What I Learned in the Spinal Ward

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”
Steve Maraboli

Dear Friends,

One of the most important lessons I learned during my six-month stay in the spinal ward is how interconnected we all are. In the brief video below, I share the story of how straws helped me stay connected with others who were, like me, hospitalized and forced to lie flat on their backs for months.

Because all of us in the spinal ward had to lie flat on our backs, we couldn’t see each other’s faces. One day our nurse, Jonathan, put a pile of drinking straws on top of each of us and instructed us to start threading them together. When we finished Jonathan silently joined all of our strands of straws, thus connecting us all together. I’ve never forgotten the power of that metaphor about how interconnected we all are.

We shared the same hopes and dreams for our life after spinal cord injury, and we pulled together and supported each other in this shared journey.

Not a week goes by without me hearing from someone about how my story encouraged them. I love these stories so much that I feel they should be shared.

Here’s one that I have permission to share:

“I live in Zimbabwe and a year ago lost my sight very suddenly – over the course of a week I became 100% blind. I have a rare, severe autoimmune disease – 10 diagnosed cases in the world. On one of my low days, I needed some inspiration and found your TED talk. Wow, wow, wow is all I can say. Thank you for sharing your story.

I hope to be able to re-direct my life one day, and use my loss of sight as a stepping stone to finding a solid direction in my life. You have absolutely shown that an obstacle is not an ending, but a beginning. Whilst I’m almost back to normal, I understand what an obstacle is, and truly believe that there was a reason for it. Thank you so much again for sharing your story!”

Accidents don’t discriminate. Tough times don’t discriminate. No matter where you are in life, whatever struggles you may be facing, remember that others have traveled the path before you and have survived…and you can too.

During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, remember it’s no longer a world of “me” but of “we.” We are all connected by an invisible sea of straws – just like this group at Amazon discovered recently as they raised their straws during my program!

Happy Holidays and Raise Your Straws!


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