Thankfully, I have a very strong and loving family as well as a close circle of friends that helped me through this roller coaster of an ordeal. Some people have been there from the start while others have come into my life at key moments and taught me lessons. Regardless of the time I have spent with them, they have made an impression on my life that I am thankful for.
I have three amazing brothers and three beautiful sister-in-laws. My brothers and sister-in-laws took my children and I in, they allowed us to live in their homes at different times after the accident occurred without hesitation. My friends and family were at one point or another my drivers to appointments, my councilors when things got to be too much, my teachers when I needed to be schooled, and my parental voice to my children when I wasn’t coherent enough to do so. Later, after many months of healing these people were my soundboards and models with school as well as the business, but from the very start of all this they were all my heroes; they all taught me the true meaning of love.
There were moments when time simply stopped and the boredom was overwhelming; I believe the overwhelming boredom started within the first two weeks of the accident if not days….yeah I’m a busy body. Anyway, one of my friend’s husbands had started a web-based retail store a few years earlier and he was at a point where he needed assistance with it. I was able to fill about 12 hours a week with the work he gave me, which allowed me time to go to my appointments and rest when I needed to, as well as gave me something to fill my time with. However, I still had an abundance of time at night and it was driving me nuts lying in bed. I was never a big fan of watching television and I wasn’t a fan of social media at the time; not to mention I didn’t want to continuously post about my pain, so I did a lot of reading.
One day about a month or so after the accident happened I came across a book about photography in the stacks of books that people were bringing me. I read the book front to back in one night and loved every moment of it. Once I finished reading the book I realized that it distracted my mind the entire time from the pain and the time… it was glorious to have a distraction even if it was only for a few hours!
The following day a trip to the library was added to my outing after the doctor’s appointment. I got 5 books from the library and read them all in less than a week. When I had read all the books in the library on photography I started searching for information on Google…..can you say Hallelujah!!… I hit a gold mine of Photographic information. There was anything and everything you could possibly think of on the internet, I’m pretty sure that during my 19 months of lying around I didn’t even scratch the surface of the information. Everyone had a blog, ebooks, newsletters, videos, webinars, and websites on every field of photography you could possibly think of. I was in complete and utter photographic heaven with all of the information I found and I absorbed as much of it as I could.
As I healed and started getting my strength back I was able to get about an hour worth of time walking in the park each day, so I started taking my camera with me to practice with landscape and nature photography. One of my brothers bought me some cheap lights and props so that I could practice with lighting still life at home. I had even learned how to make a lightbox out of a cardboard boxes, it was ugly as sin but it worked and it cost less than 10 dollars.
One day on Facebook I saw an ad to go back to school for your degree, so I thought about it for a few days. Before the accident I never felt like I had time to attend school but that all changed; now I had a massive amount of time on my hands. So I checked into different online schools for different subjects, I thought about different business classes but quickly disregarded them… I knew that they would bore me to tears while lying there. That’s when I found the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, it’s the online branch of the Art Institute. Attending AIO Online division I would never had to step foot into a classroom and the advisers helped me construct the class schedules that would work with my physical abilities. November 2009 I started college after 14 years of being out of school, I was scared to death but I was also extremely proud of myself for taking that step.
Obviously there were pros and cons to the accident happening; I was in a tremendous amount of non-stop pain, however, I was suddenly offered an abundant amount of time. Even though I felt like I was going through the worst physical hell a person could ever endure I still had hope because I wasn’t completely broken. I knew physically I would eventually heal; I just wasn’t sure how much of my life I would get back after surgery. Up to the time of the car accident I had felt like my entire existence revolved around “doing what I was supposed to do”. I love being a mom, a sister, a daughter, and a friend but honestly I always had an underlying feeling of sadness inside of me. At the time I didn’t understand or even have time to try to understand what that sadness was. It’s kind of crazy to say, but it took my physical abilities being stripped away for me to evaluate who I was and how my life was turning out.
After the first few weeks of school I had my “ah ha” moment; I felt sadness most of my adult life because I never completed my goals; in all honesty I didn’t even start them. I made choices in life that drew me away from my personal goals and I got so wrapped up in life taking care of other people’s daily needs that I totally disregarded my own. I had stopped learning, I stopped growing as a person, I stopped challenging myself and because of that some aspects life had become mundane to me; I had nothing that fueled the fire within me anymore.
Don’t get me wrong taking care of people is extremely important, but what I failed to realize is this: my own happiness plays an important part in the growth of others. It allows others to see you as you are truly meant to be, happy and comfortable in your life. Being personally happy is like a car….yes I am using a car analogy. A car runs great when you first buy one, it’s beautiful and shiny, all the parts are new and effective, it has great gas mileage and the pick-up is superb. This new car takes you and your family or friends to different places securely and safely.
However, if you do not add fuel to it on a regular basis than the car will not move when you need it to do so. If you do not maintain the operating system regularly then the parts become rundown and the car stops being so efficient. Overtime this wear and tear will eventually leave you stranded on the side of the road…and if you have luck like I do, Murphy’s Law will kick in, and the weather conditions would be at their all time worst when the car craps out. The same is true for your own personal being, if you do not maintain your own personal health, both physical and mental than you will surely wear out too. I knew that I was not genuinely happy, but I didn’t know how bad off I was until something catastrophe struck and left me bewildered, hurt, and sacred.
Over the past five years I have been faced with a tremendous amount of trauma, pitfalls, and sidesteps but I can honestly say that I am happy that I endured them and thankful that I did not have to do it alone. If it wasn’t for my family and friends I do not think I would have survived the aftermath of this event. They not only helped me with the ordeal itself, they gave me a good swift kick in the butt when I had moments of self-doubt; each persons contribution, big and small, is etched in my mind forever. I do not think that I would have remained as determined about healing or about photography if it wasn’t for the love and support of everyone around me….for that I am truly blessed; you are my heroes.