How to Feel Unstuck When There’s No End In Sight

July 24, 2021, was the one year anniversary (or “ann-knee-versary” if you will allow me one pun) of my ACL reconstruction surgery. I had a fun day lined up to celebrate my progress and mobility: a morning yoga class, an afternoon swim, and dinner at my favorite neighborhood Italian bistro. I thought the day would run as smoothly as my repurposed quadriceps tendon.

My knee had other plans. 

When I rolled out my yoga mat and set up my trusty blocks (now a staple of my yoga practice) I knew my knee was not in a good mood. It ached and felt more tight than it had in days. God help me if I had to do a child’s pose. I inwardly rolled my eyes at my ornery joint and clumsily followed along with the instructor’s commands.

As I winced at the pain and tried to breathe more flexion into my leg I thought about my year long journey. I have lived with some kind of pain and discomfort every day for a year. Sometimes I feel frustrated and exhausted. Sometimes I long for a light at the end of the tunnel, a deus ex machina, a sudden whirlwind change that grants me perfect, pain-free full extension and flexion. Sometimes I feel stuck and don’t see an end in sight.

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Therapy Every Damn Day

The other day I was chatting with my dad about the new house he’s renovating. He suggested I go to a mattress store and pick out a brand I like that he can buy for “my” room that I stay in when I visit.

“Dad, that’s low on my priority list,” I told him. “I do some kind of therapy five days a week either for my knee or my head, I’m still working, and I’m still doing book stuff [podcasts, articles, interviews, etc.]. I don’t have time to look for a mattress. I’ll just trust your judgement.”

Up until very recently, I was rehabbing either my body or mind five days a week. It sounded like a lot when I said it out loud.

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Letting Go of What No Longer Serves You: Marie Kondo, My Knee, and Me

Once again, as I did nearly a year ago, I find myself with my right leg wrapped in a bandage from thigh to foot and repeating an alternating series of exercising and icing. On Friday, June 18th, my trusty orthopedic surgeon carefully scraped scar tissue away from my shiny new ACL (well, my repurposed quadriceps tendon, but new in its job as ACL). 

Although I’ve been able to get back to many normal activities since last July’s ACL surgery, this scar tissue has impeded my knee from reaching full extension or flexion. It feels stiff whenever I walk downstairs. I still can’t do a full child’s pose in yoga. 

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My Post-Pandemic Body Is Different. And That’s Okay.

The other day my coworkers and I were planning some lectures we are going to give as part of a leadership development series. For the first time in over a year, we will be presenting to a live audience in person, and we have to dress the part. My team, men in their fifties and sixties, joked about how they might need to get new clothes since the running gag is everyone has gained weight during the pandemic. I told them that was the advantage of wearing dresses–they’re a lot more forgiving.

My post-pandemic body is different than it was a year ago. It’s squishier and, according to some clothes that didn’t fit when I did a recent closet de-cluttering, a little larger.

I’m okay with that…for now anyway.

Hear me out…

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What’s More Motivating: a Trigger or a Goal?

A friend’s recent Facebook post stated that during the week of the devastating Texas winter storm she felt a strong compulsion to move. Nothing was wrong with her house; she just felt the need to move NOW. Fast forward less than three months later, and she and her husband are happily settled into their new house, sold their previous house, and are enjoying decorating their new place.

As we’re starting to come out of the collective trauma of the pandemic (and everything else that happened in 2020 and the beginning of this year), I wonder if it’s changed the way people are motivated and inspired into action.
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First Post-Surgery Swim

Heaven is a lap pool.

The last time I swam laps was early March 2020. I remember waking up to my early alarm one morning and thinking, “Eh, I’ll sleep in. There’s always next week.”
Then the pandemic happened.
Then knee surgery happened.

Wait a minute…I’m getting the strangest sense of deja vu.

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My Book Is About Taekwondo…and Mental Illness. There, I Finally Said It.

I mean, it’s right there in the title.

Spoiler alert: my upcoming memoir is about mental illness as much as it is about training for my black belt.

I mean, you probably got the gist from the title, but I thought I’d go ahead and spell it out.

This is the most difficult post I’ve ever written, and I know once it’s published and shared I will be questioning my choice. I’ve tried several times to write this under different themes and different titles for the last several years, and until now I’ve never had the courage to click the “publish” button.

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Jumping (Cautiously) Into 2021: Staying Focused on What Matters

On January 7, nearly six months to the day I tore my ACL, I practiced jumping. I still can’t fully extend my leg and still walk with a slight limp, but by God, I was jumping.

It. Was. Terrifying.
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#1 Recovery Tip From One ACL Warrior to Another

I’m a second degree black belt. I could have tested for third degree black belt at the end of this year.

BIG.DEAL.

I had to relearn how to walk after my July knee surgery. When you can’t walk very well or even stand up in the shower, all that fighting, jumping, and sprinting nonsense goes out the window for a while. It’s hard to feel like the athlete you were before your injury. It’s depressing to feel out of shape. It’s frustrating to go through so much pain as you heal and gain strength. 

Recovering from a major injury when you used to do a high-level sport can feel overwhelming and a bit daunting. 

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