Sunday, September 6, 2009


I have this philosophy: life is art, if we choose to see it that way. Symbolism exists in our day-to-day lives. Sometimes the story is larger than life, and so can make its way to the printed word. But even if the moments of our lives do not carry screen-worthy drama, they still are so often filled with potential for quiet realization (if we choose to see symbols and patterns, themes and metaphors).

Like trilogies. When something happens for the third time in a short span, it's my wake-up call. What can I get from this now-surfaced theme?

I apply this philosophy to body parts. Now, now, get your mind out of the gutter and instead pick up a book called "Heal Your Body," by Louise Hay. In HYB, Hay describes what each body part and/or ailment symbolizes so that you can focus your healing on what the ailment itself represents.

I'm not a proponent - not at all - for the idea that we bring on our illnesses. In fact, I get upset when people talk like that. (Use the illness as information, yes. But don't blame people for their illnesses!) However, I do think that if we are headed for illness, we can pay attention to where the illness manifests and use that as an opportunity to ask questions that can lead to "ah ha" moments and give us a little bit more insight into a part of our lives. So Hay's book is helpful to me.

Most of Hay's connections are pretty logical - if you have a sore throat, you might want to consider in what ways you haven't been speaking up (or have been speaking too much). Clogged ears - what is it that you don't want to hear? Hands and feet symbolize movement. (Well, actually, a foot symbolizes movement while a hand symbolizes how you "handle" things. But you get the idea.)

The reason I bring up feet is because of my big toe. Or, more accurately, my big toe's nail. Right side. I injured it years ago playing soccer. Now, a feather can hit it the wrong way and it will turn black and blue. Well, that's an exaggeration. It usually requires some stronger force, like another soccer player stomping on my foot, before it starts up the colors of the rainbow...

But once it goes blue, I know I have about nine months' worth of nail trauma. It won't hurt. It'll just look ugly and then, within a few months, it'll fall off, and it will be another several months before the nail is back to normal. It's a dance we do, my big toe and me. When it does happen, I find myself wondering (sigh, sigh, sigh) if I'm going to have to get patient again about something that I really really want. (Apparently Hay says that injury to the "big toe" signifies obsessing too much about the details of the future. Hmm.)

So it happened again. This time, it happened because my tennis shoes were new when I started my walking program a few weeks back, and the pressure on the big toe created black and blue. Now, the shoes are broken in, and the same outcome wouldn't occur now. But that doesn't change the fact that my big toe is already injured, and looking pretty bad. And by "bad," I don't mean "good." (I am wearing red nail polish to camouflage.) (Actually, it happened to both big toes.)

Now, here's the switch. I don't think I'm losing the nail. For 25 years (which marks the first time I had this injury), if my toenail went black, I lost the nail. Every time. Probably half a dozen times in 25 years, this has happened. But now - after 25 years - I think I'm keeping the nail. A whole new pattern of being... Which doesn't have to mean anything, other than I get to avoid nine months of an annoying pattern... which is nice to know...

And then something else happened. The day I started my boot camp class - about three weeks ago - I injured my lower back. For most people, they think- oh, I'll just rest, it'll be fine... But for me, this was potentially catastrophic. I had a lower back injury when I was 19 that stayed with me until a few years ago. It could go into agony at just one wrong turn. In 2000, however, when I was in particular pain (couldn't even stay seated), I did all this work on the back - a combination of therapies, including chiropractic, massage, acupuncture and actually talking the whole thing out. It's a long story, but one day I realized something about the history of my ancestors that caused me such great sorrow that I just cried and cried... And three days later, my back was healed. Done. Finis. Never to bother me again - every so often getting tight, but then the tightness would go away.

And then - OMG - there it was again. Injured, on the first day of boot camp. Truly injured.

So, here's the thing. It's okay now. There's a twinge, but it's almost completely better. And it hasn't stopped me from continuing with the boot camp. This is not the old story at all. It's an entirely new story. Just like my toenail is an entirely new outcome, though the injury is familiar.

So I'm a little happy. It's like my body wants me to know that something traditionally "bad" can happen without being life-altering for months or even years.

And now I'm in trilogy mode, waiting for the third shoe to fall... This time, though, I'm happy to anticipate. Or maybe the third thing already happened. Was my anemia. Which I always knew to be temporary and fixable.

photo credit: Darwin Bell, found here

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