My life changed dramatically in the past year. I began working full-time, my husband and I bought a house on 5 acres, and I needed to find a new health team. I put my blog on the back burner because it was an obligation that I could not add to my busy plate. But I’ve missed the process of writing and sharing. It is a project that gives me purpose. While sometimes a painful and challenging process, clicking submit always satisfies.
I am not sure where my writings will lead this time around. Reading past postings, I realized that there was too much about my health challenges. How boring is that?! My original intention was writing as a motivator, educator and counselor but it sounded more like a whiner. I do not feel pity for myself so why would I write like I was seeking consolation from others?
This time around, perhaps Erato, the poetry muse, will bless me with inspiration more often. Perhaps my camera lens will document some of the remarkable landscape, creatures, and loved ones that surround my life. All I know for certain is that I want to nudge my creative self.
I continue to manage life with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyletis (we have to find a new name for this disease!) and fibromyalgia. Postings will continue to be influenced by my chronic illness, as it is a component of my life. But now I plan on sharing experiences from my exploration of ways that enhance my life – increasing joy and giving purpose in life.
Several years ago, I was sickened and disgusted as most dog lovers and decent human beings when I read about NFL football player, Michael Vick running a dog fighting ring. I don’t even tolerate my own dogs growling at each other so I cheered when Vick went to jail, jeered when he returned to the NFL, and rejected his claims of rehabilitation and having greater appreciation of dogs and other animal welfare.
Yesterday, I read that Vick repaid his $20 million in debt and for the first time thought, “Good for him.” He didn’t file for bankruptcy, negotiating, or running away, Vick manned up. Vick earns a hefty $3.5 million this year for playing football, not to mention a likely fortune with Nike.
But why do I care? Once again, I found myself fighting battles. A chronic fatigue syndrome/fibro flare caused by a virus, stress, or over activity reared its ugly head and knocked me down. Finances went from bad to worse. Not working steadily for the past four years depleted my savings. My husband is an Agriculture teacher and let’s just say that educators are not highly valued in Texas. Recently, we have received some assistance from a generous donor which has helped us tremendously. Until moving to the Lone Star State, I have worked and supported myself since college. I was independent and a hard worker. But some called me enabled for accepting assistance or just plain lazy. As chronic sufferers would surely agree, try living in our body for just one week!
But My admiration for Vick returning the money he owed and fighting to win a spot back as top quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles served as a reminder for me. I too have struggled and overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges at times in my life. Things have not always turned out as I planned and goals were unsuccessful. But I accepted defeat, learned, and moved on. I am resilient!
I took a break from writing this summer to try and give my mind some rest. I’ve been scattered, confused, and shooting in the dark. In other words, I was not planning, I was just doing. I knew what I wanted to do but stress, fear, anxiety, and defeatism kept me from effectively thinking, organizing and doing.
This is the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and as a Jew this is the time of year for change to occur. More so than January 1st so future blogs will very likely describe my journey towards the next phase of my life.
“Losing a battle or losing everything we thought we possessed will bring us moments of sadness. But when those moments pass, we will discover the hidden strength that exists in each of us, a strength that will surprise us and increase our self-respect.
We will look around and say to ourselves: ‘I survived.’ And we will be cheered by our words.”
The above quote is from Manuscript Found in Accra by Paul Coelho, which I am currently reading. Coelho is author of the remarkable book The Alchemist. In the Manuscript, Coelho talks a lot about defeat, experience, and love. Many of Coelho’s writings resonate with me. Anticipate more quotes in future postings.
I survived many obstacles in my life single, alone, and independently. I am now married to a loving, caring, and supportive husband. I have some incredibly loving, supportive, and loyal family members. The moment of sadness has passed for me. I survived and I know my life will continue to be full of hope and joy.
Since my February surgery and new prescription regimen, I feel overall improvement in my health. But I still have aches, pains and days of feeling kind of cruddy. This morning began as one of those days. My morning walk was sluggish, my motivation waned, and I kept thinking how good a morning nap would feel. Alas, it was another Monday with much to do and responsibilities to keep.
Usually, working from home is a pleasure for me. Discipline and distractions are occasionally problematic but that also happened when I worked in an office. What’s great about being home, is my distractions are much more entertaining than any office building. Today was a prime example of a welcome distraction turning into an hysterical episode at the Webb house.
Amigo, the horse, spent much of the morning calling his new bff , a newly arrived mare who lives next door. Every time Amigo whinnied, Homer and Luna excitedly barked and ran through the house convinced Amigo was calling them. After an hour of this nonsense, I finally wised up and decided it
was time to change this behavior.
I slipped off my flip-flops, pulled up my cowboy boots and took the dogs out to the pasture. I cued Amigo to run and it took little encouragement with two dogs yapping at his hooves. With a buck and a kick or two, Amigo trotted out and circled around. This would never do. Urging him on, soon Amigo took off in a full gallop with two black dogs quickly losing ground behind him. After a few minutes, Amigo returned to his yearning post while the dogs happily panted with their tongues hanging.
As I filled Amigo’s trough and the dogs’ outside water bowls, I noticed Luna heading towards the dirt road. I called her but she has occasional selective deafness. In other words, Luna ignored me. Dumbfounded, I watched my beautiful shiny black-haired Luna lay down, stretch and roll over in the brown pool. How does she know that mud baths are good for her coat and skin???
Feeling great after her bath, Luna took off running around the yard. Of course, she wasn’t going into my house covered in mud. Hose still in hand, I managed to stop her before she could reach the dirt driveway.
Apparently, the well water was cooler and more satisfying than the puddle, for Luna stood poised while I sprayed her down from head to tail until every hair was once again its lovely ebony. Finally setting her free, I called all dogs to the back yard. Luna did her happy 360 dance, prance and run. Next thing I know, she’s scratching her back on the dirt driveway. Ugh! What can I do but laugh at my girl’s silly antics. She’s having so much fun, loving life, being a dog, and happy, happy, happy!
Once again, I grab the stinker who now has burrs, twigs, and who knows what else in her coat. Watered down once more, I wisely keep her close as I lead her into the fenced in yard. Hours later, I smile as I look at Luna twitching and running as she sleeps. Yeah, laughter is good for what ails you.
“Ow!” I yelp as I leaned on my wrist a bit too heavily.
“What did you do now?”, my husband asked.
“Nothing. It’s just the phantom is in my wrist today.”
This is a common exchange between me and my husband. He seems to think that I’m a klutz. Just because he’s seen me stub and break a couple of toes and observed countless bruises on my legs from bumping into things doesn’t mean all my pain is the result of some self-induced injury.
I call these mystery pains, ‘the phantom’, as they mysteriously attack and leave various joints without warning. These are the traveling pains that are sharp and cause weakness to the joints. If the pain is in my ankle, I am unable to walk. If it moves to my wrist, I cannot open a jar or bend down to kiss my husband. In about 10 minutes, the attacker is gone and there are no lingering effects.
Sometimes I wish that there was evidence that these illegal immigrants invaded my body. There is no joint swelling and test results are negative when I visit the doctor in acute pain. It confounds me every time that my symptoms rule out other diseases and rule in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. I feel relief that rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or another serious more life threatening illness tests return negative but frustrated that there is never a definitive answer only ruled out diseases. Furthermore, the elusiveness of these dual illnesses admittedly cause emotional setbacks at times.
Then, my husband says something to make me smile or I watch my dogs interact with each other or with the cat and my low mood transforms to joy at the simple pleasures that life offers. The phantom slips back into hiding for a bit. Yeah, I have discomforts in life but they are nothing compared to the simple moments that bring me joy. I’m so lucky.
Imagine changing your way of life by improving the function of your brain. Mind & body expert and bestselling author, Deepak Chopra, claims we can do just that in an article I read recently on the CNN website. Apparently, we can make our brains work better simply by thinking we can improve them and the best way for us to relate to our brain is to ‘inspire it’.
The ways Chopra suggests improving brain function are also important aspects of living better despite chronic illness & pain that I coach my clients. The brain is a powerful muscle requiring exercise and a bit of TLC for best results. By changing how we think of ourselves, new adventures and opportunities await.
Below is an abbreviated list on how you can inspire your brain to work better:
Avoid dull routines
Do something creative everyday
Read something inspirational everyday
Take time daily to relax, meditate, self-reflect
Deal with negative emotions such as anxiety and anger
Love and Be loved – it’s a worthwhile risk
Take some time to notice and appreciate nature daily
Follow a personal vision – how do you want to live your life?
Participate in at least one activity that fulfills
Get involved in a cause that is bigger than you.
The article continues with thoughts in your brain that you should ignore. Not surprisingly, the thoughts to ignore are: passivity such as letting life take care of itself; inflexibility in daily routines and opinions; and allowing feelings of stress, anger or anxiety get the best of you.
For many of us, inspiring our brain may seem like an overwhelming task. But with encouragement and patience, I believe everyone can do it. I also think it especially important for sufferers of chronic illness to work on inspiring their brain, for it is through these activities that living better becomes possible.
This time last year, I wrote about my distaste for resolutions (see post below). I still feel the same but I am in the process of developing major changes in 2013 by setting personal and professional goals intended to improve my health and quality of life. Goals are achievable and measurable outcomes that have clear, step by step plans of action to success. Goals require thoughtful consideration, documentation, and flexibility. Goals need periodic reassessment and nurturing. Resolutions are whims and wishes that can easily be broken year after year.
For example, one of my professional goals for 2013 is to build and expand the number of blog followers, Facebook likes, and website sign ups for each of my sites. This requires a series of marketing steps over the next several months. I can easily measure my success by the number of hits on each site.
It is sheer coincidence that the changes I begin making now occur as one year ends and another begins. As the new combination of medications and vitamins relieve debilitating symptoms, my brain fog is dissipating. I decided to focus all of my professional energy on my life coaching and exploring the possibility of writing a book on living joyfully with chronic illness. I am exploring new ways that bring me greater satisfaction in personal development. In short, I have spent some time on my web of life, considered its weakness, and am working on strengthening it once again.
I have many dreams in my future but achieving my goals and setting new ones are
needed for my dreams to come true. Making new changes in life is kind of scary but it is also exciting. I realize that my chronic illness may need adjustments to timelines that I set but that’s okay. I know that my illness is part of me. But it is not
going to stop me from doing what I want and living the life I dream.
I can help you set new goals to live more joyfully despite chronic illness. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s schedule time to chat on the phone!
Resolution Free – Re-post from January 1, 2012
I want to briefly write about resolutions because I think they are foolish. Lose weight, quit smoking, exercise more, blah blah blah. Each year, people decide that this is the year of change but do they really want to make those changes or do they simply think they should because of how others may feel or because they don’t feel good about themselves.
The truth is, the calendar has no relevance to living and managing the life you want. If you want to do something, and you feel good then you are more likely to success. When you are up and in a positive mood and your instinct tells you the time is right, you will be able to think clearly and increase your chances of achieving your dream of a healthier and happier life.
When I made the decision to move to Alaska to become a school counselor in remote villages, it was not a resolution that made me do it. When the opportunity presented itself, I immediately took the opportunity because I knew in my gut it was the right thing to do. I owned a house that wouldn’t sell, a house full of furniture, memorabilia, and junk that needed dealing with but I didn’t care. I also have chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia and would be driving thousands of miles with two dogs.
Eventual Iditarod Winner Lance Mackey arrives first in Nulato, AK
Nothing is insurmountable if it’s what you believe is the right thing to do.
It may be cold outside but our hearts are warm
When I met my husband in the tiny village of Nulato, Alaska, I was not so much resigned but accepting of living my life as a single woman with my dogs. But my instinct for the first time, told me that this was a man who was good for me. After three years, we moved to his home state of Texas, married and life for me is as it should.
It wasn’t my resolution of 2011 to become a life coach for people with disabilities. Coaching was in the back of my mind for years but it just didn’t seem doable. In fact, my ‘aha moment’ came one night while in the midst of a fibro-flare up. I needed to take time off from completing my M.ED because I was unable to think straight, suffered low energy, and was functioning on auto-pilot and not with purpose. One night, it just hit me and I knew it was the perfect career choice. I got busy marketing, talking to people, and writing. I’ve had lots of experience in non-profit management, education, and even some corporate experience but knew nothing about starting my very own business. But I am finally working towards growing my dream career regardless of obstacles.
Of course nothing is easy and dreams are usually developed over time. You will know when the time is right to move forward and act. Your mood will be high, your thoughts clear, and you will follow your instincts.
Instead of making resolutions this year, consider your dreams and if you need to get your ‘head’ in the right place to move forward, I can help you move forward to strengthen your web of life.