On Sunday I was thinking about a winter run. A few days earlier, I wrote about the quiet of winter, the way snow piles on snow piles, hushing the ordinary world, and admiring the Midwest sky who invents new colors. I’d been carrying these words with me and was giddy to get out for a run.
I smiled, recognizing that I am becoming a runner. I smiled thinking of the world that was waiting for me. I knew exactly what to expect since I went for a walk the day before.
The sun warmed my face as I walked through the parking lot. “Be careful,” I reminded Andy and the boys because it was slick. I wasn’t really thinking about the ice, because my thoughts were outlining the upcoming run: pulling on layers and lacing my shoes in order to get out on the road once we were home.
It happened fast.
It happened gently.
It happened in a single step.
We know moments can change the course of a life. As Andy scooped me up to right me on my feet, I fell again, because I couldn’t put weight on my ankle. We hobbled to the car. We pulled off my boot. We knew the odd shape and sickening color changed our afternoon plans.
“No run?” I asked.
Andy scoffed, but his eyes held compassion.
No matter how many hospital people I asked to make it so I could go home and continue with my running plans, it didn’t yield to the reality of the situation. Rather the prepping for a run, they began prepping to relocate my ankle, making it ready for surgery later in the week.
Two breaks and an ankle dislocation will change the course of a life.
It is not a bad thing.
As an eternal optimist, I believe this. As a woman of wisdom + whimsy, I know that God can turn this for his good. And I know, knowknowknow, that this is exactly what I need to surrender to the lesson I’ve been wrestling with for many years—how to slow my roll and quit overworking.
I know my value is not dependent on achieving results. Yet, over the years as things spiraled out of control on the home front, it became comforting to know setting a goal and working a plan will accomplish predictable results.
It is clear to me now that I was approaching running as a quest to obtain results. There were tendrils of a different story circling around, and I kept snatching them, trying to hold on to the whimsy of becoming a runner and the focus on the journey rather than the result. I kept trying to use them as proof that I was yielding to the journey. From the outside, it appeared I was doing this well. Yet, my heart would tell a different story. I was corralling and controlling achievement in order to force myself to be a runner.
Midweek while checking my steps for the day (746—ugh!), the the reality of my situation sunk in. I decided to flip my attitude. Rather than lamenting the loss of my running, I decided to be grateful that I am in okay shape, able to face this current leg of the journey with a body that can handle strange movements and sitting-too- long brought on by a no-weight-bearing ankle that needs elevated constantly.
I write this from my couch, with my ankle elevated. The surgery went well, even though there was more damage than originally expected. I’m still sitting still since my ankle swells quickly and must always be elevated. I’m learning to slow my roll.
I know each day is precious. Although I like to claim I am a recovering perfectionist, the truth is it is still difficult to let some things go. My brother, a runner, laughed when I told him I wouldn’t be walking for six to eight weeks.
“Ruthie, you’ll have to start at the beginning again and rebuild your mileage.” His amusement was contagious.
“That’s okay,” I said, and I meant it. I thought about the snowy runs I missed this week. Rather than being sad, I found my heart filling with gratitude for the journey. More valuable than the result is the journey with the right heart.
I begin anew. Reflecting on my original list of intentions in 2022, I realize I need to make some adjustments in order to focus on the journey.
- Play with pictures + stories. Document them on something I can hold.
Make a scrapbook page each week.
- Write weekly on my blog about something ordinary and small.
- Trust the process of preparing and scheduling content for work. Maintain an attitude of whimsy and wisdom in creating content.
Prepare and schedule all content for work three or more weeks in advance.
- Respond to emails so people know I care. Zero my inbox as often as possible. Remember, it does not take a long time to give this gift to yourself.
Zero my inboxes every week.
- Write letters and put them in the mail.
- Be a runner as part of being physically fit. Enjoy being outside and allow the deep pumping of my heart to be a reminder that the journey with a right heart is essential.
Be a runner by running 10 – 15 miles each week of the year.
- Visit 10 state parks with a friend before the end of the year.
threea trip to visit friends or family in different parts of the world.
- Knit gifts for people I like.
- Write a new book proposal. (Gulp.)
These are quiet adjustments.
I’m joining a group of story collectors at Sharing Our Stories. Won’t you join us? It’s a simple invitation: write + share + comment.
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This sure looks like the universe sending you a message to slow down. I am sorry you got hurt and it will take you time to heal. Your attitude and plan adjustment made me smile.
I am so sorry about your accident and surgery. Ankles are finicky and will take a long time to heal. Just saying. You may set your sights on 6 months rather than 6 weeks. I think life is about adjustments every single day. It’s important to set goals, but just as important to give ourselves grace when they don’t work out. I appreciate your outlook. Keep writing. Keep healing. Hang in there!
I am glad your surgery went well, and I hope your recovery does as well. This sure gives your one little word a different perspective, doesn’t it? Praying for all of you!
Oh, darn! I feel like you’ve been inside my head. The hardest part of being knocked off any “wagon of good habit” for me, is the thought of what it will take to rebuild it. But, you are absolutely right…the process, the doing is the most important part. Thank you for the lesson. I’m sorry it means this injury. Good thing you are on the couch with an elevated, raised foot. Your thoughts touch on a recent Brene Brown podcast I listened to. It was: Unlocking Us with James Clear on Atomic Habits. There are two parts. It might be something to enjoy while you are getting back to your processes.
It’s hard when you are sidelined by a fall. My doctor always says, don’t fall, when I see her. I don’t know your age, but I am heading to 70 this year, and the doctor warns that the falls can become more debilitating as the years add up. And, if I wish to maintain my current lifestyle, I must not fall. I had balance therapy right before I retired as I was concerned about becoming one of those old ladies who fall. It was a big help with exercises, both physical and mental, to keep me aligned. Your insurance pays for this so it’s something to look into. Your list is very ambitious.
I absolutely am in awe and rely on your optimism – Two breaks and an ankle dislocation will change the course of a life. It is not a bad thing. As an eternal optimist, I believe this. As a woman of wisdom + whimsy, I know that God can turn this for his good. – I believe that too. Thank you for taking us along on your journey. You always encourage and makes us look at things anew!
Thought you might like this poem: https://wordancerblog.com/2022/02/06/belonging-2/
My words were “Oh, no!” when I read this post. I truly feel your pain, Ruth. It took me back to February 2006. Broken ankle and surgery for me! Yes, life changes. It was day by day of figuring how to accomplish the simplest of tasks. I look at people on crutches and in wheelchairs with real compassion now. After getting rid of all the bandages, crutches, boot, my desk chair with wheels at home, I had a new appreciation of being able to walk into a store all by myself at the end. It’s a very humbling experience. Your life will slow down for sure. You will make the most of it, I think, with your writing. Yes, you will be ready for spring!! Take care of yourself!!!
OUCH! I’m glad you are being well taken care of and in recovery. As your beautiful words said, “I know that God can turn this for his good.” Good things are happening as you slow your roll. Hug.
I’m so sorry for your fall! I know it’s hard, but the wisdom in this post is clear. As a fellow “recovering perfectionist,” your revised goals spoke to me. I hope you will be able to relax into this time and get the refresh and reset you need.
Ruth, I am so sorry about your ankle; I am horrified by the extent of the injury. I recall reading of your longing to run and your tiredness…cannot help thinking now how the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Your refections strike deep chords: thinking of what is missed (the glory of those snowy runs) but coming to a place of gratitude for the journey as it is. I suspect some unexpected glory yet to be revealed on this different path…thank you and prayers for your healing.
Oh, Ruth, I am so sorry! I haven’t broken any bones, but have had extensive PT following several falls. I walk with intention and like the old lady I’m becoming in an effort to avoid falling. I am happy to report that all is well and I continue to walk almost daily. I know you’ll get back to running, but in the meantime, I love how you’ve flipped your attitude and adjusted your intentions. Hugs as you endure/learn to embrace sitting. Not easy for an on-the-go gal like you!
Forgot to mention how much I love the photo you share. The intense blue against the white, absolute stunning!
I really should edit my comments before I hit post, not after. . . . love the photo you shared. . . absolutely stunning! Good grief!
This post speaks volumes to me – – I am so, so sorry about your injury. I have been an intermittent runner/weight gainer back and forth throughout my life. I enjoy running, but the older I got the more I realized there were not enough safety shoes for me. I kept twisting my ankle into dips I didn’t see and thanking the good Lord for sparing me. I need to get back at it, but I’m taking my time. I, too, have to start again from scratch. But oh, the joy of a morning run before the rest of the world wakes up – – we get to see it all first!
I always love to read your thoughts, but I am saddened by your injury. It does take unusual and unexpected circumstances sometimes to get us to slow down. I pray for a speedy recovery. Letting go is never easy. Thank you always for sharing your heart. I hope the kids are well. I think of them often and the lessons I have learned from you and your family. Sending hugs and love. God placed All Write Conference on my path of life and I am forever grateful.
Ruth, I always say that life is fragile and uncertain. Maybe the another should be unpredictable. I am sorry that instead of moving forward with a single step you succumbed to a fall. It is painful to have surgery after a fall but you are so optimistic that I commend you for following your one word anew. I hope you find joy, comfort and continued blessings so faith brings you on a new path.