Over the course of my life I have heard that my attitude makes all the difference. When I used to hear this kind of stuff I’d chalk it up to my parents or some other authority figure trying to control me in a way I didn’t want to be controlled.
When I got a little older I took some courses in psychology where I was taught that you can trick yourself into believing things that aren’t actual facts yet, at least when it comes to yourself. For example if you dont feel confident but you keep telling yourself you are a confident person and pointing out the things you did accomplish with confidence, well you’d wind up believing in yourself when it comes to confidence.
So I would try these little tricks of the kind when I was feeling the effects of a flare. I’d tell myself I did have the energy for a shower and getting dressed and my follow thigh would happen even if it was a huge struggle. And I’d basically carry on with whole day by breaking it up into little bits. Sure there were some things that became too much to do, but I would wind up the day by feeling really pleased with myself and all I had accomplished. I’d even feel proud when other people marvelled at how I pushed myself on despite being in a flare because I was in charge not my illness.
Here’s the rub though, I never enjoyed any of the time I spent pushing myself so hard. In fact I barely remember most of what I did and why I had to do it at that time. I just remember it felt like I was pulling myself through thick mud and there wasn’t a helping hand in sight. The reality is there were tons of helping hands, most of them trying to pull me out of the mud to rest when I had expected them to get into the mud and push me through. Truth be told, there was no real need to push myself so hard because the only person I had to prove anything to was myself. What I should have been doing was being more compassionate towards myself, caring a bit more about my health and less about how I could push through and beyond what some of my health coworker’s were doing.
As a result, my disease would flare horribly out of control and end up doing permanent harm to myself. Which I would then shrug off as I pushed through something else. It was a pretty regular routine in my part, until recently. You see I acquired a new member of my medical team and he put it to me like this: “why should I bother to put in time and effort to keep you alive and healthy if you won’t put in the same for yourself ?” He also told me that all my accomplishments in my personal life and my work life wouldn’t mean much if I ended up stuck in a hospital.
What I had realized was this man had listened to me talk with other lupus patients about the importance of rest and self-care while I refused to do the same for me. He wondered why I disliked myself so much that I saw no value in me as a person. And he voiced all of this and much more during one of my appointments. It’s not that I dislike myself or devalue myself (although I am my own worst critic), it’s that I felt that if I could push back at lupus id win the battle. I have since tried to shoe myself the same compassion and understanding I share with others who have a chronic illness and I must say it is a huge relief to not have to do more than I feel I can do. It’s nice to accept that some days having a shower and getting dressed is a huge accomplishment and that is perfectly fine. The only thing that has changed, and it’s such a small change with such a huge impact is that I’m allowing myself to be a woman who sometimes must stay within certain limitations, but those limitations do not reflect on my impact.
I grabbed my four-footed companion and took her with me for rounds to my various healthcare providers. We had gifts and much thanks to offer these wonderful people who do their best to keep me healthy despite me not always following orders.
My companion was of course a huge hit and she revelled in the attention she received. When one of the nurses opted to take my blood work to check if I’d be able to do my treatment tomorrow another one informed me that my companion required being snuggled. By the nurse rather than myself so that my companion wouldn’t see the blood being drawn from my arm.
I understand the logic that you don’t want a squirming puppy getting in the midst of a blood draw, and I can see the need to not have the patient hold the dog during this procedure. I don’t really understand the dog being upset seeing the blood being drawn from my arm. To be honest I don’t think the dog cares one way or another. Although she might be fascinated in watching the blood fill up the various tubes.
My companion was having none of this cuddling by a stranger. She kicked and she pushed, she squirmed and she wriggled all in an effort to get away from the stranger. She growled and whimpered until she was placed on my lap. Where she sat while we waited for the results.
When the rheumatologist came out to discuss the results she carefully assessed him. She seemed to understand when he told me I wouldn’t be able to have more treatment for this year. That’s what I took her sudden growling as. So did the rheumatologist. He apologized and tried to make nice to her, but she was having none of it.
The doctor wrote out prescriptions to get me through as best it can be and told me to snuggle the dog and hang on tight when things seem bad. Because the bad moments are not nay a speed bump, until you are the one dealing with them. Not exactly the gift I was hoping for, but within each moment we are provided lessons to learn. This one is to allow others to help, admit things aren’t all rainbows and the appreciation and gratitude I have for those in my life, especially the four-footed kind who don’t care about lupus or that I’m not able to do everything they want.
A friend suggested we head for some tea and scones to a place that welcomed pets. So free I finished submitting some reports, I headed off home to gather up my four-footed companion and then off to wet my friend.
The eatery is a quaint, wee place, seating no more than twenty people as plenty of space is between tables allowing for four-footed companions. I confess I was apprehensive about taking my own four-footed wonder in simply because she is a high energy type of puppy. She likes to get up close and personal as she checks out every thing, whether it’s the first time she’s encounters it or the one hundredth time. But she was on her best behavior. And thankfully the place wasn’t overly busy so she was the only dog who came in.
Most of the patrons were seniors enjoying a late afternoon tea with some nibbles. Once we found a place to sit, the owner immediately brought out meds and a bowl of water for the four-footed one. My little dog who can act like a devil behaved like angel enjoying all the attention and strokes she was getting while my friend and I sorted out our tea and scone selection.
While we waited for our order to arrive my four-footed friend insisted upon visiting with every person in place. Fortunately she was welcomed at each table, lapping up the attention as if she deserved it. An elderly couple took to her spirited nature and applauded her many tricks. And she too took to them. So much so that when my order arrived she happily wandered back to the couple and visited with them for a bit before coming back.
The owner of the shop even brought my four-footed companion a wee treat for being such a good girl. She also assured me we were welcome any time we wanted to drop by. Most of her customers, she told my friend and I, are elderly and having dogs come in help bring smiles to those faces.
I must confess it is nice to be able to take my four-footed companion with me rather than having to leave her behind. It’s nice she is welcome and I’m happy she is able to bring joy to others. We are working on getting her better behaved so she can do more visits with the elderly because everyone needs some pet time.
A close friend of mine mentioned her concern about winter quickly coming for a visit. Like myself she isn’t a fan of winter. Unlike me it throws her into a dark place, known as dispair and depression. To combat this she has special lights to deal with the lack of sunlight during winter where she lives. She is also provided medication if it is required.
Sh told me today that when winter comes she finds herself just going through the motions of living. She finds her interest fades, her joy and sense of celebration evaporate and she becomes robotic, carrying out what she must in order to survive and not create issues with her husband.
Addng injury to insult, so to speak, her husband adores winter. He loves snow piled up to his knees and a cold, bracing end. He skates, skis, snowshoes and rides snow machines. He loves the snow flying in his face and run coming home and having a warm drink. He has been known to camp in winter. In a tent of sorts. With a sleeping bag.
He doesn’t understand how much my friend dislikes winter. He “humours” her need for the special lights. He tolerates her scheduling one short vacation each winter to someplace warm and tropical. He considers her fears of winter, or rather the way winter impacts her, as being a little silly. He has cajoled, and forced her to go out and try winter activities. He doesn’t understand her lack of enjoyment.
How much of her concern and fears are based on not being understood? How much are based on not being taken seriously? I know for me those would be things I’d dread as well as the coming cod and snow. But I also known finding things to be grateful for helps me through the season that I dislike the most. Granted dislike winter is mild compared to what she goes through.
A gift arrived upon my door. A gift with two big eyes, a sweet temperament and four legs. Her tail had been docked and she still has puppy teeth. She is rather unlike any dog I had ever seen before with so much energy a small city could be powered by her bursts for short periods of time.
I wasn’t expecting her, I had sworn there wouldn’t be another. At least not for a while, but well here she is. A fluffy and smaller than a loaf of bread, but feisty as a sassy mature woman who knows what she wants. And she is mine. Well ours to be exact.
A gift from a friend who thought we needed some Joy in our lives. Some comedy to pull us through the existentialism that we tend to dwell in. These days, with so much intolerance, hate and violence being freely passed around the world over it is very easy for us to get caught up in it all and no longer know where to turn.
Every fight is our fight. To sit on the sidelines and say that it isn’t ours because we aren’t defined by a certain group of people is not an option. We are all humans. When oppression happens it happens to all of us. Violence directed at one group is violence directed at all of us for we are all human. Hate one group, well you really are saying you hate humanity. And on and on these things go.
Beloved has spent several hours hunched over s tubs let writing like a man possessed. An uncontrollable fever has made him mad. Not that I’m much better, writing, talking and organizing as if there is no tomorrow. Weather has ceased to be noticed by us, that is how wholly we are consumed by the need to right injustices and find a way past violence and hate.
Land so our friend brought us Joy, who’s only job is to remind us that there are moments of Humor and fun to be found even in these dark times. She can’t help it, it’s in her nature and at nine weeks old she demands we pull ourselves back up to the surface and take her outside, play with her and have time cuddling. The gift of Joy wasn’t so much Joy, although she is a truly amazing gift. It is the gift of gratitude, appreciation and the reminder of how everyone is deserving of these moments. She doesn’t diminish our work, rather she focuses us on the small things, those little flickering lights of hope that will soon bloom into a full steady light calling out and demanding to be accounted for.
Can we talk about reframing? No not the kind you do with pictures or photos, although I definitely need help in that area. No friends, I’m talking about how we think about things. How we view things and how we can alter the context in which we speak and how we handle things.
Instead of viewing something as a problem, you see it as a challenge or opportunity. You know, that kind of thing.
Why do I want to talk about it? Because friends I am wondering how this works for you. It’s been all the rage the last few years in various arenas both corporate and private sectors.
I understand the theory, changing how you think about things should change how you respond to them. This makes sense to me. What I want to do, because I’m a bit too cynical I fear, is how does it work in practice.
I’m working on my cynicism this year because I want to be more open to experiences. I know, from my experiences, that being conical gives into my internal critic and my internal critic is not very nice. I’m sure she means well, but she is quick to shut things down, and a fast judge of things. I wish she were a bit more like the two old guys from the Muppets. Of course we can’t always have wishes come true, I work on my cynicism.
Needless to say I’m taking my first steps on this journey of reducing cynicism and not always giving my internal critic the spotlight or microphone. The is why I’m asking you, dear readers, how your experiences have been with reframing your thoughts.
Ii was watching the sunlight play across the odd silver strands in Beloved’s hair as he had his morning tea, wondering how this came to be. Not the silver in his hair, nor the fine lines around his eyes when he laughs or smiles. Rather how I came to this becoming my morning view.
I know one day, those silver strands will no longer be odd, but rather come upon his head. And surely those creases around his eyes will deepen and may acquire friends, but I hope that’s from many more years of laughter and smiles.
If not for a strange set of circumstances I would have a different morning view.
Some people say things happen for a reason, there is no such thing as circumstances. I’m not so sure what I honestly think, be it circumstances, happening for a reason I do not understand or what. All I do know is that I am grateful for this, my morning view. I also know I shall never have the words, not adequate ones, to expression my gratitude and appreciation for the man who sits across from me.
For this poor being knows not what he has gotten himself into. The crazy whirlwind of emotions and actions that make up who I am. The need to fill my life with adventures, to reach beyond my stretch and see and feel more. The chaos that is my life and filled with paws, wild ideas and intense beliefs.
Perhaps, though, he know all of this and in his own way is prepared. If not, I’m sure he will figure out how to hold on, and let the light play across the silver strands!