Gratitude in Motion: A Review of Colleen Kelly Alexander's Memoir
I first read about Colleen Kelly Alexander in Women's Running magazine. Her recently published memoir, Gratitude in Motion: A True Story of Hope, Determination, and the Everyday Heroes Among Us (with Jenna Glatzer), resonates with me. Her memoir lives up to the themes in the title. Anyone enduring overwhelming setbacks, adversities, and challenging times will be inspired by Colleen's message of hope, determination, faith, love, gratitude, staying the course, and not giving up.
In Gratitude in Motion, Colleen, a triathlete, takes you on her amazing and jaw-dropping journey of resiliency, determination, and healing after being run over, not hit, by a freight truck as she was riding her bike, Colleen writes, "My body was torn apart and I barely had any blood left." She is brought back to life more than once. Colleen endures 29 surgeries to repair her crushed body.
Gratitude in Motion is a moving page-turner. Prior to the accident that almost took her life, Colleen endures some health challenges. She battles severe migraines, undergoes brain surgery, is diagnosed with lupus, and suffers from cryoglobulinemia, a rare condition that causes blood plasma to "thicken like syrup." But through it all, she remains physically active and a competitive triathlete.
Colleen at the 2016 Wildwood Triathlon in NJ
Photo courtesy: Colleen Kelly Alexander
Her tough competitive spirit and her faith in God help her to endure the loss of her job, months of grueling surgeries, rehabilitation, physical therapy, bouts of depression, PTSD, hallucinations, nightmares, fear of moving vehicles, and driving. While some might view being run over by a freight truck a life turned upside down filled with limitations and bitterness, Colleen is filled with hope and purpose.
While recovering and waiting for more surgeries to rebuild her body, she becomes an activist for bike safety and organizes a bike tour to raise money for adaptive bikes to benefit the rehabilitation center that helped her get back on her feet. She becomes a motivational speaker. She competes with her walker in a 5 mile road race with fierce determination. Colleen maintains her sense of humor by wearing a bright orange shirt emblazoned with DON'T RUN ME OVER. With walker in tow, she tackles a half-marathon in a Wonder Woman costume. Her participation in races and triathlons is training for subsequent arduous surgeries.
Colleen and husband Sean at the 2016 Challenge Triathlon - Atlantic City, NJ
Photo courtesy: Colleen Kelly Alexander
Gratitude in Motion is also a love story and a story of gratitude. Caregivers will be moved by Colleen's husband Sean and his unconditional love for Colleen during their difficult time. She is filled gratitude for his dedication and devotion to her as she heals physically, mentally, and spiritually. Colleen's gratitude extends to all of her heroes, from the passerby who stays with her until paramedics arrive, to doctors, surgeons, nurses, therapists, blood donors, and ordinary people touched and inspired by Colleen's astonishing journey and her unshakable sense of purpose. With their love and her determination, Colleen sets goals and rebuilds her life from scratch.
Looking like a "skeleton draped in skin' does not stop Colleen. She has "grit and willingness to push through." Having always been active physically, mentally, and spiritually, in the midst of her punishing journey from grueling surgeries, to recovery, to wholeness, she learns the "art of stillness."
This memoir will resonate with all who have endured life-changing accidents, surgeries, diagnoses, medical nightmares, have had their lives turned upside down, have pushed through, and have come out the other side with the love and support of caregivers and perfect strangers.
Gratitude in Motion, whose forward is written by Bart Yasso, is a testament to determination, survival, faith, hope, healing, and human resiliency. Since her accident in 2011, Colleen has completed four half-marathons, forty triathlons, and fifty races. Gratitude in Motion will lift your spirits! And it might even inspire you to become a triathlete.
To learn more about Colleen Kelly Alexander, visit her website.