rebuilding trust

The day I can walk is circled in red on my mental calendar. No one is more excited for the ditching of the wheelchair than I am, except perhaps my chore-burdened kids and those dear friends who cook/shop for me and cart me around. But even with this anticipation in mind, I was not prepared for such bold instruction from my PT on Tuesday.

“Stand up.”

I promptly responded by bursting into tears. “No,” I sobbed. “I can’t.”

My amazingly patient PT assured me I could. He made me try again. And again. And again, until I actually put weight on the right side to press up to a standing position.

“Mountain pose,” I whispered, rolling my shoulders back but still pouring more weight into the left side of my body.

The thrill was short-lived.

Under orders to practice this new party trick at home, even after initial (supervised) success, I still cried with subsequent attempts. I don’t know where these tears come from. It’s not like I want to be confined to a wheelchair or my first floor forever, though this cocooned life has kept me safe for these past three months, a feat I wasn’t able to achieve the last time I walked on two feet.

I trust the doctor’s prognosis. I trust the PT’s assessment that I’m ready. But I don’t trust myself. All it takes to screw up is a slip, a twist, a misstep. My reputation for klutzy behavior taunts me, and not even the deep breaths that normally move me off the ledge help.

I have another PT session in a few hours, and since he gave me a preview of what to expect, I know today’s visit will include taking baby steps. I can’t think about it without succumbing to tears and dread, the first time I’ve not looked forward to PT, which basically substitutes for a social life these days.

I’ll be ready to go when my ride arrives, but how can I trust my body do as commanded when the order is given?






on courage 

Her vision was simple: build a wall, paint it with chalkboard paint, ask passersby to register what they wish they had the courage to do.

The response has been inspiring.

I’m used to Nancy Belmont, who also happens to be my best friend, finding the essence of the human spirit in every person, place, moment. In that regard, I’m not surprised at the overwhelming response to the Courage Wall she built on Mt. Vernon Avenue in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia. But yet, I am surprised.

I may write a blog where I often confess my greatest personal challenges, but I’m a private person by nature. The interwebs provide a firewall, a degree of separation between my writing and the reader. I can make confessions in this medium I wouldn’t make in real life. I can do this because if I touch one person, it’s worth any angst I suffered getting the words out.

But for some reason, the Courage Wall is different. I’ve yet to write on it, though I have some ideas of what I would commit to chalk:

I wish I had the courage to refer to myself as a writer and not as an aspiring writer.

I wish I had the courage to open my heart to love.

I wish I had the courage to do a head stand.

I walk by the wall every time I teach or take a yoga class at Mind the Mat. And each time, my eyes catch a new message that makes me cry:

I wish I had the courage to not be a bully.

I wish I had the courage to let go.

Or my younger son’s tear-inducing entry: I wish I had the courage to fit in at school.

It’s a big deal to spell out in pastel chalk that which holds you back. And I hope every person who dares to reveal a piece of his or herself finds peace and can take the first steps toward acquiring the needed courage to move forward confidently.

I want Nancy to realize the extent to which she touched the lives of a community. We will not be able to measure how many people used the wall as a first step toward perusing their greatest desire but I can confidently declare the Courage Wall to be just the conversation piece many of us need.

Thank you to all those who shared. Thank you, Nancy, for having the courage to follow through with your vision. Your courage begets our courage. And as a result, we live big.