Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Oh, that most difficult of questions: How are you?

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicIt’s become a part of our greeting ritual, but it’s also one of the most difficult questions we face.

“How are you?”

Usually, there’s a perfunctory, “Fine. How are you?”

And the answer to that one?

“Fine, thanks.”

And the conversation moves on.

But if you have a chronic illness, you probably have found yourself thinking inside, “No, I’m lying, really. I’m not fine.” or, “I’d like to really say how I feel, but he/she probably doesn’t want to hear the truth.”

So, what do you say?

For me, I try to break it down a bit. Often, I respond, “Spirit-wise, I’m great. But healthwise…” or, I might say, “You know, above all, I’m blessed.”

With very close friends and family, I’ll probably go into more detail, especially if I’m in the midst of or fresh from a flare or other health crisis.  But with strangers, well, I admit I do fall into the “Fine, thanks, and you,” protocol more often than not.

Some languages do have “set” rituals of greeting. I remember when I studied Irish Gaellic, I marveled at the back and forth exchange that took place before a conversation started. It went something like:

“Good day. God be with you.”

“Good day. God and Mary be with you.”

“God and Mary and Joseph be with you.”

etc…

Now, as someone who carries the “baggage” of a chronic health condition, I realize that we lupies and others have our own ritual, individualized, of course, depending upon with whom we’re speaking.

It’s truly like speaking a whole other language, I suppose. One that takes a lifetime to get just right!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

Your favorite football fan doesn’t get it? Now’s your chance!

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of idea go/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of idea go/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I am not a football fan, but I know many people who are. And, in appreciation for their vast knowledge of all things football, I offer here a way for those of us who have chronic illness and pain to, perhaps, help them understand a bit better what we go through during their favorite season and, indeed all year. Here goes:

Life with chronic illness or chronic pain is much like being all of the players on a football team. Our days are spent formulating plans, and often changing them multiple times when the other “team,” our physical situation, tackles us, intercepts our passes at doing favorite activities, or otherwise thwarts what we set out to do. Sometimes, it is not possible to score a completely satisfying day, and we have to settle for kicking a field goal instead. Often, we might get partway to a goal, but get blindsided by a particularly ugly health surprise.

At all times, our faith plays a huge role in our ability to cope. This goes way beyond throwing up an occasional Hail Mary pass – it truly goes to the essence of who we are and how we maintain our strength. So, when we can share this faith with you, especially in prayer, life is even richer and more hope-filled.

The action on the field can get really rough. We can hear you calling out plays and suggestions from the stands, but it’s important that we huddle with our doctors, much like our coaches, and move from there. Yes, at times, we have to go on the disabled list and  sit out any extra action for a prescribed period of time. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to be separated from life; we really appreciate it when you show your concern and support, especially at the most difficult times.

Our medications, splints, chairs, and other necessities are our uniforms, intended to protect and strengthen us “in the game.” Like the pros, these come at a certain price, but we need them and so sometimes forego other luxuries so we can afford them.  Of course, we do our best to personalize them – decals, insignias and logos are just part of our way of saying, “we’re down, but not out.” So, if my headscarf, covering my bald head, or my floral-festooned cane look a bit out-of-the-ordinary, I don’t mind – and I hope you’ll enjoy them, too.

Life with chronic illness and pain can be very grim. That’s why we enjoy a good half-time show. We like to laugh and have fun, and we are so grateful you help us do this, especially in the midst of times when the outcome for us might be uncertain and the stakes are high.

Finally, we really, really like it when people cheer us on.  Down there on the field, facing off against the opponent, is tough. We have the bruises and scrapes to prove it. But, when we hear the roar of the crowd and feel their love and support, something just wells up within us and we push on even harder. Yes, although we might be down at times, with your encouragement, we’re never out!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Stuck? Add a grace note

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

Photo courtesy of Grant Cochrane/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Even if you are not musically inclined, when you’re stuck in a rut, hole, or other foot-freezing, spirit-stunting space in your life, there’s nothing like adding a grace note to get you back on your purposeful path.

What’s a grace note?

It’s a gentle, brief addition of a lighter (in music, usually higher) tone that, when grace-fully applied, can turn an ordinary line of music into something very special. Singers add grace notes to make a common melody all their personal own. Composers add them, too, as a dash of expression to individualize their phrases.

In life, a grace note can be as simple as bringing a fresh flower indoors, taking a beloved book off the shelves and reading, going through your telephone book and dialing up someone you’ve lost touch with.

In faith, a grace note is an addition, however small, to a routine of prayer and reflection. A study of a part of Scripture you’ve struggled with in the past, or a punctuation of praise when you’re in the middle of a dull household chore.

Grace notes abound in nature. Against the sky, a bird dips and dives and, maybe, lands on a branch nearby. A breeze brings back a certain memory that warms you in the midst of a personal cold spell. A frozen pond, ordinarily seeming barren, becomes a playground for a dog exploring the winter world.

That little extra something. A spark of difference that can light a new energy and resolve.

Stuck? Add a grace note – and sing a whole different song.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

How do you react?

posted by mpratt
Photo courtesy of posterize/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of posterize/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

People can be so cruel. Recently, I was driving home and saw a person in a car nearly hit a pedestrian who was “of a certain age,” and moving more slowly than the impatient driver wanted her to. True, the “Don’t Walk” hand had flashed on the sign long before the woman reached the far curb. But, in my humble opinion, it was cruel of the driver to edge ever closer with each step the woman took and, finally, zoom past her, missing her by mere inches. My heart went out to the woman, and my anger rested on the driver. But, as she slowly reached the sidewalk and carried on, a realization struck me – the woman did not in any way seem ruffled or angry. As close as the driver got to her, she did not flinch, falter, or fail.

She simply moved along as best – and as quickly – as she could. What an example of grace under fire!

I’ve taken this life lesson to heart; truly, there will always be people who act or speak rudely to us because of our limitations, physical or otherwise. Our need for certain accommodations also can stir up unkindness in others, especially if those accommodations mean inconveniencing someone more able-bodied.

Yes, these incidents will happen, just as surely as people are people. But, I believe, the point is not so much how they react to us as it is how we react to them. Do we bristle, bark, or balk? Or do we, like the lady I saw, move along grace-fully, sure of who we are and what we can do in spite of what others think or seem to want?

I’ve done my share of barking when someone has criticized me for something I’ve done (or not been able to do) because of my limitations. But this year, with the woman pedestrian’s example, I’m going to try even more to be calm, cool, and Christian about my response, doing what I can and leaving the rest up to God…which is, after all, as it should be in the first place!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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