, I see that I had a lot left to offer and even more to learn.

Nearly 4 decades later, after another life threatening accident last spring, I struggled again to tie my shoes, walk the fields, write a paragraph, repeating lessons learned years ago. I wonder why am I here? I grapple with finding a purpose to continue.

At age 63, I am too young to put out to pasture.

Each day I lift dumbbells, walk the block, play memory games coaxing my body and mind to grow stronger in preparation for the next calling.

Coaching in SwitzerlandIn the meantime, I keep fighting to go on, pulling up someone else, pushing another forward. After all my struggles, this much I know to be true. We are in the game together.

No one gets this far on their journey without the love of family and friends, the kindness of acquaintances and the helping hand of a fellow man.

In this endless season of sadness, during one of world’s deadliest pandemics, we want to throw in the towel and call it quits. Our bones ache from the cold, grey winter, our spirits break from living in isolation and mourning lost loved ones, our minds spin with anxiety facing future uncertainties. We are each struggling with something.

Let my crazy odyssey serve as an example of hope. Take it from the kid who thought her life ended in an accident at age 26 and is still standing today. Don’t give up yet.

Better things lie ahead.

Hope. Have faith. Hang on.

Put one foot forward.

The sun will rise again.

Sunrise on Summit Lake, Wisonsin

Posted in inspiration.

16 Comments

  1. Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the assurance of things hoped gor, the conviction of things not yet seen.” I always strive to keep the faith–in myself, others and God. Another quote that keeps me going is “We’re all just walking each other home.” We need to remember we’re in this together! Peace.

    • Thanks so much for the uplifting quotes, Sheila. I especially find the one, “We’re all just walking each other home,” so comforting. So profound and beautiful.Thanks for sharing.

  2. These days it is difficult to foresee the future. Travel plans that we’ve looked forward to for years have been shelved. I’ve decided to delay my long awaited retirement because we can’t go anywhere, we can’t even volunteer with this horrible virus. It makes more sense to just stay with my job working from home – can’t do anything else. I miss my family in IL and MI. But, as you have said, life could be worse in some way and we have to find fun, love and beauty and the will to keep going in the simple things in life. I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other and believe that better things lie ahead. Thank you for your reminder that “Life Is Good”. Love you sister!! Mar Mar

    • Thanks Mar-Mar for commenting. So sorry so many of your plans have been put on hold as is that much awaited retirement. Since you work from home could you work from your camper and continue to explore those beautiful areas nearby until this horrible virus gets under control. Until then, I am always here if you need a pep talk or an encouraging word. Remember your Warrior roots and rock on, sis. You got this!

  3. Thank you for this inspirational post, Pat. Yesterday I felt all those negative feelings — extreme tiredness over this beastly cold and icy weather, fear over our economy, weariness from the pandemic, and so forth. I’m usually a pretty sunny, resilient personality, and it concerned me that if I felt like that, how much worse would it be for the person naturally tending toward depression. No wonder our mental health professionals are sounding the alarm! So yes, your story lifts me up and encourages me, and I hope you’ll keep telling it. We don’t all have the same path to trod, but as you say, walking it with others lightens the load. You rock!!
    Debbie recently posted…Tangible AffirmationsMy Profile

    • Thank you, Debbie, for your uplifting comment and reminding me why I must continue to write in spite of all the obstacles. Right now as I write this, the sun is shining outside my window, so I am sending some your way. We are halfway through February. Keep up your writing, puppy hunting and believing. Brighter days await us on our paths ahead and on the dark days we will tug each other along the way through our words.

  4. You have an interesting life story that has many elements worth sharing to help others. Thank you for your vulnerability and openness in sharing it!

    • Thanks Fran. It was so nice to hear from you. It helps to know that we are all connected even across the miles especially during these tough times.

  5. This is just what I needed right now. Yesterday was my first day out of bed and isolation after fighting Covid for four weeks. You and I have talked about our struggles in life. We have been through a lot but we still have more to give.
    My best wishes for your good health!
    Love you!

    • Oh Joanie, I am so sorry to hear you have been battling Covid and hope that it is finally over. I know that you have had to overcome so many health struggles already in your life. I am so sorry that you had to face this battle too. I hope that no one else in your family was infected. Go slow. Take one day at time. And know,without a doubt, you still have more to give. Lots of love and hope that you grow stronger everyday.

  6. Sometimes the truth tries to slip out and make me recognize it. It says, this is bigger than you think. Worse. Darker. It might not get better.
    I look back at all we’ve been through–my mom almost dying and then moving in with us, then Covid, then Bill getting MRSA (he’s fine)…it’s too much.
    I think of the school kids losing time, the people becoming homeless, climate change, Trump, artificial intelligence. It goes on and on.
    If I let myself recognize it, I have to lie on the couch and read fiction, happy stories that reboot my brain.
    I tell myself it’s okay to not recognize it.

    • Yes, Lynne, I agree that it is all too much, too overwhelming and too frightening. I am limiting my time watching the news becomes it gets me so down. I am so grateful that I still have the ability to read and escape in fiction. Make sure that you also keep writing to “reboot your brain” and continuing sharing your hope-filled Midlife books with the rest of us. I sincerely hope that Bill is on the mend and that your mom is holding her own.

    • Ever since we “met” in our Dan Clan course, I have been inspired by your journey, your positive attitude and undying faith in battling all the health issues you continue to encounter.

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