60 at 40: A Life of Wonder and Wander

July 10, 2018. Today I celebrate life for so many reasons. A decade ago I turned 30. I was a free spirit and had great experiences, but I was lost. Surrounded by love but always pushing it away—preferring to keep everyone at a distance.

Exactly two months after my 30th birthday I was in a horrific car accident. I was t-boned by a drunk driver. I broke 14 bones. My lung collapsed. My arteries were mangled. My organs were in my chest cavity. I had a traumatic brain injury. I was code blue. I was in ICU for a month.

But I was surrounded by the love that has always been there. My family and friends supported me in ways that meant so much to me. I remember every card, every word, every thought, vibe and kindness that got me through that time.

The road to recovery, mentally and physically, was long. Much longer than most people know. I had to learn to walk, think and be human again.

ICU is necessary for healing but can drive you mad. In the dark time in ICU, before I could focus my brain on much, I asked my mom to bring me a map. When I was afraid or felt like giving up, I studied that map. I traced the country borders with my fingers. I walked across those borders in my mind, even though my legs were months away from taking their first unassisted steps.

In addition to the love from my friends and family—my village—that map and those thoughts of getting out alive to see the world got me though the worst moments of my life. I promised myself that I would see it all if I ever made it through ICU.

Things got really rough at moments over the next five years, and when they did, I took off into the world to find myself again. When I came back from one of of those trips, I met my future husband. And for the second half of my thirties, we traveled the world together. I let love in—and it’s the best.

I titled this blog entry “60 at 40” because I kept my promise to myself. I’ve traveled the world in the most amazing way. On my 40th birthday I am visiting country number 62 with the love of my life.

The pictures below are ones he took of me on our travels. I hate pictures of myself! But somehow when photos are through his lens, I feel so beautiful.

I am so deeply grateful to every person in my life who got me through it. Before, during and after my accident. I am more than alive. I am living.

~ LiAnn

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