The Pebble

Pebble A few months ago, we had three nurses in serious disrepair. You know them all: faces, names, histories – and the end of this story won't be a surprise to you. But the path is still a shining one.

A broken foot, to one, meant kettlebell swings on her knees, straddling boxes. Cleans, snatches…all is possible with a little extra setup time. "Can you help me build a fort?" she'd ask, joking about putting boxes and mats together.  To the second Little Nursie, ACL surgery meant a hard-won capitulation by her surgeon. She carried his words down that gravel road, limping at first, starting from "you'll never run again" to "your progress is remarkable, but…" to "that's phenomenal. What's your marathon date again?" And the third, the smallest Nursie of them all…well, she couldn't run. Or walk, or stand without pain. So she rowed. Heck, they ALL rowed. One-legged, for awhile, one leg hovering outside the stirrups while the other leg shuttled over thousands of metres alone.

What do these three have in common? Eustress. It's a term from Hans Selye, and the non-clinical definition goes like this: they had something stuck in their craw. Something inside was wearing on them. It bounced like a bullet in their guts, tearing holes, trying to cut an exit wound. It chased their brains. They couldn't stop.

"It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe." Muhammad Ali said. But that pebble is a hell of a fulcrum, if you can just find the right lever….

These women were all desperate to succeed. They knew they'd have to get creative; crazy, even. But crazy beats tough. And they can still do good mornings, after all. And nobody posts, 'gained 3 degrees of knee flexion this week!' as their facebook status.

Irrationally, this is not the kind of behaviour we encourage in our keep-pushing-it-off culture. Knees hurt while running? Get big shocks (sorry, SHOX!) on your shoes. Back hurt? Curl up in bed! Got MS? Hold still!  Tiny pea keeping you up at night? Pile on more mattresses, Princess!

We do not have a chewy nougat centre. Strip us away, piece by piece, and you'll find bedrock. Stress, anxiety, injury, lightning….these aren't always a handicap. Sometimes, they're the firing pin on a very righteous bullet.

When things are going our way, there's not much reason to push for change, is there? The strongest magnet makes no spark. But put a pinch in our shoe, give us a reason to push back…..

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