Twelve 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. Four 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.
While I’m not always a fan of this word, I am blessed, friends. I am learning strength inside and out. I am also learning that strong doesn’t always mean thin. 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. Maybe you’ve had your own fall of some kind. Maybe you can relate.
GRACE IS BORN IN THE FLAMES
As I think upon the highs and lows of this adventure and continue to meet chronic pain head-on every day, I cannot help but see equal measures of grace. And so many people who have stood by my side along the way.
- The kind wisdom of my physician who still 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 most needed it.
- To the 12 national physicians and surgeons who have advanced my treatment plan after being their conference case study.
- To my faraway family for their thoughts, prayers, love.
- To my faraway and virtual friends who have listened by text, FB, or phone to the tears and stories of chronic pain and all that comes with it — wins and weariness.
- To my clients who allow me into their own practices of courage as they witness mine.
- To my cousins who have offered me shelter, joy, and humor as I bounce back from the financial fallout of this experience.
- To my friends who have put on my socks and shoes, driven me everywhere, 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 laugh, or a home.
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.
WITH YOU IN THE PRACTICE
To all of you who have fallen in any way, trust you will rise again. To all of you desiring a map to find your way again, each step will reveal itself. Take it one step at a time.
Open your heart to live in the questions.
As scary, maddening, or challenging as it may be, this isn’t happening to you; it is happening for you. Yes, even this—whatever your unique ‘this’ happens to be—is for you.
Trust the way will unfold. Remember to grieve honestly and well. Surround yourself with support. If you’re feeling alone, practice your courage and ask for what you need. Sometimes this is how strangers become friends. You may not have chosen this path but it is now yours; trust you will learn how to make something new from it in time.
Open your hands to receive what goodness is meant for you.
Sincerely with you in the practice,