Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

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

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

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