Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb but how well you bounce. ~Vivian Komori

Blue jeans. Shorts. Bathing suits. My sense of balance. My energy level. My personal idea of self-worth. My health. My job. My fear factor and anxiety level. These are all areas that I've discovered are completely different than they were six months ago. My cancer surgery, to remove the Leiomyosarcoma tumor from my abdominal wall along with a good portion of muscle tissue, was half a year ago. And yet, those ripples of interwoven effect are still very much flowing through my life.  

Six months used to sound like a long time to me. I remember saying to a friend, who was an incredible scheduler and planner, than it was hard for me to look a week ahead, let alone six months. This pal was amazing! She'd have a calender of events for her family's life booked anywhere from six months to a year in advance. I was awed by her foresight. In my own life, six months was much too far in the future to fathom. During that time, my children might almost finish a school year, we might get a new car, we might take a was just a distant horizon. Given the nature of unpredictable, extenuating circumstances, I had an impossible time picturing what might happen half a year away.

The past six months, however, have moved along at a snail's pace. Even after I'd had my surgery, it never even crossed my mind that I'd still be recovering six months later. In my ignorance, I believed that I'd bounce back immediately. I thought my energy level would jump out and greet me with the enthusiasm of a Labrador puppy. I was confident that my body would retain its pre-surgical form. I not only thought I'd be back at work as a yoga instructor, but that I'd be an even better one. How foolish I was! I had no clue that six months is a drop in the grand bucket of time from cancer recovery. Every step, every time I'd sit up, every motion I'd make has been an arduous, laborous endeavor. Simple actions that I could have done blindfolded, such as moving the laundry from the washer to the dryer, have taken me intense concentration, followed by rest. Each improvement I've made has been the result of deliberate conquest.

Because so many of these achievements have been 'behind the scenes' ones, just like the laundry, I've felt guilty for not being 'back to my old self'. When my former boss was kind, but clearly frustrated, with my inability to be back to work in February, she hired another teacher. It was understandable. It was necessary. But, my feelings were hurt all the same. If I couldn't push a vacuum cleaner around without causing myself further injury and pain, I clearly couldn't teach the five intense yoga classes per week that I had taught up until my illness and surgery. I wanted to give myself a parade for being able to sit up in a theater. What an accomplishment! But, to the rest of the world, it simply wasn't a big deal. Everyone can sit up! Why was it a cause for celebration to me?

When I read today's quote by Vivian Komori, I felt as if I could breathe a sigh of sweet peaceful relief. I am bouncing! I may not be holding a Warrior pose for 20 minutes with ease. I might not be climbing Mount Katahdin. I'm still not back to my former career. But, I'm bouncing. I'm doing laundry. I'm traveling with my children. I'm cooking dinner for my family. I'm walking my dogs. I'm enjoying the beautiful sunshine. I'm not where I'd like to be, but I'm on my way there, bouncing as I go.

I've always loved water, and when I was a very little girl, my mom was concerned that my lack of fear about our swimming pool overstepped my swimming ability for a time. Rather than ban me from the pool, she taught me a practical skill: if I ever feel as if I can't swim any further, I need only bounce. I'd push myself down to the bottom of the pool and spring up forward all along the way back to the shallow end. It was invaluable. A few times I really did tire in the deep end. I'd hold my breath, propel myself down and then, pushing off the pool floor, hurtle forward always making progress as I ricocheted along. 

Life has been a bit like that for the last six months. I'll go down a bit and wrestle in the deep end of an area in my life and then hurdle upwards with a new spring in my step. Six months have come and gone. I'm not in the shallow end yet. I still have lots of areas that need attention and work. But, I'm bouncing. It may not be far with each upward movement, but I'm bouncing all the same.

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