Working Below the Surface

After months of surgeries, recovery and healing from a hedge trimmer accident in May that severely injured one of my fingers, I finally find myself in an emotional, mental and physical state of acceptance. It’s been quite the journey for me as I face the reality my finger will never bend again. It wasn’t easy.

If you’re anything like me, you have probably experienced periods in your life when you felt helpless, stagnant or impatient. When you can’t see any discernible progress, you conclude that nothing is happening at all. But just because you can’t see movement right this minute or day doesn’t mean that important work isn’t happening below the surface.

I was reminded of this by a gift I received from a dear friend at Christmas – a waxed amaryllis bulb. A waxed amaryllis is a bulb that’s coated in decorative wax and is completely self-sustaining. It requires almost no care because it’s already fully hydrated, which the wax seals in, and it has enough energy built up so it doesn’t need soil or additional water. The waxed bulb contains everything needed for flower stalks to slowly grow, eventually producing big, beautiful flowers.

My waxed amaryllis bulb is blooming now after seven weeks of waiting and watching. It seems the flowers have sprung from nothing as if by magic. But that’s not actually the case. Growth has always been taking place. The water locked into the dark confines of the wax has been sustaining the bulb all along, growing it in ways that I could see and not see, eventually creating today’s beautiful blooms. Visible evidence that important work was always happening below the surface.


Just as I waited and watched for my amaryllis to progress, I waited and watched for progress with my finger. Progress for me was measured as to whether the finger would bend or not – a clear, visible sign that something was working below the surface of my finger. For eight months, I waited. For eight months, I watched. For eight months, the progress I wanted to see, never happened.

I was reminded by my surgeon and physical therapist over and over that just because I might not always see progress in the way I wanted to see it, it didn’t mean that healing, strengthening and growth still wasn’t happening. Time would eventually reveal what was really working below the surface of my finger.

And so, I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And then, I felt something. It was a sensation. Something I had not felt in my finger since my injury. I had almost forgotten what it was like to feel my finger. The slight sensation slowly and gradually grew stronger over the months. The sense of touch returned to my finger – giving it new life. Working below the surface all this time, nerves slowly healed and strengthened. Progress was made. I just couldn’t see it. Or, maybe I couldn’t see progress the way I was wanting to see it.

When you find yourself waiting, watching and looking for signs of progress – whether it be in your personal life, with your own children or the students you work with – and you can’t see what you are looking for, don’t conclude that nothing is happening at all.


We are looking for progress in ways that can’t be seen or known in the moment or sometimes ever.

We are measuring progress in the wrong ways.

Waiting and patience can reveal progress.

Progress happens when you least expect it.

Progress occurs in ways you never thought possible.

Periods of seeming stagnation, frustration and disappointment are times when real work and progress is happening.

And, sometimes…

It takes a waxed amaryllis bulb to remind us that new life can bloom from below the surface.

P.S. Thank you for your patience during the absence from my blog over the past months. I have new life and I am back and ready to roll! Thanks for rolling along with me!