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Good News & Gratitude #8
Shoutout To Boxing, The Buoyancy Of Kindness, And Four Words That Got Me Through A Tough Day!
Hello Dear Beyonders!
I’ve been having a tough few weeks with my health. The vertigo has been extra rough and I’ve also been experiencing some pain. I’m okay! Because I’m always okay. As I’ve mentioned before, I inherited my parents’ London War Resiliency. I’m pretty much incapable of going down. Plus, lots of good stuff mixed in (a trip to Chicago, for one!).
Having said that, it can feel pretty lonely going through all this. As many of you will know, when you have a chronic health condition, your friend pool shrinks. In part, because some of those folks turned out to be fair-weathered. But mostly, your friends are lovely, supportive, beautiful humans whose lives are continuing to move forward in ways that yours no longer can. Plus, they have families and jobs and their own challenges—and (as with me) they’ve been supporting you for decades so your health has lost that fresh urgency. So if you don’t have a partner, you’re carrying the figuring-it-out, amongst other things, all on your own.
A lot of my ongoing issues come from misalignments that occurred when the blow to my head jammed parts of my spine into the wrong place. Over the decades, I’ve had so much work done, much of which has helped (I’m wildly better!) but not quite enough. And it doesn’t always hold.
Recently-ish, I started two new protocols that have given me hope. One is with a Counterpoint practitioner. It’s still early days, but the system makes a lot of sense to me and I’ve seen some improvements. I have to drive an hour each way but I can bring Delilah and after the session we go on a long walk together through Suzanne’s charming neighborhood.
The other is boxing. Yes, boxing! I boxed for years and years in NYC and it became my blood (one day I will write an essay about the potent healing power of boxing). I began boxing after the initial round of head injury symptoms—at that point, nonstop debilitating head pain—had been with me for nearly nine months and I was trying to move on with my life the best I could in the midst of staggering pain. I know it sounds incredibly counterintuitive to take up boxing rather than, say, yoga (which I’d tried to no avail) for pain but within months, I was pain free. And had all my friends boxing alongside me! Also: I have found fighters to be the kindest, most gentle souls on the planet. Probably because they know they can f@ck you up so all the energy that might go to posturing can go to their hearts!
After I moved to Michigan and my health completely collapsed, I had to stop boxing. I missed it so much, I would spend entire therapy sessions talking about it. But there were myriad symptoms then far beyond the return of the pain so even if I could find a gym, returning to boxing was not possible. Then last summer, during a walk in the park with Delilah and Cookie, I heard that exquisite sound of the glove hitting the pad and everything lit up inside me. Luckily Alex, the ex-Lions linebacker working the pads, was game to train me. Lacing up those gloves after nearly fifteen years away, I felt the return of a part of myself I thought I’d never get to hang out with again. And I was pleased I hadn’t lost my chops. After a couple of months, Alex bought a gym about an hour away, but he left me in the hands of his friend West.
In addition to boxing, West trains in Muay Thai, which I’d also done in NYC. Something about the kicking helped quell the vertigo (I’ve since learned there is an explanation for this that I won’t bore you with). It also brought back a mountain of confidence I didn’t realize I’d lost. And, of course, muscles. Month by month, I got stronger and healthier. For a couple months this summer, I felt the best I’d felt in fifteen years!!
And then, as can happen with bodies, I tumbled into one of the hardest places I’ve been in quite awhile. I saw Suzanne on Tuesday. Every doctor and practitioner who has helped me over the years is astonished by how much I accomplish given the state of my body (see prior note about War Parents) and Suzanne is no different. On this last visit, she offered to speak with West about what would best support my healing as she slowly and carefully works my alignment back into place. I instinctively shot her down; I couldn’t imagine my trainer would want to take the time out of his busy schedule to speak with Suzanne about the various misalignments and compressions in my body. Plus, as noted, I’m used to carrying everything on my own.
So, Beyonders, here we are: it’s taken all of this backstory to set up the four words of kindness that I want to share. I saw West today, gave him the update on my health, told him about Suzanne’s offer, and assured him that I declined it. He said, “No, no, I want to speak with her.”
I said, “You do?”
And he said, “We’re in this together.”
And Beyonders, if I were better at crying, I would have been sobbing on the gym floor. Instead I said, “Thank you.”
Clearly, kindness is a reoccurring theme for me these days. What’s a kindness that changed your life is one of the questions on the Beyond Questionnaire. I’m fascinated by it. Why it’s so common to withhold. And what impact that withholding has on the body. Why it seeps in so deeply when shared. How both parties benefit. Why it’s often scorned in today’s seemingly increasingly hostile world. How potent it is. How simple it is—and yet also so complex. Sometimes we’re fighting decades of societal training or childhood imprints to express our heart in the manner that it wants to express itself. We can be ashamed of kindness—bestowing and receiving it. It can be looked down upon as weakness. But, friends, I think it’s the greatest, most powerful force we have.
Not niceness. To me, that’s something else altogether. (Maggie Smith and I discuss this in her interview). But true from-the-belly, from-the-marrow, from-the-heart-and-spirit-and-soul kindness, primal kindness: that can change everything. Everything. West’s four simple words left his soul and entered mine. And they buoyed me on a tough day.
Let’s all buoy each other! Honestly, that’s one of the reasons, I started Beyond. So much is hard right now. Like hard-hard. But there’s also so much love and beauty and wisdom and kindness. I wanted to do my best to shine a light on whatever I could through conversations with compassionate, wise, funny, lovely humans. Humans who are doing their darnedest to lift one another up. So today, I shine my light on West. A kind soul if ever there was one.
Our words matter. We can lift each other up more easily than we may think. And if we string together enough of these liftings, lives can be changed.
Who’s a kind soul in your life? Who has helped you through a tough time? What words buoyed you on a challenging day? Who have you helped buoy? What are some of your favorite words to receive or share?
What are you grateful for this week? What has brought you joy? How you do best celebrate life? What’s your good news? Let’s hear it!! Let’s make sharing good news and kindness a regular practice.