I fell down the stairs of a double-decker bus two weeks ago and fractured my right foot, and can I just say that if there’s one thing that shattered any Superwoman illusions I had, it was that. Not just the pain thing, but the lack of mobility thing too.
As I stared at that weird little jagged line on my x-ray I was almost more okay with my inflamed, swollen foot than the shock wave that crashed into me when the doctor said I was looking at a four to six week recovery. What? I took my medical boot and went home to nurse both my foot and the part of my ego that must have thought I was indestructible.
This is my first major injury, which is kind of OMG considering all the opportunities I had to break something as a young tomboy, fearlessly climbing and jumping off things right and left. As an Army soldier in my twenties, I was also an unexpected fan of military calisthenics and obstacle courses, and I ran, skated, biked and hiked through my thirties.
I’ve stayed active in early midlife too, so inertia doesn’t come naturally and at first I tried to push through as though fully functional, hobbling around my office like Quasimodo on a mission. But my foot protested more and more until I bought a clue and took some sick days to put it up and figure out how to do as I do with most things I can’t change. Adjust my attitude and expectations.
It didn’t happen right away, mind you, because you never miss what you can do until you can’t, and I missed moving about freely without pain, so I head-whined the first day about my temporarily slow-motion sort of life. I head-whined about it taking forever to climb the three levels of my townhome and bring bags up too. The next day I head-whined about walking weird, sleeping on my back—ugh—in the boot, not being able to take a bubble bath, dance, do yoga, or comfortably stand long enough to cook a gourmet dinner.
The next morning, I woke from an epiphany-ish dream about ripping off my medical boot and running through the forest, wild and free, and shift happened. Just like that it was crystal clear that this rest stop in the marathon that is my life could be the gift of something I’ve probably needed to do for a very long time anyway. Take a break and recharge so I can run some more.
So I’ve surrendered to the situation, and lately, I find myself looking forward to crockpot leftovers or even calling a blueberry-and-almond loaded bowl of cereal dinner. I’m also big on lounging, a lost art in a busy world. I grab Hoodoo, my Teddy Bear, prop my foot up on plush purple velvet pillows and read, write, or watch senseless TV without a lick of shame.
I still miss bubble baths, but lavender shower gel is lovely too. I still miss trying time-intensive new recipes, but there’s no clean-up after The Taste chefs whip up dishes like coriander-crusted tuna or Asian street noodles. I still miss driving around doing whatever I want without having to think about stairs, standing time, or being too heavy on the brake, which is probably just as well because running around only begets more running around and have I just been too damn busy all of this time?
Here are some other blessings I’ve been counting:
- People have my back. My daughter, friends and co-workers have shopped for me, run my errands, made me comfortable, and brought food and tea so I can rest and heal. This isn’t something I expect when I’m running at the speed of light and trying to leaping tall buildings, but it’s something I like.
- Home is a nice place to be stranded. I live in a mostly Zen-meets-playful-and-invites-a-hedonist townhome. Everything is functional, beautiful, pleasurable or funny and since I basically go from home to work and back again now, I have time to admire my art and cool room-to-room designs, pampering goodies, and the goofy little lurkers—cute beanie bag animals—perched over my computers, chairs and other random spots that crack me up.
- Basics. Just like in a wardrobe, they’re nothing to sneeze at. With the downtime, I did my taxes early, audited my frequent flyer miles and reward points, reviewed my insurance policies, de-cluttered my email and IPOD, darned some things, organized some things, and polished off other boring-but-life-enhancing stuff.
- It wasn’t worse. Enough said.
Not that I’m asking for this to go beyond another four weeks—please don’t—but this unexpected rest stop isn’t half as bad as I thought it’d be and because of it I’m liable to be better, stronger and faster, but with more chill and balance.
To putting your feet up,