Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

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

How can you set goals when they keep moving?

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicIt’s slippery, skittish, and speedy – chronic illness can lie relatively quiet for a time and then pounce on you from seemingly nowhere. One day, one moment, you might be forging ahead on steps toward a goal: Tapering medication, finishing rehab, returning to work, or getting back into your social activities. Then, Wham! Illness moves the goal out of reach. Again!

Or, perhaps you do not have an illness or pain that makes firm goals tough to achieve. Perhaps you have people in your life that are always interrupting your progress, or a boss who moves the “goalpost.” Or, perhaps your life is so busy with other responsibilities that you simply do not have the time to see your way clear to that cherished goal so you set another and another, until you have myriad goals but no way to accomplish even one of them.

How can you set goals when they keep moving?  How can you see one thing through, beginning to middle to end?

Over the past few years, I’ve found a few things that have helped me. Oh, goals still get sidelined or changed. But these are strong helps, even when emergencies arise:

o    Keep a journal. On the days when you can make progress, make it. Write down what you’ve done. If you’re interrupted for any reason, revisit your notes as soon as you can so you can pick up where you left off.

o   Set a strong foundation. If you cannot accomplish smaller tasks, you will have trouble sticking with an over-arching goal. Look upon the “smaller stuff” as the material with which you set a strong foundation of achievement that will support you in your bigger efforts.

o    Do not look upon setbacks as failures. Rather, they are opportunities to reset your priorities and, when you can, mile-markers on the way back to the goal journey. Jot down lessons learned in your journal and take the lessons to heart.

o   Learn your tolerance for flexibility and learn to use the time-honored word “No”  as you need it. If we’re all things to all people, we won’t be able to do what we, as individuals, need to accomplish. If you’re foundering at sea, if your life is so full of things that take you off course that you’re frustrated and lost, call a personal “time out.” Breathe. Pray. And regroup your resources so that you can move ahead as God wants you to.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Your Olympic season

posted by mpratt
Photo courtesy of koratmember/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of koratmember/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you read the title of this blog post and laughed, you’re not alone. Many people simply do not think of themselves as athletic, let alone Olympic caliber.

But if you’ve lived awhile with the challenges of chronic illness and pain, you know well that it takes more than meds and a doctor’s appointment to live as healthfully as possible and forge from your burdens purpose and grace.

So, considering the strength it takes to do what we do, I like to think of each of us as elite athletes with an Olympic season right around the corner. We are, in many ways, “in training.” We observe our doctor-prescribed course of treatment carefully, much as those sports-centered athletes observe their coaches’ programs. We fold into our rigorously pain-peppered lives time for rest, knowing that this comfort is needed along with all else.

As athletes, we also pay close attention to the “mental” and spiritual part of training. We nurture our good relationships and find ways to celebrate our “small” victories. We pray and meditate, soaking in as much of God’s love and support as we possibly can – and then some! We prepare our spirits for the tough days ahead, which we know will come, and we let them soar on the days when we can rejoice at better outcomes.

As we watch the feats of the athletes in this year’s Winter Olympics, we can take much inspiration from their achievements and, especially, the way that they continue on, rising from accidents and injuries, and insist on at least striving for their personal best.

Yes, this new year is our Olympic season! Ready? Set! Go for it!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

That spark of something

posted by mpratt

NOID No 3 from nadeau seedsLiving with chronic illness often entails suffering tremendous losses. These blows to a fragile spirit can quickly lead to a dull, deep down feeling of hopelessness. You might ask, “Will my life ever mean anything, again?” or, “What’s the point of all of this suffering?”

Although we might never know the individual reasons why we suffer,  as we continue on our journey with illness and pain, we will face many decisions that can add up to a better understanding of at least part of the journey, part of the purpose. Among those decisions is the very personal answer to the question, “What makes you feel that spark of something good, the thing that motivates you to continue in a positive way?”

A spark doesn’t have to be a full-on, ten-alarm fire. It can be the gentle nudging you feel when you wake up in the morning and think of the one thing that you will enjoy greeting. God, perhaps. Or, your dog. Your spouse. Your child. Your daily email from a friend. Even, the view from your window of the birds moving about through the day. The constancy of these and other gentle, daily things help protect our “spark,” and keep it glowing.

Enthusiasm for something you enjoy doing can be the spark that helps you get through the tough days and enhances the good days. Reading. Walking. Playing a musical instrument (even if you play it badly!). Reaching out to someone you know is hurting, maybe even hurting worse than you. No stress, no hurry, no one grading your performance. Just things that enable you to feel part of the active world around you.

Also, when we set out to realize a dream, we connect with that spark of “something.” This journey, with its ups and downs, can be difficult, but as it unfolds, the spark can grow, fueling you farther than perhaps you thought possible.

Where is your spark? That spark of something that helps light your way to feeling more positive? It’s within you – and through centered, attentive prayer, will reveal itself with a glow that warms and inspires.

Blessings for the day.

Maureen

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