Monday, July 6, 2015

Standing is Sometimes Harder than Walking

This is a photo of me taken not too long after my surgery. In it I am standing `tall`and `straight`. I am quite proud of that picture, that pose. Being able to stand `straight`has been a life long goal and a hard stance to accomplish. We may not give much thought to walking but for the most part we give even less to standing. Or at least that was true up until about a year ago.

Sitting is the new smoking, standing is the remedy, well actually movement is the remedy but standing is apparently better than sitting but not as good as moving. But standing can be hard. Especially if you are like me and have a default stance of resting my wight on my right leg, which has always been the longer stronger leg. And if your weight is to one side, things can go awry, can get painful, can be wearing. Ask my physio therapist, ask the woman who gives me massages.

When I walk, as I have mentioned, I pay attention to my walking and I am getting pretty good about paying attention and thinking about other things at the same time, which is being on the road to walking 'normally' if I can ever figure that out. But when I stand, I admit I seldom pay attention to my standing and that lack of attention is troublesome,

Yesterday, we went on a garden tour, a marvelous fun-filled exploration of 13 relatively magnificent gardens scattered around the 'old-town' of Niagara-on-the-Lake. In addition to a multitude of different walking surfaces - sand, gravel, uneven grass, slight dips, uneven paving stones - there was much standing and looking. As a consequence, by the end of the day I was worn out. Physically and mentally. Physically because the muscles in my legs were throbbing. Mentally because we are going to India in 6 months and the challenges of walking about in India are significantly more complex and I was getting irritated with myself that a garden tour was wearing me out.

After a rest, I went to our back yard where I did some raking.  After mowing comes raking. Raking has its own challenges but one of the rewards of raking is that it actually makes me confront a number of my nemeses. Our yard, like most yards, is uneven. It is not a parking lot or a lawn-bowling green; it is simply a yard with sometimes almost imperceptible dips and rises. So our yard forces me to attend to unevenness and unevenness forces me to think about how I am standing. Thinking about how I am standing forces me to stand straight, standing straight forces me to balance my weight across both legs which makes everything slightly better, slightly, because there are no miracles here.

No miracles, just one constant reminder after another. Stand straight, pay attention and be in the moment. But the other thing that paying attention teaches me is to be kinder to myself. Getting tired, getting worn out are things that simply happen to us all. Navigating all the different obstacles in 13 vastly different gardens wouldn't wear out everyone but it can wear me out. I just need to pay more attention to what is wearing me out and why. I can manage the physical wearing out much better if I learn to manage the mental wearing out. And I can learn to manage the mental strain if I keep in mind that I am learning to overcome 5 decades of ingrained behaviour. It takes time, and I need to cut myself some slack.

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