For a rare genetic disease, Cystic Fibrosis can certainly hit home. Since I started posting CF events on my social media pages, I've been overwhelmed by the stories about how CF impacts your own life.
As I've been sharing stories of Washington D.C. families fighting for a cure for CF, I've been looking for a way to connect back to my hometown crowd too. To have Nicole be willing to share her story with you all means a lot.
Last week, she sent me a message to give you a small insight into her family's day-to-day life.
At 7:00 every evening, we start their vest and breathing treatments again which take approximately 1 hour.
In 2016, our local walk raised over $24K and had over 200 walkers. This year’s walk is Sunday, September 17 at 2:00pm at Mercelina Park (hot water hole area).
If you thought this post was about how my teeth got to be straight for 25 cents... I have bad news. My parents will be the first to tell you my Invisalign in high school cost more than 25 cents.
In Texas, I changed. I became a baker from scratch. No more pre-made cookie dough rolls for me. I got a Kitchen Aid Mixer and the title "Betty Crocker" from my co-workers.
The real reward now is giving whatever I bake away - especially to my co-workers - and seeing their reactions. Like this message from my assignment editor when I brought in dirt pudding Tuesday:
Did you make that Pyrex dish full of evil sorcery by the break room?"
My executive producer in Texas asked me once why I baked for them so much. I told him it's a way to make someone smile... for less than 25 cents.
We were sitting on her family's back porch, when Elena Lohsen told me she doesn’t see her life as that different than her peers. This was amazing to me considering everything I know Elena must do in a single day to combat Cystic Fibrosis.
As I watched photos of Elena’s life pass by, I actually started to believe it when Elena told me she doesn’t think she’s all that different. Because if you look closely at the photos, one thing is pretty obvious: Elena doesn’t let CF hold her back from living a full life.
The photo that finally convinced me was one of Elena sitting in what looks like an airport with her vest on doing a CF treatment. It looked completely normal, just part of her routine, to wear that vest. Even in the middle of a crowd.
From Elena’s YouTube video to the Xtreme Hike the family hosts every fall, they are incredibly involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
“I'm sure I'll get a lot of questions at lunch time about the pills I have to take,” Elana said. “So I think that will be cool educating some people.”
You can help find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis by donating to the foundation: https://metrodc.finestcff.org/ellenbryan.
One book every week. That was the challenge I set for myself on this day last year for my 28th birthday.
I walked off the plane today at Reagan National Airport and adjusted my baseball cap a little lower over my eyes. With minimal make-up, jeans and just a few hours of sleep, I was hoping to walk out of the terminal with very little eye contact with anyone.
I got as far as the first food kiosk before a man hollered my name, "Hey, Ellen!"
When I turned toward him (very self conscious of the fact that my short hair was spilling out in awkward places under my hat), he seemed to instantly realize I wasn't ready for any attention. So he leaned toward me instead and quietly said, "I love watching you on Channel 9!"
We smiled at each other, I gave him a very sincere "thank you" and we went our separate ways.
(Inserting the clip just in case you somehow haven't seen this movie as many times as I have. Go to :20 seconds into it.)
These last four months of trips and vacation time have been a blast. But am I ever glad to be home and ready to get back to a normal routine.
Doesn't it seem like summer always ends up this way? The packed calendars of reunions, weddings, showers, concerts, festivals and parties (plus the hot weather) makes this my favorite time of year.
But the best part might be all of this constant activity forcing you to live in the moment. Otherwise, it's all too overwhelming.
When April started, I looked ahead at the next 16 weeks and slightly panicked. My calendar was crammed. So I hung a quote on my bathroom wall to focus day-to-day instead.
One day at a time - this is enough... Live in the present and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering." - Ida Scott Taylor
I will tell you what, it worked. I'm sitting here at the end of a four month vacation marathon - and I don't regret a single day. Living in the moment, reconnecting with nearly everyone who made me who I am today - that's what made these last four months special.
Did I miss all of the latest updates on social media? Yes. Have I all but abandoned this blog? Yes.
But stepping out of the digital world to live in the actual one was more than worth it. Plus, I'm making up my blogging hiatus to you now, with a recap photo gallery below.
To my family and friends who made this spring and summer so memorable - thank you! As we said at our high school reunion last night, let's not wait too long before we get together again.
Every day for the last 17 years has been building to today - or so I've always thought.
17 years ago today, my 17-year-old sister Christina was struck by lightning while working on a golf course. In that moment, Christina went from deciding what college to attend... to fighting for her life.
Christina won that fight, but would never go back to the path she was walking down before June 13, 2000. In fact, her ability to walk, talk and control nearly all of her muscles would be taken from her completely that day.
I can guarantee Christina isn't sitting at home today dwelling on the "what if" scenarios. What if she hadn't walked outside after the storm? What if our family hadn't come home from vacation one day early to even be in town on June 13th at all?
Since the day she was struck, Christina seems to only focus on the future, on getting better one day at a time.
How many of us plan out our futures in our minds? We make vision boards and set goals for five, 10 and 20 years down the road. We hold onto those dreams - and the second they look cloudy, we panic and tighten our grip on them.
Worse yet, we create those hysterics just for a slight bend in the path - not a radically different path all together.
Not long after Christina was struck, Dad hung up a sign that said...
The hardest part about moving forward is not looking back."
As a family, we've all tried to embrace that quote. But no one is better at executing it than Christina.
Christina's life would have made an impact on people no matter what happened on June 13, 2000. She was bright, driven and would have left her mark on this world.
I suppose that's why today feels like every other day for the last 17 years. It's the life Christina has embraced and is living to the fullest.
Life isn't perfect. You might run into a detour sign on the path you're traveling. Scratch that. You WILL run into a detour sign. But it's not about the detour, it's about how you respond to the detour.
Encouraging more women to become CEOs, teaching women how to invest their money... Own It by Sallie Krawcheck examines many important topics. But to me, the most gripping sentence in her book was this one:
Research indeed shows that one of the most important relationships in determining a woman's success in the workplace is the one with her father; his support gives her confidence." - Sallie Krawcheck, CEO of Ellevest
(I've personally loved having all sisters because I think it erased any boy/girl division in our house. We were side-by-side with dad taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, building houses for Bryan Building Corporation... Plus, who can forget dad declaring we had to catch the softball 1,000 times in a row before we went in for supper?)
My parents built in us a "can do" attitude, regardless of whether you're male or female, especially when it comes to our careers. They instilled in both my sister, Andrea, and me the courage to move to new cities and chase our dreams.
That might not sound impressive unless you know the hours I've worked in the news business. In Kentucky, those calls were after midnight - he still answered. In Texas and now D.C., those calls are around noon - he still picks up the phone.
I realize this post is more appropriate for Father's Day, but an email at work today reminded me of this quote from Sallie Krawcheck, and suddenly this blog started writing itself in my mind.
Yes, my father's belief in me has been instrumental in life.
Then mix that fact with one of my many favorite lines from Tim Russert's book Big Russ and Me:
There's nothing worse than disappointing your parents, and nothing better than making them proud."
So now you have child who wants to make her/his parents proud, plus parents who fully support her...? That's a recipe for success.
Three years ago during the Winter Olympics, NBC ran a story on Alex Bilodeau, a Canadian freestyle skier. From the beginning of the piece, Alex talks about his brother, Frédéric.
My brother, he’s my ground. His everyday life brings me to reality.” Alex Bilodeau
Ten thousand tear drops later, I finished the clip. And then replayed it. Again and again. For the first time, someone put into words what I had been trying to say for years. Alex shared that same source of motivation that fires me every single day.
That source? Our siblings.
Frédéric's spirit and happiness in life reminded me of my oldest sister, Christina.
Last year, my co-worker asked if I would be willing to share Christina's story with our viewers. Before we shot a frame of video, I sent her Alex and Frédéric's story. (If you haven't seen my sister's story, here's the link.)
Everyone goes towards Frédéric and says how Frédéric inspired them. The story inspired them way more than the performance of the medal.” - Alex Bilodeau
For those of us who grew up with siblings with disabilities, we are a direct result of their influence on us. At our most influential ages, our brothers and sisters wove life's most important lessons straight into our DNA.
I believe in the end everything we accomplish becomes a tribute to them. Our stories start with their story.
Nothing causes me more discomfort than having the following conversation.
Why do I hope a conversation like this never comes up between you and me? A: After six years, I'm still in denial that I'm a vegetarian. And B: If I think it's strange I don't eat meat, then I just assume you do too.
Plus, this conversation always happens at the worst time. Like when you've made dinner for me and then suddenly learn I'm only going to eat the bread and pickle off the sandwich.
In fact, I keep this fact about me so quiet that my uncle only realized this fall that I don't eat meat. Meanwhile, we've eaten dozens of meals together over the last six years.
Well, that was all I needed to hear. I pushed my kid's basket of shrimp to the middle of the table and was done with popcorn shrimp for the rest of my life.
Secondly, I blame my Grandma Rose (whom I love dearly).
Grandma Rose grew up on a farm and saw how the sausage was made. Literally. Growing up, I ate dinner at my grandparents house almost every Wednesday from first grade until I graduated high school. Every meal included a story from grandma about how that chicken/turkey/bacon/etc came to sit on our plates. Every bloody detail.
Do I wish I ate meat? Sure do. My goodness, I'm from a small farming community in Ohio. My friends and their parents need you to eat meat for their livelihood.
But where you see a perfectly grilled steak, my mind pictures the raw insides of a cow. Where you see BBQ chicken wings, I see the chickens on my grandma's farm frantically running around after losing their heads.
Ok, good. We've made it to the end of this post. Now maybe I will never have the dreaded "Yes, I Don't like Meat" conversation again. Ok, fine. The "Yes, I'm a Vegetarian" conversation.
Book of the Week: The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee
"Ellen, I love how you're always singing and so happy," our studio camera technician told me last week as we did our live cut-in for CBS This Morning.
While I'll take that compliment, it's not completely accurate. I'm not always happy. I definitely have bad days when I can't kick my own grumpiness. Come on! Life is messy and I'm a perfectionist - those two factors don't mix so well.
But I can see why my co-workers believe I'm harboring some secret to happiness because I admit - I'm a glass half full kind of gal. An eternal optimist who believes in happily ever afters.
So why would someone who seems genetically programed to be happy read a book about achieving additional happiness? Because I'm a perfectionist. Did you miss that part up above?
And here's the thing, reading The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee helped me understand that what makes me happy might not be what makes you happy.
But I'm not you. And what makes me happy might not make you happy.
Yes, some general practices apply like choosing happiness and being grateful for even the smallest joys in your life (i.e. blasting country music on your drive to work or eating a Kit-Kat in the middle of a newscast).
But you might not get the same thrill from organizing your bathroom cabinets that I do.
So find your own happiness. Don't settle for a mundane life. Figure out your happiness style and embrace it. (Here's a link to the author's happiness style assessment.)
You have passions, you have talents, and you have something to contribute to this world. We need your contributions. Don't let your discontentment with life today stop you from finding your happily ever after.
From my TV high heels, to the baseball cap I wear nearly everywhere else... I'm finding my voice in this blogging world.