Perspective from a pink-haired angel lady

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For the last few weeks, I have been feeling uninspired and dragged down. A wave of grief has come over me like I lost my mother yesterday. Even as I remind myself that grief knows no logic, rhyme or reason, I find myself constantly surprised by how it catches me off guard and sweeps me into its tide. Despite my best efforts (and of course, constantly berating myself), I can’t focus on my goals. I can hardly even motivate myself to take on my to-do list. January felt like I was running a marathon without my feet even touching the ground. February feels like I’m walking through quicksand; going nowhere fast.

My long, careful progress at the gym has turned on me. My knee injury is flaring up for reasons I don’t understand. Despite going through a full stint of physical therapy last year and doing everything in my power to prevent re-injury, I’m back to experiencing pain, patella maltracking and limited mobility. Needless to say, I’m very frustrated. It’s been starting to feel like no matter what I do to care for my body (Healthy food! Frequent and safe exercise! Vitamins! Getting enough sleep! Stretching and yoga! Cutting out high-impact activities, despite loving them desperately!), it betrays me.

My researcher brain demands answers for my injury flare-up: Is it the weather? Did I go too hard with the squats? Am I being punished for wrecking my joints with youth sports? Am I doomed to stop-and-go activity for the rest of my life? How can I nurture my body when it screams out in pain every time I try to do right by it? Why does it insist upon rebelling against me, even as I pour love into it day-in and day-out?

My grief compounds the injury. Everything feels more difficult without my mother to lean on. She had a way of making everything feel manageable. Without her, I sometimes feel like I’m aimlessly paddling a canoe out in the middle of the ocean without knowing which way is land. It’s enough to drive me up the wall. Yesterday, while in the pool working out with my trainer/mentor/friend/cheerleader/counselor Coretta, I started to weep.

“This is good,” she assured me. “We need to talk about it. And I need you to understand that as you age, injuries are an inevitability. You don’t just go through rehab and bounce back like you did in your early twenties. Your body has to reckon with all you put it through when you were young and destroying it with sports. This is not going to go away. We’re going to have to find a way for you to manage it and not let it derail you.”

While technically (ok, fully) correct, this was obviously NOT what I wanted to hear. I stubbornly fought her, the woman who has saved my life on more than one occasion, by listing off my reasons why it isn’t fair; why this shouldn’t be happening to me.

“I know. It sucks. But you’ll get through it.”

“I feel like I’m back at square one.”

“You’re not. You can’t see it, but you’re not.”

I resisted her tough but empathetic love throughout the rest of my workout, stewing in my anger. I wrongly assumed that if I did all the “right” things, my body would fall in line; that by my sheer will and grit, I could put myself back together both physically and emotionally. It all felt so unfair. Have I not suffered enough? I’ve always known that life isn’t fair, but for some reason I thought that the universe would recognize how much I have been through, and cease my suffering accordingly. Why should I be hurt again? I played by the rules and it didn’t matter. I was despondent.

Coretta left me and proceeded to worry about me all day. I know I hurt her heart every time I hurt, but I can only be where I am, even if that place is Shit Palace. Thankfully, she always understands.

This morning, I woke up and could feel my will beginning its triumphant return. I arrived at the gym with a decent attitude. As Coretta and I worked out on the floor, I could not keep my eyes off of a woman working out nearby. She was super fit and trim — an obvious gym rat — with long blonde hair adorned with pink streaks. Not going to lie, I was pretty envious of her body, and feeling a little insecure working out next to her. Coretta complimented her hair, and we all got talking. The woman proceeded to tell us that that she had recently undergone neck and knee surgery to correct decades-old injuries from a car accident she was in over twenty years ago. Like, we’re talking screws in her neck and building a new ligament in her knee. These were serious surgeries! “My neck isn’t working so great,” she explained. “I have limited mobility, it cracks all the time and it hurts every time I turn my head.”

“How do you do it?” I asked, gesturing towards the weights she was lifting.

“Well, it’s going to hurt either way. I figure I may as well be here, doing something that makes me feel good.”

I was shocked. I mean, completely shocked. Suddenly, my gimpy (but fixable!) knee didn’t seem like such a big deal. And knowing that this woman has been through so many physical setbacks, but still rocks it at the gym and has maintained a body I can only dream of, really lit a fire in my belly. If this woman can drag her ass to the gym after neck and knee surgery, I can, at the very least, have a good attitude about the things I can still do. I am not back at square one. I am so much further along than I give myself credit for. I guess I just don’t let myself recognize my progress. Typical!

The woman finished up her workout, and left me with some words of encouragement: “you’re doing great. No matter what, just keep going.”

Talk about eating a piece of humble pie.

As I pushed through the rest of my workout, I could feel my perspective shifting. I could also see the elated (and maybe a little smug) sense of self-satisfaction Coretta was feeling from watching me have my a-ha moment. I’m not really one to see signs, but this happening felt so pointed; so necessary for me in this moment.

“Sometimes, a pink haired angel lady shows up just when you need her,” Coretta said.

Indeed. Thank you for the lesson, angel lady.

And now, I keep going.

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11 thoughts on “Perspective from a pink-haired angel lady

  1. Grief and physical injury has such a huge impact on our mental health. I lost my Nannie about a year ago and I can still suddenly burst out into tears when I think of her. and other times I have a memory of her that instead of crying I smile and laugh. I too suffer from a physical ailment that causes pain and i can feel like i will never be able to do what i want because of it. They both can drag you down into the depths of despair and sometimes it takes seeing someone else overcoming their difficulties to give you the strength to overcome yours. Just seeing what can be achieved through hard work and pure determination does wonders for personal motivation. I love seeing people who have such as positive attitude that i can’t help adopt one myself!

  2. nothing ever harder than a rehabilitation workout. Motivation is always at the first top and everytime you miss courage and spirit can bring you to a failure.
    I still get a fair memory about my teenage when i was trying to increase my backbone at the local gym, a place very similar to a jailhouse spot, where all the “biggest” (!) used to pump muscles and to lose brain. the effort i had to put over there was proportionated fifty percent not to lose mind, the other half to do my job. well, all that i needed that time was an appreciation sign from someone in that lurid spot, a slap on the shoulder or a high-five just to get a good motive to put my feavel bones at the work. My angel that time wasn’t a lady and, actually, didn’t wear a pink look. He was probably a soldier, sculpted and sober. he went closer, punched my chest with enough strenght and said to me something like: “Go kid, show all of these **** what you’re made of and what you will do!” (we’re boys!).
    After many years I still have strong shoulders in spite of injuries. Something that helps me all the time to sustain the pain of fells.

  3. I’m not what you’d call a stellar athlete or fitness buff, but I can tell you that any work done for the cause of life and love in this world isn’t wasted. God rewards our sincere efforts regardless of their immediate results, and I remember that every time I want to give up striving for my goals.

  4. Agreed totally! Grief is part of life but motivation keep oneself going. And your way of expressing is quite simple yet realistic. 🙂 btw you can submit your writings to be published in our upcoming edition of Miracle Magazine India.The Miracle Magazine, is an arts and literary magazine that caters to the part of the society that is dazzled by the brilliance of art. After carving a niche internationally, we decided to come back to our roots and launch an Indian edition for the magazine. With this magazine, we aim to cover a variety of sections, including Fiction and Non Fiction Writing, Poetry, Photography and Fine Arts. The magazine focuses on young people who have excelled in their fields, and also aims to encourage new talent.   We’ve released our very first Winter issue this January! Now as we are planning to proceed and come up with the Spring edition we’re looking forward to better content and matter by fusing and putting together the thought of the nation’s youth. We would really appreciate if we get content including the following: submissions in art poetry fiction and non-fiction writing book or movie review, comics photography from your side.Incase of any inquiry you can contact us on the following: Email address:miraclemagazineindia@gmail.com Regards, Miracle Magazine: India The magazine is now available in an exclusive and accessible digital format. Here is the link: http://issuu.com/miraclemagazineindia/docs/miracle_magazine-issue_1 Furthermore details are available on our website. Website link:http://miraclemagazineind.wix.com/miracleindia. Cheers! 🙂

  5. Agreed ! 🙂 Everyone is not perfect. But one should make their flaws into their strength and shine brighter! Love the spirit! Btw you can send your stuff for our upcoming edition of miracle india.The Miracle Magazine, is an arts and literary magazine that caters to the part of the society that is dazzled by the brilliance of art. After carving a niche internationally, we decided to come back to our roots and launch an Indian edition for the magazine. With this magazine, we aim to cover a variety of sections, including Fiction and Non Fiction Writing, Poetry, Photography and Fine Arts. The magazine focuses on young people who have excelled in their fields, and also aims to encourage new talent.   We’ve released our very first Winter issue this January! Now as we are planning to proceed and come up with the Spring edition we’re looking forward to better content and matter by fusing and putting together the thought of the nation’s youth. We would really appreciate if we get content including the following: submissions in art poetry fiction and non-fiction writing book or movie review, comics photography from your side.Incase of any inquiry you can contact us on the following: Email address:miraclemagazineindia@gmail.com Regards, Miracle Magazine: India The magazine is now available in an exclusive and accessible digital format. Here is the link: http://issuu.com/miraclemagazineindia/docs/miracle_magazine-issue_1 Furthermore details are available on our website. Website link:http://miraclemagazineind.wix.com/miracleindia. Cheers 🙂

  6. What a great insight to your life. I have had different angels in my life too. Sometimes we just need a turn in perspective. We are not at square one, we are where we need to be at this moment in time. Keep at it Girl!

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