Health, Mindfulness, Motivation, NINJA, Perspective

Ninja Journey through Total Hip Replacement

“So you’re telling me I didn’t pull my hip flexor?”

“No ma’am. Look at the x-rays. You need a total hip replacement.”

After that shocking bit of news, I zoned out and stared at the not-so-pretty picture of my bone-on-bone hip socket and two nasty looking dragon claw bone spurs thinking Seriously? A total freaking hip replacement? I’m too young for this.

The only reason I had even made this appointment was because my chiropractor had exhausted every massage, ultrasound, adjustment, and joint manipulation technique he had in his considerable bag of tricks and had delivered the sad news that there was nothing more he could do for me. The MRI showed nothing amiss that he or the radiologist could see, and his x-rays on me, taken three years ago when my pain had begun, showed ample space in the socket.

He was stumped. I was frustrated.

I had danced on Broadway. I had a fifth-degree black belt in To Shin Do Ninjutsu. I was not a gimpy old lady. I hiked in the mountains and power-walked along the coast every day. Or rather, I did before my hip went into critical lockdown.

“You’re sure I didn’t tear a hip flexor?”

“Positive.”

“Huh.” I thought of the decades of abuse I had forced on my body. “Well, I guess I came by it honestly.”

 I had chronic back issues since my dancing days in Cats. I had pulled or sprained muscles and joints from my neck to my toes. I had been hit, bent, thrown, dropped, and crushed. I had torqued my body in directions normal people reserved for Cirque de Solei performers. I had experienced this kind of pain my entire life; and no one had ever suggested surgeries or joint replacements. I had never even broken a bone.

I wished I could call my dad, but I couldn’t because my sisters and I had scattered his ashes in the ocean only a few weeks before.

Had the stress of caring for Dad through death contributed to my orthopedic crisis?

Certainly the long car rides and awkward positions—sitting at his bedside, writing in waiting rooms, sleeping on the couch between visits to his rehabilitation nursing facility—had aggravated my arthritic hip. But I also couldn’t discount the physical effect of emotional stress. I had lost both my parents within a year.

And yet, through all of the emotional stress, I managed to stay positive and productive. I finished my novel, rewrote another, and had two short stories published in anthologies. I meditated, ate well, cared for my family, and hiked or walked at least five times a week.

Which was why I wanted to tell Dad about this crazy hip replacement!

To him, I was Wonder Woman,
Super Mom, and Florence Nightingale
all mushed into one badass ninja package.

All of these thoughts played in the background of my mind as my husband and I listened to the surgeon’s explanation about how osteoarthritis had deteriorated my hip joint.

“The injury you thought you experienced was probably the tipping point. You had pain, but you could still function. Now you can’t, which is typical. Your accelerated decline over the last two months means the time has come to replace the hip.”

I could remember the exact moment of my supposed injury. I had been on my porch warming up for a mountain hike with a cardio routine I had devised using a six-foot oak staff, based on Ninjutsu fighting techniques. It was a classic case of me going too far, too fast, and too hard. Now, gray-haired grannies were whizzing by me in movie theaters, and rising from a couch had become a major event.

“Wait and see. You’ll be able to do whatever you want: ski, dance, martial arts. You’ll be amazed. This surgery will eliminate your pain.”

“How long is the recovery?”

“Three months.”

I stared at my soon-to-be-surgeon, trying to process what it might be like to take one of those Zumba classes I had heard about or making love without massive pillow constructions to immobilize my body.

My husband smiled, making me wonder if he could read my thoughts. “You’re not really be surprised by any of this, are you? After all those years of dance and martial arts abuse?”

I shook my head. “Shocked but not surprised.”

THREE MONTHS POST HIP REPLACEMENT

The surgery went wonderfully.

I recovered at my usual pace and efficiency. In fact, when I finally made an appointment with a physical therapist one month later, he was amazed by my balance, strength, and mobility. I got the green light to rely on my ample knowledge and experience (from teaching dance, martial arts, and body work/training) and told to call if I ever needed him in the future.

I continued my rehabilitation with care then amped up my expectations and goals when I hit the surgeon’s three-month mark. (Check out my Ballet Barre Therapy) Then I pushed. And paid.

I felt more pain at three months than I had at three-weeks. And yet, this did not alarm me. In fact, from my professional athlete point of view, this seemed logical. After all, I was demanding more of the joint and pushing the muscles. Why wouldn’t it hurt more? So I kept pushing—and crippled myself back to the pre-op days.

Four days later, I got the news that we had to move.

So, barely recuperated by my burst of rehabilitation enthusiasm, I pushed through four weeks of deep squats, heavy lifting, and carting bags and boxes up stairs.

Which leads me to yesterday and my reunion with the physical therapist.

FOUR MONTHS-ONE WEEK POST HIP REPLACEMENT

I explained my suffering and my concern that I wouldn’t regain my former agility if I didn’t push myself, and assured my physical therapist that I had been resting after my five-week ordeal.

“How long have you been taking it easy?”

I gave the question serious thought. “Five days.”

He laughed.

The rest of the appointment was both amusing and illuminating. Apparently, I already have amazing motion and don’t need any more at this point. What I need is strength to control the mobility I have. What’s more, I should forget the magical three-month recovery mark and shoot for full operation in a year.

Talk about an expectation/perspective adjustment!

So now at my new home, in my delightfully sunny kitchen, writing the first blog I’ve had time to write in five months, and feeling pain-free even after the PT’s stretch-band exercises. Most of our belongings are put away and I’ve been rewriting a short story I’ll submit today. Life is good and finally calm again. And I gotta say: It feels wonderful!

POST-OP HEALING TIPS

1) Slow and equal beats a fast and limping. (walkers are great for this)
2) More movement requires more rest (preferably with ice and elevation)
3) Backpacks are awesome (even inside the home)
4) Do your PT exercises diligently throughout the day
5) Accept and embrace the process

Health, Motivation, Perspective, Writing

Self-Discipline: Enemy of a Good Time or Key to Achieving Your Goals?

Say the word discipline and watch those around you either cringe or nod in sage agreement. At least, that’s what happens to me. And I use this word all the time.

For many people, the D-word brings up visions of tyrant drill sergeants and habit-wearing nuns snapping wooden rulers on the fingers of unsuspecting (and clearly undeserving!) students. It’s the killer of creativity, a crusher of spirit, and the rigid antithesis to fluidity. Sticking “self” in front of “discipline” only means we’ve agreed to do it to ourselves.

And then there are the people like me, who credit self-discipline for their greatest creative achievements, most notable successes, and continued youthful appearance. Am I nuts? Very possibly. But in case I’m your kind of nuts, read on for tips on how I use self-discipline to self-motivate, self-inspire, and otherwise kick my own self into action pretty much every day.Read more

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Mindfulness, Perspective, Writing

Yay for May!

Yay for May with flower leis, mommy love, and special days…
For Spring and breath, reflection and life,
To start anew and shed the strife,
For all the hope our hearts envelop,
And goals our minds and guts develop
Hurray for May! I say with glee,
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Calming Emotions, Empowerment, Motivation, Perspective, Writing

Energize the Waiting

“I love to wait!” said no one, EVER. And yet, we can’t seem to a avoid it.

We check our emails on the hour (or minutes) for responses from agents, editors, and casting directors. We stare at our phones (and test the connection), willing them to ring with news of that hard earned promotion or the house of our dreams. We pace our floors (or pound our heads) waiting for test results and customer service, plumbers and computer techs, heartthrobs and children. And no matter how fast we work or how efficiently we manage our affairs, every series of actions seems to be followed by an even longer and more grueling period of waiting for some omnipotent entity to say YES!Read more

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Art of Meaningful Coincidence

What is it that makes us look left instead of right so we can see exactly what we need to see, or that makes us pick up an unknown book from a wall of thousands to find exactly what we need to read, or that leads us along a series of unusual choices to an unexpected—yet perfect—outcome?Read more

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Ground’s Eye View

Unless we’re thinking about growing plants, most people seem to view the ground as a hard, dirty place to avoid. Even inside we head straight for the chairs and couches rather than plopping ourselves on the floor. Modern societies have created enticing and ingenious ways to elevate ourselves above good ole Mother Earth. But is that a good thing?Read more

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Perspective, ShowBiz, Writing

Owning Our Fantasies

I, like all of you, having been watching a media firestorm concerning the film, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY.  I have read and heard the shaming and condemnation.  (And yes, when we tell women that what they feel is silly, corrupt, or damaging to the future of all women, we are shaming and/or condemning.)  I have seen the Facebook posts, the boycott petitions, and the open letters to our daughters.  But here’s the thing… this film did not emerge out of nothing.  Millions of women responded to and enjoyed this story.  Given those numbers, I think it is safe to assume that some of those women are people we like, respect, and perhaps even love.  Think about that for a moment.Read more

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Mindfulness, Perspective

Staying Young

As we get older, there’s a tendency to cross certain physical activities off the list as being too childish, too dangerous, or simply beyond our strength, agility, and balance. But are they? How many of those physical challenges are off the list for no more reason than we’ve lost our courage to try?

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Communication, Mindfulness, Perspective

Knee-Jerk Reactions

The littlest bit of information about a person or a situation can change our perspective, entirely. When we stop to think about it, this seems obvious and right. We may feel an immediate resonance with the statement and think of all the times that this has proven to be true. We might even feel that this sentiment is part of our wisdom and an example of how we walk in the world. And yet, we all make snap judgments. Sometimes, this is a necessary trait for our emotional and societal survival; and other times, it’s just our assumptions getting the better of us.

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Communication, Empowerment, Mindfulness, Perspective

What Kindness Needs

I was on a walk the other day and had one of those pleasant interactions that stuck in my mind. It wasn’t a big deal, and yet, it kind of was. You see I was power-walking up a road past a construction site when I caught the eye of a couple workers getting in their pickup truck. One of the guys said hello and I returned the greeting. He said I looked “mighty good,” and I said thank you. He said you’re welcome. And that was that.

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Calming Emotions, Empowerment, Mindfulness, Motivation, Perspective

Why Feel Bad?

I see many well-meaning slogans encouraging us to embrace imperfections, anything from extra pounds, to volatile social skills. You know the ones. They declare to the world that we are perfect just the way we are, and that others need to fix their perceptions of us. Either that, or they can just leave us the hell alone!

On the surface, this sounds like a good thing: there is great power and peace in acceptance. The problem that I have with some of these slogans is that they imply that any attempt to correct an imperfection is an act of self-denial.

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Calming Emotions, Empowerment, Mindfulness, Perspective

Time Warp

Time, like everything is relative. It depends on our temperament, our work load, our environment, our relationship to people, our stage in life, our health, and myriad other things. Our perception of time fluctuates throughout the day, week, month, or years. It varies according to topic, people, and circumstance. So while we would like to think that the past is the past and the present is the present, that is not always the case. The past for one person might be the present for another. It might even be perceived as the future for someone else. Talk about confusing! Is it any wonder that our differing perceptions of time can cause such conflict and heated emotions?Read more

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Calming Emotions, Communication, Mindfulness, NINJA, Perspective, ShowBiz

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I’ve had a series of fascinating conversations for Empowered Living Radio this past month. Each has been on a different topic with wildly different guests: the reincarnated spiritual leader of the Red Hat Lamas of Tibet, an advocate and activist for the Indigenous people of Turtle Island (North America), a Colonel in the United States Army stationed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as an adviser, and a professor and author of middle-grade fiction. And yet, there seems to be a common thread that weaves between all of these conversations—connection and interdependence.

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Mindfulness, Motivation, Perspective, Writing

Arrival Delayed

ArrivalDelayedWe have all heard the warning to be careful of what we wish for. It frequently accompanies a sentiment regarding trees and a forest. Well, there have been far too many times in my life where what I had thought would be best was later proven to be wrong for me to trust my wish-making abilities. Fortunately, most of those lessons were delivered safely by not getting what I asked for, rather than getting stuck with what I did.Read more