Rise & Shine Interview: Scott Vannatter about Perseverance

I’m so excited that today Scott Vannatter is sharing his thoughts on perseverance with us. Scott is a fellow blogger and long-time reader of my blog. One of my favourite parts about blogging is the people you connect with randomly. If you read the "comments" section of my posts, you will most likely see Scott adding his voice to the conversation.  I'm so thankful for Scott's advice; he  truly inspires me.  Scott continually stands tall & speaks from the heart as he shares regularly how he perseveres despite having a stroke.  He reached out about being featured in the "Profiles of Perseverance" series, and I am honoured to share his lessons with  all of you.  Thanks, Scott, for your presence in the Arianna's "Random" Thoughts community. You rock!

Scott Vannatter is 54 years-old and has had several careers throughout his life.  He has been a programmer, worked in computers in several capacities, and was a teacher of special needs middle-schoolers.  On May 7, 2010, Scott suffered a severe hemorrhagic stroke, which forced him to stop working in February of 2012.  At this point in his life, Scott maintains daily blogging on his website  and has, finally, earned one of his dreams:  that of being a published author.  He is published online at www.atomicavarice.com  (“The Way It Is”) and in print with his story “Sirens of the Undead” contained in the anthology “The Dead Sea” on sale at Amazon in print and on Kindle: Scott’s Story.  Scott lives in Middletown, Indiana, with his cat, Tamika. Check out his interview below as Scott opens up and speaks from his heart!

(c) Arianna's Random Thoughts
(c) Arianna's Random Thoughts

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? Who did you receive it from?

When I was in college for my B.A., I had a teacher who taught religion.  I found his classes boring.  Most were at 8 a.m. and I was not awake yet for them.  My senior year, I had him for a class and, on the last day, he told us, “Now, that you are finished with your degree, I hope you will go out in the world and get educated.”  That particular piece of advice has always had me take a bit of a different view of the things I have and am going through.  Our education is not done after college; it is just beginning.

How important is mentorship in terms of your success? 

Mentorship is very important and has been to me over the years.  The thing is that my mentor has changed depending on what I was doing at the time.  It was not always specifically for the thing I was doing, however.  For instance, Jim Bethel, was my director the last couple of years I was in programming.  Jim could not program and he told me that.  It was not his job to program.  What I learned was that to be in charge of something meant you had to trust the people you had working under you to be able to do their jobs and do them right.  You also had to be able to tell them, in general, what needed done so they could do it.

Right now is kind of a unique point in my life.  I have a lot of mentors, but none that really stand out as being “the one.”  I am doing a lot of different things and thinking about a lot more.  I have different mentors I follow for different areas.  There are even some people here on WP whose blogs and comments help guide me.  I told you earlier, Arianna, that you are someone I admire and look up to.  That would make you one of my mentors!

Check out my interview with Scott Vannatter!

As far as success, people throughout my life have always helped guide me.  I credit much of my success and happiness to those who have shown me how to live over the years.

What has been the best moment in your life so far?

Okay, it goes without saying (or should) that the births of my two children are top of my list.  So, if you set those aside, then I believe that, right now, seeing my story in official print version for the first time, has put me on top of the world.  I received my copy from Amazon just recently and I was floating!

What tips would you have for living a healthy life?

My “healthy” life began after my horrendous hemorrhagic stroke.  More specifically, I think it began in February 2012.  This was when I had to stop working as a special needs teacher and understand that my teaching days were over and I needed to really change things and live.

My advice is the same advice most of us give to people, and those people seldom listen.  You truly need to control your eating, sleeping, and exercise. Someone told me once to just be sensible and do not overdo it.  I thought I HAD to work really hard, PUSH myself, and RUSH all the time in order to be successful.  I also thought success = happiness.  It does not.  The best advice I have is to lighten up on yourself and know that there is a life after 40, if you take care of yourself in order to be around.  I had my stroke because I did work hard and push and rush.  Most of that was because everyone else made it sound like that’s what had to be done.  Instead, love your family; love your friends; most of all, love yourself.  I trust in God and, since I have really turned things over to HIM, my life has been much more relaxed and enjoyable.

How do you motivate yourself to persist despite setbacks?

Oh my!  I grew up with the idea that if you had a setback, you should quit and do something else.  It was lucky that I was very smart and thought I had to please people so that I kept working when there were problems.  Inside, those problems made me a mess.

Since my stroke, I have really stuck with things.  Most of life was a setback after that.  It was either give up or get moving.

But, truly, my faith has been what has kept me motivated.  My life has, finally, reached a point in which I truly believe that all things work out in the end.  You just have to hang in there until then.  God doesn’t let me down.  I know He’s there, so I just have to let things go until they reach the point of being great.

What has been your biggest setback? How did you deal with it? What did you learn from it?

My biggest setback was on May 7th, 2010, when I had my hemorrhagic stroke.  This is when a vessel in the brain bursts and sprays blood on the surface of the brain while it also stops oxygen from reaching part of the brain.  Mine was inoperable.  After a year of rehab and 2 more of living and learning, I am left with double vision, a weakened left side (especially, my hip), some balance issues, some memory impairment, and a brain that seldom allows my body to fall asleep even when so tired I can no longer think well.

I dealt with the problem by deciding I was going to: 1) go back to work as a teacher.  I did that for about 7 months. 2) I was going to follow doctor’s orders and heal and do what I could to stay healthy.  3) I was going to allow the mental “filters” that had been removed by the stroke to remain removed if they had been hindering me.

I learned that I could still do things in life; I can still succeed, even if that success is measured by me and not by the average life.  I can’t work full-time, but I can do things such as write blog posts and short stories.  I can still do some cooking.  I can still run my home – just differently.  I learned that I could still live a good and productive life, just not the same as it was.

How do you deal with critics?

Honestly, I feel sorry for them.  For the most part, people who criticize me do not understand what I am about.  I am not about trying to outdo everyone.  I am not about gaining the world.  I am not about fame, or fortune really (though fortune could be fun).  What I am about is loving people, seeing the best in all people and situations, and trusting God to work things out.  People who mock, laugh, and criticize those things, simply do not understand.

How important is social support in overcoming obstacles?

It is important but I am not going to say it is all-important.  People, especially my family and friends (including my blog friends), have truly played a huge part in helping me recover and learn to live differently.  I don’t think you can do it by yourself.  Your world fits together better when you can share thoughts and problems and successes with others.  If you can combine a strong self-center and good outlook with wonderful social support; wow! life is wonderful.

What advice would you give others about goal setting?

Stick with it, but be flexible.  Goals do not have to be written in stone.  Pursue your dreams and goals, but don’t let them run your life.  I had some goals in life before my stroke that, most likely, cannot be achieved now.  If I was not flexible in this area, it could have torn my life apart.  Life happens; things change; flow with it and carve your life out of what comes along as well as what you truly desire.  Most of all, it truly is in the journey, not the destination.

What life lesson have you learned that you would like to pass along to others?

My mantra:  All things work out in the end; if it hasn’t worked out, it isn’t the end.

Thank you, Arianna, for this opportunity to share a part of my life with others.  This is one of the things I know God has kept me around for and I love it.

Thank you, Scott, for sharing your lessons with us and for truly speaking from your heart.  Keep writing, inspiring, and empowering others!

Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.

See you at the beach!