By Leslie Why Reap
The path. Your path. In other words, Your Life. Do you like it? Do you own it? Do you say “yes!” to what you want to say yes to and “No thanks” to what you don’t want to do? It’s a challenge isn’t it? Owning your path…choosing your path….changing your path if you don’t like the current one. What about being present and patient on this path? Pretty tall order but that is what 2012 is for!
2011 was the year of “the new path” for me. It was unfamiliar and at times difficult and painful, but it was both a chosen path and a gift all at the same time. My notable 2011 event was that I had brain surgery. Nothing crazy, not a lot of drama and not a huge deal to me as it was an easily made decision. It was a big deal, however, for my children, parents, family, and close friends. I wasn’t scared, I was prepared. I was ready. I had done the amazing healing meditations (by Peggy Huddleston), had a big support network and knew that my surgery would be a success. It was a huge success. The recovery -well that path is a little rockier than the path leading to surgery, but it has come with something that I would deem nothing short of enlightenment.
Here is a little background information. All my life I have been an athlete. I am happiest when I am moving. I was a decent triathlete and an even better runner until a car accident in February of 2010. The car accident ultimately led to the brain surgery. After the accident and prior to surgery, I worked on being able to run again thinking it would make me feel better, ultimately running a marathon in November 2010. The marathon brought me to my knees, literally. The diagnosis came just weeks after the race. An MRI showed I had a 17MM herniation of my cerebellum into my spinal column, my brain stem significantly impacted, my 4th ventricle completely blocked, spinal fluid not flowing. For three months I got very acquainted with my bed while my heroic mom searched for the top neurosurgical team.
Long story short, it was a long three months, but many with this condition suffer with it undiagnosed for years so I was very lucky. I only saw my children, family and friends for a few minutes at a time before needing solitude. I was disconnected, but what I realized was that I had been disconnected for months, even years. All the focus on training and future racing events - but to what end? What about today? My children were growing up, and I wasn’t present for them, my mind was elsewhere. Other things in my life weren’t working, but what was I doing about it? Not enough. With this on my mind, I departed for Colorado for surgery. I was away from my children for 19 days. Twice I had to call and tell them I couldn’t physically get on the plane to come back to them. I was too sick; I was in my own self-created, post-surgical downward spiral.
Enlightenment? Yes, I just didn’t recognize it at the time. Being several thousand miles from home, I recognized that I couldn’t do belly hugs with my children or tuck them into bed. I couldn’t read to them or laugh and joke and touch their faces. I couldn’t hug my brothers or tell them how much they mean to me. I couldn’t hug all the people that were providing meals and support for my family. Colorado gave me the gift of enlightenment along with some other gifts: the gift of being able to walk without faltering, the gift of thinking and speaking fluidly, the gift of drawing an easy breathe, and the gift of knowing that when I went to sleep each night I would indeed wake up in the morning. I had taken all of these things for granted; I had not recognized them as gifts.
What was the enlightenment you ask? It was recognizing that the greatest gifts I could give myself and others are the elusive, mindful acts of presence and patience. I did not grow up with these gifts, and they are not easily acquired.
It has been 9 months since I returned home from Colorado. My daughters truly know me now. When they speak to me I stop, I look them in the eye and give them my full attention. I give them my presence. Our connection is unbreakable. I am also patient with them. What if something happened and the last words that they heard from my lips were impatient or sharp? What more can I give them than my time, attention and patience, and they in turn will give it to others. I make plans for the future, but I live in this day as it is the only moment that I have. I own my path now. I choose this path each day. I say “no thanks,” as freely as I say “yes please!” Every day is a day to live, a day to breathe, a day to laugh and love. Ask yourself, am I present in this moment? Have I chosen the life I am living? Give yourself and others the gifts of presence and patience in all that you do and these gifts will be returned to you tenfold.
Welcome 2012, it’s damn good to see you.