If you asked my husband of 22 years, he’d come to a complete halt, place both hands on his hips, and tilt his head to give your question careful consideration. The most amazing smile would appear first, followed by a couple puffs of laughter, and with a twinkle in his eye Larry would tell you, “She’s something else.” Depending on the day, this comment could be a compliment … or not. Larry and I were married less than eight months when a careless driver crashed into the back of my car. The optimistic, capable, happy wife he kissed goodbye that morning vanished forever and was replaced by a dazed and confused version of the woman he loved. Despite all that, Larry will tell you, “The real Lois McElravy is smart, determined, and can do anything she sets her mind to do. She’s worked hard to overcome her challenges. She manages so well using systems and strategies I sometimes forget how much planning and effort it takes for her to maintain her high level of daily functioning. I love her bubbly personality and her smile.”
If you asked my mom, she’d say, “Lois is patient and persistent. She never gives up. She’s got guts, she’s not afraid to try anything, and she’s a lot of fun.” In case you didn’t notice, Mom never wastes words.
If you asked the people who attend my talks, they’d tell you I inspired them, offered hope where they hadn’t found it before, and motivated them to keep trying. They related my stories to their own personal circumstances and gained insights and tools they were able to use. They were reminded of just how good it feels to laugh and realized how “humor-deprived” they’d become. They felt renewed and equipped to overcome their challenges, one step at a time.
If you asked me, I’d tell you, ”I’m both a student and teacher of life’s lessons. The richness of my experiences has served me well, enlightening me with wisdom and insight. Each time I graduate to a new level of understanding, I’m excited to share what I’ve learned. Working through the identity crisis perpetuated by my brain injury, I asked God to help me learn two things: How to love myself and how to feel happy. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want? To feel good about who we are, to know that we matter, and to feel happy? I’ve learned much and look forward to sharing my wisdom, perspective, and experiences with you. I still have much to learn. Maybe I’ll learn something new from you.”