This is a summer of change for us. My younger son graduated from 8th grade and is leaving the school that has been our home for 13 years. It was bittersweet, as we will miss seeing our St. Anne’s friends everyday, but he is also really excited to join his brother in high school.

My older son gets his drivers license next week. As I picked him up this afternoon, I was keenly aware that our time in the car together is dwindling. I cherish those minutes (hours sometimes, as we drive to baseball tournaments), but I know he is excited for this next level of independence; and I am excited for him. Scared and nervous, but excited for him.

But there are also some changes in my personal and professional life. Personally, I am learning to live with a spinal cord injury (SCI) that is 26 years old. On the outside, and for about 95% of my days, I appear “fine.” And honestly, I am more than fine. But in reality, I live with the long-term effects of a spinal cord injury, nerve damage and a host of other health- and accident- related issues that aren’t that fun.

I don’t usually talk about this. But they affect me daily. And as I age (with another birthday coming up), I continue to learn how to navigate this very strong, very capable, but very complicated body. 95% of the time, I am fine. But during that other 5%, it knocks me out – or lands me in the ER.

When I wrote my book, I decided to be open and honest with the raw emotions that one goes through as they navigate tragedy. I knew I wouldn’t be helpful to others if I didn’t share how hard it was for me to endure the physical and emotional challenges. I have decided to continue to take that approach with the long-term affects of an SCI. I am no help to others living with a spinal cord injury, if they think it’s easy. It’s not easy; it’s draining. Sometimes it’s painful. And it is always present. I am aware, multiple times a day that I live with an SCI.

Professionally, I continue to learn and grow and evaluate how I share my story….through the written word, on social media, via my talks, and on the big screen. These are all a work-in-progress, and I am excited to share the news and changes as they unfold.

This summer of change is really a summer of growth, and of learning. My children are growing and learning to be independent. I am growing and learning how I can best contribute to this world that needs all the hope and prayers we have to share.