“You must strive to find your own voice because the longer you wait to begin the less likely you are to find it at all.” – Dead Poets Society
I received a call a few weeks ago from a nurse in my hometown. She wanted me to come to the hospital she worked at and speak. I jumped at this opportunity because the hospital she works with is very special to me. I was taken to this hospital initially when I had my automobile accident, so I said heck yes.
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
The group I was to speak to was a Stroke Support Group so this was extremely significant to me already, since I had suffered a traumatic brain injury in my accident. So I did what I normally do before I do one of my speaking engagements, I ran and meditated on it and got my thoughts together. I went to my coach Frank and talked with him over it all. Frank has been with me for nearly 12 years now and he is like a brother to me. I said to him, Frank I know this is going to be a big mess of tears. He looked at me and said Stephanie these people are looking at you for hope, they want to hear what you come to me all the time for and that’s encouragement that you can do this! He then said speak from your heart and you can’t go wrong… After I left Frank’s that day I took the drive home in silence to ponder his advice to me. What he said was the truth, I always have gone straight to him for validation that I can do this race or lift this weight. It hit me, why did I do this? Why do I feel I need to hear this, I preach to people I train all the time to put no thought into what you do just DO IT! So then I cleared my mind of all this and went to bed that night knowing I had this speech the next day but I also KNEW I would do my best!
“To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” — Henry David Thoreau
I woke up the next morning feeling confident for a change. I must say I have had quite a bit of bad luck lately, and I say this because besides being diagnosed with piriformis syndrome I had a biking accident with my son and dislocated my elbow of all things. So confidence has been lacking big time lately. But I got up and said today was going to be a good day and I headed off to work, (with my arm in a sling and smiling). I worked all day and I was scheduled to be at the hospital at 5 to speak with the group. I got off early to get there and as I arrived I met with one of my friends from back home that is a nurse there and I have talked with her over this year a lot on some issues. She has begun having seizures and reached out to me because she knew I started having them when I was in my early 20’s. After I spoke with this friend I could already tell it was going to be an emotional event for me but I sucked it up as people began rolling in. I was honored to have many of my friends show up to hear me speak. Some of these friends one of which is a weight lifting friend of mine that was diagnosed with a really rare disorder and I talk with her regularly on how we have overcome so much….
“Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being.” — Albert Schweitzer
I looked around the room and all the chairs at the table were full, I took a deep breath and loaded my pictures up and began speaking to these amazing stroke victims. It was awesome to me that I could show them I sat in a wheelchair as some of them were sitting, even walked with the walker, then I flipped to the next picture and I was standing there with my guns up and a marathon medal! Tears did roll down my face as some of them asked me was that really you? And I would answer Oh Yeah Baby! Then some of the ladies asked me how did I develop the determination to walk again, and I knew that would cause me to cry… Every time I speak on that event I sob, but this lady had a stroke last year and was walking with the same limp I had when I came home from the hospital and something come over me and I knew I had to suck all these emotions up and speak to these people straight from my heart and that’s just what I did…
“Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.” — Tony Robbins
I told her my determination was instilled in me one day in 1993 when I remember glancing around a room and noticing I was sitting in a wheelchair in front of a nurses station. I said my head was hanging down and I had spit rolling out of my mouth and I suddenly realized who and where I was! I told her I said to myself I am getting outta here and I unbelted myself from that wheelchair and thought I was gonna stand my happy butt up and walk away and I feel to that floor on my face! Nurses surrounded me picking me up, I told her that day has ran through my mind every single day since 1993 and that day I said to Stephanie you are going to WALK out of that hospital and I told her I WALKED out of that hospital October 8th of 1993! She was crying like I was as I spoke but her tears were tears of joy I could see and feel so clearly!
I flipped to my next picture one of my running pictures and they all had questions of what and why I ran. I told them I began my running in my early 20’s after I learned to walk really well and I was in love. I ran through my pregnancy and after I had my baby I wanted another challenge and I wanted the marathon. I told them of my 1st marathon, 2nd and 3rd and told them of how I had struck out for Boston. I told them as I kept this goal in my mind day after day I always saw that day of me falling on that floor and it inspired me to go forward when I wanted to give up… And I then said I completed Boston this past April!
When I was speaking I had one of the stroke victims sitting at the table keep asking me questions. He would ask me questions such as how long did it take you to learn to do this again and it was basically all the same questions restated he kept asking? But I knew he was asking me this only wanting or needing to hear just what Frank told me I always want from him, which was that encouragement that it will and it can happen. So I told him, life has amazing ways of awakening you and this accident that has happened to you isn’t just a bad thing. There is something good that comes out of every little thing that happens to us in our life. I told him it took me so many years to realize this but it is true. I was a basket case of tears as I spoke but luckily everyone else in the room was too. So I didn’t feel as bad as I have in the past when I spoke and got emotional.
To end my entry I want to say I will be turning 36 in only a few days and I consider this speech to be the best birthday gift I have ever gotten. And the funny thing is its something I gave! So what I have cultivated to be of absolute freakin truth in life is what you give is a gift…. So dig deep inside yourself and give your absolute BEST baby….