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, adjunct medical needs, 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. To help myself I invested in a few self-coaching programs and ultimately a 1:1 mindset/life coach: which has been priceless to me recently.
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 I healed up from yet another significant procedure in late summer roughly four years after it all began, I longed to be outside in nature. I decided to begin walking back into my body and the world. Literally and figuratively! Even though I had more procedures and healing to come (At that time, I actually did not know how much more!! It ended up being roughly two more years totally almost six total years!)
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. I also realized that I can take my own labels from what is given to me medically. These same amazing practitioners who had helped me also had told me I would not heal fully. So, I took a chance on myself-and yes, a rather big one!
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 Route 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; pausing one time to take care of some of my needs.
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 developed an adjunct medical issue that was very impactful and needed surgery, I am still doing okay enough. I did and still do therapeutic work and self-care. I have had follow-up and check-in appointments for several years. In addition, several therapeutic-focused mini procedures to address facial scar tissue. I even had a few “surprise” fix-its needed; thankfully they were just one-day small procedures!
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. Moving away from this is a process. Instead of it being my life, I now fit them into my life.
During the last years of my medical needs, COVID-19 occurred and as I update this writing, it is still happening and shifting. I was affected strongly just like everyone else. However, at the time I was not yet integrated back into my-new-normal, and soon after COVID-19 began, I headed into preparing for a bigger surgery, feeling unwell and addressing related needs. I was also adapted to being isolated and at my house, it was not a shift for me. That did not make it any easier in the big picture related to community and all going-ons. But that is another story that is connected with so many other stories.
After all these recent years, I’m now 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 of being more isolated. My main priorities are regaining wellness and physical capacity while renewing my professional path and fitting it into my overall life.
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. I was a silent observer, literally as I could not speak fully for almost three years! 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 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? Soon, you will be able to purchase I Stood in Silence, a spoken word poetry album, here .