As you know I have been on a journey since going on Long Term Disability – I don’t know if you have ever done it before but what I didn’t expect was all of the self-reflection that goes along with finding a new normal for yourself so regularly I find myself revisiting the rules or values I live by to see if any of these need to be let go or if anything new needs to be added. That being said, I have spent the last week just trying to get my body feeling better. I think I was coming down with something and just was feeling run down so I took a week to rest up while still trying to get some physical activity in to my day. It’s a funny thing having a chronic illness, you need to keep active yet when you over do things your body revolts and you pay for it so you need to rest up again and get back at it tomorrow or next week, whatever you need. I got some good advice from my physiotherapist (although I’m not the best at consistently doing it) and it is something like this……keep your physical activity at a constant 3-4 intensity (which means moderate effort, where you aren’t going easy anymore, but you can hold this for a long time) daily because once you go past 4, you will have moved into a pace that you can’t sustain long term with a chronic illness like MS (and by you, I mean me). I gotta tell you, I am still learning where my 3-4 is. And, she is correct about pushing it too far – when I do push too hard, I pay for it for days later. I become more fatigued, clumsy, I have a tough time focusing and finding words and in general I am just wiped out. I also have learned that the best time for me to get any physical activity in is in the morning because that’s when I have the energy to get it done.
But I do need to make a confession, I have been a little frustrated the last couple of months. I’ve been frustrated because I’ve been off work for 2 years now and while I feel 100 x’s better, I still feel the effects of my MS and I’m annoyed. Today it hit me though that I’ve been thinking that because I was doing all the right things; by that I mean I’m not working, I’m eating right, I’m exercising regularly and I have reduced my stress, so I thought that I would be back to the me that I was in the initial stages of my MS diagnosis and I am not. I now have accepted the fact that this was an unrealistic expectation of myself and of my disease. So, now I have my head on straight and I recognize that YES, I am doing the right things but YES I still have a progressive chronic illness and because I am doing the right things, I’m continuing to hit my disease with everything I’ve got.
I am feeling better now, so back to looking at some of the rules that I have defined for myself throughout my life. Everyone has rules that they live by, whether they know it or not, but here are my dirty dozen (stick with me, there is a yummy recipe waiting for you at the end):
I need to be authentic and have integrity – My definition of authenticity is that I try to be genuine, grateful and real. I try not to judge people and I take responsibility for my actions. I try to support others and I truly want the best for people. I accept people where they are even if it isn’t where I wish them to be. I have an open mind and let others have their own opinion even when it’s not the same as mine and I forgive people who have hurt me. I try not to complain or belittle people and I try to make the most out of each situation I am in. I try to be humble and respectful to others. If I am doing these things, I consider myself authentic and having integrity.
I treat each day as a gift and I try to live in the moment – This opens my mind and heart to new possibilities and leaves room for surprises. So much can happen with every new day and when I forget that today is a gift I close myself off to everything that it can bring. I am a planner, but I like to keep a little room in my heart every day for the unexpected – things might not go as planned and that may be just the surprise that I need. I believe in miracles.
I’m practicing the art of acceptance – If I am struggling to get through a day, I try to make peace with that quickly. I’m loving myself on the good days and loving myself on the bad days too. This gives me the strength and courage to try new things knowing that if I fail, its not a big deal, I will try again or move on to something else. The longer I beat myself up the more precious energy is expended and I don’t have enough energy left in my gas tank to spare any on beating myself up.
I’m learning to lean on people and I extend a helping hand when I can – I’m not afraid anymore of being vulnerable, I recognize that I have weaknesses and its ok to ask for help if I need it. And if I can be the person someone else leans on, I jump at the chance to be that for them. We have been blessed and people have helped me along the way, so I try to do the same whenever I can.
I spend some time getting in touch with my soul, with who I am at my very core – I’ve spent 33 years proudly being defined as a mother and wife and another 18 years being defined by my work and 2 years really looking at who I am. I am still a mother (and now a proud grandma) and a wife to the most amazing husband, but without my job to define me, I am figuring the rest out as I go. Some days the lessons are good lessons and some days the lesson is that I have more to learn. I follow my heart and my intuition, because they are usually my best guide and haven’t let me down yet. I allow myself some quiet time every day.
I cherish the people in my life – I know life is precious and good friends and love is rare so when I find that, I cherish it. I try to be a good friend, it costs nothing to do and it makes me feel good. I hug like I mean it and I mean it when I say I love you.
I try to always take the high road, I speak and think positively and I live in the moment – There is so much negativity going on in the world, that I look for the silver linings, because they are always there and if I look hard enough, I find them! Your mind believes what you tell it, so I’m telling it good stuff. I try not to complain and when I do, I get it out and quickly try to reset my mindset.
I work hard – my parents taught me that nothing good comes from being lazy and I try to lead by example. That’s not to say that I work all day every day because I don’t. Not even close, but when I work, I put all my effort into it.
I know that nobody is in charge of my happiness but me – I don’t give my power away by letting others dictate how I feel.
No matter how I feel, I get up, dress up and show up! I could quite easily stay in my jammies all day and be ok with it, but I know that when I get dressed, do my hair, put some makeup on, it changes my attitude and I am ready for the day.
I break the rules every once in awhile, (ok, maybe more than once in a while) – it’s true! Sometimes, there is no fun in the safe and I like to push the boundaries occasionally.
When in doubt, I get in the kitchen! The kitchen is one of my happy places and I love spending time there!
My niece has a billion apples that she is pawning off on her family and her friends, so I found a great recipe for Cinnamon Apple Bread on The Happier Homemaker blog (www.thehappierhomemaker.com), Melissa Riker is the brains behind this inspiring blog. The Happier Homemaker is not about perfection-it’s about real life and making the best of what we have. It’s about learning more efficient ways of doing things so we can stop struggling with our homes and spend time on the things that count! I know I will be buying her book, Bite Size Organize – Easy Daily Tasks to Completely Organize Your Home in 90 Days, my home definitely needs a little help! Back to the yummy apple bread, I added Kahlua to kick it up a notch. The only problem is that the recipe only calls for 1 apple, so either I make 200 loaves or I find a few more yummy apple concoctions, wish me luck! Here is the link to the original recipe:
Chopped apples and a secret hint of Kahlua make this a perfect fall snack! 1 ½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon 2/3 Cup White Sugar ½ Cup Butter (Softened) 2 Eggs 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract 1 ½ Cups Flour 1 ½ Teaspoons Baking Powder ¼ Cup Milk (If not using Kahlua, increase this to ½ Cup Milk) ¼ Cup Kahlua (see above if not wanting to use Kahlua) 1 Large Apple peeled and finely chopped
Apple Kahlua Cinnamon Bread
Ingredients ½ Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
DirectionsPreheat oven to 350
Chopped apples and a secret hint of Kahlua make this a perfect fall snack!
1 ½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
2/3 Cup White Sugar
½ Cup Butter (Softened)
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 ½ Cups Flour
1 ½ Teaspoons Baking Powder
¼ Cup Milk (If not using Kahlua, increase this to ½ Cup Milk)
¼ Cup Kahlua (see above if not wanting to use Kahlua)
1 Large Apple peeled and finely chopped