With a healthy dose of humour, Linda Stelling shares how she discovered the gift of adversity; After an accident, she finds a way to reframe her experience into an opportunity for new growth and learning.
Read Linda’s story and be inspired to find the silver lining in your own challenges...
Last week I enjoyed a delightful lunch at a local taverna with two dear girlfriends. It was one of those occasions when we simply enjoyed each other’s company, the conversations flowed easily, we shared stories and laughter, and before we knew it nearly three hours had passed by. During the course of our chatter, we naturally enquired after the well-being of our respective husbands as we are all friends and know each other well.
I happened to remark, in a light-hearted way, that my dear hubby was becoming somewhat of an embarrassment to me due to his constant saga of ongoing health issues. The poor guy has suffered a few setbacks over the past year as a result of falling down a metal spiral staircase and injuring his back. Whilst recovering from that trauma, he injured his shoulder by overdoing the exercise routine designed by his physio, and shortly thereafter, he started having trouble with his knee. He has consulted so many doctors over recent months that his contacts list reads like an A to Z Medical Register.
I joked that it must be getting tedious for our friends who have had to listen to hubby’s tales of woe in recent months each time we’ve met up. My girlfriends know full well that I adore my husband so they listened to my frustrations sympathetically and reassured me that he would soon return to his normal cheerful self.
The day after my lunch with the girls, it happened to be a very windy and blustery day in our neighbourhood. I was outside, about to help my dear hubby as he secured part of the bamboo fencing that was threatening to break free. I decided it would be wise to wear my old gardening gloves for protection if I was to hold part of the fence whilst he fastened it with cable ties.
My gloves were in my gardening tool bag a few yards away. In dashing over to retrieve the gloves, I caught my foot on the edge of a raised step and felt myself hurtling forwards headfirst onto the concrete. Having flung myself very heavily and ungraciously onto the rough concrete, I was dazed and shaken for quite a few minutes. Dear hubby rushed to my aid to discover I had face-planted the hard surface and looked as if I might have broken my nose. More worryingly for me was the acute pain I immediately felt in my right arm near my wrist. A rapid trip to the Accident and Emergency department of our local hospital ensued.
An x-ray of my nose revealed that it was not broken, just badly grazed on the surface. However, an x-ray of my arm revealed that I had broken the radius bone and needed to have my arm put in a plaster cast for the next six weeks. So now the fun begins!
I am and always have been dominantly right-handed, unlike my two sons who are naturally right-handed but became adept at a variety of racket sports and golf by playing left-handed as children because their father, who taught them, was a natural left-hander. For the past 62 years, my left hand appears to have served no meaningful purpose other than to counterbalance my body and fill the sleeves of whatever garment I happened to be wearing. Well now is the time for my left hand, arm, and shoulder to step into the limelight whilst its opposite appendage takes an involuntary rest.
They say that learning to do things with your less dominant arm encourages the brain to create new neural networks which is beneficial against conditions like Alzheimer's and dementia. So, I am accepting this new challenge as a gift from adversity. It’s only been four days since I broke my arm, but my left hand has already learned to clumsily brush my teeth (including my dentures which are removed), albeit I do seem to be using a good deal of toothpaste. I have managed to feed myself (using a single fork or spoon) without too much intervention from hubby (except for him cutting up some items and administering the condiments, which are in frustrating twist-style containers). For the first few days, I admit that I slobbed around home wearing baggy joggers and an old loose hoodie as these were easy items to wriggle into each morning.
But today, I achieved a new goal of having a shower, washing my hair, and dressing myself in jeans, a t-shirt, and an overshirt. Having wrapped my plaster cast in a double layer of plastic bags to keep it dry, I was able to squeeze a generous blob of shower gel onto a flannel and flung it wildly over my body in what must have looked like an act of self-flagellation until I was satisfied that all my intimate places had been duly washed.
Next came the hair wash. Thankfully, I have a short hairstyle, so another generous blob of shampoo (awkwardly squeezed out of an almost empty tube) was vigorously spread over my head until there was enough lather to partially hide my entire body. Drying off my not-so-svelte body was somewhat invigorating as I single-handedly pushed and pulled the heavy bath towel into each fold and crease of my cuddly framework. I admit that I had to recruit hubby’s help in drying off my back as my efforts just did not seem to hit the target.
"I am accepting this new challenge
as a gift from adversity"
Thankfully, my hairdryer did not object to being operated by a novice left hand, and it successfully blow-dried my short locks into an acceptable “au naturelle” style. Having already achieved so much today, I decided that asking my left hand to attempt applying some make-up to my scabby nose and bare face was possibly going a step too far at this early stage of its developing repertoire.
I’m a strong believer in karma, so my thoughts over the past few days have led me to understand that perhaps my joking comments made last week about my poor hubby’s ailments, were unkind and unnecessary even if made in the spirit of light-heartedness. I am also a strong believer in trying to understand the lessons that can be learned from situations of adversity.
I am accepting each day’s challenges as they arise and embracing the opportunity to do things in a slower more mindful manner. Training my left hand to tackle new tasks involves more focussed concentration and patience, skills that I would have taken for granted if I was only using my natural right hand.
Finally, I would like to conclude this piece by sharing this fact. I had been thinking about writing an article for Daily Inspired Life for a while now but couldn’t decide upon a suitable topic. I have led a full and colourful life and feel that I have many stories to tell, but where to start? Well, with the events of the past week, I thought, this is as good a place as any to tell my (absolutely true) story.
Thanks for reading.
P.S. It took me about three hours to type this story … left-handed, one finger at a time!
Meet Linda Stelling
Having spent over 40 years in the corporate world as an international business professional I retired in 2019 and am now pursuing my personal passions.
I practice my self-taught artistic skills together with my energy healing knowledge as a certified Reiki Master/ Teacher and crystal enthusiast.
I'm an avid traveller and global citizen. Having lived only on beautiful islands situated in the English Channel, the Mediterranean Sea and the Caribbean Sea, the salty ocean air flows in my blood. I love to experience different cultures and countries and strongly believe in the connectedness of all humanity.
Connect with me by leaving a comment below.
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