31 Jan

No Defeat

The winter is my least favorite season. It causes many of the auto-immune disorders I have to flare up. During the last few weeks, I’ve had low-grade fevers, my joints have been hurting, I have a body rash, and I’ve had low energy. I had to get painful injections to the web spaces in my hands, which caused hematomas and has weakened the strength in my hands. And I’ve caught my daughter’s cold. In a nutshell, I feel like crap.

When I get like this, it slows down my productivity on my projects, and I can’t exercise like I should. I blame myself and I start feeling like a slacker, worthless, and guilty. It’s not until I see another person struggling with similar circumstances and wanting to do more than they should, that I get some perspective on my own situation.

I can only take it one day at a time; I don’t know why I let myself stress about what’s due two or three days or weeks out. I already do more than I should. Unfortunately, I can’t (or I refuse) to stay home and “rest.” Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but I rested for far too long after the brain injury while my brain slowly healed. On any given day, I take stock of what I have to get done, and I put the absolutely necessary things at the top of the list, which always entail caring for Isabella. Thankfully I have a supportive husband who has my back at every turn. I can’t imagine getting through most days without his help.

It’s when things are tough that I mainly have to remember to be grateful for what I have. I could have it worse, and I try to be mindful that things will get better. I keep my faith, and I pray for strength and health for everyone who needs it. This chronic illness journey is a tough one, filled with ups and downs (lots of downs), but I refuse to let it beat me.

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16 Jan

Turn a “No” into a “YES”

I have heard plenty of “no’s” throughout my life. After the brain injury came the most devastating negations, “No you will never return to the practice of law,” “No you will never be physically active,” “No you will never have a child.”

Granted I was substantially behind the curve when I started therapy, not being able to take care of myself and being placed on about two dozen medications to stabilize my erratic symptoms. I’m sure the doctors’ denials came from a place of experience and caution. But I couldn’t accept “No.” I had overcome too much to get to where I was in life for me to adopt the doctors’ prognoses of my new life.

I worked hard towards the goals that I had (6 years of inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation), getting my legal license back and returning to volunteer work. I attended additional vestibular therapy so as to improve my balance and ultimately took up running, completing several races with the help of Achilles International guides. And although it took a year to convince the doctors and then to wean myself off my medications, Terrence and I were blessed with a healthy baby girl (Isabella just turned 7 last week).

When I was told “no,” I didn’t accept it. I kept trying, I found a new tactic, I asked for help, I kept a positive mindset, and I didn’t give up. If I have a calling to do something, if I am inspired, then I patiently keep plugging at it, while trying to have the denials “roll off my skin.” As a person of faith, I have learned to trust that God does things on Her/His schedule, not mine; that I will not be given all the answers. I am grateful to be blessed with a calling or a direction (I want to get my license back, become active again, have a child, share my story, write a book). As to the particulars of how I will get there, how the “Yes” will manifest itself, I do not know but I trust that it will come.

Believe that the “no” will turn into a “Yes.” Visualize it, be optimistic, and don’t give up. Yes, Si, Oui…you’ll get the answer you need when you need it.

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03 Jan

2015 Bucket list

This is the time of year when we make resolutions. I’ve stopped making NYE resolutions because after so many years of making them, I’ve realized (as I’m sure you have too), that they don’t work. By the end of the year we feel guilty about what we didn’t accomplish, so we set lofty unattainable goals for the following year—lose XX pounds, eat healthy, get a new job, live a happier life, etc. These goals are abstract and lack a concrete plan.

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I enjoy how much Isabella likes to set definitive goals for herself, “Mama, I’m going to read a long chapter book by the end of the week.” She lights up with excitement and writes down her accomplished goal when she finishes the book, “I read ‘Lulu’s Mysterious Mission.’ Next I’m going to write my own book.” And she does, a mystery about a cat, written and illustrated by her.

Inspired by my soon to be 7 year old daughter (her birthday is this week), I decided to write 12 bucket list things that I am going to accomplish in 2015. When I told Isabella, she was excited to join me (although she wanted to write 100 items on her list!) and by default, that meant Terrence also had to join us. We were visiting some good friends in Washington DC for NYE, so of course, they had to write their attainable 12 items as well.

Most of us easily wrote down 3 things, but then we put serious thought into 12 things that were important enough to be considered “bucket list” worthy but also doable within a year. When we shared the list with the group, we called each other out on items that were too lofty and needed to be broken down into achievable steps, something we could actually mark off. So that instead of “living a happier life,” I had, “go roller-skating and do other fun activities with Isabella, Terrence, & friends.” I know I can make myself do these activities and they, in turn, will make me happy.

Here’s to a fabulous 2015, and may you accomplish all of your bucket list dreams (aka achievable plans) this year.