I honestly would have thought my only problem with this ever would be telling myself to get up and move. The new issue is knowing when to slow down, or even stop, so that I can pace myself and recover routinely – and it is not easy for me. I find it frustrating the moments that I get a clear signal that tell me I am run down and need a break.
Listening to your body is important. We have to do it with what we eat (or don’t eat!), and this is no different. Keeping up the same pace day after day is asking for a burn-out, and if you live with autoimmune disease like I do, that bears some serious consequences. Yesterday my weather shifted, the gloom hit me pretty hard, and I only took a short hike followed by a nap. Today the message was slow down and adjust, so I am taking it very easy. Cold weather is not friendly to any type of rheumatic condition, or to Fibromyalgia for that matter, and it will also antagonize injuries. As much as things have changed for me, don’t think that I don’t have my off days. There is a difference between having a feeling and acting on it. I simply have to make good decisions about what to do moment to moment. Today is a yellow light. Slow down. Hot shower, warm clothing, heater, and a break is just right. Tomorrow is a new day.
I’ll take a second here to promote my Facebook page called Mariposa Climes. The purpose is to feature inspiring individuals and groups, primarily amongst those that live with illness, disability, or injury, and those that have made full or substantial recoveries from devastating injuries – the type they were told they could not or would not likely come back from. I take my own inspiration and motivation from people like this, and I am always looking for stories to share. When I see someone else that is either beating the odds by returning to former glory, or going beyond it, or even finding a new niche that suits their adaptive framework, it makes me want to work harder. I look with pure joy at Montel Williams (MS – continuing career), Sean Stephenson (osteogenesis imperfecta – motivational speaker), Jody Gehrmann (SLE – climbed Kilimanjaro for Lupus awareness this year), Karina Hollekim (shattered both legs when her chute didn’t open – walking & on skis again), Jeb Corliss (multiple severe injuries – still an incredible athlete), Lonnie Bissonette (paraplegic – still BASE jumping), and too many others to name. No matter what these people are doing, the thing they have in common is that they are DOING. They are not buying the lie. Passion and purpose – for something that matters to you – is enough to disprove the lie. It takes dedication and hard work. It takes time.
I’ll repeat what I have said before. How bad do you want it? Every single day I see and hear people talking about the things they supposedly want to do, and the things they wish they had. There is no difference between them, and me, and any of the people I listed above, other than a decision made. When you activate your will to do something, nobody is going to stop you. That is what it takes.
Someone told me recently that they were not following Mariposa Climes because it reminded them of everything they haven’t done with their life. My jaw dropped. It is a perspective that never occurred to me, because I want all of the inspirational images and stories that I can possibly immerse myself in. I want to hear about how things are possible, not hide out grieving over what didn’t happen yet. It saddens me that there are people avoiding input from those offering a demonstration of hope. In the autoimmune community, that is what we hear repeated all the time – hope, we need hope. I am here to tell you that looking to the Sean Stephenson’s and Jeb Corliss’s of this world will give you that hope if you let it happen. Someone in my life spent a year blind when he was younger, and ended up “accidentally” (if you believe in accidents) at a Buddhist temple instead of the VA center he was trying to get to one day. While floundering in a courtyard to figure out where he was and pick up dropped items – and receiving no help from an observing Monk – he heard a question that infuriated him initially but later became a deep and abiding truth in his life. “Do you always struggle so much?” We should all stop to ask ourselves that question in times of frustration at a challenge. It is not the impossible things that makes us so angry, and rile us into an inability to find Zen enough to focus on a solution. It is the things that we know good and well down in our souls that we are capable of, but lacking the will to apply our decisive action to that make us so mad. It is because we do know that it can be done, but it will be so hard compared to what we expected in life. We are truly just enraged that it is difficult, not that it is impossible. The impossible things are of no consequence.
I am doing things that I was told I could not do anymore. There will be more. I have never lived my life by anyone else’s framework, even as a child, and I am not about to start accepting it now. I lost the last decade to a stronger belief in medical science and proclamations than I had in myself. I can either let myself stay stuck in the lie and the regret around it, or I can pick up the pieces and move again. The point I am making is that it really doesn’t matter what it is – if you love to take walks in a park, and you can’t stand up, then that is just as big of a challenge to address as it is for an extreme athlete to get back into a wingsuit and get in the air again after a protracted rehab. What do you love that much? Something you love so much that for you it is like breathing, and you want it so badly that you will fight for it. A nod here to my friend JJ, who calls her trips to the mall her version of hiking. She recognizes the enormity of comparison between where she has been and where she is now. She loves herself enough to congratulate herself for doing something, even if it might seem small to someone that finds no challenge in the activity. We each have to learn to value our own path, and (as I have said for years) the hand that we are dealt. Own it.
I hope that today you will look for something that inspires you. If hope is what you want, then water that mental garden and look at beautiful examples of what happens when you make decisions and put your will into it. Let yourself dream a little. We have life traffic signals to let us know when it is safe to go, when we need to stop, and when it is wise to slow down and take precautions. Just remember… signals change. It’s not going to turn red and stay there forever. If it’s busted and doesn’t switch, just turn the corner and leave it there. 😉