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Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Say What?

posted by mpratt

A kind mouth multiplies friends,

and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings.

Sirach 6:5

Image courtesy of Arvind Balarman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Arvind Balarman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Some days, nothing seems to go right. More symptoms. More pain. Insurance snags. Money troubles. The roof leaks. The dog runs away.  No one answers your calls.

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Yup, some days, there’s nothing good to be said. Or, is there?

I’ve battled, cajoled, and otherwise dealt with myriad problems since even before my diagnosis of lupus more than 14 years ago, and the one thing I’ve learned is that no one feels better getting angry at the person on the other end of the line. I don’t feel better, and certainly the person receiving the angry words doesn’t feel better.

But the reverse is an even more potent lesson: Staying calm and kind can move the proverbial mountain.

By this, I don’t mean accepting the unacceptable. But, when it comes to unsnarling a tangle of the inevitable administrative problems that arise along with life in general, the patient but persistent style tends to yield better results than the bombastic and verbally abusive one.

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But, how to remain calm and show Christ’s love if we’re hurting deeply and the problem is great?

Prayer. Deep breathing. More prayer. Humility. Remembering the Golden Rule of “doing unto others.” And a large helping of, “Maybe I should put this off until I’m in a better mood.”

Other things that help me remember that I’m not dealing with a company on the phone, but rather with an individual, a brother or sister in Christ, is to make sure I know the name of the person to whom I’m speaking, even to the point of knowing how to spell it. I ask how they are doing. I might mention the weather and empathize if it is not good where the person is. I try – it’s hard, but I try – to understand the extent to which the first person I speak with can help me, and ask to speak with a manager if I think that I’m just spinning my wheels.

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And, I pray, breathe, pray, and try to remain as calm as possible.

The reading from Sirach reminds us of the benefit of speaking kindly: The person at the other end of the line might not become a fast friend, but he or she might indeed be able to move that mountain!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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National Dog Day

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of worradmu/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of worradmu/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

August 26 has been named “National Dog Day,” and it’s a fine time to remember all the wonderful ways our furry friends enhance our lives, whether we have chronic pain and illness or not.

I’ve known some remarkable dogs. There was Kolya, a Great Pyranees that served people at UCLA Medical Center by visiting the sick, young and old. One day, I did rounds with Kolya and was amazed when the small-pony-sized canine gently stepped up and onto more than one patient’s hospital bed, stretched out, and relaxed, bringing a palpable sense of calm to the patients and a smile to all who watched.

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There was the Scottish terrier that was our family pet for many years, feisty and stubborn, but fiercely loyal.

There was the “hearing helping” dog at the pharmacy I used to go to, a companion to another customer who was audibly challenged and who relied on the little dog with the big ears to alert her when important noises sounded.

The seeing eye dog, a German shepherd, that I saw recently that prevented its companion from stepping onto a busy street was more than remarkable, he/she was a true hero.

And the many household dogs that are constant reminders of the importance of the simple life, a life of play and napping and humor and care. These dogs, too, deserve a kind word and a nod.

I hope that you have a fine National Dog Day, and that you take a bit of time to give a pat or a scritch or, perhaps, a treat, to your favorite pooch. Or, perhaps, if you’ve been thinking about it, but have hesitated, perhaps you might adopt a dog today.  Many are waiting for good homes!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

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Your Name In Illness and Pain

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicI’d just come from the dreaded fasting bloodwork and was standing in line at the local coffee shop. As people put in their orders and gave their names to the order taker, I marvelled at how exotic some of them sounded. “Sheena.” “Jasmine.” “Rodrigo.”

My name seemed to become more and more plain as the line moved up. Which got me to thinking…

What if I went through the day with another, different, perhaps more daring name? Would people react to me differently? Would I feel any different?

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Part of my musing came from an experience I had a few years ago, when I gave a talk to a group of elementary school students about how to be kind to people who are “differently abled.”

I had explained that, because of lupus, I had lost all of my hair and had to wear wigs. But, rather than be sad about it, I made it a kind of adventure, choosing different colors and styles depending on the day and what I was going to wear.

One of the little boys,  no more than perhaps six or seven, raised his hand and asked, “When you take off your brown wig and put on the yellow one, do people treat you differently?”

I laughed, “You mean, do people treat me ‘blonde?'”, thinking first of the age-old stereotype of “being blond.”

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The boy nodded. I thought a little more. Then, I answered, “Well, in fact, when I wear the brown wig, people call me ‘Ma’am,’ but when I wear the blonde wig, people call me, ‘Miss.'”

I was a bit too tired and coffee-deprived to think of a really good, really exotic name for myself when I got up to the order taker that morning. But, maybe there is something to the name thing…as there is with the wig thing…

Maybe, the next time it’s a gray day with blah overtones, I’ll come up with something. And see where it takes me!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

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Are You Ever Sorry?

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of Tina Phillips/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Chronic illness and pain are, well, pains to live with.  There are times when we’re angry, snappish, out of sorts. Sometimes, even if we’re at a happy celebration, our conditions can get in the way of feeling completely integrated into the occasion.

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And, sometimes, in our discomfort, disappointment, pain and angst, we hurt others.

It’s a hard truth, but not an unknown one, or even an uncommon one. Each of us struggles with it at times. Simply because we suffer does not give us license to vent, lash out, or rain on other people and others’ celebrations or good moods.  And no amount of our complaining will force others to understand, empathize, sympathize with us, or want to spend more time with us instead of not.

So…each of us has to keep that good ol’ sense of contrition alive and well. Yup. The “s” word, meaning “sorry,” needs to be part of our vocabulary along with all the other words we use to describe our state of being, health, and life in general. Otherwise, we’ll fester with anger, resentment and jealousy that builds and builds, stifling our ability to live more fully and invite good relationships and love into our circle.

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The blessed thing about being a person of faith as well as someone who has chronic health conditions, is that God loves us unconditionally. When we err, and err we do, He is ready with his forgiveness and love. The more willing we are to extend our “I’m sorry” to others when we need to, the more we’ll feel our loved ones’ care and support, too.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”

Yes, sometimes, we need to forgive, but sometimes we need to be forgiven. After all, we who live with chronic illness and pain aren’t saints…but we’re trying to be!

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

 

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