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!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Thrills, Spills, and Fire Drills

Mile Marker 105:

Yesterday morning while I attempted to slide across the school lobby in my new fall shoes, our security guard slipped me a secret. 

“Fire drill today.  Around 11:00.”

“Thanks!” I said.  “I’ll come down early.”

But I did not come down early.   The siren found me upstairs, knee-deep in conversation about a student.  To my credit, I barely jumped.  My heart did not pulse out of my chest.  I was expecting this alarm, but I’d lost track of time.  So, my teammate Chase and I stood on the landing of the stairwell and watched as 400 pairs of school shoes trampled down three flights of steps to the front door.   When the crowd cleared, I started down in MY new shoes, one step at a time.  Instead of the first one down, I was the last.

After the fire drill, I watched our special ed teacher Liz orchestrate a reading class.  Each student had a checklist of assignments.   They followed the rules of each activity center -- the internet websites, the questions on keyrings, the fluency assessments.  

Liz worked the room like a true conductor.  “So what are you supposed to do next?” she reminded them again and again.  

And with that cue, the students pushed fearlessly ahead into the world of lost pencils, tough questions, and hard-to-pronounce words.

When I complimented Liz on her organization, she laughed and replied, “They’re so used to the routines that even in chaos they know what to do!”


Routines empower us to deal with with the unexpected.  They offer us security when our world is shaken.

My world has been shaken like a snow globe.

So, these days, I am a creature of routine.

I wake up at the same time each day.   I eat the same breakfast.    I have systems for showering, for exercising, for climbing the stairs. 

But oddly enough, FUN still exists.   And I've discovered it hovering just outside my comfort zone.  

The last five miles have reminded me what life is about.


It's about braving the steep brick hills of Bucks County to drink pumpkin latt├ęs, browse the shops, and wander through the scarecrows.

It's about traipsing through a treacherous condo courtyard to have lunch with my grandparents.  (Since when are flattened wet cardboard boxes slip-proof??)

It's about skating on a Sunday, just like the old days.  Even if it's only the first of many lessons.


And of course, it's about welcoming October at school -- complete with new shoes and fire drills!  

This is LIVING. 

I don’t want to shy away from these challenges.  But I have to let my routines guide me.  

At the top of an intimidating hill, it's my routine that cues me, So what are you supposed to do next?

I listen because the rewards at the bottom are worth it.


I loved my little Sunday Skate.  

Granted, I spent a lot of time on the ground.  But as my friend and instructor Susan pointed out, “You already know how to get back up.” 

She's right.  I'm not entirely a beginner.  That's one routine I’ve learned pretty well.

3 comments:

  1. "Life is a journey..." Routines and rituals help us maintain our equilibrium as we travel the rockiest roads. They provide continuity, preparedness and predictability, a sense of security and control. Rituals connect us to the past, to rememberance and honor of what was. Routines anchor us to the present, to competency and mastery of what is. Together, they give us the inspiration and firm-footing, courage and confidence to embrace the potential and hope of what might be, to let go of the ground, and fly. So, you're absolutely right about LIVING. Tentatively at first, sometimes slipping and stumbling, you have put both legs in free-swing mode and felt the energy and exhilaration of adventure and possibility! Your cheering section will always be here to love, encourage and support you as you continue to try your wings... and wheels... and travel onward:) Roll on, Ricki!

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  2. That is so cool that you went skating on Sunday!!! I'm so super psyched for you! Keep rolling!

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  3. Who knew? That you'd be back on skates so soon!! We all knew that this day would come, but now that its here, its thrilling to see the photos. Your smile says it all. Keep on skating - and smiling.

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