This is not a typical year-end blog post. It could be. I could take time to list all the things I learned in 2017, the progress I made, the stifling sense of regression I felt at times, the areas which were frustrating, the areas in which I was happy and had better moments, the laughs, lessons, and "should've, could've, would'ves."
But it's not, and I'm not.
Partly because such an undertaking would be overwhelming and therefore never be undertaken and accomplished. Partly because there are three and a half days left in 2017 as I write this sentence, and I know that still means there are three and a half days which could bring new things to add to such a post unexpectedly.
Mostly because I want to be more productive and consistent on this blog in 2018, and I intend on undertaking various "blog challenges," some of which give a prompt for each day, week, or month, some of which are niche-oriented challenges, but all of which will include increasing my activity on this blog, while also showing you, as I live my life in 2018, how 2017 has impacted me in ways too extensive for one post.
So today, instead of resolutions (not a huge fan of the word or concept as it's applied in today's world, honestly,), recaps, lessons, or regrets, I want to briefly talk about pushing ourselves with chronic illness. It's something we all need to do from time to time, but how do we know when it's worth it and when it's not? How do we know when we've pushed "the right amount" before we fall into the cycle of "I pushed myself too much and have to recover"?
Unfortunately, I can't answer those questions for you. Many factors depend on our own personal health picture, and I'm not a doctor, so even if I did get into a lot of health-body-science-physiology related talk in this post, it would only be significant for my body. Rather, I'd like to recount a time I recently pushed my limits, and what was worth it, and what may not have been
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Roger has been on Christmas break from work since the Thursday before Christmas (December 21st), and goes back early January. While he's been home, I've actively been trying to push myself to do more things with him, because I want to make memories we can remember fondly, and also just because I enjoy spending time with my best friend in the entire world.
Instead of a play by play of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I'll make a list of the things I was able to push myself to do at some time across that 48 hour time span (with breaks taken often, of course). I'll also add a slideshow to share a few pictures from the below listed accomplishments):
I probably pushed myself more this year for Christmas and Christmas Eve than I've done in several years. I don't regret a single memory made, however, I do wish I were better at actually LEARNING how far to push my limits. It's a constant learning process, though, and even though I've had many years to practice and learn, it somehow always still surprises me.
The crash, however, does not get to take away my JOY and the warmth these memories and these people bring to my life. I look at the list above a marvel. Maybe it's because I'm not doing any kind of killing treatment right now since we're still trying to prepare my body for finally taking the long term IV antibiotics plunge. Maybe it was all because of God and His gift of adrenaline and JOY that made the days possible. I personally think it was the latter using the former to allow me the good times I did have on these days, and I plan on relishing them and soaking in joy every moment I'm able.
Actually, if you stick around for 2018, you'll see JOY has become an ever-present theme in my life, despite being mostly bedridden and never without severe pain. There is always a way to have JOY, and I've found that the more I struggle on this earth, the more I'm forced to lean on Jesus to just get me through the day, and that alone is reason for joy! A joy that was made possible by the birth we celebrate with Christmas each year.
So, did I push my limits? Resoundingly, yes! Did I sometimes try to push TOO much? Again, that's a yes. Will I be more conscious of my body telling my to take a break form now on? I sure hope so! But does the crash after the pushing of limits mean it was all pointless? Absolutely NOT! I'm not going to lie and say I'm enjoying the pain and other limitations and flares I'm experiencing right now, BUT I also refuse to let the pain of the past few days take away the good moments I had those days, and to quote Mandisa, it's "Never Gonna Steal My Joy!"
God bless you all, and may 2018 bring us ALL J-O-Y!
Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. – James 3:2, NLT
Does that word hold any special meaning for you? Do you cringe at the very thought of the word itself? Are you, right now, recalling a mistake you made several years ago, one of which you've never been able to let go? Do you find yourself berating and beating yourself up for making a typo in a text message, saying something in a way you didn't intend to say it, not doing something perfectly at school, work, or around the house, or even just for existing? Well, I've got good news for you:
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
You are also not a mistake. You may MAKE mistakes, but friends, before we traverse this typed terrain of mistakes and chronic illness, it is imperative for you to know that you are not a mistake. Your existence is not a mistake. The fact that you awoke today is not a mistake. Your reading of this blog post is not a mistake. God does not make mistakes in His Creation, which means, inherently, we cannot be mistakes, plain and simple.
We can, however, make mistakes. If you're anything like me, as you've traveled the road of chronic illness, you may find yourself more prone to making mistakes than you were earlier in life, whether as a result of brain fog, physical or mental limitations, or any number of symptoms or conditions or circumstances. And, if you're anything like me personality-wise, you may be a person who obsesses over mistakes (or even perceived mistakes...I think I majored in "Perceived Mistakes" in college, but I digress), and talk down to yourself, or let yourself succumb to embarrassment, over mistakes that, when it comes down to it, in the big picture of life, aren't really that major after all.
Exhibit A: A couple weeks ago, I tweeted about something that was on my mind, and then I logged out of twitter and didn't check the app for several hours. Within those hours, one or two people had either liked or retweeted my original tweet, and to my horror, when I DID log back on, there was a typo! No! Not a type! I used to be known as a serial typo corrector! Typo correction is something my OCD latches onto severely; so much so I used to be teased for it by some who didn't understand it's not just my perfectionism (though that did play a role), it was my clinically diagnosed, life-interfering case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Added to the fact I majored in English, and have always prided myself on my reading and writing abilities when it comes to academics (you'd never know it on the blog nowadays, since I've not recently been able to keep up with posting...but I'm hoping to change that soon!), you can imagine the mouth-agape, insides-hurting horror I experienced when I saw MY tweet had a typo and had been sent even further into the world by the mechanism of retweeting.
INSTEAD OF LETTING MYSELF WALLOW, I WROTE A THREAD OF TWEETS, WHICH I'M INCLUDING BELOW, EXPLAINING HOW, WHILE IT MADE ME EXCEEDINGLY ANXIOUS, I LEFT THE ORIGINAL TYPO TWEET AS IT WAS, AND USED THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO RECOGNIZE ONE GIFT OF CHRONIC ILLNESS.
Chronic illness has given me the gift of forgiving myself for mistakes, being okay with, and enjoying, laughing at myself whent the situation commands it, and *sometimes* not correcting typos.
It reminds me that while my brain is currently so far from where it was when earning this degree, it IS there. The ability to get a degree itself is a blessing. The degree is a blessing. The promise of a fully-functioning brain, however, even more so.
As you can tell from those last lines (the last tweet in that thread), as I was writing the thread, the idea for this post came to me. So just to sum up the general concept here: you are not a mistake, but yes, you do make mistakes. You make mistakes. I make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. We all try our best to learn from them and not make the same ones twice, but we all do make mistakes, I'd venture to say on a daily basis (multiple times daily, as far as I'm concerned). This just means you're human. I'm human.
We're human, we make mistakes, and that is okay.
Thank You, Lord, for loving me and offering your grace, helping me to accept it in the moments I realize my mistake-making is at a high.
God bless y'all,