(And a quicker January of 2016...I was busy this month preparing a presentation for the North Bay Master’s team, hence my posting delay, but a video of that talk will be up soon!)
Does anyone else feel like the year zoomed by?
Well, for better or for worse, that’s how the whole “time” thing works. Months and years stack up and, as they become more numerous, each year seems to go by faster as we judge it relative to the total length of our lives…one year adds 20% to a five-year-old’s life, but just 5% to a twenty-year-old's, so it seems to go by four times faster to the twenty-year-old. (This has been termed ‘logtime’, and there’s a fun, interactive graphic here.)
I know, I know, you’re wondering how I can be worried about this when I’m only 21. The truth is, I’m not worried, nor do I feel “old” all of a sudden (well, I do in some ways, but that’s for another post); I’m expressing this in solidarity with my groaning 30-year-old friends…
But seriously, 2015 sped by for me even when, interestingly, 2014 was just the opposite. It felt, and feels, like a really long year even looking back on it, which is pretty weird.
It does make sense, though, as I felt incredibly lost in 2014 trying to figure out what needed to happen for my recovery. I got really burned-out in the process, feeling less confident as my progress plateaued. There were changes in my body, but the ironic part of positive change occurring is that when it happened, it was rarely as much as I expected and so those seemingly-breakthrough moments carried some sadness with them.
ALL OF THAT CHANGED IN 2015, which turned out to be a huge year for me.
I developed effective tools and strategies for really taking control of my recovery – not just giving me a sense of ownership, but actually backing it up with significant life-changing results.
Chief among these tools, of course, is the Neuro-Kinetic Pilates (NKP) therapy method, about which I have written on my first visit to work with Alejandra in March, and my second, two-month program at her Maui studio in the fall.
My work in Pilates, which continues in California, both with my home set-up and at Absolute Center in Lafayette, has had a tremendous impact on my muscular connectivity, and therefore my strength as well. With their emphasis on the intricacies of correct anatomical alignment, those exacting, detail-driven exercises have completely changed my posture, allowing me to sit upright with much less effort. In the last couple of months, I have even begun to connect to the muscles in my hips in a more voluntary way (like this kneeling-squat breakthrough).
Awesome, right? I'm now actually recovering the muscle function that I’d been told I should give up on. How cool is that?!
What is even cooler, though, is my progress toward WHY I actually want that function back: I am drastically more independent than I was a year ago, and I am getting closer to resuming a life that feels like my own. This of course includes being able to manage the basics, like getting dressed and going to the bathroom, but it is more the regaining of a certain feeling of spontaneity, of being able to put myself in an unplanned situation, and feeling comfortable that I will be able to figure it out and respond successfully.
That, to me, is perhaps the most crucial element in this whole process. Having comfort with the unknown allows for a kind of spontaneity, and this manifests itself in small and big ways. On the smaller side, there are stairs into a new restaurant – no problem, I’ll just ask a stranger for help ‘bumping’ me up. Improved mobility would help in that scenario, especially to handle it on my own, but I can figure it out. On a much grander scale, though, what about handling the physically-demanding workload of an engineering student, or having the goal of working in aerospace?
These are obviously much more complicated scenarios where mobility helps in myriad ways – and who could ever say they feel confident in knowing how one would end up? – but my point is the confidence to embark on such a journey stems from a ‘comfort with the daunting’. A come-what-may attitude is coupled with the necessary finesse to back it up. My recent adventures (check out skiing, below!) have shown me that regaining ability is absolutely the way toward that goal.
So, “what will this year bring for me?” is not the question I’m asking. “What will I make sure happens this year?” is much more like it. Beyond my recovery goals of managing my hips and knees on my own while I stand and improving the connection to muscles in my arms and hands, and lifestyle goals of spending more time being active outside and educating myself with some serious reading time…the overarching idea is continuing to develop an unwavering comfort with the spontaneous, and a readiness for adventure with the skill to carry it through.
How exactly will I do this? Well, I have some ideas, and I’m confident I can figure the rest out. 2016 is going to be big...
As you can see from the photos below the video – the first couple of which were taken by the skillful Meg Haywood-Sullivan – we had two glorious days. Dave had me tethered to keep me out of the trees, but by the end I was doing the steering/turning by myself, with his assistance just on deceleration. Tearing it up in the beautiful Sierras was a terrific way to ring in the new year.