Emotional Klutziness and Mixed Metaphors

“How did you get that bruise?”

“What did you spill on your shirt?”

These are two questions I have been asked on a frequent basis for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I know the answer. I ran into the coffee table/door/corner or it’s coffee/BBQ/ice cream etc. However, since I bruise easily (thanks, Mom!) and have what my friend refers to as the “spill gene”, more often than not, I don’t have a clue.

My mom posted this on my Facebook wall:

And while it wasn’t directed at me, I couldn’t help thinking how I can be such a klutz. When you’ve spent your whole life running into inanimate objects and tripping over thin air, it’s hard to think of yourself as graceful. Coordination has never been my strong suit. Whenever we played sports in P.E., there was almost always a fifty-fifty shot that I wouldn’t be able to get my limbs to move in the direction my brain intended. Take kickball for example. Occasionally, I’d kick the ball and it would sail to it’s intended destination. But more often than not, it wound up so far off my intended trajectory, I’m not even sure how it got there.

I think I will be ninety and still hear my mother cautioning me to “slow down” because I’m cutting corners too quickly. She was never scolding me as much and she knew from experience (her’s and mine) how scurrying leads to contusions. To be honest, I’m okay with being clumsy. I don’t know what it’s like to have the grace of a figure skater or the coordination of a snowboarder. I’m in awe of the how elite athletes have such command over their limbs. I’m amazed that they can to launch their bodies so high into the air, flip, and still stick a landing.I mean sometimes I have trouble getting mine to walk a straight line.

But sometimes even Shaun White goes home without a medal. I watched as he attempted to save face after crashing and burning when nailing the landing never mattered more. I know the reporter was just doing her job when she asked, “What happened?” but I just wanted her to leave the poor guy alone. I firmly believe there will be plenty of time for interviews when the disappointment’s not so fresh. I may not be an Olympian, but I know what it feels like to screw up something that is usually your forte. I’ve seen the face he made in front of the cameras staring back at me in the mirror every time I’m emotionally klutzy.

I may be physically clumsy but what I lack in coordination, I make up for in emotional balance. I have honed intuition and keen perception. (I have also been like this for as long as I can remember.) I can walk into a room and almost instantly pick up the vibe. I can quickly suss out how people are really doing. I don’t always know why they’re that way and sometimes I don’t care but I can usually just tell without having to ask. It’s so second nature that usually I don’t even realize I’m doing it.

My preceptor told me last week that I am really good at going with the flow and not easily flustered. I know she’s right but usually it’s because like a seasoned baseball player, time slows down enough for me to get a good read on the pitch and adjust my swing accordingly. On a typical day I can figure out if someone needs a hug or a good laugh. I can gauge whether they want to talk about something or avoid the topic completely.

And because I’m not an athlete, I’ve had years to become a verbal acrobat. I’ve taken gold in the “quick comeback” category. I have little fear of public speaking. I know how to motivate. I’ve been blessed with the gift of encouragement. I rarely have a problem with finding the right words.

Like anyone I have my off days. I can be tired or sick or sad or self-absorbed. Usually these emotions just make me quiet and reflective- and I’m okay with that. But every once in awhile when instead of feeling fine I feel F.I.N.E. (Freaked-out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional.)* This is the curve ball I never see coming. These emotions throw me off balance and turn me into an emotional klutz. Only instead of running into walls, I start running into people. The quick comebacks come off as sharp instead of sassy. My tongue starts working too fast and though I’m pleading with it to “slow down” it’s usually too late. Instead of spilling hot coffee, I’m spilling unfiltered emotions. And sometimes I’m not the only one who winds up with bruises. Sometimes when I’m feeling F.I.N.E. my fear of inflicting internal injuries causes me to pull away. And if I catch my reflection, it carries all the self-disappointment you can see on the athlete’s face after they screw up their main event.

NBC recently aired a documentary about Shaun White’s preparation for Sochi. I watched him fall over and over again trying to land the YOLO flip. In the course of trying to stretch his repertoire, he suffered a couple of injuries. And I don’t know what he was thinking, because I cannot read minds, but I know when you attempt something and you fail, it makes you a little gun-shy. I think the next time you try, try again there’s a whisper of fear that history will in fact repeat itself. If that fear grows it can turn into something crippling, something that haunts you and keeps you from ever trying to throw that trick again. I’ve been there. I’ve withdrawn. I’ve “turtled.” I’ve let pride get the best of me.

But lately I can’t seem to get the Batman Begins quote out of my head:

“And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.”

Turtling is not the best solution. Never snowboarding again is not the answer. Avoiding feelings doesn’t make them go away. It’s okay to be freaked-out, insecure, neurotic, and emotional. It’s okay to let other people see you like that. Some days you’re the speed-skater and some days you’re the toddler just trying to stand upright on two feet. Sometimes you win the championship and sometimes you relearn a lesson you should already know by heart. But either way, there’s grace that abounds.

Sometimes I am the one who needs the hug and words of reassurance. Letting people love you when you feel unlovely is humbling but that vulnerability can be a very healing thing. Scrapped knees can be good reminders. Falling down is always an opportunity to pick yourself back up.

And sometimes the victory following the failure is so much sweeter. After all, who doesn’t love a good comeback story?

*acronym courtesy of The Italian Job

Things I Like Right Now

I love snow. I love watching big flakes drift from the sky. It always makes me incredibly happy (as long as I’m not driving in it. . . ). There’s something about the beauty of it all that makes me believe anything is possible. I love it even more now that I live south of the Mason-Dixon line after spending my childhood walking to school in feet of it up North. So, I understand that my brother shares this giddiness of a rare snow but it’s not nice to rub it in my face that he got 7 inches when the “snow” here just made my yard muddy.

IMG_0968 copy 2And it’s really not nice to do so at 6 am on a day I’m not working. But I still love snow and my still-a-kid-at-heart brother.

Speaking of not working today, I’m really enjoying working only three days of the week. I mean my schedule is downright chaotic at the moment being I’m at the mercy of the system and limited preceptors, but I think I’m really going to like it.

I also am really enjoying the Olympics. I like team sporting events well enough. I like watching people watch football. MLB’s Opening Day always feels like the start of summer. I’d like basketball more if their sneakers weren’t constantly squeaking as they ran up and down the court. And while I like like team sports, I love the Olympics. I like the variety. I like how it’s edited for TV so there’s not a lot of downtime between plays, runs, or participants. I like all the crazy tricks and spins and flips and freakishly fast speeds. I like learning about random sports and countries. I like how I can never figure out the scoring system. I like the patriotism of it all and proudly wear my team USA t-shirt. There’s something great getting so caught up in it all that you’ve stayed up until 2 am and are watching an event you’re not that into like curling. There’s always a story behind every athlete and I love hearing them.

I’ve always been a girl who loves stories. Library days were my favorite and I often spent recess reading. (Yes, I was and still am a bit of a nerd like that.) I also love going to the movies. I love everything about it minus the ticket price. I believe if you’re not there in time to see all the trailers, you’re missing out. Sometimes I get so caught up in watching the previews that I forget what movie I’m about to watch. I’ll even go to the theater all by myself when I need to escape the day-to-day and I can’t get near the water. Going to the movies alone is not sad; it’s wonderful. If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend it.

So, because I love books and I love movies, I love when books I love are being turned into movies. Here’s two I am a bit giddy about seeing in the nearish future:

One will have me on the edge of my seat and the other will have me reaching for Kleenex. I’ll let you guess which one is which.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m just telling you about things I like right now. That’s about the only thing connecting these scattered dots in my brain, so I’m just going to continue. Continue reading