16

Last October, I celebrated the 16th anniversary of my accident.

I think about these years since the accident and the long journey behind me: how that naive but curious 21-year-old managed to get by when so often the odds seemed against her. We certainly wouldn’t be where we are now without a lifetime of moments – little nuggets placed along the way for the sole purpose of making sure we know better next time. So what nuggets have I collected along the way? Here’s what I’ve learned so far….

These are in no chronological (or logical) order.

  1. Life is happening for us, not to us. I think odds are meant to play us, and misshape our reality just enough to make us question what type of players we even want to be.
  2. Coldplay will get you through any bad moment. A Rush of Blood to the Head was my audio chocolate on days when the world seemed a little too heavy-handed. It helps to have a lean, sexy Chris Martin at the helm.
  3. Get outside of your comfort zone! You’ll know you’re there if you feel absolutely terrified.
  4. WARNING: Wheelchairs will bite if you don’t treat them with care. Never place your hands underneath them while attempting to open the armrest. They will snap on you quicker than a Latina with pointy fingernails.
  5. Travel. Nothing makes you a better, more empathetic storyteller than the experience of travel.
  6. When in doubt, say yes. I often surprise myself when I do that. I’m still waiting for someone to ask whether I want to time-share an alpaca.
  7. Frida Kahlo is the best Halloween costume ever. That is all.
  8. Nurses are the real heroes. They see everything and still show up to work the next day.
  9. Laughter really does help. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve laughed through an awkward situation and felt better. You have to laugh when your orthopedic technician is staring at your crotch as he measure you for a new prosthetic leg.
  10. Exercise, stretch, move! A simple exercise routine will change your life.
  11. You know that saying, “an apple a day…”? I substitute that with an avocado. Yum.
  12. You know that other saying, “dance like no one is watching”? Scratch that. Dance like everyone is watching and you’re auditioning for Dancing with the Stars. Dance like you’re a Fly Girl on In Living Color and JLo is shaking her badonkadonk right next to you.
  13. Smile. Everywhere. Every time. Repeat as needed.
  14. Make time for yourself. It’s the one person you’re stuck with for the rest of your life, so you better like who you are.
  15. When you want to feel a little fancy, drink juice out of a wine glass. It works and you feel like less of a lush. Trust me.
  16. If you’re ever in an emergency room and asked to rate your pain from 1-10, go with 8. That’ll get you morphine. Again, trust me.

 

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