In yoga class yesterday, my teacher gently urged us to reflect upon those small things for which we are grateful: having a toothbrush with which to brush my teeth, having a mat upon which to practice yoga. With each exhale, I lay flat on my mat and felt myself grounding deeper into the earth. This place felt so comfortable, so natural, so safe. It was a place for which I’d been searching for years. At this point, my mat is well-worn and feels like a genuine conduit of my health. Each time I unroll it, its worn spots remind me that I’m safe here, and that I’ve done this many times before. My mat has become a symbol of my strength and my ability to feel good. As I lug it around the city, it tells others “I’m a healthy woman!” But more importantly, it reminds me:
“You’re a healthy woman. You did it. You made it. You survived.”
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m sharing my gratitude journey here. And my yoga mat – and all of the experiences it has held – is something for which I’m so grateful.
Three years ago today, on November 23, 2014, I wore pants for the first time in a couple years. It was a triumphant moment of my recovery, and one that’s perfectly captured in a photo that shows me grinning ear-to-ear. It was my first taste of normal. I wore pants just 6 months after meeting my physical therapist. Just 6 months after being wheelchair-bound. Just 6 months after being unable to walk, stand, use the restroom, wear underwear, wear pants, sleep, or breathe without pain.
I didn’t expect to ever get to that moment on November 23, 2014; I didn’t think I’d do these things again. I’m so grateful that my physical therapist believed in my resilience. She found sources of strength within me that I didn’t know existed, and when I was ready to give up, she supplied the strength I needed to continue progressing through my recovery. My gratitude for her washes over me each time I get to do something I enjoy today – and 2 ½ years after finishing physical therapy for my pain, I still think of her each time I’m out in the world playing, laughing, moving. She gave me an incredible gift.
Just a few months later, my husband and I took a vacation to San Diego to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. After our trip, he gave me a “paper” anniversary gift, as tradition dictates. It was a bouquet of paper flowers, and he’d presented the artist with photos from our San Diego vacation. On our wedding day a year earlier, I was in a wheelchair and excruciating pain. But these photos showed me glowing in the San Diego sunshine, wearing yoga pants and enjoying life. We had so much to celebrate.
As I write this, we’re on a plane to San Diego, which has become the happiest of our Happy Places. We love to nap in our favorite park, eat at our favorite cafes, visit our favorite beach. And my yoga mat is packed safely in my suitcase, ensuring that I’ll be able to celebrate my health in my Happy Place in the way that’s most dear to me – by rooting down, feeling grounded, and stretching my arms to the sky. I did it. And for my husband, for my physical therapist, for my family, for my pup, for the creative and brilliant people who helped me survive that journey – I’m so grateful for you.
© 2017 Inspire Santé, NFP