Waxing physically and philosically...

After literally years of deliberation, and as a result of some delicate and some less delicate prodding, this blog is my effort to organize - to bring together - my thoughts about my work as a conductor and as a personal trainer, to rant and rave as necessary, to celebrate the little things and the larger moments of brilliance, and to share some conductive magic and life lessons gained through 'waxing physically and philosophically'.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chocolate all over my Maple Leafs shirt

It hasn't been a very good year for the Toronto Maple Leafs; Toronto ice hockey fans are once again having to live with the disappointment of yet another season of not making the play-offs and of a top winning streak of something like 2 this season.  But Toronto fans are hearty; our support for our boys in blue and white is unwavering despite disappointments; discouragement never seems to last longer than the first beer after the game and we come back game after game and year after year -- game tickets selling out way in advance -- positive, pumped, and ready to encourage our boys, believing that this season will be the year that the Stanley Cup comes back to Toronto.  I had been having that exact conversation with a random Canadian who had noticed me wearing my maple leafs shirt when I stopped at a coffee shop on my way to the hospital to visit one of my participants who was on suicide watch.

Though I knew that this person was in hospital I had assumed it was for one of the usual reasons, a bad seizure, an infection -- perhaps not your or my usual, but certainly her usual.  When I had heard the day before that she was being monitored because of suicide risk and depression... well, how does one react?  I know that every time I thought about her through the day I tried to replace my worried thoughts with the mantras 'hang in there' and 'please don't'.

It is always difficult to figure out what to say or do when confronted with someone else's emotional anguish.  It is always so much easier to let your own discomfort about their emotions stop you from being able to be there.  I started to second guess myself on the way to the hospital -- what do I know about this?  I'm not a psychologist or a counsellor, I don't know what I should say or do or how I should be; how selfish am I being with my little mantras, 'hang in there', 'please don't'? Am I thinking about what I want or what she wants?  Maybe I shouldn't go visit, maybe I'm not strong enough, maybe I should leave this to the professionals.  If she is really hanging in by a thread can I help her strengthen that thread or will I just add tension to that already tenuous line?  And then, as if reaching into my head and heart from across the world in a small town in Hungary, I imagined my conductive mentor AB saying "stop it Lisa, it is not about you, your instinct tells you that you need to go to the hospital, just go, you aren't going because you can fix it, you are going so she knows you care, that's all".

So to the hospital I went.  I listened to somebody who after years of fighting and of standing up again and fighting and standing up again and fighting and beating the odds yet another time was tired, somebody who was now in so much physical pain that she was no longer sure if she wanted what she had been fighting for.  Somebody whose fight and whose determination so many others respect but whose pain and grief we can only imagine.  Somebody who is tired of being in the 'too hard' basket.  Somebody who is angry that people who are supposed to help seemed to be telling her that there was nothing that could be done.  The darkest moments were over before I got there -- not resolved but over, and she was telling me rationally what had been going on in her head when things were at their worst, what she had come through, where her thinking had come from.  Some of me was understanding where she was coming from, supporting her, trying to respect her and what she says she wants, wondering if I would be as strong as she has been, if I would have had as much fight.  And the rest of me was going over those mantras in my head 'hang in there ', 'please don't'.  I helped her eat some goopy sticky enriched chocolate hospital pudding.  I dropped the spoon I was helping her eat with and got chocolate goop all over my Toronto Maple Leafs shirt and we laughed because I was the one who was supposed to be teaching her hand control and coordination.

And I back in my car, started analyzing what I said and didn't / should have said.  And I looked at the chocolate goop on my shirt and started to get angry, not about the dirty shirt, and not because I minded helping her eat, but because someone who needed help eating was given chocolate goop in hospital and nobody thought to help her get it into her mouth.  And I got angry because I don't like when other people  are in pain and when things aren't fair or right, and angry because maybe I could have done more / should have stayed longer / hadn't tried hard enough or done enough, and upset because I don't like when I can't make everything alright.  And the thought of my next four appointments that day made me feel tired and how was I going to go see people in their homes when my shirt was covered in chocolate goop so maybe I should just cancel my afternoon and go home for a nap.  So I called MH, knowing he wouldn't tolerate my negative headspace.  I had my rant and rave and cry.  He reminded me that people will do what people will do, and that life is what it is, that it didn't have to be fair and I didn't have to like it, but that I could only be responsible for what I did; he asked me if I was glad I went to the hospital -- I was; he asked me if I was going to let being scared or discouraged stop me from doing something I was passionate about, from teaching, from conducting, from caring -- I said of course not.  He asked me if I was ok, and by this time I was; and I had people to see, other important work to do that day.

Conductive Education and Personal Training can be hard; working on my own can be hard -- especially when previously I have worked with such amazing colleagues.  That said, it would be ridiculous to think that I deserve to share in people's personal triumphs if I'm not prepared to wade through some of the chocolate goop along the way.  I have learned to learn from and laugh about the goop, and to cherish and celebrate the tiniest victories.  And time after time, the tiniest of victories seem to wash away all of the chocolate goop, and the work is worth every minute.  I smiled, remembering her talking about going home in a few days, remembering her laughing at me dropping the chocolate goop covered spoon all over my Toronto Maple Leafs shirt.  And now she's come home from hospital; and my shirt is clean; and maybe next year the Leafs will win the Stanley Cup -- I'll certainly be cheering for them.

               Because I know this song speaks to her.....                                 
                                 "Mistreated, misplaced, misunderstood. 
                                 Miss 'No way, it's all good', it didn't slow me down. 
                                 Mistaken, always second guessing, underestimated. 
                                 Look, I'm still around"

                                                                    (P!nk - f%@kin perfect)

1 comment:

  1. There aren't too many people who would have the "balls" to go to the hospital, let alone be able to follow instinct and ignore the "what about me" part of us, that makes us want run away. You were probably exactly what she needed at the time. Someone who she was comfortable with, who wouldn't judge or treat her like everyone else. It's amazing what kinds of experiences help us learn and grow. It's even more amazing when we can take something and instead of having a pity party, or run away because it's out of our comfort zone, we can learn from it. I like the way you think.