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!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Small Wonders

Mile Marker 205:

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse…
Can you believe that’s how I planned to begin this post??? 

Can you believe after all that’s happened this year, I almost implied that things were THAT BAD?

But I’m only human, stymied by whatever obstacle looms largest in front of me.  Leg irritations, phantom pain, the fiasco of getting dressed in the morning....

You'd think that after such a tumultuous year, things would be different.  I’d let the little stuff slide

But the last few miles have been uncomfortable.  And when you're bearing discomfort, those little annoyances seem even LESS bearable.

I stayed close to home this weekend.  Logged a few local miles.   Afraid to stray too far from a safe haven where I could re-fit my leg.

Click to enlarge me...
Yet somehow, magically, for every DISCOMFORT of the last few miles, an equal and opposite REDEEMING COMFORT appeared. 

Law of physics?  Maybe.
Small Wonder?  Definitely.

Take the tiny marigold poking proudly out of its cold, cracked sidewalk.

The tremendous ramp inside Fante’s kitchen store,  providing endless challenge (and FUN) for me and my Genium!

In fact, YOUR COMMENTS from the last blog post gave me a much-needed boost, too.   A kindred spirit from San Diego!   Inspiration from best friends and teaching buddies!   And a monumental statistic from Shelley.... We’ve already journeyed TO MANHATTAN AND BEYOND!  

Small sentences, big impact.

Speaking of comments, my brother Mark did stop by this morning to taste the Angry Cookies.  And small wonder, his arrival coincided perfectly with a light bulb blow-out on my bedroom ceiling!   Up the stepladder he went!

But that’s not all.

Mom chipped in with household chores. 

My friend Mary took a break to wander the Italian Market with me.  
Even the Genuim loves

Friends Heidi and Carl served holiday treats laced with truffle oil.  Alayne drove with me to the party, and Kindle walked me back to my car in the dark. 

And this morning, in the midst of my 4-hour leg-fitting ordeal, friends Susan and Rocco called.  They insisted on brunch at the Oregon Diner even though I SWORE I’d be miserable.   (I wasn’t.)

I’ve heard the devil’s in the details, but isn't it true that GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES, too?

Almost one year ago, my days were filled with pain and uncertainty a thousand times worse than what I experienced this weekend.

Wheelchair-bound, my phantom sensations roamed restlessly.  My toes felt squished underneath me; my leg was on fire.  Stomach pains clenched at any moment.  Anxiety reigned supreme. 

PT Patrice found me in my room at the tail-end of a meltdown.   I was late for “group,” and she’d come to fetch me.   As she pushed my wheelchair toward the gym, we passed a lounge where another group of patients was involved in gardening therapy.  We both glanced inside the doorway.

“Want to plant something?” Patrice asked.

All I could do was nod.

Someone handed me a dish with snowflakes.   Someone else handed me a cactus.  I started planting.

Before I knew it, I’d joined in the conversation.  Fellow patients Val and Zach offered ideas for decorating my mini-landscape.  My hands got busy.

And in their smallness, the soil and pine-cones and roots soothed my pain.

Now on my windowsill at Mile 205, that small wonder cactus is still working its magic.  Look carefully.   It's about to BLOOM.

Tonight on the way to buy groceries, my mom and I passed what I can only believe was one last SIGN:

Really, it was just posted there.  At a street corner near my house.  It had never been there before.  And who knows if it’ll ever be there again.

An equal and opposite reaction?   Perhaps.  But I’ll take it.

That's how small wonders work.


  1. Rebecca, I know you certainly won't give up but the sign is a nice reminder. Let me know if you want a spotter so you can do some more cycling (I loved the video!) or skating, want to do some holiday shopping, or want a hand with something around the house.

  2. It really is the little stuff, isn't it?....the little positive things can totally make my day, and the little negative stuff can send me into a tailspin. I so appreciate your post. I remember you telling me the story of planting the cactus at the rehab hospital and actually thought of it yesterday before I even read your post--the cactus I adopted from you when you moved back to Philly just started to flower this weekend! I always think of you when it blooms.
    Keep on keepin' on. We're behind you through all the little stuff (both the great and not-so-great).
    Big hug!

  3. Rebecca - I have been following your blog and journey and look forward to all you accomplish and have told so many people about your awesome ability to look forward -- keep it up and I would love to walk a few steps with you - not only inspirational but realistic and humbling - thanks for being who you are -- walk on!

  4. One of the reasons I love you so much is because you take the time to notice and appreciate the "small wonders".

  5. Rebbecca, I am embarrassed to admit this to you, especially on here, but I was feeling so sorry for myself today. My job situation, money situation, you name it, it had me down, but I to passed by that same mural on "Awesome Guy's Printing" and felt it speak to me, just as you did and just as you do through your blog. You are my reminder of how to look at things and how NOT to give it. Your a constant source of inspiration and I thank you for that.