I am really excited to kick off another great year of inspiring guest posts here on Two Kids in Tow! I asked my dear friend from The Bell Adventures to write about new beginnings and her fresh, new perspective following an injury last year. There’s no better way to begin a brand new year than with a fresh resolve to live life to the very fullest!

I’ve always been a dreamer. As a child, you could often find me sitting on the branches of our backyard cherry tree, singing to myself, and staring up into the sky. I had big dreams of being a philanthropist, an actress, a singer, a mother, a wife. But in all my dreams, I’d never know of the strengths that would be unveiled, through pushing past comfort zones and boundaries. I never imagined the places I could reach, through sheer willpower, and with my own two feet to propel me forward. Places with enchanting rivers, wildflowers reaching as far as the eye could see, and the top of a mountain that shoots over 14,000 feet into the sky. That was one big thing that I thought I’d never be able to do, but I did: I climbed a Colorado 14er, with snowshoes on my feet, and a 45-pound pack of baby and gear, on my back. It was an impossible idea, which manifested into the event of a lifetime.
Living Beyond Your Dreams by Shanel Bell

Through these accomplishments, each marvelous experience sparked new dreams. Dreams of adventure, and excitement, and accomplishing feats that I’d always thought of as unattainable. And these dreams turned into plans, which in turn developed into experiences, and eventually memories that I’ll cherish forever. Life was great! I was contributing to others, through sharing my experiences, and connecting with some of the most amazing people. We were destined for more mountains, more 10 mile hikes, more adventures! But on September 1st, 2016, I broke my ankle. And, in the most unexciting way possible: by falling out of a car. I broke it not by doing something cool, with no awesome trail story to tell, but by simply tripping over myself, while hurriedly loading up our vehicle. It was painful.

We were packing our vehicle for a roadtrip to Washington State, when I fell. We’d planned for trails, mountains, friends, adventure. But those plans had to change. I was now on crutches. We unpacked most of our adventure gear, and continued to push on to Washington.

Crutches were hard to get used to, but I managed. Thankfully, I had friends and family to help me in Washington. I have two small children who were (then) under 5 years old. I was grateful for the help, and I made the best of my situation with humor and positivity. But I did have moments that broke me down. The biggest of which, was on our last day in Washington, when my parents took us out for dinner.

Crutches are clumsy, and make your stance a lot wider. They also are touchy, so the slightest contour in the ground, or tiny puddle on tile, would cause instability in my gait. When we got to the restaurant, I had to use the restroom, and knew to tread carefully. The handicap stall was much easier for me to use, because of the width of the crutches, but that stall was in use. So, I squished my way into a normal sized stall.

After the 10 minute ordeal of trying to pee, and balance, and squish, in the tiny stall, I went out to wash my hands. Have you ever tried washing your hands, while trying to balance on crutches? It turns the simple act of cleansing your hands, into a terrifying obstacle course. You wash your hands, then have to squeeze the crutches under your armpits, while hobbling over on one leg to the paper towel dispenser, all the while, trying not slip on a puddle, or catch the crutches on the ground in a way that will send you flying forward.

I dried my hands without falling, and headed for the door. I carefully crutched my way over the shiny surface of the floor, watching my every step, but it happened. I hit the tiniest drop of water, and my crutches were sent flying in front of me, causing me to catch myself with my right foot: my broken ankle foot. It sent a shocking pain through my body, and I became overwhelmed. I hobbled my way back to the table and broke out in tears. It was too much for me to handle in that moment.

After the tears subsided, I began to feel more hopeful. I let myself mourn a bit, and now I could move forward with my recovery. Recovery was rough. I left my oldest in Washington, with family, while I came back to Colorado with my husband, baby, and mother in law. Separating from my son was one of the hardest decisions of my life. My mother-in-law stayed for a couple weeks to help out, but I was mostly on my own, with the recovery and rehabilitation. I looked for solutions to regain some independence, and found a knee crutch on Craigslist. It was a game changer! I looked like a pirate, but it was a hands free crutch that allowed me to still live life, with a broken ankle. A few months, a surgery, some self rehab, and after eventually getting my son back, I was walking once again. The pain made it difficult to walk at first, but I pushed through, and finally, a couple months later, I said enough reminiscing, it’s time to make some new memories.

Living Beyond Your Dreams by Shanel Bell

A Fresh, New Perspective

It was glorious. January 1, 2017, I finally got to hike on my own two feet again! I snowshoed with my family through Rocky Mountain National Park, to three beautiful frozen alpine lakes. I’d dreamed of that moment, since the previous year, when I first saw a post on Instagram, of frozen bubbles in the lake’s ice. Seeing them in real life was more splendid than I could have ever hoped for. I felt alive. Everything was fresher, more beautiful, more wondrous than before. The ache I felt from exerting myself, was more welcomed and appreciated. I was so incredibly grateful to be able to feel the pain again, to feel ALIVE!

Living Beyond Your Dreams by Shanel Bell

Since then (9 days later), I’ve hiked a total of 18.27 miles, and thousands of feet in elevation gain. I had my first challenging solo hike (post-broken-ankle) with my babies, 4 days ago, and we accomplished 6.5 miles, with me in snowshoes, and once again, 45-pound pack of baby and gear on my back. It has been GLORIOUS! To feel that burn in my hips, the ache in my feet, the rubberiness in my muscles. The pains have never been more welcomed, and longed for. I’m so grateful to be here again.

Life has a way of really making you work for the things that are truly worth living for and doing. I knew this in my mind, before, but after my ankle breaking experience, I now know this to be true, in the depths of my heart and soul. I’ve been a dreamer all my life, but with each burn in my muscles, and ache in my back, I now know that the dreamer has become a planner, and, with the extra encouragement of my husband, and the passion that has awakened inside of me, I know I can DO anything I set my heart to. And that’s a trait that I hope to instill into my children.

Living Beyond Your Dreams by Shanel Bell
Living Beyond Your Dreams by Shanel Bell

So here’s to 2017! A year of opportunity, of growth, of teach and learning. A year of “where to?”, and most importantly, “Let’s GO!”.

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant:
if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.
– Anne Bradstreet, Meditations Divine and Moral, 1655

Living Beyond Your Dreams by Shanel Bell

I am a full time adventure mom of a 21 month old girl and an active 5 year old boy, living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I’m married to my best friend of 13 years. Together, we road trip, and adventure across Colorado, and to as many different states as we can. My husband is an avid mountain climber, skier, and skillful outdoorsman. I owe the unveiling of my strengths, and a lot of the courage to try new things, to my husband. I would not have these amazing life experiences without his support.

You can find our adventures and tips on our Instagram and most recently, on our blog, The Bell Adventures.

A big Mahalo (thank you) to Jessie, for graciously allowing me to create a guest post for this amazing blog! I am absolutely honored to be a part of this amazing mama’s world!

See you on the trails!