Lydia 2, Fibromyalgia 0

Taken by LKW in Sante Fe, New Mexico

For far too long, fibromyalgia, and the accompanying pain, has dominated every aspect of my life. Not only did it force me to stop doing one of the things that I loved, that is, being a trial lawyer, but it also led me to take an involuntary hiatus from my life. In the last 1-1/2 weeks, I realize that I am eager to retake the life that I am meant to live.

When I stopped practicing law, and took disability, I never knew how I would feel from one day to the next. For that reason, I stopped accepting invitations from family or friends, for fear of disappointing them with my all too often declinations or cancellations. After a while, people stopped asking me, and I didn’t blame them for it. I mean, if I had a quarter for every invitation that I’ve declined since I dropped out of life, we would be wealthy, by any standard.

Although I didn’t intend to, I made myself a prisoner in my own life, and it became the norm. I also stopped traveling, even short distances. With the exception of trips to California to visit my daughter and her family, I declined most trips that were less than a few days in duration. Over time, I learned that if I were to travel, it required careful planning.

The main question to consider is the mode of travel: ground or air. I’ve learned that it is most important to chose the one that will get me to my destination with the least amount of stress and pain to my body, mind and spirit. In general, air travel is preferable because I can reach my destination faster, and I can get up and walk around much easier. Car trips lasting no more than 45-90 minutes are also doable, while I must avoid longer ones.

I’ve learned that the longer and more rigorous the travel schedule and mode, the longer the time that my body needs to recover from the effects of the trip. Although it does not eliminate my need to recover, air travel has less of a negative impact on me overall.

In recent weeks, I’ve also discovered that no matter how inexpensive Megabus, and others like it, may be, bus travel over long distances does not agree with fibromyalgia and chronic pain condition. My elderly Mom and I wanted to celebrate a pivotal birthday with one of my sisters. My Mom is at an age that she refuses to endure the added stress and demands that TSA, and other security concerns, places on air travel. So, in order to allow her to make the trip, I agreed to a bus trip from Austin, Texas to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Well, I am here to tell you, I can say that I’ve been there, done that, and I never will do it again. I would still consider it for trips of no longer than a few hours. Less than a day after we returned from New Orleans, my husband and I joined friends for a three day trip to Sante Fe, New Mexico.

The very fact that I agreed to either trip is out of the norm for me. As I mentioned earlier, with the exception of trips to my daughter in California, I rarely accept invitations to travel long distances. In fact, when my husband asked if I wanted to accept the invitation to Sante Fe, my initial inclination was to say, “No!” Nevertheless, I hesitated, and before I could stop myself, I agreed.

I surprised myself, and the look of astonishment on my husband’s face was priceless. My only regret came when the date of the trip had to be rescheduled to take place within days of returning from New Orleans. My concern was that there was little to no time for my body to recover between trips. Nevertheless, I was determined that, for once, I was not going to back out of the trip, no regrets allowed, and fibromyalgia and pain be damned.


As I write this post, both trips are behind me. During the trips, my pain did not magically disappear, nor did I expect it to. The lack of sufficient recovery time between trips, and insufficient recovery time post-travel was definitely a problem, though not an insurmountable one. Also, I think that it led me to catch a bad cold from my poor husband who spent the ENTIRE trip in bed with the flu.

Although all did not go as planned, I managed to hang out with our friends, Julie and Jeff, and to enjoy the beautiful adobe family home in which we stayed. It was within walking distance of the main cultural arts district, which I loved. I also enjoyed a couple of local restaurants, and to experience a little bit of the Sante Fe vibe. I look forward to going back.

In hindsight, both trips leave me feeling as though I am on a journey towards beginning my life anew. Post-trip, I must acknowledge that fibromyalgia definitely impacts what and how much I do. My pain level is inarguably much higher than it would be had I remained home. Yet, I was out experiencing and living my life instead of viewing it from the sidelines.

For once, fibromyalgia forced me to become a spectator in this thing called life. Life is to be experienced interactively, and it is my intention to do so. I am not saying that I will accept every invitation or opportunity that comes my way. However, I am going to engage in as much of life as I can taking my physical limitations into account. I have already agreed to a trip to Paris and Florence with my daughter early next year.

I like the following quote by Zachary Scott: “As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do.” Over the years, fibromyalgia and pain has caused me to regret having missed out on so many things, but no more. I’d rather create memories borne of the magic and beauty that this life offers.

What about you? Do you have an illness, condition or something else that keeps you from living your life to the fullest? If so, please join me in regaining your power, and all that you are. As they say, life is meant for living, so let’s do it.

Today’s Musing

sunset beach people sunrise

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I shared an article to Facebook. The article pertained to the level of assistance given to Puerto Rico after the most recent devastating hurricane. I purposely choose not to provide a link to it, because the article itself is immaterial to this post.

First, you must understand that I don’t write or share anything on social media with an eye to the number of likes or comments that I receive. I write or post because I deem them important to me.

Anyway, a very dear person, who I do not know outside the Facebook and Instagram realm, commented on the post, and I felt a need to reply to it, because it triggered an issue that has been on my mind, as of late. The following post, though it encompasses my reply, significantly expands on it.

I have to thank you for responding to this post.

You know, it both astounds and saddens me, that few seem to show any interest in responding to articles such as this one. I can’t help but wonder why that is.

Many people appear more comfortable commenting on, for example, cute furry animals and other benign posts that elicit warm, fuzzy, and happy feelings. I truly get that it, because they are a welcome escape from the day after day news of half-truths, lies, criminal behavior, the horrible things that people do to one another, and the most innocent among us, ineffectual governments and leaders all over the world, genocide, religious persecution, and I could go on and on, but I won’t.  I stopped watching television years ago, and after listening to public radio for decades, I only do so on very rare occasions. So, I understand the need for escapism, lest one goes completely mad.

Perhaps, many want to, but are afraid to speak their truth, or to have an opinion one way or another, out of the fear of setting themselves up for the vicious attacks that are commonplace in today’s climate. Today, stating an opinion is often followed by personal attacks, and  a string of crude, cruel, racist comments, and much worse. (In the political climate in the U.S., I’ve seen such attacks emanating from both sides of the political spectrum, so neither can claim any moral authority.) I can understand the need to protect yourself from such behaviors. Hell, I felt that way for quite some time, and still do.

I have scores of draft posts that never made it to the “publish” stage. As I did with this post, my finger hovered over the “publish” button, because that ‘negativity thought-producing’ demon unleashes all the thoughts that feed the above fears.  So, I hovered. Finally, my rational mind counseled me to “feel the fear, but do it anyway,” and I did.

Still, I worried that I would offend one or more of my followers (who only number around 230) or others. Yet, my greatest fear was (is) that if I posted anything indicating my position on controversial issues, I would open myself to the hate and vitriol from those who do so, merely because I have the temerity to hold and express beliefs or opinions that differ from their own. I am embarrassed to admit that I even worried that I would be blocked.

One day, I came to the conclusion that if a follower blocked me, and did not respect me, simply because I have a position that differs from theirs, they are part of the problem that runs rampart, in this country and others. As a result, he or she can not be considered a “friend,” even in the virtual word. In the world in which my mind exists, that word implies someone who accepts you as you are, because our differences enrich our lives and relationships.

In my case, I have never been interested in surrounding myself with people who think and feel exactly as I do. Of course, we share interests, but we do not walk in lockstep with one another. I believe that our differences foster inner growth, because they challenge all of us to consider whether the belief that we proffer and cling to, is our own, or one foisted on us, or adopted by us, from family, friends, society, etc.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, originally provided for the free exercise of religion, but it was later amended to protect freedom of speech, the press, and the right to assembly, without federal government action, intended to abridge those rights. Thus, in this DEMOCRACY, each of us is afforded the right to speak, to express our opinion, and to pick a side, regardless of what it may be. In this era of vicious verbal and physical attacks on those who believe differently than they do, I must stand up, if only to denounce any attack that seeks to deprive me and others, of their fundamental rights, even though I may find their opinion different or repugnant to my own. 

We are supposed to be a civilized society with people who can “discuss” our differences, at times, vociferously, but without rancor or hatred. Ultimately, if need be, we finally agree to disagree.

So, from now on, bit by bit, I will put myself out there, simply by refusing to hide or conceal my thoughts and feelings on topics about which I feel strongly, even the controversial ones. In all likelihood, some degree of fear will always remain.

I do so in the hope that I hear from and meet others, who also chose to “fight the fear” and to speak her or his truth, in spite of the risks. I welcome the opportunity to communicate with others who detest the present divisiveness, and chose not to follow that path, in lieu of discussing our differences. 

The only thing that I find nonnegotiable is that, in spite of our differences, we each work towards civility, mutual respect, equality, peace, inclusion, not divisiveness, and love. Mere words are inadequate; our actions herald the truth of our words, and who we are as a people. Nothing worth doing comes easy, but I am prepared to do what I must to provide my grandchildren with a world based on honor, compassion, trust, faith, mutual respect, empathy, and honesty. These children are our future, and we owe them more than what currently masquerades as public discourse.

The thing is that at a basic level we are all alike — human beings, doing the very best that we can. We each have hopes, dreams, and struggles, but more importantly, we share the desire to live a happy life, to feel a sense of community, to love and be loved, to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, to be allowed to express ourselves, (Hopefully, in a reasoned and respectful manner.) and when the moment arrives that we all must inevitably face, to know that, by our actions, we leave this world better than we found it.

It is true that no one person, by her or himself, can change the current angry, hostile, and unwelcoming environment. It takes each person committing to working towards change in their seemingly small way, and EVERYONE has a role to play. The excuse that, “It doesn’t matter, because nothing that I do will change anything,” is a lie that we tell ourselves, to justify our own inaction.

Imagine millions of people working for change in their little corner of our country. History is our greatest teacher and asset, and it is replete with numerous events in which  the power of the few banning together to become a force with which to be reckoned. Such a force is a start, and we can begin right here.

Traveling the Peaks And Valleys of Life

Cloudy Skys Above The Mountain Peaks, Wallpaperrs.com, Free images from Google

The answer is no — no cancer, that is. My conscientious and very compassionate surgeon called me on a Friday night, almost 7 P.M., to deliver the good news. The large lymph node that he removed earlier that week, was not cancer. He was hard at work on a Friday night because he didn’t want me to spend the weekend worrying.

He was right. I was prepared to spend all weekend and the following days until our appointment, vacillating between a feigned calm and outright panic mode.

Cancer doesn’t run in my family, it runs through it. (At 23 years of age, my cherished baby brother received a diagnosis of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, and believe me, the irony was not lost on me that they were biopsying one of my lymph nodes.) Nevertheless, the incident caused me to consider the state of my life.

I feel schizophrenic. If truth be told, as of late, the outright panic mode is truer to form, but I am Christian for heaven’s sake and doesn’t faith mean that I be calm in the belief that God has me covered and that he would hear the scores of people praying and pleading on my behalf. It’s like George Bailey’s family and friends from “It’s A Wonderful Life” whose voices reached up to heaven in George Bailey’s most desperate hour of need. But, I didn’t feel that way.

The thing is that the past months have been so “challenging,” that I began to think that I was living a dream in which I woke to find myself participating in the Iditarod race, for which I was wholly unprepared. I have been mired and lost in the valley. I’ve had an appendectomy, a myriad of problems with my eyes which will result in, at least, a couple of surgeries, the awful cancer scare, worsened pain from fibromyalgia,  depression, and that sometimes stressful thing called “life.”

I am ashamed to admit that I haven’t dealt with most of the challenges well. No, at times, I’ve allowed my mind to run amok, assured that I had some terminal illness that would result in my impending death. I allowed myself to ponder what it would be like to miss seeing my g’children grow up, and lots of other shit. (I told you that I allowed my mind to have at it.) As the negative stuff increased, I allowed it to take hold. I like to think that I can handle anything that life throws at me, and I have time after time. This time was different, and I became a walking example of a stress “don’t. Furthermore, I hate myself for it. So, it is time to take control of the situation.

I am fully aware of the effects of the prolonged ‘fight or flight’ response. I know it but I am dwelling in it and I have to stop. It has a negative effect on my physical, mental and emotional health, and is a boon for my counselor. I look in the mirror and don’t know or particularly like the person that I see.

Screw that! I am shedding the withered skin of the last months and reclaiming Lydia. I am taking myself back. If truth be told, I haven’t been Lydia for a long time and I miss her. I really am not dwelling in the past, l am simply acknowledging the loss of my best self. In fact, I intend to be just that, MY best self. The self that is the authentic, one-of-a-kind, day dreaming, me, myself and I.

She has been there all the time, waiting patiently until I was ready to try her on again. Little snippets of her invaded my thoughts, but they were fleeting because I could not acknowledge her.

The desire to change came about innocuously. There were no roaring trumpets heralding in change. I used to love container gardening. Planting them and tending them would soothe my spirit. Watching them grow into mature plants delighted me. I had over 50 varieties of herbs. At some point, I lost interest in it. I couldn’t summon the energy to tend them. Whenever I went outside, the scores of empty pots saddened me, so I avoided the area.

“The wound is where the light enters you.” ~ Rumi

As Spring arrived, the urge to buy some plants, surprised me. It’s funny how playing in the dirt, getting my hands filthy, communing with the plants and flowers and watching them grow before my eyes, lit a spark in me. I unearthed myself in that soil.

The plants stoked a fire that reminds me of the woman who I was, the woman who I miss. With each flower that blooms and each plant that grows and flourishes, I feel stronger, more confident, more me. Although this Lydia is older, she is still compassionate, kind, loving and beautiful. She is ready to leave the past behind as she seeks her home, her querencia.

Granted, the peaks will not come all at once. It will take some time to understand the lessons that I’ve gleaned during my time in the valley, and I will undoubtedly stumble. But, stumble as I will, I accept it. I mean, isn’t that the nature of peaks and valleys? Yet, bud by bud, and blossom by blossom, I will embrace that wiser, confident me, who waits in the wings and welcomes me with open arms —  as though I never left. The warmth of the light emboldens me. Unlike Stella, I haven’t got my groove back (The reference is from an old 80’s or 90’s flick.), but I am sashaying my way there.

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Quote Tuesday

 

English: Pleiades Star Cluster

English: Pleiades Star Cluster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have. ~ Margaret Mead

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