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What I Learned From My Accident

Bandaging armAbout a week ago I was out for a morning run. This is pretty routine for me as I love starting my day with some form of physical activity. However, this particular run would be anything but a routine experience.

About half way into my 10k, I tripped and fell just about face first onto the cement. After I regained my bearings, I assessed my injuries – two skinned knees that were already starting to bruise, a banged up elbow and a bruised and scraped chin that was beginning to swell. My right wrist was tingly and sore, but I figured I got off pretty easy considering the intensity of the fall. I made the decision to finish my run, battle scars and all.

It wasn’t until I was in the shower did I realize something about my wrist was definitely not right. It couldn’t bear weight and just hung there. I had to compensate with my left hand for just about everything. Okay, I thought, let’s see how the morning goes and I’ll decide if I want to put myself through the additional suffering of an urgent care experience.

I managed to get myself dressed, make breakfast, shoot off a few emails and head to a client meeting. By the end of this meeting, my elbow and wrist were swollen with fluid and things were getting worse, fast. I knew urgent care was inevitable, so after spending two and half hours of my time (and who knows what the bill will be), I was told I fortunately didn’t break any bones, but badly sprained my right wrist and elbow. With my arm in a sling, I got myself home and called it a day. By this point my fingers were ice cold and it hurt to move my arm the slightest. This was the worst it could get, right?

Friday night was horrific. Little to no sleep due to the dull pain and inability to get comfortable in any position. By the morning, my arm was at its worst and so were my emotions. How will I cook breakfast for the kids? How will I make the bed? How will I dress myself? How will I change a diaper? How will I do anything?

I am fortunate to have a loving and patient husband who calmed my panic and quickly stepped into action. Over the next days of healing, there were life lessons to be learned. As much as I was inconvenienced by this injury, something tells me God was giving me a crash course in some wisdom I needed to gain. Here is what I learned…

Things may get worse before they get better.

I was foolish to think the extent of my injuries were what I felt immediately after my fall. My body was in shock and still responding to the trauma. Rather, about 24 hours later the real effects set in. Bruises had developed, swelling took place and the pain was at its height. I was so discouraged to wake up the next day to find I wasn’t yet on the road to recovery. Healing takes time and so does the hurt. Things have to settle in before you can respond, and this applies to emotional hurt too. Too often, we are quick to respond to a traumatic situation when really we need to be still and process all that’s going on before taking the next step.

When you need someone to help, let them do it their way.

My husband made my healing process possible. Had I been left to care for my young sons (and myself) with a sprained right arm, I don’t know how it would happen. I couldn’t do much for myself, let alone anyone else. He assumed all chores and became my caregiver too. He washed my face and attempted his best to put my hair in a pony tail (a picture of that will NOT be shared).

There were several times I got overwhelmed by my inability to help around the house. While my husband was taking care of all the chores, he wasn’t doing things the way I would do them. In a moment of wisdom he told me “I’m going to take care of things, but they might not get done the way you would do them.” He was right and it was unfair for me to demand my methods over his. I learned to let go and in doing so, he was empowered to do things he doesn’t normally do. From this experience, I think I’ll do a better job of letting him help with more of the tasks that I needlessly stack on my plate.

You can’t do it all, but you can still do something.

In cleaning up breakfast on Saturday, I could see a laundry list of tasks that needed our attention. There were dishes in the sink, the countertops needed wiped down and there were crumbs on the floor that needed swept up. Usually I would tackle these while my husband was changing the kids and making their beds. But in this moment I felt helpless and frustrated. I started to see what I could accomplish with one hand. Amazingly, I was pretty good at cleaning the countertops and sweeping the floors left-handed. Being able to accomplish even these small tasks lifted my spirits, made me feel empowered and gave me hope that very soon things will start to feel “normal” again.

Look on the bright side, because there is always a bright side.

As I kept replaying my fall in my mind, and as I had to explain the story to my concerned friends and neighbors who saw my injuries, I realized time and time again just how much worse it could have been! Foremost, thank God for no broken bones. At first glance, urgent care thought I would surely need a cast over my elbow. Imagine the inconvenience of that! Next, I feel fortunate, given the major bruise to my chin, that I didn’t break a single tooth or completely crack my chin open. Finally, I’m grateful that of all the many, many runs I have been on, to date this is the only one that “tripped” me up. There are so many people every day who are in horrific, permanently life-changing accidents. Who am I to feel sorry? I feel lucky!

It’s won’t be like this forever.                            

As I quickly regained strength in my arm, the most significant being in the first 48 hours, I realized I’m going to be back to good health in about one week. While those days of pain and healing were significant, they are the smallest blip in the overall timeline of my life. Yes I’ll surely have other injuries in the future, but I hope I will remember this important life lesson – that whatever you’re going through right now feels like the biggest and most challenging thing in your life (maybe it is), but when it’s over, the years to come will fade and soften this memory with things far brighter.

Has life ever thrown you a major curve ball? How did you respond and what were some of the lessons you learned? Please share your wisdom!

 

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Posted by on July 31, 2017 in Freshly Pressed, Life

 

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At the Intersection of Passion and Purpose

10494784_10202231742782727_9108465356469470019_nOver the last two years, I’ve taken my casual relationship with running and turned it into something more dedicated and committed. I feel stronger than I ever have in my life as I embrace this newfound passion for pushing my limits and accomplishing what I had always deemed “too hard” or “too uncomfortable.”

My passion for running and fitness couldn’t have peaked at a less expected time in my life. For 9 months of the past two years, I spent pregnant with my first son. And for another 13 months, I spent recovering postpartum and juggling the schedule of a breastfeeding, cloth diapering, baby food making, Hybrid Mom. Though I had what could have been a laundry list of excuses to skip workouts, I found myself looking forward to this sacred time in my day where I could refocus and reprioritize even during life’s most challenging moments.

Fitness had always been a part of my life, but what has made this new chapter so different is that instead of working out because I hated my body, I was doing it because I loved my body. A run wasn’t something I drudged through just to check off my to-do list for the day. It was personal time that I savored for as long as I could, throwing on extra miles and pushing myself to run faster to make the most of my time pounding the pavement. I was starting to see amazing results, running consistently under 7:30 min/miles for runs of 8+ miles and feeling like I had barely tapped into my potential.

Then, just as it does every year, fall turned into winter and the bitter, icy conditions forced my outdoor running into hibernation. At first I missed it like a best friend that moved away. Then I went stir crazy. I was stuck in the house with my infant son all day with no desirable way for us both to burn off some energy. My husband was in tune to my frustration and how much my lack of physical fitness affected my mood. At first, he hinted and then strongly suggested I try at least ONE class at CrossFit Pneuma, a CrossFit gym located merely steps from where we live. It took several months (and several miserably cold road runs) to convince me that I needed another outlet to fuel my passion during the “off months.”

My first class took half the time of what I would spend running, yet I was out of breath, sore and unable to do even one more burpee (wasn’t that evil to start me off with those?). So THIS was High Intensity Interval Training?! For the past 8 months, my passion for both CrossFit and running have progressed as steadily as my performance. I’ve completed both crazy and impressive workouts and am no longer intimated by a barbell (I have the calluses on my hands to prove it). Even with the much anticipated return of warmer weather, I couldn’t imagine leaving the CrossFit community now. Running fuels my independent athleticism while CrossFit provides the element of teamwork that pushes me further than I ever would on my own.

This is only the back story of my personal passion that now leads me to a big decision I have made in the past several weeks. Staying in shape has made me a happier mother and wife and a harder working entrepreneur, but I still felt as though it was lacking an element of purpose considering all the time and effort I put into this passion on a daily basis. Do I have anything to show for it greater than myself? I struggled with this question.

Then an answer presented itself – and I now stand at the intersection of passion and purpose.

Photo from last year's GORUCK Challenge

Photo from last year’s GORUCK Challenge

On Saturday, August 9, right about the time the sunrises, I will join a small team of fellow inspired athletes as we partake in a GORUCK challenge. We will endure 5+ hours of PT under the direction of an experienced Special Operations Cadre as we complete “missions” across Pennsylvania’s capital city. We will walk 7-10 miles while carrying things like boulders, cement parking curbs and telephone poles. We will get wet, muddy, sandy and maybe even a little bloody. And we will do it all while wearing a backpack full of bricks. This is not a race – it’s about teamwork. It’s not about facing the limitations of what you can’t do – it’s about pushing through them to discover what you can.

Photo from last year's GORUCK Challenge

Photo from last year’s GORUCK Challenge

This event is a vehicle for me to take my passion for fitness and pair it with a purpose much greater than myself. Starting now and through the challenge, I will be fundraising for Uplifting Athletes, a national nonprofit that raises money for rare disease research. Read more about my very personal connection to this cause on my fundraising page.

Asking for donations (even for charitable giving) isn’t something I’m comfortable with. I’m not used to not being in complete control of reaching my goals. Usually, it’s solely my hard work and efforts that earn me the prize, but for this challenge, I’m relying on you, my family, friends and acquaintances to get me to the $1,000 mark. This is all the more reason why it’s so important for me to take on this challenge. It will push me outside my comfort zone physically, mentally and emotionally. And most importantly, it will prove that my passion can have a greater purpose.

Photo from last year's GORUCK Challenge

Photo from last year’s GORUCK Challenge

Please take a moment to visit my fundraising page. Any donation would be a generous show of support for this challenging adventure and for the rare disease community. If you’re unable to donate, consider simply reading more about the mission of Uplifting Athletes so that you might be inspired to find a way to uplift someone around you who is fighting their own battle.

Together…WE ARE…Stronger!

-Stephanie

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2014 in Life

 

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A Low-Information Diet – The Solution for Overwhelm and Overload?

fries wrapped in newspaperWhen I was in college I struggled with the perceived pressure to always be “in the know” with local and national media. As soon as I woke up I would turn my TV to the morning news as I checked emails and got ready for the day. On the way to class I would grab our Daily Collegian and a USA Today and scour the top headlines. During breaks I would sit with my phone and scroll through the feeds from various news apps. For all intents and purposes – I was completely wired. I self-prescribed this high-information diet so that I would never appear oblivious or ignorant to the outside world I was just learning to navigate. I was utterly convinced that absorbing as much media as I could was the only way to ensure I could hold a mature an intelligent conversation in the real world.

The building of this pressure was amplified by my communications professors’ preaching to always stay informed, to subscribe to at least 5 news sources a day and to read, read, read. It made sense. If I was going to excel in the field of communications, I needed to understand how people communicate and join in the conversation! I quickly allotted what little free time and free mental space I had remaining to becoming a media watch dog. Once out of college and in the midst of a hectic political campaign where information overload was the first line of the job description, I still tried to absorb the news from several different sources daily on top of everything else expected of me.  Every day was filled with overwhelm.

Then there came the critical moment in my life, the moment that if mapped out on a timeline would look something like a black hole, that I finally found the volume knob on my information feed and turned it completely off.

As you might imagine this was the time I spent re-evaluating what I really wanted to do with my life, what would make me most happy and what I had to do to get there. This was when I became an entrepreneur. It was during these critical weeks that I simply had no time or concern left for a high-information diet. All I knew was that what I was currently doing was making me miserable and I needed to stop it all in order to pinpoint the cause. So what happened when I stopped checking my phone and email, turned off the TV and closed the newspaper? Absolutely nothing. Nothing blew up, nothing burned down, I wasn’t accused of being ignorant and my career wasn’t the least bit affected. In fact, for the first time in a long time I found myself with some free time and free mental space to dedicate to things I actually cared about. The news feeds in my email no longer existed to serve as another to-do and I wasn’t under the same stress to absorb every piece of information around me and store it for later use.

I didn’t become blissfully ignorant, I became selectively ignorant.

So you might expect that with the start of my own business, I began to work this information back into my daily routine. You might even expect for me to brag about how many news sources I consume in a single day or how my finger is always on the pulse of the universe. This simply isn’t so. I still continue to enjoy a low-information diet to this day and I truly believe the benefits I receive from this are far more important and impactful than what I would receive returning to my old routine. My day begins by immediately getting to client work – not slogging through news headlines that may or may never be of any value. My inbox isn’t overloaded with unimportant emails that are basically self-inflicted spam. Most importantly, my mental focus has drastically improved from where it was years ago. I feel clear, calm and collected. This allows me to complete projects more efficiently which in return gives me even more free time. I turn this time into far more meaningful results than simply absorbing the chaos of the news world. Most enjoyable, I’ve found a fountain of focus to write and really dig deep into my thoughts. It’s this low-information diet that helps fuel the Bennis Inc Blog.

Ultimately, by exposing myself to far less information, I only expose myself to the right information. When I do choose to read or learn something, it is far more likely to be absorbed fully and used immediately. I‘m no longer in the business of seeking and storing information that can’t be of immediate value.  When I need information, I get it on demand. This has proven to be far more effective than reading, storing and trying to recall that same information through years and years of mental clutter. But most noteworthy is how moving away from a high-information diet has completely changed my mood, my sense of overwhelm and my amount of free time. I still fear becoming ignorant or oblivious to the outside world, but I now know this has no correlation to the amount of news I force feed myself in a day. As long as we remain hungry for knowledge and seek it out as we need it, we will stay as informed as we want to be –without the overwhelm or overload.

What type of information diet do you exist on? What do you think would change if you made the switch to a low-information diet? Share your personal experience with information overload or cutting it off completely!

 

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Finding What Triggers Your Drive & Determination

I’ve been a casual runner ever since I joined the track and field team in high school. It wasn’t love at first step and I was never anything more than average, but I committed to stomping the pavement several times a week and always felt accomplished after I did. I still know the exact course I’d run around my neighborhood; it’s the same course I love running anytime I’m in town because I can see all the changes of the place I’ll always consider “home.” It wasn’t until about one year ago when I realized that even after so many years of running, the cities in which I ran may have changed but my running never really improved or progressed. I ran about 2 miles at the same pace, no hills, no highways, no running partners and never a single race to validate my efforts. I never challenged myself to reach beyond that mental wall I built as my physical limit. I blocked myself from thinking I could ever go further or faster. Maybe it was the fear of discomfort or the uncertainty of trying something I didn’t already know I could do, but it was everything I had to push past to start my own business. So why couldn’t I apply this same confidence and discipline to trigger myself to excel in running?

The first time I broke my normal running course and added in an extra mile loop was the same time I also allowed my first running partner to join me. It was new, physically uncomfortable and at times so tempting to stop and walk, but with someone else at my side, I pushed through it all because I didn’t want to let him see anything less than my best. The whole run, I felt like I was struggling to just to keep up, but later learned from my partner that he was struggling just to do the same. We were both pushing each other while pushing ourselves. And so I found my trigger. Unlike entrepreneurship, which is very much a solo journey, my journey toward becoming a better runner required a partner – someone to push me to do better and remind me that no matter what, I can always take one more step.

In the months since that first run which pushed me out of my rut, I’ve started running in almost every city to which I travel, conquering hills, highways, woods and running with groups of 3 and 4 people along the way. I’ve also run with marathoners who would have easily intimidated me just a year prior, but held my own. The last thing I have yet to do to completely tear down all of my mental walls around running is to participate in a race. A 5k is less than what I do on a regular basis right now, so there’s no reason I couldn’t jump right in with the next community race. It’s amazing that all of these accomplishments were always obtainable, I just didn’t have the right trigger to make me want to do better.

The question I want to pose to you today is in what part of your life are you lacking the drive to want to do better? This could be a making a career change, mending a relationship, starting a hobby or exploring a religion. We all have something, maybe many things, that are just waiting for the right trigger to spur us into action. Each of these may require a different trigger to get us moving forward and what works for one, may be the opposite for another. What’s most compelling to consider is how obtainable these goals might be to reach, if only we put our full efforts into trying.

I’d like to close with sharing that in exactly 2 months from today, I’m going to marry my first running partner whose ability to challenge and encourage me in every aspect of my life has made him my true soul mate. I suppose this also makes him my trigger for a whole lot more than just running…

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Business & Success, Life

 

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Entrainment – A School of Yogi Fish

This special guest blog is written by contributing author Kate Bennis, who is completing her yoga teacher training at Flow Yoga Center in Washington, D.C. Read more about Kate at the end of this post!

On a recent Sunday afternoon in my yoga teacher training class at the Flow Yoga Center in Washington, D.C., I physically experienced the beautiful concept of entrainment and I haven’t been able to stop seeing it in these fleeting, serendipitous moments every day since.

We started by practicing a simple sequence of poses linking each movement to breath (inhale, arms up, exhale, fold forward).  Our guest teacher, the lovely, inspirational Alanna Kaivalya, began the first sequence by calling out the breath, then the movement.  On the second round, she directed us by the breath only.  The third repeat, she said nothing.  I became deeply aware of the inhale and exhales of my fellow yogis, all in sync for the perfect four counts, leading me through to the next pose.  By the fourth try, I closed my eyes and moved through the sequence, void of visual or verbal cues, the only catalyst being the ocean-like sounds of our breathing, surrendering to the rhythm of the waves of movement.  My mind was not conscious of where my body was in the sequence; the natural life-force of my classmates’ own prana was driving me.

Finishing the sequence in tadasana, the 26 of us stood at the tops of our mats, two rows facing one another.  I opened my eyes to realize my hands were clasped on my pounding heart.  The yogi across from me held her shaking hands in prayer, with a blissful smile on her face.  Another lightly placed a hand over her mouth, eyes reflecting awe.  Like a school of yogi fish, our breath, our movement, our life pulses coordinated into a complex dance.  We didn’t think of how to move next, we just knew.  I’ve never felt a connection so strong than I did in that room, in that moment.

Entrainment is a term used in various scientific fields to describe the phenomenon of one being adjusting its own internal rhythms to sync with another being.  Shiva Rea opened her recent workshop in D.C. (which my sister Stephanie and I attended) by delving into this deep, complex, yet somehow at the same time, innate concept.  The terms were new, but the theory was well-worn territory for me: all beings, on a primitive level, desire to connect with one another.

I’ve been experiencing this phenomenon since the moment I was born, however now recently aware, I cannot help but to observe entrainment in the small and beautifully mundane moments of everyday city living.  I stand behind a stranger in line at Starbucks and now know my heartbeat is decelerating and hers accelerating to meet somewhere in the middle.  I speak to a partner at my law firm, and notice how I mirror his body language to convey engagement and understanding; he lowers his voice, I lower mine.  He leans in with arms crossed, I subconsciously do the same.  A flock of tens of birds soar up out of a city park, dart left, hang a quick right and land across the avenue in a tree, all as if they have been practicing this impeccably choreographed routine for weeks.

This awareness has helped me to cease to view others as merely obstacles in my daily routine, but instead as fellow passengers in the journey, moving forward right along with me.  I love how the heart rhythms yield to each other!  It is evidence that not only the ability but also the desire to compromise is an intrinsic, biological function.  What a beautiful allegory to help us understand one philosophy in how we should interact with others.

In early 2008, Van Morrison released a song entitled “That’s Entrainment” on his album Keep It Simple.  In an interview, he describes his interpretation of the concept as “it’s kind of when you are in the present moment – you’re here – with no past or future.”  In the yoga studio, on a cloudy, warm November afternoon, that moment when we stopped after the final sequence, I didn’t care where I was a year ago, or where in the world I will be next year.  All that mattered was that incredible moment of connection in my school of yogi fish, the unconsciously choreographed rise and fall of our chests and the pounding of our syncing hearts.

About the author: Kate Bennis currently lives in Washington, D.C.  When not studying at Flow Yoga Center, she works as a recruiter for an international law firm.  Kate’s current attributes to her frequent moments of bliss are sweater weather, cooking Sunday dinner, dogs that wear outdoor apparel and Yvette, her deep tissue masseuse/unsolicited astrologist.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2011 in Guest Blogger, Life, Wisdom

 

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