“The Flip Side of Fear – Lessons Learned in Skydiving.”

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says.”

– C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

This most famous quote occurred to me recently, as I was preparing to skydive again for the very first time since injuring myself back in June of this year.

My counselor and I have had discussions in the past about the many similarities between grief, fear, and excitement in regards to the way these emotions physically manifest in our bodies.

October, in general, always brings up a lot of emotions in me and, this year, I have been doing my best to acknowledge them – but not drown in them, like before.

It’s crazy to think about how out of control we generally are when it comes to the things that happen to us, but how – just like facing my fear of falling from great heights by skydiving, we are completely in control of how we choose to respond to these things, and are, therefore, completely in control of IF and HOW we allow such things affect us.

Anxiety, grief, fear… they do feel very much the same in the heat of the moment, – but, also, very much the same as excitement, exhilaration and euphoria. The biggest difference lies in how we choose to perceive them. 

This part is so very important, because how we choose to interpret our emotions has such a monumental impact on us, mentally and physically – especially longterm. This truth has never been more apparent to me than it is right now. 

I have put forth such strong effort and done so much work this past year, in an attempt to heal from all that has happened in my life – the loss of my parents, the unexpected death of my partner, the suicide of my friend, debilitating panic attacks and P.T.S.D. that brought my nearly 20 year career as a Paramedic to its early and untimely end. It’s a lot – but running has helped, as has skydiving.

My experiences with skydiving haven’t always been “Blue Skies” and bright smiles. Even aside from the incident that resulted in my injuries, I experienced multiple “bumps in the road” as I attempted to obtain my license. Most significantly, was how my mind and body instinctually responded to the overstimulation of all its senses – it literally shut down. 


My brain would literally disconnect itself in an unconscious attempt to protect my body from feeling that level of fear again. I know this now, only after reviewing the videos taken during my Coach and Instructor jumps. 

At the time, I was “blissfully” unaware, not realizing the chunks of time (and altitude!) I was losing in these lapses in reality. Once I discovered this disconnect, I became even more afraid. Consciously afraid. Terrified, to be honest. I let it consume me for days, weeks, perhaps even a whole month, and allowed it to negatively impact my performance, resulting in several difficult jumps. In essence, I literally became my own problem. 

I believed I couldn’t trust myself and, when you’re freefalling through the sky with no one else around, you have got to be able to trust yourself. You have got to be able to fully function, pull your chute, steer your canopy, problem solve through any issues, and be prepared to save yourself.

It took the words of a wise man and Master AFF Instructor to help snap me out of it: 

“This sport is about moving on. If things aren’t going well and you can’t make the split second decision to move on, this sport is not for you. 

I know you’re scared – but you have got to get over it.” 

– Craig Cushing (“Cush”)

Simple, right? Really, it is… if you’re willing to realize and accept responsibility – and, most importantly, get out of your own way.

This realization came to me on a low jump when I was struggling with how to maintain stability in freefall. I was still spinning when the time came for me to pull my chute. I reached back, tried to pull, but it wouldn’t budge. My heart began to race. I tried again – it wouldn’t budge. I was losing altitude fast and knew that, if I was unsuccessful again, I would have to make the decision to cut away and deploy my reserve. I tried a third time and, while it didn’t deploy, I felt it shift. I was beginning to panic but knew I could get it if I just tried once more – but I had to act fast. My body felt like it was on fire, everything in my vision turned white and, in my frantic decision to try a fourth and final pull, I nearly reached with BOTH of my hands to give it all I’ve got! This change in body position would have quickly flipped me over onto my back, creating an even bigger issue when my parachute deployed. I caught my mistake just in time, but closed my eyes and tucked my chin as I successfully deployed my parachute. My body was still freefall spinning at the time, which resulted in line twists all the way down to the base of my neck. When this happened and I realized my predicament, all of the sudden, there was calm! 

Pure silence and utter calm.

All the details of the jump, in regards to my exit and freefall skills, no longer mattered. I took a deep breath and looked around. I now had just one job to do – clear my lines in order to steer and land, or make a timely decision that it can’t be done by cutting away and deploying my reserve.

April 2021

In telling this story, even my closest friends shake their heads. “And this is why I don’t skydive.”, they say… and what a shame, I think to myself, that simply because something might go wrong, they choose not to experience one of the most incredible and soul freeing experiences humanly possible.

10/17/2021 – I am so grateful to Cush for making this tandem jump with me. I am still recovering from my injuries and currently unable to fully steer or land a canopy on my own.

“Fear”, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While fear is, inarguably, one of the most powerful of human emotions, it is a normal response that has kept the human race alive through its entire history. This response can be paralyzing for some, while others can learn to be super efficient and effective with this response. So, why – if you can learn to manage your fear – would you want to stagnate and remain a victim to it?

Anger, frustration, fear, and other “negative emotions” are all part of the human experience. They can all lead to stress and are often seen as emotions to be avoided, ignored, or otherwise disavowed, but they can actually be healthy to experience – if we’d simply choose to manage them rather than denying them. 

Now, I get it – skydiving isn’t for everyone, and I am certainly no expert it psychology, but there are so many other ways that we can learn to increase positive emotional states and personal resilience in response to stress and feelings of negativity so that these emotions no longer consume us or feel as overwhelming. This is where a trained counselor or therapist can be such a beneficial thing! They can help us navigate our emotions, get to the root of our triggers, initiate the healing process, and enable us to pave our own way towards living a healthier, happier life.

While I, myself, am still a work in progress, becoming aware of my own perceptions has truly been the key. Where, once, the physical sensations of fear would paralyze me, I am now able to remain in motion, analyzing and deciding – and then choosing a better way. I am no longer a slave to my circumstances, I am the “master of my soul”.







“The best things in life are on the other side of terror, on the other side of your maximum fear, are all of the best things in life.” – Will Smith
Such a rush!
Whatever it is that you are afraid of – FACE IT, head on!
Pure Bliss!
Nothing in the world can touch THIS feeling!
Music credit: Avicii – “The Nights”.
Thank you, Cush – this was the BEST JUMP EVER!
(..so far!)


“The Dash.”

“Your life is made of two dates and a dash. Make the most of the dash.” – Linda Ellis, “The Dash”.

When I first started writing this blog, my primary focus was on the documentation of my running. Through the years, however, it has really become more about Life… well – Life, Death, and everything in between.

Isn’t it funny how, when speaking in terms of a Runner, a Race Time is really just a numerical documentation of how long it took them to make it from Point A at the Start, to Point B at the Finish? Likewise, when looking at the headstone marking my parents grave, beneath each of their names are two dates – their birth dates (START TIME) and the date of their death (FINISH TIME). The dash between these two dates, metaphorically, represents their Lifetime.

To the random person passing by, who happens to take a leisurely glance at that “DASH” – the numbers really don’t mean a thing – because they weren’t a part of it. They weren’t there to see all the things, feel all the feels, or experience any of the emotions or events that unfolded during that span of time. To them, it’s all just a bunch of numbers and, “just a bunch of numbers”, could never tell the story of what they represent.

But I was there. The numbers surrounding the dash inscribed upon my parents grave tells me so many stories, brings back so many memories, and overwhelms me with so many emotions – good, bad, and everything in between; but what I notice most of all right now is just how short that “dash” really is. While anyone who “does the math” would agree, their time upon this Earth ended much too soon, I am faced with the reality of just how fast it goes – and sometimes I just can’t believe they are really gone.

Likewise, with my Boston Marathon Finish Time, the numbers, in and of themselves, don’t really matter. Since finishing this incredible race and sporting this iconic jacket, I have been approached by so many people and, after their enthusiastic “Congratulations!”, they almost always follow up with: “What was your time?”. A million bittersweet and beautiful memories come flooding through my mind, overwhelming me with emotions – none, of which, would make any sense or mean so much to them… so I just smile and say, “It was the BEST!” – because, for me, it really was!

125th Boston Marathon celebration jacket.

For those of you who have followed my “Chasing Boston” journey, and those who have become my friends and family throughout this Life, I thank you! To those of you who personally reached out to me during my “one shining moment”, as I strutted my broken body all the way from Hopkinton to Boston, I can never thank you enough! Your love, support, and encouragement helped me to endure.

The Boston Marathon is a notoriously difficult course, so on raceday (“Marathon Monday)”, the streets along the most challenging portions are lined with people, screaming and cheering – offering any kind of physical, mental, or emotional support any runner might need. For me, however, there were very few people along the way, as I ran this course the Sunday before the “official” race.

Sunday, October 10, 2021 – “Heartbreak Hill”, Mile 20.4 of the Boston Marathon.
All around me, the sound of silence.

It was in these moments when I leaned upon YOU, in spirit, to pull me through. You sent me love. You sent me strength. You sent me the courage and the confidence I needed to keep moving forward. I could feel you with me every step of the way, and it kept me from ever feeling truly “alone” as I made my way towards the realization of my dream.

So now, as my “Chasing Boston” journey comes to an end and I take some time to figure out what’s next for me, I hope that each and every one of you reading this finds something amongst these pages that strikes you – something that comforts you, inspires you, and helps you along your own way.

May you never, ever forget that, (just like in the marathon), although the road may, at times, appear to go on forever – Life is short and time goes by so fast.

My advice?

Slow yourself down, take a deep breath and a good look around. There is beauty to be found here, if you’d just take the time to truly SEE.

My Mom, taking it all in – as my Dad, reached “next level” status in this incredible moment.
(August 2017)

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

“Boston Strong!”

I may not be “Boston Qualified”, but I am “Boston Strong”!

A “Finish Time” can only tell you so much. In fact, a finish time can really only tell you one thing – how long it took a person to get from point A to point B.

That’s it.

The story that those numbers can not relay is known only to the runners, themselves – and that story can be good or bad but, oftentimes, it’s a combination of both.

So let me tell you a little bit about what my Boston Marathon Finish Time does not tell you.

According to the B.A.A. I ran my Boston Marathon today in 5:56:09.

“5:56:09” does not tell you that, for the first time in my life, my struggle was different.

What used to be a mental challenge, this time, was purely physical. This is not to say that I did not become emotional at times, because I did – but never once did I harbor any doubts. You see, while I have “always and no matter what” shown up and run my race, this time I arrived at that Start Line injured, undertrained, inexperienced for the course, and ignorant of its navigational challenges – yet, mentally, I was strong.

It’s a different kind of struggle when, for the very first time, your battle is not inside your own mind – wondering if you can, worrying that you can’t; contemplating and calculating paces and split times, wrestling with fear and doubt – those self-sabotaging thoughts that tell us we’re not good enough, strong enough, fast enough, or worthy enough to even be here.

It’s a different kind of struggle when the pain you feel is not from the depletion of glycogen or the build up of lactic acid, fatiguing your muscles and turning your legs to stone – but from the obvious lack of recovery time, following a significant and painful injury.

It’s a different kind of struggle when the battle you’re fighting is deep within your bones, resonating outward into every fiber of your physical being, crying out with absolute clarity that your body has not yet healed and is completely unprepared for this enormous effort which you are demanding of it today.

It’s a different kind of struggle when, once upon a time, the choice was yours – you could have run forever at this slow of a pace, or you could have chosen to shift gears and crank out a much more “respectable” marathon race pace.

It’s a different kind of struggle when, physically speaking, the 10K mark feels more like the 10th mile, and the 10th mile feels like the 20 – and then, even though you’ve just run 20 miles, it’s still so far away from that Finish Line.

It’s a different kind of struggle when your friends and family text you all along the way, asking how you’re feeling and you reply with absolute honesty:

“Physically: ☠️. Mentally: 💯”.

When what you feel is purely physical stress, it becomes a personal testament as to how much pain you can truly bear in order to succeed in fulfilling your dream.

“When you sign up for a marathon, you’re volunteering to find out: How much hurt can I put myself through? – Be proud of the answer.”

– Des Linden

The 26.2 mile stretch of road from Hopkinton to Boston is long, but never once did I ever feel truly “alone” – and that is something I never will forget.

I’ve come so very far in my “Chasing Boston” journey; I’ve changed a lot along the way.

I no longer feel the need to receive an official invite or any other external validation to prove that I am “worthy” of this. I didn’t do this for the jacket or the medal – those things are just an added bonus. For me, this dream was personal – and, while it didn’t turn out exactly the way I thought that it would, I can honestly say, I have no regrets. In fact, I’ve spent so many years and so many races “Chasing Boston”, I almost forgot what it was like to look around and actually SEE! I almost forgot how good it feels to be able to do this simply for “the love of the run”!

Today, I ran the race that has always meant so much to me. I redefined, for myself, what it means to be “Boston Strong” – and I proved, to myself, that I am so much “more” than I’ve ever believed myself to be.

As this incredible day comes to a close and I am finally able to put my dream to rest, I reaffirm to myself once more that, while I may not be “Boston Qualified”, I am most definitely “Boston Strong”!

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

“The Boston Marathon & Me.”

“The unicorn is a mythological figure that is meant to be pursued, but, in that pursuit, you never catch [it]. So it inspires you to continue to try — to race harder in the case of running — and though it may be elusive, it really is the pursuit of the unicorn that makes you better and better and better.”

– Jack Fleming, Chief Operating Officer of the Boston Athletic Association.

What is it about the Boston Marathon that has taken such a strong hold of me?

From the moment I started running again, as an adult, it infiltrated my mind and consumed my heart.

Perhaps because it was so far out of my reach? People tend to want what they can’t have, right? Or perhaps it was all about the thrill of the chase? The constant internal drive and the pushing for more? Farther, better, faster, stronger… or rather, in Bostonian terms, “Fartha’, bettah’, fastah’, strongah’!”

I’m not certain I shall ever truly know – nor will I ever know when, why, or how it turned toxic.

Just like any good habit, faithfully instilled, runs the risk of becoming an obsession, so too, my running and racing morphed into an unhealthy and rigid mindset of never being good enough. Yes, I am certain you could question me, psychoanalyze me, and eventually pinpoint the root cause of my validation issue buried deep within the formative years of my childhood and the strict, religious traumas of a cult-like upbringing. And I am certain that there is someone, somewhere, with an educational background and pay grade much higher than mine who knows and understands the psychology and sociology behind such traumas and personal, self-defeating tendencies – but none of that really matters now. I no longer feel the need to question the “WHY” or the “HOW” behind it – I’m content to simply recognize it for what it is and find a way to rise above it.

Isn’t it ironic that the same organization that initiated such stringent qualification standards is also the very same organization that is affording me this opportunity to realize my dream, despite it not being exactly as I imagined it would be?

In light of the coronavirus pandemic still going on in our world, the Boston Athletic Association has taken additional precautions in order to bring back this iconic event, live and in person, in the safest possible way. Unfortunately, for 7,000+ qualified athletes, this meant that they would, in fact, NOT be invited to run, despite them having attained the high standard of meeting and even exceeding their qualifying time. The B.A.A. undoubtedly knew that this would break a few hearts. Even the bible states it quite perfectly when it says:

“Expectation postponed is making the heart sick.”

– Proverbs 13:12

In an effort to ease this heartache and to encourage and inspire people to keep running, they created the very first official “Virtual Boston Marathon”, open to the first 70,000 registrants, 18 years of age or older – no qualifying time required. Of course, there are rules – but they are few and easily able to be followed. The full 26.2 mile distance must be covered in one single, consecutive activity at any point in time between October 8 – October 10, 2021, no matter the time it takes to complete it. Run, walk, or crawl – start to finish – simply conquer that distance. The following day, on Monday, October 11th, the official 125th running of the Boston Marathon will commence.

I consider myself lucky to have been able to register for the Virtual Boston Marathon and, despite my current injuries, I am determined to close this chapter of my life by running this event Live, in person, on the actual Boston Marathon course, one month from today.

Training for this event with the fractures in my back has not been easy – in fact, I’m not quite sure exactly how I am going to make it through 26.2 miles when currently a 10K run benches me for nearly 2 – 3 days afterwards with pain, burning, and multiple cramps and spasms. That being said, I know that I will find my way through – I always do. And isn’t that what being “Boston Strong” is all about?

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

“The Uncomfortable Truth of Life.”

Existential nihilism at its finest? Perhaps… but entertaining, nonetheless.

Recently, my counselor and I were discussing my current mindset and the length of time it has taken me to achieve it. It reminded him of when a student asked the Buddha if enlightenment comes suddenly, all at once? Or only after a long period of life lessons, questioning, and reasoning? The answer is simply, yet emphatically: “YES!”

After years of questioning, reasoning, thinking and overthinking – repeatedly becoming lost only to regain my center and find myself again, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no certain answers to the questions that we ask and our final destination is wholly unknown on this journey that we seek. When I finally became tired of this vicious self-sabotaging cycle – looking at every detail over and over again in order to make sense and find peace with it all, it finally occurred to me:


And, just like that, everything changed.

There is beauty to be found here – because when you finally stop stressing yourself out, wondering what its all about, you can finally relax and simply enjoy it for what it is.

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

“I Am Being Challenged.”

There are just 50 days left until I run Boston and I am being challenged.

26.2 miles is a tall order for someone who just logged their longest run in over two months… at just 4.11 miles!

As many of you already know, I am still recovering from injuries sustained from a skydiving crash landing this summer.

I have a fractured wrist, fractured T12 in my thoracic spine, and multiple other compression injuries in my back which are negatively impacting my ability to run long distances. I may not be able to tolerate running marathons anymore, which will obviously impact my ultimate dream of qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon someday.

Therefore, I am determined to run the Virtual Boston Marathon LIVE and in person on the official course on Sunday, October 10th (the day before the official 2021 Boston Marathon), as it might very well be my final marathon.

I did initially look into applying for a charity bib but am unable to commit to raising nearly $10,000+ and I refuse to ask for that kind of money from my friends or family. That being said, it has been two years TODAY since I joined Team RWB and, although I am not as active with the group as I would like to be, I attribute this community and the people in it for saving my life. Without them, I might never have recognized or acknowledged the things that I was going through as P.T.S.D..

In my mind, P.T.S.D. applied only to people with active or retired military experience – but those same people are the ones who made me realize that my nearly 20 years in EMS as a Paramedic was very much the same. It is because of them that I sought help – and because I received (and continue to receive) that help, I am alive and well today.

Therefore, I am dedicating this, my final marathon, to Team RWB. I am fully prepared to run this course alone but, truth be told, I am hoping that some of the Bostonian Eagles might choose to show up and support me along the way.

There are just 50 Days left until I run Boston and I am being challenged… but I welcome this challenge and I am looking forward to it!

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

Thanks and credit to my friend, Tony Garcia – the author of these inspirational words.

“It Doesn’t Get Any Worse.”

“This is some bullshit.”, I sighed in frustration while sitting on the floor of Dr. Amanda’s office earlier this afternoon. I was attempting, unsuccessfully, to squeeze a stress ball with my left hand – the next phase of PT for my fractured wrist.

“Here, try this.”, she said as she tossed me a rubber band and began to go through the motions of finger rehab exercises that will help restore mobility and strengthen my grip.

I can hardly believe this is my life right now.

Finger retractions and stress ball gripping???

This used to be the point where I would recant my previous workouts and proceed to tell you all that I “used to do” in order to obtain your empathy and understanding for my current situation. But, let’s be honest, none of that matters now – and if you care enough about me to read or follow my blog, you already understand and can most likely empathize with my current situation. Looking back, at this particular point in time, serves no positive purpose in my journey – and I refuse to be discouraged.

Remember what I said just 3 blog posts ago: “Love yourself for what you CAN do, rather than hate yourself for what you can’t.”

About an hour later, I was on a treadmill at my local gym giving my back another test run. Up until this point, I could only go about a mile before the muscle cramping and back spasms would become so intense that I was forced to walk. But, today, I managed to run a full 5K without stopping once to walk or stretch! It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t effortless – in fact, at 0.62 miles, I nearly called it quits because of the discomfort – but I stuck it out and you know what? It didn’t get any worse! In fact, it “stabilized” and the next 2 miles flew by as if I were running “an easy 10” again! A part of me wanted to keep going, to see how far I could go, but if Shep has taught me one thing when it comes to running, it’s to simply “BE PATIENT”. Don’t sacrifice form for distance and don’t push discomfort to the point of pain – and so I stopped.

I am proud of today’s run. This run gives me hope.

It reminds me of many other runs or races where I questioned myself or doubted myself entirely too much, only to exceed my expectations on race day. Like when I ran my first ultra marathon and my training had been derailed by tendinitis in my ankle, stalling my longest training run at just 16 miles. I did what I could, when I could and, on race day, I completed all 31.1 miles! I remember a sign posted along the course that day: “It hurts up to a point…but it doesn’t get any worse”. It was true for me on that day and I am hanging my hope on this fact now.

Am I crazy to plan on running 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston when I am currently only running 3+ miles on a treadmill and rehabbing a fractured arm and spine? Perhaps… but never have I ever run a race and then looked back and regretted it – no matter how fast or slow I crossed that Finish Line. I expect no less when my feet are shuffling their way down Boylston.

“It might not get any easier, but it doesn’t get any worse.”

Wisdom derived from Lt. J.C. Stone Ultra-Marathon, 2016

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

“The Road to Boston.”

As many of you already know, I injured myself in a skydiving accident on June 5th. 🪂

I shattered my left wrist / distal radius with significant damage to the nerves and one particularly important carpal bone. I’ve also suffered compression injuries to my spine at T-10, T-11, a full compression fracture to T-12, as well as damage to my sacrum and coccyx.

I had surgery to repair my wrist using a plate and several screws. I am now 6 weeks post-op, heavy into physical therapy, and reality is sinking in.

There is no surgery or magic treatment to repair my spinal injuries. There are a few strengthening exercises that I can do for my back, which I have been doing. A month ago, I could barely walk 1/4 of a mile at a very slow pace and could only work a half shift (6 hours) at work. Today, I can walk a full 3 miles without stopping and am able to stand at work for my full 12 hour shift. That being said, it is still quite likely that my marathon racing days are over. (Skydiving might also be over, considering one more significant impact to my thoracic vertebrae would, most likely, result in paralysis.)

I have already cancelled all of my planned events for the year, with the exception of one: Boston Virtual.

Everybody has their own feelings about this event, but I was ecstatic when they opened it up in an effort – obviously, to make more money – but also to celebrate the return of Live race events, as well as, encourage and inspire the rest of us to keep moving forward!

Running is a phenomenal teacher in this great life lesson.

I have NO IDEA how I am going to go from where I am now (walking 3 miles per day) to running 26.2 miles in less than 3 months… but, believe me when I say, I most certainly will! It will most likely be a mixture of run, walk, crawl…but I will get it done.

Boston has been a dream of mine ever since I re-discovered running/racing as an adult. It’s what drove me to get my ass out of bed at WTF O’Clock to go to the gym, or push me to run at all hours of the day or night despite how much I’d worked or how little I’d slept! It’s what kept me moving throughout my darkest emotional days while carrying the heaviest burdens of grief and during the 3 long years it took to take my parents wrongful death case to trial. It’s what pushed me to improve physically – going from a 38 minute 5K race time in 2010 to a 3:57 PB marathon time in 2019!

It’s sad to think that it might be over for me now, when I was finally within reach of my 3:40 BQ time. This not to say that it is over yet…but I would honestly be ECSTATIC to simply be able to RUN (any pace!) for a full hour a day and return to Bootcamp workouts 3x a week. These are now my only solid fitness goals… anything more is just a bonus.

That being said, the 125th Boston Marathon is set to take place on October 11th. The terms of the Boston Virtual event are that the full 26.2 mile distance be covered in one single, consecutive activity, no matter the time it takes to complete it. Run, walk, or crawl – start to finish – at any point in time between Oct.8th – Oct.10th.

Not only do I plan to complete this epic event opportunity, I have already booked my flight and secured my accommodations to travel to Boston and will be running the actual marathon course from Hopkinton to Boston on Oct.10th – the Sunday before the race.

I feel like this is the perfect way to end my marathoning pursuits, considering I’ve never actually been able to earn my own Boston Marathon invite.

So, for all of out there struggling, I just want to say:

The road is open, my friends. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you aren’t “good enough, strong enough, fast enough” …and don’t ever let anyone or anything stop you from realizing your dreams, even if it is not 💯 the way you’d hoped or imagined that it would be.💙💛

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

My sister is hilarious 🤣 Thanks for the shirt C*C* 💙

“Living, Dying, and Everything in Between.”

It was the summer of 2005, I had been working in EMS for a little over 3 years but had just recently become a Paramedic, when I was dispatched to my very first active shooter scene. It was a strange time; an abnormal increase in violent ridden 911 calls and civil unrest. We were at odds with each other as well – many pulling for EMS uniforms fashioned after Police, with a few others (like me!) pushing for another style (ANY! other style) in order to create obvious separation between armed law enforcement and unarmed EMS. Majority rules in Union situations though and so there I was – wearing blue, with patches and badges – looking way too much like the Officer standing over me, as I tended to the patient on the ground, confirming his death.

I had been told the scene was safe. This is Rule #1 when working in EMS – “SCENE SAFETY” – especially in a scene like this. So, imagine my surprise (and my verbally unfiltered mouth) as I heard the scuffling of a foot chase coming from the second floor of this abandoned building and the policeman’s radio crackling: “Shooter on the roof! Heading towards the staircase!”. I looked up at the Officer standing over me, as he reached for his gun, and realized that I was on my hands and knees at the base of this building’s staircase.

“You told me this scene was safe!”, I yelled at him as my partner and I quickly gathered our equipment and started running for the exit.

“Well, it’s not anymore, so get gone!”, he yelled back as he took cover, in anticipation of the now certain confrontation.

As my partner and I ran for safety, we came upon a second victim outside the building and quickly extricated him, placing him in our ambulance. We utilized a nearby state trooper as our police escort out of the immediate area so that we could safely assess, treat, and transport the surviving victim.

It was later that night, as the rest of the world slept, that my partner and I talked about the situation we had been in and how it had all fallen apart so rapidly.

“I’m not afraid of dying.”, I told him, “I’m afraid of the in between. Being irreparably injured – stuck in the middle of Life and Death, becoming like many of our regular patients- unable to fully LIVE, yet unable to let it all go and simply die.”

This conversation ultimately led to EMS issued bulletproof vests and an increase in Police response to ensure adequate scene safety prior to EMS arrival. This did little to quiet my fears, yet I continually pushed those thoughts aside and continued in my chosen career path until the summer of 2019.

I’ve always been a bit of a “free spirit”. I don’t think so much of the “consequences” of things or of how they could go terribly wrong, as much as I do the thrill of the experience itself as it is intended when everything goes just right. After so many years of testing fate, choosing to face anything and everything that creates a sense of fear in me, it’s like I developed this sense of invincibility; like nothing bad would ever actually happen to me. So I continued to give zero thought to “the middle” or what it might mean to be stuck there. In my mind, it has become so simple- this or that, black or white, life or death. Recently, I have been forced to realize that it is not always so simple afterall.

One month ago, I crashed my parachute while skydiving. A rookie mistake, I misjudged my landing and stalled the parachute, dropping myself nearly 10 feet to the ground. I fractured my back and shattered my left wrist. I’m actually quite lucky – despite the significance of my injuries, they are able to be healed with surgery, physical therapy, and a hefty dose of time. Simple, right? Far from it. No one ever tells you how painful broken bones can be, even after they are “corrected” with surgery. Or how much you use your back and BOTH of your hands simultaneously to do even the simplest of daily activities – like sitting up, taking a shower, washing your hair, dressing yourself, or cutting up your own food.

I don’t mean to complain. I understand how much worse this actually could have been. In saying that, I don’t even mean death; although leaving my husband a widow and my daughter without access to me would certainly be difficult, becoming a lifelong burden to them is, in my mind, a fate far worse than death.

“You just do things. You don’t stop to consider the dangers of what you do or what it means if and when it goes wrong. I don’t think you realize exactly how bad this could have been. It could have been your legs or your hips…your ability to ever even walk again!”

On the front of the helmet I wear when skydiving is a sticker, “FLY or DIE”, it says, and I was so proud to apply it there. In skydiving, there is nothing more freeing than the feeling of flight and if you die while doing something that you love so much… well, in my mind, what better way is there to go?

Yet, here I am, living proof that it’s not always “this way or that” – and, while I consider myself quite lucky that I am not worse off, I am now faced with the realization that I am, in fact, NOT invincible and things do go wrong, very quickly and very easily.

“That’s no reason to quit,” my heart tells me, “You’ve just gotta get better at it.“

My head argues back: “But it’s not worth the risk to yourself, your family, your friends, your coworkers, or your ability to live a fully functional life unhindered by injury or permanent disability.”

I don’t know where this road to recovery will lead. My future endeavors are as uncertain as the prognosis of my hand/wrist regaining it’s dexterity and range of motion. Or how my back will be able (or unable?) to ever handle running the 26.2 miles in a marathon again?

What I do know is that I am listening. To my husband, who wants to live happily ever after with his chosen wife. To my daughter, who simply wants her mother to be here with her. To my coworkers, as they compensate for my currently injured state and constantly find ways to adapt and overcome. To my friends, who shower me with love, support, and the dark, twisted humor that our past experiences have caused us to appreciate.

You see, I am not afraid to live my life; nor am I afraid to die. It’s “the middle” which scares me most – to be “alive”, yet unable to fully LIVE, is a fate so much worse than death.

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

“Love Yourself – Lessons Learned in Transformation.”

“I’m not exactly sure what Life is trying to teach me, but I’m pretty sure it involves detatching myself from anything and everything that I cling too tightly to.”, I said to my counselor today as we discussed my most recent skydiving injuries. (A complicated arm/wrist fracture and compression fractures in my spine.)

“Transformation” is the word he left lingering in my mind as we parted ways at the end of today’s session. And he’s right – he’s seen me transform my life many times over. Beginning with my previous marriage – which ended in divorce but, ultimately, paved the way for a new, everlasting love to take root and bloom. Breaking free of a religion which never did sit well with my soul, enabling me to clear my mind of prejudice and indoctrination. Changing my profession after nearly two decades of fulltime work, allowing me the time and space necessary to heal from years of heartbreaking and traumatic experiences. As well as, hours upon hours spent over the past four years, counseling me through a very complicated grief process and subsequent existential crisis until I could finally begin to “see the sunlight” again.

Most recently, I have transformed my running from an unhealthy obsession back to a simple passion – with less attachment to the results, and more love for the actual movement itself. My finances, from paying out too much on lingering balances or spending on frivolous things, to paying off those balances and spending only on things I need or that benefit myself and/or my family with their experience. My job, by being more open and honest about my desire to escape “the grind” – working part time in order to live fulltime. And my home; decluttering every room, every closet, every drawer in our private space in order to discard useless or broken things and items which stir up negative emotions in me; donating or selling many others which no longer prove useful or add any value to our lives. It’s such a cleansing practice, the art of letting go.

In doing all of these things, I have opened up so much more time and space to see and do all of the things that matter the most to me – from spending more time with my husband, to reconnecting with old (& meeting some new!) friends, to exercising and running on a daily basis simply because it feels good and I enjoy it! Exploring this world we live in – from the small “mom & pop shoppe” businesses in our local communities, to planning much bigger travel adventures to look forward to.

It was during one of my more recent workouts (when I needed to modify, while the majority of other participants did not) that I came to this astounding conclusion:

“Love yourself for what you can do rather than hate yourself for what you can’t.”

Perhaps you don’t get why I call this “astounding”. It really is such a simple concept… and if you are someone who has done this all along, I applaud you – but it has taken all of my 42 years upon this Earth for me to realize this for myself.

Now, here I am, one week post surgery to repair the damage done to my body from crash landing my parachute in an otherwise perfect skydiving jump – completely unable to run, jump, or even walk much for any significant length of time… and you’d think I’d be distraught? The “old” me would have been riddled with anxiety and tension, shedding many tears for what would have been or could have been – but Dr. Michael is right – I’m different now. I’ve transformed.

So will I ever actually run the Boston Marathon as a qualified runner?

Will I continue my skydiving endeavors once my body has healed?

The answers are yet to be known, even to me.

I used to be so uncomfortable with ambiguity; but now I find it beautiful. 🦋

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun