I’m maybe barely through about one third of the thank you notes I want to write. Notice I didn’t say “need to write,” but “want to write.” One of the most important ones I did write already was to a dear woman in my neighborhood who deals with chronic pain and has limited mobility and who sent me the sweetest get well card. In the mail. With a stamp. In it among the kind thoughts she sent my way she revealed feeling that she is of no use to anyone. That demanded an immediate response with a reassurance of how much her friendship and thoughtfulness makes a difference in my life. Because her card arrived on a particularly challenging day. And her kindness does make a difference in my life.
This is just one example of the many ways in which we been loved and supported and served through this time. We are blessed. I am blessed. And I am grateful.
Today, however, I’m thinking about gratitude for something more personal.
Right now as I sit here with my foot propped up, waiting to get up my strength and courage to tackle one more task best I can with partial weight-bearing (hooray!) and two crutches under arm until I return to full weight-bearing, it would be easy to make a list of everything I can’t do. In particular, today, Saturday, 3+ weeks in, a list of all the things that need to be done to put my house in order but which I cannot do.
Instead, I’m remembering one of the favorite lessons yoga has left with me. I don’t recall for sure which instructor it was–I think it was Lacey–who most frequently reminded us to not compare our practice to that of others, but to always be grateful for what our respective bodies could do.
In a world where women are constantly objectified, held to an impossible and unhealthy standard, and in so many arenas shamed for not being perfect, gratitude is essential. I’m grateful that in a revelatory–and also sad–video bolding addressing the challenges of being a woman in our day, given a prompt to think of one word that describes how I feel about your body the first word that came to mind was “strong.” It’s not that there isn’t room on for any number of negative thoughts, but I know that coming up with a positive first is a result of internalizing all those lessons on gratitude. Indeed, one could say, I have a witness–a testimony–of the significant impact gratitude can have on one’s life.
During my recovery I’ve been mindful of being particularly grateful for my left leg and my left knee. It was born the extra weight, extra strain, and unusual contortions as I have negotiated the recovery of my right foot. Just as I pray out loud for strength and safety on the particularly challenging tasks, I regularly say “thank you” aloud to my left leg.
Here are a few other things on my short list of what makes me feel grateful:
I’m thankful for relatively mild pain–especially compared to the only thing to which I have to compare this experience, my ACL repair.
I’m thankful that scars don’t worry me much, because unlike my ACL surgery scar, this one is more gnarly than neat.
I’m thankful that yesterday I took my first light, maybe 25% weight-bearing (crutch-assisted) steps safely and seem to be none the worse for wear.
I’m thankful for strong arms and shoulders to wield these crutches as needed (you can tell I’ve been spoiled somewhat by the cute (and speedy) little scooter, and the luxury of having a basket).
I’m thankful to know that despite having been disillusioned somewhat by the reality check that learning to walk again is a painstaking process and wasn’t just an immediate result of transitioning from cast to boot, today is another day.
I’m going to take more steps today than I did yesterday.
And even more the next day.
And Monday I will get to start massaging vitamin E oil into my gnarly scar, smooth away the dry skin, and sooth and settle the scar tissue.
One more step to healing.
I’m grateful for good medical care and strong bodies that heal.
[Day 142 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]