Healing Hearts

It’s not always easy when the challenges are weighing you down, but in this life we are all bigger than the problems we face. You must believe that and never, ever forget it. Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you.

To rise above whatever circumstance is in front of you takes only one step into the arena many fear to tread, that of courage. Get knocked down so you can learn to get back up and hold your position.

Then go on and share your story so others can be inspired.

After all, everyone has a story.

I’m Mark Brodinsky and this is The Sunday Series.


The Sunday Series (132): Healing Hearts

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“One thing we know about life, is that it is always changing, sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down, sometimes you’re happy and sometimes your sad, that’s that thing called life.” – Les Brown

The holiday season is a time of joy and fellowship, family and friends, love and enriched spirit. The season speaks to us as a way to rekindle the romance of life and a reminder of that time of inward innocence from our youth, before life creeps in and tries to draw our attention outward. For Molly Garrison and her children the season will always carry mixed emotions.

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The day after Christmas, December 2010 was going to be like any other day during the holiday season. Molly’s children, Amanda, Trey and Michael, despite being teenagers, or on the threshold of young adulthood still enjoyed climbing into bed with their mom to plan their day, banana pancakes for breakfast and a full day of holiday togetherness on the horizon.

That is until Molly opened the closet. Her suitcase, which had still been packed after a two-week trip out west for skiing with the family, was missing. Molly’s clothes were dumped on the floor and her husband’s wedding band was on the dresser.

Gone.

The man who trained for years to become a cardiothoracic surgeon, helping to save hearts, in the blink of an eye left four broken ones in his wake. Deciding he no longer wanted the responsibilities of fatherhood and family, he left.

The reasons why are close and personal to the Garrison family, and truly not as important as the stark reality which now stared Molly in the face. At age 51, she was left to pick up the pieces. Halfway through life, she was starting over and would need to be born again.

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You’re going to have some ups and you’re going to have some downs, but during those down moments, that’s where the growth takes place, that’s where the work is.

Molly, who hadn’t really worked outside the home in 15 years as she raised her family and helped her husband to build his medical practice, thought she had the benefit of a double masters in early childhood and psychology. Inspired by her own sister who was mentally disabled, Molly had always enjoyed helping those with special needs and for years had worked in the education field.

But now work was going to be hard to find… a decade-and-a-half removed from her last position, teaching jobs were few and far between. “Interestingly the only job I could get was as an assistant to a first year teacher”, says Molly. “She had a bachelor’s degree, I have a double masters, it was very humbling. There were quite a few humbling years. I worked for a friend of mine who owned a boutique and designed wedding invitations and portfolios. I did the design work based on what my mom taught me, but it was tough to support myself and my family.”

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The real challenge, the real challenge of growth, mentally, emotionally and spiritually comes when you get knocked down. How you handle it. Are you going through it or are you growing through it? Are you bigger and better because of it?

Support was tough to come by, Molly’s husband left the family on the heels of both her parents passing away within eight months of each other. But organization and resourcefulness are two of Molly’s greatest strengths. During the difficult years of a one-income family while her husband attended medical school, Molly did the impossible. “I love telling the story that while we were living in Monterey, Mexico for four years we lived on $100-a-month for groceries. If you know me, you know I’m a little organized and I accounted for a one-month menu and accounted for every ingredient on the menu. For example the schedule called for spaghetti twice for dinner, once for lunch and then freeze it to have leftovers and make sure we could make ends meet. I’m very sequential. My mom, who was a nurse, but also a decorator, taught me things were done in odd numbers. Do it right the first time and you don’t have to look back.”

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Molly continues: “I probably made a mistake but my attitude was that my marriage or my divorce was not going to be about money. I didn’t want my kids to think that’s what it was about. I wasn’t aggressive, didn’t hire an aggressive attorney and instead made it my responsibility to pick up the pieces. I knew there was a path, but I didn’t know what it would be. I had very little confidence in myself, but lots of faith. I went through divorce class at church and knew God had a plan and if I keep working and if I keep pushing and show this (resolve) to my children it would be OK.”

Things are going to happen to you and the most important thing you can do is to harness your will… and let it go.

In the meantime, there were attempts at reconciliation between the children and their father, but much of it especially early on, was difficult and hurtful. They didn’t see their dad until a year-and-a-half after he left and Michael graduated from high school. Through the strained relationships, it’s been Molly who has championed the cause of her kids spending time with their dad. “I encourage them to have a relationship with their father because I cannot be a father to them. A mother loves unconditionally. A father supplies the “attaboys”. When a father tells his son how proud he is of him he gives his son value and I can’t do that. They know I’m always going to support them and tell them how amazing they are. I encourage them to see their dad at Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and at least once during the summer.”

I’m in control here. I’m not going to let this get me down. I’m not going to let this destroy me. I’m coming back and I’ll be better and stronger because of it.

Strength has always been at the core of Molly’s life, spiritual, family and hard work taught to her by her own father and mother. “I still remember my father worked at the Sun oil company (Sunoco)”, says Molly “and he worked up to being vice-president of administrative services. When he was finished at the office he would come home, eat dinner and then go into his home office and work until the wee hours of the morning. He always said because he didn’t have a college education he had to work longer to get it right, but he always worked until he got it done.”

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Develop the necessary habit of working harder than what you are paid for.

Though good-paying work was hard to come by for Molly, early in 2014 she found a webinar hosted by a man named Kevin Ferrell. She immediately called the office in Texas and set an appointment to meet with Kelly Morgan. Molly says Kelly talked a lot about HOPE, Helping Other People Everyday. “I thought I can do this I love helping people”, says Molly. “I had no idea what I was doing but I listened to Kelly and I took notes of every manager. I worked out of the storage closet and anytime any agent came in the office to ask a question I would jump up to listen to hear what they were dealing with. I would listen and take notes and learn as much as I could. I was committed from the get-go. I called leads that were 2 and 3 years old, loved hearing people’s stories and helping them. I hit my early milestones quickly and after only a few months got invited to Cabo San Lucas on a company trip and that was life-changing.

“Don’t know how I got there except the power of prayer. I watched a panel of men up on the stage actually crying about the impact this company has had on their lives. How it took them from their dark days to where they are now. I started bawling and Troy McQuagge, our President and CEO was sitting at the table behind me, probably wondering why I was crying too. But in those moments I finally understood and felt hope. I can give my kids hope now and in the future. I did not do a good job when their dad left. Hope was there but I could not find it. But it is about what you do for others. Hope anchors the soul and definitely anchors my soul.”

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I’m going to turn this situation around. I’m not going to sit back and moan and cry over what happened and what went wrong and who did what. I’m going to do something about this situation. Expect things to get better for you because they are!

Until next time, thanks for taking the time.

– Mark Brodinsky
– markbrodinsky@gmail.com