This past Saturday signified the 18th anniversary of the pivotal moment when my life forever changed. Eighteen years ago a freak somersault on Snowmass Ski Area shattered four vertebra splintering bone fragments into my spinal cord and robbing me of the use of my legs. It is almost as if eighteen years ago I took my last breath in one realm as I transitioned into a different body—an ethereal body intertwined with my physical self. My angels looked over me as I settled into a form that felt still, incomplete, imprisoned, and half of the woman that I used to be. Yet as I lay immobile in starched white hospital linens, and while my heart grieved for the loss of my legs, my spirit somehow rose to the occasion, determined to be undefeated and to soar in the imaginings of my mind. I believed in possibility then…and eighteen years later I still believe. A divine light has protected and guided me along my path and in turn I’ve allowed my light to shine from within. While I still have unfulfilled dreams and aspirations, I am the woman I am today because of this journey. I refuse to allow myself to be paralyzed in my mind but to seize my inner strength, endurance and resilience to overcome. I will never give up in pursuit of quality of life. I accept where I’m at right here, right now…and with gratitude in my deepest self, I live with hope for what the colors of a new dawn shall bring tomorrow.
I am the Olympic athlete whose gold medal seems like a distant reach with the one hand, yet somewhat obtainable with the other. Every day with discipline and painstaking determination I train in body, mind and spirit to reach new heights. My gold medal performance of my lifetime will be taking those first steps on my own and wiggling my toes in the sand on my favorite beach in Australia free of leg braces in my five foot seven frame. Is it achievable? Nobody can answer that question. In the grand definition of walking, I am already walking! Every day I use muscles that have reawakened since my first stem cell injection two and a half years ago. I walk in leg braces and I defy gravity on the Alter-G treadmill firing trace muscles into action one step at a time. I am defying the odds. My dream is within reach. I see it. I feel it.
Yesterday I skied “my mountain” at Snowmass. The terrain breathed fire and possibility of life into my limbs. Crisp mountain air infused every cell of my body and my spirit was alive. On purpose I was in search of fluffy stashes of powder, crud, steeps, and bumps. I took risks and I was liberated far from the shackles of my titanium wheelchair sitting in a paved parking lot hundreds of feet in the valley below. I was in my fairytale heaven on a run aptly named Sheer Bliss.
Is this going to be another pivotal year? I feel as though I have entered into a thick foggy cloud of unknowing. I wonder what the uncertainty of my future will behold. Can I seek comfort in rolling forth into the mist of the unknown trusting and keeping my faith alive? I contemplate further: Is there any significance to this being my eighteenth year of paralysis?
The significance of the number 18 divinely stretches across many faiths from the 18 conditions of Buddha to the 18 chapters of the Bhagavad-Gita to the Judaism meaning of “chai” or “life”.
Psalm 36.9: For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.
Light is the foundation of life. I will continue to be light-filled. I will feel the light from above and around me like an inexplicable vibrational aura, and I will emanate my light from my precious human form out to every living thing. I will proceed on my journey with conviction, keeping my heart open, living my truth, and having the courage to wish and dream big. Mostly I will wake each sacred morn with a quiet prayer of gratitude for the blessings in my life, for those who have helped and encouraged me in every way imaginable, for all that I am and the body that is mine, and for all that I can be.
With love and gratitude.