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He was just a normal middle school boy full of energy and mischief; his red hair adding to his unique country boy personality. His name is Bruce. Life for him, for all of us was pretty normal; as normal as life could be in a small farming community in rural Virginia. Summers were spent working on the farm with our families. Vacations were few and far between, because farm life never stops. The cows still produce milk, the chickens still lay eggs, momma pigs still deliver a boat load of babies, the grass continues to grow, vegetable gardens spring forth all at once and someone has to be there to take care of it all. For him, like most of us, that summer was just another summer away from school filled with responsibility and preparation for the coming fall and winter. It was on the farm in 1981 that his life changed forever. As word spread of his accident the realization that somehow all of our lives would be changed began to set it.
His accident left him a quadriplegic strapped to a wheelchair for life. With braces on his hands to keep his fingers separated, he returned to school and began to re-create a new normal in his wheelchair. At first, it was awkward to see this once vibrant teenager confined to a chair needing assistance but soon the chair and his disabilities began to fade away and Bruce emerged becoming stronger, funnier and more capable than some of us who were not physically broken. Nothing was too big for him to conquer. An avid hunter Bruce figured out how to hunt in a new way and found success. Learning how to write and eventually draw using a pencil in his teeth seemed pretty natural for Bruce. Today, Bruce is a college graduate, accomplished artist, motivational speaker and outdoorsman participating in life at its fullest.
On the outside, it is apparent that Bruce has physical limitations. On the inside Bruce is different too; he is stronger than most. He has to rely on his inner strength to get him through what the outside physical self can’t. All too often able bodied folks, me included, find ourselves out of sort, overwhelmed and discouraged when our plans don’t go the way we want. Aiming for perfection can often get in the way of reality and hinder what we are called to do. But for folks like Bruce, figuring out how to manage even the smallest tasks is a great victory. He never gave up. I wonder what would happen if we set aside the negative “I can’t” attitude and took up an “I can” attitude. What would happen if we never gave up? Leaving the negativity out of our life equation would allow us to have more success in life and love. Accepting life as it comes without staying marred in the muck of negativity will allow us to become the best we can be. Working toward our goals with a positive attitude, accepting the fact that we will stumble from time to time will make the journey sweeter. Former football coach Lou Holtz once said “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” I encourage you to embrace life with an attitude of gratitude and positivity. Set aside the “I can’t” for the “I can” and I believe your life journey will take you places you never imagined.
I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!
Check out Karla’s 24 Day Advocare Challenge updates!