It is true, that our misery occurs, not because of what happens to us, but the way in which we react to it. Wiser persons than me have said this in very many different ways, but this is how I say it to you.
I shared with you months ago that I was seeking treatment for plantar fasciitis**, an inflammation of the fascia on the bottom of the foot. Over the last few months I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about the manifestations of plantar fasciitis, as well as the treatment. I’ve learned a bunch of other things as well, among them…patience.
I have only just twigged that, for me, this time around, is a much longer process of healing than my first encounter of it some 15 years ago…if, in fact, it will heal at all. It is nothing ‘serious’, as when I had cancer, except that it is. It has threatened the quality of my life significantly. Since October my movements have been very, very curtailed. Even though I had faithfully followed the stretches, the shoe and orthotic support recommendations etc, progress has been slow and frustrating.
I renewed an old acquaintance with a man called ‘Dances with Wolves’, felt a kinship in pain from the death of a tree (Avatar), wept at the horrors of Japanese treatment of soldiers in WW II (The Railway Man), delighted in the wisdom of a Maremma guarding penguins (Oddball), learned about historic figures like Queen Victoria (Victoria and Abdul) and Winston Churchill (Darkest Hour), and felt the anguish of a person who suffers greatly from a wrongdoing they cannot change (Japanese Story). I’ve wept with William Thackeray’s (Hugh Grant) friends for at least the 10th time (Notting Hill), and been completely charmed by a bear named Paddington. I have seen that the chasm of differences that sometimes exist between humans can be traversed more easily than the tinier things that separate us.
Through the porthole of reading I have been allowed inside the suffering and resilience of people who have survived the worst day of their lives (Any Ordinary Day – Leigh Sales). I have gone on a journey with the child of alcoholic and abusive parents, and seen him triumph (Boy Swallows Universe – Trent Dalton). For some ‘light’ relief I learned a new way to meditate that had an immediate and profound effect (The Tapping Solution – Nick Ortner). And then I plunged back into the gritty, horrific reality of someone doing something I could never do (The Trauma Cleaner – Sarah Krasnostein).
I also became a ‘twitcher’ and joined the week-long annual Aussie Backyard Bird Count with Birdlife Australia. I’ve always been a bird lover, but taking more time to sit and watch has made me keener. ‘The Genius of Birds’ by Jennifer Ackerman has given me a deeper appreciation for their habits, humour, intelligence and social structures.
I’ve taken fewer photos in recent months, having not previously realised how dependant on mobility I had been for inspiration. I began to look more carefully at the light, and the detail in my own surroundings. Experimenting taught me a couple of new editing processes as well.
Our daughter sent us a jigsaw puzzle that has occupied a few hours, so far…. it is a hard one! The photo is by Australian Wildlife Photographer Georgina Steytler who is based in Western Australia. (@georgina_steytler on Instagram). Her photos are stunning and she also works toward conservation. A portion of the cost of the puzzle goes to Georgina and other artists whose work you can select to be made into puzzles as well, @jigsaw_gallery on Instagram.
The summer weather has not been kind to us. We have broken record after record from heat duration and intensity. If ever there was a summer to have to ‘sit things out’ this one would have been an easy choice for me! Since cooking has been very unpleasant, both for the time on my feet, and the heat, I’ve created quite a few meals in the way of salads. I’ve been grateful for some resources in my freezer, and also sourced some new recipes online. The new barbecue/grill that my husband bought before Christmas, and his willingness to use it, has been a godsend!
So. What have I learned?
- To love and respect my body more.
- To spend more time reading.
- New Depths of Compassion.
- New depths of Patience
- To live in the present more. I was anxious. I’m less so now, focus in the present.
- I was reminded that Things/People are often not what they seem.
- To try and keep an open heart about every situation. We never know what a journey will teach us.
I close with this favourite quotation, because it seems so appropriate, and because once in a while there is a celebrated artist/person whose passing deeply stirs me. With sincere appreciation to you dear reader, and for the wisdom and words of the great poet, Mary Oliver who died last week…
Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.
**The plantar fasciitis has had a complexity to it called ‘nerve entrapment’. As well as the standard PF treatment of stretches, foot massage, strapping, sturdy shoes, orthotic inserts, I have had a nerve block and saline injections to the foot and area around the nerve. That had only minimal impact so I am currently having a series of ‘shock treatments’ to the bottom of the foot to try and ‘encourage’ the tissue to heal itself. Cortisone injections are not a panacea for this condition, but may provide temporary relief, tho are very limited in their use. The journey is ongoing. I am grateful for it all.