Despite the universal illusion of the single warrior destroying the beast and saving the world, the hero does not accomplish great things alone. You are not in this alone. We all support each other. And by supporting each other, we help ourselves. 

Neil Armstrong took the first step on the moon, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of preparation and hard work by him and thousands of others. 

But, all the support in the world cannot make you move. It cannot do the walk. You are still the one who has to choose that goal and carry it out. 

That first step is the most important. And with each step forward, you are closer to the summit. 

How do you connect with that inner power? One simple step at a time. 

Joel had always been a runner, head of the track team in college; he even set some new records while he was there. After college, he kept running, right up the ladder of work promotions and successes.  Then, COVID-19 hit. Young at 62 and pretty healthy overall, he assumed that he would bounce back in no time, just like the flu a few years before when he had been too busy at work to get his flu shot.

He didn’t bounce back. After a sudden episode of breathlessness and fatigue at home, Joel was admitted to the hospital intensive care unit. Attached to a ventilator, with IV lines and monitor wires he struggled for breath.  When he finally made it home, he carried an oxygen tank and a box of machines and pills.  

He felt finished. His career, his independence, his energy was gone. Settling into his big boy lounge chair, tethered to his oxygen, inhalers nearby, one day flowed to the next. No laughter, no eagerness to live, no running, no life.

It wasn’t until Joel stepped into pulmonary rehab that he saw a glimmer of hope.   The nurses and therapists saw his potential, not his limitations!  

It starts with hope and with that first step comes a bit of determination. And some fear.

In pulmonary rehab, Joel met others like him, working out with their oxygen. Could he ever do that?

When he stepped off the treadmill after three minutes, he was exhausted and elated, as if he had just finished a marathon. He did it! What had pushed him to the finish line back then would get him through this challenge. 

Looking back to those days of running, he remembered the hours of practice, the day in and day out struggle to be the best. Joel had seen these as opportunities, not limitations!  It took practice and patience and a plan and… determination. So, he made a plan, increasing his exercise each week, little by little. 

Joel finished pulmonary rehab, packed up his wheelchair and his recliner and got back to living.  He had learned how to exercise safely, how to take care of himself, and stay flexible with himself. He learned to appreciate the good days and ease up on the not so good days.

Joel’s marathon may not be 26 miles anymore but he still feels like a winner.  He is reclaiming his life, and in many ways, enjoying it more. He walks every day, continuing to increase his time on those good days and has started bicycling. He shares tasks at home, and found that he really enjoys cooking. His family time is special and he relishes those moments when they are together playing games or simply hashing out the day’s events. He’s reconnected with old friends and continues to learn new things in the monthly support group  meetings.

Joel found that hidden hero inside.  And in doing that, he found himself a more contented and connected husband, father and friend. 

How do you unlock that strength that makes some people able to move mountains?

One step at a time.