Words by Julie - Living Life With Paralysis

Opening up means mission accomplished 1

I’ve been stewing over this for the past 12 hours. What to say? What words even come close to describing what I feel? Plus, I know it is risky too?

Why is that risky?

Why can’t I just say it?

“It” by the way, is how to start to say thank you.

Because it doesn’t seem to be enough. It’s not a powerful enough word to explain how I felt yesterday and still do this morning.

We had an open house to celebrate the launch of my book Build YOUR Space. We were overwhelmed (in a good way) by the turnout – more than 70 people came to the house.

If I start to thank specific people, I run the risk of leaving out those who should also have be acknowledged. I don’t want to make people who couldn’t make it feel bad that they didn’t…I want them to know they were part of the excitement in spirit.

But now as I write, I start to feel like this is all a bit mushy. And why would anyone read a mushy bunch of thank yous anyway?

Which just leads me to say that life turns corners when you don’t expect them or even see them coming. That’s what has happened to me. But what I have learned is that when you turn that corner you end up running into people who you otherwise would not have met or had the opportunity to work or spend time with. Again, that is what has happened for me. People are amazing – catch them doing what they love and together you can move mountains. God, that is so corny!

But look at me: bam, got hit by a car. Shit; now what? Ask for help. People want to help. Asking for help from one person, leads to learning about someone else or an opportunity. Meet that person or take up that opportunity (work hard) and then you’re back and up and running, but now it’s just in a different direction than you were before. Because you are going in a different direction there are all sorts of people that you are going to run into that you wouldn’t have, people that are all trying to get to the same place you are.

So. written in prose, what I am trying to say is that getting hit by a car lead me to Bill, Marc and Nikki. They turned my attention to the HCAAC which lead me to Debbie, Charlene, Dean, Carol and Jim, Lori, Susan, Kathy (again) and Bob. In the meantime I also had people who were with me on my original “life path” like Kim and Annie who lead me to Lorie and Cheryl. Casey and Melissa, our original Blyth team mates, lead us to Paul, Cindy, Hauke, Scott, Heather, Mike, Chris, Trevor; and together Casey and Paul became the masterminds of our amazing, beautiful and oh yes, accessible home. David put me in the path of Peter who made my head explode and realize that Vancouver was an option. That is where I met Patricia, Jane and Samantha which lead me to Kevin and Sarah. With Samantha I conquered YOW and YYZ, which lead to Vaughan… Add Jane to the mix and the three of us are going to be a problem solving machine: together we are cooking up some good stuff that is yet to come; but it’s going to be awesome. RHF lead me to meet Linda who is going to connect me in ways I had never even dreamed of! Way back three years ago I put my writing in front of Shawn who said yes; Lisa who agreed to talk and listen (more to come); I met Suzanne (thanks to Karen) who pumped me up in Shine 3: Inspirational Stories of Overcoming Adversity and taught me how to write a book. Back to Bill and Nikki who gave me quiet space to write and encouragement to do so which lead me to meet Dr. Stuart. THAT was a leap of faith and a trip to London just for a dinner. A risk that paid of (literally) because that is what is turning into book #2 Roadmap to Recovery for Spinal Cord Injury: Finding Your Way Forward (Feb 2020).

When I started writing Build YOUR Space, it was always in my head that I wanted to have a book launch/open house but it’s the kind of thing that has to happen with “permission” from your other half. Which was a bit scary for me because I never like to add to his list because I already make it longer, daily. But Theo was on board, and was so passionate about it that I felt the love. The duo of Casey and Paul (and the fantastic team of Lawnmaster women), Heather, Elaine, Joy, Luanne came last week to add all the final touches and add the shine. It was amazing.

THE final touch! Team effort to put up this beautiful image – Life.

Because of the support I have had from Shawn and The Citizen we had an amazing turn out of local people wanting to see what accessible looked like. It also brought people who wanted to learn, for themselves and for their businesses. Which is EXACTLY what the purpose of Build YOUR Space was about. It’s not about book sales (although recouping some expenses of this whole writing a book thing is nice) the book was written so other people could learn from our experience, and learn how to build a space that works for them or for their clients. Jason (who turned out to be a former student of mine from 15 years ago!) came to see what an accessible kitchen looks like – because he is building kitchens! So right there – mission accomplished.

There are so many other people who have supported me, and been my friend even before I turned that corner. Listing them here is where I run the risk of forgetting someone special so I won’t. But to you all I say thank you for loving me and continuing to be a part of my life.

In the acknowledgements for Build YOUR Space, I neglected to thank my children (which they remind me of with indignance, regularly). In my thought process at the time I was thanking those who helped build the house or write the book, neither of which activities were they involved with specifically. But they called me on it and they were right to do so. Because even though I jest about thanking them for having messy rooms or complaining about not having a “solid” wall in between their spaces…I have forgotten to be thankful for them, their kindness, empathy and their love. They stick around even though things are boring and they talk with people (with smiles on their face) even though they’d rather be somewhere else.

In the title I say “opening up mean mission accomplished”. To expand on that what I mean is that you have to open yourself up to new opportunities because you just don’t know where they are going to go. My new life is such proof of that.

What is next? I’ll tell you when I get around that corner.

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