Monday, October 6, 2014

Keepin' it Real

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about how tempting it can be to view folks with disabilities or physical challenges as victorious, or having somehow "arrived" at a great place despite their struggles and challenges.   While I soooo understand this tendency from a personal perspective, I have come to understand that truly, there is another reality that most of us do not see or fully comprehend, which is understandable.  We don't want to see pain.  We don't want to see struggle.  We want the Hollywood version which makes us feel better......... So, the main intention of this post is to stress the importance of keeping it real.  

Let me start by sharing what an incredible summer we had.  It was active, and full....and challenging.   In many ways I look at how it felt "victorious", but know that it was also very hard.   Dealing with a new reality IS hard  .....and it is something that I know I am not alone in.  

Behind the smiles, great scenery, and hands in the air, here's what you need to see:   I'm tired and sore.  I miss the old body.  Wearing a prosthetic liner in the summer sucks (I had to literally pour the sweat out more times than I can count.), Crabby kids and hurtin' mommy is not an optimal combination.   A "good leg day" is not always guaranteed, and neither is a day without back pain (on a typical day).   Trying to enjoy the process of finding the "new normal" is easier said than done.......but we try.  We keep plugging on, and try to grab a strong hold of the moments of gratitude we find along the way.

 It is a PRACTICE....cultivating gratitude.   The love and kindness of people and the beauty of nature are great strongholds.   They help to pull us through and give us fuel to keep going, thank god.  

I was asked to write about my experience in the Trauma Survivor's Network, Fall Newsletter, and you can read that here.   I've had the pleasure of helping to create a peer-support program at Froedtert Hospital and am delighted that it is going well.  We have some great volunteers...other survivors who understand what it is like to keep going, despite difficulty.   Recently we've received some great feedback from staff and patients there!  This always helps to validate the importance of sharing how it is.....and keeping on, keeping on.     

As is usually the case at this time of the year (when the weather starts to turn, and I begin to become more reflective), I found that it would be a good time to put together a gratitude collage.   This is by no means, exhaustive.....and it will be growing.    There are times when I think about how awesome it would be to return to the "old" (pre-accident) me.   Then I think about all of the great relationships that have resulted, the amazing people I have met, and the profound experiences I have had....AS A RESULT of my accident.   I would not take those back.   

    High-five my warrior-friends...and as always......CLIMB ON!