October 24, 2013

The View From Here: Finding Joy on an Unpaved Road

This week's View comes from Sue who writes at Cookie's Chronicles.

I am excited to present her words to you today because she speaks to us about some
very important life lessons she's learned as she parents with the challenges of chronic illnesses.

Her post has touched me, as I'm sure it will you.


Finding Joy on an Unpaved Road

When I began my blog, it was to chronicle my journey through motherhood. Motherhood became real for me when I saw his face on the ultrasound monitor.

As I sit typing these words, I am not 'mothering', yet I am still a mother. My writing, my worldview, everything I do is coloured by my experience of being a mother.

My son is with me always. I don't need to conjure the idea of him when facing decisions that may impact him. He is just there. My life follows a particular path or another as if I am carrying him on my back at all times. Some part of him remained with me when he was born and we are connected in every moment.

Motherhood has made me denser as a person. The airy bits of me that lacked weight are fuller. Motherhood will do that to you. It will make you feel everything with more depth. Your perspective will become broader, while always remaining tethered to the foundation you create as Mother. This foundation grows more steady, more sure as the years pass, though you become more flexible and adaptable to whatever life brings.

Life is forever changing. Plans, goals, wishes and dreams are like whispers on the wind. I lean into every curve in the road with my arm gently wrapped around my son's shoulder. I look for the joy in each moment. Sometimes I have to look very closely, but it is always there.

I have been 'chronically ill' since I was in my late teens, if not longer. Though it hasn't always been pretty, I have always managed to stay relatively optimistic and to find joy and purpose in those moments when I felt relatively well. As I have become less and less 'able', I have adjusted my view of a good life and have found new ways to be grateful for what I have, new dreams to dream.

When my son and I were diagnosed with Lyme Disease this year, I paused, just a moment, before adjusting to make more room on my back, lifted him up and stepped onto the path toward healing.

People sometimes say to me, "I don't know how you do it.", or "I could never do it", and I say to them, "Yes, you could and you would, if you had to." And if what I do ever looks easy, it's because I choose to envision it that way. If I believe my burden is light, then it will be lighter. We do not choose the trials we are given. The only choice we ever have is how we will face them.

We can stand at the curve in anger and sadness, stomp our feet, and wallow in the discomfort and fear of this new challenge, but this state can only be temporary.  Either something else will happen to us or we will choose to make something else happen. We can, instead of resisting a trial, accept that we have no choice in what is and what has been and decide to affect what will be.

Today, as I write, my eyes dance across the page and I am at times overcome with nausea and vertigo. These are symptoms of Lyme Disease that come and go. In addition to these, there are about a hundred other symptoms that are a part of my everyday. No, that's not an exaggeration. I wrote them out recently, because as I have adjusted time and time again, I have forgotten how many there are, and because as I move through treatment for Lyme I want to be able to know when I am better, even just a little bit, by the absence of one of those symptoms.

This time, the nausea and vertigo have been with me for five days on and off. During that five days I have tried to sleep with little success, tried to treat the nausea with little success, suffered intense body pain, cried and thought negative thoughts. Still, this moment is an opportunity to see things differently. Do I feel as well as I would like to? No, I do not, and yet I know that it could be worse. I can still type. I can share these words with you and perhaps they will help. I can connect through my writing to a deeper sense of purpose, to my son, to the collective consciousness that we all share.

Life continues to present challenges. I remember in the early days of parenthood, our son was so ill that I never slept and I thought to myself, When will this challenge end? as if life would be better when it did. When you've been a parent for a while, you come to realize that life IS challenge. That one challenge replaces the previous one. One milestone reached brings with it a new struggle... unless we choose to see things a little differently.

If we see these challenges as life itself - life IS challenge - then we simply live them, with our eyes open, with our hearts open, with our full attention in each moment.

Try this: Imagine that you choose to take this bumpy, twisting, unpaved journey called life - that it is not something that happens to you. Remind yourself that you have navigated rocky roads before and have not just survived but have lived along the way. Remember that parts of it were fun! Know that all of it could be fun if only you were not afraid. If you have been afraid in the past and have had a tendency to close your eyes, just for today, open them wide! This time, sit in the driver’s seat, put on your seatbelt and loosen your grip on the steering wheel. Trust yourself to handle the curves. Lean into them! Open your eyes. Look around you. How much more can you see now that you are not afraid to look? Feel the thrill of facing the ever-changing landscape with confidence. Know that for each dip there is always a rise. Allow yourself to move freely through the trials in your life to the joys and triumphs. Expect joy. Be ready for it!

- Sue
aka Cookie's Mom

The most important thing for me to read was "we see these challenges as life itself - life IS challenge" because I have been known to lump everything together to the point where I feel like the sky is falling. I actually have a friend who has pointed out to me that it's really just LIFE, as Sue did here.

Please leave Sue some comment love and then go check her out at:

(If you are interested in contributing to The View From Here <-- click!)

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