Posts Tagged With: falling

Do I Hold On or Let Go?

While out biking a few months ago I discussed the following question with a friend of mine.

“When you’re falling off your bike do you think you should hold on to the handlebars or let go of the handlebars?”

Bouncing the question around got us no where other than she had a story to tell about a friend’s husband who chose to take a steep path downhill when the rest of the group decided to carry their bikes around the obstacle. It didn’t have a very happy ending, short or long term.  I think she said he held on to the handlebars, but that didn’t have much bearing on the painful long-lasting consequences of a plain old bad decision.

I even asked my cousin, the super athlete, for her opinion and she said it didn’t really matter and that it depended. Which at the time I thought was a lame answer.

This morning I came to understand her answer.

FullSizeRender-3 copy 5Woke up long before the sun kissed the horizon today and planned a quick six or eight mile ride to round out the weeks mileage to at least forty. I was on the trail hoping to avoid crowds. A gloriously cool morning after a 100 degree day yesterday, I reveled in my freedom and the glow of the sunrise. I was making good time, for me, and enjoying every minute of it.

Making the transition from gravel onto the sidewalk, which I’ve done hundreds of times, my wheel caught the edge and refused to pop up over and instead threw me to the ground.

It happened in this slow motion super fast way I can’t explain. It’s like being in a dream where your brain just can’t quite process what’s happening because it’s so out of the norm of your experience doing this easy thing.

What I remember most is thinking: this is my face smashing into the concrete. Everything is going to be broken and shattered and I am in deep trouble.

Here’s the answer to the title question. I had no idea where the flip the handlebars on my bike were or where my hands were.

Shock is the first thing that happens. So I just lay there. I might have rolled over on to my back. I could taste blood. And everything hurt, especially my head. I felt my face and came away with a handful of red. Oddly my glasses were still on my face. That’s how I knew my helmet saved my brain and most of my face.

I hoped someone would come along the trail but didn’t have a lot of hope for it that early on a Saturday. Lo and behold a friend of mine rolls up and says, “Hi Kami, what are you doing down there?” Or something equally hilarious if you aren’t the one on the ground. “Stan?” I said. “Am I ever glad to see you!”

He did a quick assessment and pulled me up off the trail of ants I had landed in. (Surprisingly didn’t get bit!!!)  Brushed the ants off of me, got my bike out of the way and told me to sit tight while he rode back and got his truck to drive me and my bike home.

A couple minutes later another friend happened to jog by. When she was sure I had help on the way and was okay to be alone, she suggested I use the ice in my water bottle on my face to keep the swelling down.

Another friend called a mutual dentist friend later in the morning who came by my house and made sure I hadn’t really ruined any teeth even though they hurt a bunch.

Needless to say, I felt like a crew of angels had been dispatched after I learned my lesson to not be so cocky on my bike, be more careful of transitions, and make sure MSH can hear a phone ringing if I’m going out riding alone. Oh, and the lesson to always, always, always wear my helmet.

Everything hurts everywhere almost ten hours after my fall from Grace. (Isn’t that a cute name for my bike?) I feel way worse than I look, which isn’t saying much, I suppose. My knee feels swollen, I have bruises that I can’t explain.

Oh, and the bike is okay. Some scrapes on the right side of the bike even though I fell left. The handlebars must have turned completely around to face me. I’ll get her a nice tuneup at Global Bikes next week, just to make sure I didn’t do any permanent damage. I’m not going to be riding for a week or so, I’m guessing. But I’ll be back out there again, for sure.

For today at least, I’m sucking meals out of a straw and hanging out on the couch bingewatching stuff and alternating Ibuprofen and Tylenol and icing the knee and mouth.

I’m also counting my blessings that I can still walk, and talk and laugh about all this.

Biffing it just aint fun.

So hold on. Don’t hold on. Just stay safe while having fun.

FullSizeRender-4 copy

A Mother’s Day Gift from my Son and Daughter in Law. Perfect!




Categories: Biking, Exercise, Outdoors, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Only Contortionists Need Apply

“Why is the ground coming up to meet my face?” I remember thinking as I fainted one day while walking from one classroom to another at university during the Paleozoic Era.

 Fainting with dramatic flair.

Fainting with dramatic flair.

I had it backwards of course. The ground didn’t meet my face, my face met the ground. And it’s nothing whatsoever like that fake fainting you see in the movies or on television, swooning and conveniently falling backwards.

No warning signs preceded that strange experience. No dizziness, lightheadedness, tripping, wooziness or injury. Just “wham” and a face plant.

I compare it, oddly, to my two brief experiences of being in very minor earthquakes. (No I’m not a seasoned quake veteran like you Californians.) When something that’s normally solid and steady and unmoving begins to undulate and sway, nothing makes sense. It’s as if Left trades places with Right, or North wearies of being true and turns into South.

Something in between those two experiences happened to me Sunday evening. It also included that slow-motion effect you see in the movies. That, I can tell you, actually does happen.


Not the actual stairs, but very similar.

My favorite one-year old had woken from her afternoon nap cheerful and ready for play. While carrying her downstairs to the family room the ground under my right foot moved and I had suddenly had nothing underneath me except my left foot, which was behind me and still midair coming down from the last step I’d taken. The right leg sailed forward ahead of my body and the left leg did something the design of the human body never intended. It folded up behind me. My body had no choice but to attempt to follow both legs.

Did you know the laws of physics prohibit motion in two directions at once? There’s a hefty fine for violating that law. And I was about to pay big time.

Binkies really do make that thwapping sound if you listen. Think Maggie from the Simpsons.

Think Maggie from the Simpsons.

The only really important part of this whole slow motion scene is that my left arm continued to keep the one-year old secure and unharmed. I’m pretty certain an angel must have caught her because she ended up gently sitting on the stairs, thwap thwap thwapping on her pacifier, completely unphased and a bit curious as to why we were sitting down so suddenly.

Meanwhile I was attempting to make sense of the pain and odd location of various parts of my body. My toe felt turned inside out and resided somewhere under my back. My knee, I was certain based on signals being sent from it to my brain, had no more connections remaining to the leg above or below it. And my hip had skittered across the kitchen floor and lay huddled, whimpering behind the refrigerator.

Can you say OUCH!

Can you say OUCH!

I wasn’t sure if attempting to move anything seemed prudent. But pretending to be a Russian gymnast or one of those freaky contortionists didn’t seem like a good option either.

Very slowly and with great effort, I convinced my hip to talk to my knee, which coaxed my toe to remove itself from my backside. Then the pain really took hold. Fortunately, I remembered to breath and didn’t pass out or puke or get woozy.

After a few minutes I could move my knee a bit more. It miraculously didn’t seem to be broken or displaced and was, I could see clearly, still attached. The hip just seemed content once again in its normal position and orientation.

The toe felt like it might explode.

An hour later, after some icepacks on the toe, I felt almost normal. The swelling hadn’t gotten too bad and I thought perhaps I’d only sprained it. Eighteen hours later, after some ibuprofen and some restless sleep, the toe looks bruised but hopefully, just needs a few days of rest and elevation. I may end up needing an x-ray of the toe if it doesn’t cheer up in the next few days. But that might not need to happen. Sadly, no long meandering morning walks for this woman for a bit.

ibuprofenAs for breaking those laws of physics? Yeah, I’m paying the price. Parts of me I didn’t know existed hurt today. And parts I knew I had but didn’t know could experience pain, also ache.

I’m happy to pay such a price if the favorite one-year old escaped unscathed. We were both blessed not to break anything, not to hit our heads, not to have to deal with blood or mayhem.

Maybe I need the extra R&R&R. (Yes, three R’s.) Maybe it’s the only way I’ll slow down enough to do some reading and writing and resting. Maybe I’ll take a day and watch all three Lord of the Rings movies (extended version) or the entire BBC Sherlock series. Or I’ll just read. And sleep. And let MSH baby me. And take ibuprofen every four to six hours.

Happy Monday!


Categories: Family, physical health | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

A Matter of a Few Degrees: A Meteor’s Close Call

I am not a resolution maker, partly because I’m not a follower. I’ve also never been much of a goal setter.  I don’t like being dictated to by a calendar, or by tradition, or peer pressure, or even by a meteor aimed at the Earth.  Every January arrives and I ignore, resist and, yes, even look disdainfully on resolutions.

Here are three things that I do instead.

Small Moves

“Small moves, Ellie, small moves.”

That’s what Ted Arroway says to his daughter, in the movie “Contact,” as she’s searching on her ham radio for an open airway, an opportunity to make a connection.  If you’ve ever tried to tune in to a station by hand on a radio, then that concept of “small moves” makes sense to you.


Radio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s easy to get impatient while fine-tuning. Trying to zoom in on a specific point feels like it should be easy, should be done in one quick movement.  What’s required is a delicate hand, a gentle touch, a tiny shift.

That’s how I see changes taking place in my life. Sure, I can try to make big sweeping renovations, but they aren’t going to last.  The details of the change will get lost, the balancing mechanisms that allow permanence in the change won’t be in place.

I’ve found that it really is in the details, the minutia, the tiniest of adjustments, that big changes take place.

I don’t “resolve” to make changes.  I simply make a small move in the direction I want go with an idea, a change, a to-do list item or a habit.  It’s more like an experiment.  What happens if I do this one thing this way, instead of that way?  Then I observe the result.  Sounds simplistic?  Good.  It should.  It’s a simple thing.  A small thing.  A small move.

Taking Aim Again

There’s another concept I’ve had bouncing around in my head for a few years since I first heard of it.  May be it isn’t that different from “small moves” but it explains it best.

The idea finds its roots in two Hebrew words “chait” and “t’shuvah.”   Here’s a better explanation than I can write for those two concepts.

“The word for sin in Hebrew, chait, means “miss,” as in “miss the target.”  You have unlimited chances to take aim again, again, and again to hit a bull’s eye.  You have unlimited chances for atonement… unified with your own highest and best self.”

t’shuvah… is much more than just repentance.  T’shuvah is a return to our essential being, a re-alignment… a reorientation to our best selves.  In what ways are we off-center, out of touch with our own best selves?  How can we acknowledge responsibility, make amends, seek forgiveness… and return to the good? “ –Shofar Sermon – 2009 – Stewart Edelstein (

How often do I feel like I’ve missed the mark, been off target, failed in my aim?  All the time!!  Do I berate myself for being a failure? Not any more.

Archery Practice

Archery Practice (Photo credit: imarcc)

Now I simply employ the concept inherent in the word t’shuvah and reorient my aim, get back on center, pull back my arrow and try again.

The human experience is all about trying again and again and again.  Slowly working at getting it right.  Realignment and improvement.  Small moves.

Falling Down, Getting Up

Watching a toddler navigate and move is a fascinating practice.  Every time a fall happens, which is often, the adult wants to rush in and dust the kid off and reassure them.  Often the child will look to the adult to gauge how they should react to the fall.  If Mom or Dad’s face is full of worry, or sadness, then the crying and wailing will commence.  Baring any real injury, if the parent’s face is neutral or smiling, the kid will jump up and get back to what they were doing, or get on with something else all together.

An assortment of Guatemalan worry dolls made f...

Guatemalan worry dolls. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There isn’t any angst or drama or self-evaluation going on in that tiny toddler head. Bent on exploration and learning and moving forward, the kid just goes!

I try for  child-like in that way. Forward motion, learning, going and doing. Toddlers don’t seem to do much worrying.

They just fall and then get up and go.

 “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, but only saps today of its strength.” ― A.J. Cronin.

That quote is famous because it’s accurate and true. It plays a note that resonates in our brains.    Sing along. Hum that tune. Worry less.

So there’s a comet aimed at the earth?

Worry less, fall down then get up.

Realignment and improvement.

Small moves.

Let the stars fall from the sky.  I’m making progress a bit at a time.


Today’s Post was prompted by this Daily Post Challenge: “Tell us about the three things you’d most like to change about your life, and make a bold, I-don’t-care-who-knows-it-because-there’s-a-meteor-a-comin’ assertion to the world that you are going to get these changes made. And that you’ll have at least started making them happen by March. When, erm, you’re probably going to wind up as dust.”

So tell me, do you make resolutions?  What would yours be if the world really were going to be hit by a meteor in a couple of months? Or are you like me, a non-resolutioner?

Categories: Mental Health, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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