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?


Thursday, January 28, 2016

California Dreamin'

Mile Marker 3600:

I've dreamed of traveling freely like I used to.

At long last, I decide to give it a try.  In just 5 hours, I travel nearly 3,000 miles!

The trip is both a celebration and a challenge.

It's a celebration because I cashed in a flight credit from a trip I had to cancel last summer.  Remember Mile 2988?  (Broken foot, wheelchair, etc.)   After that ordeal, traveling on my own feels like a pretty big accomplishment.

It's also a challenge though.  As the trip approaches, I experience chest-squeezing anxiety.  Threatening abdominal pain.  A tiredness I can't seem to kick.  Socket rubs in the most miserable places.

A mini-vacation seems good in theory, but there are so many things to worry about... How will I survive such a long airplane flight?   What equipment should I bring?  What medications?  What emergency measures should I put in place, just in case?

I never dreamed the trip would go off without a hitch.

My flight departs Philly just minutes before a blizzard.  To add to the luck, I'm having an incredibly "good leg day."   It's rare for the forces to come together like that.  In my 5 years as an amputee, this is definitely the most well-timed trip ever!

When I land in Los Angeles, my college roommate Keats scoops me from the airport with hugs, chatter, and an iced coffee waiting in the car.  It's been 15 years since we've seen each other, yet watching us, you'd think we were just catching up after winter break!

Before we even hit the freeway, I know this trip will be worth the planning.

It is.

Courtesy of east coast jet lag!
The next morning, I watch the hazy sunrise from my hotel balcony.

That's West Hollywood for
all you non-locals!

We eat brunch at a French Cafe in WeHo.

Stroll through the gardens at the Getty.

Photos can't quite capture the beauty --
or the FUN!

Long time, no see!

Catch up with my cousin Adam in Playa Del Rey.

Ever see a sky like that??

And watch the evening roll on to Venice Beach.

We talk the whole time.  A lot.  Not about the world as it is, but about how it should be.  These are my friends and family, but they're also "idea" people.  Doers.  DREAMERS.  They start their own businesses.  They build and write.  They create new things where nothing was before.  And as the weekend goes on, I start to dream like that too.

Anything is possible in California!

Now that's a
well-designed shower!
The parts of this trip I imagined would be most difficult -- like the hotel bathroom and shower -- turn out to be easy.  There's still leg and digestive stuff to deal with, but I face it the same way I do at home.  As it comes.  I seem to have left my anxiety back east!

I feel energized.

Traveling is different now, but I finally rediscover that long lost love.  It feels great.  I don't want to go home!

My return flight lands exactly on schedule amidst the snow drifts of Philly.  It's late at night and my leg has shifted awkwardly during the flight.  When I exit the plane, there's no wheelchair, so I limp past empty gates and pretzel stands toward the moving walkway.

On the escalator down to baggage claim, an airport employee strikes up conversation.

"Where are you coming in from?" he asks.

"California," I say, still smiling.

"Why're you here?"  he says.  The tone of his voice implies I might be crazy.

"I live here,"  I answer.  At this very moment, I agree with him.  Why do I live here anyway?

Then I reach the baggage carousel, and this is what I see:

It is such a warm (and hilarious!) welcome, that I forget about the snow and the ice and the weeks of winter ahead!

Why do I live here?

Well, these guys are a good start :)

My friends and neighbors are reason enough.  We laugh all the way home.

Truth be told, I kinda like it here.
Of course, it would be nice if the snow melted.

For now, I know California's out there, and I can return any time I want.  It never hurts to dream...

Great big thanks to Keats, Paul, Ed, Jonathan, and Adam for all the sun and fun, and for a short vacation I'll dream about for a very long time!  xo

Friday, January 1, 2016

Morning Light

When you realize nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
--Lao Tzu

Mile Marker 3500:

The morning after the fireworks, my neighborhood is quiet.

Birds chirp above 3rd Street, yet when I look up, all I can see are cast iron balconies.  The french doors are dark.  Shades are pulled closed.  The city's still asleep, but the birds wake up early.  It's a good way to start the year.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again...

...I love my morning walks!

I treasure them.  Protect them.  Savor those steps over the cobblestone alleys, those glances upward into a just-lightening sky.

I set my alarm an hour earlier to have time to walk around the block.  It's a testing ground for comfort and fit.  Is my socket too tight or too loose?   Is my leg too turned-in or turned-out?  Is my liner chafing?   Do these shoes toss me forward?

It's a simple plan.  With one small step after another, I get ready to face the day.  Or week.  Or year.

Bet you didn't know she drives
a Honda Fit!
In those last moments before the sun,  I'm ahead of the game.  Museums and shops are closed.  Even Betsy Ross is still in bed.  A tiny car snores in her flagstone courtyard.

In morning light, the day holds potential.  Coffee brews.  Dogs wear sweaters.  Neighbors nod hello.

Paper snowflakes glow from within.  I don't care if it's rainy or cold.  At least it's not snowing!  Each walk means one day down.  One step closer to spring.

On morning walks, things aren't good or bad, they just ARE.  I don't worry, or hurry, or run behind.  I notice the sky.  I listen to the birds.  I stop to take photos.

A hydrant makes a good
coffee holder!

Of course there are missteps along the way.  Sometimes I trip on the sidewalk.  Sometimes I have to stop to rest.  Sometimes I spill coffee down my sleeve.  And sometimes I barely make it to the back gate of my building.

Still, each time I finish, it feels like a JOB WELL DONE.

It's New Year's Resolution time.  There are a lot of things I want to do this year.  I thrive on structure -- plans, promises, and lists.  But resolutions can stretch out like long days ahead.  So much to do, so little time.  Or...

So many obstacles, how will I ever make it through?

I think morning is key.  In the hustle of each day, I'm going to try to hold on to that small PEACE.   Those moments when I feel most courageous, and hopeful, and maybe even a tiny bit graceful.

Those first steps into the morning light, when birds chirp overhead.

From my neighborhood to yours, wishing you a NEW YEAR filled peace, potential, and all the moments you love.

Happy 2016!