When a woman get’s pregnant, from the moment the pregnancy is confirmed, everything is measured in TIME. Ask any woman how she is doing, and she will most certainly include how far along she is in her journey. It becomes this totally new way of looking at life – through milestones of time. Each week, as you get farther along, you grow closer to something, but also, farther away from something. Since July 28, 2017, I have noticed my life, counting in weeks. Today, it is has been 7 weeks since the fire.

Today, I went on my first bike ride – exactly 7 weeks since my last bike ride, the day of the fire. The last bike ride, Aaron (my son) and I rode to Herrick Lake, played in our hammocks, and enjoyed a gorgeous summer day. Today, I rode to Lake Ellyn, sat by the lake and took it all in. Everything felt new, different, and at times foreign. When I was in the hospital, there was concern that I could lose my foot. I didn’t tell anyone about it – as I was totally committed to making it through. I used every part of my mind to stay focused on my entire body healing. While sitting by the lake, feeling so full of gratitude, I was reminded of the fact, that everything is still really new for me. Not only do I have a new name, I have new tissue, new skin, and a new way of doing life. 7 weeks is not a lot of time…

But with all this newness, there is the feeling of not knowing… When I was on my bike, I noticed the feeling of the bike underneath me, it felt different. Before, when I would get on my bike, it was like there was the connection that was so strong. In horseback riding it is referred to as “contact.” I had that before, but I did not have it now. I used my brakes more than I think I ever have! I loved feeling the wind on my body, and I really noticed the sensation of the wind against my legs. I don’t know that I noticed that before…. What I am learning is that life IS different for me now. You can’t survive a fire, change your name to River Phoenix, and not expect that things are going to be the same. They just aren’t. Things that I thought nothing about, like being around a lot of people, now seems intimidating to me. I am learning to honor my needs in a way that I never have before. My mind wants to do things, but my body seems to be guiding what I can and cannot do. At times it is so frustrating, because I want to get back to my life – except, I can’t. This is where I am learning to practice compassion in all of my life.

So now, I am 7 weeks into the new phase of my life. I am finding that I have a slower pace. I used to pack as much as I could into a day, moving at a speed that was literally exhausting, but my body kept going, just as my mind commanded. Now, my body is speaking louder and there is no way for me to ignore it. When I stepped onto my yoga mat for my first practice, I knew I was delving into a deeper relationship with myself and my meditation. I can no longer ignore or disregard the needs of my body. This is new and different. I am learning that moving a little slower, allowing more time, and resting are vital to my physical and emotional well-being. I am also enjoying my time so much more – whether it’s when I need to go to the grocery store, or having coffee with a friend, I am allowing myself more time, and it allows me to be more present with everyone, mostly myself.

The most important concept that keeps showing up is COMPASSION. When I got on my yoga mat, I met myself with compassion – not my ego. My mind wasn’t saying, “Come on, push yourself, you used to be able to do this before.” What I actually heard and more importantly felt, was, “Go Slow, this is new and you are still healing. Be kind to yourself.” As I rode my bike, I took my time, and allowed myself to move at a pace that felt safe and still challenging. The ego says, “Try harder” but compassion says, “You are doing enough.” I am enough, exactly where I am. It is so much easier to embrace that now than ever before. I don’t want to go back to being so hard on myself. We can challenge ourselves and still be kind and loving. This is new!

Embracing new things, really requires an openness, as well as letting go. I am learning to let go of what I used to be able to do and accomplish, and being centered on where I am right now. What is the best that I can offer myself, as well as others today? Well, for starters, I can slow down, take time, and appreciate simple moments. Life can change in an instant. One moment I was eating dinner and playing cards with my son, and moments later, I was on fire. As I continue to heal, body/mind/spirit, I am sure that in time, I won’t measure things by how many weeks it has been since the fire, but for right now, that is where I am. Each week, I think to myself how incredibly grateful I am for surviving the fire, the help, support, love, prayers, encouragement, and kindness that was shown to me through people who care about me. I also remind myself, that I am still healing and that takes time. How long? I have no idea, time will tell….

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