My lovely Mother and me in July of 2007.

My lovely Mother and me in July of 2007.

Acknowledging what we have been through is an important first step on our journey to thriving! This is my story…

After graduating from university a few of my friends and I decided to move to Panama to pursue a dream. We decided to open a backpacker's hostel on an island in the Caribbean called Bocas del Toro. I was living in what we often called "Neverland," having the time of my life, meeting people from all over the world, and the icing on the cake was that I had just met the man of my dreams.At what felt like a peak of joy, excitement, and fulfillment, I received the worst news of my life. I found out that my mom, my best friend, was killed in a tragic accident. She was doing something she did nearly every day, she was walking. On this fateful day, she was crossing the street at the crosswalk, and the truck in her lane did not see her when the light turned green. He hit her and ran her over, and she was killed instantly.

While I didn't receive word for hours after the accident, January 5th, 2008, became the most devastating and life altering day of my life.When I received the news I was shocked. These are stories you hear about -- they aren't your life. I immediately started making travel plans, figuring out logistics, and worrying about everyone else. As I look back, it is clear to see that I was in shock and the best I could do was survive. I stayed in this practical, non-emotional, survival mode for nearly the whole first year.My life as I had known it was over, and while I didn't know at the time, a new chapter was just beginning. I knew I was still in there somewhere, but the light that had always shined so brightly in me had become so dim that I barely recognized myself.While so much of me felt defeated and hopeless, there was a tiny ember of hope that I would find myself again.And I have.I may not be the same care-free girl I once was, but instead I am a woman full of light, love, and compassion. I am a woman with purpose, who, while still on my healing journey, has the light back in her eyes.I am not going to say that my journey has been easy, but I can tell you I have learned a tremendous amount along the way.While we often try to hide our scars, these experiences are part of us, part of our story. My goal is to make sure that the deep wounds are cleaned and cared for so that the healing is timely and the scars aren’t painful, but rather become a beautiful part of the story of our lives.