Thursday, May 30, 2013

I Always Find a Way

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
~Marianne Williamson

I cried today. Sobbed, actually. I scooted onto my shower bench, turned on the water, and let the floodgates open. I cried so hard, I lost my breath several times. I finished my shower, put on my clothes, placed my dirty clothes in the laundry basket, and moved on from the crying. A few hours later, I looked in the mirror and the tears rushed to the surface, once again. I just sat there, looked in the mirror, and cried. This past Monday I saw something I wasn't ready to see. I neglected to comprehend just how unprepared I was to see it until it was almost over. I stopped by my parents' house on Memorial Day. My dad hosts a golf tournament during the day and then a picnic, at my childhood home, later that evening. After most of the guests left, only a few remained, my dad pulled out an old VCR, and popped in a very old tape. A tape of past golf tournaments and picnics. The funny thing is, as he was hooking up the VCR, I felt as if I left my body. I knew what was on that video. I knew what I would see, but was unable to stop it. I floated out of my body and became an observer. I knew one half of me was ready to fall apart and I knew the other half of me needed to hold it together. As the tape began to play, I watched with nervous anticipation. I saw video, actual video footage, of me and I walked. This is the first time I watched this since my accident. The first time I saw my legs move and my feet hit the ground. I showed up on the screen, I had a baby on my hip, a toddler in my hand, and a group of kids followed me up the street. The second time, I carried a playhouse on my back while a group of little kids accompanied me, each holding an edge of the playhouse. After I watched these two moments, frozen in time, I decided I needed my dog and ventured away from the television to find her. I couldn't watch the tape anymore. I just wanted to leave. The part of me that held it together, graciously said goodbye, while the other part of me crumbled into a ball like a baby. I drove home, had dinner with a friend, and never said a word.

This week was rough. I struggled all week to find the ground. I floated through every motion, every appointment, every conversation, every walk with my dog, and never returned to the hurt festering inside of me. Until today. And as I sobbed and reluctantly returned to my body, I knew why I resisted the reality of the video. Pain. I felt more pain than I wanted to feel. I felt more sorrow than I needed to feel. I felt more anger than was fair to feel. I saw a girl, full of hope. I saw a girl who knew exactly what she wanted out of life and wasn't afraid to fight for it. I saw a girl who was so young and so ready to grab her future with both hands and both feet on the ground, and run at full speed towards that future.

I was teased, mercilessly, for babysitting so much. I was told I needed to get a real job. High school friends, who turned out not to be friends after all, wrote things like, maybe if you didn't babysit so much we might see you out at parties more, in my yearbook. Neighbors would heckle me and call me goody two shoes as I walked to babysitting jobs. And if I wasn't teased for my love of children, I was praised for it. One of my favorite moms I sat for called me the baby whisperer. My true friends called me mom and looked to me to fix any situation we found ourselves in and I did fix it. At dancing events, I chose to babysit the kids rather than help out with the stages or results or whatever else. Kids were my life. I knew what I wanted. I wanted to be a second grade teacher and a mom. I knew these two things for sure. I never doubted it. I made plenty of mistakes, but always plowed forward with lessons learned and a full heart.

When I was in Boston, hired as a nanny one summer, we took the train to Harvard Square for dinner. Fire and Ice, the restaurant the kids chose, had a very long wait, so I decided we should go to the bookstore for the duration of the wait. One of the kids handed me a book, I sat on the floor, and began to read it aloud. Several other kids, whom we did not know, joined our group and soon I was reading to a rather large group of kids. One of the friends I was with, probably a friend who knows me best, whispered to another friend, this is her calling. He was right. I always knew it. I never wavered from it. I found a way to fight for my calling anytime there was an obstacle. I knew, in my heart, I was meant to work with kids. And not just because I wanted to be a teacher, but because I saw and see the teacher in them. They are honest and real and so full of love and wonder. Kids aren't afraid to ask questions and they aren't afraid to live. They are out truest and best teachers.

I wailed so much today because I lost that girl, or so I thought. I saw Sarah walking with children and carrying playhouses on her back. How would I ever do that again? How could I have disappointed that girl so much? How could I have let her down so much? She had no idea she would spend twelve years of her life fighting infection and almost thirteen unable to walk. She thought she had her world in front of her. I ruined her life and took away her calling. I mounted a horse and never returned. And as I cried and cried, so much so my sweet little dog rounded the corner and hopped in my lap and nuzzled her head into my chest, I strangely felt a bit of peace creep in through the sadness. I turned on the current audio book I am listening to at the moment, A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson. And I listened through the tears and I rocked my dog, back and forth, back and forth. I heard her words and felt a calmness take over my body. I felt the floating me return and join up with the sad and devastated me. And then, like a wet blanket to a burning fire, I felt relief.

When I fell, I was doing what I loved most. I was a camp counselor. I had a cabin of six, six year old little girls, and I was their mom for the summer. I taught them, I tied shoes, I braided hair, I read books, I applied layer upon layer of sunscreen, I listened to their wisdom, and I tucked them into bed each night. I went down a fighter.

Some where in the last twelve years, I discovered this life I pictured wasn't possible. It isn't that the life isn't possible, it is the picture that isn't possible. And as I listened to Marianne Williamson read her book and blanket me with her words, it dawned on me that I carry a fear of not fulfilling my picture. The picture is so exact, so detailed in my mind. I look like the girl in the video I watched on Monday. Every time I fall asleep and picture my life, I always envision this picture. I am walking with a child on my hip and one in my hand and I am a second grade teacher. I know I can and will have children. I know I can still be a second grade teacher. Even though I know these things are possible, I still carry so much fear that I will not live up to my expectations, live up to the girl in the video's expectations. But, as I continued to listen to Marianne read, I realized the fear isn't at all about living up to the expectations. The fear is in the discovery that I have already met them and surpassed them. I babysit now. I do it with ease. I just figure out how to pick up a child or run errands with little kids. I taught through my illness and always planned to return to teaching when I was well. The fear comes because while I know this was my calling, I don't think it is anymore. Part of me still wants to do these things, but that part of me is the Sarah in the video. She will always be there. However, this new Sarah, the one who is sitting down, she has a new calling, she has a new picture. The issue is, I don't know what that calling is yet. I hold so tightly to the calling I once knew, I don't allow the space for the new one to form. I moved my armoire, several times, while in my wheelchair and just today managed to push six giant packing boxes of medical supplies through my front door, all by myself. I always find a way to do what I want. I can still move that playhouse, I've been doing it for years. It isn't that the plans I once had for myself are wrong or inferior, they are just different. But how they are different, I am yet to find out. There is always fear in the unknown.

After my fountains of tears, I understood I finally mourned the loss of that girl and her plans and her calling. I am not afraid to step into this new life anymore. I clung to a past, to a vision because it was comfortable and what I knew. This new vision will take faith and perseverance and strength. I battled the last twelve years. I, once again, ignored the teasing, fought against the negativity, and rose to heights I never thought possible. It is terrifying to let go and see where the wind takes me. But, I can't be afraid. I can't be afraid because I am still that girl in the video and she is me. She may be a bit banged up, a bit older, but she is still me and I am still her. I need to take her hope and raise it. I need to show her the greatness, she knew she possessed, is alive and well.

Life is fill of failure. It just is. It happens constantly. We have to fall in order to pick ourselves back up again. The glory and the light come from the greatness we find in the strength of our recovery. We always find a way. We may not always know the way, but we find it, we always do and we always will.


  1. Sarah! Wow, wow, wow. Thank you for writing this. Although it is very different, you have just written what I feel too - the pain of changing plans and not knowing for SURE that things are right. Letting that child inside of you guide and choose, rather than the practical, cynical, judgmental adult - so challenging. This is a beautiful post. Thank you.

  2. Your blogs always fill me with emotion, but I don't leave comments. I'm just not a big blog commenter. But I wanted you to know that I'm one of the people out here who are witness to you, your amazing writing and great strenght, courage, dedication, patience and light.

    Thank you for writing for us.

  3. Did I have a target on me? Because you just hit it dead-on. I am not physically paralyzed but I have been "life paralyzed" for a while now. Because I am SCARED. Of everything. Mainly of feeling the pain I know I have to go through to get to the other side. To get to the good stuff. To become who I am supposed to be. Most days the fear is too great to overcome and I just drift through life with no purpose and no enjoyment or fulfillment. My family is worried about me. My children see this and worry.
    I will carry your words with me as I attempt to live each moment of my life. I will think of you as I do.

  4. Dear Sarah-
    How do I express gratitude adequately enough to thank you for the bravery it must take for you to share such intimacy from you heart and soul?
    You are inspiring, not only to me but countless others, in your raw honesty, and in the beauty of your words.
    Thank you.
    Just Thank You.
    You have touched my heart and my life in ways I am not able to express.
    A number of years ago I suffered a very unexpected emotional accident.
    While I had no signs of a physical injury, my soul and heart were crumbled. It took years and years to rebuild the woman I once was, and although she never returned fully, parts of her survived and merged to form a new me.
    Like you, I have seen the old me in photos and mourned the loss of someone I once was.
    Thank you for helping me understand that I too am still that young woman in the picture, and she belongs to me.
    You have come so very, very, far Sarah-
    I wish you love, contentment, and happiness in each and every one of your days, but especially during the hard ones.


  5. struggles, of the life you;'e been handed. I am a mom of 4 grown chidden. I can't relate to your struggles in life, but I can relate to you as a person, a woman, with dreams and many trials. Today, I just wish I could visit you and hug you and tell you that you are really such a remarkable woman in all of your adversity. I cannot imagine how I would have come out of a trial like yours, but you, you are a shining example to me of the human spirit doing her best to face life with what she was handed. Thank you for writing and sharing your world. I love you and I don't even know you.
    Kathy in Massachusetts

  6. Looks like my first two sentences didn't post. That's ok. The gist of the message is there. ;)

  7. Sarah,

    I teared up reading your beautiful honesty. Thank you for sharing these words.

    - Erin

  8. Well I cried at this one - so truly beautiful! YOU are very a wise woman!

  9. so.. i really think you are supposed to write this story, it is supposed to be a book and a movie. you are going to be a teacher and a mother in Gods time. I think you will teach older girls though. dont know why i think that. i just do. ( i cant lie here, i am usually right about such things)

  10. Sarah, I realize you never thought your life would be this way but it is amazing how many lives you touch in such a positive way because of the life you have now. I cling to every word you write and feel so connected to you. You may be searching for your purpose in life but as far as I am concerned you have found it through your beautiful and empowering writing. Your words are wonderfully encouraging to me and also to a loved one who has a life filled with health problems, fear and lack of self confidence. Thank you, Sarah!!! God bless!!!!

  11. I feel I must comment even though I have nothing of substance to share, I just want you to know that I, a lonely overwhelmed mom of four young kids, was touched by the wisdom and honesty you graciously share in the midst of your own brutal battle. I am humbled beyond words because your example gives me the fight to never stop striving be a better person because of the burdens I'm bearing. I was diagnosed with lupus this year and am gripped by fear of the unknown as well as the humility of flareups that I try to cover up until I can't hold out for help any longer, I hate to burden my loved ones and I wish it could only happen when my children were grown, or on my worst days that I would have come before I started this beautiful family at all. Just thank you for pulling me out of one of those "worst days" I am indebted to you and pray this comment has any value to repay you. -Traci

  12. Thank you so much for your writing and all you share and give. I can relate to this, and being a couple of years older than you am still in the processing of adapting and revising the various things that were once my dreams.

  13. This is a very honest, gut-wrenching post, and I admire your courage and bravery for posting this. I wish you all the best, and I hope that someday, you will watch that video again and you will see instead that the girl captured on film years ago is quite proud of what you have become regardless of everything that have happened. And that you are even greater and even more alive than you have come to realize. Good luck, I hope that you've been able to deal with all the legal proceedings that have ensued in the aftermath and any personal injury claims you make would be met.

    Mastrangelo Law Offices


Thank you for commenting. I appreciate all of your words.