Gratitude in Motion

A true story of hope, determination, and the everyday heroes around us.

by Colleen Kelly Alexander

Gratitude in Motion is not as attitude-changing as reading a non-fiction like Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. However, this book was a page turner because you want to understand how Ms. Alexander lived through getting run over by a freight truck—both front and back tires.

Yes, run over. Not hit, not blown off the road by the wind force of a big truck. The driver literally looked her in the eye, pulled in front of her, ran over her and tried to flee the scene.

There were times I found the narrative a bit confusing as she would state the medical challenges she was currently experiencing and then tell about a 5k race she completed. It was difficult to reconcile the physical issues with the ability to walk or “wog” five kilometers.

There are people in our lives whom we have watched find the silver linings in terrible circumstances. Can’t you name three of them right now?

This woman went so far beyond what any of us can imagine in order to overcome a dire prognosis, being in a coma for five weeks, having her insides on the outside and more than twenty-five surgeries, that it’s an amazing journey to read.

Ms. Alexander is very open, honest, and revealing as she describes the most personal of issues she faced (faces).

The most telling part of her personality is not about her honesty in discussing her injuries or even what she overcame, it is in her seeking out the heroes who helped her and recognizing what they did—from voices speaking to her during her coma time to the good man who ran into the road to help her and keep the driver from escaping.

She met medical people with hugs and gratitude, enabling them to see her as more than a medical problem. Perhaps that helped them see all their patients through new eyes.

Ms. Alexander made the decision to give every medal she won to someone she recognizes as a hero. What a delightful way to show someone what their actions have meant in your life.

Notable moments from the book:

Page 31: “I learned from Jody (friend) that when you’re doing something that matters, you matter.”

Page 108: A nurse asks, “What’s your goal for today?” Colleen states, “There’s an adjustment that goes along with life-altering events; you have to learn to celebrate everything, even things that sounded ridiculous to celebrate before. Rolling over. Eating a piece of food. A decent sleep. The fact that you woke up that day still breathing.”

Page 127: She quotes Jody Williams, “Emotion without action is irrelevant.”

Page 146: “It’s wondrous how many things you can find to be thankful for when you look for them. My life seemed to overflow with both—sources of stress and things to be grateful for, often overlapping.”

In chapter 13, We all bleed red, she delves into the importance of the American Red Cross’s blood banks. With her arrival at the hospital, she received 78 units of blood and 25 bags of plasma and platelets—which means over 180 people had to donate blood. I appreciate her paragraph as she tries to imagine the donors as individuals, “I saw black, white, and brown, of all different ages and backgrounds. In my mind, I saw an amazing group of diverse people all conspiring to help a fellow human whom they’d never know, for no reason other than to save a stranger’s life.”

A good reminder that if you are able, health-wise, to donate blood, please do so.

This chapter contains the quote, “I am the product of heroes.” Is that not a great way to think about yourself? Your life?

Chapter 15, Light Creeps In, was insightful because during her first time driving a year after the accident, she came across a duplicate of the freight truck that hit her. Bless the driver of this vehicle because he paused in the midst of his deliveries and allowed Colleen to scream, tell him what the other driver did, show him her wounds, and embrace his truck—physically. And he let her hug him before they parted ways. There are amazing people everywhere.

Page 219, I love when her urologist, discussing how she was doing post-his surgery, said, “Live the life you were meant to live.”

How many of us are doing that now?

And finally, on page 250, “Life is precious.”

Yes, it is and if you every doubt it, read Colleen’s story and let me know what impact it has for you.


I received this book for free from Hachette Books in order to provide an honest review.