Given the chance, if you are like most people you may just rattle off some of the challenges you have faced in your life. Some people might even show me their battle wounds
Let me be clear – this is a rhetorical question and not an invitation for you to wallow in your past or share any pain you are going through now.
We have all faced challenges during our life journey – and the very fact you are reading this shows that you survived.
As a wise man said to me once – your life is a success every time you wake up in the morning. You have survived another night and maybe you will thrive for another day!
It’s so easy to feel sorry for ourselves as we meander through life’s ups and downs – and wonder how and why life got so hard for us along the way.
Then along comes somebody who has faced such astonishing challenges and is still dancing and smiling through life. They just blow you away with their zest for life, optimism and positivity.
One such person is my long term friend and mentor Evelyne Brink. Three years ago in November 2011, Evelyne was due to visit my home for lunch. She was 7 months pregnant at the time and was due to visit me after a routine hospital check-up in the morning.
She never made it to mine that day.
Instead she called me in the afternoon to say that the doctors had discovered something not quite right with her baby. She was in shock and still taking in the news. I offered to join her at the hospital but her partner Thomas was already on the way.
That day Evelyne’s life changed for ever. As did Thomas’s and all the close people in her life.
Their son Tuffel was born a few weeks later without a bowel and despite all the odds he is now a bright, gregarious 3-year old.
Tuffel is a miracle baby and has become the first ever survivor of “ultra short gut syndrome“, living with no small intestine.
Evelyne has now written and published a heart-warming book about her journey over the last 3 years – “It Takes Guts” (Amazon UK/Amazon.com) an uplifting and deeply emotional journey which will fill your heart with new hope for what is possible for each and every one of us.
As the subtitle says, it is a story of love, hope and a missing bowel.
“An amazing story of how crisis can turn strangers into family and the amazing reserves of grace, love, and hope we can all find inside ourselves when we really need them.” – Michael Neill, Supercoach
Evelyne has such a powerful story to share – and amidst her busy life of nappy changing and visits to the hospital with Tuffel, she kindly agreed to be interviewed for my blog, so that readers can be inspired by her message.
1. Evelyne thank you so much for making time for us despite your busy life looking after Tuffel.
What you went through is every parent’s worst nightmare which turned into a miracle. Who are you and where does your story begin?
Hello and thank you for being here!
What is a parent’s worst nightmare? That your child would die – I’ve luckily only been faced with the prognosis not the event. And herein lies the big miracle (one of them) of my story.
I’m a multi-passionate and naturally happy soul with a colourful background in performing and coaching. I used to be known as UK’s No. 1 Madonna Impersonator travelling the world as the Queen of Pop and I’ve had record deals with Sony in the past.
I’ve written and performed one woman shows and brought out my own music (Check out Diva Eve on ITunes or Amazon).
I’ve also been into stand-up comedy which as a female German was an interesting choice to make in the UK scene. That in itself might have been my best joke. Ah well…
Since 2009, I have been a full time coach, fostering miracles and breakthroughs in other people’s lives as well as my own (I think that bit’s important). I’ve authored a book called “The ARTrepreneur. Financial Success for Artistic Souls”, I worked with creative people in the media and music industry, and I now work as a coach at Channel 4.
So becoming a mum was an important step and a long standing dream for me. I was going to be super yummy mummy with my life coaching skills and my good taste for pampering treatments, I thought my biggest worry was how to lose the weight and get my abs back.
I had started a blog “from yummy to mummy” to poke fun at the loss of identity, personality and figure I was heading toward but then my own story turned darker as the scans showed stuff that shouldn’t be there. A cyst at first than floating loops of bowel.
We had a horrible prognosis but nobody knew it was “that bad”. Although it’s all relative isn’t it. What’s bad? What’s good? And who are we to know?
You will probably love and appreciate your life and circumstances just that little bit much more. If you are a parent you’ll hug your kids tighter and feel more connected to them, more grateful and quite possibly more at peace in yourself.
“If you want to quickly reduce the size of almost any huge problem you are dealing with, simply read “It Takes Guts” by Evelyne Brink.” – Steve Hardison, The Ultimate Coach.
The story is not a happy clappy novel but a real life account with people living who shouldn’t be living and some dying who shouldn’t be dying and loving people going mad and mad people becoming more sane and everything in between.
Robert Holden says “this story will make you laugh and weep and feel every feeling there is”.
I promise that you’ll be left uplifted. I was very aware that I didn’t want my readers to be left in the pits of human sadness. I like to see myself as a prism that breaks the light of life to show the different colours.
You’d think my book would speak to women and parents most or the medical professionals but feedback shows that men also really get into it! Even though it has the face of a baby on the cover.
3. What motivated you to write the book?
This was too big a story not to write.
I’ve been writing a diary and loving it from the age of 6.I thought documenting the making of deer figurines created from conkers would be a wise point for future reference. I also thought writing down who treated me wrongly would be important so the world could see the unfairness of the teenage years I had to endure.
I’ve been bullied into doing house chores in exchange for lending a bicycle from my brother and other such cruelties. Preserved in writing for all to see (anyone who can decipher my handwriting and the fading ink).
Later my writing in diaries became about un-meddling my confusions about life, men and what lies in between.
Now, apart from that, I want to share the process of how we co-create our lives and how our inner world impacts our life and I love to connect through words and communicate without having to repeat myself endlessly.
I also feel a bit more smart and witty when I write, as I can sit for minutes to make one point, and you’ll never know it didn’t just trickle out of me.
So writing is my one stop medium for all these wonderful things.
4. Evelyne, you spent 8 months in hospital with your new-born son. When did you find the time to write?
I asked myself the same question recently. I didn’t sleep through the night, due to expressing milk and when I wasn’t expressing milk, I was cooking, sleeping, having a shower or getting ready to go or come back from the hospital. Or arguing with my loved one which takes a lot of time and dedication. But you get good at what you practice.
Life and household chores don’t stop – except for cleaning and tidying which can definitely wait!
Something has to be really important to find time in an ultra-packed high stress and sleep deprived schedule.
“This story will make you weep and laugh. It will make you feel every feeling there is – and think deeply about what is real, sacred and true about life”. – Robert Holden, author and founder of The Happiness Project.
To me, this story that I first shared in my newsletter was that important. I knew there was so much that was going to get lost and I wanted to focus my energy and consciously witness what was happening. I knew my memory and brain function during this time were less than normal – so now I’m so grateful it’s on paper because I had actually forgotten many of the details.
5. My blog readers are smart people who want to make it happen. How does this very personal story of yours help them specifically?
I like to make it happen. I am passionate about creating in life, it makes me come alive, too.
This is a story of someone who has been told he couldn’t even live and he made it happen to live – and live really well.
Defying the odds is not just good luck, there is teamwork and innovation, dedication and commitment behind it. Thinking outside boxes you didn’t even know existed.
Discussing and arguing your case, talking to the right people, asking more than once or twice, putting your foot down, connecting to your deeper truth.
Those are the ingredients for our personal miracle and they are the same for your success!
I think contrast can be a very useful motivator. If you see what we made happen and the emotional stress under which we and many other families did, you will find whatever you want to get done to be a lot easier.
And feedback from people who have read my book shows that people tend to scrap mediocre, throw away the idea of settling for OK and really go for it!
Our little boy Tuffel has inspired people to change career paths, to be more aware, to do things they were afraid of…so reading this story might do the same for you or if you’re open to the possibility, even more?
I’d be thrilled to hear about that. For me that makes our whole journey and the work of writing this book, all very worthwhile.
6. You like talking about miracles. You don’t just mean feeling a little better but actually living through the impossible. What makes miracles happen in your view?
I guess I already answered this in the last question but I’ll add that willingness to see things as miracles is important.
Us humans get used to things so quickly and are pros at taking things for granted – and before you know it, we’ve classified a full on miracle as a medical outcome or a little bit of “luck”.
What makes a miracle happen is a lot of detailed effort, trust and for me, good energy.
There is something really important in a peaceful flow of energy for me. When I’m hyped up and my head is running 100 miles a minute whatever happens is not in “miracle mode”.
Miracle feels magical and all things magical have a slower pace to them. If you think of the beautiful scenes in the movie Avatar or any enchanting moment, they are not filmed in time lapse but in almost slow motion. By the way, it’s the same for erotic moments – they are based on a slowed down perception that allows the space to feel and experience the amazingness that is.
I lived in a very slow mode through the hospital time. Anytime I didn’t, I couldn’t connect with my magical bundle of cabled baby. But in slow magic mode I could – and I could feel this amazing presence for both of us and everything was okay even though machines were beeping and stuff happened.
The more we chilled, the better things went. Being quite a bubbly, even hyperactive thing, that was a huge revelation for me!
And the magic here is that in that slower pace, we can catch a glimpse of new possibilities and ideas – and they are what change our whole world around.
So if you want to make bigger and better things happen, this is a super top tip. Slow down to experience miracles in your life.
7. Evelyne, you come across as very positive. Are you always hopeful and strong? And what advice can you give to those who may not be naturally as optimistic?
I can be a moaner, get stuck in victim mentality big time and way too often for my liking – in other words my shit stinks. It’s called being human.
Which is not something I always readily accept either. I am stubborn I don’t just want to accept and embrace and be grateful when I’m freaking angry and hating it all. I have that side too and I am learning to see it as okay to show it.
I find it amusing (sometimes) that even though we evolve and learn all these wonderful things in life, the stubborn kid still comes out to shut it all down when it matters the most. And then I build shame on top of that as if to say I shouldn’t be like that. I should be positive through and through or wise and mature through and through at all times just because someone noticed that I can tap into wisdom.
I call this the birth and rise of the spiritual Ego. Just when you think you’re over yourself, bang! It slaps me in the face.
My advice to people with a more negative tendency is to take it easy. And give yourself a break, let’s cut some slack and most of all have a laugh.
The biggest difference between depressed and happy people is actually the degree to which they take their own thoughts seriously.
They are really not so important or even real as they feel. The more you can laugh about yourself, the more you’ll laugh in life.
I love to laugh so that is my spiritual practice. It feels even better than Yoga.
I am conducting this interview from a hospital ward. Tuffel is sleeping and has woken up crying and screaming a few times. He’s on 2 machines and has a fever and therefore IV antibiotics running.
That’s part of our life now. Every rise in his temperature and we’re in hospital.
Most of the time we’re out of hospital to the degree where we get annoyed when we have to get in. In fact we can be happy to be out so much!
There is currently only bowel transplant as an alternative option but then taking immune suppressants for the rest of your life is not a healthy option either. Nor is living with a suppressed immune system. Try that in a nursery…we’ve already been fighting colds for 3 months as it is!
Stem cells will provide a future solution. We’ve already raised the first million pounds to get stem cell research for the small intestine going at Great Ormond Street. But it will take more than £1 million to regenerate the most complex organ in the body. We aren’t done with our work and the more people know about it and how much it will impact them, the better it will be for all of us.
I have a lot of people to thank for supporting us and our new cause.
Stem cell technology is revolutionizing medicine just like antibiotics did. There is a paralysed guy who is walking again, I’ve read about Diabetes and Leukaemia being cured, I mean, we are on the right track. And they can work with cells originating from the skin so no embryos have to be harmed.
You might imagine there will be a part 2 to Tuffel’s story at least.
I am not sure where we are going next as a family – I am open. We want to do more fun things like weekend trips.
Thomas is launching a new business soon and I will speak and coach and lead possibility thinking workshops so as make all this learning available to people who want to make their dreams/visions and missions happen.
First off a family Christmas with my sister and her kids and my mum – in other words a full house. Now that I’ve got a proper house and home, it’s a good idea to decorate and fill it with loved ones. Wish me luck.
Thank you Arvind for your support and to everyone who reads this blog post and shares our story.
I’m really grateful for connection, I know the feeling of isolation and loneliness which are often self-inflicted – and I really appreciate it when someone reaches out their hands often enough for me to take it.
Wishing you and your community a wonderful and peaceful end of the year and that the new one will be filled with all the creative pzazz you can handle as much as a lot of roaring laughter.
Thank you Evelyne
And next time you ever feel sorry for yourself, just remember little Tuffel’s courageous story and his fighting spirit.
It sure takes guts to face the challenges life throws at us. If he can do it, so can you and I.
At least you and I have some guts.
Your Chance to Win Evelyne’s Book!
To be in with a chance to win, all you have to do is write a comment below, and share how you’ve faced a challenge in life and overcome it.
What challenges did you face and what did you do to get out of it? What lessons did you learn?
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Evelyne will choose a reader with the most inspirational stories on 3rd January 2015 and directly send them a signed copy.