Monday, January 31, 2011

My blog has moved

I have moved my blog to the following address.  I'd love for you to visit me there.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Wholy Night

Rare are the moments when I feel in the presence of the Mystery, when I  feel completely whole, when I feel as if successive moments have been strung carefully on a string to create a masterpiece of a necklace.  Last Wednesday night was one of those moments.
I had the honor of reading my story that was recently published in The Story of a Woman, Stories to Empower and Inspire, edited by Terry Laszlo-Gopadze.  My story is about the reconciliation between myself and Harvey, the man who hit me in the accident which took my leg.
Harvey came to Bellingham, from Victoria, on Tuesday and had dinner with me and my family.  We reconnected after not seeing each other for nearly five years.  Harvey has a huge heart and an endearing soul.  He told silly jokes and held his own in the midst of my family's coming and goings. 
On Wednesday, some of my extended family came up from Seattle for the reading, but they came a few hours early.  We all went out to dinner with Harvey.  This was the first time my mother met Harvey.  Just like me, at the trial two years after the accident, she wasn't allowed to talk to the man who took her daughter's leg.
My family was welcoming, warm and inviting, as only my family can be.  I could tell this was difficult for Harvey, to face the possible enemy, and he did so with such grace.  My family worked their magic and put him at ease.  My brother gave a toast to the wonder of the moment.
And then it was time for me to read.  In the past when I've read my work, I was so nervous I sweat like a running faucet and then shook uncontrollably after I finished. Not Wednesday.  I had the good fortune to read with Christina Baldwin, a seasoned writer and speaker.  She held the space for us at the front of the room and was a grounding presence. 
I think that I am so integrated with  this part of my story that there was nothing to be nervous about.  I had given thought to what else I might want to say so I was prepared when questions were asked.  But mostly I  felt the Mystery of life run through me that night, allowing me to step into my wholeness.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It's not every day that I experience a drastic range of emotions in a matter of minutes as I did today. 

This past weekend I received a beautiful ring from my husband for our 15th anniversary.  This is the first time I've had a gemstone (we designed our matching wedding bands ourselves) and for ways to numerous and personal to mention, receiving this ring from my husband was about as touching and meaningful as it gets.  We took the ring to the jewelry store in the mall to have it re-sized.  The sales woman gushed over the beauty of the emerald and gave me a list of dos and don'ts related to ring care.  I had to actually give back this beautiful gift for three days so they can send it away  ("you insure it, right?") for the delicate operation.

This symbol of continued love and commitment means the world to me.  I was fighting back  tears of joy as we emerged from the store and back out into the mall.  Just a few stores away was a middle aged woman giving out fliers for a new massage store.  She stepped toward me, her arm outstretched, saying something about their promotion.  I already had my hand out in protest when her eyes scanned my body. I was wearing shorts and when she saw my prosthetic leg she recoiled.  Yes, she actually recoiled.  She stopped talking mid-sentence, her arm shot back to her torso, and she took a few steps away from me and  her eyes widened in, what, horror? distaste? disgust?

At first I laughed, so drastic was her change of attitude toward me.   Then I wondered aloud,  "How do I not have that affect me?" Mark quietly took my hand and his squeeze validated that the experience was nothing short of icky.  All I could think of was how disgusting she saw me.  She took away her offer to massage my body becuase of it's appearance.  My throat constricted painfully making it hard to breathe.  I fought back the tears. After all, we had to walk through Macy's to get to the car and I didn't want to cry as I walked through Macy's.  I had to fight back the feeling that I was disgusting.

And then I thought of the ring, the symbol of love and acceptance that it represents and the man holding my hand.  That silly, shallow woman wasn't going to ruin my joy or darken my day with her judgments. 

I think when I go back on Thursday to pick up my ring, I'll schedule a massage at the new place at the mall.  

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Pendulum Swings

I can only be super busy for so long and then I need a break.  That's what the past month has been about for me.  Since January I had been walking everyday, fitting in my 1/2 hour walk even when all I had between work and a night time commitment was 45 minutes.  And I blogged, daily at first for two months and then twice a week.

It's been a busy first half of the year and the most fulfilling 6 months I've had in a long time. I reminded myself how much I can accomplish when I really set my mind to it.  Making the daily choice to DO rather than BE was a dramatic shift for me and a state of mind I hadn't adopted for years.  I enjoyed checking so much off the personal To Do list.  I was a woman of accomplishment.

And now I just want to rest. I want to get up everyday and write my book. I want to go to coffee shops and sip on lattes. I want to have languid, expanded days of nothingness before me where spontaneity rules. I want to feel like I did as a child when days felt interminably long.  I actually had a day like that yesterday and I felt like a new woman.  After do-do-doing, I got back to center. I followed my heart in the moment. I read Autobiography of a Face and then googled the author and read more about her.  I actually shopped for and made dinner. I saw my niece for coffee and chatted with an old friend on the phone. My daughter and I figured out how to knit (again).  I even cleaned out my email inbox.  It wasn't a day of grand accomplishments, but I did accomplish taking it easy.

During the past month as I've allowed myself to slow my pace, I can't help but think about my next goal.  I'm talking with the Executive Director at the Prosthetics Outreach Foundation about how we can continue working together to raise money. How can I still support this organization?  How can my support continue to be equally beneficial to me?  How can I continue to take care of my body as it ages?  All these questions loom and percolate as I think about my next move. 

For those who haven't heard, part of my next move is to do a reading at Village Books on Wednesday, September 8 at 7 pm.  I'll be reading my essay, No Apologies Necessary, that is included in the anthology The Spirit of a Woman, Stories to Empower and Inspire, edited by Terry Laszlo-Gopadze.  I am honored to  be sharing the podium with Christina Baldwin, a local writer of journaling, story telling and leadership, who also has an essay in the anthology.  I invite you to join me. 

Until then, I'll keep percolating on my next goal.  And relaxing as much as I can.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

100 Miles!

I did it. I walked my 100th mile!

The Prosthetics Outreach Foundation's Walk-a-thon on Saturday was a wonderful event. My team of family and friends joined me for my 100th mile.

As I've mentioned before, this whole experience of taking a daily mile walk has been a quiet one. There's no fanfare at the end of each day; walking is just what I do. But I have to say that at that 100th mile, I felt full. While my team and the POF staff and volunteers cheered for me, there was a party going on in my heart. Fireworks were flying, streamers were popping and a marching band oompahed it's way through my chest.

I took that moment to reflect back to January 10, exactly six months earlier. That was the day I took my first walk, my first attempt to regain my strength. I felt overwhelmed. In just six short months of taking a daily walk, I changed my life.

Sunday, the day after my 100th mile, was a busy day. I had a one hour window to take a walk, but I was exhausted. I was so tickled with myself. I took a walk anyway. It wasn't a full mile, but I got off the couch and I walked. I will continue to walk. Not because I have to. Not because I must. I walk because I want to.

It's so easy for me, in the midst of this success, to look at all the areas of my life that aren't working, where I am not excelling. I hold inside me an intense perfectionist. She expects a lot from me. I told her to just pipe down for a few days while I bask in my moment of personal glory. Right now I just want to be proud of myself, something I don't do very often.

I can't end this post without a huge THANK YOU to everyone who supported me, in so many ways. In the past 100 days I have received so much from family, friends, acquaintances and people I don't even know. I bow before you in gratitude.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Small Change

It's day 99 and I'm reflecting on the last 3+ months. One aspect of this campaign that blows me away is the power of the individual.

It's easy for me to think that my small part doesn't matter, so why bother doing something in the first place if I'll have such a small impact. I'm glad the 130 people who donated to my campaign didn't think like I do. That so many people have stepped forward to support other people around the world touches me deeply.

The world has become quite small. For as much as I can say that an amputee in a developing country matters, I can say that about any one of us. We all matter AND we can all make a difference. In this world of violence on the evening news, tabloids and Reality TV, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that people all around the world are doing their part, every day, to help make the world a better place, just like every person who donated to my campaign.

So, thank you for renewing my hope in the world. Thank you for your support. Truly, every little bit does help.

To see Evening Magazine's coverage of my campaign, click here

Monday, July 5, 2010

I Don't Blend In

Every year the day comes when I need to don my shorts. Today was that day.

I have mixed feelings about the first day I wear shorts. On the one hand it means the weather has finally warmed up enough to warrant shorts and I love warm weather. I simply hate being hot. A sweaty leg is icky to me. Really icky. The weather warmed up for my walk today and I knew my leg (yes, my long one) would overheat in jeans. So it was time to put on the shorts.

On the other hand, wearing shorts takes away all of my anonymity. I need to brace myself for the stares. It's human nature to be curious, especially now that I wear the techno C-Leg. All of my previous legs before this were shaped like my other calf and painted to resemble my skin color. Not the C-Leg. This thing is gray and looks like something from Star Wars. Yea, it's the kind of leg that draws attention. With my previous legs, they looked fake enough to make people stare, really stare until they figured out that, OH, it's fake. Now people take notice and look away more quickly. It's obvious I'm wearing a prosthetic leg.

I'm used to the looks and stares. I appreciate that, regardless of people's personal feelings about my body, they usually always smile at me. I just wish I could blend in. Since I was 17, I've never blended in. As a child I always considered myself a wall flower. After my accident the attention took a lot of getting used to. Every year on my first "shorts day" the little girl in me is still just as uncomfortable being noticed.

What's hardest about the looks and stares is that I assume with each one a judgment is attached. Anything from "Oh, isn't she amazing" to "Ew, icky." I'm not like just anyone walking down the street. I don't remember most people I walk by and, unless they are trying hard to get my attention by how they dress or pierce or tattoo, I don't notice most people who cross my path. But when I walk down the street in shorts, I see a lot of people look at me. I know I'll be forgotten soon, but I've been noticed.

They say the grass is always greener. I realize, now that I stick out like a sore thumb, how my anonymity has been taken from me. I'm grateful for the days when no one noticed me at all - or so I thought. I blended in with the crowd and didn't stick out.

Today wasn't so bad, really. Lots of people looked; I didn't notice anyone who stared.