Small changes make big differences.

Tuesdays with MOJO / Get back on the horse

Marjorie Spitz Rento1 Comment

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It's been almost a year since I busted my knee skiing.   A year of humility, respect for the human body, awareness of its functions and mechanisms, and patience with its healing process.  When you’re injured, a minor crack in the sidewalk can seem like a crater.  A stair, Mount Everest. 

A storm like we just received in NYC would have benched me for weeks!

I am eternally grateful for all the strangers who literally opened doors, patiently walked behind me, hailed me a taxi, or waited while I slowly maneuvered.   For the staff in my apartment building who protectively looked after me, and the countless kind taxi drivers who went out of their way to help.

My supportive circle of family and friends were beyond wonderful, and my kind Doctor full of MOJO.

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There is still work to do, but I have the “green light” to do any physical activity.  The burning question remained:  will I ski again?  Frankly I wasn’t sure I wanted to, or if even trying would leave me in a puddle of tears.

After surgery, countless hours of physical therapy, and the fun task of navigating my health insurance plan, why get back on skis and risk another injury?  What did I need to prove? Do I really want to get on this horse again?

Well here’s why it’s important:  If I don’t, what’s next?  Even without the knee injury there are some things I physically can’t do, but in my head I will never admit it.  I was raised to think I could do or be anything, and regardless of my age or physical limitations, my mind still thinks it can.  Sure, in reality I know I will never run a 5 minute mile marathon, or bungee jump.  But I wasn’t about to admit that.

The massive amounts of snow we just got in the Northeast not withstanding, Vermont has very little.  Until now, skiing wasn’t even an option given the lack of open trails and crowds.

I knew this past weekend would be the one. 

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For those of you who don’t know my husband Bob, ski addict doesn’t come close to describing his love of skiing.  He would ski every day of his life if he could.  In sub-freezing weather, with one trail open and thousands of people fighting for space, he will be the first one there with a big smile on his face.  A couple of years ago with a healing broken leg, he got the ski patrol staff to help put his boot on (he couldn’t take the pain of doing it himself) so he could get back out there before the end of the season.   He starts skiing in November, and follows the snow through the year.  He’s like a puppy with its first treat.

Firmly by my side throughout the struggle over the last year, he was concerned my skiing days were over, but hopeful I would get “back on the horse.”  Leading up to this moment, he made his intentions clear:   he would throw all his usual rituals out and get to the mountain late so I could sleep in a bit, carry my skis (well he always carries skis for his princess so that was nothing new), and hang on the bunny slope as long as I liked. 

The day before, I set one rule:

  • don’t tell anyone – I didn’t want the added pressure and an entourage.

Poor Bob couldn’t contain himself and started organizing my ski stuff the night before in front of everyone, hence rule #1 out the window.  He adhered to the others though:

  • No pictures until I say so
  • Definitely no pictures on Facebook till I give the okay – I needed this moment to be private.  Plus, I wanted to make sure I got through the day without injury before alerting everyone I was on the mountain!
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With brace on and 10 mins of warm-up biking behind me (as per Dr.’s orders), I was anxiety ridden.   Ski boots are uncomfortable in the best of situations, but now they felt like lead.  Although it was an easy slope and the brace protecting my knee, I was nervous.  Would I cry?  Would I freak out?  Would I get to the top of the lift and want to turn around and go back?

Yes it is the bunny hill and the knee brace supportive.  Yes, I could hear the Dr.’s voice in my head saying, “your knee is strong, if you were a professional soccer player, I’d tell you to go ahead and play.”  But still, I was scared.  The bunny hill looked like a monster!

All I could think was, “here we go!” 

Once outside, I could barely get the skis on.  Poor Bob, the least patient person I know, hung in there hiding his impatience as best he could.

With the lift lines short, the trail not crowded, sun shining bright and the snow soft, I got on the lift.  We engaged in some idle chit chat to take my mind off what I was about to do, and safely got off the chair lift and into position.   With a deep breath, off I went, slowly making big turns.  My confidence grew strong.  Upon reaching the bottom we clicked ski poles in celebration. 

I DID IT! 

Fear did not win, I did.  Because regardless of whether I’ll ski at the level I was prior to my injury, I got out there.  I continued to ski for about 10 runs, and even went on a slightly more advance trailed a few times.  My friends came to join me and I felt a bit “normal” again for the first time in a long time.  I did not cry or freak out and I was proud. I was no longer an injured bird, but one who was relearning to fly.

So whatever setback fear is holding you back from, consider taking a small step toward overcoming it.  What is your bunny hill to ski down?  Whether it a physical, mental or work challenge, you can get back on that horse.  Go for it!

We shall overcome,

Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™