Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

You Are Brave!

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicYou might not have rushed into a burning building, or swam out to rescue someone drowning in choppy surf. But you have gone into the proverbial lion’s den – and you are brave!

You live with chronic illness daily, pain is your constant companion. Your body betrays you often – you cannot do things you would like to do, and those that you can do sap your energy and challenge your spirit.

But, you move on. And more, you keep the faith!

With “sickness” often associated with “weakness,” it’s hard to think of an unhealthy person as being particularly filled with courage and acting bravely.  Certainly, we do not get medals for our activities, nor do we get our names engraved on shining silver trophies after a particularly difficult patch.

No, we don’t exactly get rewarded for living our lives with as much determination and drive as we can. But, I think that makes us all the more brave and our lives all the more rich.

For example, you know that when you can accomplish something, even a small thing, such as remembering to send a birthday card to a friend, or pray long and ardently for someone else, you have crossed the finish line after a long and hard race. When you get up in the morning and face the day with a smile, and bestow that smile on others, you have achieved triumph over tragedy. And when you gut out a difficult day, and you know that you’ve done your best, and you feel God comforting you and bringing His calm, well, you’ve made your own “personal best.”

For all the obstacles you move over and through, and for all the times when you praise God despite your pain – you are brave! And you show the world that faith fosters strength, and courage stems from it, too.

Yes, you are brave! Rejoice!

Blessings for the day,
Maureen

Can We Control Others’ Attitudes Toward Us?

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of graur codrin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of graur codrin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I was diagnosed with lupus, I lost many friends. Some simply did not undertand what chronic illness was all about, assumed I’d “get better” as soon as I was under a doctor’s care, and became impatient when the months stretched on and I was still tired, unable to go out in the sun, and had other disease-related symptoms that put a “cramp” on friendship activities.

Others’ reactions were more unfortunate. Some people just cannot be around anyone who is ill, no matter how healthy he or she might look. Old or young, for some people, being around a sick person reminds them of their own mortality. Lupus is not contagious, but sometimes the specter of illness can be, scaring away people who have a less-developed and mature sense of what it truly means to be human.

Of course, the loss of friends, people close to me, was very difficult to take. We like to think that the relationships we cultivate in “good” times will stand firm in “bad times.” But, alas, it is not always so.

The one thing I did not try to do, when friends began to peel off, was hang on too long. Convincing another, changing his or her heart, can really only be accomplished by God coupled with the personal experiences that help shape who we are and how we react. I am convinced that each person will, at some point in his or her life, experience profound sorrow and, probably, deep pain. That’s life on earth, an no one is immune. However, we will experience these things at different points in our lives, and sometimes, those friends who leave us when illness calls will not reach a more mature way of thinking until they have long moved out of our particular orbit.

I hold old friends in prayer. I especially pray that good people will be around them when they hit their “dark night of the soul.” But I cannot do anything to change their hearts about my situation or our relationship.  No, I have to move on and let God take over, completely and surely.

For all the crying and disappointment that happens when we lose people we’ve relied on and whose company we’ve enjoyed, there is a peace that covers us when we realize that God loves us and there are others who care about us, too (perhaps new friends who have the same illness and who understand even more profoundly what we’re going through).  Feeling this peace and acknowledging it are important steps to forging a good life with and in spite of difficult health challenges. And this peace, too, is part of that rainbow of promise that God holds for each of us – the promise that we will never be abandoned, no matter what!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Don’t Let Anyone Ruin Your Good Day!

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicWe have all encountered the wet blanket. The person who seems to revel in stopping our good mood, or our good day, in its tracks. Perhaps the conversation goes something like this:

“The sky is blue! Isn’t it lovely?”

“See those clouds? A big storm is coming.”

“But it’s so gorgeous right now. And the air is so fresh.”

“It won’t last. And the latest report  says the air is full of pollutants. It’s really unhealthful to breathe.”

…and so on – until we start to sway, teeter, maybe even trip into the pit of negativity promulgated by the person bent on throwing chilling, sobering water all over our positive attitude.

I find it difficult sometimes to run counter to all the negative talk that can swirl around me. After all, there are problems in the world, and these do have a certain impact on me, personally. But, really, is being uplifted by a good mood naive? Silly? Childish?

NO!!!

Just as we’re given feelings that can tend to worry and gloom, we’re also given the very powerful feelings of love, delight, joy, and humor. We’re given these feelings to use and enjoy – and to spread God’s light and promise – and they don’t expire with a certain age or disappear in the face of many life challenges.

Chronic pain and illnes bring with them their own negativity, which can be heavy burdens, indeed. Add to that the weight of the world’s problems (or the problems of other individuals), and pretty soon your spirit can be quashed and your own resilience threatened.

We need strong, determined spirits to rise above our pain and live more fully and faithfully. And we need those same strong, determined spirits to stand up against negativity and darkness and say, “Yes, there are problems in the world. But I choose to cultivate light, joy, and faith. I choose to live positively. I choose to live as God wants me to…now and always.”

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Tempering Temper

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicWhen we’re angry, do we automatically feel we’re justified simply because we feel the anger? Or, could there be other reasons about which we might have some control?

As summer heat matures, pressing down more harshly on certain parts of the country, I’m reminded of a theory I learned about in a French history class: Many of the major uprisings (the French Revolution, for example) began in the heat of the summer.  Hot weather, then, as the theory goes, can have an instigating effect on flares of temper and, often, violence. Beyond climate, I’m sure that it’s no accident that certain expressions correlate heat with anger: “hot under the collar,” for example; or “boiling mad.”

Pain has a way of stirring up anger, too. If you bump your leg, for example, a natural reaction is to yell or, at least, exclaim with more volume than a whisper. Chronic pain, endured over a long period of time, can also amplify anger.

When irritation, dissatisfaction, disappointment, or other feelings that can lead to overt anger are exacerbated by physical discomfort, pain, or harshness, sometimes our feelings can boil over and we can hurt ourselves or others even if we truly do not want to do so.  Tempering the “heat of the moment” with a breath, a moment, a “cooling off” period, then, becomes vital. But how?

I’m not perfect when it comes to corraling my rare-but-still-there temper.  But I do try to keep situations in perspective, making use of  “count-to-ten”  to temper the temper. Prayer can cut through anger made sharper by circumstances (extreme heat, greater-than-usual pain) – “Help me, Lord, get through this.” Distancing myself from the situation also helps tremendously – if I’m particularly uncomfortable, I will try to get too a place where I am more comfortable, thus taking away the thing that’s exacerbating rising temper. Thinking of the other person as a brother or sister in Christ has a way of ratcheting down tension.

We’re human. The weather can get hot. And if we live with chronic pain or illness, we are bound at one time or another to get “out of sorts.” But hopefully, an awareness of how our surroundings influence our feelings can help us to stop an eruption of angry words and actions.

Tempering temper – and making the world better for it – especially on hot days is, in the end, really, really cool!

Blessings for the day

Maureen

 

 

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