By Heather Lee Farrell
My story began with a journey into the unknown…
That fall season began with ideas of how my vision might unfold, where exploration and travels would take me, and how they would bring me home. I had ideas, creative intentions, work to do and adventures to create. My path would unfold, but life provided something entirely different.
I experienced severe physical trauma that late fall season. It was predicted that I wouldn’t heal fully functional. I embarked on a timeline of healing and recovery, surgical procedures, and therapeutic work.
Life manifested challenge and uncertainty. My path diverged from what I knew and became unforged.
I faced daily challenges of doing the work to heal. I struggled with isolation, discomfort, and sustaining the intense focus needed to heal optimally.
This long-term recovery stripped my life bare. Only the essentials mattered. It’s daunting to accept that I was still living my life. I hadn’t paused or taken a break. I wouldn’t “get back to it” later. Surgery, recovery, and discomfort were my life. It’s not lost time; it was worth the effort. Even though my world was narrow and limited for many years, it produced the opportunity for it to be boundless and unlimited now.
Recovery and healing demand time and toil. Sometimes, the amount of each is out of our control, despite our best actions or desires. At other times, we can impact our healing in profound ways through diligent effort. Over and over, I painfully learned that lesson and each time became more resilient.
I was forced to abruptly let go of my ideas of what my life was and might have been.
I entered a different realm of society — being unwell and being cared for. I thank my family, especially my spouse and mother, for the years they dedicated to being my caregivers.
I faced sadness, frustration, and fear during times of greater struggle. I worked hard at not wallowing or indulging in self-pity. Sometimes I did but tried not to dwell there. I shed layers of self and perception.
I strived to find some opportunity in the obstacles I moved through.
Knowing it would pass.
The story I took from it was up to me.
After, my last significant procedure in late summer about four years after it all began, I decided to walk back into my body and the world. For me, the wilderness was the perfect place to begin transitioning away from full-time recovery. For some, including several of my healthcare practitioners the idea sounded a bit mad and much too soon.
Despite that, I went, and the hardest part was taking my first step. When I did that, I left behind what had been, stepping over a threshold into what is possible. Knowing I might fail; but also knowing even if I failed, I had already won. I was walking a path of healing. And a path of soul.
For this pilgrimage, I chose a high-altitude route that traversed the Continental Divide and Colorado Trail, ultimately trekking about 250 miles. I walked the first 80 miles with a friend, Kelly B. Then, I soloed the rest with support from my spouse Christopher.
It was incredibly challenging, at the same time, it was exactly what I needed.
I almost quit many times; but somehow, I found the resolve to tread onward. It felt like an act of devotion honoring where I had been and where I was headed. The experience created deep confidence and connection while bolstering my physical capacity.
I walked into the mountains broken, healing, and recovering. I walked out remade, restored, and ready.
Even though I viewed myself functionally healed, I began the work of becoming healthy and well at a basic level. I also had a new normal to adjust to. I did and still do therapeutic work and self-care. I have follow-up and check-in appointments for several years. In addition, several therapeutic-focused mini procedures to address facial scar tissue. Instead of it being my life, I now fit them into my life. Even though I developed an adjunct medical issue that needs surgery, I am still doing okay enough. Moving away from this is a process.
I’m immersed in the reality of the intensely hard undertaking of continuing to rebuild my life in all areas. Yet, here I am. Inspired and committed. I am reconnecting with family and friends, discovering how different the world is after that many years, renewing my professional path, and regaining physical capacity.
Sometimes I find myself impatient and overwhelmed. I pause. I remind myself that I am guided by vision and not by circumstance. I remind myself that I can do this, I have the time I need and the capacity to begin anew.
Throughout those years of healing, I lived in a world of unwelcome, unknown, and uncertain. My journey through may ultimately offer me a more meaningful life than my previous destinations, ideas, and ways. Now, I’m deeply grateful.
I used creative work through art and writing as restorative healing as well as to support my love of creating. As I recovered, writing helped me explore my underworld, sink into it, embrace the flames, and rise.
I am creating a new story and life path for myself, as my accident and being unwell disrupted my old one.
Books by Heather Lee Farrell
Walking into Wild
Walking into Wild is my story of loving the land and walking along the 500-mile Colorado Trail after healing fully functional from almost 4 years of surgery & procedure, healing & recovery due to a traumatic injury… Returning to the world through the wilderness. My book includes original artwork and poetry woven into the story of my trek.
To be Released Soon
Today, I Begin Again
Fall of 2014 began with ideas of how my vision might unfold, where exploration and travels would take me and how they would bring me home. I had ideas, creative intentions, community to be part of, work to do and adventures to create.
My path would unfold with life providing something entirely different. These poems and writings are my offerings as I move along that path. I will share with you this unfolding, unwinding and reforging. These are my words of truth. Poem Art, Prose and Poems.
To be Released Soon
Poetry Chapbook: I Stood in Silence
These are poems that have traveled to you from wilderness areas I spent time in and experiences I have had.
After, experiencing a severe traumatic injury, I began doing creative work almost in devotion. My body had set in motion the need for new stories when my accident disrupted my old stories. I gave myself back a voice through creative works. These words helped me transform years of recovering from traumatic injury into something more and meaningful to me; I share them with you…
Do you like to listen to poetry? Purchase I Stood in Silence, a spoken word poetry album, here (11 poems)