[ Shani Scott ]:
So I have a question to ask everybody.
Are you living because you're dying?
Or are you dying because you're living?
Have you ever thought about that?
I never really thought about it, and when I did sit down and think about it, I figured out that I was doing neither.
I was just going through this thing called life with no real purpose.
There were goals that I had, there were things that I was accomplishing, but I was just going through life.
Then life really happened, and when life happened, I realized that I was dying because I was living.
See, I felt like I had made it to the top, to what my top was.
I was in management in radio, something that I've always wanted to do.
I was traveling around the country, to various conferences.
I was able to take my daughters with me. We were having a really good time.
I was working all kind of hours, accomplishing great things, getting all kind of accolades.
But all of that was contributing to me dying because I was living.
See, I wanted my daughters to have a better life than me.
I wanted to have a better life.
My radio station was number one. I wanted to keep that.
My time slot that I was in was number one. I wanted to maintain that.
I actually wanted to be whatever was over number one.
And I figured out what that was.
That was called "the Shani level."
And only certain people operate at the Shani level.
And I haven't met too many people that could really operate at the Shani level.
There's a song that I would think of, you might know.
It says, "I am number one. Two is not a winner, and three, nobody remembers."
Shani level, only so many people could get on.
And Shani level caused my heart to fail, and that contributed to me dying because I was living.
Then, just when you thought it couldn't get worse, something else happened in life that caused me to stop and think.
And that was causing me to die because I was living too.
Because this time I was introduced to this pink thing that torments a lot of people, shakes up a lot of families, shakes up a lot of homes.
So, I'm not saying that you shouldn't go after your dreams. Please don't think that I'm taking you down that road.
I'm not saying that, but what I am saying is, when you accomplish a dream, take the time to enjoy the reality that you've created.
See, for me, when I reach a dream, when that dream comes true, I get greedy.
And I push and I push, because I want more.
One hundred is not enough, it has to be 200.
Two hundred is not enough, so I got to get to 500.
But that very thing, that type of drive, was causing me to die because I was living.
April 27, 2010, I gave birth to my baby girl.
Fifteen months prior to that I had my first daughter.
Now while I was in delivery, I busted a blood vessel in my brain, while trying to push for my now nine-year-old to be delivered.
They actually had to stop me from pushing, and she actually birthed herself.
She came out on her own. True story, OK?
Now that day that I had her, I was ready to go back home, because again, 15 months earlier I had just had a baby.
So we'd already gone through this. I was fine.
"Hey, doctor, I'm ready to go home. I don't need to sit up in this hospital. I'm ready to go home."
Plus we had this fight party planned because Floyd Mayweather was fighting Shane Mosley.
And I had already told all my friends to come over, because I wanted to show off my beautiful baby girls to everybody, OK?
We got home. We had the party.
At the party, I'm taking the girls around, I'm showing them to everybody, 'cause my girls are cute.
They're cuter than your girls, I'm just saying.
And I wanted everybody to see my beautiful babies.
Here I am, my baby is only three days old, and I am socializing, showing her off, trying to be the hostess with the mostest, with swollen ankles, swollen legs, swollen hands, swollen arms, in so much pain.
See, I was dying because I was living. OK?
That Sunday after the fight — that Monday, actually — I woke up at 6 a.m.
I did not know who my daughters were.
I didn't know who my then-husband was.
Fortunately he thought fast, threw us in the car, rushed me to the hospital to find out that I was having a stroke.
I had went home bleeding on the brain from trying to give birth to her, just five days earlier.
Two days earlier, I'm the socialite, dying because I was living.
See, I wasn't taking the time to enjoy the dreams that I had already created.
Because the other thing that happened at that party, I was having conversations about wanting to have twins, and maybe six months later, me and my dear husband were going to work on that development.
OK, but I already had two — two dreams that I made come true back to back.
But it wasn't enough.
Dying because I was living.
Now with that stroke, I ended up having to go into rehab, because it caused me to lose my sight.
It affected the left side of my brain.
I could not speak in complete sentences.
I could not identify things.
I couldn't even walk.
I spent Mother's Day in the hospital with my newborn baby and my then one-year-old daughter.
So I went to rehab. And in rehab, I had one job. One job.
So again, I couldn't walk — in a wheelchair, right?
My job, every day, was to roll my wheelchair up to a desk.
At that desk they had a walker.
I was to put my hands on the walker, push myself up, stand up, pick a pencil up that was on the right side of the desk, and move it to the left side of the desk.
It was the hardest thing for me to do.
There was so much pain going from the back of my head, all the way down to my ankles.
My sight came back, because the pressure of the blood — what was causing me to be blind was the pressure of the blood on my brain, is what caused the vision in the left eye to go out.
So that came back.
I was really frustrated doing this exercise every day, cause it hurt, number one. Number two, I'm ready to go home.
Because every day they would bring my daughters to see me for an hour — my newborn.
My baby girl would scream — I knew when they were there, because she would scream coming in the door.
When she got to the room, got to me, she was fine.
When it was time to go, and I'm putting her back in her seat for my dad to take her, she'd scream all the way out.
So I knew when they were gone.
I said, "You know what? We're going to go home, and this wheelchair is staying here, and this walker is staying here.
"It's not going, because I'm too young. I have two young daughters, and I want to be able to play with them, run with them, walk and talk with them."
Eventually I got home.
The wheelchair stayed. The walker had to come, but that's fine.
As you see, I don't have the walker now.
[ Applause ]
And as you see, I can speak in complete sentences, and you understand what I am saying.
And if you talk to me, I can understand what you're saying.
And I can identify that there are people, actually human beings, not trees, cats and dogs, sitting in the audience.
So we got past that, right?
But I was still dying, because I was living.
After that, I went right back to work. Went to work.
We ended up moving to Tyler.
Now I'm the program director at an urban radio station.
I am loving it because I am in complete control, and in charge in a market that I want to be in.
That wasn't my first time being program director. That was actually my second time.
And I've also been operations manager, just so you know.
So I get this job, and in my house, there's a radio that nobody can touch, because understand this: as the program director, my job is to select the music that we play, approve the promotions that are going to go on. I'm over the air staff, I'm over everything that happens on this station.
If it goes wrong, according to management, it is my fault.
So nobody can touch this radio.
My mom came to town, turned my radio off. It was a problem.
This is my house, don't touch nothing.
Leave it the way it is.
With that radio, I would listen to my station all night long.
So if my station went off the air, I knew it in my sleep.
And when it would go off, I had my phone next to me, I'd roll over, call my engineer and say, "Hey, the station is off the air. You need to get me back up right now."
When I got to work one day, he said, "Listen, you need to get some rest, because all this calling in the middle of the night, I don't understand how you do that. You work 24 hours a day listening to this station."
"Well look, dude, I love my job. I love my station, and I want it right.
"And you gotta get it right. If you can't get it right, then I need to go talk to corporate so they can get somebody over here that can get it right for me."
That was causing me to die, because I was living.
I ended up in the hospital, because I was having these sharp pains that started in the winter of 2014.
By the summer of 2015, I'm in the ER, because I'm on the air, trying to record my show. These pains are going on, and all of a sudden, just all the air sucks out of me and it goes somewhere.
I don't know where.
And this pain is so much.
So I say, "OK, well you know what, let me turn this mic off. Let me put the mic back. Let me pick up my keys, put them in my purse. Let me walk to the front, to the receptionist, say, 'Hey, listen. I'm going to lunch. If you need me, call me. I'll be back.'"
But what I did, I got in my car, I drove myself to the ER.
Walked in, told them, "Hey. This is what's going on."
And immediately, this swarm of people came, and they started putting all these things on me.
They're hooking me up to a EKG.
So I was having a heart attack.
Still dying because I'm living.
The doctor told me — I'll never forget this — he walks in to me, he said, "Ms. Scott, you're a workaholic, and you need to stop."
I said, "No, you don't understand. See, because I'm number one, and we can't fall below. Did you want to be the number three surgeon here, or whatever it is you are? Because see, that's not going to work for me."
He said, "Listen."
He said, "You can go back to work if you want to, but you're going to be right back here, and I can't guarantee you that you're going to go home."
So I took the two weeks off, and I literally cried, listening to the radio because things weren't going as I wanted.
I'm calling, saying, "Look, y'all need to change this."
Nobody's touching it.
See, they were living because they were dying, but I was still dying because I was living.
So we get to my 40th birthday, November 2016.
I'm 40. I'm on my way to Vegas.
I'm about to cover the Soul Train Music Awards.
I'm having a good time. And I find out I have breast cancer.
And in that moment, that's when I started living because I was dying.
See, my doctors told me I had to do 22 rounds of chemo, 14 rounds of radiation, and if I didn't do it — because I wasn't a good patient — if I didn't do it in four months, I would die.
And I looked at her, I said, "Listen. Hey, I'm not doing all that because, number one, I've already had a stroke, I've had a heart attack, so I'm not doing this. I'm going to take my chances."
Well, it's past four months, so we beat breast cancer, December 2017.
[ Applause ]
But, it was in that moment that I learned how to live because I was dying.
Now, what's important is spending time with the two daughters that I have.
Now, what's important is being good at what I do.
Yes, I have goals to excel, but to get there as a process, not as a race to be first.
If I get there in 25th place, it's fine. Hey, I got there.
And once you take the time to figure out what's really important to you, in that moment, you will start living because you're dying.
And trust me, we are all dying.
So my challenge to you is to live your life to the fullest. Take the time to enjoy the things that mean the most to you.
Cut the stress out, whatever it is, because it's not worth it.
We don't know when we'll take our last breath, we don't know when our last day is. But the one thing that we can do, and what we can control, is to make sure that we are living because we are dying.
[ Music ]