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Reflecting and Moving Forward

Posted Dec 28 2012 12:00am

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Life has a funny way of coming together in a nice neat bow even after a lot of near misses, tumbles, and cleaning up along the way.  Looking back at 2012, I know that I have grown to appreciate so much about life, being alive, being human, being loved and loving others, and just trying to hold on the fort. Going into 2013, I feel like I am going to be just fine – my kids, my siblings, my mom, my friends and everyone who has been near and dear to my heart in the past year.

I came into 2012 thinking about how far I had come since my diagnoses, since my brother’s death and just since getting older.  I blogged about what a difference one year made in my life , my relationship with pain and my emotions as I deal with two diseases .  I have grown up and I have also gone from student to teacher living with RA and fibromyalgia. The more experience I have, the more people come to me for advice and support about living with RA, fibromyalgia, chronic illness and just managing it all.

Looking Back

I set three major goals for myself at the beginning of 2012 and I struggled to follow through- not because I couldn’t or I wouldn’t but because I didn’t have a plan in case things didn’t work out in the way that I wanted. I wanted to further my advocacy work and to somehow work to make it a career, I wanted to strength my faith and I wanted to focus on my health. On the surface, my goals seemed reasonable but I made the mistake of not having a timeline in place and despite much determination on my part, I experienced setback after setback.  I wanted to believe that my RA and fibromyalgia were under control but I never had a plan in place if they were not.  I soon found myself trying to get better rather than working to achieve my goals. I spent most of the summer months indoors dealing with infections and flare-ups.  All these things slowed down my progress but they did not change what I had already accomplished.

Looking back, I realize to two options – either to focus on my failures or to focus on what is going right in my life and learning from what is not.  I pick the latter every time.  See, I know I have a choice to live my life to the best of my ability while realizing that I am strong enough to move past limitations that RA and fibro have brought to my life.

I came in 2012 with already strong and changed perspectives on love and happiness. In a period of four years, I was diagnosed with RA and fibro and I entered a journey of anger and adjustment.  I endured a tough financial circumstance and I found a way past it and succeeded.  I watched my brother fight cancer and lose that battle and I grieved and continue to grieve his loss. I also struggled with the relationships in my life but I moved forwarded and never lost my faith. While I endured and came out stronger in previous years, 2012 was the year I took a leap of faith when it came to my life and my diseases. I made changes to my diet, became more active, lost weight, focused on my advocacy work and career, and strengthened my belief in God and in my religion.

While I did not achieve the bigger goals I planned, I know that I am headed in the right direction.  Truth be told, the upcoming year scares me because the longer I live with RA and Fibro, it feels like I am swimming to close to the tide and that I am might just get sucked into a world where I cannot cope and where the pain is more than I can bear.  However, I know that I cannot give into those desperate feelings and despite my failures and setbacks, I have accomplished a great deal just this year alone.  

Looking Forward to 2013

I am looking forward to another year of growth and accomplishment.  I want to continue what I have already started with my career, my faith and my health. I also want to find ways to bring more meaning into my life. I have thought about all the ways in which I can better my life emotionally and physically and I know that getting it rights means that I choose to live better despite chronic illness.  I have set some new and realistic goals for myself in 2013.

This week, I celebrated my 37th birthday and I celebrated quietly and peacefully with people I love. I thought about all the things I could do in 2013 that better improve my life and those around me.  So, I did what I usually don’t do.  I set myself some New Year’s Resolutions.  Here are my resolutions for the New Year.

1.         I plan on laughing more and crying less.  I will start by at least laughing more because many of you know I am crier. I cry even when I am happy.  I personally think that most of us do not spend enough time laughing and having fun throughout our days.  We worry so much that we often forget how short life is and we don’t always make the best of the cards we have been dealt.  I have learned in the past few years how important that is.

2.         I plan on reflecting through mediation, deep breathing and prayer.  Most people in my life know that I am a very uptight person – blame it on the Type A personality. In 2013, I plan working to achieve a better state of mind.  I also want accomplish the things I started in 2012 and I want to be able to look back to what I have already done as motivation.

3.         I plan on continuing to live a healthy lifestyle. I have already made the choice to eat healthy and in 2013, I am going to instill better values in my children about healthy eating and living a healthy lifestyle.  I know that chronic illness is part of our lives but with healthy habits, it will not dominate it.

4.         I plan on being more grateful.  Living with pain and illness can make feeling gratitude difficult.   I am going to make a daily conscious effort to think about all the things I am thankful for and I am going to celebrate all the good things in my life.

5.         I plan on giving more of my time.  Most of us that live with chronic conditions spent a lot of time being preoccupied with what we are going though that we often forget what others are dealing with.  Offering kindness and giving to others can help us and it can also help others.  A small act such as assisting an elderly neighbor or bringing soup to a sick friend can really brighten someone’s day.  Living with chronic disease, I often hate asking for help because I am afraid that I cannot return the favor but doing so, can be as simple as kind act.

6.         I plan on working to understand my pain. In the past, I have found myself stumped when it came to recognizing my pain and giving into to it.  I always felt that if I chose to be aware of it,  it would make coping harder. I know realize that I need to acknowledge what I am feeling rather than try to avoid those feelings at all costs. The only real way to move past my pain is to face it head on.

7.         I plan on getting more active.  I know more than most people how important being active is.  In the past, most of my activity was gentle such as stretching, yoga and walking.  In 2013, I want to invest more time in being physically active.  I am going to find an activity that is within my ability and I am going to participate daily. I am going to stop using how tired I am and that I am afraid of further pain as excuses to avoid exercise. 

Recognition

No one knows better than I do what I have been through and what I have accomplished in the past year better than I do. I have learned to recognize how capable and strong I am in.  As I look towards the New Year, I know that the sky’s the limit for what I want to achieve.  I understand that there will be setbacks but I also know that failures are just as much as part of life as are successes. I also know that life doesn’t always work out the way we want it to and my experience has taught me that this is often for the better.  I don’t know what 2013 will bring but I am really to take on new things and I waiting to see the kind of person 2013 makes me.  I just know that with every year, I grow and I accomplish more than I ever thought possible and I welcome that again and again with open arms.

Happy New Year to all of you and God bless each of you and your loved ones in the upcoming year. I hope that the New Year brings with it much health and happiness for all of us. 

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People who don’t have Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) might wonder why something as simple as walking, baking a pie, or picking up the kids can be a victory. We know better. Living with RA isn’t easy. That’s why every victory should be celebrated. UCB will provide The Arthritis Foundation $1 for every victory submitted by someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis, until the goal of $30,000 is met. So go ahead… be proud. Submit your victory and let us all celebrate it .

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