As we journey through our lives with chronic pain and illness, we undoubtedly will come across people who ask us “How are you?” Some are truly caring and want to be empathetic and/or reach out with help. Others are being polite, but might not be expecting details (especially not the gory ones). And others might have ulterior motives – they might be feasting on gossip or eager to use our status against us (say, in the workplace, where illness might be associated with inability or weakness).
I never like to lie when someone asks me how I’m doing. If it’s a bad day, I just can’t truthfully say, “Oh, I’m really doing well!” But, on the other hand, I try to work hard at discerning to whom I’m speaking and just how much information is necessary for a given conversation. And, on those very bad days, well, I’m not usually very communicative at all to the “outside” world (but my doctor and closest friends might get an earful!)
Two things help me in the discernment process – Who to tell what. First, I gauge how well I know the person to whom I’m speaking. How well do they understand illness in general and my situation in particular, for example. And I also assess the context of the conversation. Where are we? Is this a long conversation in which my health situation will play a role or be relevant to the topic of discussion?
Finally, I also try to figure out my reason for offering the information and how that will affect the manner in which I present it: If I’m frustrated at my joint im-mobility, my words might sound angrier than I’d like and it might cause push back during a conversation with someone who isn’t close to me, for example.
The better we know ourselves and the more we nurture those few, true relationships in our lives, the more freely and capably we’ll be able to communicate and participate in more satisfying conversations that go beyond “Ouch” and move on to “Oh…”
Joy and peace,
Like many of you, my days begin with much of the same routine, mostly involving health activity. Stretching, medications, setting up for the day ahead (sun protective clothing or not?) – it can feel as if each day begins with the same old thing. Which is why, every so often, I try to “mix it up” enough so that, even if I’m going to be homebound, there is enough variety to keep a spark of interest moving ahead into the hours to come.
Some of the things I try to do are:
Vary the sounds of the new day. Music, silence, and other additions can make a big difference!
Alter the order of things. If the left shoe always comes before the right shoe, try to reverse it next time.
Pray differently. My day always begins with prayer, but I don’t always pray the same words or in the same manner.
Cook up something different for breakfast. Even our tastebuds can get bored! So, I try to vary my diet sometimes, especially adding whatever fresh foods are in season.
There are other things that can freshen up our daily routine. And each time we do something new, we are making our day more interesting, which helps us look upon our lives in a very refreshing way!
A very happy Father’s Day to all fathers – those who are related through blood and those who act as fathers to all of us! Your strength, patience, creativity, and care are truly appreciated – and I hope that this day brings you much joy and surrounding love.
When we consider all of the things we must do each day, we might quickly become overwhelmed. Large tasks – doctor’s appointments, job interviews, school finals, for example – and smaller ones – grocery shopping, laundry, feeding the pets – can truly consume us sometimes. And, as we get that underwater feeling, we might neglect the things in our lives that we love to nurture – relationships, a garden, or even our appearance (manicure, anyone?).
Today, take a little bit of time out from your busy schedule to pay a little attention to those things you nurture and grow, the things that bring light and warmth into your life, the things you love. Even the slightest bit of attention – a quick phone call, a splash of water, a moment of silence – can cause new growth to spring up.
And we will be glad we did!