Thereafter.

I can hardly believe that exactly one year has passed since my Farallon Islands swim. On August 8th 2015 at 4:22pm I swam underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, successfully completing a personal goal that was so big and so scary I had no idea I would return safely. In fact, I fully prepared not to return, accepting my fate with resignation and preparing for the worst. Oddly enough I was completely at peace with that possibility, for as the hours slipped away in the final approach to my swim, I found myself in a magical and tranquilizing vortex where all reason and fear dissipated effortlessly. It was just me, my team and my goal. Nothing else mattered.

With each of these goals, when you achieve them there is something that happens deep within the soul. I have had the great fortune of plumbing the depths of a sense of self that did not exist 10 years ago, 5 years ago or even a year ago. And it is constantly evolving.  

I am forever changed, reaching a deeper understanding, a deeper sense of who I am, and where I am at. And it is tremendously freeing. Each of these adventures have been both healing and nourishing. A transformative process – a spiritual awakening.

After my Farallon Islands swim I thought I would be done. I thought I would feel a complete and overwhelming sense of satisfaction and personal achievement. For this was the one swim that was missing from my heart, and I knew it had to be mine. And while I definitely feel at peace with having completed this goal, I cannot help but continue to be motivated by the thereafter, the next chapter in my journey. Because not a day goes by where I do not honor what happened to my leg in 2007. I now live everyday of my life paying deference to that second chance. I will never forget the fear of the unknown as I was told unequivocally “we saved your leg but we don’t know what, if any, functionally you will ever have.” Without knowing how I would do it, I took a leap of faith into the unknown, determined to prove all the medical experts wrong. And those two years I spent learning to walk again gave me a glimpse into the realm of possibilities, that anything is attainable when you set your mind, your body and your heart to a goal, and dare to dream.

So I am not quite done. Because, with each all-consuming journey towards that edge - a tantalizing boundary where my mind and body are truly challenged -  my sense of self not only blossoms, it thrives. Of course it is scary, but for me that is precisely the draw, because if it does not challenge you, it does not change you. Adventure allows me to realize previously unimaginable dreams.

I still want to see how far I can go. I want to see if I can push that edge just a little bit further. So next month, I will attempt a 45-hour non-stop swim from Sacramento to San Francisco.

In the five years that I have been a member of a non-profit team of adventurers called Night Train Swimmers I have learned the importance of making these goals bigger than myself. It is about giving back to the community. I have been waiting for the right opportunity to pursue a fundraising swim for Warrior Canine Connection, an organization that is very near and dear to my heart. I am hoping to bring much deserved attention to this very worthy organization that supports veterans and service members on their own journey to wellness.