Over the past few months I’ve developed tendonitis in my ankle, most likely from wearing shoes with poor support while dancing (please learn from my mistakes, fellow dancers!). I’ve had to put my favorite hobby on hold while my ankle heals, and I really miss walking, which is where I do a lot of thinking and processing.
One of my loved ones has been experiencing a lot of back pain, so he’s been sidelined from his active lifestyle as well. He’s clearly mourning the loss of time spent working in the yard and afternoons exercising with his gym buddies.
There are a lot of things that can separate us from our favorite activities. For some, money gets in the way of a deep-seated passion for worldwide travel. Others may live too far away to visit with their closest friends as often as they’d like. It’s natural to start sliding into frustration, self-pity, and even grief when we can’t do the things we truly love.
What can you do when you can’t do what you want?
Although I miss the social connection and serious challenge of learning the Lindy Hop, reflecting during the time I’ve been off my feet has dug up some old loves. For one, I’ve been yearning to reconnect with myself and write. I used to love finding quiet places to journal and write poems. One of my favorite spots in college was a large, sunny rock on a less frequented part of campus. Having space and peace from the busy-ness of student life was super restorative for this introvert, and I’d escape there for a couple hours every weekend.
These days I’ve been trying out new writing spots in coffee shops, libraries, and parks. Writing for my eyes only feels all kinds of happy, and grabbing some solo time has been long overdue.
My loved one with severe back pain has found a few new sources of joy, too. Even though he can’t potter around his garden these days, he’s been mentoring a new gardener, sending her wildflower seeds and tips on reviving her tomato plants. He’s eager to see what happens in her garden this spring, and is combining his love of plants with his natural talent to support and inspire others.
Think about what might happen if you allowed yourself to explore a new (or forgotten) love. If you’ve had to let go of something joyful, what did your old activity mean to you? Maybe it gave you a feeling of accomplishment from challenging yourself, or an opportunity to have fun with friends.
How else can you dive into that joy in your precious free time?