Affected by the threat of loss…

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This photo captures part of my scrapbook, which displays my school spirit, my frizzy hair before flat irons and special products came to my rescue, and my dear friend, Krissy. We posed for a photograph prior to marching in the Memorial Day parade with our squads and the marching band.

A few years ago, when I was in high school :),  I tried out for the pompon squad. My sister was about to graduate high school, and she wanted her klutzy little sister to take her place as a Sailorette. (Our motto, “Sailorettes Shake It,” meant we shook our pompons, not our rear ends, just to be clear. Seriously.) Initially, I tried out for the squad to please my sister — or certainly because of her encouragement. But by the end of tryouts, I really hoped I would make the squad, and I did.

What followed was a year on the 50-yard line as the tallest girl on the squad, two-pound poms in each hand, bus rides and hair braids, a wardrobe of orange and black, and learning and performing dance routines for a full football season plus marching band competitions and local parades. I absolutely loved it.

Toward the end of that school year, I again had to try out for the squad. Previous participation did not guarantee a spot. This tryout bore much more weight than the first one. I had experienced being a pompon girl. I knew what I had to lose if I didn’t make the squad. The threat of losing my place made me realize just how important it was to me.

I had a similar experience with running recently.

Three weeks ago, I bruised my shin bone. I was getting into the back seat of an SUV in the dark, holding a heavy bag in each hand, wearing a dress and high heels, when I slipped and landed directly on my left shin. It hurt terribly and swelled immediately. I limped my way from the car to the elevator, from the elevator to our apartment, and from there to the couch, where I propped up my legs, allowed my husband to administer ice, and began the process of feeling sorry for myself.

A bone bruise is sometimes called a “pre-fracture,” meaning some fibers of the bone have actually been damaged; recovery is slow — as in months rather than days or weeks. “All bruises were healed by the end of two years,” one article read. Really, years? So instead of following my planned agenda, I was resting, icing, compressing, and elevating the injured area. “You are at risk for re-injury,” my husband repeatedly reminded me. I did not want that, but I was afraid that might mean I couldn’t do anything that would challenge that area of my leg — including running.

When I wanted to at least walk during my morning exercise times, my husband (and physical therapist) warned against it, suggesting swimming instead. Sigh. I knew if I disobeyed my physical therapist’s orders and got injured, I would pay the price — a scolding along with discontinuation of therapy. So I obeyed. Mostly. I walked little stretches with my friend and then swam for longer stretches. I was frustrated, imagining months without running — and the trial of working my way back to my former fitness level.

I wanted to run. Immediately.

This attitude from the girl who wrote about running in a post titled “My hate-love relationship…” because I hated to run but loved how I felt after I ran. (I also liked losing some weight without really adjusting my diet.)

I was shocked that I actually missed this tormenting form of exercise.

I was more shocked last weekend when my husband casually mentioned that I should try running — just 10 minutes — to see how my leg responded. And so I did — and though my shin remains swollen and slightly discolored these three weeks after my accident, it didn’t worsen after the run. The next day I ran again — 17 minutes — and had no issues. My physical therapist cleared me to resume my running schedule. Woohoo!

It took the fear of losing running to make me realize how much I wanted to do it, rather like my experience with pompon tryouts back in high school — except I actually knew I enjoyed being part of the squad long before my second tryouts. Following those, when the list of girls for the 1982-83 Sailorettes got posted, I was too afraid to look. One of my friends looked for me. I had made the team.

Whew and woohoo!

It’s been said that “it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”; I’ve said it myself. But sometimes the threat of loss is all it takes to love something better.

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