65: Taking Aim at Excuses

65: Taking Aim at Excuses

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Possible

Taking Aim at Excuses

The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.

~Ferdinand Foch

I’ve always been an active person — I like doing stuff. But daily writing sessions and getting lost in a good book are necessary for maintaining balance in my life, too — sometimes I just need a little downtime to feed my inner-hermit self. Being a mother to two boys while working outside the home full-time keeps me busy, so I haven’t had much chance to do those extracurricular activities. My family has always come first — their activities, their social life, their needs — and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There will be time for my own interests later.

Over the years, however, I have contemplated different activities I would like to try when everyone leaves the nest someday. But I have a chronically finicky back so sticking to something safe like early-morning power walks for weight management, stress relief and overall wellbeing seemed like my best option.

But one dark morning during my walk I tripped and fell. I broke my arm, but that was the least of my worries. I had already had hernia surgery ten years before, and the fall all but destroyed my already compromised abdominal wall. I required two extensive hernia-repair surgeries over two years. This was no fun for a busy momma! Unfortunately, I was left with certain physical limitations. After the last surgery my doctor told me to live life to the fullest, but not to do things that would be overly strenuous for my abdominal muscles.

As I recovered from that last surgery, I wallowed in despair over all the things I would never get to do that I had wanted to try, like canoeing. But while wallowing is part of life sometimes, moderation is key. I dwelled so much on all the things I would never do that I lost perspective. I was still very healthy; I didn’t have a disease and all my limbs were intact. Life really was not that bad, but still I wallowed.

I eventually got back on my feet and got on with things. Recovery was slow going, and two years later if I do too much I still get little “warnings” from various body parts. Yet I do what I can, when I can, how I can. I have always had a positive, move-forward attitude, and even though I got on with life, in the back of my mind I was still pining for lost experiences. I was so focused on what I couldn’t do I didn’t see what I could do was right in front of me all along.

My fourteen-year-old son, Matthew, excels in the sport of archery (target archery as opposed to bow hunting), and is involved with the Victoria Bowmen Archery Club. Over four years I have watched him work his way up from newbie to assistant coach to championship winner — truly commendable for a kid his age. I loved watching him and I had learned quite a bit about the sport. I had never tried his bow; archery was his thing and I didn’t want to get in the way. And besides, his muscle strength far surpassed mine; his bow was too heavy and the string too taut for a muscle-lacking mother like me. I was sure my compromised body would never allow for such challenging equipment, anyway.

Excuses.

Other archery parents would often ask if I also did archery. I would chuckle and scoff, “Who me? I can’t do that! Can you imagine?”

Yet the more times I brushed it off, the more I began to wonder. Could I? Did I dare? I’m not a sporty person; I’m a creative person. I was a dancer in my past life, now preferring hikes in the woods, early-morning walks, reading, writing and knitting (safer activities). My bad back, never mind my abdomen, would never allow me to do anything strenuous like pulling back a bowstring. Those bows can be tough.

However, the more I watched the more I wondered.

Then during one of my son’s practices the coaches had a “fun day” and enthusiastically encouraged the typically sedentary parents to pick up a bow.

Before I knew what I was doing I was hopping around on the sidelines at the archery range. “Pick me! Pick me!”

Next thing I knew, I had a bow in my hand — one of the lighter ones, suitable for a newbie like me — and with the help of ever-patient Coach Bradley, I shot my first arrow.

And it hit the target.

I got 6 points out of a possible 10.

And then I shot another.

And another. And then another.

And that was it.

I loved it.

When time permitted, I would borrow a lighter bow from my son’s archery club and practice on the closer, bigger targets while staying out of the way of the professionals. The more I did it, the more I realized I could do it. The following Christmas my family of three men pooled their money and bought me my own bow. It’s taken some getting used to but I think I have found my thing. I am building up my arm muscles, and my stomach and back are adjusting without incident. I still watch my son’s practices — he comes first — but I also go and shoot with him as well as attending my own “ladies only” shoot every few weeks with the Victoria Bowmen Archery Club.

I realize that not only will my body not suffer from this new adventure, but neither will my family — in fact, my husband has taken up the sport and my other son has tried it a few times as well! It’s still too early to tell, but I think in some little way the sport has brought my family closer. I can practice at the same time as my son, but with everyone getting older and involved in their own things without me, I can now take a little time for myself — and that’s okay, too.

I never imagined something like archery would be possible for me. I guess being faced with the concept of “limitations” propelled me forward. No more excuses, no more fears, and no more inhibitions. I just had to take aim and shoot — and find my way.

~Lisa McManus Lange

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