Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Cutting the Ribbon to the Next Season of Life

Imagine confetti coming out of the screen and you suddenly hear your favorite song of celebration in your head. In this moment, its a tie:"Overcomer" by Mandisa and "Roar" by Katy Perry as it was what I danced to as I relearned (for the second time) how to walk this past December/January. 

You were meant to be HERE reading this post at this very moment. Whether you are meant to be here to share with me your own insight and story or whether you are meant to take something away from what I have to share with you, I am happy you are here to witness what is not only a ribbon cutting to the next season of my life, but also what could be one for us, in our friendship/connection, you in your own life with yourself or with someone else. The big red ribbon & bow slung in front of this next season isn't actually red but a crazy multicolored print much like some of my crazy socks! 

Do you have your scissors ready? This is a community thing, so try to find your elusive pair of scissors as you are going to be a part of the ribbon cutting at the end. Yes, you: family, friend, stranger, soulmate, kindrid spirit, Instagram friend, YouTube Subscriber, Blog reader, Twitter follower, WegoHealth Twitter Chat participant or found-this-post-by-accident individual--I need you all to find those scissors so we can cut up this ribbon together because by the end of this multi-part blog post, I would love to know that you all will be joining me in tackling this crazy life by living life to the fullest, finding the best quality of life we can as we rise above the circumstances of our lives whether they be related to our physical and/or mental health,  relationships, family, inner battles (addictions/weight), finances, loss of loved ones, fill-in-the-blank.  Let's do this together! No one gets left behind or forgotten. You are not alone simply because you are not alone in your circumstances but also because there are people that care...

SELF-CARE
Before we go on, and I share a bit of what has happened in my life, let's all turn on a timer on for at least 30-60 seconds and wherever you are just sit back, close your eyes, consciously relax each of your muscles and take some slow deep breaths. Once the timer goes off, reset it for another round or grab a pen and paper, your smartphone, a tablet or a video recording device and take down/record a quick journal entry. You can think about it in your head, but actually writing it or speaking it is communicating it and in my experience, it makes it more powerful. 

As you write or speak, connect with where you are in life at this moment. What are you feeling physically? What are you feeling emotionally?  Oh how easy it is for the day to fly by without us taking this precious time for ourselves. So take this minute and check in with yourself, offer yourself a word of encouragement and write down one thing for which you are thankful and if you are so inclined, write/say a prayer and/or a verse or quote of inspiration. This self-care practice is quick and easy and can bring life back when life circumstances have worn us out. Even if it is uncomfortable or unfamiliar to think about these things, give it a try and keep trying. We learn as we go. 

But before we can cut the ribbon, I have to re-introduce myself. I have been in a place of isolation for the last few years and as I come out to the world again, I want to share with you what is new and different about me so you can know me. My health situation has changed and I have a new plan for living life to the fullest, rising above the realties in front of me and pursuing the best quality of life I can have.

I am not the person I was four and a half years ago and I'm not even the person I was two years ago. I have changed significantly in how I treat others and myself. I ditched the temper, grew grace, embraced life experiences I never expected to have and stopped having expectations of other people, well, unreasonable ones anyway... and I'm still learning. It was four and a half years ago when I started to withdraw from the world, but I went into a deeper isolation toward the end of 2014.

WHY DID I WITHDRAW FROM THE WORLD?
1. I couldn't handle it. I was going through issues in my personal life, and in addition to my health that was challenging, I did not know how to cope with everything including interacting with family, friends and strangers. I intermittently talked with one person aside from my mom. And my husband, George was the only person I have been seeing for months and months at a time with doctors and strangers at the theatre interspersed in between. I responded to prayer requests and tried to support others when I could, but I really did not have the ability to share about my own life or be very present in other's lives. It broke my heart, but it was my reality.

2. As my health conditions changed and new disabilities became reality, I could not face them. I lived them, but I was in denial. I also could not face sharing the disabilities with my family. I already felt like my health issues were a burden to them and I simply did not want to hurt them anymore. So, I hid. Also, I hunkered down to try to weather the storms that were coming down hard personally. 

WHY COME OUT OF ISOLATION NOW?
1. Enduring four and a half years of change and growth with George after his suicide attempt has been much more of a challenge than I ever anticipated. If learning my husband attempted suicide is new to you, please check out these two posts: Trauma 22 Years Apart My Brother + My Husband &   My Husband Tried To Take His Own Life.  I let go of everything I ever thought could hold me together and clung to my faith in God as the wind thrashed me around.

Nothing else other than my faith in God as my foundation got me through. George is in a much healthier place and thus we are finally at a place where the healing is happening. Therefore, I am finally in a place where I can open myself more to the world and start participating. Of course I still have limited spoons (units of energy) but at least I'm capable of putting myself out there again and starting to be a part of other peoples's lives, which I have missed so much. 

2. My disabilities grew so great that I could not hide them anymore from my family.  My family knew some of my limitations because even for short visits, they rarely see me as my body's symptoms are not predictable.  But, they did not have stairs in their house so they never knew I was struggling with them. And when they came to visit, I was consistently too ill to leave the house with my family, so they never witnessed my stair difficulties until this past Thanksgiving 2016. It can take 30-40 minutes for me to ascend the stairs with inflamed hands and knees and/or with balance & vertigo difficulties as well as weakness.

I began revealing my needs and disabilities to my family including my need for an electric wheelchair to get me from point A to point B, which my immediate family became familiar with during our trip to Walt Disney World Christmas 2015. In June 2016, at Wrigley Field, a baseball stadium that does not have to be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) complaint, George, my dad, my uncle and a stadium worker were my muscles in getting me up and down stairs. My dad helped me into our blue Toyota RAV4 and even belted me in as I had no strength left. Amidst the most incredible time watching the Cubs, who went on to win the World Series in November, play from dream seats as we celebrated my Uncle's birthday, my needs were a touch of bitter amidst so much sweetness.

But as I revealed my needs and disabilities in front of my family I had to start facing and accepting them. Coming out of denial, accepting and seeing that I need help and now coming out of isolation are all wins for me. I wish things weren't they way they were, but I had to walk through that desert. I'm not sure if I'm to the oasis yet, but at least I'm consciously walking toward it with full awareness of what is happening in my body and my life.

In the upcoming posts, you will read about the current state of my health and also how my life is different in ways you might not know or expect. I look forward to cutting the ribbon together at the end of this series, so make sure to stay tuned!