Reflections on 2021- Susan Schoenfeld

Some of you may know that I spent the 4th quarter of 2021 recovering from multiple stress fractures in my hip and sacrum sustained while running my first-ever half-marathon in mid-September. For those interested, I did finish, and even medaled! Fortunately, I was able to avoid surgery, but only with being zero-weight bearing for 6 weeks, followed by 10% weight bearing for the better part of another month, then partial (50%) weight bearing, etc. The good news is that I’ve finally turned the corner, and believe that in the coming weeks I will be able to discard my crutches completely.

As you might imagine, I’ve had plenty of time to think and reflect during my convalescence, and the start of a new year seems like an ideal opportunity to share some of my lessons learned. They are not new year resolutions per se, more like past year reflections:

1. Practice random acts of kindness: This injury, and my resultant time sitting in a wheelchair, and then walking with crutches, has taught me enormous empathy for those for whom physical disability is not a temporary condition. Every crack in the sidewalk or uneven paving at curb ramps is potentially hazardous. It has also taught me overwhelming appreciation for the kindness of strangers. New Yorkers get a bad rap for their attitude, but special thanks to the airport wheelchair staff, the construction worker who came down off his scaffolding to move a pylon for me to pass in my wheelchair, and countless nameless bystanders who opened doors for me and offered other random acts of kindness.

2. “Health is the greatest gift” (Buddha): The pandemic has taught us all that the old maxim, “When you have your health, you have everything. When you do not have your health, nothing else matters at all,” is indeed true. Too many people worldwide lost their lives or suffered debilitating symptoms from the coronavirus. Compared to them, I know I shouldn’t complain. I may not have been able to walk unassisted, but I was able to breathe comfortably, spend time safely with friends and family, and even travel a bit.

3. Sleep Matters: For about a month during my convalescence, I couldn’t sleep at night. I got cranky, irritable and even lost my usual upbeat optimism. Thankfully, the issue seems to have resolved, but I’ve learned how important getting enough sleep is to my positive attitude and overall sense of well-being.

4. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: The little annoyances of life are just that, little annoyances. Countless small tasks and projects of life were put on the back burner while I was unable to focus on them. Other details became primary concerns, like managing doctor appointments, X-rays, MRIs, physical therapy, etc. Most of those small tasks are still undone, and I can focus on them with a clear head and the realization that they didn’t need to be accomplished urgently.

5. Double Down on Priorities: I cannot begin to express my overwhelming gratitude to my amazing husband who, during my recovery, became my primary caregiver in addition to my lifelong sun, moon and stars. A public ‘Thank You’ is the very least I can do. I am so grateful to my family and my family-by-choice for their love, caring and support during this time and always. You are my priority.

6: Life is Too Short: This last one is really the corollary to and outgrowth of the other 5 on my list, but it bears repeating. Life IS too short. My wonderful husband reminds me of that all the time while encouraging me to spend more time on the things that give life pleasure and meaning.

Wishing you and those you love a healthy, safe, happy and meaningful 2022!

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