I Am Grateful

A few days ago I attended a beautiful yoga class where our teacher asked us to close our eyes, sit in an easy cross legged pose, and think of things we are grateful for. There we were—some nine or 10 students—sitting tall, counting our blessings. Doing this was a great way for us to start our practice right, and it showed, said our teacher. Some of us sat taller, some of us smiled, some of us shed tears of joy (okay, maybe ONE of us did).

I carried this gratefulness along with me during the entire 60-minute practice. I was grateful that I could hold my balance on my right foot better than I could two months ago. Albeit a bit shaky, this was definitely progress. I was grateful for the strength I had to keep my chaturangas in form, not sagging or hanging but strong and secure. I was grateful for the class—the well rounded, simple but deceivingly challenging, heartfelt class led by charismatic and very sincere Regula Guldimann of Niyama yoga studio in Basel.

After practice, I took that gratefulness with me and shared it with those around me—strangers or those close to my heart. The simple act of being thankful is enough to work magic into your life, and those around you. I am grateful for my beautiful family, a wonderful boyfriend, great friends, mobile talents, the cozy apartment I live in, healthy food available for me to eat, the clean air that I breathe in, the fact that I can climb outdoors in the afternoon and be back by dinner, run from my doorstep to nearby trails… the list is endless!

What are you grateful for today?

Ground Zero

I know it so well. That familiar pang of pain that you get when you injure yourself.

I’ve probably hurt myself in most of the sports/practices that I’ve engaged in: left shoulder from swimming, right shoulder from climbing, left ankle from running, right knee and hip from yoga. Whether it was acute or chronic, every injury was always a reminder of how fallible my body was.

Just recently I suffered from a sharp pain in my right ankle, causing me to stop running for several weeks. The pain was diagnosed as Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (TTS) which occurs when a particular nerve in the foot receives abnormal pressure. It’s quite similar as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but in the foot. “How did you get that,” my good friend Tisha asked. “from overusing your mouse with your foot?” No, Tisha. But if you’re flat footed and hyperly-over-pronated like I am, then you are more prone to TTS.

I had fresh landed in my new home Basel, Switzerland from Manila, Philippines. “This is heaven,” I thought, seeing that the nearest trail was just a ten-minute run from my apartment. Already on my first run, I felt the pain in my right inner ankle, but shrugged it off. The constant stabbing sensation (I persisted through the pain until I could no longer take it—such a familiar pattern) forced me to give up running for a while. Not being able to explore the beautiful outdoors right when I was in the middle of it was well, a kind of hell. Hiking to get to beautiful rock climbing crags tormented my poor foot, and I would have to stop every few meters to roll my ankle, (whine), and rest.

I would cry to my boyfriend—a wonderful physiotherapist who would dutifully massage my foot, tape it up to give it support, and nurse me back to health. He also taught me that our bodies are so great because after they have been hurt, they heal. It’s a simple as that. We all heal. Whether it’s Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, a heart break, rejection from a company that we wanted to desperately to join—we all heal. All we need to do is trust in the process.

Part of this process, I learned, is to be thankful for each day. Not only is it a new chance for me to do new things, discover other activities (I have been biking more), or meet new people, the start of another day means I am one day further away from being injured.

Today, I decided it was time to go for a run. I put on my new running shoes, a pair of Newton trail shoes designed for over-pronators. I started with a two minute run, and a two minute walk. It felt weird not to feel the stabbing pain; it was almost as if I was looking for the discomfort. But it didn’t come. Not wanting to be cocky, I decided I would do a one-minute run and a two-minute walk. Just to be safe. Under my rain jacket, two wool tops, two pairs of tights, gloves and knee high socks (it IS winter, after all) my body began to feel the familiar build up of heat that happens when you get your heart pumping. Forty five minutes later, I was back at my door step, a bit sweaty, and giddy as a teenager.

This could very well be the start of my road to recovery, and the thought of running again makes me feel very excited. Although I may be a long way from my ultra-running days form two years ago, starting from scratch makes for better, more hopeful beginnings.

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Only minutes after finishing my first run, my disposition is as bright as my shoes!