Teresa Schroeder (Grand Prize Winner)
The WE Conference™ is pleased to announce
the grand prize winner of The WE Conference™ Essay Contest:
Teresa Schroeder of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Here’s Teresa’s award-winning essay: Empowerment from the Heart
We all struggle. Every one of us has been wounded and we each have a story. I was grabbed up for a twist in my own story six and a half years ago. In an instant, my independence and twenty-one years of vital youth were exchanged for a traumatic quadriplegic spinal cord injury and a transformational journey to come up for air. Since breaking my neck that afternoon, I’ve been on the brink of life and resuscitated, survived numerous surgeries, have been weaned off of ventilators and feeding tubes, while blinking my eyes to spell the alphabet and ask for ice chips, in a full-bodied paralysis, have lost friends, and deeply affected the lives of my family and loved ones, who have had no knowing if I would ever get any better. I’ve been donated to, asked for all sorts of assistance, and in doing so, felt like a charity case and so vulnerable.
I completely remember when it was that hard every day. I recall the humility, the loss, and the depth, sorrow and frustration of disempowerment. Actually, it’s still hard sometimes. When am I going to be fulfilled? Reposition my leg? Breathe easier? How do I live and have so many things out of my control? Or what does it feel like when I forget to ask my caregivers for the phone, my connection to the outside world, and “Shoot,” now I’m alone for five hours? Better yet, I just wet my tights and help doesn’t arrive for another six. How do I grab hold of love and the bigger picture through all this? I call on my inner empowerment and I have found that it rings true and runs deep.
I believe that empowerment comes from a place of feeling and knowing that our internal, highest power is within. Empowerment shines forth while trusting our place in the Divine plan, and when we allow the strength of our divinity to be forward in times of need. I see empowerment in the medicine of the Divine Mother, in the kindness and compassion of living a heart-centered and joyful life. I feel our inner power embodied when we hold our footing for the sake of integrity, and I see it glow during such anchoring into faith, in knowing that everything will be okay, no matter what. While viewing all the beauty and all the love in life, and radiating gratitude to it, for its sacredness and for each other, we are empowered, for we are awakening and living alongside the Divine.
As a severely disabled sister, friend, daughter and more, who is always assisting in the upkeep of my body, feeding it well, maintaining a home, its laundry, an income, my happiness, developing a nonprofit organization while learning how to walk again and rest, as it’s time to do so, I am empowered. I am empowered by the act of acceptance; as I fall to my knees in grief, but hear inside that it is merely a moment and though it tough, it shall pass; and then it has me in assurance and to my feet again. I feel true empowerment in releasing the fear and worry of achievement, grasping the amazement that I am here living and breathing as a being of love and that I simply exist. I believe that this is empowerment for such intensity never actually arrives in the acts of doing anything, but is delivered during the love and the will in which I want to lead my life from.
Empowerment is within us. It is not contained from our appearance and will never be encompassed from the homes that we own, the careers we pursue, the bodies that we model or the “things” we possess; they are far too temporary. The energy of empowerment is eternal, one of Creation and at your core for you to breathe in and witness through your heart. It is a universal strength, built on a foundation of love and is a far greater force when we serve each other with it and hold it throughout the hearts of all life and to all things.
As a spiritual being living in this human suit, there are many opportunities of madness, grief and disappointment until mercy. There have been phases in my life when I wanted to end it all, check out and return to the Creator. “Here you go,” as I hand over my life, “I tried.” Though returning from such moments of torment and strife, I’ve realized that I had the experience in front of me all wrong; I had it in too many ways alongside with “falling”, and falling I feared for I already have. So I have opened my heart to learn surrender, and hold love if hopelessness sets near for myself or any other, and I have found there that I instead become replenished, and empowered.
I am the founder of a developing nonprofit organization entitled Our Nerve to Breathe®. The intention of Our Nerve to Breathe® is to expand independent healing and healthcare by providing research that our physical, mental and emotional bodies recover by the empowerment of our individual spiritual awakenings. I am enabled to do so because I breathe this path daily and I am a living example of it. I believe and trust this path of recovery, even the rainy, rocky and muddy days and nights of it, when the road turned inward to trust and it lead me to live in the Amazon jungle of Perú. The strength to do so, as I have observed, was never felt because I voyaged and lived in the Amazon in a wheelchair, but because I opened my heart to its calling and followed a path of faith.
I am twenty-seven years of age and have a quadriplegic spinal cord injury. From an incredible journey of trial and faith, I can nearly walk again. And when it happens, it will ultimately be from the connection I make with the strength and love from the Divine, and the empowerment I’ve felt from living with it.
Visit Teresa’s website.