A true tale of survival and awakening…
I was cycling along, lost in thought, oblivious to the sun shining, the cars honking, and the railway arm on the other side of the road slowly descending, bells clanging in a call for drivers to stop. Nor did I detect the roar of the charging beast that seemed to suddenly appear and be looming down upon me!

Horror-struck, I realised the sequence of events had been set in motion, and there was nothing I could do to escape. I watched stupefied, in slow motion, as the train sped toward me, ready to cut me off at the pass!

I don’t know what made me look up. But, in that split second, I somehow made a decision that would save my life. Somehow I just knew what to do.

Although, I don’t remember making the choice, something told me to turn my front tire slightly to the left. Somehow, I had the presence of mind to do it. As the train struck, I went over on my side, in front of, and then was dragged beneath, to the jaws of the monster.

Thankfully, the newly appointed angle of my front tire shifted the position of my bike, causing the back tire to catch the cowcatcher. Had it not caught, I would likely have been torn asunder and pulverized beyond all recognition, but for the titian tendrils that were once my trademark.

I felt a complete sense of calm. Nothing flashed before my eyes. And astonishingly, I did not feel afraid.  I was surrounded in warmth and light. I was above myself, beneath myself, within myself… I was the light.  I knew that I was going to be alright and that I had great work to do.

After a bounce or two, I sensibly held my head up, waiting and watching the sights as they went whizzing past. Pinned, the left side of my body grazed the ground, fastidiously collecting pebbles and other debris, as the screech of the brakes screamed in the background. After a lifetime of moments, the train finally came to a slow stop.

I lay there in shock, patiently presuming that someone would be out to help me. I had just been hit by a train! It had not occurred to me that they had inaccurately if, understandably, surmised that I had not survived and could be scattered in pieces along the length of the track! Nobody came.

Agitated, I somehow managed to gradually pull myself out and unhook my bike with the insane notion of carrying on, as if merely inconvenienced. And as I slowly rose, and the darkness came to claim me, my knees buckled, and I promptly and less than prestigiously, passed out right there on the track. There I lay, splayed and unconscious, as the flabbergasted engineer emerged, and with disbelieving eyes, beheld the stupefying fact that I was somehow still alive.

I came to in the ambulance. Miraculously, I was relatively unscathed, only suffering a few minor abrasions, a dislocated shoulder, and a concussion. Other than that, I was fine. In fact, I was better than fine. It was a miracle that I was alive! As the truth of this hit home, and I pondered this remarkable and extraordinary proffering, I was grateful.

And I knew I was here on this earth for a reason. We all are. We all here to make a difference and that difference matters.

And so it goes, that life-altering incidents tend to open our eyes to simple truths and lessons:

  • Do not avoid things out of fear. The alternative could be worse.

It is ironic that I had been riding on the sidewalk because I was too nervous to ride on the ro ad for fear I might be hit by a speeding car. That I was on the wrong side of the road where there was no barrier to stop me, was an eerie happenstance.

  •  Things are not always what they seem.

Much to my dismay and irritation, I was outrageously charged with failing to yield at the crossing! I also had to go to court to defend and address this accidental trespass. To further add to the travesty, a newspaperman declared that I had purposefully tried to beat the train and should be punished to send a message to any other would-be daredevils! Really?! Did I seem the sort to take on a train for an adrenaline rush?! I think not! Luckily, the judge believed my seemingly absurd declaration that I, in fact, did not see, nor hear the train, and all charges were ceremoniously dismissed. I emerged from the courtroom, vindicated.

  •  When extraordinary things happen, people like to talk about it!

The Christmas immediately following this incident, I must have been a really good girl because Santa surprisingly came to our Christmas party! And as I sat on his knee, I was presented with the most beautifully wrapped present, replete with silver and gold bows and bells. Inside, was a beautiful silver frame. In it, was the railway crossing schedule for that particular intersection. What a thoughtful gift, Santa wanted to make sure I was safe! I smiled sweetly, while my friends tittered in the background.

To this day, people still like to tell the story. Some seem to think surviving this ordeal was a great accomplishment. In actuality, living to tell the tale was hardly the point. Living to make a difference is what matters. Realising this, is what opens the doors for many truly great accomplishments.

  • We are all here for a purpose and that purpose is to make a difference.

There are signs everywhere to lead us to our purpose. Life is not to be squandered selfishly or carelessly. We are all here to make a difference in whatever way we can.

  • Pay attention to what’s going on in the world around you – or you could get hit by a train!

Life is full of wonderful and magical moments, lessons to be learned, opportunities to care, and to ease another’s pain. Don’t miss out because you’re not paying attention. Make a difference while you can. It can be over in an instant.


1. Do you have any stories or wakeup calls to share?

2. Are you living the gift of your life making a meaningful difference?

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24 Responses to To The Jaws of The Monster

  1. Shelley! I had no idea this happened to you! What a story! But seriously how did you not see a train???? aahahha. 

    Are you living the gift of your life making a meaningful difference? Good question. Am I? Sometimes I wonder, I like to think in my line of work (photography) that I will end up making some type of difference because I will be survived by my work (my photographs). To my clients my work will be passed across generation because they will see oh this is where grandma and grandpa got married but I often don’t think that is enough. Which is probably the reason behind the trip. To take some other significant photos of culture at its current time, is that a meaningful difference? I can only hope.

    • Hi Taylor,  if I told everyone all my stories, what on earth would I write about on my blog! And, I know right, but you know me well enough to know that I am prone to distraction and wandering thoughts even now! I think I’m pretty safe though… it’s not likely I’ll get hit by a train again!

      As for you, Taylor jackson. You are an inspiration to me. Your photographs are truly “art” and it is as though you have captured the essence of life in each of them. When I see a childor a bride smiling, I hear the laughter and feel the joy just by looking at the picture. It’s really like being there. You have a very special gift and I so admire that you are following your dreams. You make a difference through your art, your kind heart, and just by being who you are.

      I am so very proud and honoured to know you. : )

  2. Kellianne Sweeney says:

    Great story! And Amen to your gleanings that came from it. I try to live that way but it is good to be reminded because sometimes the energy for it does flag. Thanks for the pick me up 🙂

    • Thanks! And you’re right! I have needed many reminders throughout the years. It’s so easy to get caught up in the little things that don’t really matter. Happy to be part of your world and find inspiration through your writing as well. : )

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m certainly glad you missed that train, Shelly! Wow! What a great story! 

    Well, to answer your question, I think that I am definitely a living the gift of my life and I pray every day that I’m making a difference. I keep in mind that we are here for a reason, and that there are signs for us to take us to our true purpose every single day. It’s one of those things like a things being bought to our attention more than once in a day. The little life confirmations that our life nudges us with daily. They’re there… we simply have to pay attention to them and know when they’re trying to get our attention. 
    I really enjoyed this story and post. I get my wake-up calls daily. Too many to name here under your comments. 😀 I’d probably leave a post with in this post if I named them all. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your startling, yet revelating post with us. I heard it loud and clear. 

    • Thanks Deeone. it is obvious to me, and no doubt everyone around you. that you do live your life very purposefully and you do make a difference. Quite right, there are daily nudges for when we get a little tired or distracted. I think we’re here to help each other, remind each other, be a beacon for each other – we’re all connected. Your posts do the same for me. : )

  4. AjmaniK says:

    Not too many folks get hit by a train and live to tell about it. So, yes, you have a new lease on life. And you are making good use of it ~ by making others around you aware of the fact that they need to pay attention before they head for a ‘train wreck’ in any of the four quadrants of their lives. 

    Thanks for sharing ~ we all need to ‘Live well, Live aware, Live with purpose’.


  5. Wow Shelley!

    Just the mention of the topic got me wondering and now that I read the post, it sure is a second life given by the Almighty to you! One does hear about people being hit by trains, but rarely does anyone survive to tell the story and learn lessons from the incidence too.

    I guess, we all face traumas, accidents, and changes in our lives. But those who learn from such incidents, and understand the meaning of why they are alive- truly understand the purpose of their lives as well.

    For me, though I haven’t encountered such an incidence, but met with a nearly fatal car accident a few months back. Our  car somersaulted 3-4 times. Everyone was safe, except the fact that I was thrown out, suffered a head injury and some cuts and bruises. But just the fact that I back to my normal self and nothing really majorly went wrong- is a blessing in disguise. 

    I think we need to remain grateful for each passing moment, each day, and spend our lives living it to the fullest- as you never know if you are going to be there tomorrow or not.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Likewise, wow! Thank you for sharing your story… I am so glad you’re ok! Surviving something that could have taken your life somehow gives one a new lease. You’re right! We become more grateful and cherish each and every moment, because any moment can be your last.

  6. rubberbandgirl2 says:

    hi. This is rubberbandgirl2 This is an interesting blog. It is very well written and it held my attention the whole time. It seems to me that God has a greater purpose for you and he is not finished with you yet. He has something so great for you it will blow probally my mind and yours put together. Thats because we have a big God. I had 2 brain injuries once (in the same year) I almost died both times. I also had internal bleeding in my brain and i had a mass growing in my brain. But I didnt let that stop me Somehow God kept me alive and I am here today only because of him. Thanks for sharing. 

  7. Hi Shelley,

    Can you believe it: we have known each other for a quarter century! 

    Beginning with the name of your website and your contributions to it, you are indeed one of those pink diamonds that appear not too frequently in life. You are giving voice to many of us who don’t have the courage to write and make public what we are thinking. Congratulations on your website. Your string of letters, words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs and essays don’t go unnoticed! May God bless you and yours!


    Richard Stuetz

  8. Gary Loper says:

    Shelly, powerfully written message and encouraging to all of us to not become a victim  of what happened to us, to instead use those lessons to share with the world a story of how they can shift their lives and make a meaningful difference in the world.  I truly appreciate you sharing and showing others that we all can overcome our train wrecks. 

  9. Anonymous says:

    Got your “add” from Twitter this morning, and am sitting down with a purpose today to really make a change in my interactions.  I could write volumes on how I intend to do this, but I won’t, because, as you say, what would I write in my blog if I told all my stories?
    I truly think that I was intended to read this story, and to engage with you today.  We can all learn from this story, it is shocking, and scary (and wow, must have been horrific after it settled in!) and truly can be a metaphor for many people and experiences that they have had.  
    I remember so clearly, just over 10 years ago me thinking that my life was good but “wouldn’t it be nice if something really exciting happened in my life?”.  Then I was hit by a train, metaphorically.  The past ten years have seen me dealing with the repercussions of that hit.  Be careful what you wish for.  
    As for your question number 2, I struggle with this every day.  I try to make a meaningful difference, and there are days when the power shines through in everything I do, and with everyone I meet.  Then the day comes when one person can shed a dark shadow over everything and it feels all for naught.  
    I was reading Jenn Hicks blog this morning, and was reminded of the Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, and then I found your page.  I was truly led here, and thank you for this wake up call that what we do has value, that we are here for a purpose, and that purpose can and will make a meaningful difference to us, to those around us, and to those we have not yet met.  
    Thank you for sharing, and I look forward to connecting.  

    • Just saw your comment Sarah. I apologise for not responding sooner. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. And metaphorical, or not, suddently being hit by a train is definitely an awakening! I can totally identify with your feelings. There are days when the power shines – thankfully most of them – and days with a dark shadow. These days are the days it’s most important to hold on to the gratitude and count your blessings. Hard, I know, just came through a spell myself. I really appreicate your sharing, Sarah, and I look forward to getting to know you better too. : )

  10. Alex Mangini says:

    Wow…what a story. I can’t say I’ve had a near death experience like that, but I am always constantly reminded to never take things for granted or ever stop enjoying life – through other people’s stories. Mainly, people I talk to everyday – but stories like yours are wake up calls enough. Thanks for sharing the story here.

  11. Mila Araujo says:

    An absolutely incredible story, I can’t even imagine what those moments must have been like, and yes, one can only feel reinforced, there is a purpose . I love the point you make about not living in fear. Living to avoid things because of fear is truly the worst possible way to live, its amazing that this is one of the things you took out of this experience, so many would have looked at it in an opposite way.

    Amazing how one person can look at something and refer to it as the worst thing that ever happened to them, fear it, relive it – and then someone else , like you, can turn this incredibly frightening event into the luckiest thing, the thing that reminded you to LIVE, to be the change, to inspire others and to be inspired and laugh.

    Thank you for being that person! beautiful post 🙂

    • Thanks Mila. Life is a lot more challenging when we don’t also count the challenges as blessings. I am thankful for every lesson – not always in every moment, but it does come. And as a fellow Canadian, you must know we always like to keep a positive frame of mind! And I’m a Northern girl, we’re a lot tougher than we look : )

  12. brian miller says:

    holy….wow…i was blown away by your story…omg…thanks for pointing me to this one…goodness gracious…love the wisdom you gleened from this..still in chills over the moment though…wow

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