Filling in the blanks…

Those of you who know me, know I live Forward Focused. So often in conversation or when I speak, I will forget to mention that I lost my feet. While it is clearly a significant part of my story, it is just that…part of my story. It doesn’t define me, however I choose to define it. For the purpose of providing context, I will fill in the blanks.

I am a life long athlete, runner primarily and gym rat, fitness freak, wellness warrior secondarily. I once thought it was what I did, I have come to appreciate its who I am. You find those things out, when your world burns to the ground, you sift through the ashes and find what remains. That’s the beauty in “disaster.” I have also been a personal trainer and transformational coach most of my life. I was in school finishing my degree in Kinesiology and Sports Psychology, training for a half marathon, preparing for a fitness competition, and teaching my bootcamps when something just didn’t feel right. I knew I had not injured myself, but I was in extreme pain. One day I was sprinting up the convention center stairs in Irving, TX, and the next, I ended up in the ER with extreme lower back and hip pain. It was March 22, 2012.

In the hospital, they gave me morphine and sent me home believing it to be sciatica. On March 24, less than 48 hours later, I told my family that I was dying. They rushed me back into the ER, and I was almost immediately placed on life support. I was in organ failure, my blood pressure was tanking, my kidneys were failing, I had a heart attack, and they had to place me in a coma and pump me full of vasopressors keeping the blood localized to my brain and vital organs. I was not expected to live, and they told my friends and family to say their goodbyes.

After a week to two weeks in a coma and amidst baited breath, they said I just turned a corner one day. (I will leave out the majority of the details here, but I will share them in my book). When I came to, I recall the look in the eyes of the doctors and nurses. They could only describe it as a miracle. And they credited my heath going in. I was 118 lbs with little to no body fat. I was in peak physical condition. During my time in ICU, my weight ballooned to 160 lbs from fluid retention due to my kidneys shutting down, and I walked out at sub 90 lbs having lost 30 plus pounds of muscle. My body went from a masterpiece to a nightmare. I seized feeling like a human. I had to relearn all functions, and my mind could not grasp the gravity of it all. I had no context for something like this. I remember telling my boot campers that I would see them at boot camp that night. I did end up teaching boot camp again from my wheelchair when I had the strength to be in the world again.

I wanted a quick recovery, but this sprinter with long distance abilities in the physical sense was about to convert to long distance with sprinting abilities in the spiritual sense. It felt as if I had fallen off the edge of the world. Life was going on without me as if I had never existed. Time was flying by and I was baby stepping when stepping at all. During it all, I was too sick to endure diagnostics so they had to make their best guesses of what happened to me. It wasn’t until I went to get my bilateral below the knee amputation surgery that they finally looked at my right hip in depth (where all the pain had been all along). It was essentially destroyed from osteomyelitis, MSSA and septic shock. I had my amputation surgery on Nov 7, 2013 after undergoing limb salvage for nearly 18 months. The writing had been on the wall, but I needed to lay my head on the pillow without any doubts. When you have to take yourself like a lamb to the slaughter to have not only a good percentage of yourself removed, but the very instruments of your entire identity and form of self expression as well as provision, you need to eliminate doubts. In addition, there were many more dynamics at play of which I will speak about in my upcoming book.

After undergoing the amputation surgery, I was ready to hit the ground running, or at least quickly walking. The problem was that the original pain in my hip remained, and I wasn’t willing to consume enough pain meds to dull the pain becoming a prisoner to the prescription so I was a prisoner to the pain instead. If I would walk or rehab at all, I would end up in the fetal position for days. I had to wait to have my right hip replaced because I had to undergo extensive antibiotic therapy. They wanted to make sure they killed any possible latent infection before proceeding. During the summer of 2014, they did the replacement in two steps, two separate surgeries with antibiotics in between. I was what felt like a creature for years. The sprinter in me was screaming inside. The war horse wanted to run, and run FAST. Turns out, she had to crawl, and crawl slowly.

The thing is life rarely gives us what we want, but will always give us what we NEED. It is all happening FOR us even though it feels like it is happening to us. I believe that we each have individual purposes, that we were designed for a purpose and that life supports us in fulfilling them. We also have free choice. It is my greatest desire to live up to my innate potential, above all things. You could say it is my highest value. So life really delivered me a gift. When this all happened, when life as I knew it burned to the ground, I chose to step up. I chose to believe it was all happening for me. I chose to look for the good. I chose to allow it to make me better rather than bitter. I chose to be a victor rather than a victim. I chose to be grateful. I chose to be hopeful. I could have chosen the opposite. Sadly many people do. Though I am proud to be a part of a movement that demonstrates how the very thing that appeared like it would destroy us, actually can liberate us.

We are all living below what we are capable of. That is human nature. We haven’t even scratched the surface of what is possible. When we are called to life altering circumstances, we can choose to answer the call. Grit is a choice. And grace is always found in each individual moment. We never receive strength for the entire journey all at once. We choose it moment by moment. During the journey, there were many moments when I didn’t think I could go on. I wasn’t willing to end my life because that would mean quitting, and like I said, quitting is my greatest fear. However, I did ask God to have mercy on me by taking me out of the game Himself. He didn’t, and I thank Him every day for it. If only I could share with you what a sunset feels like to my soul. I carry deep scars with me, and I’m grateful for it, because I never take for granted the sanctity of life. There was a time when I needed all of the lights off and black out shades on my window. Light was just too great a contrast to the darkness that I felt. Now, I dance in the rays of the sun and salute the One who paints the skies. I have created the Phoenix Perspective to share with you how the fire is our friend, how if we allow it to, it can free us. Obviously the hope is that none of you experience pain and loss this extreme, however in pain, there is no comparison. Pain is pain. Pain and loss are guaranteed in life. We all experience it and we all struggle with it. I just seek to provide some context to it. To allow it to burn a little less hot, and to assign meaning and yes, even beauty to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"Someone once told me the definition of hell: On the last day you have on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become." Anonymous.  And that would be a good place to begin. Often we know not what our purpose is until we think in terms of our eternal purpose. The moment I allowed my mind to expand to eternal proportions, it all came into full view. All of my micro passions and purposes could fall under one heavenly macro purpose banner. To live up to my potential, and pave the way for others to do the same.  As a child, I had an inner fire to learn everything I could to rise above the circumstances I was born into. It was like there was a scream in my soul. "I don't belong here, we don't belong here. Something is wrong here!" As a child I remember knowing I was born to rewrite the story. I can't imagine that is typical of most children. I recall wrestling with the decision between having play dates with friends or reading dates with myself. My mom and I would sojourn to our local library where I would faithfully check out the max number of books as they toppled out of my arms. The majority were non-fiction, particularly autobiographies of underdogs defying the odds.  I was born into two family lines riddled by addiction, anxiety and depression. I remember intrinsically knowing we were made for more. I have spent my life on a mission to choose differently. I have to credit my parents for instilling awareness in me. They had their struggles, but they always reminded me that things can be different. They may not have had the tools or strength to overcome their struggles, but they created a human who could and would. Awareness is half the battle. Too many grow up not knowing any different. They live reactionary lives imitating what they see and all they know. That is why I'm determined to educate and demonstrate that we are the creators of our reality, that we are not limited by circumstance or DNA. We are truly limitless.  I am a voracious reader who reads books that help unlock greatness and point to unlimited potential.  I am a writer who writes with the intention to unlock the inner hero begging to be released.  I am a personal trainer who trains others with the intent to show them that the only limits they have are those in their mind.  I am an athlete who had yet to achieve her potential because her mindset was broken and spirit was in bondage. It was the silent shame I carried throughout my life. I dedicated myself to studying how I could turn that shame into my superpower. I am now an athlete who gets to visibly demonstrate how truly limitless we really are. I am keenly aware that my movement conveys a powerful message. I know others are watching. I know the world needs this wake up call. I know I did.  And I know I haven't even started yet.  So when I nearly died and lost my feet in the process, I knew I was being called to the mat so to speak. I was being offered the opportunity to demonstrate my beliefs for all to see. While I may have felt "why me," my soul knew I had been uniquely prepared for this challenge. My soul said "of course, me." And that was the North Star that guided me through the hell I would have to traverse alone. I set out on a journey with my Maker to find ME. The real me. All of me. Who I was capable of being. Possibly more importantly, I discovered who I WAS NOT. I was refined in the FIRE. I am here by the GRACE of God and the GRIT of myself. I became an alchemist, turning tragedy into triumph, loss into gain, victimhood into victory. I choose carefully for I know that I create my own reality.  PS you can read more about how I lost my feet here: https://saramae.co/2015/10/20/filling-in-the-blanks/.  I am a Speaker. I realize this is bigger than I am. It is my privilege to share my story in a way that conveys hope smothered in tough love and points toward freedom. We are capable of so much more than we can begin to comprehend. We can choose it and we can do so today. We simply need be WILLING, AUDACIOUS and RELENTLESS.  I am a Writer. Writing is where I first tasted freedom. It is where I am all of me, where I speak my full truth, and where I allow God to speak through me. My message bypasses my brain coming straight from my spirit. Heck, it comes from my cells. I write to say what needs to be said. I write not to make one think, but to make one act.  My intention is not to make you feel good, or to think I am smart, but to get off your ass and live your life to the fullest. To live and love today to the fullest because it could be your last. Nothing is promised, not even the next second.  I am an athlete. It is an attitude, a swagger, a philosophy, a belief, a spirit. It is a commitment. Athletes aren't afraid to sweat and get dirty. They aren't afraid to try and "fail" because they know you only fail if you stay on the couch. And you can get off that couch this very second. I will push my athletic ability to the limits, and then I will push past them. There is no time clock, I will do this until the day I die. Where there is breath, there is hope and there is LIFE. I am ALIVE. I do not and I will not take that for granted. I move my body because I am blessed to do so because there are some who can't. There is always someone with less than you have doing more than you are. Make THEM proud. Honor their grit, thereby developing your own. Inspiration is tricky business. I don't want to be called inspiring as you scroll through Facebook. I want to INSPIRE your ACTION. I want to ELIMINATE your EXCUSES. My goals will continue to evolve because once I have ascended one mountain, I celebrate the view and then set my sights on the next. I am a runner with no feet whose wings span wide. I will run far and fly high. I am a trainer.  I am EXCUSELESS. Because I choose none for myself, I will accept none of yours. I am not for everybody, but I am for those who are hungry and committed to radically change their lives.  I am committed to doing my part to radically upgrade the dreams, expectations and lives of the collective whole. My inner hero, free spirit, champion craved existence and simply needed guidance on how to be born. I needed permission. I finally gave it to myself and now I offer it to you. I am here to remind those who need it that we were made for more.  The Phoenix Perspective is a Radical Responsibility Revolution. We have a zero tolerance policy for excuses. We make none and we accept none. Period. We know that we are more than our DNA, more than our CIRCUMSTANCES. We know that life is happening FOR us rather than TO us. We know that dying to who we thought ourselves to be so that we can become who we were meant to be is not only necessary, it is glorious. While it may not be comfortable, we know that the FIRE is our FRIEND. That it is a divine messenger sent to escort us to our higher selves. It is a message, a philosophy, a movement. It is an understanding and a vantage point. It is a challenge and an invitation. It is an initiation. 

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