About six weeks ago, I straight up walked into a wall. Well, to be precise, I walked through the doorway and my pinkie toe went into the wall. It was a bright sunny morning, I was headed to make lunch, and very undramatically was not tipsy or in an awesome pair of heels or pulling off some athletic stunt.
Since then, I have had a major reconstructive surgery involving stem cells and a metal wire holding my foot together, watched a lot of Netflix, and had a fair amount of realizations we can all learn from.
Here are the six things I have learned from not being able to walk and six lessons I encourage us all to implement into our lives:
1. Social media is depressing.
The days I spend scrolling social media are the days I get most bummed out about my condition. Yes, I am more or less on bedrest. My foot hurts. I had to cancel all my personal and work travel for two months. But, unless I am on social media, I'm actually not that bummed out about it; it is what it is, and I am lucky it was not worse.
Yet, the days I am looking at virtual reality are the days I get really, really down. And when I get down, my body starts to hurt. When the body hurts, the mind gets more depressed...and, well, on the cycle goes. Depression and social media have been scientifically linked (I even write about it in my book, RETOX), but now that I have been in a self-contained incubator for six weeks, I can confirm, that shit sucks.
The mend: Just put it away. If you have to post for your business, do. Get on and get off. Badda-bing badda-boom. And live your life through real lenses, not electronic ones. (More tips on this in the "iAddict" chapter of RETOX.)
2. Being a perfectionist is not always perfect.
I have been a perfectionist for as long as I can remember. My parents, teachers, coaches, friends, colleagues, and randos have always commented on it. I know it, and have always defined it as who I am, even if it can make my life occasionally more stressful or difficult.
But while I am on one foot, unable to walk or put pressure on one leg, let alone get it wet or basically do anything I am used to in any normal way, I have had to let go of some of my perfectionist tendencies. The bed is far from military or hotel-grade made, my unibrow has grown back into full form, I have not done any semblance of exercise, my diet is whatever I can get delivered...I could go on and on. The first few weeks I was in too much pain to care, and now, having survived an imperfect state, I realize that maybe I do not have to be a perfectionist about everything all the time and that I am still alive despite that.
The mend: Loosen up about one thing a week in your life. Maybe it is something in your diet or your workout schedule. Perhaps it is a detail on a project or an attitude with a love one. Just let it be slightly less than what you see as perfect so that it can be perfect for the universe and where you are now. I bet it will make you feel free.
3. Asking for help is good.
I hate asking for help. I never want to be annoying or add to other people's stress or pressure or to-do's. The thing is, I need help to do everything right now—shower, get dressed, eat, ice, move. You name it, I need it.
So why is asking for help still so hard?
I've realized that I associate asking for help with feeling weak, which only makes those around me waiting and wanting to help feel frustrated, useless, and annoyed—at me, which is the whole thing I think I am avoiding by not asking for help to begin with. After reflecting on this tangible example I am grappling with hourly, I realize how much better life would be for all of us if I just ask.
The mend: Just ask. Don't think about it and just say, "Hey, would you mind...?" I am almost certain that you will feel free, and the other awesome person you have approached will feel empowered.
4. Half of people are awesome.
Like I said, I am not a good asker of help, even though most people want to help, which is why I so appreciate when people go above and beyond to help me. The taxi driver who takes the extra time and hassle to pull the door directly up to where I am and hold my hand and the crutches as I get in and out. The coffee shop on the corner that set up a special bench for me so I can hobble out to them for an hour of fresh air without hassle. Members of my team being my hands while I can't work full force. I could go on and on.
The thing is, I have also run into a lot of people during these weeks who have made my life very difficult. From drivers unwilling to wait as I hobble across the street to people who have watched me struggle to open a door on crutches alone. Or my personal favorite, the girl who almost ran me down as I hobbled to the corner, causing my crutches to fall to the sidewalk and who, instead of asking if I was OK (I was, thanks to all the yoga) or to pick up the crutches, just turned around and said, "I am late to work; hopefully you can get them?" I just stood on one foot and stared.
We all have a lot to do. But being busy is never an excuse not to help someone. Especially if "busy" means the difference between staring at your phone and taking a split second to lend a helping hand.
The mend: Let’s all try to be 100-Percent Awesome, 100 percent of the time. Once a day (at least!) do something for someone else. I swear to you by experience that it can be as simple as holding the door. Help someone else one time a day and you will almost instantly see and feel the positive effects you are creating for you and the world around you.
5. Staring into space is the holy grail of sanity.
If you know me, you know I never sit still or stop doing—hence the emotional severity of this injury. The other day, a friend asked me what I have been doing to not go crazy on bed rest. I simply said, "I stare into space." He was flabbergasted. I was serene.
Doing nothing is a drug, a good drug that can, and will, make your body and mind more powerful and clear if you let it. In a world where we are constantly being bombarded with requests, demands, advertisements, information, and chaos all day, every day, doing nothing but just gazing can seem insane. The thing is, it is without a doubt the key to our sanity, like a quick shot of open-eyed meditation to reboot, rejig, and reset our body and mind from the inside out.
The mend: Stare into space for one minute a day. Just gaze aimlessly at the wall, the sky, the setting in front of you. You will likely feel more energized and clearheaded afterward.
6. We are lucky.
I can't walk for a couple of months. It's hard, but it's not that bad. It could have been way, way worse.
The thing is, we often take our simple existence for granted. Walking. Eating. Breathing. Seeing. Living. When one of those goes, we realize how awesome being healthy and alive is. But sometimes we realize it too late. I never want to regret not appreciating something basic like standing on two feet.
The mend: Say thank you to life one time a day. Thank you, Life, for being alive, being whole, being me. THANK YOU.