life-changing moments

On Being Hit By a Bus & Other Life-Changing Moments

Published On: March 17, 2022

Categories: Mindfulness, Wellness

Picture it, Toronto, winter, 2013. One moment I was heading home after watching a movie with members of the book club that I was in. The next, I was in the hospital in the neurosurgery ward. I had just had my first (of what would become many) neurosurgeries after coding because… I had been hit by a bus. A life-changing moment if there ever was one.

The accident and everything that’s come since has definitely changed my life. I now have a traumatic brain injury and had to change up my career – ultimately ending up starting & running my own business as it was the best fit for me & my chronic illness.

But the thing that changed my life the most? It wasn’t the accident or the brain injury.

It was learning mindfulness.

life-changing moments

Mindfulness taught me that I could get out of my head and into my life.

As someone with lifelong little “a” anxiety, I lived in my head. It felt like my home but really it was my prison.

My inner dialogue was often critical and my bully kept me stuck in fear-based thinking, preventing me from moving forward with my goals & dreams.

The accident and my long recovery were very traumatic and I experienced panic attacks and big A anxiety. Sometimes my anxiety was all caps A N X I E T Y.

Which is when I first start learning & practicing mindfulness.

Now, getting hit by a bus is definitely a life-changing moment. But moments don’t have to be big & catastrophic to be life-changing.

Life-Changing Moments Don’t Have To Be Catastrophic

As I’ve said, learning mindfulness changed my life in more ways than the accident and I’m going to share a story with you that shows you how.

It was 8 am, Monday morning, and my niece T, 6-years old, had arrived for her visit with me & Grandma. I was still in my pink polka-dot Kate Spade PJs, I had a coaching call coming up at 10 am and my car was no longer parked in the driveway…

It had been stolen. Right out of the driveway. 

At first, I was confused. I could see that it wasn’t there but the fact that it was stolen hadn’t even entered my mind. 

Because in moments like this, when fight, flight, or freeze kicks in, our brains don’t always work logically. 

I wondered if someone had borrowed it – even though the keys were still sitting on the table outside the kitchen. 

It was at that moment that I stopped. 

STOP & Remember to Breathe

I took a breath, practiced the STOP skill and came to THIS moment. I was then able to think about what my next step was – filing a police report.

life is full of choices - how to make choices with intention

The dispatcher took down my info and said I would receive a call back from the officer investigating in an hour. 

I knew that the call could come anytime and as it was getting close to my call I practiced coping ahead – what I would do if the call came during the coaching session and what I could do if the call happened just before making me late. 

Then, because I had the call coming up (and I was still in my super cute jammies) I went up to get ready because at that moment in time I had done everything that I could possibly do at that moment. Everything else was out of my hands and control.

At each step, I STOPPED and came back to the moment which helped me to choose the next right step. Step by step, inch by inch, moment by moment.

Now, I’m sharing this with you here because THIS is an example of practicing mindfulness right in the moment of a difficult situation. 

THIS is why I teach this stuff. 

Obviously, I was upset that my car had been stolen – Stella was my first big adult purchase and I had had her for 15 years. 

Meet Stella

But the key here is that mindfulness at the moment kept me from getting dysregulated and losing track of the time and what I needed to do. 

It kept my head above water in a scenario where previously I might have lost my head for a little bit in panic mode. 

I shared this during the call as a way to model using mindfulness during a difficult situation. And this is what it’s like to work with me.

Through the use of storytelling and examples, I help you to gain a deeper understanding of the concepts I teach & how to use these skills in real-time. 

And when we get in our heads it makes it harder to focus, to make decisions, and to trust in ourselves. 

Which keeps us stuck and stops us from moving forward towards our goal. 

I was able to model using mindfulness at the moment for my coaching clients because I use mindfulness in every single thing that I do: 

✅ planning my to-do list

✅ checking in with mental & physical health

✅ setting & maintaining boundaries

✅ recognizing when to say no

✅ working within my limits

✅ and noticing when imposter syndrome & comparison-itis shows up

The more that you practice these skills, the more that you can use them in real-time. 

Inside my new program From Overwhelm to Ease, I break down how to use mindfulness skills & practices to stop worries & doubts in their tracks so you can take small steps forward with confidence. As an entrepreneur, and one with chronic illness, I use all.the.time.

Inside my free training, I share how I use mindfulness to be more decisive in making my business decisions which I need when energy and capacity are at a premium with my brain injury and chronic illness.

You can sign up to attend right here

Now, I know that I shared 2 catastrophic events but these same skills are useful for when you decide to change careers or to start your own business, or even when you are thinking about moving. Any event that’s life-changing (good or bad) you can use mindfulness and the STOP practice to help you move through it with grace.

life-changing moments

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Charlene Gethons

Hey there, I'm Charlene!

I help creative entrepreneurs with chronic illness create a sustainable business that fits their lifestyle without letting imposter syndrome take over.

Charlene is an entrepreneur, psychotherapist and mindfulness coach living with chronic illness after she was hit by a bus.