Almost everything I write about comes from inspiration in my daily life, my ideas and passions and most of all, my experiences and the understanding that comes from them. In a short life I've lost & gained so much. I've picked up & started over more times than I want to think about and in doing so, I've come to understand some things that help us in this process of starting over, of learning again, of seeing ourselves anew.
But the trick that comes with taking time to share my passions, to connect with others and say, You are not alone, is to remember to care for myself as well. So often I am passionately writing down an idea or experience and linking it to helpful pieces and adding music that inspires me and singing in the shower and telling anyone who will listen.
This doesn't leave as much time to be still. To practice restorative yoga, to buy a card for someone I love, to drink enough water, and my body quickly reminds me that as much as my mind feels sharp & free and happy as a writer, my body is still in the cage of my illnesses. I have to honor that. We have to honor ourselves and remember to take time each day to care for ourselves.
In the case of chronic illness, autoimmune disorders, severe blood clots, that self care takes on a whole new meaning. Most of my day is spent trying to care for my body & mind or trying to cajole them to go with me into the day I want to have. Sometimes the answer is no. Last night the answer was no.
I usually spend several hours each night awake, in pain; massaging my leg, my stomach, making a tea to sooth or just laying in the fetal position, begging for the sun to rise. Last night was worse than most and left me wondering, When will this end?
The answer so often is, of course, that this will end when my life ends. I will get better at managing it, I already have. I will gain mental and emotional strength and sometimes those will translate to physical strength. Sometimes they won't and I will writhe in pain & that's again where the mental strength comes in.
I fight every day. I find peace every day. I hope that no matter where you are in your journey, you find ways every single day to do something your future self would thank you for.
Write down the things that restore you. Literally make a list and look at it and do something from that list every day. For me sometimes it's feeling fresh air on my skin. On bad pain days that is what I can still do for myself. Some days it is just literally laying on the yoga mat, listening to my video, visualizing those movements and visualizing a body strong enough to do them. Other days I stand tall I tree pose and I am in balance and I feel free.
During my toughest month of recovery I literally took an anger management course online. I was still not able to walk without collapsing and so angry at the world and at fate & God and life that I knew I needed actual, real life tactics to deal with this anger.
I learned a lot of surprisingly beautiful lessons about the human brain but the one I took away the most was this: Essentially we all have two buckets of emotion. One is for good feelings and one is for bad. You might think that if your bucket of bad feelings is completely full, then your good must be empty but often that's not the case at all, we can spend weeks or months or years of our life completely full to bursting of both extreme happiness & joy & fulfillment and extreme pain, anger, sorrow, guilt, and loss.
We can also spend long periods of time where one or both of our buckets are almost completely empty. If you look back on your life, you'll probably be able to pinpoint just where our "buckets" of emotion were during each stage and see what that meant for our lives, our loves, our goals & our feelings about ourselves.
The trick is to truly figure out the the things that deplete us and the things that build us up, fill our goodness quotent, bring us joy.
We may never fully get rid of every drop in that negative emotions bucket but it is possible to pour almost all of it out through finding what causes us sadness and addressing that. We'll never be able to be truly healthy in our minds (the most important part of our body) if we simply try to cover the bad with a bunch of good. The idea is to add to your good as much as you can each day and address the bad things that are holding you down.
For me, addressing my chronic pain, insomnia, blood issues, lack of circulation in my leg, feelings of loss and sadness about the beautiful career I built and the family I saw happening are the pieces I really needed to deal with at that time and things that I continue to address as often as possible.
Addressing these things has allowed space in my heart and in my life for the good things that needed room to expand.
Each day I try to do at least one of these things: yoga, meditation, massage (I practice the massage techniques I learned in physical therapy), connection with other survivors, the ritual of healing tea, prayer, counseling, fresh air on my skin, time with supportive loved ones, aromatherapy, and many more things to fill my happiness bucket.
The past few days have been a reminder to walk the walk, to remember my own advice, to put my health first. I am so passionate about what I'm building at Survival & Peace and if I could, I would spend each moment building more and more, reaching further and further to tell other survivors, other people in pain, You are not alone.
But I have to check myself and remember what it's like to be back in the hospital. To be making posts from an infusion ward. And those can't be helped, they are my disease, but they can be lessened.
Today I hope more than anything that you have a passion. Passion is what drives life, it is what creates great innovation, great friendships, great food & writing & art and families & schools & lives. And I hope you are walking your walk. Being accountable to yourself most of all. Addressing your bad feelings and boosting your good.
I've already heard about so many passions inspired by posts here & I'd love to hear about what your passionate about today. Learn something new, love yourself, seek peace.
Lots of Love,