Day 36. Day 37. Day 38. Day 39.

“There are moments when troubles enter our lives and we can do nothing to avoid them. But they are there for a reason. Only when we have overcome them will we understand why they were there.”

― Paulo Coelho, The Fifth Mountain

It was just on Friday that I was talking to Jim and he asked how everything was going.

‘Sorry I haven’t checked in for a while. How is Oliver? How are you?’ he asked

‘Thanks for asking,’ I said. ‘You know things seems as if they have finally quieted down. Feels like things are not breaking or falling over as much, no one has gotten any stitches. Maybe I’m finally used to this. Beaten into submission,’ I added.

‘That’s good. That’s good,’ Jim said. ‘I’m glad to know you two are okay.’

This was on Friday. I was a little bothered that I had not heard from him in a while, wrapped in the expectation that he should be showing more concern for me but Monday was my follow up appointment with the doctor and I was feeling optimistic. Overly optimistic. I had high hopes for some good news. They would take an X-ray and somehow magically say I no longer needed a cast, that I had graduated to the boot, that my life on crutches was soon coming to an end.

I went about my weekend. Going to Friday Night Fights at ACF and cheering the competitors, taking photos, reconnecting with the community. Saturday morning up early and down to CrossFit Beyond to cheer some of my favorite CF Peeps in a fundraising WOD, Barbells for Boobs. Take some more pictures. Feel happy. On the road to somewhere good. Feeling like I’m making progress and getting healthier and getting back to who I want to be.

Sunday I go to brunch with my family and think about the week ahead. I look forward to the week ahead. I’ve somehow convinced myself that I will receive good news on Monday at the orthopedics. I’ve convinced myself.

Monday morning I check into the doctors office. They remove the purple cast and ask what color cast I would like next.

‘Aren’t you going to take an X-ray?’ I ask.

‘You’ll have to ask the doctor about that, first we need to get you into a new cast.’

‘But, if you don’t take an X-ray how will you know if my foot is healing?’

‘We can still take an X-ray over the cast,’ the nurse says to me. ‘What color would you like?’

‘Black,’ I say.

I’m dumbfounded. I’m not sure exactly what I expected, but in the very least I expected another X-ray. It’s been three weeks since my last appointment. I wanted to see progress, I wanted to know I was doing well, that my foot was almost healed that this life on crutches was soon to be behind me.

As the final bits of the black cast are wrapped around my leg the doctor walks into the room. He’s tall, broad chested, confidently slow moving almost goofily disarming.

‘Aren’t you going to take an X-ray?’ I plead.

‘You want an X-ray?’ he asks.

‘I NEED an X-ray!’ I say.

‘Ok,’ the doctor says.

‘I need an X-ray because I need to know.’ I say. ‘I need to see progress. Something positive. There has to be some hope in all of this.’

‘We will get an X-ray.’ the doctor says.

Frankly, I’m confused why an X-ray is not part of the original plan of this follow up visit. It has been 38 days since I broke my foot. 38 days. Shouldn’t my foot be healing? I simply do not understand. When did broken bones stop healing back together?

After the X-Ray my sister-in-law and I sit in the waiting room and discuss what color Sharpie would show up best on a black cast, silver or gold.

‘Want to see the X-ray?’ The doctor asks.

In his office I study the image on his computer screen. It looks foggy, I’m guessing because of the cast.

Here’s a synopsis of what I think the doctor said to me; ‘The good news is that your bones are lining up nicely. I’d say another 5 weeks in the cast, then you come back and we take another look.’

All I hear is: ‘another 5 weeks in a cast.’ It’s all I can focus on and not at all what I hoped for – what I planned for. The news is devastating. 5 weeks. 5 weeks. 5 weeks. Didn’t the last 4 plus weeks count for anything? Anything at all? When did broken bones stop healing? I don’t understand.

It’s as if all the days and weeks of struggling and growing into acceptance and relearning how to live have been erased and I’m starting from scratch once more. All hope is washed away. I’m not even half way through this journey. The light at the end of the tunnel snubbed out. There is no end in sight. Not for me. Not right now.

I took the news hard. I came home and lied down on the couch. I drank NyQuil to help me fall asleep. This morning I woke up groggy, not wanting to get up. I simply had no desire to get moving. No desire to get the dog fed and the coffee made and the dog downstairs and outside and my teeth brushed and my hair combed or to get dressed in a clean set of clothes. There was no part of my body or mind that wanted to do any of these things. There was no will to join the day.

Tonight I’m feeling a little more settled. But there’s a lingering sensation of indifference. Knowing this is now my fate for the month of November I feel the need to pair down my life even further. My last day in my current job will be Nov. 8. I think about how long I can last until I find another job. The people in my life that I once thought of as best friends have disappeared, the people in my life that I never thought to ask to show up continue to show up consistently and all without my having to ask. The life lessons are plentiful. Like fireflies lighting a distant summer night, if I do not grab the illuminated lesson quickly beneath the lid of my mayonnaise jar the moment will pass and the illumination will disappear.

My perspective on life continues to readjust as new realities come into focus. All of life seems so fragile. Relationships, people, objects, pets, your health, your abilities, down to the smallest minute item we can take for granted. Just going out to get a cup of coffee is now a whole new unfamiliar script.

I feel vulnerable as I worry about my ability to take care of myself in the simplest of ways. I worry I’ll be left behind. I worry I will no longer be relevant. I worry no one will notice I’m no longer there. Losing my job during this time is an additional stress of the unknown.

The final truth is that none of us can really control any of these things. These are life’s events. Our job is to be as best prepared for these moments as you possibly can. Perhaps I should remember I’m able to do so well on crutches to begin with is because of all of my CrossFit training. Perhaps I should be grateful for the time spent with family now as a result of their taking the time to include me knowing I’m injured. Perhaps I should focus on the incredible generosity of those close to me and far, the rides to writing class, the gentleman who carried my groceries to the car, the resistance trainer in the garage secretly assembled and attached to my favorite road bike by my brother and his wife, ready to ride when I get the go ahead for weight bearing activity again. Perhaps I should remember all of these beautiful things.

trainer 2

That’s my favorite bike. And that’s a brand new resistance trainer installed on the rear wheel and ready for action once I’m ready for action too.

I’m finding when these set backs occur, like the one yesterday at the doctor’s office, when I did not hear the news I wanted to hear, when these expectations are not met and I feel disappointed, there’s a resulting bump in the road. A mental speed bump. I get sad, I feel disappointed, I get knocked down.

But it is now 48 hours later and I’m starting to build back up again. Remembering the generosity and love of those around me, I’m looking ahead to the month of November and thinking, take this time and use it. Use it and make it beautiful. Write, create, relax, enjoy. Your job is winding down, you will have some extra time. Granted you are on crutches but relish that you can heal and not feel like you have to be out the door doing and performing for a new job. Enjoy the cool weather, sit outside with Oliver. Go to mass on Sunday. Eat healthy. Focus on your volume training. Finally get a pull up. Get back to that place, get to that place, that you want to be, even if you have to get there on crutches.

You can still get there, even on crutches.

Day 35

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” ― Neil Gaiman

It’s amazing what roasted spaghetti squash and a good night’s sleep can do for the psyche.squash

I woke up today feeling optimistic. Granted my job is ending in two weeks with no new job on the horizon and I’m hopping around on crutches with a broken foot in a purple cast. Granted. But there are so many good things to focus on too:

  1. The dog – with the first sound of his happy tail thumping in the morning I’m reminded of the absolute beauty in simplicity and kindness. Oliver was a rescue dog. I found him when he was 2, living as a backyard dog in TN. I adopted him from a photo on having never actually met him. The first year was rough, there were aggression issues. Even my trusted vet, after Oliver snapped at him during an initial exam, suggested I may have made a mistake in choosing this dog. Today, Oliver is a love bug, full of playful bows and nose nudges and patience and kindness. He does not chew or jump or make a mess or bark unless necessary. He calmly watches and waits his turn. I can still stand to learn a lot from him.
  2. The people that have come into my life as a result of CrossFit. I must have done something right to have this army of bright, hardworking, funny, caring, kind, patient, generous, grit your teeth and buckle down and get shit done group of friends in my life. The amount of support they have demonstated over the past month has been completely unexpected and amaze-ballz. Demonstrated being the key word, there was no ‘if you need anything let me know’ empty talk, because one of the hardest things to do when you need help is ask for it. No, with my CF Family it has been more like, ‘we are coming over and cooking dinner for you or picking you up and taking you to a Penn State Game, or a Pearl Jam concert or to the grocery store or to the gym (you can still work out you know). Not a lot of talking, just an incredible amount of unending doing. Actions > Words.
  3. My family. Like my CF family, except you can’t choose these people as they are assigned to you at birth. Regardless, they continue to show up. Even despite my best efforts over the years to deter them from liking me. Despite their best efforts to do the same. Sometimes if you’re lucky they stop by to deliver the best chicken wings in town, or pick you up and take you to writing class or to go buy mums and grass fed beef at a local farm.
  4. There are simpler things to be grateful for too….
  5. Great coffee in the morning
  6. October weather
  7. Leaves that paint the landscape and fall to the ground
  8. The outfit I’m going to wear as soon as my foot heals which includes; an incredible pair of tall balck boots and warm tights and cord skirt and warm coat.
  9. Colorful scarves
  10. The fact that my foot will one day heal
  11. The next PR on my deadlift
  12. Thanksgiving is coming
  13. While I may not have met him yet, the love of my life is out there making his way to me. Remember:

“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.” ― Steve Jobs

Day 34 – A Post from the Dark Side

“I’m in love with you,” he said quietly.

“Augustus,” I said.

“I am,” he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

I’m reaching a saturation point with being on crutches. It’s all anyone talks to me about these days. It used to be strangers would come up and start talking to me about my height. Being tall was the first and only thing that they noticed about me as far as I could tell. Some people get told their beautiful or have nice hair or a klutz. ‘You’re really tall,’ is what people typically say to me.

Until now.

Now they say, ‘Oh no, that sucks.’ ‘What’d you do?’

‘I broke my foot,’ I say.

Someone suggested coming up with a more creative story. ‘I was running from the PoPo…’ but that’s as far as I got.

There’s so much more to me than my broken foot, or my height. I know there are huge lessons and beautiful moments to be gained from the broken foot. I also love my height. It gives me the best view at concerts, specifically the mosh pit in front of the stage for Pearl Jam in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center, but I long for interactions, intimate and meaningful interactions with people that look beyond these two very blatantly obvious things about me. Especially now.

Conversations that focus on adventure, food, cupcakes, siblings, love, dogs. Anything but the obvious. Anything that helps me forget the crutches and the time it takes for me to get from here to there and the fact that mornings and night times are usually the most difficult because I’m not sleeping well and the chores associated with starting and then finishing the day are seeming endless. I’d prefer to think about new possibilities, hopeful moments, connections. But the consistent exchanges about my broken foot are empty, predictable and shallow. They lead nowhere – mostly because there’s nothing left for me to say about it. The moments during the day that I’m not reminded of the current broken foot scenario are few. I’m feeling trapped and at moments want to scream, there’s more to me than this. I’ve reached the end of my rope-of-tolerance. I have visions of cutting off the cast. But I don’t. I succumb and answer and then put my head down and crutch away.

‘Oh no, what happened?’

‘I broke my foot .’

‘That sucks. How?’

‘I was running, jogging actually, and stepped funny.’


And then the conversation is over as far as I’m concerned.

I feel like the cover of my Netflix envelope. Except her vacuum probably works. Wonder what it would take to get that bitch over here to vacuum my place. I’d probably get her voice mail.

bitch on a vacuum

A poignant sense of isolation is circling the drain. I get home and I close the door and I crutch up the stairs. I drop my backpack and feed the dog and fall into the couch. Oh the relief in being able to put my foot up again. But then as I relax into my well worn spot I look around my apartment and absorb the quiet and feel, isolated. Lonely. The only relief from the loneliness is logging onto FB. Perhaps someone tagged me in a post. Someone thought of me. This makes me feel good for a moment. But it’s a flash of time and then it’s over and it is just me and the dog and more silence.

On a good note I made it to the hairdresser today. An appt. scheduled long ago. Make sure you’re buttoned up for interviews, I thought.

‘Oh no, what’d you do?’ asked the receptionist and the lady who got me coffee and my stylist and the girl who washed my hair.

You already have an idea how I responded.

I understand everyone is doing their best and most folks don’t know what to say. Myself included. I also went to a wake yesterday for the 93 year old father of a friend. He simply passed away from old age. As I hobbled down the line and offered my sympathies to each member of the family, most of whom I did not know other than my friend – as I reached the last grandchild in line and introduced myself, the boy smiled and just looked at me and nodded, and so, feeling awkward and somehow suddenly not knowing what to say, I said…

‘Thanks for coming.’

To the grandson. At his grandfather’s wake. Thanks for coming.

I swear it’s just my foot that’s currently broken.

Speaking of being on crutches, I just wish that one person, that one dark knight, that one caring soul would come along and reach out and say something to me that pokes at my soul and wakes it up a bit and reminds me I’m still a girl, a person.

What could they say to me? I don’t know. I’ll let you know when it finds me.

Day 33

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
― Mary Oliver


Day 32

“It’s kind of like when you look at yourself in the mirror and you say your name. And it gets to a point where none of it seems real. Well, sometimes I can do that, but I don’t need an hour in front of a mirror. It just happens very fast, and things start to slip away. And I just open my eyes, and I see nothing. And then I start to breathe really hard trying to see something, but I can’t. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it scares me.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This cool cup was just given to me by my sister-in-law after her trip to visit my nephew who just moved to Seattle. I love Seattle. I love coffee. I love Starbucks. This whole picture makes me very, very happy.

Image 3

On another note: Feeling like all my hard work and training are slipping away from me. Feeling less and less like my former self and more like a shadow of what I used to be, what I used to feel. A reflection of what was, standing on the opposite side of the looking-glass and looking in. Standing inside a room with all the doors and windows closed and looking out.

My 2nd Place finish at Mass State Strongman in August seems faint and far away. Another person’s life, another person’s body.

It’s natural really, this transformation. I’m adjusting to my new life on crutches. Adapting so that I can function and survive in my day-to-day, be efficient and be able to do things that I used to do, however modified. My focus has shifted, instead of making it a priority to get to a WOD, a goal for the day is getting to the grocery store, preferably with someone’s help to push the cart and then carry the groceries from the car up the stairs and into my apartment once we get home.

One of the things that I would like to get back to, however modified, is CrossFit but I’m having a difficult time finding a comfortable path back. I’ve made it through the door at ACF and CCP a few times in the past weeks and worked with some folks, but each time feels like a step forward and two steps back – unable to do the movements I was once capable of doing, barbell movements specifically; Clean and Jerk, Deadlift, Snatch, those steely barometers by which every CF’er measures themselves.

Feeling lost and disconnected. Once able to share tips and pointers and talk weights and reps and strategy of the WOD and movements, the connection with athletes around me is stunted along with the familiarity with which to plug in and learn and grow.

On Saturday I was determined to go in and do something, originally agreeing to meet Carmen for the noon WOD. ‘I can scale the shit out of it,’ I said feeling cocky and motivated.

‘I’m in!’ I confidently pronounced.

But once I walked thru the door I felt instantly intimidated and lost. The desire to try and fit into the class drained away.  So then I just stood there, atop my crutches in the middle of the hallway, uncertain with what to do with myself. Unsure and feeling awkward I did what anyone would do, I hobbled off to the bathroom to kill some time. I made it up the stairs and into the ladies room and just stood there for a moment in the solitude of the rows of lockers.

I’m here, it’s a start, I thought. At least do something. I have to do something.

So I hopped back downstairs and crutched into the double wide. I leaned my crutches against the wall and grabbed a 24lbs. kettle bell and sat down on the floor. I can do weighted sit-ups, I thought.

Just as I began my reps the noon class piled into the double wide with their kettlebells from the warm up in tow. Their path to the kettle bell rack was blocked by only one thing, me, lying in the middle of the floor in front of the rack.

One by one they said excuse me and began stepping over me as they put their kettle bells away. Eventually the room grew quiet as they continued stepping over me in silence.

Sitting there looking up at them I wondered how much worse it could get.

Then Jay called me into the office. A metaphor, really. We actually set up an appointment to talk. ‘Am I fired?’ I asked half expecting it.

‘No,’ he said. ‘Pardon the expression… but when I saw you the other day it looked like you were dragging your dick in the dirt. That’s guy talk. Clearly you don’t have a dick.’

‘Thanks, Jay,’ I said. ‘I get it.’

‘Well?’ he asked.

‘It’s true,’ I said. ‘Not gonna lie… it’s been a challenging month.’

‘You know, Mary, there’s no reason you can’t WOD,’ he said. ‘You can scale everything. I challenge you to start hitting the WODs and scaling them.’

‘I don’t like a lot of attention,’ I said offering the nearest excuse I could find. ‘I feel awkward.’

‘So come in during the day,’ he said. ‘The 3pm is pretty quiet.’

So I did. Today. I emailed the coach, Andrew, and I said I was thinking of coming in, ‘Would you mind helping me scale the WOD?’ I asked. ‘Absolutely, let’s do it,’ he said. And so we did. Today.

A quick internet search before heading into ACF lead me to this lovely post for those looking to WOD with a broken foot. I printed it, and will now be using this as my guide for the weeks/months ahead, whatever it takes, to get moving again.

Today’s Modified WOD:

5 Rounds For Time

20 Ring Rows

20 knee pushups

20 Wall Ball Sit Ups

With the 20 minute time cap made it through to the last round and half way through push ups. Arms were in complete failure. It felt glorious. Glorious I say.

Days 30 and 31

“I went to a tattoo parlor and had YES written onto the palm of my left hand, and NO onto my right palm, what can I say, it hasn’t made my life wonderful, its made life possible, when I rub my hands against each other in the middle of winter I am warming myself with the friction of YES and NO, when I clap my hands I am showing my appreciation through the uniting and parting of YES and NO, I signify “book” by peeling open my hands, every book, for me, is the balance of YES and NO, even this one, my last one, especially this one. Does it break my heart, of course, every moment of every day, into more pieces than my heart was made of, I never thought of myself as quiet, much less silent, I never thought about things at all, everything changed, the distance that wedged itself between me and my happiness wasn’t the world, it wasn’t the bombs and burning buildings, it was me, my thinking, the cancer of never letting go, is ignorance bliss, I don’t know, but it’s so painful to think, and tell me, what did thinking ever do for me, to what great place did thinking ever bring me? I think and think and think, I’ve thought myself out of happiness one million times, but never once into it.”
― Jonathan Safran Foer

Yesterday was my last large event for work. We had our annual fundraising walk in the park on Sunday. From early morning until late afternoon the sun shone brightly upon us. It was a crisp 50 degree day. Because I’m still on crutches I spent the day in the accounting trailer. When not tallying donations I looked out the window.


But my heart was heavy all day. I couldn’t shake it. I felt caught between worlds with no where yet to land. No longer a part of the team at work since I would be leaving soon and feeling indifferent towards our goals, and yet to find my new team with new goals and new connections to be shared.

Apart from everything, a part of nothing.

As my coworkers gathered at the end of the day to celebrate their hard work and successes, I sat in my chair, crutches laying at my feet, and took this photo of the the world outside my window. I wanted to remember these feelings, of isolation, solitude, separation. It was my choice not to fully participate with my team. It was my choice to feel this way.

I was pulling back and pulling out and I wanted to remember. I had short-timers syndrome.

Why invest when you will be leaving shortly? Self preservation? It felt more like lack of energy, lack of interest, lack of wanting to connect. A strong desire to simply go home and put my foot up and check-out. Read a book, throw the ball for the dog, anything, anything at all that would get away from here.

There’s quite of a few of us that will be leaving on the 8th but no one is talking about it. It’s simply business as usual, go team! People choose not to recognize what is happening to some of us. It’s simply too awkward and in the end what’s to be said about all of it anyway.

It is what it is.

I’m feeling ready to go now. With the walk over and a majority of my projects tidy and organized for the next person, I’m simply ready to go. Let’s just get on with it, shall we. Power down the computer, close the binder, turn off the light. New goals, new horizons, new adventures. New opportunities await.

Days 28 and 29 – armed with dark purple nail polish

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Continue reading “Days 28 and 29 – armed with dark purple nail polish”