This Beautiful Journey…Life


by Jontie Hays~One hour ago they were at gymnastics; My daughter Jade and her best friend Belle are having a sleepover at Belles house. It is only a few weeks before school is over and they are making so many plans!

Beach everyday, gymnastics, concerts at the amphitheater. A freak accident, a fall on the wrong part of the neck and Belle is in the hospital.
Broken neck. C-1 break and c-2 hairline fracture.

Three hospitals later and we learn how bad it really is. A halo must be placed on Belle. Surgery will follow in a few days. Watching our Belle in so much pain.

Seeing my 14 year old daughter watch her best friend cry because of the pain and fear, feeling horribly sick from the pain killers being pumped into her…Worrying about the toll this is taking on Jade as she insists staying overnights in the PICU with Belle …What do you do?

All of us face times of strife whether it is illness, loss, disappointment. Life is filled with challenges, upsets and devastation at times.
My job as a therapist has taught me so many beautiful lessons, but I think the one I cherish most learning is how adaptable and resilient we as humans are.

In one of my first articles for, I described intense life experiences as life’s chisel, sculpting us, defining who we are with beautiful detail and character. Who will we be in the midst of crisis and who will we become as we flow through it? I want to share just a few of these exquisite masterpieces in the process of their creation.

Jade and Belle had an opportunity to have a change in perception about the very teachers at their school they often complained about. Four teachers made the two hour trip to visit Belle. It’s not often students get a chance to see how dedicated teachers are in and out of the classroom.

The dean ( and the one they often complained about the most) was so touched by Jade and Belle’s need to be with each other, he excused Jade from school while Belle was hospitalized so Jade could support Belle and stay by her side. He recognized how much comfort it was for Belle to have her best friend by her side and felt there was more for them to learn about life in that moment then sitting in a classroom. No lecture about how we can’t judge people before we really get to know them! Life just unfolded and there it was; This beautiful lesson.

Through this crisis, Jade has had a chance to experience a new facet of herself; Not only was she able to truly see her own value, she was able to see how others valued her and how much she truly has to offer the world with her loyalty, strength, and kindness.

Belle, has and will experience that part of the human spirit that never gives up and how much determination she has in her sweet heart. She is also getting to see how others love for her can not only help her overcome anything, but heal others through their own struggles.

Belle’s parents have been divorced for a number of years and sadly, her parents relationship has been difficult and turbulent. Belle’s relationship with her father has been distant and strained.

Through this whole ordeal, Belle’s parents have developed an entire new relationship. They came together and not only supported their daughter, but learned to support each other.

Probably one of the moments I cherished most was seeing Belle’s father tell her how wonderful her mother was and how much he admired and respected her. Belle and her siblings were able to witness something that has not happened in so long they almost forgot it could exist; support, mutual regard and friendship between her mom and dad.

It became so clear as I thought about a statement written by Neal Donald Walsh. “Love is not created as a result of certain conditions. Certain conditions are created as a result of love.”

Belle, my message to you is this sweetie. The mutual love your parents share for you created the opportunity for your parents to transcend their conditions of hurt, anger and resentment to one of acceptance and peace.

Belle is out of the hospital and we now have the recovery process ahead of us. Plans change; We may not be beaching it everyday, but we will sign up for pottery lessons. Gymnastics may be cancelled for the summer but we can do yoga! We may not be in front of the stage for the concerts but will have special seating. Did I mention Jade contacted all of the bands we planned to see and they are working on getting back stage passes for her and Belle?

I told Belle a good lesson to know is that even though plans can change because life happens, we always have plan B!

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About Jontie Hays

Jontie Hays  is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She graduated from Florida State University in 1993. As a private practitioner, she specializes in many areas including: Child sexual abuse, trauma, depression, anxiety, women’s health, couples and family counseling. She also is Supreme Court certified in family mediation and serves as a consultant to an international company, which provides onsite crisis response to the corporate community. She has served as an expert witness in family litigation involving children. She is a dedicated to assisting others in reaching their highest and most authentic selves. Through the use of integrative approach, Jontie embraces an attitude towards the practice of psychotherapy that affirms the inherent value of each individual. It is a unifying psychotherapy that responds appropriately and effectively to the person at the affective, behavioral, cognitive, and physiological levels of functioning, and addresses as well the spiritual dimension of life  St. Augustine, Florida is home to Jontie and her family. She has been married to her wonderful, handsome husband Jim for 22 years. They share two beautiful children Jackson and Jade.

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