I went to see a new doctor yesterday. Listing my medical history always takes me down memory lane and not all of the memories are happy ones. My list of traumas include 4 concussions, a broken hip, many broken ribs from falling and being crushed, a broken left arm, and eight bones in my right foot (three separate injuries). I also got Scarlet Fever when I was a child. And I was pregnant at 16. The physical list doesn't include other abuses my little Sally suffered. But that's what it looks like when you were a feral tomboy living on a ranch. Some of my injuries were from taking risks and having fun. Others were from trusting people to take care of me who didn't.
My childhood hurts were in part the results of a very curious girl who loved to explore the world and wasn't much guarded from the dangers. I so love that little Sally who is still inside me. I still love to explore the world and my curiosity hasn't waned a bit. I was drawn to adventure and have traveled the West, Alaska and some Latin American countries guiding horse trips in the mountains and white water rafting on big rivers. But when I continued to suffer serious injuries well into my adult life, many of them in remote locations, I had to take inventory. I didn't have to ride the horses that no one else wanted to ride or love the men who really had only their own interests at heart.
At first, I thought everyone was like me; with a long list of crash and recovery. But the friends I raced bikes with told me their backs didn't hurt when they rode like mine did. That was my first dawning of awareness. There were others. Maybe my history wasn't completely normal.
Learning to play in the world more safely was something I wasn't taught. I decided I had to learn it for myself, only a few years ago, actually. Riding a scooter in Roatan, Honduras on my way to a job interview to write for a magazine, I crashed when I took my hand off the handlebars for a moment to push the skirt down which had blown up into my face. The scooter landed with all its weight on my foot that wore only a flip flop. Some of that was risky behavior (the flip flop) and maybe (riding a scooter in a skirt) but mostly that accident was something that could happen to other people. What probably wasn't normal was that I was on an island in the Caribbean with a very high crime rate, living alone far off the beaten path where I knew almost no one. I had to get on a Yahoo chat group to find a nice ex-pat woman to take me to the hospital. I suffered alone with 6 broken bones for 18 hours before I was able to find a ride.
Traveling alone isn't something I'm willing to change. That curious child still lives within me and has from the moment in this life when I was created. I can't live an authentic life and not travel and play.
Occasionally, someone comes up to me and says, "I want to live the life you live!" "You're so adventurous!" It's true. I'm proud of the courage I mustered to go from the small town girl to being someone who travels to the places I've gone and done the things I do. But it's not without sacrifice. I am alone a lot. I'm scared sometimes and sometimes I get hurt, but aren't we all? Sometimes?
I love a quote by Mark Manson I read recently, "What's your favorite flavor of shit sandwich?". What that means to me as that everything sucks some of the time. And I'm willing to suffer a bit for a life of adventure and creativity. But how much?
To balance out the more reckless side, I've found yoga, meditation and I read a lot. I found the shit sandwich quote and I am reading the life-changing magic of tidying up. I had heard about the concept of clearing your life to make room for new things from other coaches I know and did a lot of that work before I actually picked up the book. But I've had the chance to read more and it's brilliant! Start with your closet with the focus not on what you don't like but what really sparks joy in you. Keep those things and release the others into the world. I have seen amazing movement and growth in my life by doing this simple thing and have expanded the concept in my quest to take better care of myself. Now, when I choose a doctor, a massage therapist, a friend, I ask myself if they make me feel really good and are a good fit for that curious little girl inside. If the answer is "no", I keep looking.
Turns out, my new doctor is into energy healing and supportive of holistic and functional medicine. She made eye contact with me during our visit and was genuinely interested in my life. I felt joyful and heard when I left her office. I'm going to keep her. And that is one way I'm learning to take better care of myself. There will be others. Stay tuned.