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?

WALK WITH ME.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Some Kind of... Cookies


Mile Marker 8460:

Don't just sit there, do something.  But what about when there's nothing we CAN do?

Mile 8,460 starts with a text from Nurse Deb, on the front lines. If u get bored and u have the ingredients, the staff would love cookies...

Deb works at Jefferson Hospital on the unit where I've racked up many miles as a patient.  She heads an amazing team of nurses and caregivers who've been like family to me.  When I think of them struggling now -- all day, every day -- against COVID-19, my heart hurts.

...but don't go out in public to get the ingredients, Deb adds.  Love u too much to jeopardize your health right now.

The feeling is mutual.  I wish she didn't have to go out either.

And besides, I have the ingredients on hand :)

While Deb thinks she's asking me for a favor, she's actually doing me one.  She always comes to the rescue -- even when she's not trying!

I've wanted to offer some kind of help, but I didn't know how.  I've been wanting to do something.

This is something.

Many years ago, back at Mile 89, I baked up a batch of "Angry Cookies."  And I knew exactly what to call them.

Those were painful days, both physically and emotionally.  My prosthetic leg didn't fit right.  I was overwhelmed with phantom pain and the daily hurdles of being an amputee, not to mention facing the rest of my life as one.  I was restless and uncomfortable, with a fiery energy smoldering inside me and no way to burn it off.

I was trapped in a new reality where each step was uncertain and there was no escape.

On that day, at Mile 89, all those feelings flared up.  I needed to DO SOMETHING.

And so, I baked cookies.

Angry ones!*

Did those cookies solve my problems?  Of course not.

But for that moment -- and that mile -- they made, well, some kind of a difference.

That was then.  This is now.

In a strange twist of fate, we've landed in another new reality.  All of us.

I'm in a different mindset this time.  Sure, I'm anxious and fearful like everyone, but gratitude's there too.  I have family to check on.  Friends to Zoom with.

Nieces and nephews to teach online.

Groceries delivered to my door.  Awesome neighbors who look out for each other.  And meaningful work to do.

Most importantly, I have my health.  And I can stay at home where it's safe.

But when I think of the people who CAN'T, I feel that restless burn inside me again.

I need to do something.

At Mile 8,460, I wash my hands and get moving.

I measure and mix, rolling little balls of dough through a mound of ginger, cardamom, and allspice...

Chai White Chocolate Chip*

I stir up toffee and vanilla, and sprinkle sea salt on the top of each cookie just before tucking them in the oven...

Salted Vanilla Toffee*

I melt butter until it gives off a nutty aroma.  Pour it over a pile of brown sugar.  Add chunks of deep dark chocolate...

Browned Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk*

At the last minute, I whip up two more batches:  Honey Lavender Shortbread and, an old favorite, Dark Chocolate Chip Coconut.

Finally, wearing gloves, I pack the finished cookies into plastic bags and clumsily tie them with labels and ribbons.

In the end, they're just cookies.  They're not a cure.  Not for the virus.  And definitely not for the larger-than-life struggles happening at the hospital right now.

Mile 8,460 is small, I know.  But doesn't every step count?

It's like that story where the little boy walks down the beach tossing the starfish back into the sea, one by one.

Maybe you texted a friend today?  Tipped a delivery driver?  Picked up something for your neighbor at the market?

All we can do is take one step at a time, and hope those steps make a difference -- even on the smallest scale.

In a clean mask and fresh gloves, I drive the cookies to the hospital.

At the entrance, Deb is waiting out on the sidewalk.  There was a time, just weeks ago, when the front desk staff knew me so well as a volunteer, they would wave me in without even checking my ID.  Now only essential personnel are allowed inside.

We carefully hand off the bag.  The space between us is palpable.  It doesn't feel like 6 feet.  It feels like an expanse of ocean, each cookie as insignificant as a single starfish.

We exchange air hugs as I quickly get back in the car.


I wish I could rescue this team the way they always rescued me.  I wish I could stop this pandemic.  I wish we could get our old reality back.

But right now, that seems many miles away.

Above our heads is the bridge that connects the hospital with the parking garage.  And on that bridge, a few kind souls (who I'm sure had many other important things to do!) posted a bright and uplifting message for all to see.

Everyone's steps count.

I still don't know what to call these cookies.

All I know is that they're some kind of... something.

And I hope that something will make someone's day just a little bit sweeter.

Thanks & love to all our health care heroes!

*Click links in the post for recipes :)

4 comments:

  1. YOU are one awesome cookie!
    XO

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  2. I like the name "Hopeful Cookies". So good to see the sign in the Jefferson overpass, a wonderful sentiment and a sight that I can't see for far too long.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much! I agree -- every little bit of hope helps! xo

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