021 - Meilani Hock
“Why NOT me?”
Meilani Hock shares her story of dealing with postpartum depression, cancer, and learning to take care of ourselves. Enjoy.
The Illuminate Recovery Podcast is about Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Addiction Recovery. Shining light on ways to cope, manage, and inspire. Beyond the self care we discuss, you may need the help of a licensed professional. Curt Neider and Shelley Mangum are a part of Illuminate Billing Advocates. They are committed to helping better the industry and adding value to the lives of listeners by sharing tools, insights, and success stories of those who are working on their mental health.
Transcript (no grammar): why not me meilani hawk shares her story of dealing with postpartum depression cancer and learning to take care of ourselves enjoy welcome to the illuminate recovery podcast we shed light on mental health issues mental illness and addiction recovery ways to cope manage and inspire beyond self-care we will discuss you may need the help of a licensed professional my name is kurt neider i'm a husband father entrepreneur a handyman and a student of life i avoid conflict i deflect with humor and i'm fascinated by the human experience and i'm shelley mangum i am a clinical mental health counselor and my favorite role of all times is grandma i am a seeker of truth and i feel like life should be approached with tremendous curiosity i ask the dumb questions i fill in the gaps i am so excited today to be able to talk to meilani hawk meilani hawk has an incredible history some really hard parts of her life which included um a son with cancer and that journey and she's an incredible businesswoman and very successful in her own rights and uh melanie thanks for being here today oh thank you so much for having me on what a great topic um this is and i i'm i'm excited to be on thank you and i know there's a lot of your story that may or may not relate to um to our listeners at least wise you know mental health and substance abuse but i'm under the impression that everybody's life matters and everybody's story has something to teach somebody and so i'm just i'm just going to be curious and and ask you a few questions and we'll just see where it goes that sounds great that sounds great so give us a little bit of background melanie where do you come from and and tell us a little bit about life and your family yeah um well um i was born in hawaii raised in california um about 10 years ago my husband and i decided to go on an adventure to live on the east coast for a few years and that was 10 years ago and so we've been in north carolina uh for over 10 years now and we've just fallen in love with it out here after graduate school i i finished graduate school first and then worked while he was doing uh school at gonzaga and uh then couldn't find a job in the california market so we headed out to the east coast um we also spent some time working in mexico doing some curriculum development for an english school down there which was a fun newlywed experience when i was when we were first married i was working in the international development of genetic testing and i was in charge of the european and african accounts and so it was the perfect job for newlyweds because i had it in my contract that my husband had to come to be my bodyguard so when we were first married we we would get assigned to some not as exotic places like the far-off place of idaho falls um but then we would also get some assignments to go to benin and togo in africa and you know we went to a bunch of fun places over there and and to london and so as newlyweds that was awesome that was great and we were living this adventurous life and um but as we started having babies i i didn't want to travel as much and i i liked having a little bit more stability um and so with each child that came it came this love and excitement of being a mother but also that that desire to be uh responsible and that that weight of being responsible and not living the as my mom calls the hippie life forever right uh you know actually uh my i i had this love for the african people my graduate work was i i studied i worked with a lot of women in micro credit lending which was awesome um and which was great and i loved africa i wanted to i signed up for the peace corps and my mom was like when is this this phase going to end right um and um i don't know if any of your listeners are familiar with the lds church or the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints but um my mom actually got called to serve not one not two but three missions to africa and now her whole house is like decorated and like african stuff and like uh so she spent seven years over in africa and i teased her all the time mom when is this phase gonna end yeah so um and you know as a young newlywed we were living adventurous life and um when when i heard about being on your podcast i thought oh my goodness there's so many different ways to take this you know because like you said like some of us our mental health struggles aren't maybe as prevalent or you don't see them um and so they're i think they're becoming more talked about definitely but for me it was after baby number three when i was really really struggling with postpartum depression and it was a time in our life that um we're we're very religious people we we love to uh we talk about our faith a lot and i hope that's okay to do so on this um but um after baby number three i felt like i had prompted i had followed a prompting from the lord to have baby number three it was very clear it was very this is the time you need to have baby three and we had like for months we had known okay this time is the time you're gonna have so i knew the timing was right i didn't ever question that but everything around me in my life seemed like the timing should not be the time to have a baby other than that spiritual prompting that kept on coming and maybe that's why the spiritual prompting had to be so hard is because everything around us said no it's not time to have a baby um our finances were were a mess and my husband hated his job i hated my job um we were miserable and other than we had two other beautiful children and we knew that the lord had continued to tell us it was time to have a third and i think there were a bunch of different things that added to my postpartum depression but it it really did hit a a low note and the other day we were having a conversation we now have five children and we were having a deep conversation with our kids about depression actually and trying to provide a space so that they can talk about their their thoughts their um inclinations that they don't have to be embarrassed of that and when we shared when my husband asked if when we were preparing if i would feel comfortable sharing about my postpartum depression and i of course said yes but the moment i told my kids and not many people know this this isn't one that i i i like to do a lot of podcasts and this is not a story i share ever um and the other day was the first time i had shared it with my children um and i talked to him about how i was in such a dark place that i told my husband that i wanted a divorce and if you know me and my husband you would most people i think would be surprised by that i'm very grateful for a husband that loves and supports me but at this time of my life i was in such a dark place that things one plus one didn't equal two and it was um i recently had covet actually and i'm still kind of recovering and kovid was a for me a wild ride some people don't have the same experience but for me i have what i'm calling covet brain it was a lot like pregnancy brain but it almost got to the point that it was depression brain because i couldn't i knew one plus one equal two in my life and i knew that but it didn't make sense and it was so dark during this time that i just i was in a dark place and for months months and months and months and as we were talking to our kids about this and how important it was their faces were like oh my gosh mom and dad are getting divorced and you know and uh i was like but we we were able to reel it in and to say guys this is a real thing this is a real thing that happens to real people and it happens to good people it happens to the best of people and sometimes it lasts you know a month sometimes it lasts for years and years and maybe even your entire life and having that conversation with our kids was um a good eye opener my oldest is 12 my youngest is three um and we talked about how it works in different ages and phases and different things that bring it on and anyway so um that's kind of my background and um if it's okay uh i'd like to also share about that that baby who later became our miracle is that okay yeah that's okay i'm curious how your kids other than being you know this fear of you guys no you're gonna divorce oh no i've never had to think about that before how else did that affect them and what kind of conversations were you able to have with them yeah they said you know their first initial my my uh 10 year old said you guys really like just what um we're very a very physical mom and dad they see a lot of kisses they see a lot of um dancing in the halls and i think um it was i think it was a conversation that i don't think they've ever thought like that would never happen in our family and i didn't want to rock their world by having them realize that it could happen but also for them to see how lucky we are that mommy was able to get help so that i could get my my mindset back i could get control of my my brain again and get the help that i needed um and that as a family as a husband that he was able to support me and help me um as i worked back to um being a healthy a healthy version of me um and but so they they we we talked about it and how you know that was that was now oh goodness eight years ago nine years ago and how um i haven't had that thought since in fact we also took them to the house that we lived in during this time and how this little house and we talked about how at that time there were a lot of stresses going on in our lives and um but it was good for them i think it was i think it was good i hope i didn't scar them i don't know i don't know like you know i've scarred my children for life and i'm you know we've ruined them yeah i wanted them to know that also that they could have that conversation with me down the road when when they are having struggles in their marriage when they are i mean that's gonna happen right um and that they don't have to feel alone they don't have to feel like oh my parents they always had a perfect marriage they they don't understand depression i wanted them to understand that i do i do and we talked about some other times in our life that that that daddy has struggled with some things or and and just opening that communication so that they are able to recognize that as a as a trigger or whatever i don't know being on this on this podcast you i i don't know all the lingo and so if if i say things wrong i'm like oh maybe did i mess up my kids tell me shelly did i no melania this is perfect and you know i try not to have rules because it's too confining um but yeah trigger right these these things that trigger i'm curious in your postpartum at what point did you recognize that what was going on and how did you get help um for me it was actually when i had the conversation about divorce and um it was very clearly um i i will never forget the where we were sitting i'll never forget the time of day i it was very vivid and i had thought for weeks i'm gonna have this conversation and the look on his face like at first he kind of laughed like he thought i was kidding and i said i know i know i know i shouldn't want this i know that we're happy i know that we're supposed to be together but this is how i'm feeling and i think i need help because i'm very serious about i think we should get a divorce or i need some help to figure out if this isn't what i'm really supposed to be thinking right now um because it was almost like i was looking at my life right i don't know if that happens to a lot of people but i was i was like watching myself go through the daily things but i wasn't able to experience them during that time i didn't feel like i was inside i was watching them happen if that makes sense and um and that was a weird feeling and so that was the trigger and thank goodness my husband he was very hurt during that time but thank goodness he took a few hours and then he came back and he said something must be really wrong this like we're gonna get help whether it's together whether it's you whether it's medication whether whatever it is you know and um and so he got past that hurt fast enough to start helping me which is um something that i'm still grateful for so that's incredible um that you guys had such a relationship that you could talk about something really hard and the way you describe it is beautiful and painful because it really does describe how depression takes over our ability to be rational and to think clearly about what's happening and i and as you talk about seeing your life out here and seeing it from a distance and not being able to experience it the emotions and all of that it's like at a distance that's not uncommon especially i hear people that have experienced like um disassociative where they had traumas and they've stepped back i hear them talk like that as well um incredibly fascinating but you do such a great job of describing what that felt like for you and and a lot of people are going to relate to that and recognize that in themselves so thank you for doing that so well yeah thanks and what did you learn from that experience of going i'm assuming you went to get some counseling i don't know what did that look like yeah for me it was it was a few different things it was taking better care of myself i didn't hadn't really taken a proper maternity leave because i owned my own business and i was exhausted and there were a number of different things to me and i know that there are other people out there that might not agree with this i know they don't agree with this but for me nursing my babies was a huge part of it um i had had a breast reduction when i was younger and my body doesn't nurse it doesn't but i felt like to be a good mom i had to and so um i stopped nursing immediately that was what one of my doctors told me because it was just adding a pressure of running my own business and having two other young kids at home and trying to nurse and trying to pump and my baby was losing so much weight i was slowly starving my baby and um of course he was born at 10 pounds 12 ounces and that was hard to keep up with he was a big old boy and so um that there were just a number of things that i had to start taking care of myself first um but the other thing that came from it to be honest is the fear of having more kids um and and so i wasn't quite ready to put myself in a position that i could lose myself again i really felt like i had lost myself and i had to go on a journey to find myself again and i was nervous about doing that again um because i liked having control of my mind and i liked i liked being able to see light again and colors again um and so um but it came it came time where again there was time to have another baby when the next baby came around um again very very clear that it was time to have number four and um it was when number three let's see number four was six weeks old and i was just really trying to take better care of myself that time so that i could stay out of this um so i wouldn't slip back into that hopefully that that was my goal my plan taking good care of myself but i felt this uplifting this uplifting but scary feeling i don't know if you've ever had that where you know something big is coming in your life and you don't know if it's good or bad but it's almost like this feeling of adrenaline of something is coming and the lord is i felt like was preparing me for something um and i remember even going into labor day like i love labor days i hate being pregnant but i love labor days um and going into labor day and like seeing the little bag of goodies and water squirters and tux pads like i was even excited by my goodie bat i'm like whoa like we're about to do this like i was excited i think you might have thrown some people off when they were thinking labor day like the holiday and you're like no yes we're gonna have this baby this is what i call my labor days my baby days um and um but i just remember being so excited and something i could feel it it was tangible of how i could feel that something was coming for our family and at this point i had a different job that i liked a little bit better um i liked a lot better but it was still very busy and so i was like you know i by by labor day by baby delivery day um i wasn't as scared about the postpartum i was like i've got this like i'm going to take better care of myself um and then it was when that baby was six weeks old that baby number three was diagnosed with brain cancer on his second birthday and at that moment my whole life changed our whole our family's life changed and um i remember being in a dark hospital room because of his brain surgery and he was rushed in within 24 hours to have brain surgery and um i remember and so the lights would hurt um when we would turn them on so being in this really dark hospital room and um one of my sisters saying do you need to go to a doctor are you doing okay and this was after a couple weeks of dealing with brain cancer stuff and i remember being like yeah i should i should go to the doctor i should go to the doctor and i remember going to the doctor and being like everybody is worried about me being depressed this one time i don't think i am but am i and it was almost like i want to be cautious but i don't think i really am but during this time it was a different it was different because it was i think it was because so many people around the world were praying for us that we had this little bubble of from reality that we were just people bringing us meals all the time and um i got to just sit and snuggle my babies and uh it was a crazy time for sure we went and spent three months down in florida for radiation treatment and i didn't get to see my six week old very much at that point because they weren't allowed into the ronald mcdonald house as much and so i missed my other kids and we were spending time apart but luckily i didn't i didn't i didn't spiral into the same postpartum depression um but i remember being in that dark that dark hospital room wondering okay is this am i you know knowing so much was coming but thank goodness i had been taught some ways to take care of myself to manage it better and um so that when those triggers came i was able to better take care of myself and um and not slip back to where i had been two years earlier so that's incredible and and and and to your credit people are watching out for you of course this is a concerning time this is really heavy i mean no parent wants to hear that their child has cancer i'm curious how did you discover that he had cancer what what led up to that yeah that's a good question um again i i hope i'm not offending any of your listeners but it was a very spiritual experience remember how when i was having baby number four i felt like something big was coming and after a couple weeks after baby number four had been born um i started having this prompting that um uh well number three they have names aj okay you know sometimes the numbers are easier right um number aj um was throwing up after about 45 minutes after he went to bed um every other night and then he'd wake up and he'd be totally fine he'd be fine fine fine and then one day he was playing with the others and they were playing and kind of running around and he kept falling down and the kids laughed and laughed and he's a comedian like he's a he's a funny boy um and it kept falling down and he thought it was hilarious but all of a sudden i realized he's he's dizzy and so i put him in a high chair and gave him a sippy cup and he was sitting there staring directly at the sippy cup and he went to go grab it like over and over again but he was like six inches away from where he thought he was grabbing and i remember the prompting to sit down and i sat down and i watched the other kids play and i couldn't take my my eyes off of aj and i felt a very strong impression of this is serious and nobody's gonna believe you but the thing i've been preparing you for is that your son is sick and they're not going to be able to tell for a while so you have to remember this moment and you have to re-believe me in this moment because the doctors aren't going to believe you and sure enough for the next six weeks i i went around to doctor after doctor saying my son's sick the lord's told me you know but he seemed fine they said it was a flu bug oh he hasn't thrown up in three days he's fine and um i had just hit my deductible so finally i found a doctor that was willing to listen and i said i just want you to run every test you can please there's something wrong with my son and she even called me the night before she said last chance are you sure that you want to expose your son to all of these tests like there's no reason to do this and i said yes please and secretly in the back of my head i'm like please don't make am i am i crazy again you're like i feel like i don't know am i listening to the wrong voices maybe i'm maybe i'm postpartum i don't even know and so i was like i don't know should i trust the voices in my head and but thank goodness i did and um the next day when we had the test and that same doctor called and she said sometimes a mother's intuition is better than any medical degree and i said no sometimes being in tune with the spirit can save your your children's lives and i'm so grateful that um my husband and i both felt that prompting and um to the point that a couple weeks before one thing i had left out in the story is when i would go in to kiss each of my kids i would kiss my oldest and say oh i love you so much and then i go to the next one and say oh i love you so much and for some reason when i got to aj i found myself saying i love you please be here in the morning and it like took me back like oh my gosh that's a terrible thing to say what kind of mother's is that like that is terrible you know he's this almost two-year-old perfect thing and and but for some reason it came and it came night after night and i told my husband about it and he said stop saying that that's morbid why do you keep saying that to our son and then a couple nights later he said huh i thought the same thing when i said good night to aj today and so i the answer shelly is that there was a spiritual prompting and um and i'm so grateful there is and i need to say that that was that was years ago that was back in 2014 and now he's doing awesome he's healthy he's smart um we we joke that he's spider-man because the radiation actually i think made him smarter there were a bunch of side effects that we're supposed to look for including short-term memory loss but man his sister that is two years older than him sure hates doing multiplication tables with him because he always beats her and she's pretty frustrated by it so he's he's doing awesome we're very grateful for every day we get to spend with him and he's doing awesome wow that's incredible um and what a journey so so from discovering that he had cancer what were the next steps what did you have to do because you just don't discover that your child has cancer and then it's over good news yay we found it like there's a whole big there's a lot going on there yeah so um you know it took about six weeks for us to actually get the confirmation to find a doctor that would actually see us um the emergency room you know he would be throwing up he would be dizzy he couldn't stand up but by the time we got there then he was fine you know but so going to different doctor's specialists the minute that um that doctor called and told us the diagnosis and she said there's a large mass um in your son's head and come to find out they think i even that he had it while he was in the womb so this had been developing for possibly over two years and they said it looked like somebody had squirted a whole tube of toothpaste in his brain because it had gone to every single crevice of his brain and it was centered on what's called your brain stem that controls your breathing and you're swallowing it's kind of a important part and um they gave them a 60 60 chance of survival which was better than a lot of our friends but still not exactly what a mom wants to hear um they said if it would have happened 10 years earlier that it would have been only a 10 chance of survival and in in learning more about this type of cancer is because a special time type of radiation treatment photon is what usually people have and it just sprays all these gamma rays right and hopes that somewhere it hits it well proton is a very directed laser beam that they can say exactly when that laser is supposed to stop and so down to the you know millimila whatever right like the smallest smallest measurement it can stop exactly before it hits the brain stem that controls your breathing and swallowing um just amazing sometimes when i was younger i mean even before aj was diagnosed i used to think that when people say yeah we're going to cure cancer i kind of thought that that was like yes and i want a unicorn you know like i didn't i didn't understand that people were really doing this that people were really making advances so that when a doctor says if this would have happened five to 10 years earlier your son would have had a 10 chance um at that point they had given us a 60 chance now that it's been you know seven years that's crazy but now that it's been seven years um when we go into our treatments and they say oh you had proton treatment here you know and at the time proton was very new um there were only two places in the u.s that could do it so that's why we had to move down to florida during that time um and uh they're like oh you're good like oh you've had proton like it's amazing that in that short time frame of you know 7 15 years that for this type if you know of using proton radiation treatment for on your ependymoma brain cancer has almost cured this type of cancer which i think is so amazing and cool so yeah so he was diagnosed uh he was diagnosed within 24 hours he was being wheeled into brain surgery and i remember going the doctor said if it was me i would want my son to be treated over at duke that was um we're in north carolina right and so we get there and shelly it's not a good sign when the valet guy knows your name when you pull up and and he's like and they said just go straight to valet i was like we don't have money to pay for ballet like who ballet is at a hospital right but then i realized oh okay they must mean that we're in a hurry and um i get there and we say and he says are you the gates are you the hawks and i was like uh yeah and that's that why do you know me like and he's like oh we've got your room waiting for you like there was a long line in the emergency room but they already had a room for us the biggest room and oh another thing that i think of when i tell that story and usually people don't ask for this much detail i hope it's okay um but i remember going to get a drink of water and going to the bathroom and i came back i came back to my son's room and there were two nurses outside crying and i realized they were crying because my son didn't have a great prognosis at that time this was before brain surgery and so at that time the prognosis wasn't 60 and these two sweet nurses who every time they came in they were a ray of light and sunshine but they were holding and embracing right outside the door and i remember thinking oh they're so sad i wonder why they're so sad and they didn't know it was me and they said he's just so beautiful and he is guys i know what that timing really was again he was born with these amazing cheeks at 10 pounds 12 ounces and he had as a two-year-old he was this beautiful blonde big cheek boy that just everybody fell in love with and i remember thinking this is serious this is really serious and uh as i i decided to wait for a second because i didn't want to make them feel awkward but i'll never forget first off how amazing those nurses are and i will forever have an appreciation for health care workers and nurses for being able to come in and turn that that love and that light on as soon as they came in our room but to see them aching out in the hallways oh that was that was something else to see it a little bit from their perspective and and yeah so within 24 hours he had brain surgery and we're so grateful that we had a miracle brain surgeon that was able to um help our boy and then thankful for proton radiation that that helps seal the deal so well and i'm just going to make a comment about these nurses because i'm just going to say the culture of that hospital had to be such that it was okay for them to express that emotion together that that's new right that kind of culture has not always been around um and kudos to them because you know here they can process that together and they can express it and then they can still turn on that sunlight and that love and go in and do what they need to do for those clients or those patients yeah yeah and then you know after that um so during this time people kept on saying you know even dear friends that don't know what to say right they said you know do you just ask why did this happen to our family do you just think why us why me like it must be hard to get out of bed in the morning you know they would just say things to you know and trying to be sympathetic but um i remember talking about this with my husband and saying you know do you think we say why me like does this happen to us and thank goodness to all the prayers that were going our way at that time but instead we said no it's actually the opposite we think why not me and why not us why not our family because for us we truly believe that there is some higher power whatever that is for you there is some higher power out there that has and can see your potential and there's no way that we can understand it until we start getting i feel like we start getting glimpses as we go through these trials and as we choose to turn our trials into triumphs that's when we become the person that we need to be and as a family we took on two mottos during this time one is hawks do hard things our last name is hawk and um that's a topic that i love to talk about is how it's not about if it's about when hard things will come and so we wanted to make sure our kids understood that hard things will come and it's just about how you're going to handle them when they do right that is what this life is all about is we're here we're going to have hard things happen and we've just got to be able to handle them but instead of saying why me why did this happen to me or why do they get the big house and why do their kids smile for sunday pictures or whatever it is right um but instead think why not me why not me to have this trial happen and handle it with the grace and the grace for yourself but also accepting that challenge as almost a a a badge of honor of why not us we're some higher power believes in us so we should too and so um during this time that's actually when i left corporate america and that's when i started my own company um at one point earlier i had done a small stint as with my own company but i went back and left corporate america and started my own jobs i started i started you know real estate investing which i had always talked about doing and i finally did it and so grateful i did that this was a few months after aj was diagnosed that i remember saying to my husband i just can't sit around and wait for him to die anymore um i felt like doctors kept taking my son away and i could do very little about it it was up to the lord and the doctors it was very little up to me right and thank goodness my husband first off said well we kind of have a lot on our plate right now um but if you really want to do this let's do this and so um i was so grateful that i that's when i started my business that became what it is today and i i love what i do and i get to spend a lot more time with my kids um last year thank goodness we packed up and we were like let's go travel the country for 90 days and so we we took off and started on one coast of north carolina and we drove and made stops at chicago and mount rushmore and biked the golden great bridge and then came back and did the alamo and all sorts of fun things and if i if if we wouldn't have had any of the trials that we've talked about if i would have had my postpartum if i wouldn't have had my my if my son wouldn't have been diagnosed with cancer it wouldn't have got me to where i am today it wouldn't have helped me become the person that i am today and and even on this one we talked about how when we were first married we were adventurous and then we thought we had to put that away with when the kids came but instead now we're we've been able to create a life that we accept our eliminations we give ourselves grace we take care of ourselves and give ourselves the therapy that we need the medicine that we need the the the support that we need to each other so that we can still have those adventures and we can live the life that we that we don't need a vacation from but that we can live that life every day um accepting our life as it is wow what an incredible story and and i'm thinking back as you said you know you had postpartum for the first time and now you've gone through cancer treatments with the child and and and yet and you talked about the fear right the fear of having another child and experiencing postpartum again and and now you've had this cancer experience what was and you've still had another child like you weren't so afraid that you weren't going to go for it yeah we did by this time we had figured out how to take care of ourselves and it was something that we could celebrate is um to be to to recognize those triggers for me and my husband um as they came up and um to realize when it was switching from you know blues to um being in a funk to okay this is being something serious again um and and to then accept that and realize we both have a i don't know a disposition or a incl like that that's those not temptation what's what's this what's the smart word for it shelly what's this pre-determination or a pre maybe oh i can't even remember the word either something right like our our the ability to very easily become depressed will always be there for both of us i guess is what we're saying is um and and you know there's like a spectrum i feel like but for us we know that there's always that that is depression will always welcome us if we allow it in i guess is what i'll say right depression is always welcoming is always accepting newcomers right um and there are times that that sounds like the easy way that's that sounds bad there are times where that's what i want almost because it just feels comfortable and would be very easy to go back to that but i have to in my head remember how how important it is that i don't let myself go back there and i don't let myself why do i why why do we even have that temptation i don't know but i have to remember that i can't let myself go back there because there is so much more greater out there and that my kids and my husband need me to be healthy and to be stronger than giving into that temptation well you say that like it's a choice you say that like you have some control maybe that's not the word but some ability to influence whether you go there and i also heard you say it's comfortable hit those two things i don't know if this is for is it if this is how it happens for everyone but for me for me and a few of my loved ones um that we have talked a little bit about it is that it for it it's not a complete choice right it's not a complete to knock depression out of my life completely because it will always be there it will always be in the background wanting me to just embrace it right at least that's how i picture it that's how that's how i picture it but choosing not to open that door and every day to choose why not me to be amazing why not me to be happy in fact if it's okay i'll share a story i'm one of six kids um i was you know the hippie i was um i have four sisters they were cheerleaders and they were peppy and fun and um i was the i love sports i loved play basketball i was on the golf team i was like i loved sports we were i was very different than my older sisters um my oldest sister if you meet her she kind of it's kind of like making a disney princess that you kind of wonder if if she can always really be that happy and um she just is boisterous and lovable and just so happy all the time and everything talks in a voice that is just like a cartoon character and that is just not me it's really not and that's okay um but i remember going to the grocery store which is her happy place she loves the grocery store i do walmart pickup she loves why would you ever do that you don't get to go see the people at the grocery store i'm like i don't want to see the people at the grocery store i want to just to have my food delivered right to me anyways i remember going to the grocery store with her and as we walked in it was like she was on the red carpet and i was with beyonce or something going through the aisles of the grocery store and she was like to the produce guy she's like bob how are your kids and like um then the deli manager it's like robert like just like she knew all their names and i was like oh my gosh like what is going on they knew her names and then i realized as we were going through aisle by aisle that i was like man i would that would be kind of cool to be like that right like wouldn't that be cool to be like charisse like she's always just so happy and lovable and boisterous and i we got to the checkout and i remember she said sarah you must be new here i've never seen you here i was like first off she used her name and it's like how did she know that and it's like uh duh because every person we have seen has had a name tag and then sarah said oh yeah i joined the team a couple months ago it's nice to meet you and it was like my sister had made a conscience conscious effort that any of us could do right the way that she did this was by starting to look at people's name tags and using those names that's how she had done it something that i very easily could do but in my head i always put myself in a box of that's my sister she's energetic she's fun she knows people's names and it's like no when i asked her about it afterwards she's like no i just always look at their name tags you know and it's like what i could do that i think i could do that you know and so instead i'm thinking oh why me like why is my sister so fun and energetic why is she like that it's like you know what what could you do today to make that a part of you why not you to be the beyonce of the grocery store why not you to very slowly baby step to whatever it is that you think oh my gosh i can't even do that there's no way there's no way that 10 years ago especially you know postpartum lonnie hospital mom lonnie there's no way so my name's meilani but i call myself lonnie we're like on a we're on a like short term you know like short amazes me and myself um and so and that lonnie would have never dreamed being able to pack up my kids in a minivan for three months and just touring the world touring the country you know and so the things that it's like i'm gonna set my mind to this instead of saying why me why not me to do something amazing but you have to choose to do it one step at a time well and i love your approach and not and in your dark moments of certainly it's going to be harder to go why not me i'm i'm in for this right i want this ride because we don't we don't want to sit in a hospital room with our our little two-year-old and watch him go through all of that i'm imagining him getting ra radiation treatments like you talked about they would have had to put him out they would have had hold him perfectly still and and you didn't get to go in with him and the agony oh the only the agony that a mom can feel and a dad can feel during those moments right and here you are going why me there's times i'm sure you you had a hard time with why me but i love this concept of i like and this is my words i can't grow if i'm not being challenged if this isn't hard then i'm not gonna get where i need to go or where i might want to go even if i don't know it yeah and and i guess i guess that ties back into that that theory of instead of why me seeing those people who bring joy to you and to others those nurses i learned a great lesson that day because they were feeling they were mourning with me they were feeling that emotion yet they turned it around and they brought joy in every time they came through our doors and as we were going through the the radiation him going being put to sleep every single day and when he woke up he was like the little hulk that just ripping ivs out and just every time he would wake up um but i look back and think how those those people around me were encouraging me to choose to choose greatness to choose happiness to choose not why me but why not me and what am i supposed to learn through this um so that i can allow myself to grow i think when we think about the why me's that's us like stifling the growth that we're supposed to have right but allowing myself to grow allowing myself to become more of a fun person at the grocery store you know whatever it is um but allowing yourself to grow and embracing that and and facing the fear because it's not without the fear it's in place i mean the fear is there and you're going to choose it anyway yeah yeah and and you kind of talked about this and i you know this is my own story in my head of you know there's there's times where i've wanted to escape and i'm like oh i know why people do drugs now i get it because like i want out of this pain and i want out now did you have moments like that you know well this is a another long story um but the the abbreviated version i guess is um when i think of that time in my life um it wasn't the cancer time it wasn't the postpartum it was later in my business that is great now guys but it wasn't very long ago it was about four years ago that i was on the verge of losing millions of dollars and losing our house for sure we were we had we were in a terrible lawsuit that put me in a fetal position and um throwing up with anxiety and um and it's almost like i felt like i had always wanted to do this thing of real estate investing and i had always thought if i could just do it then my life will be great and the view is gonna be amazing and i finally it was like this mountain i pictured like a beautiful mountain right and if i could just start climbing it man the view was going to be great and then i finally it took the cancer to get me to start doing real estate and i was climbing the mountain and we were winning awards and we were making a bunch of money which was awesome um but then this year was terrible there were just a bunch of different things that happened this year um millions in debt and um terrible lawsuit like just it was terrible and i felt like it was like an avalanche of this mountain that i had always wanted to climb and as the avalanche as i'm digging myself out of the avalanche and after the lawsuit is coming to a close and trying to figure out what i should do i realized i had three options i could either dig myself out and go back down to the bottom and just be like you know what forget this that was way too hard i don't want to do hard things anymore but i was so scared if i went back down to the bottom of the mountain and just gave up real estate all together that i would it would take me another like three decades to get on any mountain ever again to try anything even though that would have for sure been the easiest you know so that was option one is to go back down to the bottom and hope that someday i find a mountain that i want to get on again um two was to dig myself out and try to go back to the top i mean i'm not gonna say i was like the best real estate investor ever i wasn't at the top but i had gotten a view of the top and um and i could do that but i had realized you know what i don't even think that that view was really what i thought it was gonna be um and thank goodness i realized that there's always a third option that that avalanche that comes on you it always forms a bridge to somewhere it always does and for me i realized that it had formed a bridge that i could walk out on this bridge that had formed it could have only formed if the avalanche happened and because the avalanche happened i can walk over this bridge for me that was short-term rentals i run airbnbs i coach people on airbnbs um or just short-term rentals or corporate housing or luxury rentals or vacation rentals and so for me that bridge was it was in the real estate family but i would have never thought that that was for me until after my avalanche and as i start on that bridge i realized there's this whole valley this whole view of all these other mountains that i can start hiking now but i would have never discovered those if it wasn't for my avalanche and so for me that was a time where i look back and i think oh man i was so close to climbing down the mountain and giving up completely but i'm so glad i didn't i'm so glad i chose to take the bridge okay you say this like it's just common knowledge everybody knows that there's a third choice i don't think everybody knows there's a third choice talk about how you got there yeah i mean i guess it goes back to the old making lemonade out of your lemons right like um for me it was i really i i was a like you said i most people choose you know you either go back to what you were doing or you you just go back and start from square one and but then there's the other option that you pick up the pieces and you glue them back together and you figure out what what what what the whole avalanche was for what were you supposed to learn and what do you need to move on to um because it those avalanches make you a stronger person um and if you live to survive the till then it's your duty to become that person in my opinion um there's no otherwise man what was the point of it if you're not gonna learn from it and grow from it and then share figure out a way to share it with others what was the point then it then it gives it power it gives the avalanche power if you're not going to do anything with it if you're not going to change from it if you're not going to become a better person um and and you know have it get your priorities back in line even just with covid who that i'm still you know sorry i'm still kind of hacky and sniffly um it hit me like a ton of bricks right and for two months well not two months sorry for the two weeks that i was really just couldn't even stand without getting super dizzy um even that i felt like i was supposed to realize this might sound dumb but i also love to speak and train people on time management and even though i get to live a life that i don't need a vacation from i think i needed a reminder that sometimes it's just awesome to just snuggle in your bed in your pajamas all day and watch movies and i was able to remember that thanks to this stupid kovid that just wiped us out and it was terrible but even from that there's always something you can learn from your avalanches um i love that if i have to i'm gonna make an assumption right i'm gonna guess that you are a self-help book junkie i am confession do i sound like a walking self-help book shelly i'm sorry no you sound like what i read because i'm a self-help book junkie and my kids are like mom they're telling me what they're reading and i'm like you're reading about vampires like i don't know what to do with vampires i know how to do self-help i know right i know and then it's like sometimes i i felt bad the other day i was talking to somebody i was like what do you read what are you listening to and they said something like that and i was like i've got nothing like i don't even know how to like yeah we're good friends and i have no nothing to relate to that yeah um yeah always been a little bit more into the self-help than the fantasy world okay so i want to ask you what's your number one number two self-help like the book you always go back to oh um i would say like one that i read every year just read it i i have a uh accountability group that it's really a book club that we do self-development um just read eat that frog which is like the super easiest read under three hours um it's definitely an airplane read but eat that frog by brian tracy i love i love essentialism that's one that i i read all the time um uh by greg mcewen um those are my two that i try to read every single year um just to it just it always reignites me to set goals and to make sure that i'm i'm doing the things that actually matter that i've i've got my big rocks in place first right that's steven covey 101 that you've got to put your big rocks in first before you put the sand and it's just and as much as i love stephen covey y'all seven habits is not one of my favorite books because it's kind of boring but i do love seven habits for teenagers maybe that says something about me but i am a stephen cubby junkie for sure but that's not one that i'm gonna read every year seven habits for teens yes and i pay my kids twenty dollars to read these books that are easy reads like seven habits for teens and um eat that frog if they do a family report on it and they tell us about these books um and so yes it is pure bribes i i'm sorry if people listening think that's terrible but i do bribe my kids and i like that they like to talk about these things and they know when we talk about mindset and we talk about a growth mindset that they know what those terms mean and that they can they can i don't care if they say yeah just like carol dweck said you know like i don't care if they say those kind of things but i do care that they understand that they can choose who they are that they can have a mindset that can determine where they need to be and where they need to be headed and that there is more out there than what they currently are and they it it's their it's their it's their calling in life to become the person that i see in them and that the lord sees in them oh i love i love you and i could be best friends with that because and i love bribery right i would bribe my kids but they got really smart and they're like mom i don't want your money i'm not doing it i haven't had one of those yet but i fear that number four might be that so wish me luck yeah well it increases see now why not you because it definitely makes you step up in your parenting skills to try and figure out that child that's different than everyone else yeah it's fantastic well we could talk for hours and hours and we might have to someday but thank you for coming and sharing these ideas and sharing you know what brings you strength and the hard and i'm super inspired so thank you thank you shelley thank you so much for having me on it's been a pleasure the illuminate recovery podcast is brought to you by illuminate billing advocates make billing and collection simple with leader in substance abuse and mental health billing services verification and analysis of benefits pre-authorizations utilization management accurate claim submission and management denial and appeal management and industry leading reporting improve your practices cash flow and your ability to help your clients with eliminate billing advocates