I’m soon to be 61 - I say it with both a great deal of pride and a lot of astonishment. Wasn’t I just celebrating my 40th - yesterday?
It’s been quite a journey to be sure - marriages, 2 incredible sons, a variety of careers, moves, living overseas . . . But one of the most life-altering experiences was May 4th, 2018 - one month before my 60th birthday. I was just heading home from a pedicure and had a horrific accident. The pedicure is an important little detail because while I was bruised and battered and broken - my toes still looked rocking!
I spent the entire month of May between the Trauma ICU and a rehab center. I had a fractured shoulder, a fractured knee, 5 broken ribs (ouch), a lacerated liver, spleen and lung with bruises covering 80% of my body. It was shocking and even now if I happen upon a photo from that time, I shudder. But I was alive and nothing but that fact filled my mind though it all.
It’s interesting how life plays out. I remember looking over at my husband the first or second day while in the ICU and saying, “I’m broken”. And I meant it very literally, I felt broken to pieces. Then the very next morning as I slowly and painfully woke up, before I even opened my eyes two words came flooding into my mind that I will never forget - grace and gratitude - and I knew at that moment there was no other way for this whole experience to go.
As the days progressed they were filled with both grace and gratitude - and vulnerability and a humbling that I’ve never known. The nurses at Westchester Medical Center Trauma ICU were the most lovely, caring, giving people I’ve ever known. I remember over and over again thinking to myself, how can they have so much compassion, how can they be so kind - I’m a total stranger to them. But they were - day in and day out. In the morning, in the afternoon, in the middle of the night they showed up with compassion and a smile - and I was filled with so much gratitude.
I remember being grateful for everything. Everything big like the pain meds that were administered at exactly the right time every day and everything small like the lovely lady who didn’t speak English but came in every day to sweep the floors and always smiled a kind, gentle smile at me.
It was impossible for me to be anything but grateful because I was alive. I wasn’t run over by the car, and even though my face badly bruised - it didn’t break. Other than a procedure to stop internal bleeding, I didn’t require surgery. I may have a limp but I will walk, my arms will work, my ribs will heal, the bruises will fade. I had a window in my room and I watched the sun rise each day. I learned very quickly to put things into perspective and the perspective for me was found in gratitude.
I healed - at a pace that people marveled over. I went through rehab happily and with relative ease. I found beauty in everything and everyone I came in contact with. For the first time in my life, I truly understood the full meaning of gratitude - and it healed me.
Now, a year later I still hold on to gratitude though to be fair, sometimes it takes a little more work and a lot more mindfulness - but I can never let it slip away. Ive learned the importance of being thankful, of taking it one day at a time, of not taking things or people for granted. I learned to be intentional about my life.
I’m 61 years old and I am entering a big, new phase of my life - one that is going to be lived ‘out loud’. And saying that as an introvert is not easy but it’s how I want it to be, it’s how I will make it be. To live out loud to me, means to live at the fullest, intentionally. I don’t agree with society’s definition of aging, how can anyone possibly tell us how to do something that’s so personal. We’ve lived on this planet for some time and as far as Im concerned not only do we have more time to go, we have things to do!
And I thank you for visiting and possible even joining me on this journey.