I read the following blog post last Thursday, written by Chris Norton, the young man whose story I have the privilege of turning into a book. This post exemplifies the best of human nature. His life changed four years ago without any warning or any time to prepare. Instead of wallowing in grief and dismay, he considers every day a blessing and teaches others how to do the same.
If this post resonates with you, do yourself a favor and read his blog and follow his journey. You won’t be sorry!
Today, marks the four year anniversary of my spinal cord injury and I think it is a good time to reflect on everything. However, I do not need a date or anniversary to remind me of the event that took place four years ago as I am reminded every morning when I wake up in need of assistance to get out of bed.
At times it all seems insurmountable, but I constantly remind myself of where I have come from. I went from the most prime shape of my 18 years of life to having no mobility, no independence; I had hit rock bottom, but to see where I am now feels like so much more than what I had as that 18 year old athlete. I have acquired a greater appreciation for the little things that I could have never gained until my injury. Simple things like feeding yourself or brushing your own teeth.
I have found my purpose in life. Helping others with disabilities and motivational speaking. I’m in a better place in life now than I have ever been before.
October 16, 2010, seems like an eternity ago. In all honesty, I feel reborn like I am living a second life, one lifetime pre-injury and another post-injury. I do not reflect on this day in mourning but in appreciation and happiness like one would view a birthday. It is a day that started something special in my life. In fact, I couldn’t be more happy than where I am now. I have a loving supportive family, the kindest girlfriend, and the most loyal friends. I have my mind, my strength, and my will. With these things with me I feel that anything is possible. And for that I am forever grateful.
My message to everyone: appreciate the little things in life and do not take anything for granted. Do not wait until something is taken from you to appreciate it. Life is a blessing, do not waste your time stressing over it!
CBS 2011 Courage in Sports Award Recipient
Founder SCI CAN Foundation
In the spirit of Columbus and discovering new places, my family and I went to visit the Jupiter Inlet lighthouse, a 108-foot tower officially lit on July 10, 1860. Rich in history, the climb to the top offered some incredible views and played a crucial role throughout several wars.
During the Civil War, the inlet was used as a thorough fare for the Confederates to ship in supplies. When the North found out, they used the lighthouse to “shine the light” on the Confederates and take them out as they passed through. Didn’t take the South long to figure this one out, and they ensued with battle, reclaiming the lighthouse and their supply route.
During World War II, merchant ships carried war supplies and fuel to our troupes in Europe. They left the port of New Orleans, traveled near the Jupiter coast, where German submarines sat right outside the inlet, armed with torpedoes to sink them.
US Military used the lighthouse to create Station J—a secret operation designed to intercept U-boat radio messages and tip-off U.S. forces to attack enemy vessels. Tuning into the frequencies used by the U-boats, Station J was able to pinpoint the locations of the submarines, which would surface every night to charge their batteries and send their locations and weather reports back to Germany. As a result, the US aircraft was able to seemingly come out of nowhere and attack the subs, ending the German dominance of the Atlantic.
Speaking of discovering new things, as we climbed the narrow passageway up to the top of the lighthouse, I learned that my daughter doesn’t like high places. Her white-knuckled grip as she hugged the tower behind her gave it away. Who knew?
I guess it’s not every day you find yourself a 108 feet in the air… While she won’t be heading back up any time soon, we had fun and the views were incredible. If you’re ever in South Florida, make a point to stop and visit Jupiter. From the blue-water beaches to the brick-red lighthouse views, it makes for a memorable trip.
My debut, The Last Breath, has been out in the world for almost two weeks now. Anyone who has ever written a book will tell you, it’s a long, hard road with lots of bumps and twists. (Did I mention long? Did I mention the bumps and twists?)
But then after forever and all of a sudden, that day is here, your baby has finally made it onto bookstore shelves, that moment you’ve been dreaming about and working for and planning is really happening, and it’s everything you thought it would be and at the same time, completely not.
Here’s a few lessons I learned…
1. The world doesn’t stop. The dogs still need to be walked, the kids still complain there’s nothing to eat in the house, the laundry doesn’t get up and do itself. It’s your special day, but unless you put on a princess dress and tiara, nobody’s really going to notice or care.
2. Except on social media. Your twitter feed will blow up. Your Facebook notifications will ding at you all day. Here’s where you get to pull on that princess dress and tiara, only it’s virtual.
3. Amazon rankings are updated every hour, and they exist to make you crazy. Do not obsess about them. Do not compare yourself to other authors in your genre and wonder why theirs are higher, when your book is so clearly better. Whatever you do, do not refresh that page!
4. Nine out of ten readers are awesome. They are kind and thoughtful and careful with their words. They will gush and say all the right things about the baby you spent so many months crafting. But there will also be trolls. Do not engage with them! In fact, scroll right past their mean ol’ review, because just like the Amazon rankings, they exist to make you crazy.
5. Throw a party. Invite all those friends who’ve let you rant in their ears and cry on their shoulders, and feed them snacks and wine. They will come out for you in droves, and they will buy five copies of your book and tell all their friends to do the same. The bookstore will sell out and have to order (gasp!) more. But on your special night, your friends will bring you flowers and champagne and shower you with compliments, and you will feel like a real, live princess. With a tiara!
Occasionally I’ll observe something that I consider a “Scene of the Day,” because in some way it speaks to me, or catches my attention, gives me pause.
There was the time my daughter won a stuffed animal in a claw machine, and ran after the boy who’d tried minutes before her, so she could give the coveted bear to him. And there was the time I saw a young nun, habit and all, bounding joyfully through light rain.
Maybe it was my beau across the table from me in a fantastic, aromatic coffee shop. Or a sweet smudge of chocolate in the middle of my other daughter’s forehead.
Sometimes it’s a quieter moment, very small, one I don’t share with anyone. I might see a man who—in a single second—reminds me of my dad, who is gone now. Or maybe I’ll see a baby who looks not unlike my girls used to, strapped in its infant carrier, face winched tight as it cries its need, some need, any need. In both of these instances my heart will soften and dive toward memory.
This last weekend we had a garage sale at our home, like others. Many Amish families came from the community close by, to shop the town-wide event. A youthful mom asked if her tiny boy might use my bathroom. I gave permission and, one after the other, seven Amish folks filed into my house. (I suppose where one goes, they all go.) It was a sight to behold, as well as ruminate over. (I stepped in, as well, and saw that each used the facilities.)
Last night I studied the beautiful moon outside my bedroom window, and then several minutes later from my back stoop to get a clearer, more striking look. (Side Note: Unbeknownst to me, a friend was at the same time messaging me to go take in the moon, because he knew I was frustrated about something and thought it would do me well. I love connection like that.) (Side Note 2: Have you ever noticed the still and peace that accompanies an effort to absorb nature or weather or the cosmos?)
Maybe my point is, one scene has an impact, then the next, and another. If you’re paying attention, they all add up to a significant facet of life. Don’t you agree?
Tell us about your latest Scene of the Day.
[image credit: freedigitalphotos.net]