Live Your Life For You

bruce trail 2013 077

“Life is so much simpler when you stop explaining yourself to people and just do what works for you.”

 

 

That is such a simple statement and yet for many of us, such an incredibly tricky thought, or action, to follow through on. How often do you catch yourself explaining yourself to someone? How often do you hear someone explaining themselves to you? Why do we do that? Because we care altogether way too much of what others think of us. We need to begin to understand how we become a prisoner to others when we always worry about how we think others may see us. We become the puppet, and they become our marionette. Why do we give others that power over us? If you find yourself in that position right now, it is time to cut the strings.

In the past four years, my life has undergone some fairly significant transitions. All of them difficult. Happily, I am coming out of these difficult times much stronger with greater clarity.  At the onset of these trying years, however, I faced much adversity from others but mostly from myself because I was so concerned about what others thought of me. It was absolutely brutal. A rollercoaster ride from hell. When I left what will undoubtedly be one of the best jobs I have ever had, to follow something that was calling me, I distinctly recall telling my departmental staff that I wasn’t sure of where I was heading. I explained to them that I just knew I had to go. I anticipated that I would bounce before I would eventually land. I never in my wildest dreams imagined though that I would bounce as much as I have been. Do I regret leaving? No. For my own reasons, I needed to go. Do I wish I had done some things differently? You bet your bottom dollar I do, but then I didn’t always have full control over the events in my life either. At the time I was also dealing with my son’s severe mental health issues; my car accident and two subsequent surgeries. Life was not going as I had hoped it would. I felt I was bouncing alright, but bouncing out of control. I suddenly found that I was explaining myself and my choices to people that I would run into in the community until one day I just stopped. After much work on myself, I began to realize that I didn’t owe anyone any explanations. I had been telling my now adult children for years as they grew up that it didn’t matter what others thought of them. That it was merely their opinion, which of course they were entitled to, but it did not make their opinion right. It was now high time that I took heed of my own advice. One day this past summer, a friend had shared something with me that someone had said about me. I could see that my friend was almost battening down the hatches, thinking I was going to get upset. I don’t know who was more astonished by my non-reaction, my friend or me. I had calmly, if not almost resignedly responded, that I cannot control what others think of me. They will think what they want to believe. As long as I know what is true to me, that is all that matters. I was so astonished that those words flowed so smoothly from my consciousness. That was the day where I finally began to feel some control come back to me. I had cut the strings from the marionette. I was no longer the puppet. It felt incredibly liberating. I felt an inner peace that I had not felt for years because I had finally not allowed another person or event to control my emotions. I was in control.

I am not saying that I win the game every day. In the game of life, there will always be wins and losses. There will continually be external factors to contend with. Some moments or even days I quite honestly do not have the strength to be my best, and that’s okay. For the most part, though, I show up each day looking for and listening to my true inner being because I no longer want to spend my life at the end of strings that others pull. You wouldn’t want your friends or loved ones to live a life dictated by others so don’t allow it for yourself. If life is pushing you, find the strength to push back. It may take you numerous attempts from several different angles but believe you me, it is so, so worth it. Then and only then do you live a life well lived. Your life. Your way.

 

From the heart,

M.

Living In The Moment

pexels-photo-913807

The morning came without a sunrise. At least not one that I could see to enjoy. The weatherman predicted scattered rain throughout the day but promised warm temperatures. My mood seemed as ominous as the clouds in the sky, but like the weather, I felt promise that things could change. I am a firm believer that we choose our moods, and I was determined to select a different attitude than the one I woke up with. I needed to get outdoors but wasn’t wanting to get rained upon. Yet, it seemed that a walk would be the only thing to quiet my mind and lighten my spirit. With that thought, I jumped in my apple red Jeep and headed for my favourite trail. It came as no surprise to me that the parking lot was void of any other vehicles on such an overcast day. I sat and looked at the skies and saw some clear patches promising me that there might be a chance that the scattered showers would hold off just long enough for me to get my walk in. So out I headed out onto the trail, leaving my umbrella behind. If it rained I would just get wet, I decided.

I zipped up my jacket, put my head down into the wind and began my walk. My thoughts were on my troubles and on whether or not I would regret my decision about not bringing my umbrella. I promised myself that I could always turn around if things got worse. It was at that moment that I reminded myself to let go of everything and be mindful. Live in the moment. What beauty would I find once I allowed myself to just be? I began to appreciate the fall air as it swirled around me. It has such an earthy smell this time of year. The leaves all make music as the wind rushes through them. I slowly started to feel myself relax. That is precisely when the rain started. Are you kidding me, I thought? I had already been lured by the scent that swirled around me though, and I wasn’t ready to let the rain chase me back to the security of my Jeep. I had only just started my walk. So I pulled up the hood of my jacket and trudged on. As I stepped on to the bridge that linked the land to an island, giving this park its’ name, I met a runner out with her dog. We glanced at each other with a sheepish look as if to say yes I am crazy to be out in this weather. We smiled, said a quick hello and carried on our way. I kept thinking, do I go back? Yet, just like earlier that morning, my mind and body begged for the daylight, fresh air, and exercise. What was a little rain after all? It is funny that as a child being outdoors in the rain becomes an adventure filled with laughter and curiosity. As an adult though, you focus more on being cold and uncomfortable not to mention the mess it will create once you get your dripping body back into your car. It was high time that I channelled the inner child in me. The child that was so curious to see what mysteries unfolded in the great outdoors when it rained. So, on I walked, once again reminding myself to be mindful.

My eyes drifted towards the lake where the ducks and geese were happily feeding. A heron stood amongst them. I wondered, did the lone bird mind the rain or was it as an excuse to lay low and rest? I walked past a group of children on a class trip, dressed in rubber boots and warm rain jackets. They stood at the edge of small pond listening to the park director as she introduced them to the various plants that grew there. I wandered on as her voice grew further away and I was reminded of the class trips that I went on and then later my children did, which I had volunteered to assist with. Realizing my mind was in the past I pulled my thoughts back to the present moment. That is the trick to mindfulness. Our waking hours and for many even our sleeping hours are spent with minds whirling. We replay the past and focus on the would have, should have and could have, often leaving us feeling wistful or sad. We jump forward to what we need to do to be prepared for the next hour, day, week or month, making us feel anxious or overwhelmed. Truthfully even in the present moment, our attention jumps from the phone ringing to the email coming in, to the person that just knocked on the door. Rarely do we just stop to completely immerse ourselves in what is happening to us, right now. It sounds so simple, but it is challenging to do. Once you begin to get better at it though you become amazed at the difference it makes in your life. Continue to walk with me for a moment.

The light rain had stopped by this time. I breathed in deeply to smell the rich earth that was soaking in the moisture that had just fallen. I revelled in the feeling of being alone as I walked further on the trail. I stared at the last of the beautiful wildflowers. They looked so much brighter now that they had a shower to wash off the dust from their petals. I marvelled at the two different wildflowers that had grown beside each other, each a different shade of purple. I smiled because the colour made me think of my son because it is his favourite colour. I took pleasure in seeing the rain droplets hang from the leaves of the trees around me. I then caught a glimpse of a farm gate that had droplets hanging from each iron rail. The sight of that gate amongst the wild grasses and trees instantly took me back to the walks that I took when I lived in the Netherlands as a child. I would take the back fields to my Oma’s farm to go visit her. I chuckled to myself remembering a time where I had walked home in the near dark so afraid that I would get lost and would have to spend the night in the fields with the cows. Surely my mom would come to look for me. I was only in Grade Four at the time. How simple life was back then. I caught myself and whispered “stay here” once again reminding myself to stay present.

The sound of yet another flock of geese flying in brings my thoughts back to the trail. I stop as I watch the geese noisily honk their arrival as they glide in over the tops of the trees. I stand mesmerized as they effortlessly glide down towards the water and land leaving only a minimal ripple trail behind them in the water. At the water’s edge stands yet another heron. Is it the same one that I saw earlier? Is he wondering if he will ever escape the geese and their noisy ways? I carry on listening to the sound of the gravel crunch beneath my feet.

Further along the trail, I take pleasure as I walk amongst the pine trees where their needles cover the ground. My footsteps cannot be heard. I marvel at how soft the ground is beneath my feet. I look under the pine trees hoping against hope that perhaps a deer might be resting there on the forest bed for me to see as I so stealthily wander on but alas no, not this time. There are only pinecones scattered there. My walk is almost over, but I am not ready to leave. I wander down a little footpath off of the beaten trail. I know it will allow me one last glimpse of the water. I stand at the waters edge in complete silence and drink in the beauty before me. I study the water and enjoy seeing the colour of it as it reflects the colour of the sky. I take comfort in watching the waves endlessly roll into the shore in the constant, rhythmic way that it does, knowing that the water will continue moving long after I walk away. Across the water I see the class standing on a dock. I can hear their distant voices but cannot make out what they are saying, but their laughter rings in my ears. Then as I turn to retrace my steps back up the little path to return to my Jeep, I see a lone bench with a memorial plaque attached to it. I had seen other memorials throughout the park, but for some reason, perhaps because I have to say goodbye to the trail for another day, this particular memorial leaves me with a beautiful thought. I am left feeling incredibly grateful for the gift of time that I had just been given. I was reminded to continue to live while I am alive. I could have stayed indoors today to avoid the rain, but instead, I chose to face it and become a part of it. I was given the joy of nature and the reminder that life is rich with beauty even on rainy days. You just have to remain open to the possibilities around you.

I have to continually remind myself to remain mindful. I can get so lost in the worries of what has passed or what is to come that I forget to fully live the moment that I am in now. Life slips by us because we are so often never fully present in the moment. I have tried traditional meditation at different times in my life and have always struggled to do so. I find I get more success from walking amongst nature. It is a form of meditation as it allows you to just be. The stress leaves your body. Your mind calms. You find joy.  As you can tell my mind wanders during my walks, but I always pull it back in.  It can be challenging, but the more you practice, the more your attention learns to really settle into the moment. You can even practise this doing everyday tasks. Grocery shopping is a great example. Take the time to really focus on what it is that you are placing in your cart. That food will nourish you and your loved ones. Your focus then is on health and family. It is not in the office. Take a breather from work. Stress is inevitable as well as sometimes necessary as it gives us the push that we need to accomplish specific tasks. Stress, as we all know, can take a toll on our bodies, so it is essential to give your body a break.  Today, with the clouds hanging low in the sky and the trail being virtually empty I became immersed in the beauty around me. I did not dwell on any past regrets or worry about what tomorrow would bring. Today I was at the park, and I was blissfully, serenely, at peace. Though the sun may not have shown itself today, it was indeed a beautiful day.

From the heart,

Mary Ann

Looking At Life Over Tea

beverage-bread-breakfast-1546587

Just the other day, over tea, a friend of mine and I were talking. He was telling me the very many things that had been going wrong in his life. To be fair to him, with all that had transpired he had every right to wallow in self-pity for a while. After he finished speaking, I asked him if there was anything good in his life. I watched him as he gave this question some thought and listened to his response of “no.” I quietly suggested that he had his health and was shocked by his cavalier response. He shrugged his shoulders while putting his hands in the air and said “So what. I expect that.” All I could say was “Whoa” while giving him this stunned look of disbelief. He seemed just as surprised by my response. He continued on to explain that he lived a very healthy life, overseeing his diet and kept active, so he expected to have his health. We continued on with our visit, going from one topic to another as we usually do when we get together. It wasn’t until I got home and stood on my back deck looking out at the maple trees, awash in their glorious autumn colours, that I gave further thought to his response. I know from the many discussions that we have had that my friend takes his health seriously. I also know that he had faced much adversity in the last while which is where his flippant so what attitude and comment stemmed from when I suggested that he should at least be grateful that he had his health. Nevertheless, it really made me think about how our health really is one of those things that many of us take for granted. Until that is, where our health takes a turn, and we are forced to realize what a gift good health really is.

 I stared intently at the trees and found myself being grateful for having the gift of sight to be able to enjoy the stunning transformation of the leaves from green to the many different hues of colour now before me. I breathed in deeply to smell the autumn air and thought how fortunate I was to be able to not only smell the air, a sense that some people live without, but that I also had healthy lungs to be able to greedily gulp in that incredible cool fall air. Never was I more aware of the healthy heart that beats within me; all of my five senses; as well as my brain that so cleverly allows my body to do all that it does. Anyone that knows me well knows my intense fascination with the human body. I see it as a machine and live my life as a mechanic to it. I nourish it with the nutrients that it needs, through food and supplements, to operate correctly. I exercise so that the muscles, organs, and hormones operate at their optimal levels. I have a sleep schedule so that my body system can rest and rebuild. I do other things to help my mental health. I often tease my son as he watches me in my daily routine, that I do all of this so that I can be around into my old age, to drive him and his sister crazy. They know I expect them to come to visit me at whatever seniors facility that I may end up in, “to take me out for some sun.” I live my life with hopes that these expectations are fulfilled. The truth is I have no idea if these goals will be realized. No one does. I have a dear friend that has always lead an extremely healthy lifestyle but is now battling some rare health issues. These issues affect his daily life; the very basis of his functional abilities. Polar opposite to him are people that smoke cigars and drink like a fish every single day, that live to become centenarians. Who knows what the secret to life is? Good genetics helps but even that is no guarantee. All I know is that I can try my very best to treat my mind, body, and soul well to live my best life. I have had some oddities happen with my health, but despite that, I continue to be fortunate enough to live well. Perhaps it is because of these oddities that I respect my body the way that I do. I do not take my health for granted. I am grateful for how my body operates as I put it through its’ paces but I certainly do not “expect” it. I know that as quickly as a single heartbeat, things can change.

I guess that all I hope to accomplish by sharing this with you today is that you take some time to be grateful for whatever health it is that you currently have. We all have our individual issues but never take for granted all that you are able to do because of your health. In this moment of time really take stock of what your body allows you to do. Yes, life can be difficult. However, it is also filled with beautiful moments that you are able to enjoy because of your overall health. As your health declines, your world becomes smaller and smaller. So the next time life is beating you down, and you don’t feel that there is anything good in your world, try rephrasing your thoughts. In this scenario, be thankful that you were able to get up out of bed to make your way to a tea shop. In your travels there, be grateful that you are able to enjoy the sights and scents that autumn brings. Enjoy meeting with a friend to talk about life’s activities, with your taste buds coming alive as the tea and cookies pass over them and give thanks that your digestive system is able to handle the food that you feed it. Laugh heartily as the oxygen and blood pump through you. And yes, even complain about all that is going wrong in your life but, know that you have the strength and the ability to redirect your course in life. If you are able to do all of this, then I beg of you, recognize that because of your health you honestly do indeed have something good in your life.

From the heart,

Mary Ann

Age

“You don’t get to choose how you are going to die. Or when. But you can decide how you are going to live now.”    ~ Joan Baez

Age. The number of years of life behind us; also, a reminder of the years left before us – we hope. Everyone has a particular year, or age, where suddenly you are struck by thoughts similar to this. For me it was age 23. It occurred to me then that whoa, this was really happening. I was moving away from my youth. I was getting old. Writing that now, I only wish I understood how young I was then or how little age honestly means. I wish I understood then what I understand now but funnily enough that wisdom only comes with…. age. That is the absolute beauty of aging. It is the wisdom that we gain only through the experiences that we live. It is funny how we can look back at periods in our life where at the time we thought were difficult and realize now that they weren’t so bad after all. In fact, many people often express a wish to go back to those days. Think back to the drama-filled days of high school or to the challenging times of striking out on our own or raising children. Those experiences in our lifetime absolutely drained us most days, when we were living them, but looking back we laugh and are able to remember the many good moments intertwined with the difficult ones. We need to take this knowledge and apply it to our life today. Life just keeps happening, until it doesn’t. Age doesn’t dictate when we die. There is no specific roadmap out there that shows us what we absolutely must accomplish by any given timeline before we reach our destination. Everyone’s journey is different and just because you are a certain age doesn’t mean you still can’t accomplish great things. I have had runners much older than myself pass me by in races. I have had bosses both younger and older than me. Remember folks, not all flowers in the garden bloom at the same time. We all have it within ourselves to create opportunities or experiences to enrich our lives regardless of our age. Stop panicking that life is passing you by. There are amazing centennials out there. You have the ability to be one of them. You have time. You only run out of time when you take your last breath. Keep picking new trails. Collect your experiences and continue to grow. Do not focus on what others may have accomplished in the same life span as yours. That is their journey not yours. Twenty-three was the age where I thought life would be all downhill from there. Today at the age of fifty-three I am very much filled with hope for the new adventures I want to create. Yes, there are obstacles, but that is only a challenge to overcome. It is that hope and those challenges that get me up in the morning.  I have always said that I am not afraid to die. What I am afraid of however is not living while I am alive. When I say this, I don’t mean that I have to do super grand things in my lifetime. I just have to do things that hold meaning to me. It is in those moments where I can breathe in deeply; smile and say with absolute sincerity: “It’s a great day to be alive.” I’m going to live ‘till I die. What about you?

From the heart,

M.

 

The Battle

MA pic for blogOn my desk sits a picture of a little girl pushing up against some rocks. Clearly, she isn’t the one holding up the rocks, but I almost feel like she might be. Why? Because there are days where I feel exactly like that. A tiny force having to withstand pressures that are far too great for me. Then there are other times where I am that little girl that has the strength and determination to move those rocks and make all that is wrong in life right again. That is the girl I once was. That is the girl, in my heart of hearts, I still am. There are just days, weeks or even months at a time where I am desperately fighting for that strong girl to stay on top of the fight.

I have gone through a few depressive bouts in my lifetime. I rely heavily on maintaining a strict diet and exercise routine. I also seem to have been blessed with a strong inner fortitude (some would call it stubbornness) that pulls me through difficult times. There is constant self-talk going on inside my head as I fight this battle. When times are tough, it is utterly exhausting. When I talk to others that suffer from depression, I talk about the “voice in my head” and how tiring it all can be. I don’t really hear voices in my head. It is just me talking myself through the day. Anyone with mental health issues understands this.

I have always been very open about my depression, and because of this, over the years, so many people have reached out to share their struggles with me. I truly understand how difficult it can be to get out of bed when you are struggling, or to go through your daily routine, or worse yet just merely string some words together to respond to even the basic of questions. I also get how people with mental health issues would rather keep their battle private because of the stigma that is attached to mental illness. I offer these words of caution though. If we don’t keep putting a face on the disease how will we ever move forward? I have been a caregiver to someone dealing with serious mental health issues. I have first-hand knowledge of the gains that have been made in the healthcare field regarding this issue, and I am honestly grateful for it, but I could seriously write a book on how much further we have yet to go from our experiences alone. When you are in the position of being the caregiver to someone that is dealing with a mental illness it can be a frustrating, terrifying and lonely road. The sadness and the pain does not only belong to the ill.

Many days as I sit down at my desk, sometimes with head in hand, I gaze at the picture of the little girl. Who am I today? The girl being pushed down by the rocks or the girl moving the rocks. Many times I am both. Yes, it can be exhausting, but that’s okay. It is because of my illness that I can understand and show empathy towards others that combat mental illness. I am not ashamed of it any more than I am that I had cancer. I cannot help that I have the disease, but I can make darn sure that the disease does not have me. Through my words, I advocate for the mentally ill. I work on changing the conversation when I hear others speaking poorly of someone that has a mental illness. I offer them an opportunity to see the world through the eyes of someone that is struggling. I only have to say something such as: “Poor soul, imagine how difficult and lonely their world must be.” I will be a champion for change for those desperately needing to be heard; to be helped. I may be that girl with the weight of rocks on her, but if I look closely, I see the mighty spirit in her where she believes that in time she can make a difference.

From the heart,

M.

#HumboldtStrong

One day, some time ago, I remember sitting at my kitchen window looking down at my plants growing in the garden. Suddenly a bird swooped down and plucked a snail right from its shell. Just like that the snail’s life was over. This image has flashed before me several times this week as I try to make sense of the sudden, tragic loss of lives of those traveling on the bus of the Humboldt Broncos.  As a teenager because of my father’s involvement in the local Junior B team, I would travel on the team bus to go watch the out of town games. I can imagine the laughter and rambunctious behaviour on the Broncos bus that night before tragedy struck. Hitting even closer to home is the fact that my nephew is in the higher ranks of the hockey system. He himself played a few years on a Junior A team before heading off to a NCAA hockey team in the States. I have watched the sacrifices that he and his family have made over the years to get him to this point. Hockey is truly a way of life for those families. They miss family gatherings and holidays. They invest not only money but endless hours of time & dedication to the honing of creating this talented individual in their family. Vacation time is often worked around hockey tournaments. Meals and sleep times are dictated by the youth that has hopes for the NHL. Hockey is their life.

The bus driver, the coach, the trainer and the media relations personnel on the bus that night, along with their own families heavily bought into being part of something great. A true team that was united in ways that many could not imagine. But wait. Couldn’t we imagine it? Families across Canada and around the world are absolutely rocked by the news of the hockey team. We have all had family members jump on a team bus for one sporting tournament or another. I think that fact, along with the ingrained belief that we Canadians all have, that hockey is OUR sport, has made this story hit us even harder. We have always stood united in our belief that hockey is a part of being Canadian. And now, as we stand united, we also fall united. Our hearts bleed for the families that lost their loved ones. Our hearts ache for the lives that have been cut short knowing they all had so much more to yet to give, to live. We all know that death is inevitable but to lose so many, so senselessly, is so tragic. A community is reeling from the massive loss of talented people that were traveling on a bus for an innocent yet iconic event – a hockey playoff game in small-town Canada. Instead, that Friday night, early in April, the hopes and dreams that this team and their loved ones all held dear to their heart died on that bus. Just like that their life was over or forever altered.

One community after another, across Canada, have their hockey sticks standing still and alone by their front door. The jerseys that we Canadians wear today are worn in solidarity. Over $10 million dollars has been raised for the families. None of this will erase what has happened but we certainly hope that it brings strength to the Bronco families as they all try to live on without their loved ones. They have a nation pulling together giving them a collective hug. We will continue to shed tears with them as they say their final goodbyes in the days to come. We stand as one team. We will never see victory but we certainly know the importance of rallying together when times are tough. As a team and as a Canadian, that is just what you do.

From the heart,

M.

Rising Above

“You either get bitter or you get better. It’s that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to you.”        Josh Shipp

A little over two years ago, I was driving down a four-lane highway, singing along to a song on the radio, when seemingly out of nowhere a set of headlights came straight at me. I don’t remember much about that exact moment in time except that I pulled hard on my steering wheel to veer away from the oncoming car. I possibly avoided a deadly head-on collision but the car still caught the front of my Jeep and swept down the entire length of my vehicle which sent my Jeep spinning. There was a brief moment where things went black which I presume is when my airbag deployed. I don’t remember it going off. I just remember looking down at some point at the deflated airbag and thinking: “Whoa, my airbag went off.” I was covered in glass, powder and car parts. The noise, commotion, and flashes of moments in time are something that I will never forget: The police officer first on the scene telling me that my Jeep is what kept me alive. The fire department using the Jaws of Life to cut me out of my Jeep. The paramedics immobilizing my head after learning that I had a recent neck injury; all the while speaking very loudly to me, keeping me constantly aware of what steps they were taking to get me into the ambulance. The conversation I heard between the fire department and the police regarding closing the highway just long enough to clear the road of car debris. Then, there was me, asking over and over and over again how the person was that hit me because I could see that the car in the ditch was flipped over. Thank goodness the driver survived the accident because I could not have handled it if she had died. It turns out the young driver was coming home from University to visit her family. I found out later in the hospital that she had broken her leg in two places. I could hear her yelling in pain from the cubicle that I was in.

As for me, without going into unending detail, since the accident, I dealt with a concussion and balance issues. I eventually had surgery on my neck for a disk replacement and spinal fusion. I also ended up needing surgery on my shoulder. I had to give up my running and my squash throughout all of this, which for me was detrimental to my mental health. I had always used exercise as a tool in dealing with my depression. As one might imagine, I went through a very difficult time including a time where I was very angry at the young lady that hit me. I wanted to write to her, to tell her how much she had affected my life by her careless driving. I may have walked out of the hospital that day but the results of that accident took me nearly two years to overcome. I did not write the letter. I couldn’t. It might have made me feel better to write it but the words written would have haunted that poor young girl for years to come which I did not think was fair. It was an accident. I am sure whatever lessons that the young woman needed to learn from it are imprinted on her brain.

What I needed to do was let go and move on. That is exactly what I did. Just last week I had my last visit to my Physiotherapist. I have come to accept that I will always have issues with my neck and shoulder but it will not define me. I am back to playing squash, having just won in my division in a recent tournament and this morning I completed my longest run to date since my accident. My goal is to get back to the level of running I was at before the accident. My plan is to run the Half Marathon in Ottawa next May. I want to place in the top ten percent of my age and gender category. I do believe it will be my last race however, I will probably always run as a form of exercise. My drive for this final race is to be able to go out on my own terms and not the terms that my accident might have dictated for me.

My hope for you is that you come to terms with whatever hardships life may have dealt you recently. May you be able to put it behind you and move on. Take the lessons learned and become stronger, not weaker for it. Do not become a prisoner of your past. Do not wait for the perfect moment to come along to start over because it will never come. It is up to you to create the perfect moment and that moment is now.

From the heart,

M.