Motivation Monday: the ‘looking forward’ edition

*Editor’s note: My posts may be less frequent during the next four to six weeks because of the circumstances described below. At least for now, I’m planing to post once a week, on Monday. My comments on others’ blogs will likely be sparse, too. But stick with me: I’m doing my best hunting and pecking with limited use of my right arm for now, and will be back to posts every weekday as soon as I can.*

On the two-hour drive from Whitetail to the emergency room at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda on Friday afternoon, I relied on a few key distractions to keep my mind off the knowledge that my lower right arm was purple, throbbing, and shaped like an “S” after a gnarly fall while learning to snowboard.

Snowboarding was fun, until it wasn't.

I took deep yoga breaths while repeating the mantra, “Choose peace” as I felt bone grind on bone. I closed my eyes and hummed Bob Marley songs while I tried to ignore the bumps in the road (who knew there were so many bridges on I-70?). And I focused an NPR interview with Willie Mays on NPR in which the baseball great talked about how he chose not to hold onto anger about the way he was treated during his rookie year, when he was one of only a few black professional baseball players in the league. “I go forward all the time,” he said. “I never back up.”

Mays' simple philosophy was extremely timely.

I’m choosing to make Mays’ quote my mantra for the next four to six weeks, which I’m told will be my recovery time with or without surgery (I find out about the surgery at my follow-up appointment at 8 a.m. Friday). Focusing on those thoughts kept me from crying even a little bit from the moment I fell until we pulled into the hospital, where my misshapen wrist became the story of the night. It looked so nasty, the doctor who set it asked if he could take a picture (we have photos, too, but Steve says they’re too gross to post for general audiences). And they’re already helping me see this injury, a distal radius fracture, the way I want to: with positivity and grace, not self-pity and regret. Here’s how I’m choosing to approach the next four to six weeks:

  • As a time to retrain my brain. Our neurons fire some circuits out of habit, and right now, my neurons have an awful lot of bad habits. If I “force the positive,” as Deena Kastor puts it, I can establish healthier thought patterns to replace them. I can come out of this mentally tougher than I already am by refusing to indulge self-pity, worst-case scenarios, whining.

Kastor suggests "forcing the positive."

  • As a time to heal. I’ll be in occupational therapy as soon as they’ll take me. But in a larger sense, I’ve gotta believe my hip and ankle will benefit from some real time off—like, stationary-bike time off, not just reduced mileage. I will know more about when I can run and swim again after my doctor appointment on Friday, but for now, I’m just going to give my body all the rest it needs.
  • As a time to work on my weaknesses. I may not be able to manage Turkish getups for quite a while. But single-leg squats, monster walks with resistance bands and the rest of my hip-strengthening workout are a different story.

If Vonn can come back after an injury, I can, too.

My motivation board was decorated with photos of Stowe, where we were planning to ski in March (still might go; I clearly won’t ski); the Bay Bridge Swim in June (should be OK, but who knows?); and generic running-themed stuff. I’ve added a photo of Lindsey Vonn, the hardworking, gutsy skier whose Olympic dreams are in jeopardy after a shin injury; Deena Kastor, whose own Olympic marathon in Beijing was shattered when she had to drop out because of a stress fracture; and Willie Mays, who’s reminding me to keep looking forward.

One thing I will look back on: my amazing ski week last week. Steve and I volunteered to pick up extra shifts with the Mountain Safety Team as soon as we heard record snowfall in the forecasts, and actually got stuck at Whitetail overnight during the blizzard on Wednesday. My ski season may have ended early, but it certainly ended on a high note!

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20 Comments

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20 responses to “Motivation Monday: the ‘looking forward’ edition

  1. michjoy61

    Amy, first I am sorry this happened to you, but your incredible positivity will 100% help you through this. Your pretty freaking amazing. In 6 weeks you will be back stronger than ever.

    I fractured my ankle in 1995 on a run. I was hit by a car on vacation in CA. I had to have surgery and was in a cast for 6 weeks. All I have to show for it is two scars. Other than that, I am great. So, I can totally relate to you here. If you want to chat about it email me:
    michellejoy61@gmail.com

    I love you!!!

  2. Yikes! Sorry to hear about your arm! Hope you feel better soon. Glad you’re remaining optimistic and positive through your recovery.

    Hang in there and update us on your progress! 🙂

    ‘Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising each time we do.’

  3. Hi Amy, I was reading you in my reader, and saw the note from the 13th. Then your tweet popped up that the full story was now online… Oh my! S shaped, thank you for not showing the pictures!

    You will find the silver lining in this cloud. You will. You are a silver lining person. I know you will come out of this stronger.

    In the meantime, when I dislocated my elbow (and again and again and then had surgery for it) the best advice I was given was to get Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software. It made writing and being on email 100% possible, if not more efficient than typing. I highly recommend that – you will find yourself online, writing, commenting and reflecting in no time!

  4. I know you’ll make the most out of this forced break. Hate it when the universe says “take a break, like it or not” ;(

    Bob Marley would have been one of my fall backs too. And, it seems you have no difficulty finding sources of inspiration 🙂

    Get well soon – know you’ll come out the other end leaving your former self in the dust 🙂

  5. Ouch! I hope you heal well and keep up the positive thiniking it does work!

  6. Jan Kasal

    Reading your blog answered my question on Twitter. No need to answer. Save your effort to heal fast.

  7. As a Giants fan, I love that you gave props to Willie Mays! Way to keep a positive attitude and hope you heal soon. Be well!

  8. Sooo….what does this mean for your trip in March? Will you be a permanent fixture at the Ben & Jerry’s factory?

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  11. mschoeffler

    If you get to Stowe, check out Top Notch Lodge. They have food, spa, fires, a terrific heated outdoor pool and hot tub. Perfect for relaxing with a cast.

    Amazing to swim outside in the frigid dark.

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  20. rockwitralph

    Amy,

    I never been lift-up by another blogger not until I read this. Your a warrior.

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