Community//

Be a Bright Spot: Making Meaning in the Midst of Adversity

How Getting Hit by a Truck Turned Into a Blessing

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Have you ever felt like you’ve been hit by a truck?

Like you’ve been knocked down hard and weren’t sure how to get back up again?

I know what that’s like.

On May 3, 2020, I was out on a run with my husband, and we were crossing a familiar intersection near our house. The light was red, and we had a solid white crosswalk signal.

As I jogged across an intersection, the Chevy Silverado that had been at a dead stop in the right turn lane suddenly and unexpectedly turned right on red.

Directly into me.

Moments later, I hit the ground, screaming in pain, unsure of what had happened.

A stranger called an ambulance, which took me to the trauma wing of a nearby hospital for treatment and to determine the extent of my injuries.

I found out that the accident caused a fracture in my back that would require me to be in a back brace for two months, unable to bend, lift or twist. The pain was intense. I felt helpless and scared.

Dealing with that injury in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and my first year of business as a full-time speaker and trainer felt overwhelming.

The pandemic already felt like getting hit by a truck figuratively, and now I had to deal with a physical injury on top of that after literally getting hit by a truck.

But there was a silver lining, a bright spot to be found in the midst of that situation.

Photo credit: Marko Blazevic on Unsplash

Finding Bright Spots

In the six weeks leading up to the accident, the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic’s impact on my business and wellbeing was getting to me. I had to find a way to shift my mindset, so I started a ritual of tracking “bright spots” each night before going to bed.

I wrote down a list of 10 small wins (or big wins!), glimmers or hope, or moments of joy in my journal.

I’ve learned that what we focus on expands, so by being intentional about looking for the goodness around me, I noticed it more readily than I had before.

Shifting to gratitude at a time when my default was to be worried and anxious helped ground me and gave me perspective that, no matter how difficult things were, I could still find goodness.

By the time the accident happened, I had documented over 300 bright spots. As I was lying on the gurney in the trauma room, I remembered thinking to myself:

“How am I going to use this? What’s the message in here about rising back up when we feel knocked down?”

My brain had already started looking for something – anything – beneficial to come out of such a traumatic accident.

It didn’t take long for more bright spots to pop up.

The day after my accident, a woman named Lynn reached out to me. We’d never met but we were connected through a virtual event where we were both speaking about employee engagement.

Lynn said she’d heard about the accident and asked if she could set up a meal train for me and my husband. She didn’t want us to stress over meals for the next month.

At first, I did what a lot of us do. I came up with all the reasons I didn’t need her help.

I didn’t want to feel like a burden to people.

We want to be strong and handle things on our own. 

It can be really hard for us to receive help or support from other people.

It’s like somebody else wants to be a bright spot to us, and we respond with something like, “Hey, thanks, but I don’t need your gift or your light!”

I resisted her offer, but decided to accept her help. That night, we set up the meal train online and our first meal was delivered by her husband the next day.

It ended up being such a blessing to not have to stress about meals, as I started what has been a long recovery process. The dozens of cards, messages and gift cards to purchase meals we’ve received this year were BIG bright spot during a dark time.

I’m still in physical therapy and getting treatment for other injuries from the accident. I’m still in pain and my body isn’t back to “normal,” but I can still find gratitude and meaning in this situation.

I’ve delivered dozens of virtual workshops around the globe about how to be resilient and find growth, hope and meaning in the midst of uncertainty (even if I had to do it in a back brace).

I’ve decided to what what Robin Roberts suggests and make my “mess” my “message.”

Photo credit: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Be a Bright Spot

Everyone is carrying an invisible backpack, challenges that are weighing us down physically, mentally and emotionally.

Each of us has the ability to lighten that load through our kindness and intentional outreach.

I have a reflection and invitation to offer you today:

  • What can YOU do to be a bright spot to someone?
  • What can YOU do to be a contribution in someone else’s life, to reach out and offer help or support?

You have the power to be a bright spot, to be a glimmer of hope and a moment of joy in someone’s life, starting with yourself.

Shift your mindset from anxiety to appreciation by tracking your bright spots in a journal.

Remember, what we focus on e x p a n d s.

When we intentionally look for the goodness around us, we’ll be more likely to notice the goodness that was there all along.

Imagine how much brighter and more hopeful the world would be if each one of us was willing to rise up and shine brightly as a light in the world.

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