The View From Here (23-02)

justine sitting in her car smiling wearing a black dress

“Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s a great balancing act.” – Dr. Seuss

I knew the moment I took my hands off of my walker to try to take those first few steps with a cane, I was entering a whole new phase of my recovery. Balance. Balance would be the key to whether or not I moved forward using that cane. Progress for me, with the cane, would only come if I could achieve the balance to steady myself.

Up to this point, my recovery entailed standing and walking from a wheelchair, using a walker. The good thing about the walker is you have both hands on it, in case you start to lose your balance. Which was a huge issue for me. With both hands on the walker, I was able to steady myself when my steps became labored or I got too tired, or if I began to lose my balance … which happened (and still happens) a lot.

While I was so excited to even be entertaining this possibility of now walking with a cane, it meant I wouldn’t have both hands to guide me if I needed them. I would only have one hand on the cane, the other one free with nothing to cling on to. I’d have to rely on my balance, to get me to wherever I needed to go.

It has been a challenge. And has often felt like starting all over again. But, after working on this for awhile now, I’ve made progress with my balance and with walking with a cane. There is still a lot of work to be done, however, so that I can be fully functional in every day life using just a cane.

This issue of balance has me thinking about how important it is in all of our lives. Not just balance physically, which many of us take for granted every time we stand or take a step, but balance in our lives, in general. As I regained much of my independence after my spinal cord injury, my “new normal” looked very different than my life pre-injury. Now it takes me a longer to get ready than it did before; my body doesn’t always want to cooperate with me and the plans I’ve made; I’ve found I get tired easily, and doing numerous things in the same day is sometimes difficult. So planning my days ahead of time has become so important. Finding the balance with all of these things and my daily activities has become so crucial. And I’m still trying to find that balance.

I think we all have this in our lives. Balancing our work and finding time for family and friends…and, most importantly, finding time for ourselves. It doesn’t have to take a person who is recovering from a disability to experience that. We all struggle with finding a work and life balance. I recently read an article in Psychology Today that said of the search for a work and life balance, “Stop aiming for it, and you’ll find balance. Balance is not something we can get; it’s a state of mind. It’s the realization that life is not stable but in constant motion.”

As I work on my balance physically walking with that cane, and also work on the balance in my life, in general, I think this is good advice to remember. Balance is “an even distribution of weight, enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.” I think perhaps it is something that we are constantly working to attain, just as I have been with this new life I’m living as a person with a disability. Afterall, Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” And that is exactly what I intend on doing.