“WE ONLY HAVE CONTROL OF ONE THING – OUR ATTITUDE- HOW WE THINK AND HOW WE BEHAVE”
“…I had a choice: To accept the life sentence and give up on my dreams or to open up to the possibility of letting new dreams unfold.”
Wise words spoken by Ellen Schwartz who has just written a beautiful book called ‘Without One Word Spoken; 18 Life Lessons from Jacob’. Jacob is her beautiful first born son who has a rare, fatal, neurodegenerative illness that attacks the central nervous system. It’s called Canavan disease, a disease for which there is no known treatment or cure. Fighting to live and smile each day as he does is a challenge and that is why Jacob is a hero to everyone including myself.
“Living with someone who has a life threatening disease is beyond difficult. It can sometimes feel impossible. But in many ways, it is also a gift. It challenges your perspective on life, pushing you to think and act beyond the ordinary into the extraordinary. And that’s what this book will do in your times of need. The life lessons in ‘Without One Word Spoken’ are based on the ripple effects of an extremely precious life – a life that could have been tragic and yet has somehow managed to fill so many lives with hope, joy and merit. These lessons are the result of the choices we make and the mindfulness of our thoughts and actions as we live each day.”
Ellen is my inspiration. In the process of caring for Jacob who is now miraculously 19 years old, and their two other kids Bevy and Ben, Ellen and her amazing husband Jeff Schwartz have managed to give so much to others on SO many levels. It literally boggles my mind.
She and Jeff have raised 2.5 million dollars as the Co-Founders of Jacob’s Ladder (Canadian Foundation for Control of Neurodegenerative Disease). She is the founder of Project Give Back, an elementary school program designed to help students develop empathy, build character and ignite community minded citizens. In June, she and Jeff were presented with the Meritorious Service Decoration by the Governor General of Canada. These are just a handful of the monumental things she has created and accomplished in between the insanely busy and demanding life she and her husband lead.
But Ellen still somehow finds the time for the simple ‘mitzvot’ (good deeds). She bakes 2 Challas every Friday, one for her family and the other to give away to a different family each week. Here’s a link to the recipe and step by step video.
How she’s done it and how she has continued to do it with such grace and with such a positive aura and outlook is hard to imagine. But, after reading her book ‘Without One Spoken Word’, I feel like I got a glimpse into how it might be possible. The lessons she has learned from Jacob and the advice she has for anyone going through a difficult time are so valuable. From “memorizing the moment”, to marriage advice, every chapter ends with lessons to live by.
Ellen (a teacher herself) reminds us that “Great teachers come in all shapes, sizes and ages and the best ones aren’t always found in the classroom. That’s because the most impactful lessons are not always taught. Instead, they are lived…Because of Jacob’s journey, we have learned lessons about life, about living it in a conscious way, where we have choices about our own actions and perspectives. Somehow in the depths of life’s darkness a miracle happened.”
Ellen’s tribute to her son and the life lessons he has taught her are very moving. I highly recommend this beautiful book. Ellen is a role model. Her positive energy and vibrations make this world a better place and her contribution to the goodness of mankind is immeasurable, profound and BEYOND inspirational.