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Losing My Balance

 

So I was sitting at work, furiously taking notes, trying to collect every drop of information (this is what I’m like. My supervisor calls it taking “copious notes,” I call it being driven by a constant fear of failure). It’s easier to balance my notebook on my lap if my legs are crossed (the angle and the height created are ergonomically perfect for taking notes), but the downside is that I can lose feeling in the dangling foot every once in a while. Usually I notice it happening and bounce my foot on the floor for a while to wake it back up, but this one time I was extra distracted, and too busy taking notes, to even think of switching my legs at regular intervals to balance myself out.

And then my supervisor thought he heard a knock on the door and asked me to check it out. I, of course, said, “Of course,” and stood up. I noticed the numb foot right away, because I couldn’t quite tell if my foot was on the floor, or even underneath me, but I persisted and took another step, and then another.

I’m not sure exactly when the foot came out from under me, but I managed to hit the light switch on my way down, sprawling on the floor in front of clients. And I still couldn’t feel my foot.

I tried to bounce back up and laugh it off, but even the two steps back to my chair were a slow motion cringe-fest as my supervisor looked on. He went to check the door, and turn the lights back on, but then we all sat back down and pretended the whole incident had never happened, which was a blessing. I felt no pain (adrenaline is a wonderful thing, because I’m pretty sure my head hit the floor at some point), and went back to taking my copious notes, but I made sure to test out my feet every few minutes, especially before my next attempt at standing up.

I had two reactions to the whole thing: 1) I felt very silly and embarrassed, 2) I sort of liked the slow motion drama of the whole thing and the split second realization that I had just given myself a great story to tell. I think the second reaction won out.

It also made me think about why women cross their legs. Some part of it is automatic and anatomically prescribed, I’m sure. I feel more balanced with my legs crossed, and more ill at ease with my legs flat on the floor and pressed together. Another part of it is the training that tells you it’s more feminine and demure to cross your legs than to sit with your feet flat on the ground, “like a man.” Men can sit with their legs wide apart if they like. Women rarely do that. There’s something about modesty in there, and the history of skirt-wearing for women, but there’s more to it. Maybe self-protection. Maybe a signal that this woman is not advertising her sexuality, and is making sure to remain prim and proper.

The whole event also reminded me of the way my old dog, Dina, used to walk with her paws folded under her, when she was fourteen years old and experiencing neurological damage. She used to smile through it too, as if she was balanced perfectly on all four paws, and I found myself emulating her. And thinking of her.

dina dances

My Dina

I tend to feel off balance most of the time, literally and figuratively, and this was just a more dramatic example of it. And, really, I survived. No one laughed at me (that I know of), and no permanent damage was done. Maybe I need to take Dina’s lesson to heart: it doesn’t matter if you are balanced on all fours; it only matters if you are living your life the best way you can.

dina smilesdina stops to sniff

(By the way, Cricket completely disagrees on this one. She is all about dignity.)

012

“Yes, Mommy. I am.”

 

 

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

90 responses »

  1. You handled this way better than I would have. Kudos to you. Loved the picture of the dog’s adaptation to her paws.

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  2. ramblingsofaperforatedmind

    Ouch! Glad you have no lasting damage.

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  3. Steady on Rachel, you are amazing.

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  4. I like how you thought of now having a story to tell. It reminded me of what my ex-husband used to tell me when I came home with a story of something I’d done that that day that was embarrassing as it happened, but funny after I had a chance to think about it. He’d say, “Look at it this way, you gave somebody dinnertime conversation.”

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  5. Are you short? Or are your legs short? I find that most chairs are too high for me, and I tend to cross my legs in a vain attempt to better reach the floor, or to push me backward so I don’t fall off the chair. I used to sit on one foot to raise myself up, but with age my knees and hips don’t permit that any more, and even crossing my knees stresses them, so I’m usually uncomfortable unless I have a footstool.

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  6. Women always hope no one saw them fall and men tend to wonder what in the hell just happened. Cricket, you are adorable. There is dignity in falling. I love how you turned out the lights as you fell, Rachel. No one saw anything. 🙂

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  7. Good story! Like Suzanne (above) both of my feet won’t reach the floor, so crossing my legs is more comfortable. I’m a copious note-taker, too. It’s a sign of intelligence 🙂

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  8. I have lost count of the number of times I have finished telling a story with, ‘At least I got a blog post out of it!’ I can imagine the slow-mo fall, arms spiralling wildly, while the thought echoes in the brain.. ‘Oooh Nooo I’m faaaalling….. but where to start this story for the post…? 🙂 Glad you lived to tell another tale!

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  9. Dina sweet smile reminds me of my 14-year-old dog’s…

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  10. Just one small note: chiropractors will tell you that it’s not good for your back to cross your legs. I gave it up long ago. Now my butt goes to sleep.

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  11. I wouldn’t call you unbalanced.

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  12. Thank goodness there were no lasting injuries! It seems like this has been a time of slips and falls for many people … I managed to fall UP the stairs going into work, but wasn’t so lucky in terms of injuries … I will be dealing with the sprains in multiple body parts for some time to come. But the being off balance is a lifelong issue for me too – my EDS and it’s associated problems with proprioception mean I’m always a bit loopy in my movements, or so it seems to me, and sprained ankles are the norm in my life since forever. I’ve learned to move a bit more slowly, and to others it appears as though I’m calm and collected about life … amazing how we can present ourselves to others so what we see as a weakness they see as a strength! Just keep being your innate self, and you’re bound to be surprised by the view others actually have of you!

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  13. That has happened to me too! I was alone at the time but was shocked at how completely numb my foot and leg had become. If I hadn’t been looking at my leg, I would have gone down. You’re a great story teller and that was a great story!

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  14. I can relate to this. Every once in a while, but more often in the last couple years, an ankle or a knee, or the sole of one foot will just “tweak”. And I start to hobble down the hallway at work. You see, as part of my duties – I am constantly going from place to place, followed by sitting for long period. In a building with mostly 20-somethings, the only knowing looks i get are from engineers my age…. Embarrassing.

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  15. Glad you didn’t hurt yourself in that fall and it is so lovely to see Dina again – bless her sweet soul 💜

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  16. Oops. Hope you didn’t bruise. I always find crossed legs more comfortable too but I try to remember to find alternative posture as they do say that crossed legs can promote varicose veins

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  17. That’s my mantra when things go away: “This will make a great story someday.” Sometimes it helps, sometimes not. I’m glad there was no permanent damage!

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  18. Oh bless. Turning the light off on the way down shows some multitasking talent fair play to you 🙂
    Glad you were okay

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  19. I’m pleased you survived

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  20. That leg crossing/legs open thing is definitely a throwback to supposed ‘femininity’, and skirt-wearing. Even when it became normal for women to wear jeans and trousers during the 1960s, I noticed that they still sat as if they were wearing a dress or skirt.
    Some things are hard to get out of the habit of, obviously.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  21. Sitting with legs together is a “closed” position and you are right, it signals unavailability and distancing. That’s how we were told to sit when riding the subway many years ago.
    Glad you weren’t hurt and that no one laughed. Your loss of balance could have happened to anyone.

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  22. I am ALWAYS unsteady and limping when I get up these days, because I am in my mid-50s and do not get enough exercise (working on that). I know what you mean about crossing legs to take notes. I am also more comfortable with crossed legs, or sitting cross-legged (what they used to call “Indian style”), usually not in a particularly feminine pose. Also, not for nuthin’ but my co-workers, in addition to laughing and pointing, would have made sure I was all right. I fortunately do not work with clients.

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    • I think I’d rather skip the laughing and pointing, no matter how much help came along with it. It should probably be the other way around.

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      • Yes, I can do without the laughing and pointing, too, and I try to refrain from such behavior unless it’s at myself. But with the yahoos I work with, it is unavoidable! At least they would offer help if I needed it, so most of them are OK.

  23. Love the lesson from Dina. I have my max with his three paws. He wobbles. And because of spine curvature so do I. Love seeing the photos. ❤️

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  24. Man-spreading is the worst!

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  25. I cross my legs so that Xena, who likes to lay on her back in my arm like a bay, doesn’t slide off my back. Glad you didn’t get hurt!

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  26. “… it doesn’t matter if you are balanced on all fours; it only matters if you are living your life the best way you can.” That is a great line. ❤

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  27. Oh, goodness, I’ve done this too, but not in front of clients! I’m glad you’re okay!

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  28. Love your positive attitude on life!

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  29. I agree, it`s important to do your best. A little but hilarious, depends on your personality, and glad you are ok.

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  30. You surely know how to make the best out of everything! Fine post!

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  31. Sweet Dina! And I know exactly what you’re talking about! Curiously my father crossed his legs all of the time, and so does my brother…a family habit I guess!

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  32. Hi, Rachel! I just wanted to stop by your blog to thank you for liking my post on mis-remembering vs forgetting. Also, I wanted to thank you for your continued support. Sending posts out into the ‘ether’ is a strange experience and even after nearly nine years of it, I feel like I learn something new every day. I enjoyed your post on your crossed legs. Maybe because I am older, but I am familiar with parts of my body ‘checking out’ on me without my foreknowledge. BTW, I am one of the men who crosses his legs while sitting from time to time. Usually it is functional, that is, to hold a laptop, or balance a book. Keep up the good work and positive outlook!

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  33. Glad you can laugh and write about it! Fun to read.

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  34. Balance is dignifying.

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  35. Interesting story, theres also the aspect of going back to the toddler stage and feeling vulnerable. Once we are upright we’re supposed to stay that way arent we? I like your reflections on everyday experiwnce.

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  36. I find it extremely helpful to run an auto-record free app to supplement my notes (as I, too, have a fear of failure for missing something important). I generally used to say, “Hey (attendees), while I will take notes on anything I deem important, I’m also running a note-taking app to make sure I get everything important, since there’s usually a lot of give-and-take in these discussions. No worries, the notes app will be erased once I’ve handled my deliverables.” It’s rare that I get any pushback. I’m sorry you fell, and glad a big deal wasn’t made of the situation.

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  37. GREAT story! You handled the situation with aplomb and grace; that’s all anyone could ask..!!

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  38. Totally enjoy your blog! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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  39. What really annoyed me about this story (not you) was everyone else’s lack of response to see if you were okay. You did say you hit your head—right? And everyone just pretended it didn’t happen? What is wrong with them? People just need to be kinder and more empathetic.

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  40. Praise God. So glad you are okay. And you are right: we should find our balance in life and quit worrying about what other people will think about us when we do. God bless you.

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  41. I fell in love with your Dina 🙂 What a beautiful girl!

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  42. Your story took me back to my first year of teaching. I fell down the stairs at school, and expected everyone to be laughing at me. But no, I looked up at a host of concerned faces. And no harm done.

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