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Tackling Challenges
An oxygen tank
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Everybody encounters challenges, but some handle them better than others. It seems to me that unexpected difficulties are life’s pop quizzes. While we go about the business of daily life, are we developing values and strategies to cope?

Listening to or reading about others can provide inspiration that provides new perspective. I found such a story in the Metro section of the Washington Post on April 12, 2006. Fluent in Spanish and having completed an associates degree in international business, Patrise Holden started a business in 2002—The Language Key. Initially, she did translations and helped people modify their accents. She now offers mobile language training—she goes to businesses and offices to teach people to speak English and Spanish.

Further into the article her story moves from creative to inspirational. Patrice was born with sickle cell disease. A doctor advised her parents not to get too attached to her since the condition causes debilitating pain and shortens life. Of her first 18 years, she spent the equivalent of only five outside of hospitals. In 1998, she was diagnosed with dual lung failure. After six months in intensive care, she emerged, permanently attached to an oxygen tank. But the tank doesn’t slow her down as she scoots around the greater Washington, DC, area, including Maryland and Northern Virginia.

Developing Coping Strategies

Pictures of Patrise teaching six workers at the Silver Diner in Clarendon, Virginia, accompanied the article. One photo shows a light-hearted moment during a session around a table at the back of the restaurant. The tubing leading to the oxygen tank doesn’t cover up her smile. Although she can’t change the disease, she has chosen to define her life in ways that go beyond her physical condition.

In 2002, Patrise’s youngest sister who had the same condition died in her arms. When Patrise has a sad day, she sometimes goes to a hospital and asks to visit an ill child who doesn’t get many visitors. She honors her sister’s memory by interacting.

At the end of the article, the reporter says that she doesn’t like talking about her mortality—she may not see her 40th birthday. Language training is her legacy. Other people will have an improved quality of life as a result of her efforts.

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