About eight years ago, my life was quite messy, stressful and turned upside down.Â Through a series of lessons, slowly but surely, I was able to pieceÂ my lifeÂ back together once again.Â One of the most powerful and impactful lessonsÂ I learnedÂ during that time came from my big brother, Tom.Â My really cool big brother, Tom.
At that time, Tom lived in Florida with his family.Â I didnâ€™t get to see him as much as I would like, but we talked on the phone as much as we could.Â One day, I was walking through this beautiful park and my phone rang.Â I could tell from caller ID that it wasÂ my brother.Â Really excited to hear from him, I shouted:
But it wasnâ€™t Tom, it was his wife.Â And in a very quiet voice she said: â€œNancy, your brother has two months to live.Â You better come say your good-byes.â€Â Wait!Â What???Â I didn’t understand what was happening.Â
When I could finally catch my breath, I jumped on the first flight to Florida.Â WhenÂ Tom opened the door,Â I was startled.Â His body was weak now and he was in a wheelchair.Â His beautiful thick black hair – was all gone.Â
Seeing the startled look on my face,Â he grinned, then shouted: â€œHey Sis, like my new hair-do?”
And thatâ€™s when I knew it.Â His body may be weakening but his spirit refused to die.Â He was as feisty as ever!
Later that night, Tom started teasing me: â€œHey Sis, remember when we were kids and I tricked you into going on your first roller coaster ride?Â You were scared to death!â€
How could I forget???Â We both doubled over with laughter, and when we finally stopped, I took a deep breath, looked at him and saidâ€¦â€œTom, are you scared now?â€Â
His face turned serious and he said: â€œNo, Iâ€™m not scaredÂ â€“ Iâ€™m curious.”Â
â€œCurious, what are you curious about?â€ I asked.
He simply said:Â â€œIâ€™m curious to see whatâ€™s next.â€Â
Shortly after, we said our good-byes and he gave me the biggest, warmest hug ever!Â Â He whispered in my ear:
â€œRemember Sis, always stay curious.â€Â
And that was the last time I saw my brother.Â
I returned to Chicago.Â I was trying to survive the loss of my brother, then when I least expected it, I lost my job.Â If you have ever been out of work, you know how awful it is.Â Those bills keep piling up and you have no idea how youâ€™re going to pay them. I was so scared.Â Â
Thatâ€™s when I remembered my brotherâ€™s choice of words:Â curious.Â I thought if he could stay Â positive at the end of his life by being curious, what could this word do for me?Â I wanted to feel that same feistiness I saw in him.
So I took that word scared and I replaced it with curious. Â I thought:Â Iâ€™m curious if Iâ€™ll find my next job â€“ soon.Â Iâ€™m curious what my next career will be.Â And Iâ€™m telling you, being curious actually made me feel better, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.Â
I felt like I was starting to getÂ some control over my life, butÂ without a job, it wasnâ€™t long before I got that notice in the mail.Â The one saying I lost my home.Â I was embarrassed and angry and devastated all at the same time.Â How could this be happening?Â How did I get here?
I needed help, so I decided to try that word curious again.Â I took the word devastated and replaced it with curious.Â I said: Iâ€™m curious if Iâ€™ll move to a new city.Â Iâ€™m curious what my new home will look like.
And I found that each time I used the word curious, I felt better and better.Â Through the wisdom of my brother, I began to focus on the opportunity, and not the problem.Â Being curious changed my attitude and my life.
Thatâ€™s the legacy my brother left me â€“ the gift of curiosity.Â And now I share his legacy with you.Â Life is sometimes scary and overwhelming and unpredictable.Â And when that happens, you get to choose.Â Â It’s during those times that IÂ hope you rememberÂ the words of my really cool big brother, Tom:
Remember, always stay curious.