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!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Signs of Life

Mile Marker 344:

In college, my friend Wendy and I had a tradition to mark the end of a Chicago winter.  We’d go down to the little patch of lawn in front of our dorm and spread out our towels on the dry, crunchy grass.  Then we’d lie flat on our backs.  All at once, we’d strip off everything -- jackets, sweatshirts, pants, socks, and sneakers – until we wore nothing but bathing suits!

We did this at the very FIRST sign of spring.  And if you know Chicago, you'll know those temps linger at 45, even when the calendar says it's May.

Sounds crazy, I know.  Until you’ve tried it.  On our towels, below that brisk lakefront wind, the sun beat down on us.  We found WARMTH!

That’s pretty much what happened as I hit Mile Marker 344 over the weekend.

I found Philly’s answer to that tiny plot of grass in front of my dorm.   

In Saturday’s sunshine, Rittenhouse square was dotted with picnickers and football tossers, dog walkers and coffee drinkers.  Crocuses were pushing their stems up through the soil.  It even smelled like spring.

I started off slowly, tentatively, around the park’s perimeter, staying outside the iron gates.  On the flat sidewalk there, the crowd flowed along in predictable directions.  No running kids or charging dogs.  No meandering sightseers to trip me up.

But halfway around, I just couldn’t keep out any longer.  Those curving paths and towering trees called to me.  So did the collective energy of the players, loungers, and wanderers inside.

The city had come out of hibernation.

So I walked in.  
And smiled.  
At everyone.  
And they smiled back.

But I DID keep my eyes
on the ground!

I didn't stumble or fall.  
Just smiled and kept walking :)

The next day I met friends for brunch at the Brown Street Pub.  It’s an up-and-coming place where the chef strolls out to chat about how you like his cooking.  (And he really wants to know!)

I glanced around the table at these 4 good friends I’ve known for years – Ruth, Carol, Karen, and Rocco.

And it occurred to me that NONE OF US has had an easy winter.  There’ve been medical issues, past, present, and looming ahead.   Ongoing ups and downs with work.  And the loss of a loved one still so raw it defies words.

Yet here we all were – together. 

Maybe things haven’t changed so much,  I thought. 
Or rather... maybe we’ll be OK, even if they have.

After brunch, we walked.   

Speaks for itself...
Not a marathon, but maybe 6 blocks.   Up and down the hills of Fairmount. 

Davey phones in from
New Zealand!

A short, slow route but more walking than I’ve done in a good while.

I was going to tell you it wasn’t as warm as Saturday.  But in a way it was.  

Surrounded by the courage and light of our little group, I could still feel the SUN.

Just like at the end of a Chicago winter.

Sometimes you have to search for signs of life.  Sometimes they find you.


  1. You know that's my house? Four kids you know had the chalk outside the day before and not all the pieces made it back inside. Skylar and Senna stopped by in the evening, and besides Rocco, someone wrote that Laura loves Michael. It was unexpectedly affirming that everybody who wrote something with that left out chalk communicated something positive.

    1. I knew we were near your house but didn't realize that was your patch of pavement! Thanks for providing us with some unexpected and uplifting fun :)

  2. Sometimes you have to search for signs of life, and sometimes they find you. But some people, like you, take the time to notice and celebrate those easily-missed signs of life that peek through the cracks of daily living in the midst of obligations, demands, disappointments, pain, loss, overwhelming challenges and set-backs: the wonder of crossing a bridge as remembered through the eyes of children, the awesome triumph of another's first steps, the camaraderie of new friends at test-socket try-outs, the joy of discovering the perfect gift, the pleasure of sitting at an outdoor cafe in January, the coziness of an upstairs stay on a snowy day, the feelings of warmth and support in spending time with good friends and the delight of stumbling upon happy messages written in sidewalk chalk. So... you continue to walk forward, sometimes getting through the days step-by-step instead of mile by mile, but always noticing signs of life where others might see only resignation, defeat and despair. Despite the enormity of the task ahead and the daily rigors of the journey itself, you never fail to stop and smell the flowers along the way! You told me to be strong on Day 1, and you continue to teach me how... day by day by day. You are truly an inspiration:)

  3. I could have added, "Rocco has cool friends too!" It did seem warmer on Sunday - surrounded by, well, 4 cool women with warm hearts. And Yep, maybe we'll be OK even if some things have changed. Enjoy Florida where the air temperature will actually be warmer. Spontaneous sidewalk chalk scribbling is good therapy.