Friday, March 13, 2009

When I Go Walking

As you know, my favourite exercise is walking. I know my neighbourhood inside out from the many walks I take. Fortunately, it's quite a charming area, full of little stores and caf├ęs. There's a mix of modest homes, built around the 1920s and originally designed for working class families. Now, since the area is quite close to downtown, it has become relatively pricey and if you didn't move in twenty or thirty years ago, you have to have a really good family income or have saved a hefty down payment in order to get into the market. Of course, what with the economic downturn, housing prices have stopped going through the roof--at least for a while.

Back to walking...

As promised, two days ago, I did go for a nice walk and put about 4,000 steps on my pedometer. Yeah for me! Please note, I will NOT tell you how well or how badly I ate on any given day and certainly not how many calories I ingested. As we in the Paul McKenna world like to point out: this is not a diet! But I will announce (or admit, depending on the post) what kind of exercise I did and how much water I drank in the day. I think that merits a pat on the back too.

Here is what I thought about on my walk: I need a dictionary. No, not a dictionary full of words. I have a wall of them in English, French, Italian and German. I have specialized dictionaries for legal terminology, financial terminology, engineering...You name it. I have a filing cabinet full of terminology in French and English that I have gleaned from the many conferences I have attended as an interpreter over the past 22 years.

However, I still need a dictionary.

I need a dictionary to translate desire into hope and images. I need a dictionary that will give me the psychological language to imprint an end-state on my mind, to paint that picture of my goal, which itself is merely a new starting point for the rest of my life. Actually, this sounds pretty melodramatic, but since dictionaries are the tools that help me earn my living, this idea speaks to me.

The other thought racing around my mind during my walk had to do with hope and belief--which is actually related to visualization.

In November of 2003, I had a hip replacement. By "hippy" standards, I was very young, only 48. Hip replacements are common nowadays and they have a success rate of over 90%. Sadly, I was in the minority and came out of the surgery MUCH worse than when I went in. I won't go into the gory details, but suffice to say that by the time the surgeon re-operated eight months later, I could barely get around on two crutches, whereas before my surgery, I was walking, albeit with a limp, on one cane and didn't even use that when at home.

The good news is that the second surgery corrected the problem the surgeon had caused the first time around. I was not allowed to put any weight on the operated leg for 3 months (I got around on crutches and carried all my things in a backpack) and couldn't actually walk without canes or without hanging on to furniture (think of how your baby cruises!) for a further two months or so. I actually ditched my cane about nine months after the second surgery, though I used it for a few days on vacation about two months later. All in all, I have not walked with a cane since August 2005. Thanks in good part to my yoga practice, you probably wouldn't realize that I had had serious orthopedic issues. I generally walk normally, though I can't run.

Unfortunately, in May of 2007, I ruptured a disc in my lower back. This was the third time I'd had it happen. The first time, when I was only 25, I had surgery. These last two times, I've come out the other end without surgery, though with some nerve damage. It was one month after this third occurence that I started doing yoga. I still have pain from time to time, but things are going quite well, all things considered.

While physically, I have successfully overcome my recent medical problems, the one thing I seem to have lost is that youthful feeling that everything will be fine. I remember going into the hospital for back surgery at 25. Although I was in excruciating pain, I don't ever remember being afraid. My surgeon had told me that the surgery had a 95% success rate and I KNEW that it was going to be successful for me. And it was.

Perhaps we are naive when we're young. But it's something that allows us to dare, to try things that are perhaps impossible...and perhaps not. The positivity of youth gets some of us killed too. If either of my boys were to hitchhike alone in France as I did at 21, I'd probably have a heart attack, I'd be so worried. On balance though, I think my "I can do that" (with a tip of the hat to Catherine Tait!) attitude has gotten me far in life. And I want it back!

I walked out of the hospital with a much diminished sense of hope. The 5% failure rate of whatever now looms large in my mind. It blocks out the sun, in a sense, and I don't like it at all! It's insidious too. To meet me, you'd think I was quite a positive person. And I suppose that I am. All is not doom and gloom in my life, far from it! I just want to get that deeply anchored feeling that things will and can work out back in my life.

How's that for what I think about on my walks?!

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