Happy 25th anniversary to me!

I celebrated my anniversary yesterday at Disneyland!

 May 24 marks 25 years since the accident that permanently paralyzed me from the shoulders down. So for one quarter of a century, I have been unable to walk, or use my hands and arms in any meaningful way. I decided that for this little milestone I am going to just reflect on the 25 biggest lessons I've learned since then. 25 is a big number, but I will keep each thing brief.

  1. Wearing seatbelts and driving while awake are so important. I recommend everyone do these two things.

  2. Star Wars can save a life. When I was newly injured in the hospital, the Force was definitely my ally. I watched these movies on repeat, and they helped me get through some really tough times.

  3. Gratitude keeps you grounded, but it also lets you soar. If I hadn't made being grateful a priority early on in this journey, I would have missed all of the amazing advantages and opportunities that I've been able to seize. What you look for, you will find. I look for things to be grateful for, and I never come up empty.

  4. Sometimes it helps to think about how much worse things could be to understand how good things are. When I was first injured, I thought I had lost more than any human could lose until I heard of another patient at my hospital who was paralyzed, on life support, and blind with a brain injury. It puts things into perspective.

  5. Disneyland is really fun, and I don't get tired of going there even though I've been hundreds of times. It's wonderful to be somewhere where imagination, creativity and fun are combined in such a cool way. I love sharing my enthusiasm for this place with others!

  6. Eating for health is so much better than eating for pleasure. Hippocrates said it best, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."

  7. It is a bad idea to be camera shy. You might not like the way you look great now, but the odds are you are not going to get prettier with time. And then you will be sad because there could have been a lot more pictures of you when you were cuter. That's why I never shy away from pictures, even though I know I don't look that good.

  8. Kindness is free and freeing. I maintain that the most important thing anyone can do in this life is simply to be kind to others and to be kind to ourselves. It doesn't cost a thing, and it can make you feel limitless.

  9. Treat yourself like you would treat someone else that you love and respect. You deserve love and respect, and how you treat yourself teaches other people how to treat you. I love and respect myself, and others love and respect me in turn.

  10. It is very important to surround yourself with people who will love you enough to correct you, while still showing love. I'm weird because I generally think I'm doing good and don't think bad things about myself. So if I'm doing something wrong, I often need someone to tell me what it is. In my case, it has been easy to accept correction from the people that I have surrounded myself with. I know they love me even in my weakness.

  11. The Book of Mormon is important because it truly testifies of Jesus Christ, and because it so clearly declares how much God loves us, how important we are, and the true divinity of our souls. I read it about five times a year on average. It has uplifted me and helped me to be a better version of myself.

  12. The best way to accept a compliment is to simply say, "Thank you." Even if you don't think you deserve it.

  13. Enjoy people for who they are and not for who you want them to be. Everyone is different, thankfully, delightfully! Everyone brings something to the table, and getting mad because Tina brought flowers when you think she should have brought cookies will cause you to miss those beautiful flowers.

  14.  I think it is also important to understand and love who you are.  directly after my injury, I was on pretty shaky legs, Not knowing who I was or who I could be unable to do many of the things that I took for granted. But I  took the time to dig deep and get to know me. And I am pretty fun, interesting and lovable.

  15. Sometimes, you don't think you are being rude, but you are. I learned this when I thought about how I had a tendency to be short with a sister. I truly thought I was being kind, but when I replayed certain conversations, I realized that I would never talk that way with my best friend. I resolved to always communicate with her in the same way that I would my best friend.

  16.  Rosewater is absolutely the best. I use it every day for everything, and my life is better for it. It cleans, softens, detangles, and de-stresses everything.

  17. Forgiving others is an important process. I think it is enough to want to be forgiving and work at it as little or as much as you can. One day, you might realize with surprise that you have forgiven the person who hurt you.

  18. Sometimes it's okay to be a little uncomfortable for something that's totally worth it. I always get a headache when I watch fireworks, like every single time. I don't let it stop me from enjoying them.

  19. I am not a victim. Although my choices are limited because of my physical circumstances, I have found that I can choose the way that I respond to those limitations. Though there are times for mourning, overall, I choose to be happy. 

  20. Service is a wonderful way to feel better about yourself and deserves to be taken seriously. I love serving, and sometimes I don't feel like doing it, but when I serve, I keep my complaints to myself because I never want to give anyone cause to not call on me for help.

  21. Anxiety is real and awful. My experience with anxiety was the worst I've ever felt in my life, but I am so grateful to have had that experience so I can better empathize and help others.

  22. Disabled bodies are just as good as nondisabled bodies. My body is unable to do many things that people take for granted like brushing teeth or scratching an itch. My body works differently, but it is still a good body.

  23. You never know when it's going to be the last time you talk to someone, so make sure you tell and show everyone you love exactly how you feel about them. My best guy friend Justin died unexpectedly, and even though this will always be sad, it is significantly less sad because he knew that I loved him.

  24.  Though I am not and never will be a physical mother, that has not stopped me from thriving in motherhood. In my heart and soul, I am a mother, and I see my children all around me in the people that I can influence, nurture and uplift.

  25. God is good. My circumstances are far from ideal, and yet I see His hand in everything. I feel His love for me and everyone around me. Because God is good, I am good no matter what happens.

And these are some of the lessons I have learned in the quarter-century I have been paralyzed. I'm looking forward to the next quarter century and beyond.