We’ve all had bad things happen to us. We’ve faced challenges, been dealt hands we’d rather not play. But it’s play what you’ve got or play nothing at all. There’s really no sitting out. It’s game on. What’s your next move? That depends on the player.
Some people choose to sit back and complain, maybe loudly, maybe quietly but the first card of the game is played, the Victim card. “Woe is me. What did I do to deserve this? I’m a good person!”
This determines the second card often chosen, the Blame card. “It’s not my fault! If that hadn’t happened… If she would have… But no one told me…”
The final card is thrown down with vigour. The Despair card. “There’s nothing I can do! I’m too insignificant, I’m the victim after all! Won’t someone else fix this?”
It’s understandable. Tough challenges, disappointments, well, they just aren’t fair, or fun.
So while the reaction is understandable it doesn’t affect much benefit. Instead there’s more wallowing in self pity and sorrow. Still not experiencing much fun. Nothing gets better.
But then there is another kind of player. These players get knocked down, but they get up again. Even if that means getting back up many times.
I Get Knocked Down Again by Chumbawumba
Their approach to the game is different. The first card they prefer to play is the Patience card. They get their bearings, see what they’re really up against, size up the situation.
The second card they select is Determination. Strategies are considered and they proceed to carry out the plan adjusting as required along the way.
Weeble’s commercial circa 1970s
Their third and final card, played without fanfare, is Resilience. They turn into Weebles® if you remember the toy from the 1970’s. Their slogan was “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.” Resilience means they keep at it and are set up to handle whatever their opponent has planned. They do what they need to to meet the challenge, to succeed. They may wobble a bit but they won’t fall down, not now. They play the hand they’re dealt and more often than not they come out ahead. If they don’t, they adjust again.
I recently came across a young father who is busy playing the hand he and his family have been dealt with a smile. It’s a hand many of us may think about folding on but not Darren. Our first encounter was nothing really special. We are both members of Life Vest Inside and I saw a request come through from Darren that said his son was turning 10. If anyone was interested he’d appreciate some happy birthday wishes. It seemed an easy way to spread a little kindness and cheer so I popped off a message. His subsequent post of appreciation put his original request into context.
As it turns out Jayden has been faced with challenges since he was born with the heart condition Truncus Arteriosus, the same condition that killed his Aunt Karena, Darren’s younger sister, when she was only 17 weeks. Almost 20 years later medical advances in surgery allowed her nephew to survive, but it’s not an easy journey.
Jayden remained in hospital ICU for three and a half years, his mother seldom leaving his side for more than a few moments in all that time. He lives with global development delay and a high level of autism. Jayden has already endured 2 heart surgeries and will soon be undergoing his third. He has a tracheostomy to aid in breathing properly and since Jayden doesn’t have a very strong immune system once a month he spends a day in hospital for an immune booster.
Jayden’s conditions create a risk of choking meaning he must have an attendant 24/7. Darren and Rhonda share the exhausting job of watching him around the clock. But all you have to do is listen to Darren talk about their son to know what a positive influence he has on his parents and others. Darren calls him a hero, super man, a survivor. With love and compassion and lots of time and dedication he proved sceptics wrong by learning to walk, he goes to school and he’s gaining skills. He is overcoming anxiety about eating from a spoon and he’s mastering his colours. He has lots of challenges but he has a loving family to help him meet them. That doesn’t make him less, maybe it actually makes him even more.
Jayden and Darren
used with permission
“When my son wakes up in the morning and he smiles at me, that’s my payment.” Darren Kontista
Darren knows first hand the struggles that Jayden faces. He himself was born with a heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot and nearly died as a child. Like his sister and his son, Darren required the assistance of a heart and lung bypass machine and has also endured two heart surgeries. He is expecting to undergo a third operation within six short years.
As I read Darren’s post about his sister and his son Jayden’s story I was left speechless. When I wrote my birthday greeting never in my wildest imaginings did I think that this family was going through so much every single day.
Darren and Rhonda could certainly choose to focus only on themselves, their challenges and no one would blame them. They could play the blame card, the victim card and the despair card without question. But that’s not what they’ve chosen to do. Instead Darren has undertaken a serious fund raising campaign to procure a heart and lung machine for The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. The cost of the machine is $500,000. Darren and Jayden have set their sights on contributing $5,000. towards that. Checkout their fundraising page through Hearts for Life HERE.
They didn’t stop at a simple page though. Darren has a love of music and a talent to create it. He came upon the idea to have a fundraising event! November 1st a musical charity fundraiser Jayden’s Hearts for Life will take place. This family knows first hand just how important this life saving machine is.
Recently Darren and his family moved to a new home. They were so happy to be settling in but for reasons out of their control they may be forced to pull up stakes once more before they’ve even had time to settle in and catch their breath. Something most of us would be angered by and this family is no different, especially given the extra challenges they face. Jayden doesn’t find change all that easy, being 24/7 caregivers takes planning, preparation and is exhausting without throwing in a full blown relocation again. But Darren puts it in perspective. At least some things are already packed! Or well, still packed. And though they are tired Darren joked it was good his last surgery went so well and he feels strong like an ox. Looking on the bright side, even if the light is rather dim. That’s how these players play the game.
When I heard the news I felt tired and frustrated for them but my advice reflected Darren’s already positive attitude. “Sometimes when you think you’ve arrived you discover it’s only a pit stop on the way to your true and even better destination. Deep breath, do a little dance, sing a little song and get ready to move on – to something fantastic, even if the road is a bit bumpy. Glad you’re looking on the bright side. “
When I thought about it I realized that it’s all the trials and tribulations, the challenges and pain that they’ve already experienced that are probably making them strong enough to face yet again, another unexpected and daunting challenge.
And that’s what this family is doing. Instead of wallowing in frustration and disappointment they’re playing their best cards. They are patient, determined and resilient.
And they’re already showing how that pays off. Ticket sales for the upcoming fundraiser are selling well even before the the official advertising campaign kicked off. If you want to show your support in some way click HERE! There are a lot of people who would really appreciate it.
Even though life can deal you a tough hand, Darren knows how to be grateful and see beautiful no matter how elusive it might seem. He recently showed how well Jayden is doing at school and as a parent I know exactly how that thrill of success and pride feels.
Jayden learning at school
Kindness and gratitude help make the world a better place in my opinion, and Darren agrees. Although generous himself in many ways he has been “blown away” by the support he’s received from their friends, whether it be financially, a helping hand or a listening ear.
Darren, Rhonda and Jayden exemplify how to play the game of life everyday, with patience, determination, and resilience. Be kind, be grateful and you really can’t lose. With their dedication and determination we are certain they will have great success in helping so many people whose health and life will be greatly improved with the new heart and lung bypass machine. Please show your support if you can. A kind message, sharing their story, or if you are so inclined a financial contribution. All forms of support are appreciated.
In memory of Karena
To hear more about Darren’s life and background in 8 minutes watch this video:
To see Life Vest Inside’s inspirational kindness video that started it all watch The Kindness Boomerang:
©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air
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