Eleven years ago today, I fell, hurt my spine, and my life changed forever. I'll spare you the gory details but in essence, walking was an act I'd need to learn again.
The running and hiking shoes were boxed up and sent to Goodwill. The gym membership cancelled. The stamps in my passport stopped accumulating--and the current ones began to fade. As did some of my favorite activities and relationships.
Countless setbacks, doctors, physical therapists, hospitals, and insurance company battles ensued. So did the tears, stages of grief, and depression. Three savings accounts drained. Muscle atrophy and weight gain crept in.
The fabulous poet Rumi wrote 'you've seen my descent; now watch my rising.' I used to read that and wonder if I'd ever rise again. Would I get out of the bed? Would I put on my own shoes? Would I walk without assistance? Will I see another passport stamp and breathe deeply in a new part of the world? Do I even dare to dream I will run again?
Today, I contemplate the many steps I've taken forward. I may not run but I am beyond grateful to walk. To take small hikes, to even own hiking boots again. To keep a walking cane in my car and not use it for four years. To feel the support of my doctor when he helps me up from the spine injection table...and for the jokes he tells on the really bad days. To acquire a new workout challenge from my physical therapist when I crush my bi-weekly goals. To learn how to live with a lens of possibility and abundance instead of limitation and lack. I am blessed, friends. I am learning strength inside and out. I am learning beauty lies way beneath the surface. I am learning self-love and belonging in ways I never imagined possible. I am learning to practice my courage -- one damn step at a time.
As I think upon all the pain, I cannot help but see equal measures of grace. And so many people who have stood by my side in this adventure.
The kind wisdom of my physician who offers me a hug after every visit. The flirtatious physical therapist who pushed me out of the wheelchair day after day so I could learn to walk again. One amazing aunt and uncle whose single level house I crashed in for months until I could tackle stairs again. To a former workplace community that offered me a desk on the floor and WFH flexibility when I needed it most. To the 12 physicians and surgeons who recently advanced my treatment plan after being their conference case study. To my faraway family for their thoughts, prayers, love. To my cousins who’ve given me shelter as I bounce back from the financial fallout of this experience. To my friends--workplace and otherwise--who have put on my socks and shoes, driven me to work, escorted me to the bus, down the stairs, to the soccer field, or other places. To all who have offered a hand, an ear, a dollar, a home, or a laugh.
The journey continues but I am rising. And I know now--as a coach, writer, and founder of The Courage Practice--that as I fell, my calling began to rise.
And I do not rise alone. So today, I thank each one of you reading this who has tread along beside me in ways big or small, whether for a moment or for years.
Friday's spine injections were for you.
Today's workout is for you.
The steps I take are because of you.
Thank you for everything.