While I am “practicing the pause,” a few of my friends are sharing their wisdom, inspiration and life lessons on my blog and on Challenge Your Vision’s Facebook page. Below is an article written by my good friend and fellow coach, Christy Yates.
Christy is an expert in navigating the challenges and the opportunities of the “Sandwich Generation,” is a High Performance Coach, a Licensed Educational Psychologist and a credentialed School Psychologist.
Life is Our Greatest Teacher – By Christy Yates
I’m the one in the wheelchair. I think this is the last remaining photo of me in a wheelchair as a child. I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) at age 6, and at a time when there was no special education, and not a lot of medical support for kids with arthritis – a disease most people associate with old age.
But I survived and even thrived over the years. My mom, a schoolteacher, worked closely with my schools to get me in there and have me included in every aspect of school I could manage.
The primary treatment for JRA at that time was no weight-bearing activity. So – I never took a day of PE from K – 12. I never played on a competitive sports team or participated in any sort of sport beyond recreational swimming. There were a few years I didn’t even attend school because I needed extensive bed rest.
I had a loving family and a fantastic doctor, so somehow, I managed. But now, looking back, I know I intuitively used a lot of what I now know are personal development strategies to help me cope. I did a lot of visualization. When I was really in pain, I would challenge myself to think about what it felt like to not be in pain. In my head, I would be saying, “Remember what it felt like to not feel pain.” I would literally try to imagine a specific time when I felt great and was moving around and feeling good. When I concentrated, I could relax, let go, and really feel better.
It didn’t always work, but many times it did. I now know that this technique of visualization is an aspect of mindfulness practice.
When I thought about the future, I never pictured myself in a wheelchair. I also envisioned myself running and jumping and dancing. In fact, one time a therapist suggested that I “make friends” with my wheelchair as a way of adjusting and not fighting the treatment. I told her flat out I would never do that!
I was a bit feisty.
I share all of this to let you know that as a coach, an educational consultant, and a special educational professional, I get it! I get it at a very deep level!
Life can really suck sometimes. But we CAN carry on. We CAN overcome. We CAN manage our mindset. We CAN use our personal strengths to achieve our biggest dreams. No one gets to define us – WE DEFINE OURSELVES!
As you might imagine, I didn’t like school so much. I think my high school counselor tried to talk me into vocational school at one point. But I took a chance and headed to college.
Physically, I was in remission by then but graduated as a C+ student. My first semester at the Ohio State University I was on the Dean’s List.
I have since earned 3 graduate level degrees and certifications.
I have skied in California and Canada, I have climbed mountains and repelled down the backs of cliffs, I have kayaked, biked and walked all over the world. I still have some remnants of arthritis and rheumatic conditions – I cannot sit cross-legged on the floor—but I am living the life I want and continuing to learn how to break through doubt, personal blocks, and achieve my goals.
Life is our greatest teacher!
Christy offers resources, insights and programs through her website at www.christyyates.com.