So I didn’t tell you all that I had a foot injury a couple of weeks back.
The hard work of healing is intensely private for me, and grappling with this blog being a public space + me being an (at times) intensely private person is… intense/difficult/beautiful. Many things at once.
How said injury happened:
A metal bar that was propping up my friend’s garage door in New Plymouth fell on my foot.
Rest, ice, compression, elevation.
I was not ready to stop cycling. But my body needed to heal.
I navigated the NZ health care system, got an x-ray, and consulted with the doc, who commended me for having the courage to follow my own path and do this trip. She doubles as a life coach from Texas.
All was good. No fractures. No fissures. No breaks.
Just a bruise. A big, fat sunset bruise on top of my foot that needed to set through the rainbow of its colors before I could exert myself again.
I wore a moon boot for days.
I’m not going to lie. Being injured, not cycling every kilometer, felt like a failure.
Which of course it is not.
This is my year. I make up the rules.
I’m realizing that injuries have a lot to teach me.
I tore my ACL in 2012 playing pick-up soccer in Argentina.
And it was only in moving slowly that I was forced to occupy my body again, in a different way. I couldn’t row for a semester. I was out of running for the top boats and hardly raced that spring. This fact gutted me. Who was I without an oar between my hands?
After I re-learned how to walk (the right quad atrophied a hell of a lot), paid daily homage to the physical therapy gods (thanks, Niki, for putting up with me at my mopiest), made many loaves of bread in the cooperative house where I lived with 32 undergrads (the cleaning and bigger cooking chores were too strenuous, but the bread grew slowly and needed its own time to rise––perfect), and shed my share of tears (salty bread, anyone?)… cycling was the first activity I was able to do again, the first thing that got my heart-rate up.
I could bike to class. I could bike to physical therapy. I could bike to the river and sit and watch the water go by.
I felt free.
And then I dreamed up the bike trip that was the predecessor to this one.
So, hey, scar-from-the-scalpel on my knee. You’re beautiful. And look how far we’ve come.
If you’re injured, or recovering from surgery, and it feels like hell —- keep up with the hard work of recovery.
Be gentle with yourself.
The intense pain is temporary. You’ll arrive at a place because of it that you didn’t know existed. And it will be beautiful in its unpredictability.
Keep doing those silly little exercises. Pursue balance but not perfection.
Yes, I struggle at times. Sometimes I hate my knee. But those times are fewer and farther in between.
Take out your pain and look at it.
When everything felt stable enough to dance again, that’s when I knew I was back in my body.
Patience. Something like that.
Yes, my knee sometimes hurts. It’s generally when I haven’t warmed up or stretched properly or when it’s about to rain.
My body is a rain diviner, how cool is that?
No but really.
And the fact that I slowed down early this month for my foot-bruise to heal meant that I hitched a ride to Whanganui (a small town I might otherwise have bypassed) with a friendly Australian couple and their cute-as-a-button three year old who kept correcting my pronunciation of Australia (“It’s ‘straya, not Australia. Mummy, that girl isn’t saying ‘straya right!”).
And here I am, cycling from place to place in Whanganui but mostly staying still for upwards of a week. Lovely people keep taking me in.
And what a week it has been.
(not pictured: copious amounts of fresh veggies from the garden, a wall of postcards, an elaborate recycling scheme, many newspaper clippings, two walls covered with tiny spoons from around the world)
I danced with One Billion Rising on Feb. 14.
This Valentine’s Day kicks last V-day’s butt, during which my then-girlfriend and I threw emotional slingshots at each other.
What beautiful distance a year can bring.
Have I mentioned that I love being single and fabulous?
Being centered in my vulnerability.
Being centered in myself.
But more will come in another post, because this one feels full as it is.
tl;dr MOVING SLOWLY HAS ITS BENEFITS, YA’LL
Now I just need to get my butt to Wellington to get a few more months on my visa.