Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Do you know someone who has an amazing upbeat personality & positive outlook? Not just an at-the-surface pretending to be happy, but someone who emits happiness? Beyond that, she's someone who doesn't annoy you with her positive attitude. It's truth. It's beauty. It isn't sugar-coated. It's just who she is.

I wish I were that woman. I really work to portray a positive attitude. My viewpoint has always been that I want to portray a positive, happy, warm, and caring attitude. Each day I am consciously aware of not wanting to be negative. I attempt (most of the times) to hold in my negativity because I really believe it pulls other people down (and me). I want to help buoy others, not pull them under. But underneath it all, I have my grey side. Melancholy. Sadness. Perfection. People-pleaser. 

As a nurse, I've often wondered what kind of patient I would be. I have patients who I would hope to emulate, but really you never know until it's you in the hospital bed. 

These last two weeks, I have been amazed and humbled by a woman who has experienced a major life-altering accident. A spinal cord injury. T-11. No feeling below the belly button. 

That would be overwhelming for anyone. 

This woman? She was the first US female athlete to win four golds at a single Olympics game.

She woke up one day being able to walk, do cross-fit, play with her dog, and ride an ATV. That night, she could no longer feel her legs. The amazing thing? She is posting photos of herself on Instagram while in the hospital - in a hospital gown, wearing her TLSO brace, giving a thumbs up after her first shower, showing the real experience of being in a hospital after a traumatic accident...

She. is. amazing.

She's inspiring me. She's making me realize that I need to stop letting other things control my outlook. I have a choice to make. Every day. Do I choose to spread love, not just to others but to myself, too? Do I really look at the positive in each day, or do I let little blemishes form my outlook?

While other should be cheering her on, lifting her up, helping her to know that she's awesome, she's spreading happiness and positivity. From her hospital bed.


One of my favorite books is "Man's Search for Meaning." Viktor Frankl is so humbling. Throughout his book, he describes his experience in concentration camps and how some people were able to embrace positivity even in the most grim of circumstances. A quote from his book described, "We who lived in the concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: The last of his freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

Maybe it's because I'm a rehab nurse and have cared for paraplegics. Maybe it's because I remember watching Amy Van Dyken win her gold medals at the Olympics. Maybe it's because she was brought to the level 1 trauma hospital where I work.

Her story has touched me.

I thank her for sharing her story for everyone, especially for those who have experienced a life-altering accident.

But also for me. Because it's humbled me.

It's reminded me that I have a choice to make every day.

Do I choose to let the perfectionist, people-pleaser, and sometimes melancholy person decide on my outlook? Or, do I choose a different outlook, a positive attitude that saturates my being and is positively infectious?

That second option sounds amazing. Sign me up.

Praying for you, Amy Van Dyken, and your rehabilitation journey. Thank you for already kicking paraplegia's butt and showing that it isn't what defines you. You define you. You are amazing.

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