I’m Jama Kehoe Bigger, a wife, mother, grandmother who’s decided to spread the word about the importance of finding Happy Day Moments each and every day.
What started as a simple essay I was asked to write morphed into a Facebook project and is now a website. The idea of choosing to be grateful, to find a “moment” even in the worst day, that was happy, that was thankful.
My life and how it relates to discovering happy moments? Well, here’s just part of my story………..
I was 13 years old when I dove into a swimming pool and broke my neck, leaving me a diagnosed quadriplegic. The neurosurgeon told my parents that I would never roll over, stand, walk, or use my hands. Since I was from a very athletic family – my father was a football coach at Ball State University – and I was a junior high cheerleader and gymnast, this prognosis of never living a normal, active life was difficult and challenging. Challenging but not impossible. For there were some things I knew for sure, even at that young age – that God was on my side, that He still worked miracles, and that with Him, nothing was impossible. Through faith, lots of prayer and hard work, I didn’t stay in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down.
My physical progress was slow (and often frustrating! I was a teenager after all, and patience didn’t come easily!), but I learned to stand, then walk with a walker, then two crutches, and finally, I just needed one crutch. I even managed to walk without any aid for short distances, but my balance remained unsteady. At my high school graduation, I walked across the stage, escorted by two classmates.
During this long rehabilitation and miraculous recovery, my family’s attitude was remarkable. They never considered me “handicapped” or “disabled.” I merely walked slower than others, and often required a bit more help to accomplish tasks. I wasn’t different; I was just Jama, and I rarely received any “special treatment.” In fact, when I came home from the hospital, as soon as I was able to stand, I was back on dishwasher duty. (My sister, bless her heart, thought I should make up for the five months I was in the hospital when she had to take my place washing and drying the dishes!)
Although my life has not been what I thought it would be (I wanted to be a physical education teacher), I learned early on after my accident that I could not control what happened to me, but I could control how I responded to what happened. What happened to me was so unfair – I was a good Christian kid, didn’t cause trouble, was obedient (for the most part), was athletically talented (I could outrun my brothers, catch a football, shoot a basketball, do a roundoff-back-handspring), and had so many possibilities for success. Then, in a split second, I was immobile and paralyzed, and my whole life changed. My choice was this: I could be bitter about what happened, or I could allow what happened to make me better. I could choose to find happy moments.
I chose to be better. I made conscious efforts to focus on what I could do, rather than what I couldn’t do. That positive attitude made a world of difference. After high school, I went to college at Ball State, lived on a dorm, rode my three-wheeled bike to classes, got my driver’s license, worked a summer as an Avon lady (yes, going door-to-door!). I made new friends, I dated. I was a fairly “normal” individual. I graduated in three years from the Honors College with B.S. in English and two minors, then completed an M.A. in English a year and a half later, working as a graduate assistant teaching composition courses. My graduate thesis was the first draft of my book, Then Came a Miracle (which was published a couple of years later through contacts made at Midwest Writers Workshop).
Soon after, I married John Bigger, continued to teach at Ball State, then gave birth to two sons, 14 months apart, Johnny in 1983, Thomas in 1984. And then, with a husband, babies and work – came a whole new set of challenges!
So that’s what blogging on this website is about — my daily purpose to pause and give thanks, find blessings, discover joy, give grace, share and see love. Sometimes we’re so busy trying for a happy life that we neglect the “moments.”
You will find serious posts. You will find humorous posts. You will find posts about saying “yes” – because I am a firm believer than a positive, hopeful attitude can work miracles. You will find posts on how I handled motherhood – because I have the most amazing sons. You will find posts about the joys of grandmothering – because I have the most adorable grandchildren. You will find posts about writing – because I am now director Midwest Writers Workshop. You will find posts on my faith – because I am not ashamed to proclaim that I love Jesus with all my heart.
But, in all posts you hopefully will find what it means to look for a Happy Day Moment and live with gratitude.
You are an amazing woman. I knew that the first time I met you and I didn’t know a thing about your background. I have loved you “Happy Day” posts on Facebook. They always make me smile. You just keep on keeping on, girl. You have it going on.
Jama, it’s about time! I love your happy day moments and I love it that you are sharing the whole story.
Keep up the good work! 🙂
Thanks for writing about the positive. It is my focus, too, and I need to keep nourished in order to continue living in the filled half of the glass. I hope to see you at Midwest this summer. Peace!
Your book arrived this week and now the summary of your story.
I share your love for Jesus and desire to write my story.
I am thrilled that you are director of MWW and encouraged by the fact that there you got your publishing start.
You are an amazing lady. Thank you for your continuing encouragement for all. Your website messages bless us all. May you be blessed as you bless others!! What a light you are to other,your light shines so brightly!!
Jama, congratulations on your new site and your Amazon book! Yes! Love your concept of having a greatful heart. The book Simple Abundance by Sara BanBreathnach (and of course THE BOOK) have helped me so much in this area.
I will try to emulate this.
Dad (Oskar) says that gratitude is the key to happiness. He is also big on talking about proper habits.
Your concept combines both. I have to say your are “bigger” about this than he is.