Archive | May 2012

Strength & Gentleness

I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong.
~Leo Rosten

Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.
~Saint Francis de Sales

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
~Mahatma Gandhi

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Held Together by Elastic

My dad used to joke he kept Johnson & Johnson and Ace Bandages in business. Dad raised three girls, none of whom were dainty. Three daughters, three athletes, seven sports. We hit softballs, tennis balls and badminton birdies; flipped and twisted in gymnastics and diving; hit the floor for volleyballs; and ran full-tilt towards hurdles. When we weren’t in season, we were still moving.

Sprains, muscle pulls, bumps, bruises and cuts were the norm in our household, much to my mother’s chagrin. She would have preferred ballerinas. Oh, we did that too, but only when we were young. When we got older, our competitive streaks took over.

Recently, as I wore an Ace bandage on my ankle and searched for my wrist brace, I thought of Dad and wondered what he would have said of me taking up karate at the age of 46. I can see him shaking his head, then slowly grinning and saying, “Why not? I’d expect no less from one of you girls.”

These days, instead of smashing my knee on hurdles I’m blocking punches, being dumped on my butt, and having my wrists twisted in ways they don’t want to twist. When I was 20, I was made of elastic and would have shaken it off and done it again. Now, at 50, I think fondly of those days but reality says they are far gone. Now, instead of being made of elastic, I’m being held together with elastic!

I should own stock in Aleve. I have a physiatrist who greets me with, “What’d you do to yourself now?” My Swamp Water and Biofreeze are close at hand. And I’m the proud owner of three ankle braces, a wrist brace, several Ace bandages, multiple ice packs, and a heating pad (with a very important auto-shut-off feature, since I often fall asleep on it).

I have strengthening exercises for my wrist, my ankle, my neck and my core, courtesy of the physical therapists. I use the penetrating heat of a tanning bed as balm for my sore muscles.

True, my limitations are gaining on me, but I’m too stubborn to give in. Some days I’ll win, some days the aches will. Either way, I’ll continue to train.

But for now, it seems I’ve come full circle. I’m once again keeping Ace Bandages in business, just like when Dad was around.  And weird as it may sound that makes me smile…just a little bit.

Realizing I’m Not Superwoman

It’s a hard realization to come to – that I’m not Superwoman after all.

All these years I thought I was tough. That I could do anything, push through any injury by sheer force of will. Mind over muscle, so to speak.

And then I broke my toe. Not just any toe, but the big toe on my right foot. And not just broke, but BROKE. As in “snapped sideways, busted open, looking like it got caught in a lawnmower, requiring surgery and a pin to set it properly” broken.

Broken toe set with a pin

Believe it or not, I didn’t request the pink bandage – the nurse chose it. It’s perfect!

It didn’t really hurt when I broke it, and it didn’t hurt much after the surgery. Superwoman doesn’t feel pain, right? So I didn’t think too much of trying to work out less than 2 weeks after my surgery, even though I was still in a boot with a big bandage protecting the stitch and protruding pin. 

I took the boot off and hobbled around a bit. I settled into a kiba dachi to do basics with the class. I even used a yoga mat so my feet wouldn’t slip! I twirled my new bo around; the temptation was just too much for me to pass up. I did maybe half of the 90 minute class. I was a little sore when I finished, but I had a broken toe so I wasn’t surprised.

And then… Then I discovered I’m not Superwoman, and what a disappointment that was! Much to my irritation, the next afternoon my foot and ankle puffed up and the pain kicked in. I spent the weekend on the couch watching movies and drooling from painkillers. Talk about a wake-up call.

It was difficult, but I had to come to terms with a few things:

1) I had a serious injury and I needed to heal before I worked out again.

2) Sometimes mind over muscle fails. That Bible verse, “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” is sometimes true, whether you like it or not.

3) And the worst realization of all…I’m really NOT Superwoman, darn it!

Honestly, I didn’t like any of those revelations, but there they were and I couldn’t ignore them. I’m not a superhero, and I had to heal. It was back to the sidelines for me. I still attended classes, but instead of working out I watched or helped teach.

Yesterday, almost 5 weeks post-surgery I did another Superwoman check because, of course, I’m still not convinced she doesn’t live in me somewhere. This time I went slower, with the memory of last time’s pain and some monitoring by my instructor to keep me in check. I did a very modified workout. Stretching and crunches, basics in a standing position, a little bit of “tai chi” self defense, and some no-step weapons kata.

Mentally it made me feel like Superwoman. Physically, I didn’t have her power and speed, but I did OK and I made it through today with minimal pain. I’m now lounging on the couch, but this time no drooling, no ice pack, no hydrocodone. I’m calling that a success!

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not Superwoman. Actually, that’s not true — I’m a work in progress. But if I can’t be her, she can be my role model, right? And while I’m waiting for my toe to heal, I’ll do my best to remember that I have to go at Michele’s pace instead of the pace of a lady in a blue leotard and boots. That’s contrary to my personality, so I expect I’ll need several reminders. But if I behave myself and remember who I am, eventually I’ll be back up to speed and acting like I’m the real Superwoman!