A couple of weeks ago, I picked up the shirts for my women’s fitness retreat, Camp Discovery, and my t-shirt printer gifted me a bonus shirt he had worked on for another client with whom he was working. The gray t-shirt has in bold letters: Its All About How You Rebound and is a promotion for a new documentary called Rebound—The Film (www.reboundthefilm), soon to be released about the Miami Heat wheelchair basketball team.
When I looked at the shirt, I immediately loved the slogan and thought it to be so applicable, not only for the movie, but also saw it as a thought-provoking question. Have you ever taken the time to think about how you rebound to adversity and the unexpected?
When I deliver my motivational talk to audiences, I share with them the story of my paralyzing accident and how I rebounded from the pain and difficulties that I faced throughout that time and leave them with ideas of how they might tackle the challenges and changes in their lives. But when I’m through speaking, I still seem to be bombarded with questions. After all, one hour of speaking is not nearly enough to describe everything it takes to recover and reinvent following a spinal cord injury. What is surprising to me is, how often I hear the words, “I could never handle that situation if it happened to me.”
It’s true. It wasn’t easy. But I don’t think I’m a remarkable person for having done it, I simply did what I felt needed to be done to continue to experience a quality of life that was suitable for me. I didn’t know an exact formula at the time, but in the years since, I have identified many things that, in fact, were the keys to my rebound. And because today, September 17, marks fifteen years since the very day I was struck by a car and paralyzed, I’d like to share three rules of sport I learned as an athlete that I have been able to use in my personal life when adversity sets in.
My first rule of sports is: Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but the important thing is to have passion for the game.
What is it that makes your life worth living? You can identify it because it’s that one (or more) thing that when you’re telling another person about it, your heart starts racing and you begin to get so excited that you talk faster and faster, and the enthusiasm in your voice is as recognizable as two teenagers in love. It’s what gets you up in the morning and can turn around a bad day. It might be the flowers blooming in the garden, the toothless smile of your newborn grandchild, music, arts, sports or some other pleasure that brings out the best in you. For me, it was sports and after my accident I knew I would get back to it one day, whether I was involved as an athlete, a fan or fulfilled that interest as part of my profession. Regardless of the way, that passion would always be a part of me and ignite my excitement for life.
Rule number two: Life is not an individual sport. People ask me all the time how I could get through my injury and still have such a positive attitude toward life. Hands down, my number one reply is “my team”. When I was injured, I found that I was surrounded by support. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, success does not come without the help of teammates. And in my rebound from my accident I can’t tell you the number of people who came to be by my side to help me rebound mentally, physically and emotionally.
If I asked you right now “who has your back?” could you tell me? Sometimes we downgrade our relationships. We think reaching out on social media to say happy birthday is enough. But do you spend the time to pick up the phone? Make a lunch date? Send a card? I have spent my life being that person who stayed in touch with everyone I could, from elementary school and summer camp to college, former jobs and beyond. And when I was injured, it showed. I can never say enough about the importance of building and nurturing friendships. Because it was with that support, I was able to rebound. Why not reach out to a friend today?
My third rule of sports: Be a team player. Sometimes the best way to help yourself is to help another. There is no better feel good reward than to know that you have made someone else’s day. It’s not only a feeling of personal gratitude, but even the smallest gestures can be life changing for someone who needs your support. I will admit that I began my Camp Discovery
for selfish purposes. I wanted to be able to connect with other women in my situation because I needed the special kind of support from others who have experienced disability. But as seven years have passed since the first camp, I have realized what an impact I am able to make on other women. To teach them new things. To help them overcome hard times. And by offering this opportunity and helping others, I have not only made new friends, but I have helped others change their lives all while enriching my own. Look around you and see if there is someone who is struggling who might benefit from your help.
Finding ways to survive difficult times will often test you, but it is those tough times that make us grow, give us character, and bring on positive changes in your life. It truly is All About How You Rebound! (And don’t forget to check out: www.reboundthefilm.com)