Tag Archives: life

The ugly habit of toe-walking

A bad habit cannot be thrown out the window, it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time”

-Mark Twain

As I touched on in a recent post, lately I’ve been focused on trying to permanently correct my walking and unsteady gait. I’m at that point in life where it’s exhausting to constantly worry about tripping over my feet, struggling to carry things when I walk, not being able to walk in a straight line, etc.  After 20 years of dealing with an unsteady gait along with other walking-related issues, I’m determined to fix these issues once and for all. 

 

In order to achieve my goal, there are several bad habits I’ve developed overtime that need to be broken. One in particularly, which is probably the hardest to break, is that I have a tendency to walk on my toes. Years ago, when I first re-learned to walk, I used to fall all the time mostly because weakness in my legs and poor foot placement. As a last resort measure to keep myself from hitting the ground, I started to walk on my toes.  Overtime, toe-walking became the norm and how my body would compensate for not always being able to control my foot placement.  Toe-walking became a learned behavior and how I taught myself to adapt to my situation.

Although toe-walking at first seemed helpful, I’ve come to realize it actually increases my risk of falling. It has also caused my ankles to become weak and has made it very difficult for me to walk in a consistent heel-toe motion. So basically now I have to break a 20 year-old habit, learn to not walk on my toes, and instead walk heel-toe. (not confusing at all)

bad habits

  

 

As I consciously try to walk heel-toe and avoid walking on my toes, I can’t help not get frustrated at myself for wasting all those years creating this bad habit. Toe-walking has negatively affected my walking in many ways! But the thing is I have to let it go, be patient with myself, and remain committed to breaking this habit. It is often through our mistakes that we learn the most about ourselves and are able to change for the better.  

There are some days where everything seems perfect and my heel-toe motion is on point. But there are also days when I struggle to stay off my toes and feel extremely discouraged. Days like that I can hear my therapist shouting in my head “Get off you toes! Get on your heels!” As annoyed as I feel at times, like I’ll never walk normally, it’s important to push forward; remain dedicated and determined. Even as I write this, my heels are on the floor while my toes are in the air, as if I’m about to take a step. Not sure how much that will help with walking but at least it helps my bran become familiar with that feeling.

So maybe I developed a bad habit overtime, that’s in the past, I can only focus on improving myself now. Once you hit rock bottom, the only place you can go is up. But the only way to do that is through discipline and constantly being aware of the issue. It’s like trying to lose weight or eat healthier, you have to make a conscientious decision. After awhile, it just becomes second nature and turns into a good habit.  What are some of your bad habits?

“We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit”
-Aristotle

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Quantity vs Quality

 

“Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles”

-Steve Jobs

Quantity vs. Quality? This has always been a lingering debate in my head. Which is more important in our daily lives, quantity or quality.
My dad used to always bring this argument up, questioning which mattered most. In his case, having ALS, quality far outweighed quantity. Because of the disease, his life was cut shorter than most. He would’ve liked to live longer with the disease but at what cost? Most likely, he would have needed machines to assist him with breathing, eating, and almost all of his daily functions. Choosing to live longer, he might have sacrificed the quality of his day-to-day life for quantity of years and that was something he didn’t want to do. Ultimately, he chose quality over quantity. He chose to try to live in the present moment and not think about the future or how much longer he had to live. He wanted to maintain the little bit of independence he still had instead of depending on assistive devices and maintain quality relationships.

I was reading an article the other day about the difference between quality vs quantity. It described quality as a characteristic, a feature or state of being. Whereas, quantity is the extent or sum of a value. It goes on to say how quantity cannot change or be argued, what is 2 will always remain 2. Quality however, is subjective and has the ability to change over time.

I think it’s safe to say that our society tends to value quantity over quality. How much money we make, how many gadgets we have, how many tasks we can juggle at once, etc.  Although I’m pretty sure most people would agree with making lots of money, this thought process can be dangerous, especially when it comes to relationships. By focusing on quantity, we often sacrifice quality.

What do you want in life, quality or quantity?

“It’s better to have fewer things of quality than too much expendable junk”

-Rachel Zoe

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Just take the next step

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

Muhammad Ali

In my last post, I wrote about how important it is to me lately to once and for all correct my unsteady gait. Perfecting my walking has been something I’ve struggled with for a long time and it’s now one of my top priorities to fix this. I read a book by Matthew Kelly which talks about becoming the best version of yourself. He described how often we worry so much about where we will be in five years and how are we going to get there, that we often overlook the present moment. Just taking the next right step.

So after doing a little thinking, I decided my next right step to becoming the best version of myself was to focus on correcting my unsteady gait and my walking. My ultimate goal is to be able to run again. Not quite sure what my next step will be after correcting my walking or where life will lead me in five years but for now I’m heading in the right direction.

I recently joined a boxing class which is definitely not your standard practice therapy but it’s an incredible workout and really helps with balance. The organization was originally founded to help those with Parkinson’s battle the effects of the disease but they are open to helping anyone with a movement disorder. As I mentioned in my last post, my approach to physical therapy this time around is “outside of the box”, I don’t want to  focus on only one option of treatment and ignore the rest. A key to recovery is being open. 

Most people think of me as very quiet and nice but don’t know I have a hidden “aggressive streak” (how a friend kindly refers to it) When I was in high school, we had a punching bag and speed bag in our basement that my brothers would use and wanting to be like them, so did I. Boxing is actually a great workout for your core and upper body.  It also helped my balance, in terms of standing still and not getting knocked by a swinging bag or focusing on tiny but quick foot movements. My brother actually brought me a pair of boxing gloves. Perhaps because he was tired of me using his or maybe he thought I needed to learn more self-defense. Either way, I have pretty, royal blue boxing gloves. So upon learning about this class, I was very interested and ready to pick up my boxing gloves again.

boxing

To me, my boxing gloves are a symbol of empowerment and help me to feel confident in myself.   They embody strength, determination, hard work, and perseverance. They may appear to be simple boxing gloves but to me, they are a sign of a fighter. They are a sign of what this next step is life means to me. It is not only about gaining muscle strength and improving my walking but also gaining confidence in myself and self-esteem. They are a sign of why this next step in my life is important to me. Because once I achieve my goal then I will be able to build off of it and start working on the next step in my life. As Matthew Kelly says “Just take the next right step”. And  something I’ve come to realize is the next step that’s right for you, is not necessarily the next right step for your friend, your family members, or your neighbor. It’s what is right for you and will help you become who you are meant to be. For me, I always compare myself to my peers and ask myself “they are doing this, why am I not doing the same?” But the thought of taking the next right step reminds me of why I am not following their path and instead following my own. Boxing and spending hours working out will help me to take the next in life.

But maybe boxing isn’t your thing but what is the one thing that will help you become closer to a better version of yourself? Something that gives you confidence and fulfillment. What’s your next right step?

“Show me the way I should walk”

Psalm 143:8

 

P.S. A little shameless self-promotion but please check out my newly updated version of my autobiography, In my own words

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Hard work is really hard

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

-Martin Luther King Jr

 

For many years, it has been a goal of mine to be able to run again, to re-teach my legs this motion, and correct my unsteady gait along the way. I would like to walk with confidence and ease, instead of worrying about falling flat on my face with each step or feeling like a pin ball bouncing off walls as I struggle to walk in a straight line. 

So after taking time away to focus on finding a job, it’s back to physical therapy again. I’ve noticed going back to physical therapy ever couple years has become a reoccurring trend in my life. It’s like losing weight or trying to have six-pack abs, in order to achieve and maintain those results you have to constantly be working at it.  For anyone who has gone through physical therapy, they’ll probably tell you that at some point they hit a plateau or no longer felt challenged. This plateau is something I’ve come across many times and it is frustrating to say the least. Once you hit this plateau, therapists often have a difficult time finding new exercises or thinking outside of the box. (No offense to any therapist reading, this is just personal experience)
 
So when considering therapy again, I wanted to make sure it would be challenging and help me achieve my goal. I found several places that offer exercise-based therapy which immediately grabbed my attention because this was something I had never heard of before. This type of therapy offers a different approach to therapy and encourages the patient to continue working out after hitting this plateau. It sounded like I finally found a therapy that might help me achieve my goals!
Shortly after starting therapy though, I was pretty disappointed. My therapist had me doing things like bridges and planks, all which I had done before. They were challenging but nothing different from what therapists in the past suggested I do. 
But here’s the thing, nothing worth having ever come easy. It will require hard work, discipline, and determination to achieve my goals. As much as I’d love to snap fingers and perfectly walk and run again, that’s not how it works.  For anyone who has tried to lose weight, you know it’s a constant battle and no matter how good of shape you’re in, you have to start with the basics. Once you perfect the basics and set a solid foundation, you are able to build on that. Which is why doing exercises such as planks is important because they’re basic exercises.
“Sometimes God doesn’t give you what you think you want, not because you don’t deserve it, but because you deserve better”
-Anonymous

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For the love of animals

 
Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened
-Anatole France
 
 
The other day someone asked me what my favorite animal is.
 
Since a young age I’ve been obsessed with elephants, mostly because elephant starts with an E and so does my name, Elizabeth. I spent hours learning about elephants, memorizing fun facts about them. For example, the easiest way to tell an elephant is African or Asian is by their ears. It is said that African elephants have bigger ears compared to Asian elephants.  Elephants also have extremely developed brains, the saying “you have a memory of an elephant” actually is a pretty accurate statement. When talking about our love of elephants, my friend referred to them as “gentle giants”. Elephants are the largest land animal on earth but despite their massive size, they have gentle, caring hearts. Herds of elephants are centered around females and elephants in general express maternal instincts. They are able to show empathy, grief, compassion, and are very playful.
 

Although being asked what my favorite animal seemed like a silly question, it made me think how animals play such a big role in our lives as humans. They provide us with basic necessities like food, drink, transportation, and companionship just to name a few. Animals teach us how to use our instincts, how to adapt, to love unconditionally, and to never take life too seriously.

Growing up, my family always had cats as household pets, each a stray cat except one which we bought from a vet. My dad wasn’t a huge fan of dogs. Between him dying of ALS and me dealing with cancer, we just didn’t have time to commit to a dog. But cats were an easy solution because they’re independent and self-sufficient but still provide companionship and love. It’s amazing how pets become part of the family. I loved each one of them, even the one that was a little crazy.  It is often said that having household pets can teach children lessons such as responsibility, compassion, respect, etc. I agree with that completely.

Shortly after my mom remarried, my stepdad convinced her into getting a dog. Having never grown up with dogs, I actually really didn’t care for them. So whenever my mom mentioned getting a dog, my response was “if you get a dog, I’m not coming home”, usually a couple other words were included in this.
One of the reasons for this was after my dad died, I had gotten an adorable white kitten and wasn’t sure if she would get along with a dog. For the last year of my dad’s life, I begged him for a white kitten with either blue eyes or green eyes and a cute little pink nose. However, mostly because of breathing issues, he didn’t want another cat in the house. So when he died, one of the first things out of my mouth was “can I get a kitten now?” (loving daughter that I am) Snowball was born a week after my dad’s death and was everything I wanted. She was perfectly white and had one blue eye and one green eye. She loved to cuddle and was so sweet.

Flash forward years later, one night in college after returning from Christmas break, my brother called saying he, his wife, and their dog were driving home to meet the new dog mom rescued and were planning to pick me up on the way. As we drove home, I had many thoughts going through my head but mostly was convinced I would not love this new dog. Well, that quickly changed the second he sat near me, looked at me with his big brown eyes, and smiled. Snowball and Riley did not get along at all and after several months, I gave Snowball away to a good family. She was terrified of dogs and would hide all the time. It was a difficult decision but she deserved a better life and there was no way I would give away Riley instead.

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 I still have a love for cats but cannot imagine how I lived so long without having a dog. Everyday Riley teaches me something, whether it is to love unconditionally, to find pleasure in the simple things, or to be kind towards others. (especially when you want something)
Being part german shepherd, part husky, Riley is very intuitive and picks up on my disabilities very easily. He knows to sit and be patient when I struggle to put on his collar or to walk slower with me because I can’t keep up. For not being a trained service dog, I see now how much service dogs or service animals can be helpful.
All animals whether it be cats, dogs, other family pets or even wild animals teach us about life and help us to see the beauty in the world. 

“How it is that animals understand things I do not know, but it is certain that they do understand. Perhaps there is a language which is not made of words and everything in the world understands it. Perhaps there is a soul hidden in everything and it can always speak, without even making a sound, to another soul.”

Frances Hodgson Burnett

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Don’t let life beat you down

“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.”

-Aldous Huxley

 

Have you ever had a dream where you’re fighting against someone in an intense battle? 

After only minutes of battling, you are drained, fatigued, tired, ready to surrender. 

While the other fighter seems so well-trained, agile, energetic, never giving up or showing sign of quitting. And you can’t help but wonder, who is this?! They’re making me look like a fool.

Then you see your opponent, it’s a younger version of yourself!? 
 
Lately at work, I’ve found myself rushing through everyday, going through the same routine, counting down the hours til I can go home and then repeat it all over again tomorrow. Everyday seems monotonous, dull, same old thing day after day. I’m starting to understand the phrase working for the weekend. Instead of being excited for each new day and having a chipper, positive attitude, it’s a struggle to get out of bed most days. My enthusiasm towards life seemed to become non-existent.
 
Life has a way of beating us down over time. Whether through personal experiences, relationships, societal expectations, or growth. It’s easy to lose ourselves in the mix, to suppress our personality as a way to fit in, and curb our enthusiasm towards life.  But why is that? Why do we allow life to do this?
 
Each day is a new adventure, a new possibility for something great. Yes, some experiences in life cause us to be more apprehensive or more cautious towards certain situations. Building up barriers around ourselves and taking away our enthusiasm towards life. But this doesn’t mean we have to completely shut down and quit being the person we are. We have a choice whether to let life destroy us and settle for what society expects of us. Or to rise above the negativity of others and keep being you. 

“None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.”

-Henry David Thoreau

smiling

Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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It’s the little things in life

“Find beauty in the simple things”

-Unknown

Throughout life, I’ve found that sometimes the smallest things are the sweetest. Those moments that force us to stop and smile. Or the little things in life we take for granted like breathing in a cool breeze, seeing the sunset, or being able to swallow your food.

Lately, I am very grateful for this; to eat, drink, and swallow. Not being able to swallow or having something lodged in your throat isn’t very pleasant. As a result of childhood cancer and too much radiation therapy , I have many physical disabilities. Although most of them I can easily deal with them, one in particular has the tendency to cause issues every now and then.One side of my throat is paralyzed which forces me to eat slower than most and to make sure I chew well. After getting food stuck in my throat several times and having it surgically removed, I had another procedure to expand my esophagus.

Well flash forward a couple of years, I still take my time eating and sometimes have difficulty swallowing but usually taking a short walk or putting my hands above my head move things around enough for the food to go down correctly.

Last weekend, I went to the renaissance faire with my friends. It was my first time at a ren faire and it was so much fun! As my friend said best “we had a wonderful time minus a couple hiccups!”

For lunch, I had a chicken kabob, chicken on a stick, and it wasn’t very easy to eat or cut into pieces. So, I tried tearing it apart and thought I had done a pretty good job but guess not good enough. With the first bite, I quickly felt a huge piece of chicken sliding into my throat before it was properly chewed. Immediately, I grabbed my friend and went to the bathroom in hopes that I could cough the chicken up.  However, the chicken never came up. It was lodged in my throat and I wasn’t able to eat or drink without it coming right back up. As I mentioned, this had happened to me before and I wasn’t too worried. Since my esophagus had been stretched, maybe the chicken would slide down to my stomach as I walk around. That was a poor assumption.

After spending several hours exploring the grounds, having fun with my friends and going to the bathroom every now and then to try throwing up the chicken, I did what every mature 28-year-old does, call my mom for help. My stomach felt very irritated, kind of like when you drink too much water and your stomach wants to explode. Having experienced this before, I knew this feeling wasn’t a good sign. When my mom arrived, she convinced me to go the ER. So a great day with friends turned into an exciting evening at the ER.

Before going straight to surgically removing the chicken, the nurses gave me a muscle relaxant to calm my throat and stomach muscles with the hopes that any built up tension would disappear and would release the food. Usually this doesn’t work but it did this time around, although it took a while to take effect. About 20 minutes after taking the medicine with no food coming up but still not being able to swallow. I went to get X-rays for surgery. Just as the technician was helping me get situated, I felt it coming and immediately covered my mouth as she grabbed the throw up bin. Out came a huge strip of chicken, fully intact! It was disgusting but also pretty impressive, no wonder I couldn’t cough it up all day.  I felt so relieved and a million times better. And the best part was I didn’t have to go through another surgery, even if it was only a minor one. (that would have been surgery 15, not that anyone is counting)

After returning to my room and seeing what I threw up, a nurse gave me water just to make sure it would stay down this time and it did! After not drinking for hours, that was the best water I’ve tasted in a long time! Then, they gave me graham crackers and it was like a little slice of heaven! My empty and irritated stomach started to feel normal. It was so great to swallow again! What a wonderful thing! I ate so much the next day, it was amazing to be able to swallow.

It made me think how we take something as simple as swallowing for granted. On a daily basis, how many times do you actually think about swallowing? For the majority of people, swallowing is just a natural function of the body like breathing. But have you ever stopped to think how awesome it is to swallow? How awesome it is to breath? How lucky I am to be able to swallow, to be able to enjoy the taste of food, to be able to breath on my own, and to live everyday.

simplethings

“The power of finding beauty in the humblest things

makes home happy and life lovely”

-Louisa May Alcott

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