She’d always been a mama’s girl, and now you could see she was afraid to climb in my bed with me. I thought she was going to cry, and my first instinct was to try and distract her, the way you do with kids when they fall and bleed a little. So, I immediately looked to see what was at hand on my bedside table. There were some candies friends had brought me, and some nail polish from another friend. Ruby loved when I painted her nails, and like all kids, she loved candy. So those are what I used to lure her into bed with me.
She also liked all the buttons—one to call the nurse, and one to call the doctor, one to dispense the Dilaudid that kept my pain at a semi-endurable level. That last one was the one she kept pushing, and I didn’t care how many times she did it as long as she was in bed with me. Believe me, I was pretty loopy by the time she left, but I needed to see her. It reminded me, not that I needed reminding, why I absolutely had to get well and not give in to either the pain or the despair.
I was blessed with two beautiful daughters, Savanna and Ruby Lee, and this was only the beginning of my healing journey after I was hit by an SUV, had 34 surgeries to save my leg from amputation, and diagnosed with a nerve disease called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). I have always met life head-on, with a smile and an attitude of gratitude. After all, our attitudes shape our lives, which is not to deny that problems do occur. But my God….how long would I be in the hospital? When would I be able to work again. Would my clients find another trainer? How would the kids get to school and who’s going to make mom’s secret chicken delight? The list of questions went on and on.
What do you do as a mom when faced with extreme adversity?
We have all heard that problems can be viewed as special opportunities for personal growth and that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. This immediately got me to thinking, how much growth does one person need in their lifetime? And honestly, I wasn’t so sure this student was quite ready for all this learning.
Sometimes we just have to trust the process because ready are not, life happens. Thankfully when life happened to me, my family and friends stuck by my side. After countless hospital stays, doctors visits and even a few emergency room surprises are thrown in here and there, I was determined to have my daughters grow up seeing me as a survivor, not a victim. And to this day, I want to live so when my children think of hope and resilience they think of me. So here are a few things I practice and I teach my daughters:
1. Start with Gratitude: Every day I open my journal and immediately begin a gratitude list—that is, all the things for which I am grateful. So instead of staring into the darkness, I focus on what is light in my life.
2. Choose to See The Good: I teach my daughters they have a superpower, and that is the power of choice. Pain is inevitable, suffering is a choice. You have the choice to go forth feeling love, guaranteeing an enjoyable day. You can choose to focus on the good in your life, which gives us hope for our future and a trusting and loving attitude can turn a grave situation into a positive learning experience.
3. Positive Affirmations: which is speaking what I wish to come true into the universe. I show my daughters that even if their circumstances have narrowed their possibilities, they can still have their dreams come true.
4. Always, always rest, but do not quit.
5. Self-love: I want my daughters to see what self-love is, practice self-love, and carry themselves confidently through life. I have plenty of scars that I hated (and hate is a four letter word in our household). I was living in denial of my new normal, trying to pretend everything was okay. But it wasn’t until I embraced my scars and viewed them as the battles I had won, that I was able to start healing emotionally, spiritually and physically. I was then able to love myself with all my imperfections.
6. Resilience: It’s okay if you fall, just as long as you get back up. For me, that was 34 surgeries and getting back up 35 times.
7. Be kind: Especially to themselves.
8. Be humble.
I have also taught my daughters some really bad habits too, like drinking out of the milk carton. After all, I am no saint and I am still working on myself, and learning and growing daily. But this morning when I started my day with my spiritual reading, I found a note that I had been using as a bookmark from Ruby, who is 9. It read:
Things aren’t always gonna go your way. But ya fall and you get up. You get up and you try again. No one will always agree on what you want. Somedays are harder than others. Remember fun times. Take a deep breath, forget about it, and move on.
Maybe, just maybe, they are truly getting it.