She Packed Up Her Courage

the hand of courage

the hand of courage

Photo by Marla Rosen

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“She packed up her potential
and all she had learned,
grabbed a cute pair of shoes,
and headed out to change a few things.
Her heart glowed with a degree of happy assurance.”
~anonymous

It’s been a long time since I read this poem. I stumbled upon it years ago in a greeting card with no author attached to it. It presented itself to me during a time in my life when I was in the midst of great transition; transition that was unexpected and left me feeling out of control. For some reason the little ditty resonated with me, but I didn’t know why so, I tucked it away knowing that it would become clear when the time was right.

It has been 9 years since my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, and so much has changed since then as I reflect on my perspective of this life changing event from then and now. Initially, in that doctor’s office where I sat for 2 hours listening to the rheumatologist give me my prognosis, I could not keep up with his words as he communicated the impact that this disease would have on my life if I did not effectively manage it. In that space in time, there were 4 very distinct conclusions that I interpreted from our conversation:

1. The contraindications or side effects of the medications I was prescribed could affect my health over time in some very scary ways;
2. My joints would quickly deteriorate if I didn’t take these possible, but not guaranteed, effective concoctions;
3. On top of my physical limitations, my entire well-being would also be affected on a daily basis by chronic fatigue and a general state of malaise;
4. I was about to loose an incredible amount of control and make a lot of changes in order to live a somewhat well life.

As someone who does not give up easily, I quickly decided that I would make the best out of what I was given. I tapped into the resilient side of me and faced my adversity with the ‘glass half full’ mentality. I was 45 years old and, being optimistic, decided that if I lived to be 90, I was only half way there. I wanted to live my second chapter with a feeling of fulfillment and as much ease as possible. In order to do that, I had to change my perspective about what the doctor said to me, and learn to live with this disease by changing my way of being in order to make peace with what I was given:

1. Without these gifts of medical research and my medication menu, the effects of not managing my R.A. would be far more detrimental than the possible side effects listed on my prescription info sheet;
2. I am  willing and grateful for the medications available to me as they provide me with the ability to physically function and feel well enough to get up and move through my day with purpose;
3. By befriending my disease and learning to live with it, instead of against it, I can adapt my way of being and experience feeling well on a regular basis;
4. I need to understand what R.A. needs from me so that I can learn what it can give me in return; there is a lesson in this, and I need to uncover what it is.

Whether I am managing my rheumatoid or another challenge in my life, what I have learned from this shift in perspective is truly immeasurable;

1. We can never be sure of what we are given, and when we accept that change is inevitable and can often be unexpected, we are able to open our hearts to it when it drops by;
2.If we manage what we are given in a way that serves us well and in line with who we are, we are much more likely to experience joy within any kind of adversity that comes our way;
3. Resilience is a mindset that we can choose, and our perspective is the only control we really have;
4. There are many lessons in life and they stand in front of us and around every corner we turn; if we open our eyes and pay attention, we will see and understand them, and know how to use them in an effective way.

There have been many ebbs and flows of prevalent changes within the almost decade of my living with chronic illness. My time to shift has come again as my body begins to tire. I need to preserve,  love and care for it, along with my heart and mind. That means change is on the horizon, and I am very ready for it, whatever it might be…….

“She packed up her courage
and listened to what she felt,
grabbed her wisdom and kindness,
and headed out to start something new.
Her heart glowed with excited anticipation.”
~ Diana Reyers

#courage #change #DareTo #LeadAuthentic #arthritis #autoimmune

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