Thomas Edison once said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
And as we move into the holiday season – a time of reflection, optimism, and gratitude – this saying reverberates in my mind, because I’ve witnessed the beauty, joy, and peace that perseverance can bring into one’s life.
In fact, there’s no greater example of this than my brother, Joe.
My Brother’s Story
“I was a bum on the streets. I smoked crack every day.”
This was my brother’s life – day in, day out – for years. Thanks to a steady combination of wrong choices and poor decisions, he found himself alone, living on the streets with a crippling drug addiction.
Despite a few bouts in prison and losing everyone and everything in life that he loved, he continued to succumb to the addiction. The instant gratification that the drugs provided was too strong, too captivating to turn away from.
Like many addicts, he eventually hit rock bottom. It was incredibly difficult for us to watch him crumble, but we knew it was necessary if we ever wanted to see him whole again.
It wasn’t an easy path, but my brother faced his demons head-on. He chose the path to recovery – to persevere and not fear – and I’m so, so proud of him.
Why am I sharing all of this?
Because his story can change lives…and is changing lives. I recently posted the message below on my personal Facebook page, along with a link to his video about recovering from addiction, and I could not believe the response.
“This inspiring story of my brother is so hard for me to watch as it brings me back to the many years of pain and sadness that comes with drug addiction. But those memories of sadness are replaced with amazement and joy as we celebrate nearly 9 years of sobriety.
Joe Livingston, seeing you so happy and fulfilled in life is a dream come true. Thank you for being such an inspiration to me and so many others in this world. Today I am celebrating you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I love you. drugfree# myinspiration# birthdayboy# lovemybigbro#”
Did you catch that? My big brother, Joe, will have NINE years of sobriety on December 27, 2015! Nine! That’s no small feat. But there has been another pivotal player in Joe’s story. Reformers Unanimous, a residential recovery center based in Rockford, Illinois, came alongside him and wouldn’t let him go astray again. Their amazing team encouraged and supported Joe’s commitment to persevere.
Dad Would Be So Proud
December is bittersweet for our family. We always look forward to celebrating another year of sobriety for Joe, but these past few years, a prominent family member has been missing from our joyous moments.
Our dad, Joseph, passed away from lung cancer on May 18, 2012. Thankfully, he was able to see Joe break the stronghold of addiction and they restored their relationship before the diagnosis.
Today, December 14th, is dad’s 65th birthday. My dad is such an inspiration to my brother (and all of us kids!) and I know he is looking down and smiling from ear to ear, thankful for how well Joe is doing now.
Joe has an amazing, fulfilled life. He relishes in his role as dad, husband, brother, and friend. On top of all that, he’s building a successful real estate investment company from the ground up too. Joe has found his purpose and he’s not letting it go….ever.
Everyone, no matter their background, upbringing, or profession, has had to face challenges. They may even be in the midst of those challenges when they come into your life. Kindness, compassion, and empathy can go a long way. That’s why Joe stays involved in his community and does all he can to pay it forward and help others in need.
Never, ever give up hope. Choose to persevere, not fear.
Tomorrow is a new day.