2017: A year of recovery
"In short, health is measured by the shock a person
can take without
his usual way of life being compromised." Moshe
What a year! After a winter filled with delight
in trail running, building up to a glorious rainy-day trail race
and running with participants from my Feldenkrais for runners
class, I made the classic running mistake of increasing mileage
too fast. Persistent foot pain inspired a deep-dive into
understanding running form and foot anatomy, followed by a trip
to the doctor for an x-ray, and diagnosis of a stress fracture
in my heel bone. After spending the summer in a walking boot, I
restarted dancing and skating, hobbies I'd neglected during my
year of falling in love with running. Over Thanksgiving weekend,
I began exploring transferring my inline skills to ice and set
my sights on trying synchronized skating. Life felt like it was
beginning to get back to "normal" and I was delighting in
feeling my skills improve.
Then, while getting dressed and contemplating what to wear for
ice skating, a vase jumped off my dresser, shattered my big toe,
and changed those plans!
These have been my
first broken bones, and I've never had to cope with an
immobilized body part before. With foot 1 in a boot, I could
still walk. I thought that was bad. With foot 2, I can't bear
weight until mid-January at the earliest. And crutches take away the
hands, as well as the feet, setting up some new challenges.
When we use the
Feldenkrais Method to help people, the core principles that
guide our work apply to emotions, as well as to physical
challenges. With two similar injuries this year, I'm being more
conscious of using these principles this time, which is helping
keep anxiety and depression at bay. I'll let you know once the boot is
off, but I'm expecting it to be a faster recovery from immobilization.
Here are some of the principles:
The vase that
changed my plans
Flexible goals: "Embrace all the
unexpected steps, mis-steps, and re-routes. They are a rich source
of valuable information for your brain to lead you to your goal."
Anat Baniel, founder Anat
If my goal is synchronized skating, and I can't stand or skate or
dance, I need to find different ways to keep moving and building my
self-organization and balance. I'm using this in two ways:
Immersing myself in new Feldenkrais lessons each day gives me a
chance to imagine using my foot and toes, improve my breathing, balance and coordination,
and most importantly reset my mood into calmness as my body lets
go of unnecessary tension. This has also led me to put together
some new workshops that I'm
excited to share with you.
ways to dance that I can do: Nia which encourages me to
dance however I can: on the floor, in a chair, or on my scooter,
and great dance workshops where I sit on the side, imagine
dancing, and study how excellent teachers teach, and students
know what you're doing, you can do what you want."
Moshe Feldenkrais, DSc.
I've thought about writing a blog for years, but this is the first
time I've actually written a post. Writing it down makes me observe
myself. There's a
clear pattern to how I react to injury: denial, rage, depression, followed by "Ok, this
is real, what can I do to stay sane, and what's the learning."
Seeing this pattern opens the possibility that other responses are
possible in any given moment. I have a choice in how I respond.
"How do you
find support from the ground?"
Jeff Haller, PhD, Feldenkrais
On the physical side, learning how to find support from crutches,
and improving my one-foot balance has helped me master getting
around without touching one foot down. (Try getting up from the
floor or even the toilet without letting any part of one foot touch
the ground - not so easy!) On the emotional side, one of the first
things I did was to hire someone to help me get done the things I
can't do without use of my hands, and to say yes to offers of
support from friends and family.
Constrict one part of the
body to encourage other parts to
participate in the movement.
Even though it is an involuntary constriction, thinking about this
principle shifts me from
frustration to curiosity, a much happier place to be. And the
constrictions on activities have given more time to other parts of
life, like visiting with friends and family, returning to activities
I can still do, and giving me more time for studying.
"Use variation to discover
Anat Baniel, founder Anat Baniel Method
I'm using a variety of assistive devices to get
around, each of which is useful and uncomfortable in its own
way. By alternating, I've expanded what I can do: crutches are great
for stairs and curbs, the knee scooter is handy around the house and
for errands, and the peg-leg crutch is good for dancing and pushing
a grocery cart. The variation helps avoid the sore wrists and
shoulders from crutches, knee pain from the knee scooter, and
the occasional moments of terror when using the peg-leg crutch.
My husband used to end his email signature with the words
"Accidental techie". This year I'm the "accidental recoverer". I think
we're all always recovering from some shock to our nervous system or
body, and I'm grateful that my profession provides such useful tools.
"What Iím after isnít flexible bodies, but flexible
What Iím after is to restore each person to their human dignity."
Moshe Feldenkrais, DSc.