my first post / by Maranie Staab

the first blog post. true to my nature, i struggled a bit with what to say “first.” silly, perhaps, but still, i felt as though it should be significant in some way — or that, at the very least, it should give you some sense of who i am and why i have, only within the past year, made the decision to pursue photography. i decided to re-purpose the below post that i recently wrote and shared on facebook. i wrote these shorts paragraphs directly after finishing an alumni cross country race at my alma mater in south carolina. at first glance this may seem inconsequential. however, i should tell you that for most of my life running defined my existence. i say this in the past tense and without the slightest hint of exaggeration. running has always been a part of my identity – not only in how i identified with myself, but it has also been something that has been a part of me known widely to others. even before i was a “runner” i was that little girl and young woman that was always running somewhere. this is simply because i loved it and because it made me feel alive in a way that i had yet to really find anywhere else. it was a source of personal accomplishment and confidence, a way that i made friends, a stress-reliever and quite simply a part of who i was. more than anything, running was a constant in my somewhat chaotic life. even on the absolute worst of days, if I got a run in, it was still, somehow, a good day.

that all changed when just short of two years ago, on october 6, 2012, i was in a car accident that left me with two broken legs, a broken hip — and as you might assume, unable to run. the 2 years since the accident has been the most challenging and rewarding period of my life; only with the support and love of friends and family have i managed to keep my head up and never quit working towards a better tomorrow. i have healed as much as possible physically and have managed to not only heal psychologically but to grow and change, for the better, as an individual.

the below is what i wrote last week following our alumni cross country meet:

today was my first “race” since september 16, 2012. yesterday also marked 692 days since i was in a car accident that changed my life forever - in ways that i am now able to recognize as being both positive and negative (i really could have done without the broken legs and just kept the life lessons learned, but hey, sometimes we don’t get to choose these things). at the time, i was told that my knee injuries were an 11 on a scale from 1-10 and that i would never run again. for a long time i believed this, though, as any athlete can understand, the harder part was accepting it. having something that had quite literally once defined me taken, rather abruptly, away gave me two options: lose my mind or choose to look for reason and pursue something else with the passion that i once threw into running. this is where photography and travel come in; for those of you who know me well you know that these two things have since consumed me; i can say now that i have found my true passion and what i want to do with the rest of my life. 

it’s often incredible how life works. i like to believe that things happen for a reason; if not for that accident there is a very good chance that my life trajectory never would have changed - i may have been one hell of a runner but i may very well have never found photography - or perhaps more accurately said, allowed myself to pursue something other than athletics. i know in my heart that had this “terrible” thing never happened i would not be working each day to becoming a better photographer with a feeling of fulfillment and certainty in who i am that running never was quite able to give me.

after nearly two years of rehab (learning to walk again, walking quickly, climbing stairs, strengthening, a whole lot of biking etc) i was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to start training on an anti-gravity treadmill (about 2.5 months ago). this was a bit of game changer as it allowed me to feel what it was like to run again while at a reduced body weight (thereby decreasing the stress/pain on my knees). slowly, i began integrating outside runs in with this treadmill work and soon i was, true to my nature, (carefully) pushing the limits. while it is very much about pain management right now and while i will very likely never be the runner that i once was that is really okay with me. 

the race yesterday was a bit of a personal milestone. while my time was minutes slower than what i once ran, and although i feel like i am approximately 85 years old today as a result, i could not be happier. not only have i been blessed to be given back something that was once so integral to who i was, but i also was able to share the experience with some of the best people i know. coastal is a special place and coastal runners are truly special people.

i am a firm believer that things do happen for a reason. more often than not we do know know or see that reason until much time has passed, but if we make the decision and choose to look at a situation seeking reason and an opportunity to grow or learn then we will ultimately be shown. i was fortunate enough to be shown and am now working towards building the life i was meant to live. i adhere to the belief that the combination of images and words is powerful and without comparison; i am also a young woman grounded firmly in the belief that we each have an obligation/sense of responsibility by doing work that matters. as such, my aspiration is to continue to remain socially aware, inquisitive, self-motivated and passionate and to ultimately exist to bring awareness and inspire understanding of the world through quality photography and journalism.