As the year comes to an end, I can’t help but think about all that has happened. To say the least, it was not what I expected. Some of the accomplishments I hoped to have this year, hasn’t happened yet. Some of the goals I had made have been put off due to more injuries, surgeries, and unexpected complications, but the beauty I see now, is that this year is one of the first times I have been able to take these setbacks as they come, not letting them knock me down (at least not for too long) and have the confidence and true belief that they will all come in time.
I have seen myself grow more in this year, and as I do, my relationships and world seem to continue to grow. I have gotten to know some of the North Country Chevy dealers, as we celebrate at annual meetings together, and I am looking forward to more conversations with this kind and generous group of people.
I have felt the love from my community and am continuing to get to know so many more of you all, thanks to participating in events such as the Gift of Life Marathon, where I was lucky enough to not only share my own story, but to hear the stories of everyone else as well. Thank you to anyone and everyone who has shared pieces of their life with me!
I overcame one of my greatest fears as I walked across stages to give speeches to crowds of people – hoping to not only get through the speech without stumbling over my words, but hoping to say something to someone who will have needed to hear those words – and I have! I have spoken, and as the crowds got up to cheer, one by one they would come up to me and thank me because something in my story struck them and in some way helped them.
I have gotten through more surgeries this year. Some minor and some more extreme, like the amputation of my right leg going from a below-knee level to an above-knee level. I lost another piece of me that day, and my mom held my hand as I cried as they brought the stretcher into the operating room. I held my head high, as tears streamed down my face, as the Mass General surgical team, I have come to know and love, tried to distract me from what was about to happen to me.
But most importantly I have seen that it is okay to have accomplishments that are not based only on my physical recovery. Yes, I am in the midst of a very long physical setback, but this time I have found power and strength in new ways rather than staying at home feeling bad for myself. I have found the strength and importance of being empathetic and giving back to those around you. I have gained independence as I conquered new obstacles like driving through the city of Boston for the first time with hand controls. I have graduated from college, and I have formed new relationships, while still working to find ways to show my love and appreciation for those who have stuck with me through this wild ride of my life.
2020 will be the year I strive to conquer my physical obstacles, while living a full and selfless life of my own. I will look for the simple miracles that come in every single day, and as I said in my very first speech… I won’t just survive, I will learn to truly live.
#StefFindsNewRoads #StefStrong #NorthCountryChevyDealers
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