Rehab a New Way: How to Rebuild Your Life

This update has been rolling around in my head and it is high time to publish it! I want to get this information out there as I have started a new, busy time in my life. First, let us revisit the foot, the reason I started this blog. As I have written before, I am able to do much of what I sought to do after my surgery. I still cannot run nor can I bend my foot completely into a lunge without a little help first. I can lunge; I just can’t yet step back into a full lunge. I also can run, make that jog, sort of. At the end of the year I began experimenting with adding short intervals of jogging on the treadmill so I could control the surface and speed. I only got up to about 5 minutes of running and not consecutively. I would run one minute and then walk 30 seconds. This is progress! Ultimately, I’d like to be able to sprint. I’ve been more focused on walking, and strength and mobility training than running. (Or jogging, I should really say!) I believe I could build up to jog a 5k later this year. I may work that in to my longer-term goals.

I recently took a trip to southwest Utah. This was a real test for me. I hiked everyday and averaged around 12 miles a day. The mileage wasn’t so much of an effort as the terrain, specifically downhill. The most difficult hike I did, to the top of Observation Point is around a 2,000-foot incline. I didn’t have a problem going up—yes, it was an effort but not specifically for my foot. There was a little bit of ice and snow to navigate but I have always been very sure footed and the Lisfranc injury hasn’t changed that. I still can scramble and balance well on rocky, icy or otherwise unstable footing. (On other hikes, I climbed up large pieces of sandstone and jumped from rock to rock—one of my favorite things to do—so much fun and definitely progress to be able to jump!)

A look down on the way up to Observation Point

A look down on the way up to Observation Point

At the top of Observation Point

At the top of Observation Point

View from the top

View from the top

The downhill was the challenge. It was like walking in stilettos. By the end of the hike, my foot was screaming. I, however, was quite pleased that I did it. Granted, I was slower than I would have liked but not so slow as to be a nuisance to others in my small group. I wasn’t even the last one down. The truth is, I have had varying amounts of pain everyday since the injury occurred. I have learned to accept that the pain may never go away. Most days it is between a 2-3 on a scale of ten, especially when it isn’t warmed up properly, like in the morning or if I’ve been sitting for a while.

For whatever reason, the last month or so that pain level has gone up to a 4-5 at times. Perhaps it is because I’ve been slowly ramping up my fitness program. After and towards the end of the Observation Point hike, my pain level was around a 6-7. When I give my foot a work out, the skin around my suture scars turns an angry red and my scars a murderous purple. It is these times I know I should take care to stretch it and ice it. I only comply sometimes. And by sometimes I mean rarely. I tend to get distracted easily. I know my foot is healed. I know this pain is a result of me not following through completely with my rehab and so the muscles and tendons still need to strengthen and lengthen. There is inflammation when I use it and thus, pain. I can manage the pain. I am now working diligently on rehabilitating not only my foot but also my entire being as I make changes to improve my life.

This leads me to my next bit of news. I have started my first step in becoming a CTRS. What is that you may ask? Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist. Monday was my first day of classes and I am incredibly excited to finally start. Last year was a particularly difficult year for me in many ways, not just my struggle with my rehabilitation of my foot. The decision to go back to school was not an easy one and it took me some time to figure out that this is truly the right decision for me.

I had fear of going into debt and having to pay off loans but this was dwarfed with the realization that this is what I need to do. In fact, the more I delved into the subject, I realized I knew this back in 2013 when I injured myself and was reading Martha Beck’s book Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaim Your True Nature to Create the Life You Want. I had written down on a small piece of paper from an exercise in the book: “I help people who are feeling broken by exploring the outdoors, nourishing their bodies and creating art from theses experiences. That’s what I do.” Had I followed my heart then and pursued this path, I could have saved the world a lot of upset and difficulty. I was afraid to follow my truth and took the way that seemed safer. Sometimes we must go through upset and difficulty to see the truth. The book helped me to the right path; I just wasn’t ready for it yet.

The paper

The evidence

If you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning you know I’ve struggled with finding what I’m good at and what my passion is. I also felt like the ‘traditional’ way of American life was never anything I related to or particularly desired. If I have learned anything in this past year it is that I know that I cannot put a square peg into a round hole. It doesn’t work. I’ve spent much of my life doing what I thought I was “supposed to do” and not doing it well and feeling frustrated and miserable much of the time. I have learned the hard way to immediately run the other way when I start telling myself, “that’s what you’re supposed to do” or “everyone else does it this way”. The supposed to’s will slowly (or not so slowly) kill you. Of course, there have been phases when I was following my true voice and those were the times when I was the happiest. I started with those intervals, remembered what I was doing, whom I was with and how I was living, in order to piece together a new plan.

I went through a process really focusing on how I could find what excites and ignites me and find like-minded people. It began with the Beck book. Last year, I started listening to Tony Robbins, Wayne Dyer and a bunch of TED talks. (This one and this one deeply resonated with me.) I began to believe that I actually could do what I thought was just a wild imagining. There truly are people out there that mirror my thoughts, beliefs and ideas and are doing work that changes the world. I found other books, research and websites and devised a simple mission statement: to save the world through nature and art. That, coupled with my statement from the Beck book pushed me to figure out exactly how I could do this, to move forward, to take action.

A sign?

A sign?

I am extremely good at gathering information. Almost like magic, I found the course “Enhance Your Career and Employability Skills” from the University of London via my good friends at Coursera. There were many beneficial worksheets and exercises that helped me figure out what my ideal working environment is.

I did a whiteboard exercise in which I wrote down all the jobs I thought would be fun to do. I Googled keywords that sparked joy in me: “create”, “discover”, “travel”, “play” and found what I thought to be a wonderful job. Except it was in California (of course the land of milk and honey would have my dream job) and only a few months out of the year. It is a summer camp for adults to help disconnect from the digital world, de-stress and just play like a kid again. This is something I had dreamed of creating after reading the Beck book. And it exists! More proof there are others out there that are like-minded.

I Googled further with the addition of ‘healing’ in my keywords as that was important to me as well, and found the field of Therapeutic Recreation. It seemed like the perfect job for me. The possibility of helping a wide range of populations through activities they enjoy doing seemed too good to be true. While I am only just learning what Therapeutic Recreation all encompasses, it is something that truly excites me! I believe this is part of what I am meant to do in this lifetime.

Beginnings are always exciting if only for the new-ness of it all. I feel something beyond excitement in that I may actually find my tribe, as Martha Beck calls it. I see so many possibilities to heal others and in that, heal the world. I have started this process in the only place you can, with myself. You could say I am my first client. Of course, I’ve had some help in this process. I don’t think I could have taken action with out the support of a couple of key people.

It rarely snows in Snow Canyon. A special treat.

It rarely snows in Snow Canyon. A special treat.

I have made a commitment to invest in my future and myself and do what excites me. A step in doing this was to take a sojourn to Utah. My goal was to surround myself with the healing effects of nature, do something I love—hike, and gather information on different ways to rehabilitate mind and body. I wanted it to be a kind of vision quest, a walkabout. I kept my eyes, mind and heart open and questioned playfully. I came away with so much knowledge and insight that I know it was absolutely the right thing to do. So many magical things happened and I was able to accept them as truth.

Under the full Wolf Moon

Under the full Wolf Moon

I met a remarkable man that is on a similar path, only farther along than I. He had much wisdom to impart and I was more than willing to listen. I felt like I had finally found a real, living member of my tribe and it was amazing to speak with someone with such honesty and candor. That conversation changed my life. And in typical sage fashion, he was gone the next day starting a new expedition of his own.

Walking the labyrinth

Walking the labyrinth

It is amazing what sort of great alchemy takes place when you have the right materials. As with my foot, this is a process and I must keep moving forward one step at a time. I know there will be painful and difficult moments and I trust that I will learn from them and move forward. A little secret I will tell you is that walking has absolutely saved my life. It all starts with one step, one action, to move forward. There is so much more I would like to tell you. I have so many tales to tell. Magic is growing out of the darkness everyday. I must turn my attention to my studies now. Perhaps we will catch up in the future. Now, I must save the world through art and nature.

View from Petrified Dunes

View from Petrified Dunes

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4 thoughts on “Rehab a New Way: How to Rebuild Your Life

  1. You are a rockstar and I love you and your honesty and incredible bravery. Thanks for sharing your journey. I love you, Jen! xoxox

  2. Without writing my own blog-length post I probably can’t distill properly, but I’ll give it a shot. A huge part of this post deeply resonated with me. about 12-14 years ago I used art (or it used me) as part of a process (therapy too) to ‘square my circle’ and gain wholeness from a host of mental/emotional/spiritual malaise and darkness. It began as free-form drawings of my stream of consciousness, eventually morphing into a huge series of rich and potent mandalas during the darkest of times. Once that fever of darkSelf broke the mandalas burst forth with color and beyond order into a freedom of varied expressions of the subconscious.

    subsequently..a few years later I got (and still am) heavily into the outdoors here in Oregon. To an extreme degree almost. I cannot draw on the level I once did, though I believe it is because I do not ‘need’ to, it was truly an impulsion from the soul to help in my healing process. The mountains and nature are an easy salve that keeps me balanced these days.

    best wishes on the acute and direct foot concerns. I have hope you are not forever dealing with pain.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Matt. Reading it solidifies that I am on the right path. I know that art and nature heal and so many people need the healing it offers. Not everyone can find help on their own so I hope to be a conduit for positive change. I hope you continue to draw in whatever capacity suits you and of course keep on getting outside. It is good for body, mind and soul!

      Thanks for the thoughts on the foot. I’ve started a jogging program–a couch to 5k–and it’s going pretty well. 4 days down and counting. I’m up to 90 seconds of jogging at a time. A little bit of soreness but with all the other exercise I am doing that is to be expected. Nothing I can’t handle and getting back to jogging is an exciting and rewarding experience as I was afraid I would never be able to do it again. Thanks again for your comments and for reading.

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