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Yesterday was a strange day for me. We made big plans to go to a state park that we had never been to but had been told was beautiful. The park is about an hour and a half to two hours from our home, most of that journey taken on back country roads through tiny towns that are nearly deserted. We packed the camera, some sunblock, our water shoes because there is a creek there with a rock bed that is supposed to be fun to explore. We also packed a towel and some water to drink. We opted not to bring our dogs since this was our first time adventuring in this particular place. We figured that if we loved it, we’d want to go back again and we’d know from this visit if it is really a good place to bring them.

The beginning of our journey started out fine. It was fun actually. We were driving a loaner Lexus since my husband’s is in the shop and it’s pretty sweet ride. We cranked up the tunes and the was sun shining brightly. I was excited to get out of the house and do something different. Sarcoidosis tends to keep me close to home, so these small adventures go a long way toward picking up my spirits.

Half way through our ride to the park, the clouds started to roll in. They were big white puffy ones at first, so we didn’t think much of them and continued to sing along to our own version of “carpool karaoke”, in a happy oblivion. Life was feeling pretty good. I was looking forward to getting out in nature with my camera someplace new. I always enjoy seeing new places through my camera lens. I think I see things I would not otherwise see this way and capturing just the right shot gives me a feeling of pride.

Then it happened. Lemons. The clouds turned darker and soon it was dark as night at 2 pm in the afternoon. At first the rain drops were big ones and my husband mentioned that big rain drops usually means it will pass quickly. I don’t know if that was denial or hopefulness but either way, we were closer to the park than we were to home so we felt there was no going back. By the time we arrived at the park’s gate, we were in a the mist of a torrential downpour with no end is sight. The clouds were low, black and thick. We sat in the car, disappointed and wondering what to do next. I was particularly bummed because this was going to be a nice outing for me, a way to reset my spirit in preparation for another week of the tedious nature of life with my disease.

My husband got over the rain pretty quickly. He turned to me and said, “We are 30 miles for an outlet mall. Let’s go there and shop and then we can go out to eat.” He reminded me that we were together, we were out and about and that it didn’t really matter where we were so long as we made a conscious decision to enjoy ourselves. So there it was…lemonade. And, so easy to make out of a disappointing situation. I needed him to be the one to make the lemonade too because, I fully admit that the rain really bummed me out. I had high expectations for the day and I wasn’t going to be able to turn it around without some help in seeing things a different way.

This made me realize that sometimes, it is okay for someone else to help us see things more clearly. It is okay to feel letdown but it is better to let it go whenever we are able and to try to find the brighter side of unexpected disappointment. It was a good reminder that sometimes the only thing we have control over is our own attitude. Being chronically ill is hard and I am often faced with various disappointment…my body doesn’t work the way I want it to, I lose my train of thought, fatigue and pain cloud my judgement, I do stupid things, I forget words. This disease has changed me. My shine has been dulled. I am aware that I am irrevocably damaged in a way I wasn’t before I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis.

The irony is that because of this, I am by nature, a much more positive person now. Sarcoidosis knocked me down and cracked my ego but I got back up and dusted myself off. Sure, I am bruised and batter but I haven’t stopped trying to live my life despite the challenges thrown my way. I think this disease has generally taught me how to be a kinder, gentler, more understanding person. It has forced me to become much more patient with myself and now I find I am that way with others as well. I know that life is short and life is fragile and that life is a thing to be cherish and appreciated. I don’t take small joys for granted anymore. For all these things I am, in a strange way, grateful for this lemon called sarcoidosis. I have for the most part learned how to turn it into lemonade. Every once and awhile though, when my own reserves are low, I need the benefit of someone else’s wisdom to turn my disappointments into something sweet. Lemons or lemonade? The choice is ours to make.

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