by Jill MacGregor
I have been practicing being strong with my least strong part.
My weakest part. I map its boundaries, feel out it’s yes and no and then try to push past that a little bit more, a little bit more, like a runner trying to steal second base.
There’s nothing like being on crutches to be reminded of how much people want to help for no reason other than to lighten your load. People make more eye contact and smile. Open more doors. Ask how you are.
We seem to need that visible sign of weakness—it gives us permission to help. Without the visual prompt, it is easy to forget that everyone is practicing to make their weakest part stronger…one way or another. And that your offer of help is welcomed.
I am sitting on my couch in my stretchy clothes finishing my morning coffee. Christmas lights are still twinkling while Kate Bush is singing about her love affair with a snow man for the trillionth time– *spoiler alert*–he melts. The two kittens I adopted weeks ago, Lizzie and Nox, are bookending me, one high and one low, alternatively making biscuits, giving each other baths and snuggling with each other.
I feel very content.
The sky looks full of snow—this I derive from living in the Midwest for decades, a place where figuring out the weather is as serious as laying a bet. But after 15 years in Seattle, I know the house will always win…skies are not used to predict here…they usually change like a mood…of a small child…who may be having a tantrum.
I’ve taken off a few months to heal from a hip replacement and I feel great. I was taken care of, and because of my slightly thorny nature, this seldom is allowed to happen. My family took care of me. My friends took care of me.
Strangers took care of me.
But there’s something about receiving all that care…it put me in such constant proximity with gratitude on a regular basis.
They may have replaced more than my hip.
My incision travels up the side of my right hip for 12 inches. Yes, I measured it. It is my 4th big incision. Four–one for each hip surgery. I always request they take out the last incision before they add a new one. Maybe they’d do that anyway and they are humoring me, allowing me my moment of power as I hand myself over to them oh so powerlessly.
And, now, I find myself quite amazed…I have so much more energy now that pain isn’t casting a dark cloud over everything. I feel a little younger, which is slightly ironic as I find myself bent over a cane.
For now. Just part of the practice.
One of my friends told their daughter about my surgery. Her 6 year old response was wide eyed with discovery. “Jill’s a robot,” she stated slowly as she realized I was probably the only robot she knew.
So now I have a titanium rod where my drilled into, pinned, arthritic like a 90 year old chunk of femur used to live. And a lovely, gliding ceramic hip joint were there once was bone on bone.
We should rename my femur. Femur sounds so * original parts* instead of new and improved. It should be a name that sounds strong because I want to be STRONG. I want it more than having a small ass. I want to do those karate side kicks. I’m ready to run in 3 inch heels. I long to take 2 steps at a time.
But I understand, first, that I will need to be off the cane to accomplish these things.
So I practice.
All of this fresh, newness has me thinking as I enter the New Year. The New Year—it always feels like a freshly painted stage on which to perform. The demarcation point when we can let go of the things that no longer serve us. The moment when we officially give ourselves permission to begin again.
As you start your new year and continue your work of making your weakest part strong, ask yourself these questions.
What are you deciding to accept?
Acceptance can mean so many things: it can represent forgiveness, loving not in spite of but because of and seeing beauty where you once only saw flaws. But the shadow to that can be doing something because you feel you have no choice, staying in a situation because you feel there is none better and giving up and embracing a long love affair with your pain. Remember–its always about your choices and you always have choices.
How are you managing your journey?
The first step of any journey is understanding where you want to go. How do you want to feel on this journey? What kind of people do you want to surround yourself with? How do you want to grow? What practical steps need to be taken to move forward?
Are your problems really problems?
Maybe your problems are simply puzzles. And the best way to conquer any puzzle is to step back from it, alter your perspective and reconsider. You may just be using old, worn out strategies. Its been your *problem* for awhile now, hasn’t it. Perhaps your hitting it with a hammer on a daily basis is not going to provide the solution you need. Try one different approch today. Ask for help when you need it–you are not responsible for recreating the wheel.
Wishing you the best this year as you continue to grow strong.
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Image Credit–Jill MacGregor