Improvement? Really? Really? Improvement???
An experiment with the walker... don't lean on the handles. Walk, and not "push," but caress, the walker forward. Walk and move the walker forward with me, keeping the handles under my hands... but not supporting me. It's there in case I stumble or suddenly need support (which happens from time to time), but although I still rely on the walker, and need the walker, I'm trying not to lean on the walker.
And... it's working, surprisingly often. I'm still not good for long distances, and I definitely still walk (no matter where) better without shoes; but simply to be walking with an upright posture—and more importantly, a more upright and more positive attitude—is definitely a step in the right direction. Several steps, really.
Cooking and doing the dishes. I've been able to do dishes without needing to pull out a supportive chair. I've been able to make dinner without pulling out a supportive chair. Now, if I make the quiche tomorrow that I'm hoping to make, we'll see how well this "cook without a chair" thing works. But still, there was a time not all that long ago when there was no way I'd be able to make dinner standing, and certainly no way I could even begin to do those dishes (sink is at completely the wrong height for chair-assisted dish-doing).
But... toasted tuna sandwiches, and tea, and when everything is said and done, not a single un-done dirty anything.
By me, this is improvement.
Now, I'm still tormented by my own millstones (things about the transition out of the workforce, things about the way things have come to pass), how is my disability bringing about these changes, how are things that are completely external to me bringing about these changes... and just as I'm writing this to you, I'm remembering something I told one of my students today, after she told me "I hope nobody listens to my podcast"—you know, the usual embarrassment with one's voice, one's writing, one's performance, things that are quite common with the young people (and with older ones, for that matter).
I said, "Now, let's imagine that they listen to your podcast. They don't like it, but they say nothing about that to anyone. So, imagining that this person dislikes your podcast... how does harm come to you? Does it? Are they harming you, or are you harming you?" She gives me a kinda sheepish "Yeah, I guess you're right" head nod, and I pat her on the arm, and smile, and say, "OK... so stop harming yourself. What's the point of that?"
A good question to ask myself, about the millstones I'm carrying around about this whole transition process. Really, why am I carrying those nasty, heavy things? Physician, heal thyself... right?
So many Zen stories center around a practitioner getting slapped in the head by someone (or something), and the story concludes "and he was enlightened." I think I could use one of those shock/enlightenment experiences.
Now, gentle reader, please don't track me down and slap me and say "Poof! You're enlightened!" Doesn't work that way, alas.
But thanks for the offer. It's the thought that counts.