“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” ~Mary Engelbreit
I wrote a letter to my dad on his 70th birthday this past May. Since it was a milestone of a year, I wanted to really give him something that would be meaningful; however, my ideas weren’t actual items. I sat at my computer and poured my heart into a letter.
Suddenly my mind flashed to a time when writing and creating were constants in my life. I had been honored and recognized for my writing beginning in elementary school and continuing into adulthood. I suddenly became aware that I was neglecting my creative self.
In November of 2008 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I find that many people know someone with Crohn’s, and you might. If not, I can most simply describe it as a chronic disease affecting the digestive tract with painful and embarrassing symptoms, a little different for everyone—and oh yeah, there’s no cure.
I kept a positive attitude and balanced Eastern and Western treatments. I was faithful to a diet that worked for me: small portions of fresh and organic foods, no processed foods, little to no meat, and limited dairy.
The improvement of my health renewed my life. A year passed with no serious symptoms. More time passed and portions became a bit bigger. Also, yoga went by the wayside.
From the pictures you could never tell, but my honeymoon in Hawaii is the marker for when my remission came to an end. It was October 2010, almost two years since I had been in the hospital. I began to suffer through the symptoms, subconsciously succumbing to the familiar downward cycle.
I started yoga again. I cut back portions and my husband and I focused on bringing energy and variety back to our meals. I thought, “I will turn this around.”
My health continued to wane, and so did my well-being. So many aspects of my psyche throbbed with stress and worry. I started to blame myself, isolate, and revert inward.
I was allowing Crohn’s to swallow me. It took over who I was, it defined me. I sacrificed all of my energy to the illness.
Finally I agreed to go to the hospital in April of this year. I got better, just like I did in 2008. My energy returned.
I was riding high on life again. The sparkle retuned to my eye. My usual pale skin took it up a notch from ivory to fair.
Still, I became terrified. I knew the upwards spiral just like I knew the downwards spiral. This was feeling all too familiar. It was that cliché of waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I then read a book written by someone with Crohn’s. Her ups and downs were familiar and I became hopeful when her ups extended as she changed her way of thinking. She started to think of Crohn’s as her teacher.
The concept thrilled me. “Crohn’s teacher” had a much more comforting connotation than that of the bleak sounding Crohn’s disease.
It was now the time I was realizing where my creative energy went as I finished writing my dad’s letter. I became conscious of ignoring my passions, and looking back now, I had unknowingly surrendered my light.
The positive feedback I received from dad’s letter fully propelled me back into writing and creating.
Now, even when I have symptoms, instead of dwelling and over analyzing, I create. I allow the “Crohn’s teacher” to help me to put my feelings into words and turn my journey into something tangible.
I think about things so differently now. Shifting my perspective has empowered me. My energy now belongs to me and not to a “disease.”
Just a few bits of knowledge I want to share from this amazing journey I am on…
Our energy is so precious. Stop and think about where you devote your energy. It may surprise you. Looking back on my journey, it surprises me.
Remember your roots and what makes you truly happy. I can better express myself through creation. I have always known it—I just needed to remember it! Acknowledge and honor where your passion lies.
Allow struggles and challenges to be your fuel. My morning of ache is now a poem; my evening of nausea is now a sketch.
Connect with others! Thankfully, we are not on this journey alone. Share and learn from others. I call this “mutual enhancement.”
Never forget that you are more than what ails or haunts you.
Remember: our perspective is our reality. No matter what we are going through, we control how we think and feel about it.
Learning the steps to the dance of life is a lifelong lesson that I appreciate and honor. Allow your world to blossom, even when the initial perception is that there is a draught.
Photo by AlicePopkorn