Reclamation Proclamation

It happens slowly, doesn’t it? The distance between ideal health and uncomfortably snug pants is generally marked by gradual tiptoeing rather than giant, bold strides. Tiny, seemingly-insignificant, often-unconscious little decisions accumulate until one morning a straining button gives way and takes flight. Out of curiosity, you step on the scale and exclaim, “What the what?!! How exactly did I get here?!” And then you recall…the extra cookies, the lack of attention to regular exercise, all those delicious and totally-worth-it holiday cocktails.

Considering it was my first post-injury race, I was SHOCKED to place third for my age. Must have been a small pool.

Considering it was my first post-injury race, I was SHOCKED to place third for my age. Must have been a small pool.

After proving to myself in November that—even after a life-altering injury—I still have it in me to run a race and perform decently, I did myself a huge disservice. Rather than continuing down the path toward health, I patted myself on the back and gave myself a pass for the holidays. Because I pushed it a bit too much during the race and my foot ached as a result, I justifiably gave myself permission to ramp it back a bit. “Ramp it back a bit” gradually became, “Can’t run OR walk because it’s too cold and dark and the dog’s old,” “Give yourself a break you just started a new job!,” “You should probably test every single thing you bake during the holidays,” and finally…“What the heck?…it’s the holidays!”

As much as I enjoyed being pregnant--since I'm done growing humans--I'd like to avoid having a stomach this large again if at all possible.

As much as I enjoyed being pregnant–since I’m done growing humans–I’d like to avoid having a stomach this large again if at all possible.

Last week, after about a month and a half of slacking, I mustered the courage to step on the scale and survey the damage. Much to my dismay, I found that I am the heaviest I’ve been since pregnancy. While some of my friends scoff when I tell them this and say things like, “What are you talking about?! You look great!” I remind them that OF COURSE I look great! It’s the middle of winter! It’s still perfectly acceptable to hide all of my extra “softness” under many layers of clothing and a fabulous coat. I think they’d be singing a different tune if they saw me in a bathing suit or—better yet—talked to that button that finally gave up the fight after struggling too long to contain my girth. Whether a size 6 or a size 26, when things stop fitting the way they’re supposed to …it’s just not fun anymore. No matter how I may look to myself or anyone else…I feel sluggish and gross. The boys are starting to squish my once taught parts and say things like, “Mom: How come you’re so squishy?” How come, indeed.

I am fully aware that at the ripe old age of 42, after the birth of two children and two months of bed rest over the summer, things aren’t just going to perk up like they did when I was 20. I’m ever-so fine with the inevitable droop that befalls us all over time. Still, there comes a time to distinguish between what is inevitable and what is simply poor management. For me, that time has come. And so, I am issuing this reclamation proclamation…

Self: You don’t seem to be performing up to your potential. If you continue to underperform, a heartbreaking loss of very cute wardrobe options may ensue. Body: You belong to me and I’m taking you back. You’ve had your fun little vacation and now it’s time to get back to work. Instead of gradually tiptoeing toward a bigger size, it’s time to gradually tiptoe back to where you belong. Maybe instead of coasting up elevators, you can take the stairs. Maybe you can do some yoga while you’re catching up on Downton Abbey. Maybe you can bring your running clothes and get moving while the boys are in karate class. Perhaps you can limit yourself to just 3 pieces of chocolate most days. We’ve wandered dangerously off course and it’s time to get back into familiar territory.


It has now been 16 days since the crash that derailed–or at least seriously redirected–the summer in the Wisnia house. So much has happened in that short span to shift my thinking about my life and the people in it. For the most part,  I have been overwhelmed by the positivity and love that surrounds us. We’ve scarcely had to cook given the frequent delivery of delicious meals. The boys haven’t missed a single activity thanks to the many who have so graciously descended to give rides here there and everywhere. We’ve had help with shopping and cleaning and occupying the boys so that they don’t feel like they’re missing out even though there’s much that their mommy can’t do right now. Most moments are filled with love and joy and gratitude.

And then there are the other moments…the moments when I feel completely castrated…the moments when all I want to do is climb up into Oscar’s loft to tuck him in or comfort him when he’s had a bad dream but I can’t. There are moments when I think about all that I COULD be doing since I’m home like vacuuming, washing windows, organizing the boxes of accumulated junk in the garage, even simple things like knocking down cobwebs–and then I remember that I can’t. Even something as simple as getting a glass of water is a complicated task these days as I hop on one leg, try to manage crutches, navigate awkwardly around our tiny, cramped house. Some days–other than the obvious reason of escaping my own stench–I am left to wonder why I’m even bothering to bathe. There is nowhere to go, very little to do. These are hard facts for someone like me who is always going, always doing.

There have also been a few demoralizing moments when I have found support sadly lacking in surprising places. It’s hard to feel supported when navigating the bureaucratic purgatory of so many confusing forms and convoluted processes required to get paid, maintain benefits, obtain accommodations. On more than one occasion, I have been made to feel like I am somehow making up or embellishing the truth of my condition to get special treatment. In these moments, I just feel icky and hopeless and shocked. As someone who has been sucking it up and soldiering on my entire life, I am beyond insulted by the implication that I am somehow doing anything short of what is physically possible for me at this moment.

I am terrified that I may never run again. I am heartbroken to hear Boris say that he wishes he had a mommy who didn’t have a broken foot. I am deflated when simple things that used to take seconds take minutes, hours, or worse–aren’t even possible to accomplish right now.

I am bolstered by the fact that I WILL get better. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like for the many many people who must face the truth that their particular accident has caused damage that can never be repaired, will never get any better. As stated–for the most part I am nothing short of grateful for all that has happened since I’ve been laid up. I’m grateful it it was my foot that was smashed–not my head or my neck. I am grateful that healing is possible.

Still, the not-so-fluffy moments are real and important to acknowledge and remember too. I think that this time will help me to have so much more compassion going forward. I have been forever changed both by the immense love we have experienced and the few bits of indifference/lack of compassion we have experienced. I will forever remember how I definitely DO and definitely DON’T want to make people feel in their moment of need. At times like this, there is enough darkness to overcome in one’s one mind. Nobody who’s truly hurting should be made to feel like they have to prove the extent of their hurt to anyone. Nobody should be made to struggle to feel valid when they are convalescing and already struggling against their own feelings of invalidity.

My Left Foot: Summer Plan B

X-RaySo…anyone who has been following me on Facebook knows by now that on June 4th, I had a gnarly bike accident that resulted in me basically breaking my foot in half and dislocating every single one of (and breaking some of) my toes. Surgery to repair the damage is tomorrow. Mandatory bed rest will last most (if not all) of the summer. The this unfortunate turn of events has reinforced many truths. These include:

  1. Wearing a wedge heel while biking is perhaps not the best choice (even if I think I look fabulous doing it).
  2. Life is an unexpected and crazy thing that is totally beyond my control (even though I like to pretend otherwise in my most Type A moments).
  3. Good health care is essential (even for those of us who think ourselves relatively spry and healthy).
  4. Trying times are generally rife with silver linings and hidden blessings.

Immediately following the accident, Good Samaritans started pouring in. My neighbor (who was biking with Ouch!me) and some kind stranger doing Tai Chi in Central Park rushed to get me out of the street and make me as comfortable as possible on a park bench until Chris could arrive to take me to the ER. Another kind stranger appeared from nowhere with a bag of ice. Before I had even officially put out the word on what had happened, we were receiving calls and messages from people who heard something bad had happened who wanted to know how they could help.

I have been nothing less that astounded by the speed with which our “village” has descended to surround us during our time of need. One fellow Type A organizer with a giant, beautiful, shiny heart even spent a morning sitting next to me on my sick bed setting up a website where folks could sign up to bring food, take the boys to their summer activities, do our shopping. My mom and sister swooped in to help me handle parties and other pending commitments. We’ve had deliveries of several delicious dinners, neighbors taking the boys to swim lessons, offers to help put the boys to bed while Chris is at work, great medical advice from doctor friends, and loans of awesome medical equipment. We even received a lovely card with a gift certificate for house cleaning inside! The list of all that we have to be grateful for goes on and on. My heart could seriously burst!

Less obvious but deeply profound are the benefits of being able to linger with my boys on these summer days. Sleepy CuddlesWhile it’s certainly not how I would have wanted it to happen, it has been such an exquisite gift to be able to have so many long cuddles, eat meals slowly all together while having rich conversation. Sure, I wish I could take them to the pool and ride bikes and train for that half marathon I signed up to do Labor Day weekend. Since I can’t, I am relishing this probably once-in-a-lifetime elimination of excuses to just be still…to savor my lovelies in a way that the on-the-go me so seldom does. The boys are learning to be more independent, helpful, empathetic. These are skills that I hope they continue to hone forever. Even after the cast comes off for good, maybe we’ll all be a little better at being still and savoring one another. So Summer Plan A is a bust but Summer Plan B is turning out to be pretty OK too. Thank you, universe for this chance to be still and feel so much love.


A Letter for Later RE Boston

April 15, 2013

Dear Boys,

Perhaps you noticed that Mama’s not quite herself today. I’m a little sad…a little impatient. For reasons you don’t know and can’t yet understand, I am out of sorts. Today, two bombs ripped through Boston and tore through my heart. Today, a boy—just a little older than you lost his life simply standing on the sidelines cheering for his dad. His mom and sister will never be the same. In what should have been a moment of such triumph, so much was lost.

I couldn’t help but think of all the times that you boys have stood on the sidelines with Daddy cheering me on for so Finish Linemany races. Grandma couldn’t help thinking about that too. With cracked voice, she called just as I was putting you boys to bed to express how very happy she was that I hadn’t been running that particular race…that you and Daddy hadn’t been the ones holding the signs…standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The pain of parenting is just too overwhelming at times…loving someone so ferociously from your core and knowing, being reminded that you can’t always protect them…knowing, being reminded that with the freedom to experience beauty and joy and adventure comes the risk that something terrible could happen out there in the big, wide world. Sometimes I am almost suffocated by the knowledge that there is so much outside of my control when it comes to you boys. That knowledge perpetually pulses beneath my skin. On days like today, it comes screaming to the surface.

So, years from now, when you look back on the days in your childhood when Mama wasn’t as patient as she should have been…when the tolerance for brotherly bickering was nonexistent, know that THIS is what that was all about: I need to know that even when I’m not around to love you that you will at least try to love each other…even when I’m not around to protect you that you will at least try to protect each other.

In the best of circumstances, the time we get to be here is far too short. Please spend your time loving, laughing, helping. Make sure your time here is joyous. Forgive each other and forgive your Mama for the times when she just couldn’t bear to see you fight. Have adventures, experience beauty and when something ugly happens… thank all the beautiful people who are trying to make it better, BE one of the beautiful people who is trying to make it better.

Love You Madly,


Old Dogs

While running today with my almost-13-year-old Border Collie Felix, I smiled sadly at the number of times I had to stop to encourage him to keep going. I marveled at his tenacity to continue. I couldn’t help but think back to the days when he was leading the charge…when I was keeping up with him…when we both had a little more spring in our step. Together we have travelled many miles…and those miles have taken their toll. We’re both a little flabbier, a little more tired, a little less motivated. But neither one of us is willing to give up just yet.