Just When You Are Planning To Do Something Else…

  • We live our lives each day, dreaming, planning, and making choices about the future with a clear idea about the direction our lives are headed. As an accomplished equestrian, I had dreams of a European tour and world titles after finishing school. I had a boyfriend, a full social calendar with many friends then, one momentary action changed everything.

    November 17th 1992 started like any other day: school, errands, plans for the weekend.

    What I wasn’t aware of was that it would be the last day of my old life.

    2pm: While driving home to change clothes, I skidded on black ice and collided with a tractor-trailer coming in the opposite direction. Although I was in a coma for a month and suffered a devastating brain injury that left me paralyzed and unable to walk, talk, or use my right arm, it was a miracle I wasn’t killed outright. When I awoke, nothing could have ever prepared me for what was to follow. I was completely helpless and needed help with everything: eating, bathing, dressing, and going to the bathroom. Once we had exhausted conventional methods of medicine, I watched my mother embark on a one-woman crusade to find the therapy or treatment that would help me. There was no way she was going to accept “there’s nothing more we can do.” Needless to say, I have in, the process of my healing, been able to mend a fragmented and strained relationship with my mother that continues to flourish to this day

    I have, in the last 15 years, watched every part of my life prior to the accident (my boyfriend, career, and friends) just dissolve and disappear, and in the process of that, seen myself completely re-invented. Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. My whole outlook on life and what I hold dear and important has changed, and I have realized that the “tragedy” that entered my life that day in November 1992 was a gift. I haven’t always been able to think of it that way because it’s very easy to look upon hardship as some bad thing, some punishment that has befallen you, but I think Angels can come into our lives in many different forms. Even in the forms of tragedies and accidents. Not to punish us, but to stretch and challenge everything we know to be true at that moment in our lives, and ultimately, change our life course. I think we are all inherently put on this earth to love, learn, grow, and do service, and that without the challenges that life presents every day, we would probably live very safe, insular and indulgent lives, making little difference to the world or its future and without ever realizing our true capabilities, potential, or our capacity to love and give.

    If anyone had told me 10 years ago that I would be touring the country with an autobiographical show or that my passion would become a need to spread hope to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation to my own, I would have laughed at them

    You never know what life has in store for you. All you can do is live each day fully with an open heart, and keep your heart open regardless of what happens.

    The 18th century German dramatist and poet Friedrich Von Schiller once said that, “There is no such thing as chance, and what seemed to us merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny.”

    If I could boil it down to a few nuggets of truth, some unshakable facts as I have experienced them, I would have to say that,

    “Life’s problems and challenges are merely opportunities welcome them.”

    “You are never truly alone if you take a moment to look past your problems.”

    “With the love and support of family and friends, there’s nothing you can’t overcome or achieve.”

    Jennifer Field

    Jennifer Field is one of those rare people with an infectious personality – one that defines the human resilience, determination, hope, and aspiration. Having had many challenges in life, Jennifer has constructed five distinct life lessons, which make her extremely unique. Jennifer’s inspirational story, and lessons learned, will be invaluable tools for any organization, large and small.

    “It was easily one of our best presentations in the twenty five years that we have been holding the conference!”

    — Steven Wade, Executive Director, 
    Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire

    Jennifer has gained resilience to overcome life’s most challenging obstacles and determination to improve the human condition against insurmountable odds. She has looked death in the eyes and turned her head in a new direction. Jennifer’s mission is to be of service and to continually spread her message of hope for a better day tomorrow. What is incredible about Jennifer, is her aspiration to never give up or give in. She sets a very high example for people in business and in life to use her characteristics to create personal and professional success.

    "Jennifer’s extraordinary outcome must be recognized as one that can only come about with persistence and immense strength of character. Her relentlessness has been stunning. She is a great example."

    — Henry Betts, MD
    Past Medical Director, President & CEO Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

    At age 17, Jennifer had her sights set on the Olympics as a world class equestrian rider, when it all came crashing down following a near fatal car accident that left her comatose and brain damaged. Unable to walk, talk, or eat on her own, over the next ten years Jennifer battled physical, mental and emotional obstacles to regain her life and independence. Against all odds, Jennifer fought back and graduated Magna Cum Laude From Wheaton College, to become a sought after professional speaker.

    Jennifer’s 20-30 keynote speeches at corporate and industry association meetings, medical societies and conferences each year inspire, motivate, and move a variety of audiences to think differently about Brain Injury, gain introspection into their personal and professional challenges and opportunities, and how to seize the very essence of the human spirit to overcome obstacles.

    A contributor to The Manual of Traumatic Brain Injury Management by The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Jennifer is the president of the J. Field Foundation, which focuses on providing aid, hope and inspiration to suffering families of brain injury victims.

    For more information, please visit jenniferfield.org.

    View all posts by Jennifer Field.

    What Do You Think?

    What Do You Think?