Hello brave friend!

I’m coming up on the one year anniversary of my shoulder surgery! We like to mark time with anniversaries, a full trip around the sun feels worthy of celebration. If you weren’t around a year ago for that wild ride… it was a tough one for me. It was a whole thing… being injured and vulnerable, being in pain and having to rely on others. Yeah, it was a WHOLE big thing. So, to look back and see how far I‘ve come feels really powerful. 

Looking back, the thing that stands out about my recovery is physical therapy. Well, not JUST physical therapy. Oh, there were the exercises, the bands and pulleys, and having to go in three times a week. But what stands out the most about it all was my physical therapist, Nicole. It’s no surprise that we bond with people who are part of our physical recovery, but it’s what she did for my mental and emotional recovery that impacted me the most.

In order to heal my shoulder I needed to ask my body to do things that hurt… a lot. Asking my body to push through when it felt like I should stop and nurture just felt wrong… it felt like a betrayal of sorts. Convincing my body that this process of healing required pain was a tough sell. I knew it in my brain and I did a really beautiful job of setting affirmations and framing my self-talk to manage my fear… but dang, when it came down to being stretched in PT, I struggled.

Oh, the terrible things that went through my head laying on that table while Nicole cradling my wounded arm. I reminded myself to breathe, focus on healing and that it would not last forever. I also wondered if it was just me that felt like this was too much. Were there other patients she saw each day gasping for air on the inside as much as I was? Was I just weak? Was I just not strong enough? What was wrong with me that I literally wanted to leap off the table sobbing? 

“It HURTS!”, I would scream in my head as she pushed me just past the point I felt I could stand. All the while she would chat on and I knew what she was doing. She was trying to distract me. I didn’t need distraction, I needed to pull in, get quiet and hold on, grip my pain and breathe, breathe, breathe.

As the days and weeks went on, Nicole came to recognize when I started to pull in… when my casual chatter would slow, then stop and my eyes closed. She knew this was the hard part… and while she didn’t coddle me and stop, she knew how to allow my quiet to hold me enough to move with the pain of stretching that my recovery demanded. She never pushed too far.. Even though I always worried she would. She stayed with me, let me be quiet and honored my struggle. Just when I knew I had had enough, that any more would be too much, she would ease my arm to my side and tell me “That was so much better than last session”. She always seemed to know.

I’ve started to recognize the magic in the Nicoles of the world. How there are people that create a safe space for you to heal, places where you can do the painful work and know you will be ok. These magicians bring a soothing confidence, a knowing that allows for letting go and trusting. It can be physical or emotional… we all need these people to help us move through the world. These people can be gym buddies, colleagues, best friends, neighbors, coaches, the person who cuts your hair, your physical therapist or YOU!

So, what’s the Mindful Mini invitation behind this story? Safe space! Let’s create it, nurture it, accept it, and honor it. Creating space for others to feel safe, no matter what that looks like is pure magic. Leaning into that space when it is offered by another can be a soothing balm to our tender insides. So how do we offer it? Listen without trying to fix, show up and offer solace without needing to give the answer. Allow for all the feelings without trying to soothe them away. Gentle reminders of how far one has come and inspirational words for the bravery to keep going. This is what Nicole offered me, what I didn’t even realize I needed. And then, soften into the safe spaces created for YOU! We are good at tending to others, allow yourself to be tended to as well. Healing in any capacity needs this safe space! We need it and we deserve it! We are so worth it!

Yours in heart,

Kelly Driscoll

About Kelly Lynn

Kelly Lynn Coaching & Consulting

I empower districts to transform culture and educators to transform their lives so they are connected, fulfilled and aligned with purpose. With over thirty years experience in education and education administration, I specialize in supporting Social Emotional Learning (SEL), balance and a culture of wellness. It is my MISSION to bring joy back to education!

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