the MISA blog tour + In Reality, part one.

Today’s Most Influential Scrapbooker spotlight is directed at Renee Pearson and Margie Romney. I have worked and traveled with both of these women and can attest to their caring spirits, spunk and humor. I consider both dear friends and champion anything they set their hearts to. Click on either of these banners to get to know these women better and enter the week-long contest for LOTS of great prizes.

I’m home (yay!)
I’m sure I’ll be in catch up mode for a couple of days, but I’m now looking at four weeks of summer sans plans. I’m very happy about this and eager to relax with my kiddos, eat well and exercise, work on back-burner projects and finalize the move to my upstairs office!

I so appreciate your response to my post yesterday.
Thank you.

I’m hoping to publish my first “In Reality” post later today.
I’ve got a meeting right now and want to get the info about today’s MISA girls up in a somewhat timely fashion.

In Reality, part one.

I mentioned yesterday that I want to shed some light on current challenges I’m facing and learning to deal with. I don’t know how long it will take me to complete this series of blog posts, but I do know that I’m still very much in the midst of learning and adapting, so I need you to anticipate more exploration than explanation.

I took a walk with my camera one morning in May.
I was trying to photograph a pair of something for the Picture Spring course at BPS.

After snapping this photo, I pulled the tree branch down and snapped these flowers from a new perspective.

I snapped both of these pictures the same week that I experienced the shift in perspective that I’m sharing today.

I’ve decided to title this series, In Reality, because what I assume is real, is really just my perspective. This personal “reality” can and does change with new information or experiences that shifts my perspective.

NOTE: As always, I love to read your thoughts and comments, but please, don’t think you have to read these long posts. I am using my blog to help me capture journaling that will ultimately become pages in a new scrapbook album, dedicated to these life lessons. If you are just interested in the summary, scroll to the bottom of the post.

For more than a year, my right big toe has been hurting. The first time I remember noticing my toe was during yoga. I was moving from upward dog into downward dog and I felt a slight tweak. I didn’t think much of this. After this, my toe would bother me for the first several minutes of a run. Several months later, I visited our chiropractor friend, who confirmed that I indeed had limited range of motion in that toe. His recommendation was to get an X-ray and cut back on high impact exercise. I ignored the first bit of advice and decided that since it was fall I would focus on yoga and limit my cardio exercise to 20-minute sessions on my ellipse-style machine in our basement.

Unfortunately, my toe and my attitude only got worse. I have loved and prioritized exercise ever since I was a teenager. It is my most trusted source of stress relief—but even yoga was becoming painful. I started a silent “why me” campaign and decided I would do what I wanted to do in spite of “my stupid toe.” I was mad, mad, mad that I had somehow injured my toe and it wasn’t getting better.

In April as the days were growing longer and my desire to be outside was growing stronger, I finally followed through on getting an X-ray and making an appointment with a podiatrist. On the first visit to the doctor’s office, I was told I have degenerative arthritis in my toe. At least now I had a real reason to be mad, but the question remained, why me and more specifically, why this toe?

The doctor asked lots of questions about possible injuries and other causes and finally said, “Is there anything else I should know?”
I told him that I had had surgery, to remove a tumor in my right inner thigh, 17 years ago and that since that time my right leg and foot has had a tendency to swell. I wondered out loud, could this occasional swelling (primarily associated with air travel) have caused this arthritis over time?

His response, “I don’t think so. Tell me more about your cancer.”
Since Parachordoma (my type of cancer) is very rare, the surgeons decided to operate again and remove all five of my adductor muscles—those immediately surrounding the encapsulated tumor.
You should have seen the doctor’s face.
“That’s our cause!” he said
“It is? What do adductor muscles have to do with my toe?” I countered.


For seventeen years my leg has been compensating bio-mechanically and my poor little big toe has taken the brunt of this corrective attempt, which has enabled me to run without obvious incident.


You mean my “stupid toe” really isn’t that stupid afterall?
You mean I’ve been able to jog for years because of my amazing body and it’s ability to adjust and compensate?

Needless to say, my perspective shifted and my attitude is changing.

I am now wearing orthotics in my shoes and I’m learning to run less and walk more.
I miss my long Saturday morning jogs, but I’m considering other forms of exercise (biking?) not just as temporary options, but as potential longtime pursuits.

Following my surgery seventeen years ago, I was told I would have to deal with some limitations (ie. no water or snow skiing and occasional falls when lateral traction is challenged.) Initially walking and running would feel awkward, but if I was diligent I would be able to adjust and pursue an active lifestyle.

I have, and I am so very grateful for the years of running I’ve enjoyed.


Assumption: I unfairly injured my toe
Reaction: Anger and frustration
New Reality: My toe joint has literally worn itself out attempting to compensate for years of running.
What I’ve learned: Things are not always what you think they are. I now feel grateful for the chance to explore other forms of exercise!


  1. Wow, you were on my heels with that.

    I am in a similar cross roads with my running. And I don’t like it. When I emailed you at one point a while ago and asked about dealing with injury, I was dealing with my heels burning and feet aching all the time. I had orthotics and was stretching; from all appearances I was doing everything right. It got so bad that the bottoms of my feet hurt and my calves had gotten so tight that getting up in the morning I could hardly walk, but I was still running only 2 days a week for about 2 – 3 miles. I finally gave up and went to the doctor. Turns out I have heel spurs on the bottoms and back (due to calcification that formed) of both heels. So I am trying to re-evaluate and go forth trying to lose the rest of my weight and find the mental release I got from running. Here’s to us both.

  2. Again, I’m sorry for your pain but am glad you’ve gotten to the bottom of your problem (no pun intended). I walk almost every day and love to do so. It’s good exercise and at a pace where you can enjoy the scenery/nature around you, no matter what time of year it is. You might want to take your camera along once in a while to capture ‘what you’re seeing’.

  3. This makes me happy to read, Stace. Because i KNOW how important exercise is to you, and honestly? I have an entirely new perspective on how it would be something you would crave and miss.

    I love that you are a person who never stops learning. : )

    Don’t forget about the pool! I hit one for the second time in two weeks for laps today, and it was easier than the first time, and I was all, “HEY! Another thing I can do!”


  4. Stacy.. what an amazing post on insight and perception. I too have had to deal with “mystery pain” in my hips which obviously makes yoga impossible or quite painful to say the least. I have had times when I just cried and get frustrated because I have never had to deal with pain in my hips. I have been down the chiropractic route which help my health overall, but it wasn’t touching my hip pain. So I decided to do acupuncture which has unravelled many layers of my health mystery. I still have hip pain just no where near as bad.

    Have you ever thought to do acupuncture. Maybe the pain is built up negative energies from 17 years ago.

  5. Jill S. says:

    Stacy, I’m glad you were able to find out why you’re having problems with your toe. As a fellow runner, I can empathize with you having to stop running. I hope you’re able to find another form of exercise which is as satisfying. Personally, I love biking for cross-training.

    On another note, I got my copy of The Big Picture in the mail today. YAY! I’m quite excited. Two of my kids have appointments with the eye dr. tomorrow, so my plan is to not read the book until I”m in the waiting room (if my willpower can handle it). Thanks so much!

  6. Thank you for sharing this personal post. It means more than you know, to be reminded that we are all human, even our mentors. I needed this.

  7. Wow! Who would have thought your big toe was so important! Makes me wonder what the “little” things are that I am ignoring : )

  8. I am so glad you have found out a reason for your pain. And I am so glad it is not something worse. I know it bad for you, but it could always be something worse, and I was so afraid when I was reading your story it was going there. I know you will learn to love biking or whatever else you decide to replace running with. Best of luck and here’s to hoping your painful days are farther in between.

  9. ScrappinMichele says:

    What an awesome story and example of how things aren’t always as they seem. I try to remind myself of that often. We don’t always have all the information to see clearly why something is happening. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. I am so proud that you have been able to analyze and see your toe in a new light. Thank goodness for your doctor who took the time to talk to you, ask questions and listen. Best of luck as you look for and find a new exercise program that will provide all you need.

  11. Wow! That’s such a metaphor on life, how many other things in life do we have a tendancy to blame first and then realise that they weren’t at fault only trying to help us.

  12. I love the analysis that you did. What a great way of shifting perspective.

  13. Rebecca says:

    I am a former runner (about your age) turned biker. Get a bike, you will learn to love it as much as running. It’s a great way to get your exercise – I promise!

  14. bea medwecky says:


    I’m sorry about your toe, but am very happy that it’s nothing more serious. Im’ also thinking on how I can help my husband cope with double hip surgery (he’s only 51) which will prevent him from playing tennis, his life-long love and exercise.

    Also, I am going to steal your idea for my journal. Your Assumption: Reaction: New Reality: What I’ve learned: This is so simple, yet ultimately so helpful in many areas of ones life. Two months ago I got “divorced” from a super-close friend that I cared for dearly. Right now I am in the assumption, reaction stage. Moving on to the next two will be very, very beneficial for me. Thanks so much for the wonderful idea.

  15. I too have made the discovery of “reality” really only being my own perspective (not to be confused with absolute truths, but I digress.) Sometimes lately, it’s been a very comforting discovery too.

    Hey, did you know that the women’s record for a 20K competititve walk is 1:31? Sheesh, that’s some fast walking. Anyway, for what it’s worth, is a wonderful site dedicated to competitive walking. If I didn’t have four kids ages 3-11, I’d probably want to take a shot at training for a 10K. For me, for now, it’s a 2.2 mile family walk 3x/week, and working out on my Ultra Glide for 30 minutes every other day (plus Pilates when I’m up for it.) That’s about all this 45½ year old mom can handle for now. ;) Thanks for sharing your thoughts out loud, Stacy. New seasons. So many blessings AND challenges wrapped up in them. You will find your new way.

  16. Lynnette says:

    Stacy, I’m so glad for your sake that you found a doctor that knew how to get to the underlying issue and explanation rather than just saying ‘deal with it and here’s a pain pill’ — That in itself is another blessing. Sometimes knowing doesn’t change the outcome, but it sure helps us move on with our attitude and outlook! Good luck with the biking and whatever other exercise form you choose to pursue! :)

  17. I have always been amazed how you came back from the surgery so well and it seemed to not really affect your lifestyle and that you’ve been super active, etc. So on with a new phase then? I’m glad you’re able to embrace this perspective change. Hugs and brownies!

  18. Tammy B says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Stacy! I, too, have been suffering from an interesting change, or shift if you will, in my body lately and today I was almost in tears just going for a walk. My hips are twisted from several factors – having children, exercise and who knows what else. Almost three years ago I broke my right big toe at the gym. The over-compensation on my left side from limping seemed to throw out my back and hips even more and today, I’m paying for it. I have an unknown hip ailment that can be excruciating when I walk, running is out of the question and certain exercises that I have been doing for years cause me grief. My doctor tells me to go to physio but I think that there is something else amiss. Anyway (after that long story), I can definitely feel your frustration and understand how it can throw your every day life into turmoil. I’m thinking that I will take a page from Cathy Z’s book and try the pool for a while. Maybe that will help. I love reading your blog and watching your videos and hope that everything takes a better turn for you!!

  19. Kathy Jo Camacaho says:

    Thank you for sharing. You are a great teacher; both in scrapbooking and in life. Your stories, perspective and solutions always inspire me.

  20. Nancy M says:

    Excellent post… thank you for sharing. Hugs to you.

  21. Rhonda H says:

    You are rallying in the typical Stacy fashion…with common sense, diligence, and flexiblity.
    Keep up the good work. YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

  22. Oh Stacy: thank you! I so appreciate this post even though it took me two days to find it. You are inspiring in your ability to be a real person. You inspired me to look back at my “in reality” and blog about it. Thank you, thank you.

  23. Wow, is that ever interesting. I’m glad you’ve got answers, and I admire your perspective on a not-so-welcomed situation.
    Sometimes my reality needs to be a big slap in the face in order to move to acceptance and/or change.
    I’m certain I’m really going to enjoy your reality posts also.

  24. I love that you are always learning and reminding us to, as well. I love my running, even through injuries, and coming back afterward. I miss it when I’ve been injured and have had a difficult perspective-as in life. Thanks for turning the picture around for us! :)

  25. When my husband had his hips replaced, one of the MOST surprising things to me was how painful his ITB was. It took literally MONTHS of massage & therapy to get that thing to stretch out, since it had tightened and shortened and then strengthened itself that way in order to support his 20+ years of awkward walking (because of those hips). After the surgery, too, and once he’d gotten back into “normal” mode, his ankles stopped hurting AND he’s not had a lower back ache once.

    I write all of that just to reinforce what you are learning in your own body…they try their best to recompensate! Isn’t it amazing that your toe could help your entire body in such a way? reading this seriously gave me tears.

    I feel your not-running pain. It gives such a mental boost to everything. I have found, though, that hiking—nice, long, hard hikes—does the same, if not even more. I can’t do it as often as I run because I don’t have a mountain just outside my door, like I do a road, but I hike whenever I can. Maybe you could explore some of those Washington peaks?

    HUGS as you continue on your journey. I’m glad you are sharing it. Even if you can’t run…writing is a great therapy too!

  26. ana smith says:

    I, too, wondered ‘why me?’ when my 2nd toe on my left foot became a ‘hammer’ toe. Now, 7 years later, it’s happening to the 2nd toe on my right foot. I’m learning to adjust to the pain in both feet, no jazzercise (for now), no barefoot walking, very cushy shoes (and expensive), because two doctors have told me the surgery and the recovery are very painful. Plus, it could recur in one or both feet. YAY! Lucky Me! All in all, I feel very blessed…’s not life threatening. Take care of yourself, Stacy, you have much to offer the world.

  27. I think that it is really cool and brave for you to share your journey. Your insights and willingness to look at things long enough to understand the “reality” are a gift. Thanks for sharing your life with us:)

  28. Wow Stacy. That is really powerful. I so very much appreciate your posts and your honesty. I go around the scrapbooking blogosphere and I frequently feel like I am being sold a bill of goods called “Internet Perfection.” Everyone is so busy posting photos of and talking about their fabulous lives, and plain little people like me can get a real complex reading all this stuff. When one wonderful scrapbooker whom I just adore posted a problem that was bothering her was finding cute dishtowels, and her solution was Williams Sonoma brand, 2 towels for $18 (is that $9 for a dishtowel??) and little old me has lost most of what I owned and all I had saved and worked for due to the economy, and is going to a food pantry to eat… how do i connect with that???? Right?? So I really appreciate your willingness to crack open the door and say, hey it’s not all sunshine and roses here, but I really am trying. How, in fact, DOES one scrapbook the ordinary and everyday when one does not even LIKE what life is like right now? That is a problem I identify with. The whole Why Me thing too. I have found your shift in perspective thing really valuable. Maybe someday I’ll look back on this time and I’ll see there was some reason for it all, and it will all make sense. thanks for giving ME a new perspective — or at least, the belief there may be one, and that one day, I may actually find it.

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