After learning my lessons in my Year of Me, I sometimes feel that, now that I know what to do, I should be living the high life all the time. However, I realize in truth that the principles of the Year of Me are like yoga. You have to practice, and there are times when you are not going to be in the advanced class. You are going to be in the therapeutics class. Ten months ago I had a knee replacement. It was the right decision as I am pain free now. However, I am not “bounced back.” You always hear stories of super humans that get a knee replacement and go to Europe the next week. I’m somehow not in that category.
While I’ve made steady progress, ridden my bike, walk easier, am back to work photographing clients, I’m easily fatigued. I pay for my energy use with a day or two of rest. While this is not all bad, an over-achiever like me wonders why I’m not doing “more.” Now I find Life is like a cake; it comes in layers. As I work steadily towards recovery on my knee, my doctor finds a mole on my foot that needs examined further. Two biopsies and an infection later I am favoring my foot and my replaced knee is now in my “good” leg. I have perspective. I am not a refugee. However, I am here now and I’ve learned so much in the last year about physical limitations and compassion. Seated atop an electric cart at Target at Christmas will show you many deep lessons in compassion in the short amount of time before the cart’s battery runs out.
I look at my shining beacon of health and mobility from 2010 and I want that. How can I push myself to get THERE? How can I not feel disappointment that I’m not? My friend Patti Digh just hosted her third camp called Life is a Verb Camp. In addition to the key words of Courage, Community and Creativity, she added Compassion this year. Compassion for others and Compassion for ourselves. Among her stories of wisdom, is the one of “Lowering the Bar.” What if my goal was not “perfect” health? What if my goal was Compassion? Instead of trying to be more capable, what if my goal was to just help myself feel better? How could I do that?
What if I laid on my yoga mat and just stretched what was calling for relief? What if I didn’t stretch but just lay there and let my spine find it’s center again, relief from the burden of holding me upright?
It’s so hard to remember, but there is value in the valleys too. Compassion for others is something we practice, but what of compassion for ourselves?
I’ve had the privelege to meet many amazing creative people at camp and one of them is the talented Mary Anne Radmacher. Her famous quote speaks volumes to me now.
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” –Mary Anne Radmacher
Photo: Sisters on their journey. Photo credit: Carol Andrews Jensen