Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

P1040770 (800x628)What did I do on Election Day, besides vote? I did something that brings me a sense of accomplishment and offers benefits for days to come. I made chicken soup! This simple food is traditionally associated with warmth, calm, and healing, and I thought Election Day provided the perfect opportunity to serve up some comfort!

I set the soup up in my slow cooker and soon the delicious aroma wafted throughout my home. I was very calm as I prepared to brave the lines at the polling place (nearly an hour wait!). When I arrived back home, the scent of soup cheered me. And when I allowed myself a taste test, I knew good things were to come.

The effect of chicken soup reminds us that it’s a good idea to do calming, healing things when the world around us seems very roiled. The recipe was a combination of ideas gleaned from a few cookbooks and a good helping of my own additions. A little of this, a little of that and the result was delightful.

If you still feel stress from the political season that’s passed, or if you feel like you need a deep breath before the hectic holidays, don’t feel guilty. Feel blessed that there are things like soft sofas, and beautiful fall days to enjoy! There is the fellowship of good friends. There is a wonderful season of light to come, and there is always a warm bowl of good, homemade chicken soup to enjoy!

We never know when something will happen that causes stress. But if we’re prepared – with strong faith, a willingness to relax, and a bit of chicken soup – we’ll get through resiliently! I’m going to stow away individual portions of soup in my freezer. If you want my recipe, just ask!

Peace to all,

Image Courtesy of Michael/

Image Courtesy of Michael/

Is your chronic pain or illness discouraging you from casting your vote? I hope you’ll reconsider. Yes, some polling places might be difficult to maneuver through and the lines will probably be long. But there are very good reasons to make the personal sacrifice necessary to go to the polls and let our voices be heard.  And there is help, too.

Voting is one of the greatest privileges we have in this country. Each time we do it, we affirm our voice in the electoral process. Our vote counts, and not merely as a number in the overall tally, especially if we live with serious health issues.

Illness and pain can make us feel disconnected from society. Voting gives us the opportunity to fully participate in the political process. Also, it enables us to to look at the issues that actively shape our world.  Often, when I read my voting materials, I learn much more than if I’d watched a newscast.

Voting engages us in accommodations established specifically so that it is physically possible for us to vote. For example, polling places are equipped with tools for blind voters who cannot read ballots. Help is available for mobility challenged voters who cannot stand in long lines. This week, I reached out to local voting personnel with a question about specific accommodations. I received a prompt and kind email with a perfect solution to my particular situation. All we have to do is ask.

I have lived through many elections, some of which have been very contentious. Sometimes, issues that I did not particularly appreciate required much of my time so that I could understand them. Still others involved candidates that did not make me cheer. Yet, I voted.

I voted because I have faith that one election season does not a life make. One term in office or bond issue does not necessarily spell financial fitness or lack thereof for decades. But one vote cast contributes to the overall continuity of our country’s history. And because we do brave the pain and the discomfort to vote, we show just how strong our one vote is.

I have faith in the overall process that allows our voices to be heard, even if I might not agree with the outcomes of a particular election. I also have faith that life will go on after Tuesday, and we will have other opportunities to participate in the process. But for now, when I vote, I will pray for wisdom, and I will give thanks to God for the ability to cast my ballot.

May God bless America!



Second close-up of picturePolitics, weather changes, back-to-school/work/life in general…Patience?

It might seem as if this season of external stresses  that’s pressing upon our internal resilience will never end. But, blessedly, it will. And if we apply patience to these next few days, we’ll be in good shape for the rest of the year! It all just takes a bit of understanding about time.

Election Day will come and go, weather patterns will finally settle from autumn to winter, and we will find our footing in new schedules (or maintain the old ones). Time is like a wonderful river that doesn’t stagnate, but continues moving. It moves the things that might make our anxiety and tension build within.

I have been taking a lot of deep breaths during this political season, nurturing patience within. Although these do nothing to change what’s happening in the public landscape, they have been wonderfully supportive of inner stress-relief. As I outline in my book, Don’t Panic!: How to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough, deep breathing physically does have benefits. So too do emotional and spiritual deep breathing.

One form of emotional deep breathing that I particularly like is laughter. I try to find something each day to laugh about. Of course, this helps remind me to physically take deep breaths, but it also helps me maintain some degree of optimism. It helps me appreciate life, even in the seemingly smallest of ways.

A way to spiritually deep breath is to worship God in church with our faith community. Turning our focus (eyes, ears, and heart) to God in this way supports our faith practice. It gives us time to re-sort where we place priorities. How greatly important it is to spend more time praying and praising God!

Of course, even with these activities, we might still be caught up in the tension that will culminate in Election Day, or some other stressor. When/if we do, a reminder that time is passing and life is moving ahead can help us better understand our place in God’s world – He made everything, including the passage of time. He understands our anxiety, and so gives us the blessing of knowing that we must do what we can to continue to praise and thank our Creator – hanging in there with all our prayerful patience.

And time, and we, will move on.



Cubs for GDBD (320x191)I have lived with multiple, serious chronic illnesses for many years. I am also a life-long Chicago Cubs fan. The two don’t necessarily have much to do with each other, however this week and, I hope, the following couple of weeks, will bring these two “states of life” together in a way that most chronic-illness-suffering-Cubs-fans have never experienced – but oh, yes, have dreamed of.

This year might be the year.

Life with a chronic health condition can be (the good Lord willing) long, blessed, but fraught with challenges. So, too, is the life of a Chicago Cubs fan. When you have a chronic illness, you look forward to those days or periods when symptoms are moderate and life can be “relatively” normal. As a Cubs fan, you have lived year after year watching other teams make the cut, move into Post-season and ease into the World Series. They make it look so easy!  And you think, “Eventually…someday…”

With chronic illness as with the Cubs, you never lose hope, of course. But hope can wear thin, even fray from the emotional and physical ups and downs. Those life-altering symptoms? Those “almost” seasons? They can bring exhaustion, frustration, disappointment, and heaps of stress. If you’re reading this, you know. Yes, you know.

So, this year, which might be the year, as we move into another phase of Post-Season play,  I am paying special attention to my life with chronic illness and the Cubs’ progress. I understand that even good stress can put strain on our physical conditions, so I’m going to do what I can to alleviate it. Get more and good sleep and quiet. Stretch. Pray. Keep up with my doctor-prescribed exercise.

In addition, in the midst of the action, I will try not to raise my voice (much) when the Cubs score runs. I will try not to pull a muscle or knock over anything when they win a game. I will try not to reach for snacks that hearken back to my childhood times at Wrigley…much (!). I will not verbalize my memories of watching Leo “the Lip” Durocher, er, “relate” to any of the umpires on the field (or off).  And I will do my best to take a deep breath before every crucial at-bat or pitch so as to keep calm and relaxed…as much as possible.

The picture above shows a coffee mug that I’ve held onto for many, many years. It’s from the 1969 Cubs, another amazing team. Good memories. Not “The” Season…but still not shabby. It makes a fine vessel for water that I use to down my daily meds.  That “spoonful of sugar” baseball-style…

So, as the next days unfold, my fellow chronic-illness-suffering-Cubs-fans, take good care. Be well. And remember, there’s always hope!

Go Cubs!