Over the Christmas holiday, many of you saw our posts on social media and announcements on the blog that I was going to take a few weeks off to recover from knee surgery. I had to have an ACL replacement–actually my third of the very same surgery–and because of the intensity of the recovery period I needed a little bit of down time to heal and get my strength back.
The recovery went well, but it was not an easy one. Some days I felt very patient with the process; other days I wondered why I was laying in a bed (or on crutches) for the fourth time in my life, working every hour to get my knee to bend and extend properly again. My knee has been a source of pain and frustration for over 20 years of my life, and years of improper diagnoses eventually resulted in very little meniscus or cartilage and several rounds of ACL repairs.
There have been times when I would look at the scar on my knee and feel resentful, thinking of all of the things I couldn’t do because of my injuries.
I can never run again. Even for short periods. Ever.
I can never jump again–or, at least, I’ve been advised to avoid it.
Because of the two above “nevers,” I can therefore never play many sports again (something I loved when I was young).
I have to be very careful in the rough-housing I do with my very active young boys.
I can’t kneel for more than a few seconds. This impacts gardening, cleaning up my boys’ playroom…even praying in church.
In short, I used to look at my knee and see my scar…and it symbolized a whole world of “can’ts” and “nevers.” It was a limitation that I’d always have to overcome or work against. It was a weakness. And it was ugly.
But some time last year, I decided to change my attitude. I started doing a highly customized, high-intensity/low-impact exercise routine with a very attentive coach at my local Crossfit affiliate. Because we were able to work around every “never” and “can’t”, I began to feel strong again. And I began to see my knee as something that could support and contribute to my strength. It was a complete change in perspective.
Last week, I posted about how I am in the process of writing a book about re-imagining our attitudes toward our bodies. This post is a small insight into what I’m trying to help convey in the book: that sometimes befriending the things that we see as ugly can help change our entire perspective about how we see ourselves. Instead of seeing our limitations as weaknesses (like seeing my scar as a symbol for so many “nevers”), what if I saw the very same thing as a source of gratitude and strength?
My knee allows me to walk, hike, swim, bike, and row.
My knee is strong enough to allow me to lift my children–sometimes both at the same time!
When I am attentive to building the muscles around my knee and work to strengthen its structural support system, my knee can squat, climb, and lunge.
A strong right knee means I am confident in my ability to drive long distances.
I am grateful that this knee allows me to work long hours while standing, moving, and even hurrying around, typically for the majority of the day.
An attitude of gratitude can turn your weakness into a strength. It’s all a matter of perspective.
This last weekend, I decided to challenge that perspective. I did something I’d been wanting to do for the last ten years: I participated in a race. In 2005, I was supposed to run the LA Marathon, but my first knee surgery prevented it. Since then, I’d been trying and trying to do some sort of organized race, but life and subsequent knee surgeries always got in the way. Now, at 11 weeks post-op from my latest (and hopefully last) ACL reconstruction, I decided it was time.
I signed up for a local untimed fun race–a 5K Mud Run. I knew I would have to walk, but I didn’t care. My CrossFit coach signed up and said she’d walk alongside me. The morning of the race, I was ready to celebrate my strength.
Once on the course, I felt a wave of emotion. I was doing it. It wasn’t physically hard for me–I’d been building up my overall strength for over a year–but this event was significant. Just as my scar had formerly served as a symbol for my weakness, this event was helping me recognize that my scar was actually part of my strength. That I was capable. That there was so much still that I could do. It was a celebration.
It was almost as if every obstacle I crawled through or climbed over signified the many obstacles I had overcome with my knee. And yet I was still there, climbing and crawling.
I’m sure there are still more obstacles to metaphorically climb over and crawl through with this knee before my journey is over. But that’s okay. Because I know now that I’m strong enough to always keep moving forward. And I am filled with gratitude for that strength.
Over the past few months, I’ve come to realize that Handcrafted Honey Bee can actually be a very powerful platform for helping women to see their true strength & beauty through an inner shift in perspective. Taking care of ourselves, empowering ourselves and one another with knowledge, seeing the strength in our bodies instead of the “flaws”–these are all things that I want to help women do through a conscious and thoughtful commitment to loving ourselves. Of course, there are many contributing factors in realizing our awe-some and powerful beauty (including quality food, exercise, healthy relationships, adequate sleep, quality time), but I believe that the way we feel about our skin–and what we put on our skin–is a gigantic contributor to the larger picture.
Because we feel and touch and interact with the world through our skin. Our skin is our point of contact. It is what holds us in and what allows us to reach out. And when we’re not feeling good in that skin, it affects everything.
So in the next few months, you’ll begin to see me suggest, encourage, and even challenge you to love that beautiful body of yours, not only despite but because of its perceived “flaws.” We’ll all be in it together.
I don’t think my scar is ugly anymore–even though it takes up the majority of my knee and is clearly the prominent feature whenever anyone sees my bare legs. No–that scar isn’t ugly. It is a symbol of my strength. And that strength is beautiful. I just have to continue to have the courage to see that beauty.
Because it’s all about perspective.