I just celebrated my one-year mark since I started yoga. For me, a lesson on life as well as exercising my mind and body are experienced each time I go to a yoga class. Last night: Breathe in joy. Breathe out Gratitude. Beautiful. Other than loving to cycle with Steve and walks with Cricket - I can't think of another exercise that I have done consistently for a year. I was a runner for a summer (loved it and still long to find a running buddy that isn't running very far yet, would like to train for a 5K at the end of the summer, doesn't mind saying a few guide words to keep me on the path, lives near me and our schedules can work -- that list is a little long and probably why I haven't gotten back into running!).
There have been practical adjustments in the past few months with the additional vision loss. The word that describes it for me: Isolating. Not from the sense of people not being there for me (I am so blessed), but rather from the sense of adjusting to not having any visual cues and learning to connect to my surroundings and to people in different ways. It has almost felt like an 'out of body' experience and like I am trying to figure out what the rest of my body is doing. For instance today I burned myself with the curling iron ... instead of wrapping the curling iron around my hair I wrapped it around my finger (that sounds so crazy as I am typing it) but as I clamped down on my finger I realized - ouch! I know this is a temporary adjustment part of the experience. The adjustments are made and we move forward. Perhaps why I want to document it so I can laugh about it in the future. I recall years ago one of the courses that I took at the Blind Center was the Social Adjustment to Blindness. I am a real social person and was sad when I realized at church this week that there were two people in the group that I was visiting with that I didn't realize were there and thus I didn't acknowledge them or ask how they were doing. Retinitis Pigmentosa is interesting in the fact that no one is aware that you have had a decline unless you tell them. Generally, when it is someone close to me and I tell them, they have already noticed. Since the initial adjustment of no more driving and starting to use a cane this time period has had the most personal life adjustments although others may not realize that occurs when I am already walking around with a guide dog and nothing in my outside world will change - still have a job that I love and will continue & family and friends that I love. Simply some added adaptations in my routine that are coming and bring smiles and some frustrations. That's okay ... some added nurturing (not babying or coddling) to honor my loss. (I hope that doesn't sound too therapeutic or psycho babble!)
With the adjustments also there is pure joy in my life. Cricket and I skipped to get the mail yesterday. Yes, perhaps it takes a little more effort to have that spontaneous moment but it can still be there.
When I reflect on all the lessons I have learned from Retinitis Pigmentosa - what an amazing teacher. I have learned so much about myself - the power of the stretch, others' perceptions bring smiles, education and patience . It is just a small part of who I am . I often wonder who I would be without it, however. I have learned so much. As Helen Keller states: The only way to the other side is through.