On November 17, 2007 my 13-year dance career ended abruptly during a student-teacher performance at the studio where I taught ballroom dance. I was accidentally dropped during a lift fracturing 2 ribs, herniating 3 discs in my neck and causing nerve damage in my back, arm and hand. While the ribs healed quickly, the neck and nerve damage were severe and the proverbial dance was literally over.
It was a devastating day for me.
It was definitely one of the best things that ever happened to me.
The first 2 years were really hard. Preoccupied with pain management, I was also coping with the loss of my primary form of expression for the last (nearly) 30 years. All the while, I was fighting. As much as I tried to feel thankful for all the wonderful things in my life, the resentment was eating me up inside.
But I was lucky. Within the first 6 months of my injury I found a sales and marketing position in the entertainment industry. I began to shift my focus to feeling thankful that I had a job that I could be good at. But in a year and a half I had become good at my job and the results that I brought in were recognized by my company and even the competitors in the industry. As soon as I had accomplished what I set out to do at my job, I felt my attention shift back to feeling sorry for myself. And oh what a pity party it was! I became ill.
Doctor after doctor after doctor. I changed my diet. I changed my priorities. I changed my attitude. I changed my life. I remembered to be thankful again. Thankful that my body and my mind are my vehicles for being happy and kind, and thankful that I have the capacity for healing.
So as my attention shifted to feeling thankful and as my actions became in line with my thoughts an incredible thing happened. I realized the accident was my teacher, not a disability. I became grateful for how much my neck had healed. Grateful for all the emotional support I had received from my family and friends. I let go of what I could not control and for the first time, I moved on.
A little over a week ago I found myself in a Pilates session with a teacher who gave me a very basic exercise for strengthening my neck. My neck immediately released all tension and pain. For longer than a moment, it was literally like the accident never happened. I knew it was the exact, right thing for me to be doing. I was inspired. My whole body smiled. I knew I was healing. I was told that if I kept this particular exercise up, I would be able to fully heal and go back to dancing. Whoa.
It has been 4 years and 3 days since the day of my accident and I am stronger, happier and healthier now than I’ve been in a long, long time. I am incredibly grateful.
So long story short, what “they” say is right on point: Be thankful for what you have right now. It really will change your life.
Keep on keepin’ on and Happy Thanksgiving Zenful Dancers!
-The Zenful Blogger