Attitude, Belief, Lupus and Me

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.

Trip To The Vet And Lessns Of Lupus

We went to the vet today, just for a wee check-up.  Everything was fine, well once we got off the cold, metal table that is impossible to get a grip on.  Oh and basically we didn’t relax until we ran out if the exam room and into the waiting area where it was safe.

Once we were out in the open, where there were other puppies we were fine.  All tail wags and happy dances.  Of course she wasn’t the one who had to pay the bill!  Not that I’m complaining really.

By the time I got her in the car she had forgotten all about that strange and less than pleasant place.   I love that she lives in the moment and forgives me so easily.  I also love how she doesn’t know that some times going out to the waiting room doesn’t really mean tail wags.  I hope we never get to that point!

Next medical appointment I have, which is soon, I think once I get out of the exam room, I’m going to act like the waiting room is a safe place and nothing bad can happen.  I may even stick my fingers in my ears so I don’t hear about the next appointment being scheduled etc.  I shall refrain from wagging my tail, mostly because I don’t have a tail.  But maybe that way lupus will seem more manageable and less of a monster!

Securely Conflicted About Peace

Beloved and his friends were talking about peace, how elusive it is when it comes to groups of humans living no close proximity to each other.  If the groups of humans have the same values and beliefs, the disruption of peace tends to be smaller and easily bridged.  When the groups have different values and beliefs that gap in bridge to peace can be wide and vast.

John, just back from covering yet another conflict full of human horror and tragedy wondered if people would ever learn that peace can’t be found in the firing of a gun or the piercing of a bullet into yielding flesh.  Prior to guns there were swords and axes, clubs and such.

By the same token that John need the guns and bullets wouldn’t bring about peace he also was grateful for the presence of these items.  He talked about relief of knowing that there was protection in the form of force, tanks and planes as well as armed people.  He talked about the beautiful sight of seeing his protectors fully geared up after he had just faced  his own drama by people who believed differently than he did.

And that’s really the problem isn’t it?  We want peace, but we need the security that if the others do something untoward, we are prepared.  We simply cannot trust them as they haven’t given us anything to deem them worthy of our trust.  No doubt there is this same thing on their side.

Peace isn’t an easy thing when it comes to conflicts.  Sure we say, out down your weapons,  but it’s the thoughts, beliefs and images that are much harder to put down.  It is those very things that may have led to the conflict in the first place.  And once blood has been spilled, lives taken and horrible injuries inflicted, well then putting down things is harder for it means that spilled blood, those lost lives and the permanent injuries are to be ignored.  As if it is okay that this happened.

Peace requires a desire to change, a willingness to move forward and to forgive (which is not the same as forgetting or condoning) and an acceptance that it will come in stumbling fits and momentary stops.  It will not feel natural at first, not for some, but if we all keep that flame of desire burning as well as the belief that it can work…maybe, just maybe we will be pleasantly surprised and we will forget our weapons and set aside the need to vilify that which we do not understand.

To The Dogs

I was watching the dogs happily throwing themselves in damp, muddy grass.  I envied their reckless abandon and pure joy in their task.  There is something to be said about living in e moment and not worrying about the whole what happens next portion of life.  Then again, the dogs may not want to worry the future since that future included a bath.

The dogs seem to have a special gift, one I wish I had, but somehow seem to lack.  It’s the gift of finding joy in anything.  A mud puddle means some fun rolling around in it.  A bath, which they hate, means a chance to try to eat bubbles, which they love.  Cold temperature?  No problem, it’s a perfect excuse to curl up in a little ball and huddle with a human.  Hot temperature?  No problem, stretch out in the shade and doze the time away.

The dogs embrace the weather changes with a glee that I’ve never noticed in a human.  Snow is meant to run wild in and roll around until it’s stuck in your coat.  Rain?  Well rain makes mud and mud is a wonderful thing.  Not to mention there are puddles to explore.  Sunshine means dry grass to roll through and dirt to dig in,

And how they love!  It is a fierce, all-encompassing and fully forgiving.  There is a lot we can learn from the dogs, if only we’d stop worrying about humans judging us.

Forging Forward With Forgiveness

Forgiveness.  So much is packed behind that one word.  So much emotion, context, confrontation, and so on.  And yet people talk about it, about how freeing or liberating it is.  How it, above all else, allows you to move forward from the past.

We also hear how elusive forgiveness is, almost like a myth, and yet we know others have managed to claim t.  Some have claimed it for huge reasons and others for small reasons.

Some hurts and wrongs can be forgiven and others seem impossible to liberated by forgiveness.  Is it that we are too inclined to hold onto those hurts and wrongs that we are unable to find forgiveness?

Do we clutch our hurts and the wrongs and injustices (real or perceived) done to us so closely because at least then we have a form of armour.  Because we need proof of the wounds we have?  Or do we hold onto them because to let them go means that we accept and are okay with the hurts and injustices?

This journey I am on is forcing me to consider the immaturity of holding onto these things.  And that immaturity does not let me move forward. I also must confess to being tired of carrying all the extra weight around.  So I move forward by forgiving those who have brought injustice to my feet or hurt me in some way.  And I recognize that by moving forward I will be leaving some people behind, which is fine.  Sometimes we have to leave others behind in order to move forward with ourselves.

How is your journey going?

Forgiving and Second Chances

Who am I to judge another person’s transformation for authenticity?  Thankfully I don’t have to, unlike a few of my friends who make their living doing just that.

Both of them work in prisons as chaplains.  While they minister to the incarcerated they are asked to write letters to parole boards, for pardons, reduced sentence and such.  They don’t always write those letters or speak on behalf of the people.  However they say, if the change is an honest change, they will go to bat on behalf of the individual.

I distinctly recall, in one of the classes I took with my friends, that something like 80% of all people who are incarcerated claim to find religion or strengthen their beliefs while they are locked up.   I guess that it’s like the old saying that you don’t find atheists in foxholes during battles.

I do believe that these kinds of transformations can and do take place.  I’m grateful that I don’t have to figure out if the transformations are just for show or are the real thing.

One of my friends says he doesn’t worry too much about that, he looks at the evidence he sees and feels and listens to what his heart tells him.  Of course he also believes that actions show dedication, or lack there of, to the words that are read or spoken.

Both of my friends tells me that even when they go to bat for someone, they do so in a respectful way so as not to negate or diminish the crime/actions that led to the person being incarcerated.  They both believe in second chances, even third and point to the scriptures of how and why we must do this. As they point out, what makes one person better than another.  Human’s, according to scripture, are not perfect and as long as we learn and move in the right direction that’s all they can ask for; that’s all anyone can expect.

Scriptures are black and white, or whatever color the text is printed in!  Humans and our behaviours aren’t always black and white, we are bound to make mistakes as we go on our journeys.  We are fortunate to have people who understand that forgiveness doesn’t equate to approval of what we have done in the past.  Rather forgiveness and second chances are an opportunity to show what we have learned, apply the lessons to our lives and be better people.

Ready, Set, Starter Pet

Why is it acceptable to have a “starter” pet?  When did this trend start and who started it?

I have to be honest here, I grew up having numerous pets and none of them were considered as starter pets.  They were companions, they taught me about unconditional love, forgiveness, responsibility, and that its important to give yourself the chance to love again and again.

When a friend recently announced they were getting a pet for her six-year-old daughter, I was delighted.  It reminded me of all then in ive had with my pets.  When she said it was going to be either a hamster or gerbil since either one makes an excellent starter pet th felt like cold water was thrown on my memories.

It was out of my mouth before I even realized I had asked what the heck is a starter pet.  She took offence to my horrified reaction when she told me that hamsters or gerbils are low maintenance and besides no one expects them to live too long.  Plus, she carried on before catching the look on my face, they are easily replaceable without a child noticing.

Is this poor hamster or gerbil’s life worth next to nothing as long as a little girl has a starter pet?  What does a starter pet teach a child?

pets I understand.  Starter pets not so much.  Am I the odd person out on this trend?  What do you think of starter pets and their role in a child’s life?