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From Fear to Focus

"No one else can heal us. Only we can heal ourselves, but we cannot do it alone".

-CarolAnn Barrows

Before I moved to Maui, I had a big fear of not making friends. I often wondered if people would be able to see past the wheelchair or if they would see me as too much work to even bother. I have always been surrounded by good friends, however this was the first time I had to make them 100% on my own, from scratch and in a wheelchair. This fear almost prevented me from making the move to paradise. I think wheelchair or not, everyone has some underlying issue they worry people will judge them for. Whether it's body issues, disability, background or simply because you don't wear pink on Wednesdays, we all have a tendency to worry about something and that fear universally connects us.

I decided to turn that fear into focus and made one of my main goals to create a team of friends around me that would aid in my recovery. I asked for, meditated and manifested people to come into my life that would have something to offer me, and me offer to them. I committed to surrounding myself with a web of support by bringing my best self to every new encounter. I wanted to give people, including myself, a reason to look past the wheelchair. This also began working the other way around, and I was able to see people for their best selves and look for what I could offer them. This became a powerful lesson of the Law of Attraction.

I can honestly say, since moving I have only met people that have added to my life and goals in some way. I have made many new friends, and friends that actually keep calling, rather than flake like most of us tend to do these days. I was surprised when I noticed I was actually waiting for the phone calls to stop. I didn't want them to stop, but I expected them to. Why was I so surprised these people wanted to be around me? Over and over, these new friends continue to surprise me with their genuineness and generosity. Friends who are mentoring me, pushing me to try harder, giving me new perspective on pain and depression, giving assistance where I didn't realize I needed it, giving opportunities to make more money which means more physical therapy, sharing tears, offering compassion, and most of all, seeing past the wheelchair.

I am reminded of the power of gratitude, finding the light in everything and the importance of always bringing your best self. We all have a responsibility to aid in each other's wellbeing by the person we bring to the table. As the saying goes, "We get what we give". My husband Sean did this best while I was in the hospital. I can't remember a single moment when he was sad. He never let me see his pain, he never let me see him cry. Instead, he would come bouncing into my room like Tigger, cracking jokes, upping my energy and simply making me happy. He took my mind off the heartache and assured me life was still going to be fun as long as we were together. He brought his very best self, every single time he saw me. I know he was hurting, I know it was torture for him to see me in pain he wasn't able to fix, but he never let me see it. He knew I needed his best self in order to find mine. He became my happiness until I was strong enough to be happy on my own.

I have been on the receiving end of support for a very long time. I had friends, family and even strangers offering help in so many ways after my accident. While in the hospitals, I had people sending me cards, gifts and flowers. I had visitors almost every day, and my family set up a calendar for everyone to select when they would visit so I wouldn't be alone for too long. I had people sending money, and a friend even set up an account for people to donate money easily. I had friends giving me haircuts, eyelash extensions, manicures, pedicures and even shaved my legs. People bought me cute workout clothes and whatever I wanted for dinner. Friends created posters to make my hospital room bright and cheery. I had all the smoothies I could ever ask for, I was given an iPad and a few friends even had a champagne toast when I had some feeling in my butt. To top it off, I came home to a huge fundraiser, where they raised thousands of dollars for me. It was raining love and support and I just gulped it up. I was loving all of the attention the accident was giving me, but without realizing it, I began taking it for granted. I actually began expecting it, and failed to recognize the sacrifices all of these people were making simply out of the goodness of their hearts. That support was crucial in my recovery, so much so, that I would get really ill with infections whenever I was alone. It was a true testament of the power of the positive energy around me. Whatever you choose to surround yourself with is in direct relation to the person you will be. In my case, that was happy and healthy.

Through my recovery, I had an ongoing battle with receiving help. I'm ashamed to admit, I felt entitled to all the support because I was going through so much. In my mind, people should reach out, should send me gifts, should offer to help. After all, I was on my death bed and I deserved all of this love, support and attention. However, it became very difficult to accept the fact I needed help, and asking for it was a whole other ball game. I hated I couldn't do it all on my own.

A perfect example of this internal debate in action was getting in and out of my car. If I saw someone watching me break down my wheelchair, I expected them to offer to help, however I would never accept any offers. What's even more messed up, if they didn't offer assistance, I would silently judge and dislike them immediately. Talk about a hypocrite on so many levels! So why this conundrum? Why was I so anti-help, yet get angry when people would offer to help and get even more angry when they didn't? I realize this struggle of independence is completely understandable, and actually expected when someone is injured or their independence is compromised in some way. It is a foreign struggle, and one that doesn't have a clear answer. It comes down to a balance of knowing yourself, believing you have the ability to make things happen, yet being realistic along the way when you meet hurdles you cannot get over alone. That is not to say you will never be able to do them on your own, but it is most likely through the help of others that you will figure out how to do them independently. You still with me? It's ok if you need to read that one again. It took a long time for me to figure out what was going on in my head, let alone put it into words.

However, of course only now am I able to recognize those thoughts and actions for what they were. Regardless of how I received the support, I still made the choice to accept it and act on it. I joined in the laughter as much as I could and I was filled with optimism, drive and energy because of it. Gifts should never be expected or taken for granted. It is in people's true nature to want to give, and in giving to others where we find pure, simple joy. Again, only we can heal ourselves, but we cannot do it alone.

I realize my gifts of optimism and strength, through the gifts of writing and speaking, are something I have a responsibility to give to others as much as possible. I want to get through to people at the high times to keep them up, and the low times to show them the way back up. Now I am inspired to give as I was given to. I will be that support, that light and that 2x4 of joy that hits people across the face. More often than not, we don't realize how strong we are until we have no other choice, or when someone is there to remind us.

There is something in all of us we have been given to share for the sake of others - whether it's an outward gift, and you sing, dance, draw, create, engineer, build or design, or it's something a little more internal, such as the ability to listen, console, empathize or make people laugh. You know what your greatness is and you have a responsibility to share it. You could share it with just one person or on a large scale - that part is up to you. I encourage you to share your gifts today. If you don't know what your gift is, then spend some personal, reflective time to figure it out because I promise, it's inside you waiting to come out. Sometimes the process of discovering your gift is just as powerful as the gift itself and it will inspire others to do the same! I believe that has been the purpose of my pain. As Lady Gaga says, "You have the freedom to pull the Superstar out of yourself that you were born to be. We are all born superstars". As you share your gifts, don't forget to accept the gifts of others as well. Don't deny someone the joy of giving their gift to you.

Through giving, we forget our fears. By bringing our best selves, we deplete any power the fear has over us and empower others to do the same.

Cheers to your best self!

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