When Life Becomes a Squeezed Balloon

By Mark E. Smith

You’ll likely find yourself at that crossroad. Maybe, as with many of us, you already have. So, what do you do?

It all starts out with the best of intentions. It always does, we always do. But then months, years, decades go by and it all goes in a different direction than we expected. And, that’s the tough part, isn’t it? Changes sneak up on us – then they’re just there. Literal changes, conflicting emotions, sometimes regret. And, we try to make sense of how bright sunshine turned into a heavy rain, and at its worst, a secret pain. How do we resolve it all?

These crossroads of life we find ourselves at – a struggling relationship, a defeating career path, a lost sense of identity – point to what once was an ideal, but is now just agony. How do we correct a yearning when the mere mention scares us? How do we tell ourselves, let alone others, that the train for us has run off of the tracks?

Unflinching honesty with ourselves and those involved, that’s how. We’re ultimately accountable for our happiness, and that means. ..well …being accountable. If some aspect of our lives is tearing at us emotionally, let’s address it, let’s put it out there for resolution. Stuffing it down, like squeezing a balloon, only increases the tension.

No one ever wants to do any of it – admit it, speak of it – because it’s scary. No one wants to jeopardize a relationship or a job or family ties or friends or, or, or…. However, we also don’t want to jeopardize ourselves in aspects of life that are preventing fulfillment and happiness. The conflict doesn’t need to be, as long as we’re willing to simply be ourselves.

See, no matter what life predicament we’re in, there’s always the choice of candor, which opens the gate to free ourselves. However, the deciding factor is, do we have the courage to just let it all out and be – ourselves?


Keeping Roots Planted


By Mark E. Smith

For 18 years, I’ve run an Internet message forum where consumers can exchange information, as well as ask me questions, regarding mobility technology. I started the forum, in fact, before my careers in the mobility industry and writing took off. Today, both the mobility industry and writing – often overlapping – are more than full-time jobs. Yet, I still run the message forum, routinely addressing needs 20 hours per week or so, often on Sunday mornings or at 10 o’clock on weeknights.

With my career so established and the fact that the message forum has intentionally never generated income, some have asked why I keep doing it? After all, it adds stress and absorbs much of my so-called free time, and 18 years is a noble run.

My answer is simple: I never forget where I come from. See, that message forum originated from my just wanting to use my two passions – power wheelchairs and writing – to support my peers in their mobility plights. Fortunately, my career flourished, but my sense of loyalty to the message forum members has never wavered – it’s a privilege that they’ve allowed me to remain part of their lives through almost two decades.

We often see people, companies lose their roots, and it isn’t pleasant, is it? People become too good for where they came from, companies no longer care about customers. It’s easy to be humble when you have nothing; it takes true character to be humble when you have everything. I believe the ultimate measure of success is staying true to your roots, true to what got you to where you are.

The key to this is reminding ourselves of why we started doing what we do in the first place. I was talking with my CEO the other day, and he said that when he got into the durable medical equipment industry in 1986, he knew nothing about medical goods, but he knew how to treat consumers. It struck me as fascinating because he and I have spent the last 15 years talking about how to forever better serve consumers – it’s why we’re in our business. In fact, in recent years, a key focus is to constantly remind all of our employees – and ourselves – why we do what we do within our company, where we simply strive to improve the quality of life of our consumers every day.

Beyond the boardroom, I see couples struggling and I often wonder, what brought them together in the first place? Do people and life really change that much? Surely some do, but for many couples they simply forgot along the way what made each other special to begin with. It’s a losing of roots, getting too big for each other, you might say. It’s like any success that goes to your head – you take important aspects for granted. If it’s not too late, sometimes a simple remembrance of why you fell in love can be the spark that reignites the flame.

The fact is, humility and success must go hand-in-hand or you’re ultimately a failure. From our careers to our love lives, let us never leave our roots behind; instead, let us humbly plant them deeper as we go.