The last several weeks have been a personal exercise in patience and perspective. I injured my foot in such a way that I was unable to wear shoes with any type of stiff back (I had to wear sandals for awhile with socks and my suit…it looked really cool). This affliction is apparently really common for young women in their 20s and 30s because female work-appropriate foot wear (aka: pumps) sometimes rub the back of the heel the wrong way, inflaming the area where the achilles tendon meets the heel bone.
And so on top of my sedentary work hours, I spent most of my evenings on the couch. Or in bed. While I definitely enjoy nights off, spent reading or lounging, I hate feeling restless. Sure I did some yoga and I lifted weights, but being unable to exercise in the way I was used to (namely, running) shattered the routine my body had grown accustomed to and, even though I know muscles don’t atrophy over night, dormant anxieties about silly things like body image started to catch up to me now that I could no longer run away from them.
I thought it would get better in a week. Or maybe two. I was even willing to go to three. But by the time weeks four and five and six rolled around, I was frustrated beyond belief. Each day that my heel didn’t heal (hah), I could feel my anxiety and frustration growing. But I kept repeating two things that helped: 1) This is temporary. While it is frustrating now, it will get better soon and this blip won’t matter in the long run and 2) Some people don’t have legs. Get over yourself.
A gentle reminder to have patience and a slap of perspective worked remarkably well in shaking me out of my mini-pity parties and, while I was only focusing on my foot, this lesson was slowly seeping into other aspects of my life that sometimes frustrate me. When I feel lost at work. When I feel utterly defeated in the face of future endeavors. When I fail. When consecutive little things go wrong and begin to pile up.
Frustrating things will pass. Some faster than others and some less painfully then others. But they will. And no matter what, there is always something to be thankful for.
I vividly remember the morning I put on my sneakers and didn’t feel the acute pinch in my left heel. I actually jumped for joy and skipped down the sidewalk, feeling more alive than I had in weeks. It was incredible how happy wearing a shoe, something so miniscule that I have literally done almost every single day of my life, made me.
And today, on this day of thanks, I went for my first run in eight weeks. I struggled for most of it and collapsed on the floor when I get home, but the weather was glorious and I got to come home to a house that smelled like brownies. Here is what I am thankful for today:
- For my body that is untouched by both disease and violence.
- For all the beautiful places in the world that provide me with never ending dreams of adventure.
- For a supportive family that makes fun of me and doesn’t mind when I burp a lot.
- For friends who believe you can never say “I love you” enough.
- For the food on my table and the roof over my head. It is more than most have.
My holidays have been painted with the same faces for many years now. Sometimes we travel for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but usually we spend it with our makeshift family, the neighbors and friends we’ve gathered throughout the years.
Today we lingered at the table, we laughed, we reminisced. We came together to share food. The main reason I love food so much is because it tastes good, but the very close second is because it amazes me how much meaning is in food. Namely, the preparation of food for others. The thought, the expense, the time, the tenderness. The giving of food is a symbol of generosity, sympathy, respect, humility, and affection. A parent feeding their child, a lover bringing their significant other breakfast in bed, neighbors giving a new family cookies, or a friend making soup for a friend who is sick. Whether you are sitting around a table or in a circle on the floor, eating off delicate plates or with your hands, the community is undeniable. Food is, in my opinion, the best way to take care of someone as you are quite literally nourishing both their body and their spirit. It doesn’t have to be a Thanksgiving feast. Making someone a cup of coffee–especially if that someone is me–can mean the world.
Happy Thanksgiving. I hope that today you all had the chance to exercise patience, took a moment to appreciate what you have, and ate a lot of good food.
I recently saw the movie “About Time”. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should. It’s about a guy who is ordinary in every respect, except that he can travel back in time. The film is about the every day happenings of his life (love, family, work, hardship, etc.) and about the things in life you can change, the things you can’t, and how you should appreciate the time you have, every single day. Spoiler alert: In the end his dad tells him to re-live an average day and try to see all of the beauty in it that he may have missed before. The secret to a happy life, he claims, is to live every day as if it was your second time to live it. As if you have been given a second chance to do it right and discover its little gifts. Pretty good advice if you ask me. Advice I need to take more often.
And, speaking of important advice, I will leave you with my neighbor’s wisdom on how best to break your belt on Thanksgiving: “Don’t look up, don’t breathe, just keep eating”.