And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.
[F. Scott Fitzgerald]
Dear Story Collectors,
I did it again and fell behind. Many moons ago, Ramona Behnke told me that instead of focusing on all the things I need to get done, I should consider collecting all of the things I complete. “Call it a ‘TADA’ list,” she said. I instantly conjured a magician’s hat and wand in my mind when I heard her say, “Tada!”
Although I needed to heed this advice when she told me it, I wasn’t ready. I was too busy being driven and trying to accomplish things. I was too busy trying to capture moments and treasure the small things of life because I knew were disguised as the most meaningful things. I was too busy trying not to be busy.
In the end, I was too busy.
I learned this the hard way, and it began when I chose the One Little Word: ANEW to live in 2022. “Anew in ’22!” I declared. I had heady lists and big goals. I was running and determined to move forward in new and powerful ways. I was driven, by golly, I was driven.
And then I broke my ankle. It wasn’t a minor break or a short recovery as some broken ankles are. The injury was significant and grounded me to the couch to ice and elevate, elevate and ice for too many days that turned into too many weeks that transformed into too many months. Even now, four months later, when someone reads my record for the first time, they say, “Woah, this was a major break with a lot of damage.”
I’m still recovering. I’m still healing. I go to physical therapy twice a week and spend several hours every day doing the recommended exercises and stretches. If you would see me walking towards you, I would be in gym shoes and going slowly. There’s a little hitch in my gitty-up, and I don’t run or jump or skip.
Even more frustrating was the way my brain shifted to concentrate on the healing instead of all the things I normally do. My work flows quit working. My concentration faded. My imagination was foggy. I fell asleep mid-morning, mid-day, early-evening. I didn’t have energy or capacity to cook or do laundry or write. Everything took too long. Showers and work and emails took hours and the recovery time was copious. I haven’t felt like I’ve done a very good job of living anew in ’22.
I decided I would use the time to be thankful. I wanted gratitude to weave into the fiber of my being so that it wouldn’t be something I do, but something I am. In order to do this, the only option was to embrace the healing process with grace.
If I needed to sleep, then I slept. If I needed to elevate and ice, then I elevated and iced. If I couldn’t cook, then I smiled that my family piled in the living room and balanced their plates on their knees and relayed events of the day over a meal that someone delivered to us. And, I especially relished the back rides from Jordan up and down the stairs for shower access and out to the car for the required doctor appointments. Three months is a long time to not bear weight.
Some days I was okay at giving myself grace. Most days I’m still learning how to accept grace from myself and not roll my eyes as I accept it from others.
Recently, Sam (my 16 year old son who spends more time with me than anyone else on the planet…even Andy) said, “Mom, you are really good at giving insane grace. I don’t understand why you do it.”
“Most of us think grace is unnecessary until we need it,” I responded.
Silence filled the car. Sam thinking Sam-thoughts and me coming face-to-face with the truth that grace is necessary for all of us, me especially.
“Maybe if you accepted grace for yourself you wouldn’t be so frustrated with all the things you can’t do because of your broken ankle,” Sam said.
Before I could respond, Sam added, “Cheeseburger.” This is what Sam always says when he is finished with a serious conversation. “Cheeseburger,” said in a funky voice and punctuated with a silly face. Then he laughs.
And I laugh.
And we are both wildly laughing, and I’m thinking about insane grace while he’s thinking about cheeseburgers.
So, TADA! The invitations will be back this week, and I think I have the capacity to blog again. I’ve learned there is an intimate link between my writing life and physical movement. I’ve also learned that the connections I have with people are more resilient than I knew. I’m not going to worry that this community is going to disappear because story collectors need each other.
I’m grateful for you.
Big hugs and lots of love,