Packing up the family, home, business, life, for a year adventure on the road has been something we have been working towards for nearly 12 months. Less than a month out from our departure and we had rented out our home and moved in with Inga’s parents.
Things were starting to feel real. We were finalising the last fragments of our nomadic life and there was this strange edginess of excitement. The departure date was near.
I decided to take Andy down to Sydney for a few days to visit my parents and help them around their home. I thought that the exchange of gardening for day care seemed like a good barter.
After a morning swim, I climbed barefoot up the ladder to the second top rung, helping to clean their patio roof for a Christmas function they were hosting. Leaning too far and the ladder kicked from under me. I came tumbling down, landing on my left heel. After a few adult words, I grabbed my calf, bracing to attempt to roll my ankle and wiggle of my toes. I figured if I could do these then everything would be fine. It was all good. I could rotate my ankle like a wheel with a flat spot and my toes wiggled in unison. I counted my lucky stars and was so thankful that I was okay and there wasn’t any serious damage.
A week passed and there wasn’t much improvement. I was hobbling and grandmothers were passing me as I walked. I could sense my lucky stars dwindling away. An x-ray came back with no detection of a break, but as I was departing the country in two weeks, a MRI scan was recommended. A fractured heel and bruising of the bone was discovered and my leg in a moon boot for six weeks was the required remedy.
I sat back in my chair, placed my hands on my head and gazed, not focussing on anything, took a deep breath, smiled and did one of those chuckles that is more out of your nose than your mouth.
Well that’s a bugger, I remember thinking as I started to tap my fingers on the table, trying to take my attention away from the situation.
Don’t get me wrong. I was gutted when the doctor called me to say that I had fractured my heel and I would need to be in a brace for six weeks. A year of planning was derailed in a moment. But I quickly understood that there was nothing that I could do to change the situation. The only thing that I knew I could control was how I reacted to it.
I needed to reframe the story I was telling myself.
Let me ask you this: If someone came up to you and said you could go on a year adventure in two weeks but there is a catch. For the first six weeks of the trip you needed to have your leg in a brace and wear a moon boot. Would you still jump at the opportunity? Would you think that six weeks was nothing compared to 52 in a new country enjoying new experiences? Would you quickly do the math and consider that it is only 11.5% of the entire trip? Would you say hell-yeah, sign me up, count me in?
I know I would.
And that was the story I began to tell myself. The outcome is still the same. I’m still wearing a leg brace for six weeks. However all the planning that is in the past isn’t part of the equation, and the “poor me” is replaced with gratitude and excitement. The focus is rightfully on the year’s adventure and not on the fractured heel.
When we positively reframe a situation, reality doesn’t change. We simply identify our negative unhelpful thoughts and replace them with more positive ones.
Due to the fracture I kept thinking that I wouldn’t be able to ice-skate with Andy in Central Park, and that realisation hurt. By reframing that thought, I now see that I’ll be able to take great photos of Inga and Andy ice-skating together and it will be a special moment for them. It will be uncomfortable on the plane and with the fracture there will be a high risk of DVT. But on the other hand, surely a guy in a moon boot has more chance of an upgrade to business class.
And what really happened when we started our adventure with the addition of a moon boot and crutches? I didn’t get DVT or an upgrade to business class, but I did organise a wheelchair, which helped immensely in L.A. as our plane from Sydney was delayed and the wheelchair enabled us to move through the lines quicker so we didn’t miss our connecter to NYC. While in NYC we didn’t even go ice-skating. I walked everywhere on crutches, yeah I had bruises and calluses on both of my palms but it didn’t really interfere with our plans that much.
More times than not, when we think of a negative future, something we believe is going to happen or go wrong, it doesn’t eventuate. However, we’ve put ourselves through the pain and unhappiness of the negative possibility. Our bodies feel the same negative energy even though it hasn’t happened in reality.
As Mark Twain (maybe) said “My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes, most of which have never happened.”
Positive reframing does not change the situation, but it prevents the situation from dictating the future in a negative way, and put things into a healthier perspective.
By reframing the stories we tell ourselves we can begin a positive narrative, we can shift our focus, we can live immediately.