In two days, I will step to the podium in a small conference room in St. Petersburg, Florida and share some of what I’ve learned as a result of our family’s experiences over the past several years in the hope that it will make the journey of even one other “Ashley” and her family a little easier.
It would be a considerable understatement to suggest that this is far removed from my comfort zone. In fact, I’ve never shared many of the things I intend to share with this group of “strangers” on Friday publicly before. Still, I find a surprising sense of calmness beginning to settle in as “crunch time” approaches. Maybe it’s because I’m allowing myself to entertain the possibility that what I have to say on Friday is critically important, that my words may actually make a difference in someone else’s life. Maybe it’s because I know that as long as I’m speaking from heart, which I will be, there really can’t be anything “wrong” about what I have to say.
Perhaps my calmness derives from the following note that I received a few days ago from a treatment professional, who I admire and respect a great deal, regarding the remarks I intend to deliver:
Don, All I have to say is WOW! Words cannot accurately express how ABSOLUTELY AMAZING I think this presentation is. I really cannot even add anything to it, except maybe to add in a “handout” of some “do’s and don’ts” (Conference attendees appreciate those). I think the “Courage Chart” is AMAZING, as are the “Circles of Affirmation” and, with your permission, I would like to use both of those interventions in my practice. Ashley is very lucky to have you in her corner. Knock’ em dead! B.D.
I suspect all of the above have something to do with the peace about all of this that was washing over me when I woke up this morning at 4:00 a.m. Whatever its source, this much is clear (and I shared these sentiments with Ashley last night): I am doing this to honor my daughter and her courage in the face of what, at times, was immeasurable pain and heartache and seemingly insurmountable odds. I want her perseverance in the face of that pain and those challenges to inspire others the way it has inspired me – and I’m convinced it will!