My Gratitude Journey: From pain to present, and the people who got me here.

 happily lugging my yoga mat around town.

happily lugging my yoga mat around town.

In yoga class yesterday, my teacher gently urged us to reflect upon those small things for which we are grateful: having a toothbrush with which to brush my teeth, having a mat upon which to practice yoga. With each exhale, I lay flat on my mat and felt myself grounding deeper into the earth. This place felt so comfortable, so natural, so safe.  It was a place for which I’d been searching for years. At this point, my mat is well-worn and feels like a genuine conduit of my health.  Each time I unroll it, its worn spots remind me that I’m safe here, and that I’ve done this many times before. My mat has become a symbol of my strength and my ability to feel good. As I lug it around the city, it tells others “I’m a healthy woman!” But more importantly, it reminds me:

“You’re a healthy woman. You did it. You made it. You survived.”

 flowing on my mat in michigan last summer.

flowing on my mat in michigan last summer.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m sharing my gratitude journey here. And my yoga mat – and all of the experiences it has held – is something for which I’m so grateful.

 november 23, 2014: first time wearing pants in years.

november 23, 2014: first time wearing pants in years.

Three years ago today, on November 23, 2014, I wore pants for the first time in a couple years. It was a triumphant moment of my recovery, and one that’s perfectly captured in a photo that shows me grinning ear-to-ear. It was my first taste of normal. I wore pants just 6 months after meeting my physical therapist. Just 6 months after being wheelchair-bound. Just 6 months after being unable to walk, stand, use the restroom, wear underwear, wear pants, sleep, or breathe without pain.

I didn’t expect to ever get to that moment on November 23, 2014; I didn’t think I’d do these things again. I’m so grateful that my physical therapist believed in my resilience. She found sources of strength within me that I didn’t know existed, and when I was ready to give up, she supplied the strength I needed to continue progressing through my recovery. My gratitude for her washes over me each time I get to do something I enjoy today – and 2 ½ years after finishing physical therapy for my pain, I still think of her each time I’m out in the world playing, laughing, moving. She gave me an incredible gift.

Just a few months later, my husband and I took a vacation to San Diego to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. After our trip, he gave me a “paper” anniversary gift, as tradition dictates. It was a bouquet of paper flowers, and he’d presented the artist with photos from our San Diego vacation. On our wedding day a year earlier, I was in a wheelchair and excruciating pain. But these photos showed me glowing in the San Diego sunshine, wearing yoga pants and enjoying life. We had so much to celebrate.

 
 march 2015: enjoying my newfound health and celebrating our first wedding anniversary in san diego.

march 2015: enjoying my newfound health and celebrating our first wedding anniversary in san diego.

 my anniversary gift from my husband, in recognition of how far we came in so little time

my anniversary gift from my husband, in recognition of how far we came in so little time

 

As I write this, we’re on a plane to San Diego, which has become the happiest of our Happy Places. We love to nap in our favorite park, eat at our favorite cafes, visit our favorite beach. And my yoga mat is packed safely in my suitcase, ensuring that I’ll be able to celebrate my health in my Happy Place in the way that’s most dear to me – by rooting down, feeling grounded, and stretching my arms to the sky. I did it. And for my husband, for my physical therapist, for my family, for my pup, for the creative and brilliant people who helped me survive that journey – I’m so grateful for you.

 
 november 23, 2017: on our way to san diego for a week of happy, healthy joy

november 23, 2017: on our way to san diego for a week of happy, healthy joy

 

© 2017 Inspire Santé, NFP