Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Unexpected Gifts

This time of the year can be challenging for me to get out of bed in the morning, especially when my down comforter keeps me so cozy! Our dog Sherman loves his morning walks, so he helps me find the motivation to get going each day. He does this by coming over to my side of the bed, nudging my arm and hand with his cold, wet nose, and batting his tail against the mattress until I respond. At first my response is a groan, but when I hear his sweet, happy noises, my response turns into a slight smile.

This week was a little wet at the beginning, so I especially dreaded taking our walk on Monday morning. I reluctantly put on my wet-weather gear, opened my huge umbrella, and huffed and puffed as I trudged out the door. Of course Sherman is so non-judgmental and unconditional that he runs outside, tail wagging, as if this is just like any other day. I slowly make my way down the driveway and down our hill, looking down at the wet ground from under my umbrella, listening to the consistent pitter-patter of rain overhead. Then there was Sherman, prancing along, not phased at all by the rain! As we turned the corner at the bottom of the hill, I looked up from under the umbrella and gazed out over the trees and saw the most beautiful sight--the WHOLE sky was the most beautiful shade of orange with pinkish undertones. I literally dropped my jaw and said "WHOA!!!" and looked around with a smile on my face to see if anyone else was there to witness this beautiful scene. Nope, it was just me and Sherm. I wanted this moment to last forever, but as we continued forward on our walk, I noticed the sky starting to change. From orange and pink, to purple then blue, I saw the sky slowly transform before my eyes. I never did see the sun come up officially that morning, as I had to get in the house to continue my daily routine, but knew that the sun was responsible for the glorious gift of color and beauty in the sky. I felt like this was a personal gift sent to me that cold, wet, rainy morning, as a reminder that even in unpleasant circumstances, there is always an unexpected gift.

As a Physical Therapist and Muscle Activation Techniques Specialist, I work with clients every day who are faced with their own challenges or unpleasant circumstances. It is difficult for some clients to find motivation to move through the painful sensations. It is my privilege to help them uncover their imbalances, re-activate their body’s healing potential, and realize the gifts the human body offers, which are often taken for granted. One of the unexpected gifts often received by my clients as they work through a painful experience is a deeper appreciation of how our bodies are capable of changing for the better, with the proper individualized care.

It truly is a gift to have the bodies we do!  When we cut our finger, we don’t have to think twice about our body’s ability to heal itself. When we want to get up and grab a bite to eat in the kitchen, we walk over to the fridge and choose from an abundant selection. When we want to get together with a friend, we hop in our car and drive over to the restaurant to meet them.  When we want to exercise, we lace up our shoes and hit the pavement, or show up to our favorite group exercise class to participate. When we want to lift our kids and grandkids, we reach down and pick them up with ease. It usually isn’t until our body doesn’t respond in a favorable way that we even notice the complexity of some of these everyday activities.

Did you know that walking is one of the most challenging neurological activities that the human body can perform? We are all so lucky to be able to stand upright against gravity and walk all over the planet. How often do we stop and think about this? When traveling home recently from our Thanksgiving visit with family in California, I noticed a man in a wheelchair at the airport. Initially I thought to myself, “What a challenge it must be to travel in this capacity.” Then we made eye contact and exchanged friendly smiles. Upon further thought, I realized “What a gift it is to be alive in a time where technology has advanced as much as it has, and people with disabilities are able to travel and move around our wonderful planet to enjoy their life to the fullest!” His smile and my thought correction were other unexpected gifts that day.

When you are shoveling snow, walking your dog in the rain, or finding the motivation to face your challenges of the day this holiday season, take a moment to reflect on the unexpected gifts you find along the way, and the gifts your body presents to you each and every day. Move well, my friends.