Lessons in Forced Stillness

img_0111I haven’t stopped moving in two years. In 2015 I hopped on a plane for New Zealand, where I lived in the back of my beloved little station wagon for the summer and skied my way through the mountains in winter. When I returned stateside late that year, I didn’t spend two weeks straight in one place.

My restlessness spurred me to stints in Bend, Bellingham, and Bozeman (in a weird vortex of alliterative mountain towns). I went north to British Columbia, south to Mexico, and spent time in the Grand Canyon. I went back to New Zealand to visit friends and hopped over to Australia to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef with my dad. I landed in Revelstoke, Canada, at the end of 2016 to feed my ski obsession.

And then I broke my ankle.

I’ve spent the last two weeks coming to terms with my new state of forced stillness. I’ve been thinking about what the universe is trying to teach me with this injury. I don’t know if this is what the cosmos had in mind, but I’ve definitely learned a few things.

How to carry things creatively. Like in my bra. Obviously. Or piled on the little office rolling chair my amazing roommate found for me that I zoom around on like a nerdy scooter.

Reframe big accomplishments. My life has always reflected the motto “Go big or go home.” These days a big accomplishment involves taking a shower. Or putting air in my truck tires. That one was a bitch.

Ask for help. I love helping other people. I hate asking for it for myself. I’m terrible at accepting it when it’s offered. I’ve learned I don’t always have to be the strong, independent, capable person. Because frankly, I’m none of those things right now.

Gratitude for my community. Being injured in a ski town is not ideal. But it’s allowed me to see the depth of this group of people beyond days in the mountains: these supportive, good, beautiful, creative people. It’s made me realize I want to be here, truly be here, for the foreseeable future. This is no small thing, because I haven’t felt that way since I left Wanaka in 2015.

Find peace in stillness. This has never been easy for me, and it’s an ongoing effort. And an invaluable skill.

Be genuinely happy for other people. I can’t take credit this one. A friend shared this piece of advice for me on how he got through tearing every ligament in his knee at the beginning of ski season last winter. Often we go through the motions of responding to someone else’s joy, but we’re not really listening. I practice being genuinely happy for my friends who had their best day ever in the mountains.

Appreciate the low for the high it allows. The one doesn’t exist without the other. I’ve had more than my fair share of lows lately – but I also believe that I’ve gotten far more than my fair share of highs over the course of my life.

In the words of my wise friend Katy Branston: “Life is amazing. And then it is awful. And then it is amazing again. And between the amazing and the awful it is mundane and ordinary and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living. Heart breaking, soul healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life…and it is breathtakingly beautiful.”

I’m holding on. I know I’m on the verge of exhaling, and around the corner is the inhale. It’s worth taking the time to appreciate the pause in between. It’s taken a broken ankle to finally teach me that.

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2 thoughts on “Lessons in Forced Stillness

  1. May you heal quickly, and may your soul continue to be nourished no matter the circumstances. Nice job of finding the silver lining. And thank goodness for the wonderful people who surround you. You’ll be back to your lightning-speed life in no time. 🙂

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