How a split-second decision changed my perspective
“Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.”
You may have noticed that I’ve been pretty quiet on my blog and social media over the last month. In mid-August, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit with friends and soak up some sunshine. After an idyllic day of sitting around the pool, we decided to finish up with a bike ride. I don’t know about you, but the freedom I feel when bike-riding always brings me back to my childhood. In fact, at 52, I still seem to ride my bike the same way I did when I was a teenager.
So, while out on our ride, I made a rather reckless decision to take my hands off the bars and take some pictures of the scenery (see above). In an instant, the rest of my summer changed. My front wheel caught a rut in the road and I careened over the handlebars. I didn’t have time to stabilize my bike before my front wheel jackknifed and, in a further unfortunate turn of events, my helmet shifted and my bare head took the brunt of the impact.
Thankfully, I walked away with manageable injuries and no broken bones or possessions (my sports watch, necklace, and phone all survived unscathed). I really feel so lucky that my injuries weren’t a lot worse. The final tally included two awe-inspiring black eyes, a concussion, a torn rotator cuff, and an arm wound replete with road rash.
Although recovering from injuries is not exactly a holiday, it gave me some time to slow down, abandon screens, and lower expectations for myself. Before the accident, I kept telling myself that I would take time off and take some more time during the summer to relax. Don’t get me wrong, being sidelined has been a bummer, but with a month of reflection, I also realized that it has also been a great teacher.
Here are some things that I learned during my recovery:
1. Like Glennon Doyle says, “We can do hard things.” Sometimes life throws you a curveball. Reassess and change your plans. We never know what is around the corner.
2. The human body is amazingly resilient. The irony is that the active lifestyle that put me in the line of fire was the same one that made my recovery so much more manageable. I think being fit made such a difference to the speed of my healing. Also, learning to “gut it out” during endurance events was the mindset I needed to remember that with patience, things will get easier. Time and movement are our greatest healers.
3. Don’t stop operating outside of your comfort zone. I will be back out on my bike and running in the trails as soon as my shoulder allows. Could I have another accident? Yup. But sometimes, with challenge comes risk, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
4. Friends and family are your superpower. I am so thankful every day for the people in my life. The accident just reminded me to say it out loud more often.
5. Multitasking and overscheduling are overrated. Seriously. Being banned from screens and reading made me realize that there is so much joy to be found in lowering the bar and unplugging temporarily.
6. And finally, always wear a helmet, and please, please check the fit. Your helmet should sit low on your forehead, and the side strap “Y” should meet right below your ear. Do me a favour? Do up your helmet and see if you can push it back on your forehead. If so, readjust the strapping system until it stays put. I always thought my helmet was a good fit, and yet it provided me with zero protection when I hit the road. Trust me - this one safety check could save you a lot of grief.
This crazy year can defeat us, or it can push us to rise to meet the challenges. Let's just keep pedaling.
Your sister in health,
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