It was supposed to be a short walk. I wanted to go down the street to the neighbor’s and come right back home. I thought it looked easy and I had been walking for a few years by now. I told my mom I could do it. I would do it. Because there’s no stopping me once I’ve decided to try. Determination is my middle name (well, it could be). And that was my goal all those years ago when I was about six.

I saw where I wanted to be and I had to try to get there, as independently as I could.

I had been practicing a lot in physical therapy. Every week. I’m sure I was doing the same at home all the time. Exercising, strengthening my legs, taking more and more steps. I just wanted to get around the house, to move a little freer, with less help. I was already used to depending on others each day, but when it came to walking…that was a gift. No one was sure if I would walk, especially since my body was a twisted mess at birth. My favorite way to describe it is: I looked like a pretzel.

To me, walking was never a matter of “if”. It was a “when” to me. When would my muscles be strong enough? When would my legs be straight enough? When would my balance and coordination hold me up long enough to move?

Oh, I was determined to figure it out. That was probably a top goal from the first day I started physical therapy. I didn’t know it yet because I began that process at three weeks old. It sounds crazy when I reflect on it as an adult. I was a baby. A wee little girl. And someone worked hard on my body for years.

Those long years of constant work and no one giving up pushed me toward the day of walking. I was four.

Yes, I was past the typical age for this milestone and there was more work to be done. But I was up. I moved. On my own. I took a step with a big grin on my face. And my world expanded a little more.

Now I could see farther in front of me. Thoughts of going somewhere grew beyond the next room in my house or around the halls of the physical therapy building.

I saw the chance to try walking outside, especially after increasing my mobility in the next couple of years.

And that destination right down the street looked doable. The short distance would be very manageable. I was six by this point, and ready to head out the door.

The story continues with Heading Out the Door, part two.

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