Moving Forward And Not Looking Back

(song: Coming of Age/artist: Foster the People)

On my 40th, I wrote about my burgeoning mid-life identity crisis. I hired a therapist. At 41, I was recovering from back surgery and feeling hopeful -- Thanks to my therapist. Two months later, the crushing loss of my father would make back surgery feel like a stubbed toe in comparison. My therapist worked overtime. And just like that, I'm 42. My body is almost completely functional, my heart is still broken but the passage of time has helped to ease the pain. My therapist is never getting rid of me.

So, what does 42 look like so far? Pretty good, really. When the bar is set so low, there's nowhere to go but up. 

First, my body. On December 14, the 1st anniversary of my surgery, I reunited with my BBSPT ("Before Back Surgery Physical Therapist"), Tony Ellis. I LOVE Tony! He's so kind, incredibly good at his job, and, like me, he's from Georgia so that automatically makes him the best physical therapist in the world. Tony got me running again after I bonked my left ankle and wound up with tendonitis. After lots of hugs and "I've missed yous!", we got down to business. Tony poked, prodded, nudged, pushed and assessed. The verdict: I have full feeling in my left shin and foot, my right shin still has numbness, and I still have foot-drop in my right foot. Both ankles are still very weak and my balance is pretty sucky. I also still have pain from the tendonitis in my left ankle, and I have plantar fasciitis - My left foot is a mess. I fully admit I have been terribly inconsistent with physical therapy so I own my (lack of) progress. I told him I had been doing easy running intervals. He told me to stop. Not because I can't run, but because I shouldn't until I'm stronger, more balanced and not a trip hazard. I begrudgingly agree to abide by the rules then we review exercises I've done in the past, and add a few new ones. Since I don't need to go to PT every week, we agreed to see each other after I've done some work on my own for a couple of months. I'm now consistently doing my physical therapy, going to Tabura, working out with light weights, and walking with my Achilles family every Thursday. I'm focused on rebuilding my strength and achieving my goal of becoming a RUNNING Achilles guide. I am taking back my body!

Tony makes me so happy.

On the nutrition front, I am finally tackling my weight gain, "the grief weight" as I like to call it. I am currently on day 24 of a Whole30 and I'm feeling great! The depression that accompanied my grief was my excuse to eat any and all shitty food I wanted for the past year. My sick dad only ate sweet stuff. Who was I to tell a dying man I couldn't join him in a meal of key lime pie, followed by ice cream, then topped off with more pie? The low point for me was having to buy a new winter coat - IN MARCH - because my coat couldn't zip around my ample hip region. Yep, that was rock bottom. (Pun intended.) It's been an easy 24 days so far. I will reintroduce grains, dairy and alcohol in moderation, but sugar is out for awhile. I don't even miss it. You're not supposed to weigh yourself during a Whole30 but I expect I will be down 5 to 8 pounds by day 30. I have 15 pounds to lose, and the Whole30 is a great way to kick-start that goal. Resetting my body and my mind.

Letting my freak flag fly in Tabura class.

I got myself a little part-time job too! My first job in 9 years. My friend Nicoletta, who is the chapter leader of Achilles Brooklyn, is the director of a non-profit youth running program called Run4Fun. I work with 2nd and 3rd graders, one day a week, and I love it. I also help manage Run4Fun's Instagram and Facebook pages. I specifically love working for Nicoletta because of her commitment to empowering kids of all socioeconomic backgrounds through running and staying active. She is a favorite among the members of my Achilles family and I'm thrilled to be a part of her growing business. She has given me the purpose 40-year-old me was so desperately seeking.

I get payed to play outside!

I still carry the weight of my grief every day but, I am simultaneously happy about the direction my life is taking. 

This year I celebrated my birthday in Ireland with my family. As I hiked the Cliffs of Moher (a.k.a. The "Cliffs of Insanity" if you're a Princess Bride nerd like I am) on a beautiful March afternoon, it occurred to me that just 12 months earlier, I was still using a cane to walk. I've come a long way, and I'm excited about the future.

Okay 42, let's do this!