I hope your inner child got super excited imaging that I was a lucky receiver of a golden ticket from my Willy Wonka chocolate... but sorry to disappoint, no wonka ticket here, despite the 20 blocks my mother bought me because I was persistent to win (I'm not competitive at all guys ...just don't challenge me because.. I WILLLL WINNNN).
When I called my best friend to tell her that I had passed all my ACL return to sport tests and that I had been approved to fly back to Los Angeles she cheered on the other side of the WhatsApp line from London and screamed "Its like you have won a golden ticket !!". We both broke out into laughter and then I continued to tell her how she had literally read my mind because I was drafting this blog at the time and had called it my golden ticket! Freaky right... (I must admit she can read my mind before i have even opened my mouth).
Yes hitting the end of your recovery/rehab session and being able to return to sport can feel like you are charlie opening up that cherished chocolate bar he has waited the whole year for. Well I waited 11 months since that day I slipped in water and ... "I got a golden ticket" ! But let me tell you about my ticket ...
For my golden ticket I am referring to the incredible Book by Brendan Burchard titled "Lifes Golden Ticket". It is an inspiration parable - a tale of personal growth and of a second chance to live as you should have. The question that pulses through this book is - what if you were handed a magical golden ticket that could start your life a new? What would you do differently ?.
I won't spoil too much but the book follows the story of a man who is so trapped in the past that he is blinded to the possibilities, choices and joys around him. Through the book set in an abandoned amusement park he encounters people and situations that confront his beliefs, force him to answer difficult questions, listen to life lessons and through taking a brutally honest look at himself and the life he has created he overcomes tremendous obstacles. In the end he receives a "golden ticket". His pass to a second chance at life through letting go of anger, hurt, worry or resentment that is tied to his old story and to have the strength and courage to start a new. He is given a chance to reclaim the life of purpose, contribution and love that he was destined for. The end of the book holds a surprise for the reader. Again even though I'm itching to tell you because my mum knows best how much I can't keep a secret - I'll let you experience it for yourself.
I read this book when I was in San Francisco on a family Christmas holiday. At the time I was 7 weeks post op, stairs were still a tremendous challenge, my knee was still fat, my jeans too tight (not being able to do cardio and emotional eating plus holiday do not end well) and my mind was fighting daily to remain happy. This book was the first massive turning point for me in my recovery. It was a BAM face palm in the face kind of moment for me. I realized I would have a chance to choose what I make of my life if I chose to work hard for it and I was getting a second chance to re- arrange and priorities the things that actually matter to me. This was my chance to prove to myself what I am made of.
Our lives are paved by the choices we make and also those we don't. The opportunities we didn't take, the risks we did whether they panned out or not, the people we showed our love to and those we should have made more effort for. As a gold member of the Anxiety club I was living my days choosing fear over love...obsessing over decisions to be made, pushing away what my gut was telling me because I would turn to others advice instead, and living through the nightmares of "what ifs" with every ticking second. I didn't live in the present- i dwelled in the past and obsessed over the future. I was creating hell on earth for myself and it took this injury and this pause in time to come across this book, have my world shaken upside down and prove to myself what my purpose here is and what I want to contribute.
Months of hard work, brutally honest confrontations with myself and others, life lessons and epiphanies, pushing my own boundaries, challenging myself with new ideas and experiences has all lead me to my own "end of the book". My physical therapists have handed me my own Golden ticket and now its up to me what to do with it. I get a second chance to drive my own car on that bloody winding road up the mountain of life chasing the detours I take, patching up my own popped tires and heading towards it without a map just simply trusting my gut and making opportunities out of the obstacles and times I get lost.
My time in LA was paused and this hurt my heart so much but in hindsight through the many hours of unemployment spent on the central coast shores of NSW with my acai bowls and talking to myself like a crazy women ( we are all crazy lets be realllllll) I wasn't being the person I wanted to be, or enjoying the journey like I know i should have. I became my own nightmare and was too harsh on myself. I lost sight of what is important to me... but now I get my second chance.
Tomorrow I fly back to the City of Angels with my ticket in hand, with a grateful heart and my dreams shining bright in my eyes. I can't wait to see what this next chapter delivers !!!
If you got a golden ticket today what would you do differently ? Actually don't tell me, go make it happen !
Most of my life has been spent grasping outwards towards the gratification, rewards, materialism, and food that I "think" will make any bad day or time better. Most of us do this regularly ...
- You didn't get the job you were working so hard for = a night out with the girls drinking wine to feel better
- Someone broke your heart = you post a hot new photo to get ALL THE LIKES and start to believe in yourself and worthiness again
- Life feels lonely = but you booked a great job today so you will be BUSY and HAPPY
- Something ruined your day = Buy a new outfit or hell a whole new wardrobe and reinvent yourself
We do this all the time hoping, wishing, believing that grasping outwards towards these things and the happiness they can bring us will turn life around, will rid us of this emptiness and loneliness and make us feel "worthy" "enough" and most importantly like we have it all together. Yet this action is the very thing that destroys us the most- there comes a time where the tipsy warmth wears off , the amazing project comes to an end and you are back to unemployment or your friends are too busy to come to save you and the reality of it all seeps in. We say hello to the guilt, the sadness, the "life is unfair" conversations , the never ending "what if" anxious spirals our minds spin and we are back there at the beginning.
For myself work provided the instant gratification and reward system that would allow me to pretend that I was happy because I was busy every single day living what others would call a "dream life". When my heart was broken, I booked a job that meant the world to me. I busied myself with rehearsals and assisting and taking class and going out for drinks with the girls to meet new people and I convinced myself that I was Okay. Look at me go ! Im booked and blessed (cue vomit), busy, have so many friends and I didn't spend one moment thinking about the boy. Cut to one week later when the job was over, I was waiting for checks to pay my rent and my friends had gone back home well needless to say - I WAS NOT OKAY. An even deeper anxiety, worry, and sadness ate away at my little heart. I was breaking down and fast. This was not a one off occurrence either there has been a gazillion of times in my life where my successful work, my identity as a known dancer, and my butterfly social life have provided momentary bliss as I'm sure it has for you too. Over 200 likes on your photo or an email from an agent no matter how much you believe it will not "fix" you or the problem.
Until the very opportunity of grasping outwards ceased and was unattainable I may have been caught in that endless task of convincing myself and others that my life is fabulous and of trying to control every minute detail of my life and steer the ship to the right even though the current is dragging me to left. Sarah Wilson describes it perfectly in her book "First we make the beast beautiful" when she likens the flow of life to a river- "we try to dam the river with piles of logs and other obstacles because we think the river should flow differently" (our outward grasps to control others and situations) but eventually "the pressure builds...the flow wins out and Boof!" our attempts to manage and control explode leaving life to flow as it pleases and had planned to all along. This was my life- I tried to control my career, my relationships, my experiences and pre planned each moment until the day I tore my ACL and realized that even though I was doing everything "right" SHIT STILL HAPPENS.
Lying in bed, stalking instagram and seeing all the experiences and jobs that I could not do, the life I wasn't living and realizing I had no control over anything brought a storm of emotion and turmoil for me. Weeks of resisting and strong resilience until I finally hit the ground, cracked and started from a blank slate. I sat in it- sat in the grimness and mud of it all. It stank, it hurt and it was godly lonely but its exactly what I needed for this to change me- to grow. I felt the discomfort mentally and physically and didn't resist but instead went inwards to find the real me . For once in my life I can say I have found a place within myself where I am Happy- whole heartedly joyful with life as it is. No outer rewards such as an amazing career, gratification for my talents, fancy social life, or lover... simply my soul, my body and my mind and when those tough moments come I sit, I watch, I wonder, I let it pass and then I get curious. I write out my manifesto in my diary, get brutally honest with myself and the messiness I have brought on and then find myself at a place where the world is silent and I am smiling through my eyes at myself. This deep inner happiness is nothing in comparison to the short bursts of excitement rewards bring.
If there is one thing this time in my life has taught me it is that in order to grow I must let go. I must ride the wave that life is offering and resist the need to control. Smile at the unknown and find joy in the uncertainty of it all. I don't know what next week will bring, I don't know if my knee will fully recover, I don't know if I will book that dream job or find my life partner or god I don't even know if my bus will be on time tonight or not. Let go and embrace the endless possibilities, take one step at a time and see where it leads you - maybe to the picturesque instagram worthy lookout you wanted or maybe you wound up on the other side of the cliff but find a hidden gem of a spot.
I know I'm not "cured" of this controlling, worrying, fomo life but I'm getting a hell of a lot better at sitting in it, laughing and loosening my tight grip and just seeing what happens tomorrow let alone next year.
First of all let me start by saying THANK YOU !!! To each and every one of you who took time out of their day to read that long ass essay I wrote, to every person that I know and also don't know that messaged me such kind and honest words... I really was overwhelmed with its reception and couldn't be more thankful. I really didn't believe that anyone ever read my blog, of course my mum does- but she has to- but it helps me, it soothes me, it gives me that creative buzz and leaves me feeling on top of the world, in turn if it has helped someone along their way for the day, let them have a laugh or a smile or not feel so alone.. well theres really not much else I could dream of .
I am one week away from hitting my 5 months post op and my goodness time feels like its slipping away at my fingertips. In a good way that is- the first two months were all teeth gritting and I couldn't even see a slither of light but as I'm hitting my kind of half way (lets pray) mark the train is getting faster with not as many stops on the travel and i can see the end of the tunnel up ahead of me. Like with most recoveries, that journey from the point of damage or trauma to the return of who and what you were before or actually lets say BETTER (because I am going to come out on top of this and "slay girl slayyyyyyyyy") it is hard to grasp and understand what the person is undergoing emotionally and physically unless you have experienced it for yourself. There are things that many of you are experiencing right now that I may never be able to fully comprehend and sometimes no matter how hard someone tries there is nothing like having someone who is in the same triathlon running side by side with you or having them waiting at the finish line shouting words of encouragement.
I met a boy, lets call him Dorris because I know how much he loves it, by the magic of the universe whilst awaiting to check in for my flight to LA. Not only is he hilarious, kind hearted, always surprising me with his intelligence and of course annoying but he is also a fellow ACL Veteran who has just been cleared to head back to his passion. Having someone who is a few steps ahead, understands the ups and downs, the emotions, the triumphs no matter how small and all the insanity that comes along with it has meant the world to me . We share moments like "holy shit man my knee feels like shit today, It keeps clicking and I'm freaking out. Ive definitely torn the graft again" followed ten minutes later by "Phew! Physio checked it and its all good , you were right, I'm going insane" and then burst out laughing at ourselves at the fear a big recovery like this brings. Thanks Dorris for being my knee buddy through all he high fives when we reach goals and the teary phone calls oh and also the late night salsa clubs. I also have to thank others like CJ and Sammy who have also gone through knee and hip recoveries and have shared their stories and calmed my heart and mind. To all the other fighters recovering with me like Natalie, heres a giant hug- we got this !!!
Living with my family for the first time in 7 years has been a huge blessing of this recovery. Not only have we created and shared so many moments that I have missed the past few years whizzing around for my career. They have been the ones to hold my body and heart together through this whole thing- Mum has cradled me as I've had my breakdowns, Gab has surprised me with her wise words and compassion, Dad has soothed my head when it gets too much. I cannot thank them enough for always being there and just knowing when I am having a day.
Recovery has been moving well. I ran on the treadmill for a total of 6 minutes yesterday without pain for the first time ( woo goals !) , I did my first Ballet saute, I jumped forwards and backwards, hopped and held a pirouette prep for what Id proudly say would have been 6 turns... if i could turn that is ( oh wishful thinking ). All of these good things were happening this week but I felt a dark cloud starting to stir around my head. I felt like crying a few days and thought it was just the fear of returning to dance but eventually it came to me during meditation that I felt lonely. I was overwhelmed with feeling isolated and like I didn't have any friends around me . Living out of Sydney and not being able to have a quick coffee does worsen this feeling and even though my family were there, without friends I started my slow descent back to the early days of when this all began. "No one knows what I am going through", "No one knows I am drowning this week", "I don't have the relationships I thought I did" all started swirling around my head and it all became too much. People would ask - How are you ? I'd say alright and on the conversation would go - meanwhile my mind was screaming TASH! You have soon much to say that is eating you up right now and id leave the conversation feeling worse and like that person hadn't recognized that I was hurting. News Flash !!!! People cannot read your mind, people do not know what you are feeling ONLY YOU DO and people have much going on in their own lives thats already enough to handle. Upon a phone call to a friend where I finally let go and told her all the workings of my trickster mind this week- my lesson hit me. Sometimes... you need to ASK FOR HELP!. I have never been good at this because :
1. Im Tash the Happy, Bubbly, Positive Sunflower and I couldn't possibly let myself be that negative sook
2.Im strong, I can help myself - I do not need any friends to help me do so ( a belief built up from all my friends leaving me at a young age - hey there fear of abandonment)
3. I expect my friends to see what I'm feeling
See I know these things, I know they are wrong, I talk to my friends about their same problems yet I still hadn't cracked the code on myself. Social Media you monster for making our lives look glamorous and for letting us share our best moments and often hiding the ones we dread. Yes I was happy ticking goals but thats me trying to focus on the positive and boost myself back up because I couldn't do it anymore. I learnt my lesson- I do not always have to be strong for myself and others nor do I need to smile on the outside everyday and I cannot expect things of others. Much of my life has been bruised by myself because of the devil- EXPECTATIONS. I realized I need to have the courage to take myself out of the competition and say "I am not ok. I am having a really tough time drowning over here and I need your help". Oh its like magic, I said those words and all the support that was always there was finally felt by me because I actually opened and let myself crack a little to allow people in. My friends didn't even know I was having a tough time because I was always laughing and talking positively of what I was progressing in, they didn't know I felt isolated and lonely and most of all they weren't sure whether I wanted support or whether I had it covered and would see it as a "pity party". I dislike Pity parties very much, I am a backdoor bandit for those because "sorry" and "unfair" do not make me feel any better unless you bring some cheese with you to this party. I didn't need my friends to tell me it sucks, I needed them to listen, question me about the origins and then give me a little booster to get that smile back on my dial. After finally speaking up and spending hours on the phone with my "count on your hand" friends I am so thankful to be almost feeling back to skipping down the road (still can't actually skip, but you know what i mean). Thank you to Dorris, Kristina, Dani, Dan and Meg for helping me out when I couldn't do it myself and needed it. If you are anything like me and are used to being the strong one, don't make the mistake I did, sometimes you need a little crack to let the sunshine in and trust me your family and friends will have always been there waiting on the sidelines for you.