|My first bike ride since cancer treatment began. More of my videos here.|
Every year for perhaps a decade now I've had the same New Year's resolution. I still find it challenging, and it's a good one, so I renew it again and again. It goes a little something like this: Give every compliment that comes to mind.
Something happened yesterday that convinced me I will do this religiously for the rest of my life.
It all started because I took the recommendations of two friends and made two calls, one to a chiropractor, one to a bike shop to schedule a professional bike fitting. I've had increasing stiffness and pain in my hips and lower back after bike rides over the last two years, so much so that I don't ride as much as I'd like.
I'll see the chiropractor next week. I went to the bike shop yesterday afternoon.
If you've never had a bike fitting, let me clue you in: it begins with questions about your biking habits, goals, and challenges, then you change into biking gear and proceed to have your body scrutinized, analyzed, tested, and measured, on and off your bike. After all that, alterations to the bike seem like an afterthought.
Normally I am uncomfortable having a strange man get so up close and personal with my body. Now that my body is bald and one-breasted, I imagined I might feel worse than ever, especially if the strange man in question was uncomfortable with me.
I was nervous.
The guy who did my fitting, M~, was younger than me, which worried me at first, but he was relaxed, personable, and professional. It went well. So well that I forgot about my altered body entirely until it was time to go put my street clothes on again. He had done me right. When I realized this, I also realized I was thinking of a compliment. According to my resolution, I had to give it.
So I screwed up my courage and told M~ about my resolution, that it felt embarrassing but I had to tell him that it has been just a few months since my surgery, that I'm still uncomfortable in this newly configured body. But during my fitting, I forgot all about it. "That's my compliment," I said. He had put me at ease.
"Thank you. That means a lot to me," he replied. "This is going to make me tear up to say, but I had a girlfriend who had a double mastectomy." His eyes were indeed wet, and red. I welled up too. We looked at each other and smiled through the tears. "Can I give you a hug?" he said
"Please!" I laughed.
For the record, he became her boyfriend after the mastectomy. And they are still in touch, still friends. She told him the hardest thing was absorbing the pronouncement of her illness when she felt just fine. (Oh, can I relate to that!) She had a recurrence, almost five years out, discovered it in the emergency room after a competitive skating accident. "Roller Derby saved my life!" she said.
How cool is that?
And now he and I are friends on Facebook.
And perhaps we'll live happily ever after.
And maybe I'll take up roller derby.
In any case, I will be all the braver about giving compliments because of this day. I hope this little story inspires you to do the same.