Lessons from life as a walking tri-pod


img_0830Last month I broke my ankle; not an uncommon experience for many, and certainly not a long-term serious condition. But anyone who knows me knows that being active is important to me. More than important, it’s nearly impossible for me to sit still, to stay in one place for very long. I love to run and hike, take the stairs every time I go up or down, use a standing desk at work, and have a habit of walking around our office building every 30 minutes or so. I speak and write on the topic of being active and live it daily because it does make for a healthier life.

But now that I am about halfway through my 8-week stint in an air cast and on crutches, I can say that I have learned some things, and that many of these lessons will actually apply to any area of my life.

Lesson number one. Attitude is everything. Whatever comes my way, disorders my world, disrupts my plans, how I respond matters. Attitude is not determined by the moment I am dealt; even the life I am dealt.

It reminds me of my favorite word, resilience: the ability to adapt to life’s difficulties, changes and challenges; the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change. I love that. So what does it look like to ‘absorb a disturbance’ and ‘reorganize while undergoing change’?

To start with, attitude matters! Simply said by Dr. Wayne Dyer, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” So while you may not always be able to change the circumstances, you can change your attitude.

So far I think I am passing lesson number one, but it is a daily “deciding to”.

Lesson number two. Reorganize and adjust. If I can maintain a positive, forward-thinking attitude, I ought to be able to figure out lesson number two. But honestly, on a day to day basis, this might be the bigger struggle. The daily grind. From making breakfast to taking a shower. Fully participating in activities, and keeping up with regular exercise.

I went back to attitude to help me out on this one. I had to. Remember, resilience equips us so that we can consider steps to problem-solving; steps to reorganizing.

Some of my most frustrating moments, but also funniest and most interesting times came out of reorganizing. From going up stairs on my rear end to asking others for help. Although I did become quite creative in carrying a cup of coffee while on both crutches. I guess the lesson from that is that innovation comes out of necessity!

Adjusting, and finding new ways to get to our goals in life, is so important. Don’t give up! Don’t sit back and say, “this too shall pass.” Pass it will, but don’t miss the richness of life you will experience through some of the storms. We are so good at latching on to the ‘woe is me’ mentality as soon as change comes our way. “I can’t” pushes aside even the most important things in our life. Rather, I have asked plenty of times, “how can I?” FAs I mentioned in paragraph one, physical exercise is very important to me, so ‘how can I?’ Although using crutches took some getting used to, I found ways to take walks. Adjusting for sure, but it kept me active. I have discovered fun exercises to do in a chair or on the floor. No, not the same, but better than nothing. I can do a lot of things. I just do them differently. We don’t have to stop! We just may need to adjust.

Lesson number three. People are watching. While I am not claiming to be some super hero, and I will admit that some days have been harder than others, I have become aware that people around me are looking for people around them to be resilient, to be strong; but most importantly to model a positive attitude during challenging times.

The next time a difficult situation comes your way, how will you respond? Because someone is watching you. Someone needs the hope you will bring by not giving up.

She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.” ~ Elizabeth Edwards


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