Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dancing in the Rain

If there's one thing I'm good at, it's taking care of people. 


If there's one thing I'm horrible at, it's letting people take care of me. Ok, well, I was horrible at it, but I've spent the past two years practicing. A lot.

A diagnosis of a chronic  illness or an injury or surgery can be life-changing. Perhaps the biggest change for some is going from the caretaker role to being the recipient of care. Asking for an accepting help can be nearly impossible for some. The concept not being able to do for oneself can be devastating. 

After I got my psoriatic arthritis diagnosis, it took me a long time to learn that it's A Matter of Perspective

One of the biggest changes in perspective I’ve had recently has centered on my need to slow down and learn how to live with my psoriatic arthritis, rather than fight my body to maintain an unreasonable level of activity. It’s been difficult to go from doing to being. Finding joy in stillness and slowness has had its challenges but has created a sense of balance and the ability to live in the moment. Physical slowness has allowed me to slow down my thoughts and perceptions so that I can move thoughtfully through my day and has transformed my world into one of beauty and relative peace. I notice more of the beauty of the world around me and in the people around me. I have more time to be thankful for the blessings in my life, to let go of the what-ifs and concentrate on the now.

Going from doing to being - how glorious that once sounded! Everyone can use a break, right? Who wants to do housework? Don't we all deserve to have someone wait on us every now and then? Apparently, willingly taking time off to be pampered is completely different from being forced in some way to take time off from normal activities to recuperate. Or is it? Why can we open ourselves to being taken care of if it's our idea, but not if it's thrust upon us? That's where perspective enters the picture.

“When it rains it pours. Maybe the art of life is to convert tough times to great experiences: we can choose to hate the rain or dance in it.”      ~Joan Marques

During my last big flare, when I was having issues with my arms as well as my legs, much of the housework was left to the children, and most of our away from home activities were put on hold. Feeling myself sinking into depression over my inability to feel helpful or effective, I realized a change in thinking was in order. I replaced each negative thought, including dozens of "I can't do anything"s, with gratitude:

I am thankful to have children who can help with housework. My husband brings me hot rice socks, medicine and coffee because he loves me. I can concentrate on life's essentials - love, laughter, nourishment of body and soul - and let go of what doesn't work for me now.  I'm blessed with friends who will stop by with groceries or a meal to help out my family. I can take time to notice and fully appreciate the small things in life - a hot bath, a soothing up of tea, a good book, a heartwarming movie. I have more time to dream

At one point, before major illness hit, I made a list of what I'd do if I ever had time to myself. Because, hey - I had time! I rediscovered that list and I did as many of those things as I could - caught up on reading, tv shows online, got in touch with friends I hadn't contacted in too long, cuddled in bed with my kids and told them stories from my childhood and theirs. I had a wonderful time! 

So during difficult times, take a step back and re-focus. Write yourself a letter as a reminder to treat yourself with kindness and compassion. And dance in the rain.

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