Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Poolside Lesson in Humility

This past Tuesday, my friend Carolyn's husband asked me, "So, why did you break your leg?"  

I was taken aback for a moment by the audacity of the question.  Usually, when one suffers a tragedy, or has an accident of some kind, one will wrack their brain trying to figure out why it happened.  "Why me?," has always been a popular question.  But what he wanted to know was, "why did you create the accident?"

I believe in the spiritual philosophy that I create my own reality, but I told him that I'd not been able to come up with a reason that made any sense.  

Still, he got me looking at some questions that I hadn't bothered to think about lately.  In addition to "Why did I break my leg?" Questions like:  What have I learned over the past six months?  What benefit did I get out of the accident?  Why am I still using the broken leg as an excuse to be a victim, to get sympathy, to be liked, to be lazy, to take it easy. Whaaaa?  What was that last part?  To take it easy?  What's wrong with taking it easy, I wonder?  And why am I still using the broken leg to beat myself up?  Why am I not letting go and moving on with a new story about the broken leg, and what new story can I tell?.... 

After living with these questions all day Tuesday, I went to Senior Water Aerobics class on Wednesday with a renewed sense of acceptance.  (Although I hadn't come up with an answer to "why" I broke my leg, I know I wouldn't have joined a "Seniors" class had I not needed gentle water therapy).

After the class, I stayed in the pool to do extra leg exercises.  An elder woman from the class whom I'd often smiled at, but never talked with before, made a casual comment:  "You haven't had enough, huh?"  I answered with, "well, I just need to strengthen my leg."  She asked me if I was recovering from a surgery.  And I said, "yeah, I broke my femur in March."  I saw the sadness in her eyes as she said, "my son did that."  She paused.  Then she said, "he got a blood clot."  I paused.  "Did he make it?" I asked.  "No."

She went on to tell me that her 37 year old son fell in a hole, much the same way that I did, and landed wrong, just like I did.  He had surgery, just like I did, was recovering well, went home, and two weeks later developed a blood clot that traveled to his lung and killed him.  She said she didn't understand why the doctor hadn't prescribed a blood thinner, why her son had only been prescribed aspirin.  (Blood thinners are usually prescribed after femur surgery, because the risk of developing a blood clot is so high).  She said she didn't understand why her son, who was a good Christian, happily married with two children, was taken so soon.  But, she said, she had to accept that "the Lord must've needed him for some reason." 

As I quietly listened, I thought about the fact that I chose not to take the blood thinners that were prescribed to me after surgery.  And I wondered why I escaped a blood clot.  Why was I so blessed?  Why was I given the opportunity to survive, live, grow, change?

Today, I'm still pondering all of the questions and I am filled with humbleness and gratitude.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Great Big Party!

Monday, I had a great big party.  It lasted for hours!  Clear into Tuesday evening.  I didn't invite anyone.  Who'd wanna come anyway?  I'm talking about a Ginormous pity party.  The kind where you wake up angry, and before you've even had your first cup of day old re-heated coffee, you feel that life couldn't get any worse.  You cry and rage and cuss and nobody wants to be around you.  Steve tried to soothe me with his classic matter of fact self-help line, "a mood has you."  "Duh, no fooling you!" I said, with my most charming witch face.  Brian offered (with the kind of authority that most men seem to have on this subject),  "it must be your menopause!"  

At first, I couldn't figure out what was going on.  Was it all the sugar I'd eaten over the weekend that caused me to plummet?  Nothing else out of the ordinary could've caused this journey into the deep, dark abyss.  Just a casual conversation on Sunday evening with a fellow real estate agent who appears to be doing sooo much better than me financially.  That, combined with my ever-present hospital bills, and the ever-present pain in my right leg--the leg that's supposed to be completely back to normal in six months according to the doctor.  (My six month check up is only three weeks away!!)  

So, I woke up mad, and feeling sorry for myself, and completely oblivious to the underlying cause:  I was comparing my failings to another's success.  It's no fair that I broke my leg and couldn't work for several months.  It's no fair that I'm still not operating at peak productivity, doing as well as Ms. X.  

I recognized this old trait of mine while in the middle of my wallowing.  I remembered my Hollywood acting years when jealousy ate away at me most of the time.  Sometimes I would be so upset after seeing a great film, because I wasn't in it, that I'd be depressed for hours.  At one point, I determined that it was my jealousy and competitiveness that were keeping me from attaining my dreams.  Now I wonder, are these same ugly attributes keeping me from succeeding again?  And as I have this thought, I realize it's just one more negative thought to beat myself up with.....

Comparing what you have to what others have is a good 
way to make yourself miserable.  


There will always be someone smarter, stronger, prettier, thinner, wiser, healthier, happier, and more successful than me.  

There is one good thing about comparing myself to others though.  It usually pisses me off enough so that when I've worked through my "mood," my competitive nature kicks in and causes me to come up with creative ways to be better at whatever it is I want to be better at, and I focus on that.

When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”  Lao Tzu