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!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

5 Ways to Escape (when you can't go to France)

Mile Marker 5042:

I live inside a construction zone.

My windows are coated with dust, and the air smells of exhaust.  The view from my balcony looks like feeding time at Jurassic Park.

When the sun goes down, there's street work below.  All night long, I hear the revving of truck engines.  Jackhammers rattle my bed.  It's like trying to sleep through a really bad production of Stomp.

Earplugs required!

In the morning, my walk is detoured.  Literally.

Mile 5042 takes me past 5 construction sites and 2 sidewalk closures.  My leg, usually noisy with nerve pain, is the only thing that's quiet today!

So on the way back, I choose a different path.  I head up 3rd Street, cross under the bridge, and step into a neighborhood filled with brick houses, a dog park, and lots of bright colors.

Mosaic coffee holders too!

I'm only a few blocks from home, but it feels like a world away!
How peaceful...

This isn't a big escape, like France, but it's a small one.

You might not be surrounded by construction, but face it.  Life is messy.  We all crave escape.  Yet most days -- for most of us -- big escapes just aren't possible.  We can't go to France.  And if we've got mobility or health issues, maybe we can't even walk around the block.  Some days, we can't even leave the house.  Trust me on that.

So Mile 5042 gets me thinking.  For all those times I can't escape big (which is most of the time!) how do I escape small?

Here they are...

Everything tastes
better in a mason jar!
1.  Change it up.  When I changed up my walk this morning, it spurred me to change my breakfast too.  I tried something new -- mason jar oatmeal.  (Living on the edge, I know!)   But it's worth a shot.  Inject a little "newness" into your day, and see what happens.  Comb your hair to the opposite side, toss sunflower seeds in your salad, light a hazelnut candle, put on funny socks... or if it's just one of those days, move yourself from the bed to the couch!  Doing something different, no matter how small, can put you in a new place -- which leads to a tiny, but fresh, change in perspective!

2.  Find your soundtrack.  I run low on energy, especially in the evenings when little "Leg-erella" is about to turn into a pumpkin.  When this happens, finding a soundtrack gives me the boost I need.  If this moment were a movie, what would be playing the background?  A Broadway show like Miss Saigon?  A podcast like This American Life?  A band like Fun.?  (Those are a few of mine!)

How about Pandora's French Café?

Sift through old CDs.  Explore iTunes.  No matter what soundtrack you find, a small escape for your ears can help the rest of your body tackle the big stuff!

My current read...
3.  Get outta your head (and into someone else's).   You may not know this, but for a full year after my injury, I barely slept at all.  Every time I closed my eyes, I'd relive the trauma of the accident.  On those long nights, DVDs were my only escape.  It started in my hospital room with the first series of Glee, and it worked like a charm.  Nowadays, I sleep much better (jackhammers aside!) but when my own problems overwhelm me, I still resort to books and Netflix for distraction. (See Mile 417 for an example.)  It doesn't matter where you go.  Escaping into someone else's life is better than getting lost in your own!

4.  Get your hands dirty -- or at least busy!   Way back at Mile 89, I discovered an unexpected path to pain relief -- baking Angry Cookies!  Since then, keeping my hands busy has been my go-to escape when pain takes over.  (No baking necessary!)  Find your own balance between mindless and mindful.  Pot some plants.  Color with crayons.  Do a crossword puzzle.  Knit a scarf.  Play cards, or the piano, or a video game.  Text a conversation using only emojis.  My friend Ellen taught me that one...

Surprisingly, it works.  An escape for your hands is an escape for your mind too!

5. Use a BEX PASS.  I want to be everywhere and do everything, in case you haven't noticed.  The trouble is, most days my body just can't keep up.  When I overdo it, my leg lets me know, and I'm forced to sit on the sidelines.  It happens so often my friends came up with a name for it -- the BEX PASS.  (That's "Bex," short for Rebecca.)  The Bex Pass is like a last-minute cancellation policy.  No questions asked.  No excuses required.  It caught on so well, my friends use it too!  I still feel guilty, and I don't like to miss things, but it's ok to prioritize and choose.  Sometimes it's the only escape we have!

Days have passed since I started this post, but the view out my window hasn't improved.  Grrr.  Feeding time goes on and on.

Yet if I look in the other direction and zoom in really close....  Check this out!

Another small escape!

What are YOUR best ways to escape??
Share a few in the comments below!

Go ahead.  Sweat the small stuff.
I highly recommend it.


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  2. Chocolate...always chocolate! A good book and a cup of tea. An hour of flute playing or a fluffy cat purring on my lap. Looking, like you, for the small delights in life that can be missed if you always rush by them in your hurry to be elsewhere. Aunt Patti