11 Lessons from 11 Years in a Wheelchair
This time of year always evokes reflection on all that has happened in my life (snowboarding crash) and the lessons I've learned from them. Partly, because my crash happened right around now, but mainly because I want to reaffirm that all the pain and heartache I experienced then was worthwhile and have led me to excitement and adventure of where I am today. So, in an effort to make it count, I'm putting down my random thoughts and truths learned down here. Hopefully, it can help someone out whether in the trials you're going through right now, or to help you gain some perspective from a semi wheelchair aficionado ;)
1. God and Jesus, they both love you and are with you every step of the way, if you let them. You are never alone. Allow their love to be your strength. Know that they want the best for you.
2. Love yourself. Believe in yourself. You are valuable and you have so much to offer the world. You can make the world of a difference to someone and everyone. By the same token, love others. Believe in others. They, too, are valuable. And guess what? When you love yourself, it makes it so much easier to love others, differences and all.
3. You are the author of your own story. You are a powerful being. You get to choose the protagonist, antagonist, the storyline maybe with a few twists in between. Write a story you’ll be proud of. Whatever you choose, I hope there's lots of adventure and love.
4. Choose to see joy in every situation. I once left my camera on the airplane getting into Japan. I was frantic, worried, stressed, and didn't know if I would see my camera again. I didn't know the language and had the hardest time reaching someone at the airlines. I was explaining the situation to our hotel manager who spoke pretty great English, and she ended up helping me get a hold of the airline and figuring out that it was kept at the airport and where I needed to go to pick it up. Yes, the situation was stressful, but if there was anything to be learned from it, it was that God answers prayers and she again reaffirm that there is goodness in the world. There is good in the world. It set the tone for the rest of our stay in Japan. I was so grateful for good people.
5. Focus on what you can do and not what you can't do. Believe it or not, you can do many things, even many hard things. Think positive. I can push my wheelchair uphill with a baby in a baby car seat on my lap in the rain because I tell myself I can. And if I can ski, you can ski. We can do both simple and great things!
6. Push yourself to do things out of your comfort zone. Allow yourself to grow. Go see new places, meet new people, and get lost. Allow yourself to be brave and ASK for help if you need it. You realize just how kind strangers can be when they’re willing to pull you up huge flights of stairs (in Paris, Phnom Penh, New York City). And you’ll come away with countless stories.
7. Be grateful! Once you start looking around, you'll realize there's so much to be happy about. It's good to be alive! I'm so grateful I get to experience this human experience and make a difference. I’m grateful to keep learning And growing. I'm grateful for God’s love. I'm grateful for life!
8. Be kind. Everyone deserves kindness. Kindness is always right. Everyone is going through something, so please don't judge or take offense, or be unkind. Make time to show kindness and serve. Make kindness a part of who you are. Recognize kindness in others. Whether it be simple pushes or words of encouragement or a smile, kindness touches my life every single day. The world could use a little more kindness.
9. When you fall, get up. Little by little, you can get back up. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve launched out of wheelchair because of LEGO’s and had to pull myself back up again. You can be sad and frustrated...for a minute, but don't stay down. Get back up. And what do you know, with every lift and push, my muscles are getting stronger!
10. Make time for what’s important in your life. Time to grow yourself and your relationships. Time to nourish your soul. The recipe for my happiness in my life have been the three F’s are my most important: faith, family, friends, and making time for them make my life all that much better.
11. Be an advocate and a good listener. It’s important to share perspective and equally important to understand other people‘s perspectives as well. Speak up. Stand up for what is right. Have those tough, uncomfortable but necessary conversations. Make is a priority to share the privileges we enjoy with others. Make a difference.
My life has changed so much. My experiences in a wheelchair have shaped who I am today and I’m so grateful for them. I just want to live in such a way that I’m maximizing the most out of my days, months, years. You know, make it count. Living my best life. I hope you will join me in doing just that. Feel free to pass this along to someone who might need it. 😘😘
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