Friday, November 11, 2011

Putting Life into Perspective

Over my 53 years of life I have been fortunate with my health and never took my mobility for granted. Then on September 9 on a simple walk with my camera I slipped in a patch of mud and broke my ankle. Yes, life can change in an instant. This fall happened so quickly that I was not even able to save my camera, which was mashed right into the mud. Most photographers can relate to always holding their cameras up to save them when they fall. The first thing I told my husband when I made it to the house was to check my camera..take it from me, your camera can take a fall much better than you can!

In the midst of my busiest time of year I found myself sidelined in a cast and crutches with orders to allow my ankle to heal to avoid more problems. Even when things are bad, there is always a bright side: I received an email from a rider that had broken both ankles when doing an emergency dismount from a horse, and two other horse photographers broke their ankles at the same time, one of whom ended up in the hospital for 5 days and needed plates and screws, all a result of tripping over a cat. Another friend said to me, "Do you understand now how truly fragile you are?" Fragile? Me? Yes, I guess we all are when breaking one small bone can result in such a sudden lifestyle change.

My professional life has always been doing so many things at once, keeping so many balls in the air. Suddenly many of these balls were no longer an option, it was just not physically possible for me to juggle them. Gone was the option of walking, feeding my horses, driving, photographing several events or getting together with friends for a fun and much looked forward to weekend of photography. Each trip on the crutches, especially in the beginning had to be carefully planned. The crutches were the worst part of the whole ordeal, but I can say I got pretty good at getting around on them after a while. Then there were the daily trips for blood draws where I got wheeled around in a wheel chair. Seeing the world from the handicapped point of view was a real eye opener for me and I know I will always be more compassionate with people that have lost their mobility and meet these challenges on a daily basis.

As I allowed myself to heal my dogs were with me every moment. Many days I had two dogs and a few cats as close to me as they could be. My main dog Ollie refused to even go out to the barn (his very favorite activity in the world) for the first few weeks. Animal therapy is a real and very good thing. On one beautiful fall day I made the trek out to the barn and stood by the gate. The six horses all gathered around me and touched me so gently with their noses and muzzles. There was no pushiness, they just stood with me and I could feel their healing energy, it was a moment that I find hard to describe in words but from my many many years of being with horses it was a new bond and feeling I had never experienced until the moment I most needed it. Horses truly are healers.

Allowing myself to slow down I found myself more open to my friends, of whom I found many new ones in the virtual world and strengthened bonds with many old ones. Almost every day there was a phone call, or a note, or a gift, and this was a huge help to get me through each day. It seemed like just when I would start feeling the most sorry for myself a friendly voice or face would appear to snap me out of it! We truly have no idea in our fast paced world how much these little gestures of friendship and support mean, and I am truly grateful for all that were shown to me. On top of everything my husband and daughter took over all the day to day chores, and for that I am very grateful. There is nothing better than to know your family will pick up the slack!

I read many good books, and saw some movies I had wanted to see for a while (top picks: Out of the West, Buck, Driving Miss Daisy, The Real Dirt on Farmer John) and my thought processes have slowed to not being so scattered. I am working on getting my life's priorities more in order. There are some things that are truly important, and some things that maybe I really don't need to be doing.

The cast is off, the crutches are gone and walking is getting better each day. I am grateful for each little step. This week I was able to walk out to the barn with my camera and take some photos. Thank you again to everyone that sent your positive thoughts and energy, I know that it helped me in more ways than you can know. Along with the chocolate, photo, canine and equine therapy of course!