I had just landed on my feet from 13 feet up, but my footing was off and one foot was twisted between the bouldering pads. Chalk was still falling as the pain rushed through my body.

After the ER, x-rays, and the ortho, where I was instructed to stay off my ankle for six weeks, I realized that my typical day as a professional rock climber was going to change.

Needless to say I was pretty bummed about my new situation, but as I adjusted to my reality and gave in to the time of healing, I learned some things.

Practicing patience

Each one of us can stand to practice patience daily. From traffic jams to spilling milk, it’s needed for all kinds of situations and scenarios. Once you’re injured you’re forced to be patient, because no amount of anxiety, impatience, and desire to have things speed along is going to help.

Slowing down

The author. Photo: Ben Ditto

I used to drive a huge diesel camper van. She liked to go the distance but didn’t like to be rushed. Cruising along at 55mph on the highway really taught me something about taking time and enjoying; I adopted the go-slow practice into my daily life, and I feel that for the most part I’ve been consistent and benefited from that.

However, I do frequently find myself rushing out the door, hurrying through the store, and chewing my food too fast. As my physical movement was hindered with crutches, I relearned that it’s okay to move slowly and take time.

Taking opportunities

Isn’t there always something we’re putting off — something we want to do, or need to do, but just can’t seem to muster the time to do it? I had weeks’ worth of free time and the availability to do other things besides rock climbing. It was a good opportunity to start a new hobby, learn a language, write letters to people.

Not holding back

Frustration, sadness, pain, worry, and hope — all of these things are valid feelings during this time of injury and should not be repressed. I knew I’d get better, and it’s not the worst thing, but it is frustrating and painful and emotional. It’s neither helpful nor healthy to repress feelings and emotions, which only leads to more stress and can prolong the healing process. So scream, cry, complain, and vent however you need, but let it out and let it go and remember this lesson always!

Appreciating the good things

So often the good times fly on by with no acknowledgment or appreciation. We take things for granted when times are good and reflect back on how good it used to be when times are tough. Sometimes funny little things — insignificant things — can distract us and muddle our experience of the good things, and this is a bad habit we should all quit.

Nothing is picture perfect; there will always be flaws, but the flaws are reality, and they make something unique. Flaws can be overlooked with the right pair of eyes, and what you’re left with is beauty. The good things should be appreciated always, in good times and bad.