Dance taught me that looking down in fear of falling will increase the chance of the fall actually happening. Looking up makes you focus on what comes next and increases the possibility of staying balanced and on track. Whatever you do, don’t look down.
There’s nothing like a warm fire, a glass of wine and piles of cushions and woolen blankets when the Winter blues start to set in. Pair that with a little hut in the middle of no-where, NO PHONE COVERAGE, your partner and plenty of board games to choose from and you have perfection (in my humble opinion).
My partner and I were lucky enough recently to have exactly that, FULLY PAID FOR, for four days straight recently. Okay, so the first and last days were mostly travel and the fire was actually a fan heater with imitation flames on a screen… but the whole weekend was ridiculously perfect none the less. Not to mention, when it starts getting cold you really need something to look forward to. Because getting up in the dark day and in day out and trudging off to work certainly isn’t the highlight of my life…
I’m a firm believer that you should always have something planned to look forward to. It doesn’t matter if it’s big, small or somewhere in between. If it’s a long way away or tomorrow. What matters is that you really WANT to do it. It doesn’t have to cost a cent, maybe it’s just your weekly walk in the park. Or maybe it’s your yearly overseas trip and it costs $1000’s. Whatever works, I really do believe that if there is nothing there to look forward to it can be insanely difficult to stay motivated day to day. Having a plan for something exciting makes the less exciting parts in life all seem worth it.
Chronic illness can sometimes make this hard. Okay sometimes is an understatement. It always makes it hard. I’m lucky enough that as long as I plan carefully, I can still do a lot of the same things that I would have wanted to do before I got ill. Not ALL of the things I would like to do – for example, I’m hardly about to plan a four day tramping trip. But I can get out and about and do many of the things I love. If you follow my posts regularly you’ll know I attend dance and flute lessons weekly – this alone wouldn’t even register on the scale of things to consider doing for a lot of chronically ill people, myself included only a year or so ago.
But I’m really not here to brag about how I had an amazing weekend and how truly blessed I am. What I DO want to talk about is how I kept creating things to look forward to when it really didn’t feel like there would ever be something to look forward to. When I was stuck in bed and simply planning ahead didn’t mean I’d suddenly be able to get out. When light and noise were things I could tolerate only sometimes and when anything that involved any kind of physical exercise was well out of the question. Getting out of bed was quite enough for one day, thank you.
If I’m honest, sometimes I’d still do the things that I “couldn’t” do and just pay the price. It backfired a lot. Friends wouldn’t understand why I couldn’t always just do that. It also meant I spent days in recovery and relapse trying to claw back any form of sanity or normality into my life. I’m definitely not in any way shape or form endorsing this and I certainly didn’t do it regularly, but sometimes, I think it was the right thing to do. When simply lifting your leg high enough to get out of bed is a challenge most days it’s pretty easy to see why someone would want to overdo it when offered the tiniest glimpse of energy. Sometimes I just had to fight back. It kept me sane. Even though the illness won every single time and the following days would be horror, to me that one day of hope could be what I really needed. To show defiance. To prove to myself that this might not be forever.
More often though the little thing I’d look forward to would be simple. Someone coming to visit, just to sit on my bed with me and watch a T.V show. Sometimes I’d make the arduous journey out my bedroom door and into the lounge to sit on the couch with my flat mates and watch a movie. Sometimes I’d watch someone bake or cook; experience the smells and help by reading out the recipe if I could. On days where my hands weren’t shaking violently I’d do some crafts, draw, cross-stitch, crochet, scrapbook, write. On good days I’d extend these outside of the house. Go to the movies at the theatre, get coffee in a café and people watch, even just the shortest of walks down the main street or through the park. A lot of my best days were spent studying, which although it doesn’t sound all that fun – was yet another act of defiance. There was no way that this illness was going to stop me from getting the degree that I had worked so hard for and spent so much money on. Every little success I had with an assignment, or even simply making it to a lecture was a moment worth celebrating. I didn’t always see it that way at the time, but in hindsight it definitely contributed to keeping me going.
Do whatever it takes to keep going forward. Dance taught me that looking down in fear of falling will increase the chance of the fall actually happening. Looking up makes you focus on what comes next and increases the possibility of staying balanced and on track. Whatever you do, don’t look down.