On August 1, 2007, I was driving home from work when the I-35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis. My car plummeted over 120 feet, landing in the murky Mississippi river. I thought the fall would kill me, but instead I was faced with a car filled with water and no air to breathe. I fought hard to find freedom from my submerged car. My fight turned to acceptance, as gasps filled my lungs with water and life seemed to slip away.
When my body started to float and seemed free of the confines that restrained me, I leaned in to the hope that I was still alive.
Alive, though, is a lot more than a beating heart and expanding lungs. The trauma that I endured left my spirit lifeless. I was a shadow of my former self, and knew that I needed to lean in to my recovery to be fully alive once more.
I set out to find healing—for my mind, my body and my soul. I surrounded myself with healers and combatted my trauma with numerous therapeutic "weapons" including therapy, expressive art and alternative healing methods.
Art became an essential tool in my recovery. My skill set was limited, but I leaned in and was able to find myself through the images that emerged from my brush strokes. As I recovered, I knew I needed to use my story and experience of healing in working with youth who have experienced traumas of their own. I dreamed of opening a center where youth could find meaningful expression and healing.
In the summer of 2012 I started talking about this dream and this eventually turned into a blog. Doors continued to open and I continued to walk through them—leaning in to the possibilities of making my dream a reality. I have leaned in with my whole heart to create "courageous heARTS." Each step has been an act of courage. I often have to remind myself of my mission (and its name) and embody courage, leaning in to the discomfort of risk—knowing that the reward will make this life that I fought so hard to regain, truly a life worth living.