Avoidance Can Harm You

“Pain in this life is not avoidable, but the pain we create avoiding pain is avoidable.” – R.D. Laing

In September of 2018, I had foot surgery to correct a painful bunion. My body had reacted badly to the way I was compensating for the pain over several years, and in June 2018, my tendons screamed STOP! I tried walking in a boot and doing physical therapy again, but this time, I had to have surgery finally. I didn’t realize that this was one stop on the road to discovering how to let go of a different kind of pain that I had been avoiding for most of my life.

The surgery went well, and I recovered in bed for several days. I was up and walking in my surgical shoe within a few days and back to work within another week. I am nearing two years since my surgery and admit there is a little pain and inflexibility in my toe, but not enough to keep me fixated on it anymore.

In Louise Hay’s Heal Your Body, issues with bunions reveal a lack of joy in meeting the experiences of life. The new thought pattern she shares is, “I joyously run forward to greet life’s wonderful experiences.” I have read this repeatedly since I learned about Louise Hay during a grief counseling session after my father passed. Today, I understand it. Today, I am taking it in. Today I am thankful for the life experiences that have brought me to this point of recognition. And now, as I continue to write and let this process of letting go of past hurts be easy and free, I am starting to feel the release that can help me to joyously run forward to greet life’s wonderful experiences.

Doing the Thing

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you will never get it done.”

– Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee is so right! I spend a lot of time thinking about doing a thing or planning how to do a thing, designing multiple ways to do the thing, and often losing steam after all of that work. Why? I am a creator and a dreamer, and sometimes dreaming up the possibilities and planning is enough for me. This is especially true for things that require discipline, repetitive work, and most things where I am in front of more than two people.

I started taking ballroom dancing in 2011 when I was single as a new way to stay active. I remained in it until 2018 when a foot injury turned into surgery. In June of that year, I was practicing for a dance showcase, doing the rumba, one of the hardest dances for me to learn and feel comfortable dancing in front of others. The dress rehearsal was the Monday of the performance week, with the show on Friday. I had been in at least twenty performances before this one over my years of dancing. During rehearsal, I nailed that dance! I was super happy, and then I noticed my ankle was swelling, and I had to remove my shoe. For years before this, I had foot issues and had been to several doctors for either cortisone shots, or getting advice that I needed surgery. Three years later, on that night, my body told me to stop. Stop dancing? This was the one activity in my life that brought me the most joy – at least that was what I was telling myself.

As I went to my doctor’s appointments and eventually decided on surgery that September, and took a year to recover fully, I realized that for all those years, I was using dancing as an escape and not in a healthy way. All I wanted was to nail that rumba. Because of my foot, I didn’t have to perform it in front of a crowd. And that was enough for me. I conquered the dance!

In the back of my mind, I was grateful to blame quitting dancing on my foot. There was an actual physical manifestation of what was happening inside of me. Finally, I could move on. To what, I wasn’t sure. But I needed a break physically, financially, and emotionally.

To my dancer friends that I have met along this journey, and to my teachers who have kept me accountable and pushed me to do more, I am grateful for the time we had together. Will I ever dance again? I hope so. For now, let’s enjoy this music. I recorded it off vinyl and it makes dancing feel happy again.

Living Strings – Music for Dancing