A Thriving Life - May 2024

Injury, curiosity and How to Move Forward

5/25/2024 |

Heidi Kirchofer


I wanted to take some time to reflect on the past nine months, unironically the time of human gestation. For those who do not know, I tore my bicep tendon doing seated rolls on lyra last August. It was gnarly (I’ll spare you the details!!), but I didn’t know for sure it was completely torn until I had an MRI in December. I trained on it all fall, doing self massage, movement and my own “talking to it” until I realized nothing but fascia was stopping it from recoiling completely. I had surgery in December and had to comply with very limited movement and weight bearing restrictions all winter. An injury like this can be profound for anyone, but for someone, whose livelihood depends on the physical body, well….. it could be devastating. But the odd thing is, I kept a pretty upbeat attitude about the whole ordeal. I felt somewhat like a 3rd party observer noting my attitude and feelings, but just moving ahead, not fretting too much about the “what ifs.” I found it so interesting how much I could do without a bicep. The bicep has always been a visual representation of looking and being strong, but I found myself reflecting on the many other pieces to strength and the depth to them.

I think the pieces of why it didn’t feel like a huge devastation was my curiosity, stubbornness and community support. I am always curious about the deeper reasons of everything- the body, health, politics….. and interest in the intricacies of the human body and my steadfast belief in the body’s ability to heal and find its way to its full potential. Because Jamie Hodgson stepped in (so grateful) and took my harder to plan classes, and Allison McDermott took on homeschool circus, it allowed me some space for study, and reflection. I thought I would spend the winter costuming, but I did not. I spent the winter studying shoulder mechanics and creating a teacher training and mentoring program to bring up new coaches and assure they are teaching from a compassionate place with deeper understanding supporting their decisions and planning. These students assisted classes and learned spotting and how I have developed classes and vibe.  

I also had more space to listen to some new voices in human psychology, circus and mobility. One thought that has echoed through my mind (Audacity Project) is “follow your anger”. That sounds crazy at first but the idea is that bliss is sometimes harder to follow, fleeting or ethereal, where anger is very tangible and obvious and we can follow our anger to that which is very important to us. One of the things that fires me up most is people assuming or suggesting that someone of my age, 49, must retire, resign and stop doing things like aerial. While interests shift and my practice looks different than it did 10 years ago (I have no interest in high impact drops!), living life in a body that is balanced, mechanically sound and strong is not something I have any interest in surrendering. While rehabbing a bicep that had not been weight bearing or in use for 7 months is a slow process, the alternative, losing function, strength and living the rest of my days feeling compromised is less attractive. I can either rehab for circus or surrender. Circus is my preferred method of seeking this balance. Circus is stellar at highlighting all the dysfunction and improper use we may employ. And I want to see, understand and feel the best I can for moving through life and embody most fully the spark that is life. 

I recently re-discovered a quote by Thomas Hannah, founder of somatics:

“By recognizing the known and well-researched effects of the withdrawal response [our response to trauma and stress], we can gain simultaneous insight into two matters of great importance: 1. the specific responses made by our neuromuscular system to stress conditions; and 2. the real cause of body changes that, traditionally, and mistakenly have always been blamed on a fictitious disease called “aging.”  - Somatics,Thomas Hanna

This is everything for me. I don’t believe for a second that we have to resign ourselves to feeling poorly or loosing vitality. This is in no way a judgment of those who are not voraciously working on their meat suit, just my own feelings about physicality and life.
Cheers to freedom, whatever that means to you!

Share this: