We all have scars, some of them visible, some of them hidden in our hearts. And we also all have a story, one that is meant to be shared, meant to be heard, meant to inspire others. When we embrace our scars and our stories, the beautiful symphony of our lives comes to life and we are able to see that we are made to heal, our bodies are incredible and we are able to do hard things.
From a young age I believed that my surgery scars made me ugly, needed to be covered up and made me different from everyone else. That mindset made me a prisoner of my own body for far too long. I believed that my body was limited and quite honestly, broken.
At the age of 9 I had my first knee surgery. It was deemed necessary after an abnormal growth in my right knee was discovered and I was experiencing pain while running and playing on the playground at school. I was a very active young kid, growing up on a farm in South Dakota. My life was full of outside playing, picking grass and feeding it to the mama cows and sheep, baling hay and taking a liking to the bottle lambs that needed some extra TLC. A sedentary life was never an option as our family was busy doing something on the farm, always! But, my scars always seemed to be a reminder to me that I had limitations and I was different from the other kids my age.
By the age of 22 I had undergone 7 vascular knee surgeries and a heart ablation to correct an arrhythmia. Countless doses of pain medications, sedatives, dye injections, steroids & antibiotics had completely disrupted my body’s ability to operate with healthy balance. Let alone the overwhelming stress that came with the most recent set of surgeries, 3 knee surgeries and my heart surgery in a 3 month period!
I couldn’t eat ANYTHING without some kind of reaction, whether it be diarrhea, nausea, rashes, or hives. My body was trying to heal from the 4 surgeries in a 3 month period and I was experiencing so much discomfort and pain from simply trying to eat and be mobile.
After trying many different drugs & prescriptions, my doctors didn’t have any further solutions and I was ready to settle for a life dependent upon medications to survive. They had shared with me their concerns about being able to have healthy pregnancies and an active lifestyle and I hit my breaking point.
This could not be my life. I remember lying in bed imagining what I wanted my life to look like. I was thinking about the goals my husband and I envisioned and the dreams we shared. We had been married for 2 years and we dreamed of the day we got to be called “Mommy” & “Daddy.” We had goals to be business owners and build something incredible together, as a team. I found myself being honest with myself and asking, “Is being limited physically really something I am willing to accept for the rest of my life? Why do I believe I have to live this way? Have I limited myself unknowingly, simply because doctors have told me this is my future? Do I truly want to live this way?”
I made a decision that day to ask different questions and be open to doing things a different way. If what I was doing wasn’t getting me to where I wanted to be, something had to change. I knew it was going to be hard, but living with limited mobility and constant discomfort and pain was also hard. I had to choose my “hard” and I decided that healing my body was the hard I was willing to choose because it was taking steps in the direction of the life I wanted to live.
I remember going to the library and checking out books and cookbooks that were all about healing your body with foods, herbs and supplements. Mind you, this was over 10 years ago so influencers and all of the Whole30, Paleo & GAPS diets were seen as a bit far fetched and out there. Even my husband thought I was a little crazy when I was making bone broth, brewing my own kombucha and sprouting seeds. He commented several times that our kitchen seemed more like a science lab than anything else, and it was true! But, I was desperate to try anything and from what I read, this was the solution.
I went ALL in and switched to a completely whole foods diet and my body was responding so well. It gave me the hope I needed that I could indeed be healthy again. One day while I was driving to the Co-Op (what seemed like had become my second home because of how much time I spent there learning about ALL THE THINGS) I saw a woman running. She was radiating, you could just tell she was truly enjoying it and was happy. I had a wild idea spark in my mind, “What if I started running?”
Why did that thought pop into my mind? I had never ever once considered myself a runner. I LOVED basketball as a kid and played until my Junior year in HS but quit because of my knee and heart issues. I never got back into sports and if I had to choose one, I think running would have been at the bottom of the list. But…I could see it, this woman running loved it, and I wanted to give it a try.
This was also before “Couch to 5k Plans” existed and I did not go to the library and check out books on this topic. I just started to run. With my iPod shuffle and no clue about what shoes to wear or even that there was such a thing as pace, I ran. And I had never felt so free. Every run made me feel stronger and soon my mindset shifted to seeing my body as beautiful and able to overcome so much. My scars were no longer reminding me of my limitations. Instead, they were proof to me that I was an overcomer, able to do hard things, and most importantly, I was made to heal.
One short year after the date of my heart surgery, I astonished my doctors and family and friends and ran my first half marathon, got off every single prescription and got sober. My body shed 40 pounds and I went on to have 2 completely healthy pregnancies and unmedicated births.I can’t help but think about what my life would be today if I would have let others tell me what my limitations were.
To this day, running continues to be an absolute gift in my life. I get to enjoy running 3-4 days a week and it’s the time I take to process emotions, talk to God, dream about my future, and remind myself that I am a warrior, and I can do hard things! It has also become something my sweet 9 year old daughter and I get to do together! She joins me on the trails as often as she can and we find a 5k to do together at least once a month. Being able to enjoy running WITH my daughter has been one of the absolute most amazing experiences and greatest joys!
Over the past 11 years my husband and I have created, owned and operated a Superfoods Company, homeschooled our children, renovated a home, remained sober, and continued to learn about the incredible things our bodies and minds are capable of doing. How we view our bodies, our scars and our stories will determine our health and healing journey.
Choose your hard.
Believe your body was made to heal.
See your scars as proof that you are an overcomer.
You can do hard things.
Go enjoy a run in the wild and be free!