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Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Chronic Illness: Compose Yourself!

posted by mpratt
Photo courtesy of Grant Cochrane/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Grant Cochrane/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wait! Wait! I’ve got it…uh…it’s…I’ve got it…Oh, no I don’t!

If you have an illness where there is a component of brain fog (as with lupus and many other autoimmune illnesses), you’ve probably had the experience of trying to remember the words or melody to a song and come up short. We all have favorite music, but when illness flares, recall can be tough (good thing for CDs and MP3s!)

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But rather than get frustrated, there’s another way to approach musical memory mayhem. Compose something yourself! Yes, make up your own words and tune, fitting them into how you’re feeling and what you’re doing – or not, because the choice is yours!

Pretend that you cannot speak, but only sing, and let your voice express yourself to the four walls of your room or inside your car or, even, to whomever is in your life and willl listen! Punctuate your vocal variety with hand claps or foot stomps or even improvised dance. Again, the choice is completely up to you – no critic will review you, no audience will boo you!

Some research has shown that singing and music can be very therapeutic. We can all use an expression for our creativity, that wonderful, rollicking gift that God has only and exclusively bestowed on his human children. Why not compose yourself today? Let your song rise and with it, your spirit, too!

Joys!

Maureen

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TLC Tuesday: Take Competition Out of the Day

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicWe do it every day, although much of the time we probably don’t even think about it consciously. Yet, we compete – against against traffic, against fellow shoppers, against the clock, against the world. Even, sometimes, against ourselves (for example, can we go even one more rep in the gym, or fit in one more commitment?). Yes, we are competitive creatures – but oh, how being competitive can make us stressed and often prompt us to lose sight of what is truly important in our lives!

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Being competitive automatically puts a qualifier on how we view each other – at work, are we better, more popular, or smarter than everyone else? In traffic, are we critical of other drivers as we take unnecessary risks ourselves? When we look at ourselves, do we see God’s wonderful child, or do we see smoeone who could be thinner, prettier, more muscular, or taller?

The truth about being competitive is that we will never be better, smarter, richer, or more attractive than every person or thing we come in contact with. By “turning on” our competitive spirit when it is appropriate, and moderating it when it is not, we will be able to enter into relationships with others and activities with less stress and more pure joy.

Today, try to notice the ways in which you exercise the urge to compete. Not if or how it makes you tenser, physically or emotionally. Encourage yourself to take the world, others, and yourself as you are – approaching all with love.

Taking competition out of even one day a week just might make us happier for days to come!

Joys,
Maureen

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A Praying Spirit: Praying Sound-ly

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicI’ve lived and traveled abroad, and one of the things that always made me laugh was when someone would try to communicate with someone else who did not speak his or her language. Instead of trying to use sign language or find an interpreter, often the person trying to communicate would just use the same words, only speaking more loudly. Or, sometimes yelling!

As if by raising the volume would change make the message come through clearer!

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Of course, it seld0m, if ever, did.

We sometimes do the same thing, though, when we pray, especially if our prayers have not yet been answered as we think they should be. Instead of trying to see God’s way and will in a particular situation, we might get “stuck” on the same supplication from our end, only praying the same thing louder and longer, believing that at some point, God will answer our way.

Think about the prayers you lift up this week. Think about to whom you are praying, not to a reflection of yourself, who agrees fully with everything you are asking for, but to God, who knows what is best for you – and that best might not be exactly what you think it should be.

By praying sound-ly, and not loudly, we can better communicate with and hear God.

Joy and peace,

Maureen

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Lupus and the Sun and Other Light

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of Keattikorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Keattikorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It happened again! I went to a restaurant and the server asked me how I kept my complexion so clear.

“You have great skin,” she said. “What’s the secret?”

Ah! I love that question. Not out of some kind of vanity, but because I can use it as an occasion to educate and, perhaps, make a small difference in someone else’s life.

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The ‘secret’ is a blessed byproduct from living with a very difficult, potentially life-threatening illness: lupus.  The secret, simply put, is that I try as best I can to avoid the sun. And, now that I’m taking a medication that is making me much more sensitive than ever to UV rays, I’m trying to moderate the time I spend exposed to fluorescent lights, too.

For many lupus patients, the sun’s rays pose a threat to health because of an interaction between UV exposure and cellular changes that can occur with that exposre. The damage can result in flares and/or internal organ involvement. And it can also result in rashes, especially on the face.

In my youth, before I was diagnosed with lupus, I was never particularly fond of lying out in the sun, and I didn’t go out of my way to tan. But I didn’t think of sun exposure as something health-threatening except with regard to skin cancer. Now, however, as a lupie, I strive to be vigilant about the sun, often turning down invitations and sitting out of activities that will put me at risk for exposure. In situations where I have to go outside during the day, I go out “armed” with sun-protective clothing, heavy-duty SPF sunscreen, and one of my many broad-brimmed hats.  I’m still figuring out how to minimize exposure to fluorescent lights; with the new environmental rules, these sources of artificial illumination are everywhere – even doctors’ offices – and so are nearly impossible to avoid. But, I’m able to do a few things, such as limit the span of time running errands to stores where bare fluorescents glow. Life with lupus is a constant learning process!!

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For many lupies, the damage from sun exposure might not show up for awhile after the initial event. Likewise, skin damage caused by lots of sun exposure might not show up for years. Now nearing my 18th year since diagnosis, I am still challenged with lupus, but I do enjoy those random questions about “the secret.”

And I enjoy, too, being able to smile and share one of the blessings that comes with taking charge of at least one aspect of life with the confounding illness called lupus.

Blessings,

Maureen

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