After months of waiting, I received the most amazing news last week – I am officially a Permanent Resident of Australia. My visa has gone from ‘temporary’ to ‘indefinitely’ and just in time to properly celebrate my first Australia Day down under!

Anyone who has been through an immigration process knows the massive amounts of paperwork, followed by fingerprinting and health checks. When all is said and done, you feel like you have climbed a mountain and can shout to the heavens!! “I made it!” And that is exactly how I felt.

While I celebrated with delectable meat pies and consumed a few too many adult beverages, two of my closest friends were back in NYC and sent photos from outside my old office and stomping grounds.

Life these days seems like a far cry from my days back in New York.

And what I have realized is that the saying, “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” is true!

Now, as opposed to making it in the concrete jungle, I find myself adjusting to life abroad, day trips to the beach and the occasional sign advertising poop for sale on the side of the road. A walk to the subway or commute through traffic has been replaced by 4AM conference calls back to the U.S, school drop offs and redefining my career all from the comfort of home.

Years ago, when I first moved to New York, little did I know that “making it here” would include falling into oncoming traffic.

I had walked the 10+ blocks earlier to get to an eye doctor appointment. I thought I would get my check-up, new glasses and be on my way.

I left my sunglasses back at the apartment, not realizing this would later be an issue.

The technician put drops in my eyes and warned me they could potentially make me sensitive to the sun.

Could potentially? That was an understatement!

After my appointment wrapped up, I stepped out onto the sidewalk. In an instant, it was like the sun was burning a hole straight through my eyes! A little sensitivity? {Insert numerous expletives} My eyes were watering uncontrollably as I stumbled around trying to find a haven from the glaring rays. I turned a corner and stood with my back against the side of the nearest building, trying to stop the tears. A reprieve.

I wondered – Dear God! How am I going to get home?

I looked to my left and saw a cab sitting at the stoplight with its light on. I quickly darted over with my hand in the air, hoping to get in before traffic started moving again.

Watering eyes and unable to see clearly, I was about to reach the cab when I fell straight onto the street. My foot met its match with a pothole and down I went. It hurt.  A lot. When I got up, the light had not turned green, so I quickly wiped myself off. My legs were bleeding but I cared more about my watering eyes and simply wanted to be in the comfort of a darkened cab.

Just as I went to open the door, a woman jumped in and the light turned green. There I stood with no cab, bleeding, watering eyes, all in moving traffic.

I ran back to the side of the building. Everything was still a complete blur.

As I looked up, I noticed across the street a fuzzy version of the glorious green ball – hallelujah – subway entrance!!  As soon as I saw an opportunity, I made a mad dash and quickly found my way down the stairs to the platform where I would be safe from the sun. Eyes watering. Knees bleeding. Hands scraped up. Finally, darkness.

I stood there waiting for my train and finally got on, ready to get home and sit in the comfort of obscurity and darkness until the eye drops wore off.

As the train started to move, I noticed other passengers looking at me, not wanting to make eye contact. I thought maybe they had just witnessed me falling into traffic and felt sorry for me. Whatever it was, I didn’t care. I was just happy to be underground, away from the sun and heading in the direction of my apartment.

I was busy making my plan for when the train stopped. I would have a few avenues to dart across in the sun over to my block, where the buildings would hopefully shield me for the rest of the walk home.

I made my exit and literally ran back to my apartment, breathing a sigh of relief as I entered through the doorway. It was one of those moments where I shut the door and let my back slide down the entire length of it until I was sitting on the floor.  Knees to my chest, arms open.

And then, I saw myself in the mirror.

I was covered in blood.

Little did I know (because I couldn’t see) when I fell, my hands were bleeding. As I wiped the hair away from my face after the fall, the blood from my hands smeared all over. I stood there looking at myself – ripped pants, cut hands, dilated pupils and blood covering my face. In that moment, there was nothing I could do but laugh, uncontrollably.

It certainly explained the stares and lack of eye contact from the train ride just minutes earlier. The crazy little blonde lady with blood all over her face. I looked like I had gotten into a street brawl with someone. I wouldn’t have talked to me either!

I didn’t leave my apartment for the rest of the day and still remember calling my mother to vent, “who steals a bleeding girl’s cab in traffic?”

I am certain I consumed a lot of wine retelling the story…days later…once the eye drops had worn off, my wounds had healed and my pride was intact.

It was one of many stories from life in New York. There are days when the city will invigorate you and the energy makes you feel alive, and then there are other days where it will chew you up and spit you out.

And what I am realizing now, as I find myself halfway across the globe, is that the same strength I had in the city is with me no matter where I go, to carry me through whatever life may throw at me. But you don’t have to move to New York City or across the world to find your strength. Mine was there all along, I just needed certain life experiences to figure it out.

We all have opportunities in our life where we are challenged to overcome something. Just like happiness, strength and resilience are also a choice. You can either become broken or you can become a warrior.

This week, take a minute to look in the mirror and remind yourself that ‘you are amazing’ and ‘you can do this.’ No matter what life is giving you in the form of struggle, there is an opportunity to learn and grow from it. Challenge yourself to find your strength. It is there, sometimes you just need to go looking for it.

Cheers to a new week and picking yourself up, even when you are bloodied and broken.

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