The Changes, The Challenges, and The Chump in Control

Indeed, it is back to reality now on all fronts, but this time, reality is wrought with change.

Please do not interpret this post as one large complaint, as that is not my intention. Rather, it’s my attempt at authenticity as I share a sliver of what it is like living with Lupus and Fibromyalgia.

Last week was a sea filled with many changes as I returned for my 16th year of teaching, including (but not limited to) adjusting to a completely new schedule and a substantial increase in daily physical activity (in part a byproduct of said new schedule).

I began each day with a short meditation and a smile. I put my best foot forward with my heart in the right place and a positive “Let’s do this!” attitude.

Each day proved to be a challenge, and at the end of the day, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of “Nope. I. Can’t. Do. This.

The summer months off benefits my health greatly. I obviously get a lot more sleep, but I am also able to rest after any sort of activity. Whether it’s after mowing the lawn, exploring our world, or racing after my niece and nephews, I have the time to recuperate and re-energize. If I’m still tired, I take it slow. Even while in Dublin, the schedule I made for myself each day included time to sit and rest. I walked, then I sat, and repeated during the entire trip.

When September arrives, reality drops like a sack of cement bricks from the top of a 10-story building.

On the first day of school, the green flag furiously waves to start the race, and every day from then on through June, it’s go-go-go-go-go from the time I wake at 4:45 AM until well after the end of my work day.

The result?

I am depleted of energy yet “energized” with pain well before my work day is done. I chose the word “energized” because the pain throughout my muscles and joints is like an electric current, radiating and moving up and down while simultaneously throbbing in singular locations such as my inner hip bones and knees. Sitting only stiffens me up, but because I’m so fatigued, I have no choice but to sit when I can, and that’s not often.

My brain is also shot, full of fog and clouds and headache and other barriers to intelligent thought, creativity, and concentration.

It has been nearly impossible to complete any sort of professional responsibilities after my last class at school or after I get home. Likewise, I cannot do laundry, clean, write, or even take a short walk around the block. My eyelids begin closing well before dusk, all the while pain circulates throughout my body and pulsates in my head.

My symptoms are again in control already, and I hate it. So disappointing.

I honestly give everything I have, day in and day out, to my profession, but my diseases end up rendering me physically and mentally useless.

I really don’t think I’m asking too much by wanting to have a life after my work day ends, but with the pain and fatigue, how is that even possible?

After just one week, I already feel like I’m being pulled under and there’s no…

Wait a minute….

What’s that?

I notice a hand with manicured black fingernails reaching for mine.

The lifeguard who is trying to save me is my spirit guide, full of assertiveness, comfort, and hope.

SHE pulls me up and says, “Your purpose is stronger than your pain.

I can hear her voice, in my head, saying those words, like she is standing right next to me.

And I want so hard believe her.

She also says, “Hey you…work on your book already, dammit. You can find time to write at least 200 words each day, you chump.

In her unique and sassy way, SHE has already led me to the revelation of my purpose: teaching, writing, and living.

And now SHE is reassuring me, guiding me towards what’s ahead, what I should be doing, with emphatic certainty.

I can see it, a small glimmer of a speck of light, the light that’s shining ahead.

It’s going to take a while to reach, but it’s there.

Mind over matter, she says, mind over matter, and minute by minute. The light that shines ahead is nothing to be afraid of.

I breathe out my uncertainties. They are now dispelled from my being.

I inhale nothing but possibility and positivity.

My passions and purpose MUST be stronger than my pain.

Last week was nothing more than an anomaly, a road block, a mere short detour on my journey.

I sternly tell the pain it is NOT necessary or wanted, that it needs to vacate the premises immediately and to take the fatigue with it. It’s time for both to get the heave-ho.

My body will listen and adjust to my new “normal” for the next 10 months, as it doesn’t have a choice.

The kinks in my daily schedule will be worked out, and each day will be easier than it’s yesterday.

I will prioritize what is most important each day, balancing my teaching responsibilities with time to write and time to live. The three will live in harmony so I can live in joy.

My symptoms are no longer in the driver’s seat, rather, I am the chump who is in charge and in control.

I’ve GOT to believe…

I am stronger than my pain. My soul is stronger than my pain. My purpose is stronger than my pain.

Well, would you look at that?

Instead of feeling like I’m drowning, I am standing firmly on the shore with my focus on that tiny glimmer of light that shines ahead strong and steadfast.

Postscript: Just to reiterate so I am not misinterpreted, I am the CHUMP referenced in the title. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

“‘Sea’ What We Are”

Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” has been one of my favorite books ever since I first read it back in the dark ages of the mid-1980’s.  The story of Scout, Jem, Atticus, Boo, Tom and Dill always resonated with me, not so much because of the moral messages, but moreso because it brings back memories of childhood summers, when I didn’t have to have a care in the world.  In fact, when I used to teach summer school, I would save this book for the last book we would read, hoping that it would make the same impact on my students, but I could never read the last two pages out loud because they made me tear up.

Yes, that’s the sap in me.

But, that’s also the problem with me.

There’s a difference in looking back fondly on wonderful, nostalgic memories and in letting the past having a hold on the present.  And that’s where my guilt lies.

I have spent too much time over the last 20+ years looking back in retrospect.  They say that “Hindsight is 20/20,” and I completely agree with that.  My problem, though, is that I wasted hours re-doing events from the past 20 or so years in my mind the RIGHT way, and wistfully wishing for the impossibility of a different outcome.  The bad decisions, the heartache, the burned bridges, the wasted money…all of it.

I am guilty of letting past failures overshadow present goodness and worth, which as a result negatively affected my PRESENT peace of mind and wasted time I could have spent in a more positive manner.

This ties in perfectly with what I found to be the most powerful three sentences in Harper Lee’s newly released and highly anticipated book, “Go Set a  Watchman.”  Since “TKAM” is one of my favorite books, and since I am a high school English teacher, I had to get the book the day it was released.  Once it was in my hands, I finished it in three days.

If you haven’t read it, this will not be a spoiler by any means, and I do not wish to discuss any praises or flaws with the book itself.

However, this one passage really hit home:

“Remember this also:  it’s always easy to look back and see what we were, yesterday, ten years ago.  It is hard to see what we are.  If you can master that trick, you’ll get along.” – Dr. John Finch/Harper Lee

When I read that, I stopped and re-read it at least 3o times.  I wrote it down in on a post-it to put in my planner.  And I really thought about it…

It is easy to look back and see what we WERE…it is hard to see what we ARE.

And it is so true.

For years, instead of seeing what I AM, I saw what I WAS, which as Dr. Finch said, was easy to do.

But, doing that took precious moments and time away from my PRESENT and my FUTURE, leading to stress and disappointment, to disillusionment and bitterness rather than to acceptance and peace.

But NOW…

I “SEA” WHAT I AM.

I definitely haven’t mastered it like Dr. Finch advised, but I realize the importance of what I AM and of my place in the NOW.

I cannot change the past.  That is done.  And it took me this long to finally admit it.

I will no longer wish to change or apologize for the things I did or the choices I made.  I’ve done my time and asked for forgiveness for too long, most importantly, from myself.

Instead, the person I AM, who is a result of all of those things and choices, forgives me and will focus on and live in the PRESENT (while acting responsibly for my future self).

So, what am I?  Well, let’s “sea”…

I am a wife.  A partner.  A writer.  A photographer.  A teacher.  A student.  A sister.  A daughter.  An aunt.  A daughter in law.  A sister in law.  A friend.  A colleague.  A collector.  An observer.  A reader.  A thinker.  A doer.  An ambassador for kindness.  A traveler.  A woman.  A person.  An “endurer.”

And, most importantly, I am a human following Dr. Finch’s advice of mastering the art of seeing what I am, one day at a time.

 

20150722 Quote

 

So, what are you?  I’d love to know.

Until next time,

Jill