The Path of Practice
Next weekend, I will run my first full marathon. But 8 weeks ago, I wasn’t so sure that’d I’d be able to finish my training program, let alone run the Grand Rapids Marathon on October 20.
This summer, after I had returned from my writing sabbatical out west, my dad had a catastrophic accident that had him in the Neuro ICU with a traumatic brain injury. To support his healing journey, I dropped everything — cancelled a dozen events on my book tour, stopped accepting new herbal clients, bagged my foraging schedule and of course, put my marathon training on the back burner.
The past eight weeks in hospital have been all consuming. When I wasn’t obsessed with changes in my dad’s vitals or detailing extensive family updates, I was trawling through NIH data on traumatic brain injuries and calling around getting personal recommendations from colleagues in the healthcare industry to help me understand my dad’s options for care. Not to mention, understanding the insurance landscape. When I wasn’t at the hospital becoming a short study in traumatic brain injury, I was at home, trying to be a mom and MAYBE get in a shower and comb my hair.
Running was the last thing on my mind. I could barely manage to make sure I ate and slept properly. I lightened up completely on my training schedule. The runs I did log were grueling — sloppy and difficult. At every mile my mind said stop. I was mentally and physically exhausted — particularly the first two of the four weeks my dad was in the ICU. I won’t recount to you the crazy things I did because I was sleep deprived, but WOW. It was like a throwback of the early days being with a newborn.
But I did get out there, and I did run. In those first few weeks of my family’s crisis, I felt they were all maintenance miles. Nothing fancy, fast or special. I was grateful to have logged two 20 milers before my Dad’s accident, and I did get one slow 20 miler into the books mid-September — so I didn’t have to stress about “knowing” I could conquer the distance.
In the past two weeks, as my Dad’s recovery started to uptick, the clouds parted. My own brain fog lifted and I have been able to run again. I am also slowly getting back to work that’s on my desk.
While the road of rehabilitation remains a long one for my dad and his recovery will remain at the center of my world, I am taking steps forward to reintegrate “work” back into my daily life.
My publisher will be happy to know that the copy for my upcoming foraging book with The Timber Press (2014) will be nearing completion by the start of the new year. I am also rescheduling a few book signings. And although classes will remain on hold and I will not be accepting new clients until at least 2014, I will be studying with Canadian herbalist Caroline Gagnon as a student in her mentorship program in Burlington, VT. In this time, Caroline will help guide me as a practitioner and assist me in planning next steps in my own professional career — which I believe may be leading me in the direction of medical school.
I will say — putting my work on hold in the past few months was as hard as putting my marathon training on hold. I was afraid that by putting things to the side, I wouldn’t be learning or “getting ahead,” even though being completely available for my father was — and continues to be — of utmost important to me. This inspirational blogpost by Worts and Cunning: Taking Root: 10 Steps to Deepen Your Practice, however, caught me to reframe all of this in my mind.
Looking back over the past 8 weeks, I took inventory of my experiences and my feelings. I haven’t been passively standing on the sidelines. I have been immersed fully in a difficult situation — the new order and tasks at hand have offered me a deeper perspective on healing and a new understanding as to the depth of my own mental endurance. And I am sure the lessons I have learned will continue to unfold as I walk the path of my practice.
So what are those next steps? 26.2 on October 20. A celebration of miles logged and miles yet to traverse.
How do you celebrate and stay rooted to the path of your practice?