Sometimes, we have a nagging feeling that we can do more, change direction, have a bigger impact, create a different life. But often, life gets in the way and we don’t get the time to change.
But other times, life slams into us and forces us to wake up.
Claudia Phillips was involved in an horrific accident that made her re-evaluate everything. Having survived two near-death experiences in a matter of weeks, and during months of recovery, she decided to refocus her life.
We met Claudia at Martha Stewart's American Made event in October 2016. We were inspired by her story of positivity, resilience and drive. Here it is.
It was a beautiful summer Sunday - the day before the beginning of the school year in 2009. We, my two kids, my friend and her husband had decided to take a day trip to the northern part of the Chesapeake Bay. We had a great time at a local festival - the kids had had a wonderful day to wrap up their summer vacation. We left the festival - we originally we planned to go for dinner but my daughter fell asleep in the car and we decided to just pick up a pizza and eat it on the way home. We stopped on a playground so that my son could jump around and we all can eat before driving home.
That was really the last memory of that day for me.
A day later I woke up at Shock Trauma. I still had glass from the broken windshield in my hair and was hooked into all kinds of tubes. I had no idea where I was and what happened to me. Luckily they have told me, that my kids were safe and not physically injured.
It was then I was told that we were struck in a head-on collision by a drunk motorcyclist.
He drove straight into my driver side and during that impact, the Van caught on fire while I was stuck, passed out from a major concussion. My friend’s husband was able to pull out my kids and his wife who sat on the passenger side, while I was trapped in the fire on the driver side.
This all happened very fast and my friends husband was not able to pull me out since I was stuck under the dashboard, with the door jammed.
All of a sudden, people realized that I was out of the Van, laying in the grass. A few minutes later the Van exploded. No one knows who saved me.
I was flown to Shock Trauma, where I was admitted with severe burns, a broken arm, leg, and lung collapse. That was the first time that I survived during those three weeks in the hospital.
Somehow, the CT scan that showed an artery injury on my brain was missed on my charts, and it turned into a 3rd degree aneurysm. Luckily, this was caught by staff members of the hospital. The second time that I survived.
My injuries were so serious that my recovery meant I had to stop working as a massage therapist.
During my career as a therapist, I had made gifts for clients and friends. My boss asked if we could sell them at our clinic - I agreed so I could make some spare cash. So, I started sewing, and pretty quickly demand grew, with other stores began contacting me about stocking them.
As I recovered, I got back into sewing, and this was then Cherapy was born - “Cherapy" is a therapeutic heat and cold pain relief wrap made from cherry pits - I wanted to create something that helped people heal naturally and that I knew worked. I began selling them only three months after the accident.
We are now sold in Massage Envy clinics, Wegmans Stores in Maryland, gift shops, wellness and museum shops. Last year I was showcased at Martha Stewart’s “American Made” event which gave my brand great exposure, and also gave me huge confidence
My life has totally changed. That wake up call in the hospital made me turn the worst moment of my life into a new opportunity. I have never gone through so much positive thinking in my life.
So, not only did I survive, I decided to thrive. It sounds cliched but it's true.
My advice to women who want to start something is to follow their dreams - blindfold yourself and reach for the next step. Take your fears and lock them up - always believe in yourself, trust your inner instinct and let no-one hinder you.
You can buy Cherapy pillows here (trust us, they are amazing - warm heat with cherry scent instead of ibuprofen? Yes please.)