Every day, we can choose what to focus on

Logan hiking“2018 is my year of growth, being positive, and having love for myself and others.”

Logan Renshaw
Journal, January 10, 2018

In November 2017, my wife Helen and I were talking with our daughter Logan on the phone while she was at college at FAU. It was part of our regular routine. She talked to Helen, me, or her brother Cayden almost every day. For me, sometimes it was a long talk during my ride home from work or just a quick text or Snap Chat. We would catch up on how everything was going at school—other times it was random conversation or laughing about awkward moments from our day. These were precious moments as parents, and we were always grateful that Logan called and made time for her family. One time Helen and I were on a video with Logan while she was at school. She was sitting in the cafeteria crying from the stress of the semester and that she wanted to come home. Then at one point, she started to smile, then laugh, and finally panned the video over to a girl sitting behind her who was talking to her mom… and also crying about wanting to come home. Logan was able to find humor in her situation and gain perspective that things weren’t so bad but part of growing up and becoming independent. Every day, we can choose what to focus on.

In early January 2018, Logan called me from school very upset. There was a sense of urgency and determination in her voice. “Dad, there is so much need in the world, I want be a teacher, I want to join the Peace Corps, we need to clean up the environment, help the poor, care for neglected children, and protect animals. We need to start now!” I tried to coach her like most parents would do, “Logan, slow down, let’s focus on college, this semester, and the classes you have right now—you have your whole life to make a difference.

You have your whole life…those words echo in my mind every day. Logan didn’t have time and we lost her in a car accident a short time later on February 2, 2018. None of us know how much time we have. There are no guarantees in life. There may not be a tomorrow. Logan lived her 20 years fully and with great passion and often impatience. She felt the urgency, saw the need, and wanted to take action and was trying to live a life that supported her values and causes that were important to her. We are grateful for the time we had with her.

How we view life is like looking through the narrow lens of a camera. If we only focus on what’s bad in the world; the violence and hatred, fearing or judging others that are different, getting caught up in the uncertainty and chaos of politics and world affairs, or the negativity on social media—then that becomes our reality and where our energy is directed. What we consume in what we read, watch, and hear is what we become and gets reinforced in our mind which if we’re not careful, can negatively impact our mood, beliefs, and how we interact with others.

When Logan passed, we focused on why her, why now, why us, and the tragic details of the accident. Then we had to decide what to do next—let sorrow overtake us or choose to make Logan’s life meaningful and to step forward in her memory and create something positive. It’s a challenge, it’s painful, and a very difficult journey, but growth and adapting to change never comes easy. Thanks to the love and support of our friends and family, we realize how truly blessed we are and have reinforced what we’ve always known in our hearts…that people are good, life is precious, and each of us matters and can make a difference. Logan’s spirit is with us every day and has given us hope, strengthened our faith, and has called us to a higher purpose. This brings us joy, happiness, and fulfillment.

In one of Logan’s last journal entries, she quoted a favorite book I had given her to read titled, The Book of the Awakening: “We are born with our obligation—to become completely who we are.” What a great quote and invitation to each of us to share our gifts, to love, to experience life fully, to appreciate today, and to become the best version of ourselves. Every day, we can choose what to focus on.

Al Renshaw