To those who are dealing with an unexpected challenge,
Six years ago I was working in a spa as an assistant manager. It wasn’t my passion. It wasn’t my dream. I was like a zombie – wake up, go to work and come home.
I started to think to myself, “What is my life?”
So, I put in my two weeks’ notice and quit. I didn’t want to live my life working a nine to five, making zero money and struggling. Instead, I wanted to have more freedom and find a career I enjoyed. And then, in the weirdest way possible, it actually happened for me.
I remember being on a golf cart. Then, all of a sudden, I woke up in a hospital bed. First, I made sure I had all of my body parts. I looked down at my feet and wiggled them. Then, I moved my arms. When I tried to turn my neck, I realized I had a neck brace. And before I could touch my head, a doctor walked in and pulled my hand down.
First, I asked, “Why am I here?”
He said, “You just had brain surgery.”
Then, I asked, “How long have I been here?”
He said, “Three days.”
Apparently, while I was riding on the back of the golf cart I fell off and hit my head on pavement. There was a lot of blood and I needed emergency brain surgery. They told my parents they didn’t know if I would make it. And if I did survive, they had no idea if I would be able to walk or talk again. Thankfully, I am not paralyzed and I can speak. But after spending a total of seven days in the hospital, I went home with several frustrating and debilitating symptoms often associated with my traumatic brain injuries.
I had major headaches, the worst headaches you could imagine. I had Aphasia, which is where you jumble up your sentences. For example, when I would try to say, “I want to go for a walk,” it would come out as, “Walk now go I.”
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That’s not all, I couldn’t walk in a straight line and sometimes I’d lose my balance to the point people had to hold me up. Bright lights and loud noises bothered me. And I got physically exhausted just from thinking. My sense of taste was gone and the muscle in my jaw wouldn’t open wide. Everything just felt screwed up. One day I was completely fine and the next day it seemed like everything had been taken away from me.
My neurologist told me, for six months, I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t read, look at my phone, watch TV, drive, drink or work. Also, I had to eliminate all sugar and salt from my diet. My brain needed to rest and heal. I moved back in with my parents, so they could help take care of me.
After three months, I decided to try neuro rehab. We did a lot of color therapy, computer games and art. But I didn’t have insurance and the bills started to pile up. I started researching ways to retrain your brain after a traumatic brain injury. The same suggestions kept coming up: art, color therapy and smells because it stimulates your memory.
I started to think about what I could do that combines art, smells and colors. And then it clicked – FLOWERS!
When I was able to leave my parent’s house and return to Portland, Maine, I got a job answering phones at a flower shop. Right away, I became bananas over it, asking everyone so many different questions, smelling the flowers and wanting to know the names of everything.
After spending a year there, I started to feel a lot better and decided I wanted to pursue my dream of being an entrepreneur. I really liked flowers, but I didn’t think I could be a florist in Portland, so I officially moved back to Fryeburg, Maine, where my parents lived and where I grew up.
I planned to freelance, but there was a local flower shop in Fryeburg called Papa’s Floral. My mom asked me if Papa’s Floral was for sale, would I want to buy it.
I asked her, “Is it for sale?”
My mom, who is a realtor, said, “Everything is for sale.”
She then went to Papa’s Floral and asked the owner if he ever thought about selling the place.
He told her, “Every single day.”
So about five months later, we signed the papers and it was all mine.
Every day I wake up for work, I have a smile on my face and I am excited to start the day. I love what I do. From weddings to daily orders, the responses I get from the pieces we create for people are incredible. But selfishly, I also love how creative and artistic I can be with flowers.
It’s now six years since my accident. I no longer suffer from any symptoms of a traumatic brain injury. The flowers provide a zen-type of environment for my mind, as they aren’t too harsh, they smell good and they make me feel refreshed.
I don’t know if it wasn’t for my accident if I would have ever found flowers or another path that would make me this happy. It’s crazy to think that nearly losing my life led me to my passion.
But now, as cliche as it sounds, I truly believe everything happens for a reason.
So if you are currently coping with the unexpected, try not to worry too much. Take each day one step at a time and trust that the pieces will naturally fall into place.
I went to flowers to heal my brain, but they did so much more. They gave my life the color it needed to finally blossom.
Whatever you are going through, I promise, there is hope.