May 1, 2009, is such a profound day in my life. It is the day I will never forget, and its anniversary fills my heart with dread and sends shivers down my spine. I had no idea when I awoke that Spring Friday morning 11 years ago that I would later find myself pinned under the tire of a 15-ton New York City Bus. I had no idea how my life would be forever changed, with an unbelievably different trajectory.
Even as recently as 2019, while everyone applauded how well I was recovering, my pain had increased, mobility decreased, and I knew that something was wrong with my leg. Fearing the worst, I imagined things like fusing my knee and amputation and I was
reluctant to face that news. In July 2019, I met with the amazing orthopedic surgeon Dr. Austin Fragomen at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Fortunately, he had other plans for me.
To my relief and surprise, I was scheduled for surgery #20 on October 8, 2019, where my rounded bones were re-broken and literally moved and set straight. Though the procedure was a complete success, the recovery was slow, more painful, and much
harder than I had anticipated.
In the days, weeks, months, and even years after the 2009 accident my focus was on physically and emotionally surviving. Crying and staring at the ceiling became tiresome and I was aware that I needed to ‘Accept’ my situation as my ‘new normal’. I did not know it at the time, but I had already begun implementing Step Two of the Victory Dance in ‘Dance Because You Can.’
Acceptance has always been an option, freedom of choice to move ahead no matter what I was facing. I had plenty of practice accepting my physical limitations, going back to 1991 when I stopped driving because I was blinded by severe diabetes eye
complications. The journey has been long and difficult, but accepting the situation leads me to look at what is possible. I found myself developing other skills, returning to dance to create a valuable and productive life, as a choreographer.
I am not an optimist by nature. It is something I work at daily. I am never satisfied with my work and I feel there is always more I can accomplish. Maybe it all feeds my need to be perfect. The lessons continue as I learn how to care for myself. Managing my
diabetes and my physical therapy is a daily and full-time job. I have accepted, as part of my reality, my need to create a new imagined life for myself and I am able to manage the reactions, expectations, and unsolicited advice of others.
When I wake up afraid and feeling sad, I remember that it is my choice how I react to the conditions of my life. I do not have to stay stuck, even when I DO NOT like what is happening. Acceptance, Step Two of Your Victory Dance, opens the door to
possibilities and transformation which has become a metaphor for my life.
Reflecting on my life, I HAVE accomplished many things. The manifestation of the choreography for the successfully acclaimed Victory Dance Project. The professional dance company was birthed as an idea while I was pinned under that tire of the New
York City bus. I promised that if I survived the night, I would create my ‘Victory Dance’.
The book ‘Dance Because You Can’ was awarded the 2019 EVVY Award for Best Non-Fiction book of the year. A full-length documentary feature film is completed and in distribution negotiation.
I cared for my ailing Father until his final breath after we chanted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo together one last time.
Looking back on this, as I do in the past 11 years, I feel immense appreciation. It has been tough, and at times brutal. There have been moments when I did not think I would survive, physically or emotionally. These moments pass even though the obstacles continue. There is no time for pity within the mantra of acceptance, determination, and transformation.
Spring presents itself to me again and in this time of COVID-19 isolation, there is time for reflection and gratitude. COVID-19 has certainly given us a chance to redirect our energy and get creative about self-care. I was undergoing surgery to remove the cumbersome and uncomfortable external plates in New York City in February when the Corona Virus outbreak began. Gratefully I returned home to Florida before the outbreak locked down the world. Our lives are being impacted in ways we could have never imagined.
11 years later, I continue to determine to create a new ‘normal’; my body and my leg have been rebuilt and my life continues to take on new forms. There are aspects of my personal and professional life yet unfulfilled, but I just accept and redetermine daily.
My story continues to be a process with plenty of ups and downs. I remind myself that sometimes, I may not react perfectly all the time and that is O.K. because I am human.
My question is always, how can we use acceptance to create value?
Can we use this traumatic unprecedented pandemic and transform it into triumph? We fight, we persevered, and every day, we choose to take another step.
We are creating our Victory Dance together.