Wednesday, July 23, 2014

5 Blessings of a Skinned Knee, When You're 48 1/2

In    that        oh     so      slow-motion   moment     between   tripping   and      landing,     SLAP    on the flagstones,  
            I think I was…..airborne.

I don't remember it exactly.

I had an image flash by, of a woman in the distance, bringing her palms to either side of her 'o' shaped mouth. 

 I heard the crack of my iPhone screen, in my hand, as it met the sidewalk of a leafy Manhattan street.

 Landing on my hands and knees, I looked up to see a young couple peering down at me with great concern.

I have no idea in which order I checked my body: head, arms, legs, knees, feet and discovered that apart from nasty grazes a 5 year-old might have sustained from tree climbing or soccer playing, I was intact.

And that was what I wondered about, for days. Walking alone in a town I don't know too well, I had fallen down and got up again, with some childish scrapes and the thought that I was incredibly lucky.

The title of a book about raising resilient, self-reliant children, kept coming back to me. The Blessings of a Skinned knee by Wendy Mogel. 

In the book Dr Mogel a psychologist, argues that in order to prepare our kids for the real world we need to give children room to scrape their knees, fail in school, problem solve, help others and express gratitude.

 It turns out that many of those skills are still relevant at 48 1/2. I accepted help, I got up and kept moving. I made a plan to wash my knee as soon as I got to the coffee shop, I had been heading to and I planned to order a large cup of English tea with copious amounts of sugar for the shock. Then I would regale my friend with my tale of resilience!

And I kept thinking that there were many blessings to my skinned knees and palms, as a seasoned grownup.

Here are some blessings you appreciate when you get a skinned knee at 48 1/2 years old.

1. Our bodies are amazing.

I do not have a model's figure.

 I am in total height, the length of Heidi Klum's legs. 

Mid-life is showing itself in the crows' feet on my face, the cellulite on my thighs and the white hairs on my head. 

But I have marveled so many times, in the last week, that I didn't break any bones or sprain any muscles. 

I have 2 badly skinned knees and 2 black and blue palms. 

Every day my body introduces me to a new color in the bruise-swatch range. But I am intact and I have been thrilled and quite mesmerized at my body's strength and ability to clot, to scab and to heal itself.

2. It's Ok to accept help, when life challenges you.

As a Brit, I apologize  when someone has bumped in to me! 

As two strangers peered down at me with concern and watched me turn over from all fours to sitting on my backside, all I was thinking was, 
" Wow. This is embarrassing!" And "Please go away and leave me to quietly tend to my wounds. "  

But when they asked me if I was ok and needed help getting up, I willingly accepted it. 

I took one hand in each of theirs and let them steady me as I, with the grace of an elephant upside down,  became upright. 

 I thanked them profusely and silently appreciated they didn't take photos for their instagram page or want a selfie.  I have learned that accepting help when it's offered, is  important, sensible, comforting. Help offered in this way, is a blessing.

3.Things happen and you can bounce back. ( I have evidence!)

 If you have been reading my blog there are many examples of crisis and healing. 

But this skinned knee has been such a visual example. 

Almost like a time-lapse film where in the period of a week, instead of months or years,  I have marveled at how healing happens. I have been blessed to see complete healing, come quickly.

In other cases it has been so mind bendingly slow and excruciatingly painful, that day-to -day it was hard to see progress.

 In this case, the changes to my hands and knees in swelling, bruises and scabs have been remarkable from one day to the next. 

One hand is now completely healed. The other is healthy pink with a small scab. That right  knee is taking longer. It burns, gets stiff and if I kneel on it by accident, boy am I reminded of the pain. But compared to a week ago, it is remarkably well healed…….

4.Objects are easier to mend or replace than human bones or a broken heart. 

As children, if a  beloved toy broke or teddy or blanket was misplaced it may have seemed like the end of the world. 

At 48 1/2  my iPhone is a mess. The glass had splintered from the impact with the  ground as I fell. Now  I cannot read anything on it that shows up in the top right hand corner. 

I look at it and just keep thinking, better it than me.  It took the brunt of my fall and protected my left hand. It's just a phone after all. I could brush myself off, keep on walking and get to the coffee shop to meet my friend, phone or no phone. 

I was still in one piece and I truly appreciate it And that appreciation in the end, is one of the greatest blessings of this experience.

5.You can be strong and still need, appreciate and accept comfort.

They drove me nuts about cleaning my wounds, being in shock, taking pain relief and asking me questions about pain and stiffness, bruises and blood. And they weren't my parents!

They kept demanding to see my right knee as though it was 'exhibit A' in a murder trial and rolling their eyes when I marveled at how lucky I was for the tenth time. 

They talked about me to each other,  as though I was 5yrs old.

They perseverated on my stubbornness at refusing to get a bandage, stop at a pharmacy or let them take care of me. 

But the truth is, I love them so much, for caring about me, demonstrating this by blessing me with their love, their worry and concern and their gentle chiding. 

Their interest made me braver, calmed my shock, reminded me they were never far away and that it's ok to be looked after once in a while. 

In fact it is nourishing to accept that kindness and concern for what it is and be grateful they care enough to drive me crazy!

 Thank you to my friend Kara and husband Jonny, for helping to show me the many blessings of a skinned knee. 

Here's hoping for a peaceful, calm week. 

Love to you all


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  1. OUCH! take care Gilly, very glad you did not break anything. Jo x

    1. Thanks Jo. I am very glad too. Life is never dull, that's for sure. Thanks for your message. Gillyx

  2. Hi Gilly, I am so sorry that you sustained this unfortunate unexpected fall that put you through such pain and suffering. Thank G-d you are ok and that you were able to turn your misfortune into such positive lessons on how the body and mind heal, the importance of trust, friendship, caring, patience, acceptance and so much more. I'm glad you are mending so fast from you adult "boo boos"!

    1. Thanks Mr. E. It was almost as though my body and soul had an agenda that was not going to be ambushed by my mind! It has certainly helped my recovery. I think the bruises will be there for a while. However everyday I look at my knees and hands and see such progress, I cannot help but marvel. I did take pictures…but I' not sure they would be appreciated! Thanks for your kind words and support. Gilly

  3. So glad that you didn't sustain more serious injury.
    You help each of us everday with your insight and beautiful way of expressing what is true for each of us. Thank you for enriching my life with your wisdom.
    May your bruises continue to heal quickly.

    1. Thank you Carole, for your lovely message and encouragement. Greatly appreciated. As long as the posts continue to help, I'll keep writing! Gillyx

  4. Such a great lesson Gilly- when our babies fell, we brushed them off and told them to keep going- wiped away their tears and they kept on moving. Maybe we don't jump up quite as quickly, but with the help of good friends, we can definitely laugh as we slowly get back up=

    1. Melanie -This experience reiterated for me, how important it is that we teach our kids these skills when they are small. We really do need them our whole lives. And yes as we age, the healing does take longer…but from previous experiences of falling down, we now have the knowledge that we will be OK. Thanks for your comment. Gilly

  5. Giggling at this beautiful piece. You are a dear friend and you had a heroic recovery from a nast nasty fall. Next time stop ata a drug store and buy a little disinfectant and a bandage..or let one of us do that for you PLEASE!

    1. Hah,ha -Yes ma'am! Thanks again for caring so much, Kara. Glad you were the person I was going to meet that day. Gillyx

  6. I'm also glad the fall wasn't worse. Excellent reflections on a bum experience, Gilly. We have to get better and better at scraping ourselves off the pavement and asking others for help. You're so good at reaching out to others and letting them be if they say no. Brits may have a hard time asking for help, but they also have a reputation for being sensible. Thanks for letting others help. It's as healing as a kiss.

    1. Thank you Elaine. Asking for help is an important and difficult skill.I would much rather be the one helping.It's also challenging to step back when you offer help and it's refused.Knowing when to keep offering and when to hold back is an art.Ihave much work to do on both counts. I guess the most important thing to remember in these cases, is how you feel when you have been the one helping. How great that can feel and to remember others want those opportunities too.Gx