Tuesday, November 9, 2010 arrived with a clear early morning that promised to become a chilly, sunny, and typically autumn day. I zipped my coat, buckled my helmet strap, unlocked my bike, and headed off to work. A few minutes later, a garbage truck crossed a bike lane to make a right turn. I was in that bike lane. The tires of the truck crushed my left leg and caused other internal injuries. An amazing team of trauma surgeons saved my life, but they had to amputate my leg to do so.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Confucius.

In July 2011, I set off to walk a thousand miles as an above-knee amputee in my new prosthesis. The journey has held more twists, turns, and detours than I ever imagined.

I reached Mile 1000 on March 30, 2013.

But of course, that wasn't the end.

I'll keep walking!

Friday, October 23, 2020

Rigged

Mile Marker 8943:

In early September, my friend Amy sends me this birthday card.

A birthday card that reads, "Life life as if everything is rigged in your favor." - Rumi

I clip it to the string of twine that hangs on the wall between my living room and kitchen. 

Yes, I think.  I am going to live life as if everything is rigged in my favor. 

It seems like a perfect plan. 

My birthday coincides with Rosh Hashanah, a new school year, and the start of autumn, when nights turn cool and trees are flecked with gold. 

In case I haven't said it before, I'm a fan of fresh starts.

This year for my birthday, I get my first take-out coffee in 6 months. 

A selfie of me, wearing a mask, with a carry out coffee cup from Old City Coffee.
This is a BIG step!

My mom makes an apple cake, and we celebrate on the patio.

My feet with a happy birthday bag between them.
From a safe social distance, of course.

Friends send me flowers, books, and cards.  Andy and Nina send birthday truffles from Chicago.  I light a candle in one of them.  Like always, I wish for GOOD HEALTH.  For myself.  My family.  My friends.

A truffle shaped like a munchkin donut with a lit candle in the top.
The world.

That “fresh start” feeling – where everything is rigged in my favor – lasts a while.

Then abdominal problems kick in.  

I don’t know why.  They just start out of nowhere, like they always do.

The pain is intense.  Deep and dark and definite.  Restrictive, yet familiar, like well-worn tire tracks on a road I've driven before.

I am in pain and will always be in pain.  NOTHING is rigged in my favor. 

It shrinks my life to a place where I can’t imagine being anywhere else.


At Mile 8,943, I am at Jefferson again – as an outpatient this time.  

The department is called Nuclear Medicine, and I’m here for a test called a HIDA Scan.  

When I check in, the receptionist puts an ID bracelet on my wrist.  I take this as a bad sign. 

Then I look out the window of the waiting room.  It’s a foggy morning, but there's a message out there:

The view of a glass corridor, where someone has hung the message, "Hang in there World!"
I take this as a good sign.


In the exam room sits a monstrous machine.  It hovers over a canoe-shaped platform into which my body fits perfectly. 

“How does this work for people bigger than I am?”  I joke.

The technician, Mohammad, laughs because that describes pretty much everyone. 

He covers me with a heated blanket.  The blanket reminds me of being in pre-op, but I decide it’s good sign anyway.  The room is freezing.

The test takes two hours.  Mohammad injects a "tracer" that glows as it passes through my abdominal organs.  He puts on a soft soundtrack and records everything on video.  

I look around as I lie there.  On one wall is a clock.  I try not to check it.  On the other wall, is a coiled up NG tube.  I try not to think about why it's there.

It's a long time to lie still and stay calm, so I focus on the ceiling.

A light box in the ceiling that looks like a blue sky with a crescent moon and tree leaves.
Relaxing view, isn't it?

It reminds me of early evening.  In a garden café.  In Vienna. 

I know it's just art, a trick of light and color.  This room is on the 8th floor of a 16-story hospital in the middle of Center City.  

Yet when I get anxious, I stare up at the trees, and clouds, and crescent moon.  

Believe it or not, it makes a difference.


I’ve been reading Jodi Picoult’s newest novel, The Book of Two Ways.

Jodi Picoult's hardcover book, "The Book of Two Ways."

The title refers to an Egyptian text about the afterlife, but also to the quantum physics theory that there are multiple outcomes to every event, and that each one continues to exist in its own parallel universe, even if we only perceive one path at a time.

To me, it sounds like Alice's Looking Glass, or the B-side of a record, or the Upside Down from Stranger Things. 

I'm not sure I believe in this theory.  I gave up on What-Ifs  many miles ago.  

Still, it’s nice to dream.

If there are two ways, then a universe exists where I didn’t get in an accident at all.  

Where the truck and I both rode safely through that intersection.  Where I don't trip on the sidewalk, or conserve "leg time," or worry about needing the ER during a pandemic.  (Heck, there must be a no-pandemic universe out there too!)

In that universe, everything would be rigged in my favor, right?

But couldn’t two ways also be a matter of perspective?  Like shifting our focus? 

Sure, I’m on a chilly table with radioactivity flowing through my veins.  But I'm also at a café drinking coffee, eating sacher-torte, and gazing up at the Austrian sky.

Somehow, at Mile 8,943, I manage to be in both places at once.

Me, sitting at a café in Vienna holding a coffee cup.
Or something like that!


I'm not going to lie.  

Pain is pain.  There’s no other way to look at it.  When it hits full force, it's blinding, and I can't see anything else.

There's a universe where this pain is related to my accident and won't ever go away.  

Then, there's another universe where it's not.  And it will.

Between those two universes, there are doctors and nurses who listen, and care, and try to get to the bottom of it.  Between those two universes, there is daily life.  

Between those two universes, there's a HIDA Scan.

When the test is over and I finally get home, I find another birthday card in the mail.  Surprise, it's from Shelley's mom.  And by extension, Shelley.

A small gingerbread man button in my hand, with Shelley's mom's card in the background.
Inside is a little reminder of her!

It reminds me, too, of something Shelley used to say:

"We make the best decisions we can, based on the information we have at the time."

I don't know what this round of tests will show.  There's a small chance it'll point to an easy solution, one that's obviously rigged in my favor.   

But life doesn't usually work that way.  It's rarely good or badeverything or nothing, always or never.  It's more like a sliding scale.

To live life as if everything is rigged in your favor... I think the words AS IF are key.  

"As if" means to move forward anyway, despite uncertainty.  It means to tread carefully, taking steps with PURPOSE and HOPE.  

I believe there are more than two ways.  Many more.

Our challenge is to walk the line between.


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Croissant Therapy

A South Philly fence entwined with purple clematis flowers
Mile Marker 8825:

When you think of unbound happiness, what comes to mind?  

And how do you get there - especially now?

Here's what I think of:

Mile 5,000

This was my first morning in Nice and my first overseas trip as an amputee.  After an overnight flight and 22 hours in my prosthetic leg, I awoke to blue skies, French accents, and a park lined with olive trees.

A walk to the local boulangerie.  A French café.  And wait.  It gets better.

Un croissant aux amandes.  An almond croissant.

It's hard to believe one small pastry could make such a big difference.


That was 3 years, 3,000 miles, and a pandemic lifetime ago.

At Mile 8,825, France is a bit out of reach.

But South Philly?  That's only a few steps away.  Or technically, a short car ride.

At sunrise, Jasmine, Priti, and I head down in separate cars, caravan style.  Donna and Jen meet us down there.  We all wear masks.

Here in pandemic Philly I've learned to get out early.  Sidewalks are empty.  The sun is low.  And mask-wearing is at the highest rate it'll be all day.

We pass 9th and Wharton, where cheesesteaks are already sizzling on the grill.  

Despite skepticism,
a middle-of-the-street selfie
is just perfect here!

We trail through the Italian market, which is surprisingly alive and well.  It's true.  Philly's got grit.

And this morning, it feels like I do too.

How are you doing these days?  

For me, finding a comfortable place in this uncomfortable world has been quite the challenge.  Perhaps it's because I've lived through a traumatic injury.  Or perhaps it's not.  I know I'm fortunate.  I'm healthy right now.  I'm not facing fires, or storms, or eviction notices.  And yet, in my mind, "being safe" and "feeling safe" don't always go hand in hand.  

So I've been working to dismantle these fears one by one.  To yank off their proverbial masks -- Scooby-Doo style, you know -- to figure out what's really high-risk, and what's actually not.

It's a new month and a new season.  And I've got a new stumbling block -- a.k.a. "pandemic project."  

I admit it's a good problem to have:

Getting take-out.

That's right.  The neighborhood restaurants need us, and we need them too.  I want to support local business.  Plus, take-out is a treat.  It's something I used to love.  So why give that up?  These days we need all the small happiness we can get.  It's still out there, even as we continue to protect ourselves and others.  We just have to find it.

Philly restaurants have been open outdoors for a while, and I admire their creativity in such difficult times.  Yet when I think of eating out, it feels like an unnecessary risk.  I even avoid walking past their tables on the sidewalk.  There are too many respiratory droplets, too many unmasked people, too many variables I can't control.  

But I don't like being afraid either.

So I've come up with a plan.

Any psychologists out there?  Close your ears.

It's called CROISSANT THERAPY.

Pourquoi croissants?  

Pourquoi pas?

Gotta start somewhere.  And what's more motivating than an almond croissant?  

Rien.  Nothing.

Step one:  Artisan Boulangerie in South Philly.  The destination for today's morning miles. 

They have the best almond croissants.  I know this from experience.  

We go way back -- to before the pandemic, before Nice, before the accident, before this whole journey began.  

The boulangerie was a beloved part of my life BEFORE.

Of course, at Mile 8,825, it looks a bit different.

The line snakes down the block.

I know.  I know.  We were expecting it.  Lines are everywhere these days.  And with social distancing, they look a lot longer than they actually are.  Usually they stress me out, but not this morning.  The weather is cool.  I am ready.  The croissants are worth the wait.  

In no time, we're close enough to read the menu on the window.

I already know what I'm getting :)

Inside the door, there's a space just large enough for a single customer and a sheet of Plexiglass.  

Behind it, I spy the friendly face of Amanda, co-owner and boulangère.  Even with my mask, she recognizes me immediately.  I can tell she's smiling behind her mask too. 

"It's been a long time!"  she says.  "How are you?"

Her husband André stirs cream into my coffee.  From behind the counter, he asks about Mary and Chris, my usual croissant buds. 

We talk for a minute, and I tell them both how happy I am to finally be back there again!

I order my usual -- an almond croissant -- and then move along so the rest of the line can have a turn.

Viola!
Problem solved.  Fear overcome.

Well, not exactly.  

If this were easy, we'd pull up some grass in a nearby park and enjoy a picnic breakfast together.  

But instead we keep walking.  My coffee splatters and drips down my wrist, and I laugh because I'm excited at this small victory, but I'm also out of practice -- carrying and walking at the same time.  Still, I don't dare remove my mask to take a sip.  Yet.

We carry our paper bags back to the cars.

This is therapy, remember?   

I've got a long way to go, as usual.

No worries.  There are many more croissants in the city.  And I'll taste every one if I have to.  Maybe by the end, we'll have that French picnic after all!  

Till then, I'll be up here on the balcony, trusting the process...

Legs crossed on balcony next to a table with the croissant, coffee, and a book
...and thoroughly enjoying
the first step.


Bon appetit. 
And santé !


(Bisous to Jen, Donna, Priti, & Jasmine for the teamwork and the pics!)

Monday, August 10, 2020

Opt Outside

 

What would you do if you weren't afraid?

A Trader Joe's store with blue sky in background.

Mile Marker 8755:  

Long before this pandemic - and even before Mile 1 -- there was a day I decided to opt outside.  

(Of my comfort zone, that is.)

That day, I drove to Trader Joe's.  Solo.

Actually, I wasn't entirely alone.  My new prosthetic leg came along for the ride.  And the 2 crutches I needed for balance.  They came too. 

Also, anxiety rode shotgun.

It was spring of 2011, and I was recovering at my parents' house.  They did everything for me back then, and I was grateful.  But I wanted to find my way back to who I was BEFORE.  And this first step I needed to take alone.

So I buckled my seat belt.  Backed out of their driveway.  

When I made it to the shopping center, I congratulated myself.  

Then I pushed further... 

Looking down the long parking lot to the entrance of Trader Joe's
...into the store.
 
I inched my way across the parking lot, working my new knee delicately, feeling every rut and slope in the pavement.  When I finally reached the curb, I heard prosthetist Tim's voice in my head.

Up with the good.  Down with the bad.  

I lifted my right leg, placed it onto the sidewalk, and pulled my prosthetic foot up after it.  One step down, many more to go.

It was 5 months post-accident, and I was still new at this stuff.  Nothing came naturally.  

Everything was outside my comfort zone.

I lifted my crutches into the nearest shopping cart and grasped the cart's handle.  When I found my balance, I stepped through the automatic doors into the refrigerated air.

Then I pushed further...

You get the idea.  

This is how I took my first steps toward independence -- and slowly, gradually, left fear behind. 

At Mile Marker 8,755, more than 9 years have passed, and I'm in a different car heading toward a different destination.  

There are no crutches in the car.  

A small compartment in the dashboard of the car, just the right size for a mask.
Only a face mask resting on the dashboard.  

Still, anxiety rides shotgun.

I remember life BEFORE the pandemic.  How free, and certain, and able I felt.  Even with a prosthetic leg and health issues, I had mastered my own independence and experienced it every day.  

Isn't it strange -- how BEFORE is all relative?

For 5 months now, I haven't felt like that.  We've all been trapped, in a sense, but when I look down from my apartment balcony, I see some of us are less trapped than others.

At Mile 8,755, I drive into the entrance of Grounds for Sculpture.  Strap on my mask.  Approach the guard booth.  The woman inside is wearing a mask too, but her eyes are welcoming, and I sense she's smiling behind it.  She checks off my reservation and waves me into the parking lot.

I congratulate myself on accomplishing the first goal:  I've made it here.  

Then I push further.

A selfie in a mask in front of greenery and a large sculpture.
Opt outside.

Grounds for Sculpture is a park that's also an art gallery.  As I wander the trails, each sculpture seems like a symbol.  This one reminds me what it feels like to take off my mask.

A sculpture of a woman looking up toward the sky.
And I can, for a moment,
since no one's around!

When I stumble onto these "lovers" in the woods, they appear like old friends.

Flat sculptures showing the profile of a man and woman about to embrace each other.
Remember hugging?

Maybe it's a sign of the times, but I find myself drawn to "people" the most. 

A masked selfie with a stone statue of a stately woman.

I tread across bridges, through arbors, and up sloping trails.

Stone steps leading up a steep trail.

It's ironic.  

Nine years ago, a supermarket was the safest place I could think of; the handle of a shopping cart, the best place to steady my hands.

Back then, I would never have attempted outside terrain -- long grass and wood chips -- with nothing to hold onto.  Now, I'm grateful for the open space and fresh air.  No crowds.  No cart handles. 

My feet - one real, one prosthetic - on a chipped trail.
Nothing to touch at all :)


If you think I'm excessively cautious, you're probably right.  I see your coffees, and road trips, and dinners outside.  I'll get there eventually.  

I'm just a few steps behind. 

I admit I have more anxiety than most.  Some of it is just me, but some of it is what happened to me.

After the accident, I struggled with PTSD.  I feared danger around every corner.  I doubted my own body.  I doubted the safety of the world. 

Me, post hospitalization, lying on my parents' couch.
I thought I'd never be the free, certain,
 ABLE person I was before.

I had learned -- in the span of one November morning -- that life is fragile.  One moment you're good to go, and the next, you're lying on the street.  Injured and alone.  

I don't have a compromised immune system (as far as I know), but I've been around the block a few times, medically anyway.  I've learned that health is arbitrary and unpredictable, and ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING.  

So I guard it with my life.

At Mile 8,755, it's a beautiful day in the garden -- prosthetically and pandemically.  

An orange flower against a wire fence and green background of leaves.

It's overcast and not too sweaty.  The paths are peaceful and quiet and empty. 

On the drive home I think of all the things I'd do if I weren't afraid:  

Get coffee on my morning walk.  Go back to the rock gym.  Eat brunch outside.  Shop at Trader Joe's.  

Small things.  Normal things.  Things that connect me to who I was BEFORE.

Something tells me I'll need lots of practice.  But eventually I'll find a balance -- that space between smart and safe.  Maybe even sooner than I think.

I've taken baby steps before; I know they add up.

Funny, how first steps repeat themselves every time we opt outside our comfort zone.

A postcard that reads, "We are strong.  We can do anything."

Friday, May 29, 2020

Anywhere But Here


Arrows on the sidewalk for social distancing outside Starbucks
Mile Marker 8500: 

I wish I were anywhere but here.

I wish I could avoid the runners who breathe down my neck as they race past.  I wish I could see my feet, obscured by the shape of my mask, as I step off the curb.  I wish my prosthetic leg fit better, not loose and slippery from too much time sitting still.

On the sidewalks of my neighborhood, I imagine places I'd rather be. 

A cafe table in a French plaza
Like the French town of Draguignan
where I spent a summer before my accident.

A view of colored row houses, a river, and mountains in the background.
Or the mountains of Austria
where I climbed after it.

A holiday-lit street , wet with rain, with stores on either side.
Or the cozy streets of Copenhagen
where I walked just 6 short months ago!

But walking isn't the same these days -- even in those amazing places.  It's different for everyone.  Everywhere.

The smallest journey, a trip to the mail room or around the block, takes more planning than it used to.

Family walk with mom and dad on the left, in masks.  And me on the right, in a mask with a garbage bag over my prosthetic to protect it from rain.
And definitely more wardrobe changes. 

For me, walking isn't relaxing anymore.  It's intense and unnerving.  Especially in the city.

It reminds me of another time, years back, when everything felt too loud, too dangerous, and too much to take. 

In the months after the accident, my dad drove me back and forth to physical therapy.  When trucks roared past us on the highway, I'd close my eyes and clench my teeth, bracing for impact.  Even when we idled at traffic lights, the tires of nearby trucks felt monstrous and threatening, looming outside my window.

Danger was everywhere.  And I wished I were anywhere else.

At Mile 8,500, the sidewalks feel a little bit like that -- if you replace "trucks" with "people passing by."

I want to keep walking.  I need to keep walking.  

But here is a tough place to be.


My legs crossed on a balcony chair with a salad on the table next to me.
Mile Marker 8514: 

I decide staying home is OK for now.  I have everything I need.  

I'll just stay home as long as it takes to make the world healthy again.

Besides, there are plenty of places to go... virtually.

Screen shot of a virtual museum tour with paintings along the wall and four friends from a Zoom meeting down the right side of the screen.

I "tour" a French museum with friends.  I get hooked on an RV makeover show.

The book, Hiker Trash by Sarah Kaizar
I read about the Appalachian Trail.

At Mile 8,514, I ask my friend Marla where she would go if she weren't staying home right now.  

Marla and me on a small store-lined street in Quebec.
Marla and I have traveled together.
A lot.

But she says she wouldn't go anywhere.  Nowhere far, anyway.

"The one thing I want to do most," she says, "is attend Eric's high school graduation."  In person, she means.  

Like every other high school senior, her son Eric is graduating online this year.

My friend Marla's son, Eric, standing in front of a Class of 2020 sign in the grassy front yard of his house.
Congrats Eric & the Class of 2020 --
Quarantine Strong!

That's when it occurs to me.  

Anywhere But Here doesn't mean here -- like here in Philly.  Or on my sidewalk.  Or even in my apartment.

It means here in time.   It means now.

Come on.  Wouldn't you like to turn back the clock? 

Where were you just 2 1/2 months ago?

I was in Vermont with my nieces and nephew, teaching a bunch of school kids about robot legs.

A group of elementary school students laughing, and holding prosthetic equipment, with me in the middle.
Remember school??

I'd love to go back to that time where, of course we washed our hands -- didn't you? -- but we also boarded planes, and ate at restaurants, and belayed each other on rock walls, and went to graduations, and hugged our moms.  

Wouldn't you go back there if you could?


From my balcony, a view of other apartments and the sky
Mile Marker 8555:  

To be honest, I've been feeling kind of stuck.  Here.  

Looking down on it all.

I'm back in that place where the outside world feels too loud, and too dangerous, and a bit too much to take.  When I see crowded beaches and bars -- and carefree disregard -- it's like those trucks idling too close for comfort.  It makes me uneasy with those who share the sidewalks.

To make this work, we have to do it together.  And yet, the only mind I can make up is my own.

If I'm going to be here, I have to stop wishing I'm anywhere but here.

At Mile 8,555, I strap on a mask and step out the door.  Again.  (In case you haven't noticed, I'm a big fan of restarts!)

This time around, I try to look past the annoyances and threats that make me want to stay off the sidewalk.  I keep my distance.  Tell myself I'm safe.  Breathe.  Well, into my mask anyway.  

And while I'm doing all that, I challenge myself to find smallest evidence of something good.  Somewhere.  Out here.  

I expect it to be difficult, but actually it's not.  It's eye opening.  It's everywhere.  

A boarded up restaurant with a chalkboard menu of cocktails to go.
There are local businesses awakening 
after 2 months of darkness.

A row of farmers market tents with empty tables and pre-ordered bags stacked behind them.
A farmers market that's different,
but still filled with hope.

A square of soil around a tree planted with tiny marigolds.
And a mound of marigolds
growing along the curb.

It's not the first time small wonders have kept me going.  I'm pretty sure it won't be the last!  

And if I need one more sign I'm on the right path...

My reflection in a glass door that has a sign that says "Together We Will See It Through."
...I find it on the way home.

As hard as it is sometimes, we just have to be here.  Now.

But now won't last forever.  

There are better places in the miles ahead.  Or at least I choose to think so.

And when we get there -- wherever and whenever that is -- the sidewalk will be ours to share.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Some Kind of... Cookies


Mile Marker 8460:

I've baked cookies, but I'm not sure what to call them.

Healthy?  (No, but the wishes behind them are.) 

Homemade?  (Yes, but they're headed to the front lines.) 

Hopeful?  (I hope so!)

Mile 8,460 starts with a text from Nurse Deb.

If u get bored and u have the ingredients, the staff would love cookies...

Deb works at Jefferson Hospital on the unit where I've racked up many miles as a patient.  She heads an amazing team of nurses and caregivers who've been like family to me.  When I think of them struggling now -- all day, every day -- against COVID-19, my heart hurts.

...but don't go out in public to get the ingredients, Deb adds.  Love u too much to jeopardize your health right now.

The feeling is mutual.  I wish she didn't have to go out either.

And besides, I have the ingredients on hand :)

While Deb thinks she's asking me for a favor, she's actually doing me one.  She always comes to the rescue -- even when she's not trying!

I've wanted to offer some kind of help, but I didn't know how.  I've been wanting to do something.

This is something.

Many years ago, back at Mile 89, I baked up a batch of "Angry Cookies."  And I knew exactly what to call them.

Those were painful days, both physically and emotionally.  My prosthetic leg didn't fit right.  I was overwhelmed with phantom pain and the daily hurdles of being an amputee, not to mention facing the rest of my life as one.  I was restless and uncomfortable, with a fiery energy smoldering inside me and no way to burn it off.

I was trapped in a new reality where each step was uncertain and there was no escape.

On that day, at Mile 89, all those feelings flared up.  I needed to DO SOMETHING.

And so, I baked cookies.

Angry ones!*

Did those cookies solve my problems?  Of course not.

But for that moment -- and that mile -- they made a difference.

That was then.  This is now.

In a strange twist of fate, we've landed in another new reality.  All of us.

I'm in a different place this time.  Sure, I'm anxious and fearful like everyone, but gratitude's there too.  I have family to check on.  Friends to Zoom with.

Nieces and nephews to teach online.

Groceries delivered to my door.  Awesome neighbors who look out for each other.  And meaningful work to do.

Most importantly, I have my health.  And I can stay at home where it's safe.

But when I think of the people who CAN'T, I feel that restless burn inside me again.

I need to do something.

At Mile 8,460, I wash my hands and get moving.

I measure and mix, rolling little balls of dough through a mound of ginger, cardamom, and allspice...

Chai White Chocolate Chip*

I stir up toffee and vanilla, and sprinkle sea salt on the top of each cookie just before tucking them in the oven...

Salted Vanilla Toffee*

I melt butter until it gives off a nutty aroma.  Pour it over a pile of brown sugar.  Add chunks of deep dark chocolate...

Browned Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk*

At the last minute, I whip up two more batches:  Honey Lavender Shortbread and, an old favorite, Dark Chocolate Chip Coconut.

Finally, wearing gloves, I pack the finished cookies into plastic bags and clumsily tie them with labels and ribbons.

In the end, they're just cookies.  They're not a cure.  Not for the virus.  And definitely not for the larger-than-life struggles happening at the hospital right now.

Mile 8,460 is small, I know.  But doesn't every step count?

It's like that story where the little boy walks down the beach tossing the starfish back into the sea, one by one.

Maybe you texted a friend today?  Tipped a delivery driver?  Picked up something for your neighbor at the market?

All we can do is take one step at a time, and hope those steps make a difference -- even on the smallest scale.

In a clean mask and fresh gloves, I drive the cookies to the hospital.

At the entrance, Deb is waiting out on the sidewalk.  There was a time, just weeks ago, when the front desk staff knew me so well as a volunteer, they would wave me in without even checking my ID.  Now only essential personnel are allowed inside.

We carefully hand off the bag.  The space between us is palpable.  It doesn't feel like 6 feet.  It feels like an expanse of ocean, each cookie as insignificant as a single starfish.

We exchange air hugs as I quickly get back in the car.


I wish I could rescue this team the way they always rescued me.  I wish I could stop this pandemic.  I wish we could get our old reality back.

But right now, that seems many miles away.

Above our heads is the bridge that connects the hospital with the parking garage.  And on that bridge, a few kind souls (who I'm sure had many other important things to do!) posted a bright and uplifting message for all to see.

Everyone's steps count.

I still don't know what to call these cookies.

All I know is that they're some kind of... something.

And I hope that something will make someone's day just a little bit sweeter.

Thanks & love to all our health care heroes!

*Click links in the post for recipes :)