As many of us are wrapping up a long holiday weekend celebrating America’s independence, it’s a good time to reflect on what “independence” means for many. While the holiday is meant to celebrate my country’s independence from the colonization of the British, for many the word independence means so many other things.
For those with chronic illness, pain, or conditions, being independent and able to do things unassisted is hugely satisfying, but not always possible. Oftentimes those conditions are “invisible” meaning the individual tries to exert their independence, put on a happy face, and carry on, all the while hiding their pain or condition from the outside world. Try to consider these scenarios when you think of the word, because Independence Day can have different meanings for so many people.
Read some incredible stories of independence, perseverance, overcoming life’s adversities, and random acts of kindness. We all have to learn how to handle whatever is thrown our way, look for the positive in every day situations, and be tenacious on our journey to independence. I hope these life stories will encourage you and inspire you to seek out your own inspiring stories. You might even find some things to add to your summer reading list!
10 Things to Inspire You
1. True Grit and Grace
This dancer nearly lost her leg after an accident, but she doesn’t let chronic pain keep her down. She wrote a book called True Grit and Grace about triumphing over tragedy. Read her story and an excerpt here and find the book here*.
You might remember Former MTV VJ Karen Duffy from the 1990s. Diagnosed with sarcoidosis of the central nervous system, which now causes chronic pain; she has now found other passions in life, and has written a book called Backbone: Living with Chronic Pain Without Turning into One. “It is a mistake to do nothing just because we can only do a little.” Read the interview with her here and see her book here*.
Jen Sincero was 40 years old, broke, and living in a converted garage. Read her story of overcoming adversity along with some great self-help advice, which she turned into a New York Times bestselling book You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. I just finished reading this one. It’s dog-eared and highlighted, and I plan to keep this one for reference. Find her book here*.
4. Miracle Mindset
Show up. Step Up. You are stronger than you think. I have written many times about JJ Virgin and the Virgin diet. I have her books, I follow her plan, I listen to her podcast. What you may not know is one of her sons was in a hit ad run accident and left for dead many years ago. She will teach you how to cultivate a resilient mindset. Find her book Miracle Mindset: A Mother, Her Son, and Life’s Hardest Lessons here*.
Contemplating suicide, this marine turned to yoga and is now paying it forward with VEToga, yoga for veterans. After returning from Afghanistan, he found yoga as a way to relax for the first time in over a decade. Read his story here.
6. Good Karma
As a fifth year senior, this LSU student lost her scholarship money. Working two jobs to pay for college, she took to social media with a GoFundMe page. Remembering her as one of the LSU team trainers during his college days, and both from New Orleans, Leonard Fournette took notice and decided to pay it forward. He is funding the rest of her tuition. Read the story here.
7. Heroism Takes All Forms
Lexie Comeau-Drisdelle is a nine-year-old girl from Halifax, Canada, who is wheelchair bound and does not speak. But she’s being hailed as a hero for saving her 18-month-old brother from drowning. Read her story here.
8. The Kindness of Strangers
This Texan teen lost his dad to the war in Iraq when he was just 9-months-old, and he cherishes anything that used to be his dad’s. He began thinking it would be great to have one of his dad’s old cars, so his mom took to Facebook to see if a miracle could happen. Enter Kyle Fox from Follow the Flag. Read the rest of the story here.
9. Window Washing Heroes
You would smile too if you saw these guys outside your window. Just imagine the smiles on the faces of these kids. This has become an annual event for many window washing companies across the country, making the day a little brighter for kids in the hospital. See a recent story in Des Moines here and one from last year in Los Angeles here.
10. Random Acts of Kindness
Finally, these pictures will make you believe there are still good and kind people in this world. Perhaps they will even inspire you to share your own RAOK.
Life is all about what you make it. While you may be suffering your own trauma, illness, or situation, it doesn’t take much to smile and brighten another person’s day. You can find inspiration in every day life if you just look for it. I hope you will use these stories and your own stories to inspire others.
Do you have any inspiring stories to share?