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Re-learning lessons of life

IN THEATER, well-wishers usually say “break a leg” to actors before they perform on stage. The saying is an idiom that means “good luck.” Much to my dismay, it was not really good luck when I broke my leg eight months ago. As a result of the fracture, I spent a great deal amount of time on crutches, in a wheelchair, and in a cast. I am currently on an air cast, but I am already able to put partial weight on my leg. Through this painful experience and, as I am continuously adjusting to this reality, I have learned (and relearned) some of life’s most profound lessons the hard way:

“There is nothing certain but the uncertain” is a traditional proverb. Life is unpredictable and, in a split second, everything can change. What was supposed to be a lovely Sunday lunch with the family quickly turned into a tragic misfortune (i.e., a fall leading to a broken leg).

Key takeaways: Uncertainties can push us outside of our “comfort zones” and prevent us from doing our “usual,” but sometimes this is where we grow. Life is indeed uncertain and, as cliché as it may sound, we have to love hard and live life to the fullest, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

“Life goes on.” When I first learned of my fracture, I was really devastated. The surgeon told me that my leg will have to be immobilized under a long leg cast for the first two months and will undergo a series of cast changes after several months depending on the healing process. I was then bombarded with thoughts that created stress, anxiety, fear, and nervousness. Can I do this? How will I survive with this injury? Will I be able to walk normally and wear stilettos again? The thought of the loss of mobility and independence was very difficult. As helpless as I saw myself at that time, I had deadlines, bills to pay, dreams to pursue, and a life to live. I finally came to a resolution that, though I am in a painful circumstance that forces me to slow down literally and figuratively, I must find ways to bear and overcome the situation. The healing journey may be a slow process, but quitting on it will not speed things up. Admittedly, looking at the bright side of things is still a work in progress, but I have already accepted this fate and that is a start.

Key takeaways: All of us go through rough times, petty or significant. The most important thing is that we are able to embrace acceptance and bounce back. Acceptance does not mean resignation and stagnation. It means that something is what it is and that there will be a way through it. You just have to have the courage to bear it. Even though you are facing challenges or difficulties, one should never feel hopeless, because every cloud has a silver lining.

“One today is worth two tomorrows”. There are times when I don’t follow the normal regimen of those with a fractured leg. I am required to undergo physical therapy (PT) sessions to regain use of my fractured leg, as this helps expedite the recovery process. The PT sessions help strengthen my leg bones and muscles and improve balance, leading to a restoration of standing, walking, and running in a period of time. While I know that the consistent attendance to these sessions is paramount to my full recovery, I have missed some appointments. As a result, I may not be progressing as well as expected. I am reminded again that if I had just done what I needed to get done today, I wouldn’t have to spend or exert effort twice as much later. Now I make it a routine to exercise on my own to compensate for the skipped therapy sessions. It really takes discipline, but it’s the way to get better.

Key takeaways. Set your priorities and line up activities that are focused on accomplishing them. Be persistent and consistent.

“We can be vulnerable.” Performing everyday tasks take longer and are more complex to perform, plus I need extra help from other people to carry out these tasks. Despite the everyday struggles, I still consider myself lucky. It could have been worse, and there are others who suffer more than I do. There are moments when no matter how I force positivity and no matter how much I have progressed since that fatal day, I find it difficult not only on my body but both on my will and spirit. Hence, I eventually break down. I think it’s “okay not to feel okay” sometimes. The important thing is to have an outlet for these negative thoughts and emotions. Cry, scream, and lock yourself out when you need to but, afterwards, pick yourself up and start all over.

Key takeaways. It is important to seek support from family and friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I have received plenty of help and encouragement from my loved ones, and these made my struggles more bearable.

“Learn to appreciate even the little things.” Prior to my injury, tasks and activities such as walking, running, driving, and taking a shower were things I considered normal and, thus, easily took for granted. After the injury, I’ve realized what a gift they were! Many of us, in one way or the other, are guilty of being unappreciative of what we have. We let the good times pass us by with no sense of appreciation. We take things for granted, and we reflect only on how good they were when times are tough or when we no longer have them.

Key takeaways. Appreciate the things you can do, the things that you have, and the people around you. Make sure you practice gratitude, especially to your loved ones and be vocal about it.

With my injury, “break a leg” means something more than the idiomatic meaning. For me, it means whenever you fall, there is no other way but to rise up again but, with rising up, to have patience and perseverance.


Ms. Punay is a senior audit manager of Audit & Assurance of P&A Grant Thornton, a leading audit, tax, advisory, and outsourcing firm in the Philippines, with 21 Partners and over 850 staff members. It has offices in Makati, Cavite, Cebu and Davao. For comments on this article, please email meg.   or Its website is Its social media accounts are; Twitter: pagrantthornton, and FB: P&A Grant Thornton.

As published in the Mindanao Times, dated January 31, 2018