“I Get To!”® – Keep Perspective in Difficult Times 


By Joan Endicott 

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” – Cynthia Ozick 

My friend Shielda was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Shielda had worked at a school with special-needs kids for eight years and loved being able to help them learn and grow. 

By the way, Lou Gehrig’s disease (or ALS) is what my mother passed away from at the age of forty-six and my paternal grandmother at the age of fifty-four.  For those unfamiliar with the disease, it basically holds its victims prisoner in a body in which the nerves slowly die, causing the muscles to stop functioning as well. Their minds are alert, but their bodies gradually shut down. 

I would usually visit Shielda on Tuesdays, which was interesting to later hear of the book, “Tuesdays with Morrie,” by Mitch Albom (2002), who shares his experiences visiting his friend who also has ALS. On one of my visits, I had mentioned to Shielda about a video project I was doing about keeping our perspective on what matters most in life and she was happy to be part of it. Her ability to speak had been gone for a while, so after I would ask the question, she would type her answer into her keyboard, one finger at a time. Then our friend Jacque would read her answers aloud. 

During the interview, when I asked her what she missed most about losing her physical abilities, she said, “I miss being able to get up and go to work every day. When I hear Danny [her son] and Randy [her husband] getting up in the morning, taking their showers to get ready for school and work, I wish I could get up and go to work, too. I also miss being able to do things around my home for my family—cooking, cleaning, polishing floors, and doing special things for them—things I know they like.” She went on to say, “When I hear teachers say, ‘I can’t wait for spring break,’ I want to yell, ‘I’ll take your place!’” Her tears flowed, and ours followed.                  

The inspiration from Shielda’s life, along with so many others, serves as ongoing powerful reminders of the difference perspective can make in our lives. 

As was poignantly illustrated by Shielda, one of the greatest opportunities for transforming our thinking is when we realize what a blessing it is to WORK. 

This one perspective absolutely transforms any person or organization that chooses to fully embrace it: “I Get To!”®  … go to work! 

“There are only two ways to look at life…one is as if nothing is a miracle from God, and the other is that everything is a miracle from God. I’m choosing the miracles. ” ~ Albert Einstein 

I love the movie about Patch Adams. It serves as a wonderful reminder of the need for humor and laughter in life—especially in the most challenging situations having to do with one’s health.  Dr. Adams said, “I want, as a doctor, to say it does matter to your health to be happy. It may be the most important health factor in your life.” He epitomizes the philosophy that Laughter is the best medicine. 

For those of us who’ve traveled the healthcare road—either walking the road ourselves or alongside others—we know first-hand the value of humor and laughter during such times.   

While speaking at a healthcare convention, the three particular keynotes I shared were entitled: “I Get To!”®,  “Authentic Care in Healthcare,” and “Enjoy the Serve!” It’s very rewarding to hear the personal stories these caring folks share with me. One dedicated lady told me about the huge priority their team makes to incorporate humor and music therapy for their patients and what a difference it makes. One of their music therapists always helps patients write a song, which they want to give as a gift to their family members and loved ones. Although usually the songs are serious and reflective, one elderly woman had lost her teeth and she was pretty frustrated about that. She knew she only had a few weeks left to live and she did not want to waste money on new teeth for such a short period of time, so she and the therapist wrote a funny song about that. It actually sounded like a love song; “I miss you so—wish you were still here—why did you have to go—I can’t do anything without you (chew)”…not until the end did you know it was about her teeth.   

Shielda would often let me know she considered me her comic relief. In fact, we learned the hard way that I shouldn’t visit her during mealtimes because if I would make her laugh while she was being fed through her tube it would come spewing out. Although I thought it was hysterical when that happened, the nurses weren’t so entertained. I loved being able to make her laugh—when she laughed, she was able to, even briefly, escape the ongoing physical challenges she faced 24/7.   

One day when I walked into her bedroom, she was sitting in her wheelchair and the nurse was putting shaving cream on her chin, holding a razor in her other hand. After I greeted her and kissed her on the head, she typed into her keyboard, “I didn’t want anyone to know I needed my chin shaved.” I laughed, hugged her and said, “Whaaat? Oh my dear, nobody cares—we all have unwanted hair somewhere—you’re just lucky you don’t have a bush coming out of your ears—that’d be gross, wouldn’t it?” We all laughed.   

Then I decided to join her, so I got the shaving cream, put some on my face and handed it to the nurse who put some on hers. For quite a while we played and formed various looks on our faces and had a great time. We even took pictures, which she thoroughly enjoyed showing off! 

After we were done, I went and washed my face and came back with little pieces of tissue on my chin, as if I’d cut myself shaving. She laughed and laughed to the point that her eyes watered.  What could have been one of her most embarrassing moments became a fun Kodak moment instead, thanks to the wonderful God-given gifts of humor, fun and laughter! 

What power we have to help make the best of life’s most difficult situations by ensuring we keep these essential ingredients handy! 

“A merry heart does good, like medicine…” — Proverbs 17:22 


Grab your FREE full copy of Joan Endicott’s “I Get To!”® book at JoanEndicott.com. Joan is an Award-Winning Keynote Speaker, Author and Coach who’s coaching has reached over 30 countries. Meet her and enjoy her encouraging messages on Facebook and Instagram! 

Free Digital Subscription Sign Up

Free Digital Subscription Sign Up

Share this post with your friends