Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ray of Light :-)

I finally got the “go-ahead run” from my orthopedic doctor this week. I, the girl who could hardly go two consecutive days without running, made it eight months. And I’m not institutionalized. I’m not fat. And I’m not depressed.  I’m free. I’m healthy. And I’m happy. I’m sure most people assume that as soon as I got the green light to run, my New Balances were laced up, my Garmin was strapped on my wrist, and I was on the road making my way towards my next 26.2 audacious goal. However, that couldn’t be farther away from where I was when the doctor told me I was completely healed.  Instead, my mind went back to those seven weeks.  Those seven weeks I couldn’t walk nor drive. Those seven weeks when I was completely dependent on my loved ones. Those seven weeks that shed so much light on who I am and what life is all about. 

Those seven weeks. I’ve experienced physical hardships in the past, and I have to say that the temporary hurdles within those seven weeks were by far the most challenging. I learned quickly that not being able to walk was much more complicated than “just” not being able to walk. Without two functioning legs to move me, my hands had to take over the job. With both of my hands on crutches, that meant that they were too busy to take on any other task. That meant not being  able to carry a piece of paper (let alone a stack of papers or a book), not being able to push a cart through a grocery store, not being able to carry a plate of food or a cup of coffee, and not being able to hug someone without losing balance and falling into their arms. And that’s not it. It was not being able to go to the bathroom without holding on to the rails (In fact, to be completely honest, I never noticed those rails until I needed them). It was not being able to walk up or down stairs without hopping on one leg and praying I wasn’t going to tumble down (or up). It was not being able to shower without balancing on one leg while the other leg was covered in a garbage bag (And, trying to shampoo with one hand was no easy task!). It was not being able to drive and being completely dependent on everyone else to take me where I NEEDED to go (forget about where I WANTED to go!). It was needing the handicap ramp when going into a restaurant.  It was almost having to go on leave from work because teaching on crutches seemed impossible. It was feeling so incredibly lonely, helpless, and distraught. It was falling asleep at night with the guilt of knowing that all of the pain I was enduring and the pain I put on those who had to care for me was a consequence of something that I had done to myself. It was those seven weeks I thought of when the doctor told me I was completely healed.

But, with God and my loved ones to be my hands, legs, sanity, and light, I made it through it all. My faith in God and the kindness and generosity of my family, good friends, and my darling, sweet students saved me during those seven weeks. Without their help, love, care, and sacrifice, I could not have done it. You all know who you are, and please know that I am eternally grateful for all you did for me. I am tremendously blessed to have had you all by my side, and that this whole experience was just a temporary, short period of time in my life. 

For the moment, I’m enjoying walking, riding the bike, and powering through on the elliptical. Maybe I will run again someday. Maybe I won’t. At this point in my life, training has turned from empowering to downright abusive. With my migraine/passing out issues and now recovering from a broken fibula, continuing to put my body through training would be masochistic. But, that is not to say that running has been a complete detriment in my life. If you have followed my journey, you know that running has done so many wonderful things for me, and as I have said over and over again throughout the years, has shaped me into the woman I am today. What I have been holding onto with running hasn’t been the medals, trophies, race t-shirts, or all of the pictures posted on Facebook. It’s those intangible moments. It’s waking up at 5:00am on a Saturday morning with the excitement and anticipation of a 20 mile run (yes, I loved those long runs!). It’s the energy of pushing through the hardest parts of the marathon.  It’s that feeling of accomplishment when I crushed the goals I had set for myself. It’s all of the kind, supportive, positive people I met along the way. It’s overcoming hardship, and learning how to see the light in every circumstance thrown my way. Because, you see, throughout my journey, it was never about running. It’s never about the things we do. It’s about those intangible moments, the people we meet, and the lessons we learn along the way. That’s what shapes us into who we are, making us better people prepared to take on the journey God sets out for us. So, with that said, maybe this running-induced broken little fibula was a part of God’s plan for me. Maybe not being able to stand on my own without falling into someone else's arms wasn’t such a bad thing after all. Maybe those experiences that seemed to hold me back were there to push me where I’m meant to go next. Maybe God has a bigger plan for me than what I can even expect or plan for. Maybe I don’t have to have it all figured out, because He has it figured out for me. 

Had you told me when I graduated college ten years ago that I would be a passionate science teacher, with 10 Boston Qualifiers under my belt, I likely would have said, “Are you kidding me? And what’s the Boston Marathon?” We need to accept that our lives are bigger than what we can ever expect them to be. We all have our own journeys here on Earth, and it most certainly is not a linear path. The path is windy, with many peaks and valleys, but it’s in those twists, turns, ups, and downs that the best of who we are is brought to light. We need to have faith in God and let Him take control of our paths. We need to have confidence in who we are, do the best we can with each day, love and appreciate those God puts in our lives, and listen to that little voice in our hearts as we make decisions that propel us forward. 

Will I ever run again? Maybe. Running is just that: running. Whether or not I do it again doesn’t really matter. I feel confidently equipped for whatever challenge God has set for me next.  For now, I am feeling blessed than ever for my loved ones, for health, and for all of the lessons that came along with my temporary hardship.  It seems like it happened in just a blink of an eye, but it shed such a tremendous, great light on my life. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

I’m free. I’m healthy. And I’m happy.  I wish all of the best for everyone and can only hope to be a bright, shining, ray of light to all those facing hardships as all of my loved ones were for me.

Happy New Year, everyone!!! Love, MP :-)


  1. You are an amazing woman Mary Pat. For so young, you have wisdom and humanity beyond your age. God taught you to overcome your fears, and you came out ahead.....even better than before your injury. You are not only a great teacher, but an amazing student in life's lessons. Proud of you.

    1. Awe Aunt Terri! That has to be one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me! Thank you so much for your constant support and encouragement. Your genuine kindness and loving heart has been such an inspiration to me. I am so grateful to have good people like you in my life. Love you! :-)