Being Where You Are: Here I Go, Part Three

woman sharing Being Where You Are while climbing a mountain

Here I Go…part three 

Being Where you Are. Starting Where you Are. So easy to say, so hard to do!

Naturally, we (meaning me) often struggle with this. My brain tells me that I want to be better or different.  Or that I am not good enough. Not doing enough. I need to do more, do better, be better.

But maybe, just maybe, I am okay enough just how I am and with what I am doing? Maybe I can pause, love myself now, have compassion and make shifts?

Be. Where. You. Are.

Yes, I know; It is a big deal and very healthy to begin where you are.  And difficult.

I have found that out through much trial and error: More is not always better. Faster is not always better. Slower is often Faster. Less is often More. I am often doing by undoing.

Creating something different, transitioning to a new normal is not unusual. I can do that and still be good enough right now.

Being with and creating my new normal is a struggle for me at times.  I and my life are so very different from before.

I sometimes compare my physical capacity, wellness, and how I feel now to how I felt before this all happened. Which never turns out to be helpful, feel good, or support me.

I am never going back to that time. I am only here now and moving onward.

Imagine the moment of departure as crossing a threshold

But I still get a bit stuck at times, and then I try to unstick myself!

I know my body is adaptable, strong, and wise. It’s also very unique–I like some parts of it more than others right now. And that’s okay.

I ask myself: how can I move onward without comparing myself to a point from my past prior to my recent six years period? Instead, could I pick a different reference point. Why wouldn’t I do that? Or simply not do it at all.

 Being Where You Are in the forest
Aspens after a fire regenerating!

Imagine if I compared myself to how I was, say, just four years ago during my healing time?

Four years ago, I was in the midst of it all. Unwell, going from surgery to surgery. I wasn’t even able to eat food at that point. I was having trouble getting around and in lots of pain. My progress from then to now has been crazy exceptional with much commitment and effort on my part (and all the healthcare people that worked with me-thank you!!)

If I did that, how I am now would be incredible, exceptional, fantastic, instead of not good enough, less than or getting back to it. It’s up to me. Or, I can let that be and just be where I am now without any comparing.

That requires a bit more work, so I move towards that by choosing to notice, pause and reframe my thoughts in a way that I believe. So, I use a bit of both ways–it works for me, and I feel that I am authentic and not falsely positive or intellectually removed from my reality.

Yet, I had to work pretty hard to get to the point where I even had the awareness that I could think differently.

Or even have the brain-bandwidth to realize I could choose a different reference point and think: “Wow, Body, you are so amazing and have come so far!” That thought feels so much better! Really.

Doing that involved a lot of pausing, noticing, feeling, not analyzing, and simply breathing. (Go here, to do a simple breath awareness practice now or later.)

I was no more than a mortal sprayed between sand and stars.
Conscious of the single blessing of breathing. …and yet,
I discovered myself filled with dreams. St. Exupery

To be honest, it blew my mind when I realized: wow, I chose that. I am in control of those thoughts and how I feel about where I am right now. And, hey. Where I am right now is pretty awesome, even if I am working hard at creating an optimal-for-me new normal!

Know that I do revisit this over and over; I am not a masterful guru of enlightened thoughts… Just me, doing it over and over!

I’ll repeat it:  One essential part of taking small steps, creating shifts and change, is appreciating where you are right now.

If you want to give it a go, you can use my Eight Life Areas Worksheet to explore appreciating where you are, Right Now.

Drink from the well of yourself and begin again

I know, this must also sound familiar to you. Also, I am sure you have also started something new, had an unforeseen circumstance happen that affected you personally (or globally), decided to change an area or part of your life, or even experienced when someone else changes their life, and it affects you.

I am not alone here. We all share in this.

 Being Where You Are and forging a new path

For me, the focus of these ramblings (oops, I mean writings!) is how the past six years have been a gigantic journey of healing, recovery, and unwellness. As well as transformation.  A path of obstacles and soul.

And how I moved through it with a lot of mindset, thought, and belief work. As well as an intense focus on health, wellness, breath, and therapeutic movement. All actions geared towards guiding me to simply be where I am and start from where I am fully.

I have gone from surgery to procedure, from doctor to therapeutic practitioner, hospital to clinic, and from who I was before to who I am now.

Sprinkled in, there were moments of feeling a bit better before my next procedure or surgery, deciding to invest heavily in healing optimally functionally and doing it, and letting go of almost all that I did before this time began.

I stand with my full hands empty

During these past six years, there have been times that I have felt gloomy, full of mourning and longing for what had been. I so desperately wanted to feel good.

A lot of times, feeling almost well enough wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted something totally different. I went back and forth with letting it be, accepting my circumstances to not liking it, not at all!

So, I began not only doing more mindset work; but also creative work to help me process the dramatic life shift I experienced: One day I was riding my bike, doing my yoga, being with my family, and the next day I was in the hospital!

Over time, I began to shift, take small steps related to how I interacted with my reality, and move through and embrace my underworld.

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck

As I moved through these past six years, I began sharing more creative works with others. Now, I have sold some and am publishing two upcoming books. (you can catch some of my poetry and artwork on Instagram or in my simple shop.).

Creative Expression and Process has even become one of my Seven Pillars of Health and Wellness, a simple yet comprehensive health, wellness, and life system that I developed.

There are many moments that I have no memory of periods of time or they are blended together due to the sameness of surgery or procedure or recovery over and over. (Not to mention the anesthesia! And the fact that I slept. A lot.) My spouse, Christopher, and mother were my main caregivers and they have filled in the gaps for me!

two dogs laying down
Is it even possible to rest this heavy? It is now; but not while going through surgeries!

There were also times of beauty and grace when all was stripped away. Only the essentials mattered. When I was filled with silence and pause. (Literally, as I had difficulty moving about and was unable to speak for a while)

There were many times when all I could do was heal, rest, and get well–and that mattered. It took tremendous energy and time. It was valuable-just as value-filled as anything else. I became part of our society that is often overlooked because of being unwell, unable, or experiencing different.

There were times when I could reflect, write, or work on building up all the areas of my life. Where I could plan for later, decide what mattered to me, where I would put my time, what would stay, and what I would leave behind.

Somethings left on their own, and I came back to them later realizing they were not a part of where I am headed-but they would always be a part of who I am. I mourned many parts of my life, experiences, and ways that I had been that were over or even ended temporarily.

I will invest my time, energy, and resources in what helps and expands and supports myself and others—not what limits or diminishes.

For example, some friendships or relationships became complete. 

As I began to heal more, I also made choices about limiting interactions with some people. By doing that authentically and sticking to it, I can be fully present in a loving way, no matter what might come up when visiting-even when that person may choose to be not so nice. I realized that what works for me may not work for others. And that is okay.

woman walking in the forest

I firmly solidified a few truths that I had always lived with.  Uncovered a few more. I literally sat with myself (or lay down!) for six years. Yes. That. Long. That’s a lot of self-time.

I have sat with myself for periods and taken pause.  I’ve taken self-directed solitude, sat in silence and meditation daily, and often walked alone in nature.

We sit together, the mountain and me.
Until only the mountain remains.

But I had never experienced the starkness of sitting with myself for six straight years.  I could not speak for some of those years, so I was in actual silence. It was not some self-actualization experiment. It was my reality.

Through all of that, I realized that everything matters. All we do is important and compounds upon each other.  We need it all. The whole is stronger than when it stands alone.

Every little thing I tried to do to help myself heal had an impact–whether it was an outcome that I wanted or not. It was crazy to realize that I was the ripple in my very own ocean.

One thing does not lead to another, it leads to everything

Seriously, I know firsthand that the most powerful health and life changes happen during our everyday lives no matter our circumstances!  Day in and day out, week in and week out, month after month, year after year.

My past six years are imprinted upon me forever, and almost everything about my life is different, although similar, as it’s still my life.

dog laying down
Contemplating her Next Steps, as only a St. Bernard can!

This process, tools, and methods are highly personal.  And hope it will offer support, help, and guidance to you too.

In fact, you can check out a health and wellness resource guide here that lists tools, equipment, and more. (Know that I update that guide each year as I am continuously investigating, discovering, and implementing new methods and tools!) I will refer to some of the tools and equipment in that guide upcoming.

I will ask:  how far can I go? How deep can I go?

It has been an interesting and intense experiment of sorts. I was my own little Laboratory! (Funny: my not-so-nice-to-me spell check wanted to change laboratory to lavatory!!!)

Even though I have years of experience and skill in a wide area of health and wellness, I felt pretty anxious or worried when I decided to share my experiences as a vehicle to help others and myself. I kept my writings in a journal for a while, so unsure about sharing them.

I realized the root of it was fear.

Fear of being judged. Also, fear of being seen as less than okay. Fear of being seen as not having it all together. Fear that people would be less confident in me as a healthcare practitioner.

I had to pause with that for a bit. Let it sink in and brew a bit. Then, I decided to go ahead and lean into it. Ride it out. See where it leads me. Take the leap. I ultimately realized it’s none of my business what others think of me or what I write!

Right now, it has led me to feel brave.

All the struggles I had. When I thought I could not go any further or tolerate another surgery or procedure. All of it has led me here, right where I need to be.

I am going to be transparent …In these writings, is not a glossy, touched-up version of me. It is simply me. I want you to know the real me, that I struggle and am also challenged by figuring out what works for me in health, wellness, and life, even though that is also what I love to do professionally.

Are you disguising fear as practicality?

Just because work with healthcare and wellness doesn’t mean that it always goes so smoothly, that I have it all together, or everything in that area comes easy for me.  

It doesn’t.

Just like it might not work for you at different times.

I experienced a heck of a lot of challenges in moving through my recent health recovery period, even with that background! We each decide what matters to us. For me, health and wellness personally and professionally matter, and I Immerse in it.

My life is my practice. So, I move forward with that.

Also, I mentioned this before, but I will share this again:  I chose a few keystone priorities to focus on that are meaningful to me and impact all areas of my life this upcoming year+.

I am, of course, taking part in all areas of my life like home, family, community, and more, but my writings will be more focused on a few keystone areas. We know that our life is thoroughly entwined, so other areas and going-ons will show up from time to time. How could they not?

My keystone objectives are twofold: The first is creating optimal-for-me health and wellness and physical capacity. The second is creating my envisioned professional path.

What is possible?

Parts of both objectives seem almost impossible for me right now, and I will do them anyway.

So, when I began fully integrating into all my life areas recently (and with COVID-19 going on), my life was exceptionally slow and paused. Especially relative to my past self and almost everyone else I knew at that time.

I decided to make the most of that and move onward with as much awareness, meaning, and purpose that I could muster.  In doing that, I have been taking giant leaps! And recalibrating a lot. I had much natural pause and slowness, but I also intentionally designed it as part of my life ongoing.

I know that I will have some epic mistakes along the way. And fails but failing forward when I do. Along with gains. And mistakes transformed.

I also know that I can shift course anytime along the way. Learn and readjust. Evaluate and make different choices. Change my mind.

It doesn’t make the actual work any easier knowing that.  But, that awareness does help me make choices that might be a bit more far-reaching or seem almost impossible. Also, I can lean into uncertainty, knowing it is okay enough.

I have all the tools I need.
I don’t need to keep seeking more; better.
I am enough.

I’ve been developing some skills to help myself. So, know that these ideas and thoughts that I am sharing now did not happen overnight. Yet, you can take simple steps with each of them.

I work on them a bit each day.

Many of these methods and tools were a part of my life prior to the recent six years. For some, I devoted time to learning new, investigating, and experimenting!

One tool that I have used a lot to help me notice and appreciate where I am is practicing gratitude and noticing gains. I work it into my days in a few different ways.

It pops up on its own now, but I also practice deliberately. I make sure to celebrate all my tiny steps, not just the big wins!

I will share a simple way for you to do so below:

A simple tip, you can try out: Gratitude and Gains

  • Take a few minutes to explore appreciation and gratitude and noticing your gains. It’s a deliberate practice you can pretty simply add your life that can profoundly impact your life. How? Over time, gratitude rewires your brain. Consciously noticing gratitude and Gains in a deliberate practice lead to an overall feeling of well-being, more awareness, and clarity. This all makes us more resilient.
  • How?
    • Take some time in thinking of things in your everyday life that you appreciate.
    • Next, Give yourself the time you need to reflect on a few things you are grateful for from that day or in general.
    • Then, give yourself the time you need to reflect on a few gains (wins) for the day. Know that these can be anything. (For example, something as simple as “I drank several glasses of water today”).
    • You can do this any time of the day.
    • You can write these in a notebook or journal.
    • Know that writing these down further makes this shift and imprint, and it also gives you a record to read later and enjoy.
    • I created a few worksheets for you to use: Gratitude and Gains Journal Page and a Reflection & Journal Page.

Practicing gratitude and gains has been vital in getting going, restarting, designing and crafting, envisioning, experimenting, failing, and learning.

This is not new for me—trying new things, investigating, figuring out what works. Especially testing out various methods for wellness, health, and life.

Go All In

I began to do that long before going from procedure to surgery related to my accident and adjunct medical needs. Time, health, and wellness are valuable to me. It is true wealth to me. 

I will be transparent: over the years, I invested a fair amount of money into tools, equipment, and programs personally and professionally. I was always learning as I was working, playing, and doing.

I was not predicted to heal optimally. So, to heal fully functional, I decided to invest out-of-my-pocket monies into physical therapeutic work, tools, and extra care. It worked and was priceless for me. Others may not do the same as I do, and that’s okay -it worked for me!

At one point, someone criticized me strongly for spending money on physical therapy in order to heal fully. They had a different value system with money than I did. They suggested that it was more optimal to invest the money into improving my home.

Different humans, different brains, different beliefs! They have a very-high-value home. Healing up was a high priority to me. I literally have a very-high-value body as I think I have about several hundred thousand dollars of hardware in me!

This is my path; I will follow it regardless of other’s approval.
Even though I listen to feedback, value, and care for others,
I don’t depend on their opinions.
I hold my ground and find my way…
Sometimes that means I will stand alone.

As I moved into trying to heal well, investing my own money, research, and time, I was incredibly challenged. I was predicted not to heal fully functional in my jaw and facial area. Also, I was told that I would have lifelong neck, spine, and hip/pelvis discomfort and issues.

I was putting in enormous effort to help myself while I was feeling very unwell and unenergized. I was in constant discomfort and continuously recovering from procedures and surgeries. It mattered to me, so I did it anyway-using a lot of those beliefs, mindset, and thought work that I’ve talked about.

I struggled with walking properly and balance for quite some time. I was not able to chew or eat normal food for 3.5 years. Sleeping through the night did not happen for years. I was undernourished, lost weight to the point of being skeletal. If I tried to lower my head, I had intense pain. I won’t even mention post-surgery constipation. Every time I was jostled or felt a bump–ouch! And more…

But I did it anyway.

mountain with being Where You Are
Sometimes the trail you take is long, sometimes it is short…

Sometimes, it took me two to three hours to be able to move comfortably due to my back, hip, and neck issues. Eventually, that shifted. Now, I have zero back pain.

During that time period, I explored many tools and methods to help me feel better, move functionally, and have less discomfort. So, I will have some great tips for you on back and neck care, including tools and methods to create mobility with stability!

Now, I have rolled much of these practices into a before-bed and evening-wind-down time. I believe that how we end our day creates how we live our next day. So, I put a bit more focus on my evening time than my early morning time. I find that my morning practices feel better, and I do them more fully when I have a healthy night before! (More tips about this later!)

Recently was the longest consistent period in my life to date of feeling unwell and uncomfortable. As you might expect, I have had other body injuries in the past. They impacted me for a bit, but I moved onward from all of them, taking some learning along with me.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

Just to story-it-up, a few of those are:

  • I have been hit twice by a vehicle while riding my bicycle. (One vehicle ran a stop sign and hit me. The other turned directly in front of me, sped away, leaving me lying in the road!)
  • I hurt my ankle once. Yes, just once in my life thus far. Strangely enough, it was shortly after a procedure during my recent accident recovery. I tripped out of my backdoor, landing on a concrete patio. I was home alone, and It took me about 30 minutes to pull myself over to my door and crawl-slide into my house. At that moment, I experience how very tall a refrigerator is!
  • I tore and strained some arm muscles in mountaineering training and then a subsequent rock-climbing fall. Separated by a few weeks!
  • During my kitchen clean-up duty at survival camp, I slipped while using two counters as parallel bars. Who does that? Me. My jawbone pushed through my skin when I hit the floor, very un-gymnastic-like. I was transported 2 hours in the back of a pick-up truck on bumpy dirt roads to a hospital and then back to the survival camp to recover. (Talk about ouch!) I had the same thing happen in my most recent accident too.
  • I even hurt my toe while surfing–but my biggest toe hurt was breaking three toes while I was just standing still as a heavy closet door fell on my foot! After that, I took an extended family once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Rocky Mountain National Park in a foot brace. The worst part was that I was too slow to hobble away from my aunt as she yelled through a crowd of people for her brother, “Dick”. The best part was that I sat a lot with my grandparents as everyone else walked about.

But really– throughout my life, despite those injuries, I have mostly been okay enough and quite healthy overall. l experienced speedy recoveries with no lasting issues until my recent six-year period. Know that is relative! Now, to me, a speedy recovery is anything 6 to 12 months or less! Go figure!

I share these with you, not for woe-is-me-ism or to be Injury-Proud. But to simply let you know that I have had unforeseen injuries and then tried my best to work hard several times at healing. Each time, I learned more. Changed some ways. Recycled it into different. Moved onward.

artwork for Being Where You Are with recycle devastation to nourish and heal text

So, by the time I had my recent accident-I already had some excellent methods and resources in place. I was able to build from those experiences. But yet still be where I am! And never the same again…

To be continued…

In gratitude,

Heather's Signature

Next Steps:

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Resources linked in article above:

  • Gratitude and Gains
  • Reflection and Journal Page, here
  • Breath Awareness Practice, Click Here