Kendra Clark is here today to talk about how to thrive because of our challenges. She reminds us that we must ask ourselves, “Is this challenge happening to me or for me?” Kendra says that when you take the high road you experience gratitude, self love and compassion.
Kendra was raised in a family that didn’t practice religion much although her mother was Mormon. She went on to go to college at Brigham Young University in Utah. It was there that she was introduced to Mormonism and she remembers this as being a time in her life when religion became more defined. She was raised with a “worldly” family that didn’t necessarily attend church or actively teach Christian principles in the home but she always considered herself a spiritual person, even as a young girl. She says that Mormonism gave her a framework for her spirituality and has spent forty years as a Mormon, was married in a Mormon temple and raised four children.
Episode 126: Attitude, Love and Inner Strength
Moments That Shape You
There are defining moments in all of our lives that become an integral part of who we are as we grow up. For Kendra that event was when her older brother Guy was hit by a truck while flying a kite outside. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and was on life support and was not expected to live. Kendra states that she was conceived because her parents didn’t want her other baby brother at the time to be alone. Guy was taken off life support and ended up living even though his brain did not develop much past the age of five. Kendra took him under her wing knowing that she would later be responsible for him as they grew up. It was during that time that she developed a deep appreciation for the special needs community and attributes the community with shaping her into who she is today. When her parents eventually passed she had the privilege of caring for her brother the rest of his adult life.
Your mom struggled with depression throughout your childhood. How did you gain the tools to be able to support your mom?
Kendra states, “That was my first exposure to real challenges. As a young girl, my mother felt so much guilt over the accident with my brother. Because of that difficult loss she made the decision to disconnect with me because she was scared that something might happen to me. Having a mother with that guard around herself growing up was extremely difficult. I wanted my mother to be someone that I could count on and unfortunately that wasn’t an option. I had struggles trying to interpret what the mother role looked like. During that time my dad was my rock and it was difficult trying to figure out how to navigate that relationship with my mother. I had to create tools so that I could learn to accept her and love her without having her be that consistent role in my life. I tried to excel in school and other areas of my life in the hopes of having my mom notice me. That wasn’t the case. I realized at a young age that if I would become a mother, I wouldn’t continue that script in my own life.”
“It’s very hard to not personalize those moments with people who are struggling. It isn’t about you. She tried to take her life several times while I was growing up and later was successful when I was an adult. This was her decision to make and I look at the silver lining in this relationship that I have with her. She was better able to mother me once she passed than she was in the flesh. She was there to be my mother and my angel afterwards.”
How did your close relationship with your father affect your outlook on life and the types of men you felt drawn towards?
“He was and is my rock. With my upbringing he was both my mother and father. I could go to him and he would love me unconditionally. We were incredibly close and inseparable. When I went to college I missed him desperately and he actually wrote me a letter every day during my freshman year at university. I consulted him about every decision I made. The relationships that I’ve had romantically have come from having a solid and healthy relationship with my father. When I lost my father suddenly and unexpectedly it was the hardest loss I’ve ever had. I’ve had manifestations in my life since he’s passed away that show how he has shown up in my life. An example would be when my brother was passing away in hospice I had put my phone on the other side of the room and I remember my phone ringing and thinking it was one of my sons. When I went to check my phone it was my father’s number calling me. That has happened four times where I wasn’t around my phone and he has called me. The moments it happened were profound moments for me to show that he was there with me.”
How do you find the faith and courage to move on during difficult periods in your life?
“For whatever reason my life has been very colorful. It has had unique challenges with painful losses and betrayals. I’ve had one setback after another. When your spirit is broken it forces you to get to an inner part of your spirit that is just yourself and the Lord. I would say to myself, ‘Kendra, I am with you. I have your back. I will protect and love you. Nothing can hurt you. Proceed through this difficult time knowing that I’ve got you.’ I was able to separate my mind from my heart. That’s how I got through the initial sadness and hurt of loss. I decided to have grace and mercy throughout those challenges. I was protective of the inner sanctuary of my spirit. I also realized there would be a time where I couldn’t protect myself from everything and I knew I would have to process my pain in a healthy and efficient way. I allowed myself to feel pain and not shrink because of it. The pain allows me to be more compassionate to the people God brings into my life. We need to minister to broken people from a place of having been there ourselves.”
“A fundamental mindset that I have is that I understand that the words that I attach to my experience become my experience.”
“When people talk about going through something and they attach a negative script to it, it makes things even more painful than it needs to be. When people get stuck, a core ingredient to that is that they continue to beat their heads against reality. They ask, “Why is this happening?” When they keep arguing with the reality that they’re stuck, they’ll never move forward. There are things that are against our control that we can’t allow to thwart our progress. It’s one thing to become a better and stronger person from setbacks, but you can take what you’ve learned and make people’s lives better because of it.”
“Make this day better because you’re in it.”
“A job I gave my kids when they were younger was to find a way to serve. I always asked them each day after school so that they would tell me how they made their day better by being in it. Service is my thing and my thing with my children. It was time consuming but I knew there was an investment in these kids and I knew I had to cultivate a sense of good will and compassion in these kids that would eventually be adults.”
Where do you find the tenacity to keep fighting in your life?
“I’m not willing to accept the alternative. I know that when I’m engulfed in hardships and go down a rabbit hole of self pity, it will take over me. I can’t let that happen. In June of 2020 I went to Texas to help a physician colleague train staff. I was in a hotel room by myself and at midnight I was awoken from two painful grand mal seizures. I wasn’t able to understand what was happening with my body. My limbs wouldn’t work and I couldn’t speak properly. I fell off of the bed while I was thrashing back and forth. I did know that I was passing away and that my last breath was imminent. I knew it was happening but I didn’t know why I was dying. I kept telling myself, ‘If I take one more breath, I’m still alive.’ That allowed me to say a prayer to God asking Him to keep me alive. I was woken because of another seizure and was met with a strange amount of energy so I decided to get up and see patients before I’d figure out what happened to my brain. At lunchtime I was nauseated and went to the emergency room. An emergency CT scan revealed a large brain tumor. It was incredible how I was able to be flown back to the Mayo clinic but God was incredible and blessed me to get in contact with a neurosurgeon partner back home. He convinced the team in Texas that he’d take over my care and got me to Mayo Clinic. I was flown to Mayo and was operated on the next day. That was the first day of the rest of my life. It has been an ongoing healing process for me.”
What are some of your goals for 2021?
“With all of the surgeries and physical setbacks I’ve had, I’m still in a receiving mode. I still need to receive what I need to learn from all of this. I need to stand down a little more and not be so zero to ninety all of the time. I’m doing more meditation and spending more time with stillness. I’m trying to learn lessons as I’m healing. I don’t know what that looks like yet.”
What is something that you can’t live without?
“I love to be physically active with my body. I always appreciate being in motion and using my body to become stronger. I’m a competitive cyclist so that’s a sport I really appreciate in my life and it feeds my soul. Not necessarily that I can’t live without my bike, but I can’t live without being physically active. When we stop moving our body, that’s the beginning of our demise.”
Sunrise or sunset?
“Both are so different yet so powerful. Sunrises invite a new day with new opportunities and sunset because it gives us an opportunity to be thankful for that day. They’re both equal- I can’t say one or the other.”
What book changed your life?
“The Holy Bible is the first book that comes to mind. Another book is “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. They have profoundly put a definition to how I always saw life. Tolle is a beautiful author and a spiritual being. It was like reading a book that described how I saw the world.”
Where to find Kendra:
Facebook: Kendra Clark Arizona