I was asked recently what if any gifts I have learned about myself since the injury nearly 10 years ago. I said that one of the gifts I’ve learned is that I do have a heart and that I am open, willing and happy to share it. I can’t say that was case twenty years ago. Back then I kept my heart and emotions for the most part in a protective shell, selectively and cautiously deciding who I might share it with. Even then I did it with reluctance not wanting to fully open myself up express my feelings and emotions. My mother-in-law Muriel would occasionally poke at me saying my personality was even mechanical, robotic at times. Ouch. What a difference my later adult years makes. Since my injury, and particularly since I authored Will Your Way Back I have to give a lot of credit to my developmental editor Tess who in her gentle and understanding way was able to draw out of me deep rooted emotions I would never have shared with anyone - family, siblings, parents, friends, let alone people I don’t know. What I learned over recent years is that I feel completely safe sharing who I am - faults, strengths, mistakes and achievements. I am comfortable being myself, Jamie, and speaking in terms that are genuine, unfiltered, authentic, raw and real. The veneer is gone. The protective shield I used to protect my vulnerabilities are gone. It feels great and many ways a relief. I don’t have to be anyone other than who I am. For years when I was growing up my father would often remind me, “Jamie, just be yourself.” I didn’t know at that time who myself was. Every time my Dad said that I was all the more confused. Perhaps I am a slow learner but it has only been in very recent years, especially after working with Tess, and before that Sherryll, who me really is. I am a determined, persistent, detail-oriented, analytical and sensitive person. I have feelings and I am no longer embarrassed or ashamed to express them. When I feel a need to cry, I cry. When I am angry or frustrated I have learned productive ways to process those feelings, which usually isn’t any further away than the gym. The gift I realize I have is one probably many already know - I am comfortable with who I am. After so many years of feeling inadequate or trying to be someone else I wasn’t it is gratifying to be in place now where I am ok.