Big Toe in the Water

And Then I Fell

It was such a beautiful January morning, bright and sunny – yes cold, but great to be able to get out to the supermarket before the big snowstorm coming the following day.

And so, when I got home, I grabbed ALL the grocery bags from my trunk – because why make two trips when one will do?! I was walking quickly up the ONE step into my home when I tripped. I landed hard. My arms went out to brace my fall, and my knee slammed into the concrete.

I paused, then rather quickly got up since I didn’t want anyone driving by to see me laying on the ground on top of my groceries. That would be a bad look.

I went into the house and checked myself out. I’m a nurse, so I knew what to look for and just figured I would be a bit sore. I just had finished day 29 of my 30-day online yoga program and was feeling strong. So, I unpacked my groceries and went about the rest of my day.

By the next morning I realized I couldn’t lift my left arm without help from my other arm. And I could not put any pressure on the area below my knee without intense pain.

Did I ice anything? No. Did I elevate anything? No. Did I take any anti-inflammatory medication? No. Did I continue working, having meetings, teaching Mindfulness, doing laundry? Yes.

Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

Week #2 – I called the doctor and asked for x-rays and an appointment for an evaluation. Yes, you read that correctly, I knew what I needed prior to the exam. Good news, the x-rays were normal and showed no breaks.

And then the rest of the story, and why it’s called the “practice of medicine.”

After my exam, my internist told me I’d need to see an orthopedic surgeon. Heavy sigh. He mentioned two words I did not want to hear, “rotator cuff.” Later that afternoon the surgeon used those same two dreaded words. He ordered an MRI and told me, “Pray for it to be broken, since then it will heal. If it’s torn the only thing that will help is surgery.”

Are you still with me? Wondering where that Mindfulness practice I keep talking about comes in?

Here we go. There are attitudes we cultivate with a Mindfulness practice – non-judgment, patience, letting go, non-striving, trust, beginner’s mind, gratitude, and generosity. And one more I seem to be forgetting right now – oh right, acceptance!

Let me show you how this worked with me.

IF I had been patient and not rushing (striving) and willing to make two trips into the house, I probably never would have fallen. No, I’m not blaming or judging myself, I’m just stating a fact. I needed to let go of wanting things to be different and accept that I had to seek medical care.

When I teach about the attitude of trust, I explain that this first means being quiet so that we can hear and listen to our own inner wisdom.

I am grateful to my family and friends who offered their support and listened to my tale of woe. To my husband who generously comes over as I’m getting ready for bed to help me get my arm out of my clothes. And to my sister, who thankfully is a therapist, and allowed me to cry and express my frustration without judging me or asking if I was “using my Mindfulness.”

My default, after more than 20 years of practicing, is Mindfulness.

Within two hours of being home from the doctor, I trusted the inner wisdom I could now clearly hear in the silence.

My arm already feels much better today than it did last week, and my leg is healing as well. (And yes, I may still get the MRI.)

All is as it should be.   


Photo credit: Michael KilcoyneUnsplash

Harriet Stein brings Mindfulness Programs to organizations of all sizes to transform employee productivity, engagement, and satisfaction.


Mindfulness is now being incorporated by organizations to lower healthcare costs, support employees in staying focused which improves their performance, and reduce levels of stress.



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