When I was living in Granada, my buddy April loaned me her pink ukulele. I carried it everwhere. When I took trips to the Laguna de Apoyo I made friends with other musical people who were captivated by this pretty little instrument. It was my instrument for making friends, really. Let’s be honest, I’m not that good at it and I don’t know all the chords.
The first time I took it to the lagoon, the girl at the front desk, my friend Mar, told me she played and she helped me tune it. Later that day I walked by a travel writer named Austin from Houston who had his uke in hand too, and we hung out on the rocky beach and chatted all afternoon. We all traveled back to Granada together with our instruments, and Mar taught me a song that we later played together outside of O’Shea’s bar on Calle Calzada that evening.
I cherished my pink uke. When I was lonely, when my cat ran away, when I just needed to be alone it was there to help me write silly songs and keep me company.
Now whenever I go somewhere I have a few more accessories: My crutches and my walking boot. So far they’ve been pretty great conversation starters. Everyone asks how I broke my foot. The old man I met a couple days ago who bought me a coffee asked me, “Did you kick a snowball or a boyfriend?” I laughed and told him it was from climbing. He told me about his daughters and the outdoor activites they enjoy, and the conversation went from there.
I’ve connected with a whole different demographic of people. Like when I rode in the electric cart around the grocery store. People were so uncomfortable. Only a few people made eye contact with me. The rest looked away awkwardly and avoided me. Perhaps they were worried I may accidentally run over their toes… I was walking into Whole Foods last week and a guy came up to me and told me about his broken foot. It’s kind of fun, other than the logistics of it all.
So practicing yoga. Yeah. Turns out there’s not much you can or should do. There are plenty of ways you could attempt to modify your typical two footed, active practice, but as I learned in the ER on Monday, even if you have a cast on, some stretching can cause problems if you are still early in the healing process. I also learned that when you are unfamiliar with new sensations in your body, it’s better to ask someone who knows than to make any assumptions. And it’s helpful to do the research. The body is fascinating!
“Vamos a hacer una pausa,” is the phrase I learned from my guide when I climbed volcan Maderas. It means, “Let’s pause or take a break.” I think I said, “Necesito una pausa,” more often than my friend I was hiking with. I took a lot of breaks. For one, I wanted to take pictures along the way, and I also wanted to enjoy the scenery.
Ahora, voy a hacer una pausa. I’m pausing and reflecting, researching and healing. I have to. I had planned to go back to Nicaragua in February or March, and now I can’t. I got two yoga teaching opportunities there that I put on hold. I had planned to teach yoga full time while I’m here in Austin… well, another thing I’m not able to do. “Whenever you’re ready,” is the phrase that I continue to hear over and over… Little foot will decide.
Taking a break between the big events in our lives can be helpful. I’m never a fan, but since I’ve created some space for stillness (or since my foot made me be still) I’ve noticed a few things. Stillness is hard when it’s not a choice. But, when things change, your body changes, people and circumstances change, it is better to go with it than to resist. Yin Yoga and Restorative yoga calm the mind and the body, holding poses for longer, going deeper into muscle tissue. Typically I would only go to a yin class if I was really stressed out. Now, I remind myself that now is not a time to work my body, but a time to heal and cultivate the skills that I can use regardless of the feats of strength I can accomplish.
I’m inviting change into my life. I’m letting go of the false stability and security of my circumstances and the attachment to my body being a certain way. The physical expression of strength has been a large part of my identity since my youth. I didn’t realize how attached I was to it. Now I have to remind myself that I’m still strong, even if areas of my body are weak and out of balance. This is necessary for the healing process to take place. I know that life will throw more curve balls and change my plans. In between every shift, voy a hacer una pausa. I even scheduled a reminder every day at 2pm: Hacer una pausa. Watch the sunset. Feel the wind blow. Enjoy the constant changing sky and remember that everything is temporary.