Truth is stranger than fiction.

by Jan on November 25, 2011

J.R. Martinez wins Dancing with the Stars

J.R Martinez, who was crowned the new champion of "Dancing With the Stars," visits "Good Morning America," Nov. 23, 2011. Donna Svennevik/ABC

You’ve just got to get through it, and you’ve got to fight the obstacles and you’ve got to be strong and you say, “You know what? I have hope and I believe and I’m never going to quit.” And if you do those things, you’ll be surprised where your life can take you” ~ J.R. Martinez

Sexiest man alive.
Soap Opera star.
Winner of Dancing with the Stars.

This is not the life that you would expect of a seriously injured vet, or that J.R. Martinez expected after waking up in a hospital bed in 2003 with 40 % of his body burned by an IED while serving in Iraq.

As a spokesperson for the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, J.R. Martinez was recently featured as part of the CNN Heroes series. He tells his story of laying in that hospital bed, of 32 surgeries over 34 months. He asked the question, how could a person go on after having this happen?

“Seeing my face and my body for the first time thinking that there’s no way I can live in this world, ever have a girlfriend, ever be accepted. To be listed [as the sexiest man alive] is an incredible honor. When you accept yourself, when you are comfortable in your own skin it goes a long way.”

You never know how strong you are until you are faced with an obstacle.

J.R. Martinez is an example of how hopeful thinking really makes a difference in one’s life. After feeling hopeless he made a deliberate choice. He decided to “stay positive, think only positive thoughts, smile” and then he says, “things began to come to me.” For example, in a CNN interview in 2009 he said,

“You know, it’s funny. You’ve got to be careful what you wish for in life. When I was in the hospital I couldn’t move. I couldn’t do anything. I was basically at the hands of medical staff and my mother, and every night my mother would watch novela, the Spanish soap opera.

And there wasn’t nothing I could do about it. So I just sat there. And finally I just got to a point where I’m just going to take it in and watch TV with her. And one day out of a joke I said, “One day I’m going to be on a soap opera, mom.””

That was his dream and he made it happen. He hoped, he dreamed and he took steps. He had found a purpose, a new acceptance of “what is.”

Life always offers a new obstacle. There’s always one along the way. It’s how you deal with it, how you interpret it that makes a difference.

Your choices make the difference.

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” ~ Epictetus