May 25, 2007, I cleared out of the Boston VA Healthcare System, closing a chapter on 19 years of my life as a social worker at the VA to take the time I needed to heal my life. At the time, I didn't understand what that meant. I only knew that I was given the life altering diagnosis of post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease. I knew that if I had any hope of a future, I had to leave behind the stress of my job.
#tbt mementos from my tenure at the VA:
A Certificate of Appreciation Award honoring my 19 years of service at the VA and a certificate from Voluntary Service for my years of collaboration with them to benefit the quality of life for our veterans:
From my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility" now available on Amazon
"I didn’t know what needed healing or how that healing would happen. I only knew that I needed time and space away from the stress of getting up at 5:30 every morning, commuting into Boston, taking care of veterans and their families as well as the people on my team, and my own family members. I hold myself responsible for my inability to set limits. I feel tremendous compassion for myself that I was like a hamster in a wheel and had no idea how to get off of it within the VA system. I know many of my colleagues resented me for how much work I did do. I was held up as the standard for social workers when it came to ‘my numbers’ and documentation. There is the middle way of being able to find balance and self care while providing outstanding care to veterans and their families but I was damned if I knew how to get there at that time."
I have been marking each anniversary but I believe that this is the last year to mark the anniversary of when I left the VA. I feel a sense of completion. I feel it is time to move forward. Coincidentally, May 25th was my father's birthday. I am ready to leave him and our relationship in peace, grateful that I survived and now live a life that is full, vibrant and overflowing with blessings.
I feel blessed, honored, humbled and grateful that tomorrow night is the Book Release Party for my memoir.
I am ready to close the chapter on these past 7 years and embrace my life here and now. The combination of biweekly massage sessions at Sollievo Bodywork and Massage which incorporates Zero Balancing into the sessions, Aquatics Therapy at Spaulding Rehab and running 2-3X/week to train for the Tufts 10K in October is a winning combination in moving forward in my life as a survivor of paralytic polio and trauma.
I appreciate the gift that each day brings. I'm working on a new book, "Journey Well: Poems and Stories to Inspire". I have races planned for myself and my family. I volunteer and am part of support crew for those races that have a fast field and that I know I wouldn't enjoy - for now. I have run the 2009 Boston Marathon, published books of poetry and my memoir. I know that I blessed many lives when I worked as a social worker at the VA and continue to bless and inspire others as others bless and inspire me by their presence in my life.
I have books to read, and a garden to grow.
Most people my age are planning their retirement. I am living mine. It took me 7 years to settle and find a place of contentment, peace, healing and integrity and integration in my life. My heart overflows with gratitude that I am here now. I have an incredible partner in my life in my husband Tom who, thank goodness, is willing and able to work past retirement age to support us. I have so many beautiful friends in my life with whom to share the journey.
Seven years later -- life is good.