The choice between surviving and thriving: we all have it

The choice between surviving and thriving: we all have it

If you keep telling the same small story you’ll keep getting the same small life.    –  Jean Houston

Every once in a blue moon someone comes along that we know has crossed our path for a reason. One of the recent additions to my own roster of these kind of people – those that I hold in such high esteem I consider them chosen family members – is Nicolette Maroulis.

Nico and I met recently while I was working with the committee for the Wounded Warrior Dinner an event produced and sponsored by the Capitol of Texas Triathlon. Another committee member (of course it was one of my Twitter buds – thanks, Darren!) connected us and I immediately felt a bond.

The reasons for this bond are many. For one, in the 25 years since I cast aside a wheelchair and willed my body and my life into a different story than the one the doctors told me I’ve not met another single person on the planet that shares this distinction with me. Until now. So the sisterhood bond is strong!

Nico was one of those Americans who, like many of us that watched in horror as the towers fell on 9-11, had to get up and DO SOMETHING about it. As a single mother of four children at the time I felt the same resolve – no, compulsion – to act and couldn’t find a way to do it as dramatically. I had a family depending on me and there was little way I could see that I could pack ALL five of us up and find my way to ground zero in spite of my dream otherwise. Believe me, I worked through several scenarios and romantic ambitions to do just that.

This resolve, however, soon set my life on yet another trajectory since my own trauma decades before and opened up new ways of looking at passions I had always had, the life lessons I had learned, and how they might be used for the common good.

ERIC GREGORY / Lincoln Journal Star Photo: Nicolette Maroulis during a 63 day, 4000 mile trek across country with a group of other wounded veterans. Begun on a hand cycle due to the effects of 3 1/2 years in a wheelchair, she recently graduated to a road bike.

ERIC GREGORY, Lincoln Journal Star

And God bless her, Nico acted. After joining the Navy this Master at Arms second class was injured performing her duties as a K9 bomb dog handler.  Nico then spent 3-1/2 years in a wheel chair not sure if she’d ever walk again. Not surprisingly to anyone that knows her, the same warrior spirit within her that sent Nico to join the Navy willed her to walk again. And she did.

Meeting Nico has resurrected my own need to bring a sense of purpose to all that I do. For now I’ll settle for reminding those who will listen that we all have a choice to use the challenges that life sends us – both health and otherwise – as opportunities and tools for transformation.

The power of this kind of transformation was all brought home powerfully for me when at the end of a recent 4000 mile trek across the country a Gettysburg, Pennsylvania journalist captured Nico being Nico:

In mid-day heat, Maroulis laid her own bicycle down, ran to a position behind the veteran and began pushing him onward, uphill. Her legs churned as she ran. Other bicyclists rode nearby, ready to lend a hand.

The 63-day “Sea to Shining Sea” bike ride across country was nearing its climax for wounded warriors like the man in the handcycle – and the 33-year-old Navy woman who was pushing him.

When she’d tired, Maroulis went back down the hill and back of the peleton 

[sic] to retrieve her bike. This from a woman who was told she might never walk again.

You see Nico began this journey on a hand cycle due to the effects of her years in a wheelchair. By the end of the summer she was not only strong enough for a road bike, in true Nico form she was strong enough to help a brother.

When you really boil it all down we all have a choice when life sends us a challenge: we can just survive what life throws at us, or we can choose to truly thrive to the best of our abilities.

You either get it – or you don’t.

I feel blessed every day that I do.


[Photo courtesy Nico Maroulis: Beginning the 4000-mile Sea to Shining Sea ride with a group of other wounded veterans, Nico completes the ritual of christening her hand cycle in the San Francisco Bay before heading out.]
By | 2017-12-18T21:43:55+00:00 July 31st, 2010|Healthy Lifestyle, Patient Empowerment|15 Comments

About the Author:

Allison Peacock is a Spiritual Wellness Practitioner and the Practice Manager at Lake Travis Integrative Medicine. A mind-body medicine expert for more than three decades, she is a passionate teacher of Integrative Medicine approaches, including self-care, building resilience, spiritual transformation, self-regulation and Earth-honoring spirituality.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joe Williams, Allison Peacock. Allison Peacock said: New blog post: The choice between surviving and thriving: we all have it – (cc: @DareToBrand @SquatMore) #ILML […]

  2. Nicolette July 31, 2010 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    You are a blessing in my life. Thank you for your kind words. The truth is you are meant to do great things. You have a heart of gold and you can help lift many people with it. I hope I can give back to you what you have provided to me. I am so glad I get to watch you strive and thrive! You get it sister! Never doubt what you are capable of. Make your dreams come true.

    • Allison Peacock July 31, 2010 at 6:33 pm - Reply

      Stop it. You’re going to have to stop choking me up and making me tear up at my computer screen! The Creator is magnificent for putting you in my life and I’m glad that I can be a blessing in yours as well. As my Arab friends would say, “Mash’allah.” I’m honored to work with you. And we’ve just begun!

  3. Sean Maguire July 31, 2010 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    What an incredible inspiration BOTH of you are. My dad is a retired lieutenant from the New York Fire Department (NYFD) – New York’s Bravest, and I remember seeing tears in his eyes over the fact that he was retired an unable to run into the burning tower with his brothers. He went to countless funerals in the ensuing months to mourn the loss of his fellow fire fighters and many of their sons, as firefighting is generally a cross generation pursuit.

    To Nico and Allie both – your stories and more than anything – your attitudes are both touching and uplifting!

    Nico – thank you for your service to our great country, and Allison – thank you for spreading the word. I’m deeply touched by both of your spirits!


    • Allison Peacock July 31, 2010 at 10:50 pm - Reply

      Sean, thank you for sharing your father’s story. I can’t imagine what living in New York was like for those affected, especially for the New York’s Bravest family. And thanks for your kind words! 🙂

  4. Loving the Bike August 1, 2010 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    Holy cow, Allison….I’ve been getting to know you more and more, and for some reason it’s taken me until now to come over to your blog. Wow. You’re more incredible than I already thought you were. I also see that I have a lot more to discover about you.
    I believe that you are one of those people who have crossed my path for a reason and I’m excited to watch how all of this plays itself out.

    Great post.


    • Allison Peacock August 2, 2010 at 7:35 am - Reply

      Thanks, Darryl. I agree that we’ve met for a reason! I admire how surely you’ve focused your efforts on accomplishing what you set out to do for your family. And I’ve always appreciated the fact that you entrusted me with your plans and dreams. So happy to see you making the move back South!

  5. Darren Zielinski August 2, 2010 at 9:16 am - Reply


    Phenomenal post about two phenomenal women! I can’t wait to work with you again and this time Nico on the 2011 CapTexTri and Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Benefit Dinner.

    I’m also looking forward to seeing Nico compete in the CapTexTri Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Championship! (Yes, that’s a bit of shameless public peer pressure and a challenge to Nico!)

    Luv ya both! 😉

    • Allison Peacock August 2, 2010 at 9:21 am - Reply

      Thanks, Darren! You’re a wise man to have connected me and Nico. Thanks so much for your friendship. Was so glad to see you at Social Media Club even though I had to dash out quickly. Next #BATHH? XXOO

  6. Sam August 19, 2010 at 11:11 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing Nicolette’s story. Until recently we have had three warriors in our family. My step-daughter and son in law have left the service in the last month. My son is in his last 20 days in his second Iraq tour. Ironically it may be the most dangerous 20 days of his current year deployment. He has a dangerous job and I pray for him and ALL of our warriors daily. I especially feel strength for our warriors like Nicolette who have not let an injury slow her down…literally. I am thankful that she seems happy and focused on living the rest of her life with love, honor and gusto!

    • Allison Peacock August 19, 2010 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      I’m glad you stopped by, Sam! And thank you for your family’s service to our country as well.

  7. Carle Aldrete September 16, 2010 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Incredible. I remember looking at this blog post months ago and thinking how beautiful you both are. And then just like life, I was distracted by something urgent and did not get a chance to actually read the story. — I have read it now and I am very impressed, not just with the beauty you both possess but with your strength and character.

    I look forward to riding with you both.

    • Allison Peacock September 16, 2010 at 1:10 pm - Reply

      I’m so glad you’re going to ride with us to celebrate Nico’s new road bike. And being with you at Mamma Jamma is going to rock! Thanks for being such a good friend both on and off the road.

  8. Dave Knight August 11, 2011 at 3:52 am - Reply

    This is so inspirational. You two are amazing to me, and as I fight to keep tears from falling I think “My God, these two have lived, why have I not?” it seems life is so easy to trap us into the thoughts that work, cubicles, bills, and the struggle to get that paycheck is the purpose of life, and yet, it seems as far from truly living as we can get. The experiences you two have had, the things you have seen, the pain you felt, and the fear you have endured is unimaginable to most, and yet, you are so filled with love, joy, humility, and passion. That is a testament in how special the two of you are, and I have seen how you touch lives of others, and inspire us to be better than we first believed we could be.

    God bless the two of you.

    • Allison August 11, 2011 at 4:53 am - Reply

      Thanks for reading this fav post of mine. Nico remains an inspiration to me. I’m really touched by your kind comments.


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