How do we move forward?

My road came to an unexpected halt on November 9, 2010.

That morning, I was bicycling to work when a garbage truck turned across a city bike lane. I was in that bike lane.

I was critically injured in the accident. A team of trauma surgeons saved my life, but they had to amputate my left leg. I had a long road ahead of me, physically and emotionally, yet I was grateful to be alive.

An ending can be a beginning too. I started over.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Gradually I learned to walk again. So I began counting steps. Then miles.

Over time, that journey turned a corner. It became less about my own recovery and more about resilience -- the connection we all share.

Ten years later, I still take one step at a time. Yes, there are bumps in the road, but each step means rising to new challenges, adapting to change, and moving forward with hope.

Are you on your own journey?


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Cookie Apocalypse

Mile Marker 2309:

When the apocalypse befalls us, I hope it finds me in the kitchen.  (With friends!  Who wants to handle an emergency like that alone?!)

At Mile Marker 2309, comes COOKIE APOCALYPSE -- the sequel.

Last year there were 4 bakers, 2 ovens, and 10 kinds of cookies.  This year, we have 9 bakers, 3 ovens, and more than 14 varieties of cookies!

It's become a tradition, our gathering of neighbors for an annual cookie-bake.  This year the day arrives with rain instead of snow.  But it's still perfect for a cozy day indoors.

That's Taster Mike, at the ready!
Once again, Donna takes hosting to a new level.  She sets up a work table, a cooling station, and a monstrous ingredient table.

We're well-equipped.  We've got food processors and standing mixers.  Nut crackers, zesters, and juicers.  Of course, we still wash and reuse the same set of beaters at least a dozen times!

As the storm bears down, I mix up a quick batch of Cranberry-Pumpkin Cookies.  They're moist and cakey like pumpkin bread.  In and out of the oven in no time flat.

I spend the rest of the day on my second batch:  Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink Cookies.  Along the way, I change their name to "The-Batter-That-Will-Not End."   A mountain of dry ingredients fills Donna's deepest salad bowl.  The wet ingredients begin with 4 sticks of butter and multiply from there.  With everything combined, I can barely pull a wooden spoon through it!

Meanwhile, Donna mixes up Chocolate Mint Chip and an awesome hand-me-down recipe for Chocolate-Chip Cherry Oatmeal Walnut (a.k.a. "Martha's Cookies").

Chillin while the dough
is chillin!
Jasmine's Rugelach and Shortbread both require chilling.  That's a mandatory time-out for her!

Sarah makes Chai and Rooibos Shortbread with tea mixed from scratch.  Manali bakes up Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with an extra "kiss."

Helen's got Chocolate Stuffed Peanut Butter and Russian Tea Cakes bookmarked on her tablet.

Kristin brings the Frangelico and cracks open an entire bag of hazelnuts.  She turns them into Turtle Cookies and Chocolate Hazelnut Spiced Cookies.

Check out the apron :)
And Rupesh stirs up his famous biscotti with a chocolate twist.

We're all at the same table, but our cookies are as different as snowflakes.  No two trays come out alike.

Hey, save that Frangelico for the cookies!

Real food!
Midway through the day, Mike calls in reinforcements.

Some of us are stickier
than others!

By evening, all of us are sticky with sugar and exhaustion.

When the flour settles, we've got a very FESTIVE SPREAD!

After 9 hours of standing, both my legs are about to give out.  So I grab a chair, settle back, and let friends pile up my loot.

I've come a long way since Angry Cookies.   But baking is still just what the doctor ordered.

It's a surefire way to calm an anxious mind and renew a fractured spirit.  As I measure and pour, beat and stir, the flavors meld and transform.  Chaos becomes order.   Predictability becomes comfort.   And the results, well, I hope they speak for themselves!

In this crazy world, I'm never sure what my best defense will be.  But I do know one thing.

If the apocalypse comes, I'll be armed with oven mitts!

Get ready for the apocalypse -- or at least the holidays!
Here's our 2104 Cookie Roster.  Click to try the recipes...

Russian Tea Cakes
Chocolate Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies
Chocolate Almond Biscotti
Turtle Cookies
Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies
Raspberry and Apricot Rugelach
Jasmine Tea Shortbread (Made by Jasmine, of course!)
Vanilla Rooibos Tea Cookies
Chai Shortbread with Sea Salt
"Martha's Cookies" -- Chocolate-Chip Cherry Walnut Oatmeal
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (Manali says add a Hershey Kiss on the top of each one.)
Chocolate Hazelnut Spiced Cookies (Kristin says double the orange ingredients.)
Cranberry-Pumpkin Cookies
Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink Cookies (I say throw in some pretzel pieces too!  Yum!!)

Don't get caught unprepared!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Shades of Winter

Mile Marker 2270: 

For most people, GREEN is the color of spring.  But if you're from Philly, you know it means late fall.

Mark and I kick off Mile 2270 at the Eagles game.   The crowd is a sea of green and hundreds of fans thick.

As we near the security checkpoint, I whisper to Mark, "Do you think I should tell them about Genie?"

He shakes his head.  "If they ask, just pull up your pant leg."

Incredibly, they don't ask.  Metal detector in hand, a woman traces the outline of my entire body -- arms, legs, and torso -- without a beep or a second look.  "Go ahead," she waves us through.

I raise my eyebrows at Mark, who's stifling a laugh.

"Not such a great metal detector,"  I say once we're a safe distance away.

"Maybe they only turn it on for certain people," he jokes.  "Keeps the line moving."

It's a green light start to the day.  The weather's perfect, prosthetically speaking.  Mid 50's.  Too warm for volume loss;  too cool for sweating.

We descend the concrete steps to our seats in the corner of the end zone.

... and our other team too.
(Check out the blue ads!)
We stand.  We sit.  We cheer for our E-A-G-L-E-S...

We even run into my friend Tammy!

Who says it's not easy bein' green?

Thanks to Jodie for the invite!!
Mile Marker 2279:  

A few days later, I'm off to explore another Philly tradition:  Winterfest at Penns Landing.

My friend Jasmine and I follow a trail of WHITE LIGHTS into the winter wonderland.

I pick my way carefully over the yellow straw, only once launching into a full-fledged stumble.  Luckily Jasmine grabs me before I go down!

It's surprisingly comfortable!
We bypass the skating rink but find an armchair built from hay bales.

We round out the evening with a cup of Mexican hot cocoa by the firepits.  By the time we head home, we smell like a campfire and feel like one too.

Cozy and light, with the promise of more winter fun to come.

Mile Marker 2292:

A week later, Mom and I see RED.

At Target, we gather Hanukkah goodies from boots to toys to housewares.  Pushing a shopping cart makes it easier to walk.  It's like using a walker with wheels!

But the highlight of our trip comes in the check-out line.

Sure, why not?!
As the cashier fills our bags, she glances from Mom's face to mine.

"Sisters?" she asks.

It makes Mom's day.  And mine too.  Today it feels like it might just be true.

Holiday cheer not from Santa, but from a woman in a red shirt!

Mile Marker 2300:

I'm trying to walk every day, but some days are brighter than others.

The red marks on my leg tell a different story than the holiday lights.  Each morning I adjust my socket, trying to relieve the newest pressure points.

Despite the colors elsewhere, the hazy GRAY of winter hangs over my head.  Cold wind.  Icy sidewalks.  Snowbanks along the curbs.  I know it's coming.  Fear.  Loss of independence.  Being unable able to walk when I want, where I want.  (You knew there was a catch, right?)

Walking itself is a GIFT.

So I've been trying to make the most of it.

When my leg hurts, I distract myself.  Stop at stores along the way.  Snap photos of the decorations.  Inhale the chilly air.

I even bribe myself.  Nine blocks for a latté.  Hey, whatever works!

I'm out for one of these walks when I see friends Donna and Mike coming toward me.  They're like a poster for the holidays -- toting a bright red shopping bag from our city's newest department store.

Donna suggests strolling through the lights on Jeweler's Row.

"Oh, wait," she says.  "Is your leg ok for that?"

Surprisingly, it is.  "It's a lot better with friends around," I tell her.

Jeweler's Row is worth the extra few blocks.  With its MULTI-COLORED LIGHTS, it's a perfect end to this blog post!

You got this, dude!

One store window catches my eye.   It has tiny figures building snowmen and exchanging gifts.  My favorite little guy is pushing his car out of a snowdrift.

I call it shopping season!
Technically winter hasn't started yet, but this is the part I love.  When there's more anticipation than actual snow on the ground!

On our way home, the sun fades below the buildings.  The sky turns blue, then lavender, then violet.

The colors change before our eyes.