The Upside of Losing Everything

Heidi Siefkas
Nov 22, 2014 · 3 min read

How can there be an upside of losing everything?

To explain, let me share with you a little story.

Press rewind to 2009…

I seemingly had it all. I was a successful travel industry executive in Berlin one week, Mexico City the next, attending parties at the Playboy Mansion in L.A., and speaking at tourism shows across the country. I was married to a Brazilian chef. We owned a home in South Florida. I lived an active and healthy lifestyle.

Image for post
Image for post
Hudson River Valley, New York — Fall 2009

Then, on one of my travels to New York’s Hudson River Valley, my life as I knew it stopped. On a perfectly normal fall day, a thousand pound tree limb struck me, breaking my neck and leaving me unconscious for days.

After neurosurgery and release from the hospital, I was limited to an immobilization brace and a multiple-month recovery, living out of a suitcase, all the while far away from home. During that time, I discovered a trail of devastating lies about my husband’s double life.

All my deepest, darkest fears were coming true. And, then the phone rang. It was my employer forcing me to resign for my position, crushing my professional identity. Simultaneously, that fall, I lost everything: my health, marriage, and career.

However, I found the upside of losing everything. Along my nine-month recovery, I had time to reflect of my life’s path. I discovered that regardless of how hard I tried to control all the aspects of my life, I had very little control over my husband’s actions, the decision of my employer, and certainly not a freak tree accident. However, I had the control over my mind, using the power of perspective.

Over my recovery, I coined a mantra Look Up, which stems from the power we all possess, perspective and the ability to reframe a situation. Look Up has two main components that transformed my full-blown life catastrophe into a triumph. First, be aware of your surroundings, appreciating the beauty around you as well as the hazards. In essence, be more in the moment and grateful. Second, spin each situation positively. Although at first, many situations appear negative, they are unknown blessings in disguise or needed detours on your life’s path.

Look Up was my secret weapon for triumph in a 1, 2, 3 sucker punch, but it is also the best tool that we all have in life. The simple truth is that we have very little control over our supervisor’s mood, the stupidity of a rush hour traffic driver, or even our DNA. However, we do have the power to change the way with think about it. We can choose to carry this tool with us daily.

The upside of losing everything can be found with perspective. I share my journey of survival and discovery of Look Up in my inspirational memoir, When All Balls Drop: The Upside of Losing Everything.

Here’s to looking up!

Image for post
Image for post
Author & Adventurer Heidi Siefkas

Heidi Siefkas is an author and adventurer. Originally from small-town Wisconsin, she lives in Kauai and also calls the Midwest and South Florida home. Heidi is currently crafting a sequel to her memoir, When All Balls Drop, embracing both her wanderlust and love of writing by documenting her many travels. You can connect with Heidi at, Facebook, and Twitter.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store