A few weeks ago I wrote about how our definition of normal always evolves. This past week I was thinking about other ever-changing areas of my life. For example, people’s goals are always changing, growing and hopefully getting grander. My physical goals do just this.
The day after I had my stroke I was told I may never walk again without the aid of assistive devices. From that point on, it was explained; I may be required to depend on an AFO brace, a crutch cane or a walker to be mobile. In my mind, at twenty-seven I was too young to accept this news. I had too much to do in life to never walk independently again. I set a goal of walking alone. I was determined to achieve and exceed this initial goal. I worked hard. I worked very hard. I was determined see if Thomas Carlyle was truthful when he said, “Go as far as you can see; when you get there you’ll be able to see farther.” He was correct. I was determined to continue with expanding my milestones. I listened to doctors and pushed myself beyond what even I thought I was capable of. This determined attitude and hope that I harbored allowed me to complete a four mile walk four years later beside my two young daughters. The only assistive devices I held that day were the hands’ of my children. Together we accomplished the Coronado Bay Bridge Walk.
My goals continued to grow. This past weekend I “ran” five miles and “biked” six miles. Now I did not actually run these miles, nor did I go out and ride a bike. Some goals are still out of reach. I used an elliptical because I still do not have use of some required muscles that would allow me to run. I rode my miles on a stationary bike. I do not have the balance to keep a bike upright. I hope to run again outside some day. I would like to take my kids out on a bike ride without needing training wheels or a third wheel. Today though these goal are still beyond my reach. For now, I will stay inside on fitness equipment. I make believe the wind blows through my hair. I hear the sounds of a nearby road and feel the sun beaming through the window warming my face as if I were outside without restrictions. My body may not offer me the ability to reach my pre-stroke goals. I do, however, have the ability to make sure my goals are always evolving. I fail occasionally; sometimes I have to lower my expectations. I may not have the ability to take back all of what seizures, surgery and the stroke have taken. I will always continue to hope though and always take hold of the next opportunity life will place within my reach. Bernard Edmonds once said, “To dream anything that you want to dream. That’s the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed.”
I may never run a half marathon, but at least I can keep up with my children on a beautiful afternoon walk. I may never know a life completely free of seizures, yet my inner strength will not allow medical difficulties to stop me from living a full life. I won’t remember your face, but I will remember the kindness you offer me through your support, words and actions. I dare myself to dream, to evolve my goals higher every time I reach a plateau. I trust myself to not just live an ordinary life but work to leave an extraordinary legacy providing optimism and hope to every life I touch.