In the circles in which I typically travel (technology) there are so many very bright women! I was reminded by a Business Insider article that not every millennial is doing quite so well. So in the next few posts, I want to talk about some of the other women who are making their way in the world today.
Meet Elyse, a 22-year-old in Pennsylvania., author of the Run 2 Your Own Beat, a Health and Happiness blog. As a 19-year-old, Elyse was enjoying her first year of college, away from home, in none other than the Big Apple, New York City, but challenged with sleepless nights, endless itching diagnosed as stress, and just the normal overall excitement-induced life changes she was experiencing. These were fun days. Imagine being 19 years old and living in New York City! Elyse, her best friend (my daughter) Kayla, and another of their hometown friends, Olivia, were roommates. They arrived in the Big Apple during Hurricane Irene and spent their first night in their 31st floor dorm-apartment without electricity (no electricity = no elevator) while their parents made the long trek out of a city that was literally sandbagged and shut down.
Was that an omen? Honestly – it was more like a test of resilience. Resilience they had. Luck was perhaps another question.
Elyse, Kayla and Olivia finished year one in Manhattan – surviving the usual roommate hurdles of learning to share space and food and privacy – and finding their way thru city streets and subways – and making new friends – and making both good and bad choices and dealing with the outcomes. They returned to our hometown more mature than the high school classmates who went the route of the “traditional” campus college experience. But Elyse wouldn’t return to the city she loved. After losing her scholarship, she would need to complete her education in a more cost-effective manner at home.
Kismet. Fate. And then, another hurricane – this one named Sandy.
Hurricane Sandy in the fall of 2012 wreaked havoc up and down the east coast and on our hometown in Pennsylvania. And, so it was that Elyse’s dad was doing some post-hurricane clean up when he fell from the garage roof and was rushed to the hospital. As Elyse visited her dad in the emergency room – he had broken some bones in his back and would be okay after a long recovery period – she casually mentioned to the ER doctor about a persistent swollen gland in her neck. That doctor was alert.
That doctor felt the lump and insisted Elyse follow-up. That doctor took Elyse’s complaints of itching seriously. That doctor found Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Now, you may think that this very serious diagnosis sidetracked Elyse. Not so. Elyse is possibly THE most annoyingly tenacious person I know! (and I say that with love.) The lifestyle change this forced upon her has given her purpose.
Elyse has carved a niche for herself, far from her intended acting and lighting design career – yet, ions more meaningful and fulfilling. Kayla – who had already begun her healthy lifestyle journey (and blogging about it) partnered with Elyse on an eating and exercise regimen. Elyse and Kayla began working out, meal planning, educating each other on how to eat “green”, cutting out all the processed foods in their diets and forming healthy outlooks.
They were 20 years old.
Probably most of their college friends were mixing cocktails and eating pizza.
And, so, Kayla and Elyse reverse-mentored me. And others. More than one adult has been inspired to eat healthier by these two young ladies. In year one of eating as Kayla and Elyse ate, I lost 30 pounds – and reaped all the benefits that go along with that (more energy, lower cholesterol, eliminated heartburn…)
In May of this year, Kayla graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Psychology and minor in Health and Fitness, while Elyse was starting a new journey towards a stem cell transplant. Elyse is home now, cancer free again, and “working it out.”
I think both girls – Kayla and Elyse – sometimes look around themselves and think they should be more. They are enough. They are some of the best humans in this race.
Millennials. Doing it all. They’re not all going to be Sheryl Sandberg. But they are leaning in.