Life’s catching up with me this week. It’s been a slow, subtle process. But it finally captured my attention and sidelined me. Now looking back, I can see that I had a warning months ago with a late-night visit to the emergency room. Relieved that it wasn’t a blood clot, I returned to life just as before. But now the pain is back, and this time I’m listening.
I’ve been here before, although this is the first time it is grabbing me in the leg. Usually, it’s my back or my hips. But always it has to do with getting away from a healthy lifestyle.
It always happens when my stress is poorly managed and I’m not sleeping enough, which then leads to me eating too much of what my mouth likes but my body doesn’t. Before long, I’ve increased inflammation—in other words, I’ve added weight, and my body is not happy. These aches and pains are my signals. My Check Engine light is on. And it is time to get under the hood and take care of this vessel if I intend to keep it moving.
Reluctantly, I am taking a break from my tennis game, and am doing what you’d expect in terms of elevation, ice, physical therapy, and some anti-inflammatories. But if you know me, you know I’m also kicking up my game with lots of healthy fats, eating less often, and skipping anything with a label—as much as I can.
I’m back on the rowing machine, and am pumping iron, too. I’m also back to the needles—acupuncture needles, that is. Along with plenty of essential oils, CBD oil, massage, yoga, and qi gong. And just for fun, I’ve allowed for some upside-down time on the old inversion table.
Just as life has a way of telling you when you are off track, it is also so good at telling you when you are headed in exactly the right direction. That is my favorite part of this life—noticing those moments. In the midst of this realignment, it happened. And as is usually the case for me, it happened in nature.
That morning, I didn’t feel like taking a walk. I was preoccupied with all that needed to be done. There was no time for that. Plus, I was uneasy about my leg. But, despite all my agitation and worry, I found myself limping out the door. Then there she was, a heron standing so beautifully in the water.
There’s no doubt about it, this heron was right where I needed her, right on time. It would have been so easy to see her as just another something in the world, unrelated to me or my situation. But I’m crazy enough to believe that this heron was my gift, my reward for taking the chance to go beyond myself and my perceived obstacles and limitations. Watching her so gracefully holding strong on those little narrow legs moved me from a perspective of lack and limitation to one of hope and gratitude.
Of course, she didn’t know the difference she made for me that day. But that heron has been in my thoughts ever since. Our brief encounter was a decision point for me—a choice between doubting and grieving perceived losses, or noticing the gifts within and around me that signal possibility and hope.
Noticing is necessary, but is not sufficient. So often, it is our response to what we see, hear, feel, smell and taste that determines what comes next. It is our chance to choose between the warning and the gift.