The 25 year anniversary of my accident was last week, September 5, 1992. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. I’ve been paralyzed longer than I was walking. While it’s been a long time, it’s actually gone by pretty fast. I’ve grown and learned a lot over the years! Just like anyone, there are hard times and good times, but through it all I’ve evolved and adapted to still have a wonderful, blessed life!
Little bits of wisdom I’ve gained through my experience…
#1- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
When you can’t move and other people have to do 95% of everything for you, it can be frustrating. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and some may say I probably have OCD. Early on I tried to achieve this perfection through the people helping me and I tell ya, that is nearly impossible! I would get so mad and aggravated and completely ruin my day from stress and frustration when I did not accomplish this perfection! One day I thought to myself, “Is it worth all this”. Short answer, uh, NO!!! I decided then that I had a choice. I could choose to let it go and remain happy or I could stay stressed and angry by not achieving perfection. I choose to overlook it now and remain happy. Life is much better that way! Pick your battles. Sometimes it’s easier and brings you more happiness to just let it go.
#2 – Take Time to Notice the “White Puffy Clouds in the Sky”
Life gets so busy sometimes that we jump from task to task without noticing what is happening in the world around us. When you’re paralyzed you are kind of forced to see the world around you because that’s all you’re doing is observing everything. At first it was frustrating, but then I began to find peace and encouragement through it. When you take a moment to rest and see the white puffy clouds in the sky, smell the roses, or hear a train whistle you are blessed with an inner peace and tranquillity far beyond words! Now I take time every day to search my surroundings and find that peace. It encourages me and helps keep me grounded.
#3 – Life Will Knock you Down, but you Can Get Back Up
I have been hit by hard blows many times over the past 25 years. Some physical, some emotional. At times these unbearable circumstances felt as if I would be stuck there forever. I have learned that even when you get knocked down, you’re not knocked out. Just keep going through the motions and as you do, each step gets easier and easier. Before you know it you’re better, stronger and doing well.
#4- Precious Moments with Those you Love Should Not be Taken for Granted or Missed
It can be shocking when everything is normal one day and then boom; all of a sudden your world is turned upside down in about 10 seconds. I was a silly, vibrant teenager and then in an instant, on a rainy day drive, my life was dramatically changed when I became paralyzed. This experience has taught me that you never know what is around the corner. In the grand scheme of things life is short! Take every minute you can, every time you can, to spend time with those you love. Moment’s like these are precious and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Learning from my experience I’ve come to cherish these times and appreciate them so much!
Last, certainly not least and most important….
#5 – Even When you Don’t Think God is There, He’s There!
Over the past 25 years God has, without a doubt, proven that He is here taking care of me even when it seems like He’s not. The day of my accident there was someone there that could help give me CPR. The young man knew not to move me which could have made the injury worse. There was also a neurosurgeon that was “filling in” for someone in the ER allowing me to get the best care I needed fast. Everything was set in place to help the outcome of my injury. I don’t believe it’s just a conisidence that occurred. I believe God orchestrated every circumstance to help me. There has been countless other situations over the years that God has shown me He is there, too. Trust that He is there for you with everything you are going through because He most certainly is.
While 25 years is a long time, in ways it has also flown by. The lessons I’ve learned over the years are invaluable and impact and improve my life on a daily basis. I hope you can take what you can from this to help you do that as well. Life is short and we should always make the best of it when we can because we never know what is around the corner. So overlook the little things, take time to find quiet moments daily, press on during the hard times, cherish every moment you can grab with loved ones, and know and believe God is with you! This will lead to a life truly blessed!