Keep on When Life Gets Tough
In 1992, we knew a home office was part of the plan when we bought this house. I met with clients upstairs while my husband built the office downstairs in the room off the driveway. Then I moved down to a convenient and well-equipped office that was always cold.

In 2005, we had a wood fireplace installed in the living room and the office grew colder. I migrated upstairs, working with clients in various spaces. Our large family room drew me in, a room with banks of windows on two sides and a patio door opening on our large deck on one side and another deck over looking the front of the house. The room had evolved from a play room to a teen room, even becoming my oldest son’s bedroom at one point, but it never quite got the finishing touches.

When I needed some plumbing repairs, my plumber, Tom Martinez, also talked about the finish carpentry I needed done and later Tom e-mailed me to recommend a carpenter. Anyone reading my blog knows I am captivated by stories and Tom told me the story behind his recommendation. Elijah Miller from Explicit Homes was a 32-year-old experienced carpenter, builder, and designer recovering from a brain tumor that almost killed him.

The rest of the story Elijah told me himself. He was on a job site in December when he felt strange, dizzy, and unable to continue his work. Doctors found a golf ball-sized tumor in his brain, lodged on his brain stem that had been gradually increasing in size for many years. Without removal of the tumor, Elijah faced death. Operating, not once but three times, trying unsuccessful methods to remove the tumor, the surgeons entered through Elijah’s ear. Elijah is now deaf in that ear but the tumor was removed. A shunt was installed to drain fluids from his brain and Elijah remained in the hospital to recover.

Most people at this point would have given up, perhaps choosing to claim disability for the rest of their lives. Not Elijah. He got out of the hospital at the end of January. He says he’s just stubborn. I’d rather call him a walking miracle.

When I initially consulted with Elijah, I planned to have him finish trim the patio door and find a solution to finish the new gas fireplace exterior. Our former fireplace was left unfinished for 17 years sitting on a wood platform and I was bound and determined the new one would not remain unfinished. Elijah designed an attractive, cost-effective solution using the finish molding I already had, the stone leftover from the living room fireplace, and tile purchased for the base of the former fireplace.

Watching his creativity, knowing his back story, and with other goals in mind, I asked Elijah to get me a bid for a new ceiling and find replacement lighting for the old fixtures in the ceiling. Elijah and his assistant, Andy, got along great with Teddy, our German Shepherd and it occurred to me that the best time to put a ceiling up in my office would be when I was in Baltimore for the Career Thought Leaders Conference. I wouldn’t be disabled long, Teddy would have even more people around him, and I wouldn’t have to deal with a week of disorder.

The fireplace has a new look, the new drywall ceiling is installed and painted, the new can lights are positioned to provide best lighting for target areas of my office, Elijah resolved other wiring issues, I painted the walls, and the end result feels like a brand new office.

I am drawn to people who keep going when life gets tough. A lifelong builder since a young boy, Elijah wasn’t willing to quit. He wasn’t willing to compromise his dreams and goals even faced with a challenging medical condition.

The job seekers I have seen succeed when they experience difficulty or job loss are the ones that take Elijah’s attitude and keep working toward their goals. Stubborn, maybe. I prefer determined.

Do you know people who you admire who kept going when life was tough.