Yoga is working its magic again. To be fair, my improved self-esteem could be attributed to several factors. I’m working out at a “regular” (able-bodied) gym and getting stronger. There’s the almost daily meditation keeping me centered. And I’ve been eating healthier (for the most part). Still, there’s no denying it — yoga works wonders for me.
I had an epiphany last week. For the first time in eight years, I didn’t want to be in anyone’s body but my own. Truly. Not that I spend a lot of time wishing I had more physical capabilities than I have — I don’t. At least I think I don’t. I have spent a lot of time comparing. Comparing my body and its abilities with other disabled bodies. (It’s not even close to a fair fight to compare myself to able bodies, so I don’t.) But if comparing is the same thing as wishing, than I confess, I’m guilty of wishing I was disabled in a different way.
For eight years now, I’ve been trying different adaptive sports through Brooks: wheelchair tennis, handcycling, water-skiing, power soccer, rock climbing and horseback riding, just to name a few. The thing about adaptive sports is that they can be adapted to suit most any disability. This doesn’t mean, however, that just anyone can excel at them. For me, with my poor coordination, attempting almost any sport becomes laughable. Good for my spirited sense of humor. Not so good for my confidence.
My bad eyesight and double vision didn’t help matters. But it did help to explain my poor performance. “So you see two balls coming at you?” the manager of the adaptive program asked me on the tennis court.
“Yes,” I replied.
“So how do you know which one to hit?” My problem exactly.
At most sports, particularly those involving a ball, it seemed everyone was better than me. The grass was always greener. The way I saw it, amputees often didn’t have to be in a wheelchair and paraplegics had perfect upper body control. But me? Take my spastic movements, garbled speech and chameleon eyes and it’s not hard to see why I felt like Goofy on the pity-party train to the Magic Kingdom.
Enter Adaptive Yoga, where volunteers help guide our limbs into stretches. Now this I can do! My muscles remember the poses and with a little help, I can still get there. No ball involved. And I don’t feel goofy. Not even a little bit. Yoga teaches me to treasure me. I relish the fact that I can move everything and still have everything. I’m reminded to be grateful that I’m not in pain and don’t need to take medication. Yoga fertilizes my lawn till it looks just as green. Right where I am.
The intention, of course, is not to make anyone feel bad about their own abilities or lack thereof. It’s to remind you that regardless, there’s something out there for you that supports you where you are right now. That makes you feel good about yourself, too. Maybe for you, it’s basketball, or an adaptive sport. Maybe it’s not a sport at all. Maybe you’re a mean knitter. Maybe it’s your mind or your voice and you have some story to tell. It took me eight years, but I’ve found my thing and I’m celebrating it. Find your thing, too.