Faced with the most difficult of decisions, Kathy and Brian Usher relied on deep faith as they waited outside the operating room for over 12 hours while Dr. Ben Carson removed half of their daughter’s brain. In the years of struggle leading up to this moment, Beth Usher would experience over a hundred seizures each day as her brain was being torn apart by a disease called Rasmussen's encephalitis. My first experience with Beth and her family was as a newcomer to a group called The Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humor, a group I discovered on my journey to learn and apply humor and laughter in my own life. Seeing how the group radiated love to the Usher trio, I was spellbound watching her participate in the first ever America’s Funniest Laugher competition. After hearing her present her story as part of her Humor Academy project, I asked Beth what’s kept her going to which she quickly replied, “I’m always in my right mind. It’s all I have. I can never be wrong.”
In the 4 years since becoming a Beth fan, I’ve been blessed to get to know her at conferences and through many Facebook exchanges. But perhaps it’s when I’m away from the busyness of meetings and social media that I rely on Beth’s light most. In times where I feel myself being hijacked by the over-analytical nature of my left-dominant brain, I think of Beth. When I compare myself with the magnitude of success I see in others and feel depleted and incapable of living up to my own standards, I think of Beth. Getting ready to give a presentation to a group where I feel not good enough, I think of Beth. And I do the best I can to take a breath, connect with my heart, and shift into my right mind. I focus on the fact that it’s not what I say that matters most but how I make people feel in our experiences together. I remember that it’s not about the time we have to share but the energy we bring to that time that really matters.
How do I make this shift? I focus on three elements of resilience that Beth and her family shared with us at the recent EO Nerve session in Boston: Faith, family and humor. I remind myself that I am right where I need to be right now in this moment, with faith that there is a bigger purpose beyond the distractions of the day. I stay grounded in the people who matter most to me; my family, which includes the friends I hold close to my heart. And I add a dose of humor to lighten up the situation and shift into a more relaxed, playful state of mind.
If you’d like to hear more about Beth Usher’s story, I’ve uploaded the full session here for you to enjoy. If you’d like to connect with Beth directly, you can find her at @vineyard3.
You can also join us at the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor conference April 27 – 30 in Orlando where Beth and her family will be presenting on humor and resilient families.