Believe it or not, my story begins with taking out the trash!
It was fall 2009. I was a mid-thirty something, globetrotting professional, married, homeowner, and active adventure seeker with a tight circle of friends and family. I thought I had it all! Then on a seemingly normal Sunday afternoon, I carried a garbage bag and an empty pizza box out to the dumpster, and without warning a tree limb struck me, breaking my neck, instantly forcing my life to pause, causing a lengthy recovery in New York’s Hudson River Valley, far far away from where my home, career, and life was at the time, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Through my multiple-month recovery, limited to a full back, torso, and neck brace, I lost my job as well as uncovered that my husband had been unfaithful. How do you like them apples?
With no showers, no driving, and other medical restrictions, my only allowed physical therapy and solace was walking. On my daily journeys, I saw my surroundings at a different speed, almost slow motion, allowing me to witness the unique colors, sounds, and smells as if for the first time with a different perspective and appreciation. The wind whistling down the Hudson River on the Walkway Over the Hudson and leaves crushing under my boots were invigorating. I found these walks to be my salvation. Although pictures can do the natural beauty justice, the below excerpt from When All Balls Drop explains just how therapeutic walking was for me.
With the changing of the leaves’ colors, I looked forward to these walks and taking in the bouquets of reds, burnt oranges, and brilliant yellows at the mansion (Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site). Being sedentary in an apartment isn’t good for anyone’s mental health. Thus, walking became my meditation, my only dose of freedom.
With the turn of the New Year, six CT scans, and a total of one hundred and fourteen days away from home, I finally received the green light from my neurosurgeon to return to Florida. Upon my homecoming, I dedicated myself to intense rehabilitation: physical therapy sessions, chiropractor adjustments, acupuncture treatments, medications, electrode stimulation, and massages. To better cope with the trauma and pain, I met with a therapist for my mental recovery. I enlisted a full team of professionals to help me regain my strength. Regardless of my various treatments and clan of supporters, walking remained my best medicine.
After gradually getting my wits about me, I made some of the most important decisions in my life: get a divorce, build a new career, and restart my life. And, you betcha, all was conceived on my daily walks.
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