Change Is Optional


A few days ago the doctor told me that I’ve been walking on a sprained angle for a couple months. I remember the day I sprained it, it was a bad day for someone close to me and it did not register how much it was hurting. So the next morning, I woke up as I always do. Noticed the pain, ignored it, packed my lunch, packed my work clothes and headed to the gym. I treated my body as if everything was normal, wearing heels, pushing the numbers in spin class and having what felt like a normal day. About 5 days later, I started elevating it, icing it and taking ibuprofen. The pain was increasing and the size of my ankle was definitely out of sorts! But, I stayed with my normal daily routine. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit, it was not until another 6 weeks passed that I finally went to the doctor. I showed up because the pain was constant and wearing heels felt like more punishment than usual! In less than 20 minutes, the doctor x-rayed it, gave me a wrap, signed me up for physical therapy and educated me that I damaged the ankle by delaying the remedies it needed. In other words, because I passed over the issue, tried to ignore the pain and put pressure on an injury, I denied the tendons, ligaments and tissue a healing environment.

I write to you with my ankle in its wrap. And as I check in with my body, from head to toe, I feel the throb. It’s talking. I finally started listening. Today, I will lift it, practice PT movements and forgo the plyometrics.

7 years have gone by since my last bad injury (a triple fracture to the opposite ankle). I am not in the habit of listening to my body - scanning it for what it needs. Those fractures taught me to give my body time. Healing requires acknowledgment, space, time. Different, this painful sprain is teaching me to listen before emergency. Once again, acknowledgment, space, time. Those fractures were the emergency: EMTs, ambulance, two surgeries, wheelchair, walker, boot, physical therapy. In my performance driven, Type A mind, this achy ankle was a distraction. Ignoring the hints from body and mind is not only dangerous, it betrays our instincts, steals away from our personality and adds to the stress or pain.

I’m working on a less black and white approach to productivity. Not just once, but countless times in the last 2 months I missed something important in my body.

I’m trained in dealing with emergency. Because I’m a born problem solver, many of my habits prevent emergency. But, I look back on my life and notice the hardship I’ve had the hardest time identifying is admitting physical or emotional pain. Even with all my self care practices today, I MISS IT sometimes! How can someone deny rain on their skin or the red light in 100 feet? Required: attention span, acceptance, adaption.

I have developed good habits in my recovery from depression, workaholism and substance addiction. The best habit is the one you are witnessing right now: pivoting from mistakes. I give them attention span, acceptance, adaption. I think of the pivot like my youthful days in basketball: move one leg, determine your mind on the goal and GO!

I think we are all looking for the best ways to create the habits we are born to love. In My 42, I take time to pivot, to change the rain or red light into an opportunity - to soften and expand. More to come in the next blog about how our habits help us thrive through pain and stress.

The Space Before Change is different for all of us. For me, it looks like making room for needs. Active choice: face my perfectionism with forgiveness. In that space, my faith and my values guide me into abundant life, away from gritting through. Change is optional. I choose it today, even if it means the longer, less familiar path. When I make room for lifting up (my ankle, my ideas, my needs), I am temporarily uncomfortable. But my relationships, mind and body are stronger.

Today, I begin with the end in mind. I live. I heal.

Britten Devereux