Kim in Baltimore still packing away Christmas decorations.
January is usually a month we spend making resolutions then breaking them. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, I put enough pressure on myself daily. It would be overwhelming if I saved it all up for only once a year! Anyway, isn’t each new day, week or month another opportunity to try again?
Some people see the holidays as a bridge that helps them cross over from their past to what awaits them in the future. I’ve had that feeling myself, only in my case it happened before sunrise in the middle of an ordinary week in October.
I had an extremely sheltered childhood. As you may know, I was born with a birth defect that is most commonly called a strangled limb. This stunted the growth of my right arm. I spent a great deal of time in the Children’s Hospital under the care of the brilliant Dr. Raymond Curtis who performed numerous surgeries on me and with the help of braces was able to coax my arm to grow to near normal length.
Needless to say, this caused my family a great deal of stress. My parents and my grandparents, especially my Pop-Pop, fluttered around me constantly trying to anticipate my every move in fear that I would injure myself. Truth be told, I was a bit clumsy. It was difficult to maneuver around with one side of my body being smaller and heavier (with a brace) than the other side of me. For this reason my Nana set up an entire list of things I was not allowed to do. It included no hopping, jumping, skipping and, most importantly, absolutely no running. This meant I grew up never learning basic childhood skills such as riding a bike, roller skating or jumping rope. However, one Christmas my father bought me a tricycle that I was allowed to ride in the living room under close supervision. Once they even let me out on the sidewalk to snap a photo of the event.
All the supervision in the world could not save me from calamity. I managed to break my arm three times before the age of seven. Once from falling off the bottom step (Rule #100 – no sitting unattended on stairs!), again when a folding chair collapsed with me in it (Rule #101 – no sitting in folding chairs!), and finally, even my doll’s stroller was found to be a hazard. I blame Miss Ag, though. How could I have known during a brief time when I was not being watched, and my neighbor Dianne suggested we should race our doll’s strollers, that Miss Ag would choose that particular moment to step outside? Dianne won and I ended up in the gutter with the stroller on top of me and my favorite doll in the middle of Fort Avenue.
I never let any of this hinder other things I wanted to do. As an adult I learned to knit, type, and work a pottery wheel. It wasn’t until this past fall I was able to step out of my comfort zone and push myself to do a task I never dreamed imaginable.
There was a Mindful Writers Retreat in Pennsylvania that I attended with my good friend Ramona. We stayed in a lovely lodge and part of the agenda was to rise early each morning to go on a meditative hike. So, being the good rule-follower that I am, I arose before the birds and donned my boots to join the others. We walked silently through the woods waiting for the sun to make its appearance. After awhile everyone stopped and I looked around, but saw nothing that would hinder our path. I asked one of the women with us what we were waiting for. She answered that there was a rope bridge that could only be crossed one person at a time. I tried to see the bridge through the trees and early morning shadows, but saw nothing. Gradually we made our way, chatting a bit amongst ourselves. And then it came into view. One piece of rope strung across a stream. One rope does not equal a bridge. I became panicked. I couldn’t do this, I would surely break something! I was positive there was a rule against this somewhere.
Soon it was my turn, and with beating heart and sweaty palms I took my first step clinging desperately to the tension ropes to keep my balance. With each shaking step, the women around me cheered and encouraged me until finally I made it unscathed to the other side.
Women on both side of the stream were clapping and cheering for me and I felt as though my heart would burst with pride and gratitude. I looked back over the bridge and thought of all the things I had not done out of fear of being hurt. That was all behind me now.
I have a photo of me crossing that bridge on my phone that I look at each day to remind myself that I am capable. No more rules. I am fearless.
Dear readers: What hurdles in your life have you overcome?