“Storms make oaks take root.”

It is inevitable. At some point we have all faced, or will face, a life-altering event . . . whether it be the death of a loved one, a serious illness or some experience that reminds us of what really matters in life. In the blink of an eye, everything can change. Often, these life experiences can teach us valuable lessons, help us discover inner strength, and help us realize what is truly important.


Musician and rock singer/songwriter, Melissa Etheridge, survived a lumpectomy plus five rounds of chemotherapy and radiation in 2005 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. How did she get through the uncomfortable treatments? Positive thinking. Etheridge said in an interview, “I had been running along in my life at a fast pace. When I heard I had cancer, I just stood still. This turned out to be a very good thing; I got a new perspective. And once I overcame breast cancer, I wasn’t afraid of anything anymore. I [realized] there are only two things in our reality, love and fear. I try to make my choices out of love.”

Sometimes slowing down and smelling the roses is not merely a cliché, but a necessity.

Family matters

Sheryl Crow, the rocker who has been open about her battle with breast cancer, says having cancer caused her to reevaluate her life. “Lying on the radiation table, I had those epiphanic moments when I realized that you come into the world alone, you go out of the world alone, and in between that, if you aren’t showing up for yourself, you’re not living your life.” In an interview with Glamour magazine she said, “You create your mythology, but sometimes it’s based on a perception that isn’t the truth about you. Having cancer made me say, ‘OK, what is it I want from my life?’ I thought, if I want to be a mom, there are kids out there that need moms. I think you choose your family. And I did.”

Crow adopted her son, Wyatt, the following year. From her rain, came her flower.

Close Call

Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker and friend DJ AM were the only two survivors of a deadly plane crash in September 2008. For Travis Barker, this was the wake-up call he needed. Ultimately, the crash helped him to end his addiction to painkillers, and in an interview with Rolling Stone said “I’ve been vegan since I got out of the hospital… It’s another eye opener. It changed my life in a number of ways. I mean, I run every day now. I never ran before. In the hospital, I promised myself that if I ever walked again, that I would eat well and swim every day.”

This tragedy gave Barker a second chance at life. However, why wait until a tragedy befalls upon you to make positive changes?

Live in the Now

Enjoy every moment with your loved ones. To this day, Gwyneth Paltrow cherishes the memories of swapping stories of life and love over coffee with her beloved father. Her worst nightmare came true when her father died in 2002, just days after celebrating her birthday with him in Italy. Life as she knew it changed forever. In 2003 Paltrow told USA Today, “I cannot fathom living the rest of my life without my father, but I have to. It’s my reality, and I’ve got to adjust to my new reality. I feel like, as a person, I have less turmoil about who I am.”

All too often, we are so consumed with daily tasks and overlook what is truly important. Make time for friends and family. Your to-do list can wait.


Kanye West once said, “tragedy can produce great art and this is definitely true … life is good.” The 34-year-old rapper and music producer has endured a couple of life-altering events throughout his young life. One was the death of his beloved mother. Since then, he’s been putting his priorities in place and changing his outlook on life. “I don’t do anything I don’t love anymore … While people chase money I pursue happiness.” West wrote on his blog after his mother’s death, “If there’s anything my mom taught me [it] is to enjoy life.”

Another incident that transformed his outlook on life was a near-fatal car accident in October 2002. “In the blink of an eye my whole life changed,” West said. “From me trying to get out of the way of this car, I ended up in a head-on collision.” He made the best out of a bad situation, however, and rapped on his song “Through the Wire” with his mouth wired shut from the accident.

What is the lesson here? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Don’t sweat the small stuff . . . cause it’s all small stuff.

Resist the urge to worry. Worrying will not prevent bad things from happening. Besides, excessive worrying can have a drastic negative impact on your overall health and wellbeing. In the words of Mark Twain, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” So take life as it comes. Deal with every situation when, or if, it crops up.

Learn from the experiences of others.

People everywhere, including these celebrities, experience life-changing events… tough events that require us to take a step back and re-evaluate life. Whether you come out a better person on the other end is up to you. After all, life is good. Wake up before life forces you to wake up. Be the oak tree that takes root in the storm… and choose joy.

Cited Sources

Celebrities Share What Inspires Them.Good Housekeeping. Web. 04 May 2012.

Celebrity Cancer Survivors: 10 Inspiring Stories About Tinseltown’s Strongest Stars.Glamour. Web. 04 May 2012.

Top 10 Most Shocking Celebrity Stories of 2008.AceShowbiz. 22 December 2008. Web. 04 May 2012.

Morris, Meagan. “Travis Barker and Other Celebrities With Serious Life-Changing Moments.Yahoo! Omg! 03 October 2011. Web. 04 May 2012.

Freydkin, Donna. USA Today. Gannett, 13 Oct. 2003. Web. 04 May 2012.

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