The Answer

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Acceptance only comes after awareness.

Acceptance is acknowledging what can’t be changed. 

Acceptance doesn’t mean liking something. 

Acceptance changes perspective.  

Acceptance is not resignation. 

Acceptance brings peace. 

Acceptance and attitude go hand in hand. 

Acceptance creates opportunities for growth. 

Acceptance requires tolerance. 

Acceptance is humbling. 

Acceptance is a process. 

Acceptance only happens with patience. 

Acceptance is an act of self-restraint. 

Acceptance is relinquishing control. 

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The Tranquility Credo

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Resist what is wrong even when what is wrong is the easier thing.

Rise up for what is right even when it is the harder thing. 

Seek truth in the face of absurdity.

Seek to be kind even to those who are not. 

Be curious.

Be brave. 

Find peace because another’s chaos does not belong to you. 

Find courteous goodwill in the face of disagreement. 

Resist the need to be right rather than happy. 

Rise up in principled purpose for those most in need. 

Strive to be honorable in your actions and accurate with your words. 

 

Tennis Lessons

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Every once and a while I think I have a brilliant idea about something to write about but I’ve been writing my blog long enough now, that I know that I often need to go and see if I’ve written about that particular thing before. It’s not that I mind writing about the same subject more than once, it’s that I hate it when I write a post and then realize that I wrote almost the same post six months or a year earlier.

Today was almost one of those days. My plan was to write a post about all the metaphors for life I have learned from playing tennis. Anyone who regularly reads my blog knows how important this game is to me and how after getting physically sick, it has become even more important because it is a game I almost had to stop playing. After doing a search, I have apparently written about this idea before…several times in fact…and I’m going to again now but hopefully with some originality. While I was on the tennis court today several thoughts about this game and what it has taught me popped in my head so instead of telling you a story, as I so often have before, I’m just going share the thoughts I had today as they occurred to me. All of them apply to both the game tennis and the game of life:

Tennis has taught me that when you take your eye off the ball you lose the point…every time.

Tennis has taught me that in order to win, you’ve got to play.

Tennis has taught me that being strong and fast matter but being smart matters more.

Tennis has taught me to have fun.

Tennis has taught me that sometimes the risky shot is the winning shot.

Tennis has taught me the importance of stepping forward.

Tennis has taught me to never to give up.

Tennis has taught me to stay focused on what I want.

Tennis has taught me that I can always play better.

Tennis has taught me the importance of being a gracious loser.

Tennis has taught me that when I miss a shot, it’s best to let it go and move on.

Tennis has taught me that anger does nothing to improve my game.

Tennis has taught me patience.

Tennis has taught me to value practice time.

Tennis has taught me that if you want it, you’ve got to work for it.

Tennis has taught me the power of positive energy.

Tennis has taught me that when I am lazy I will miss opportunities.

Tennis has taught me to keep moving.

When…

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When you are confused…Learn 

When you grieve…Weep

When you are divided…Unite 

When you are lost…Seek

When you are stuck…Change

When you are alone…Join 

When you cry…Laugh 

When you are ill…Heal

When you are scared…Hope

When you are uncertain…Pray

When you argue…Listen

When you are peaceful…Trust 

When you are grateful…Share 

When you despair…Hope

50 “SarcoidosisSoldier” Life Lessons

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  1. No matter what happens to us, we control how we respond to it.
  2. Don’t take any drugs a doctor prescribes before knowing the full extend of their side effects.
  3. Life is too short not to laugh every day.
  4. Go to bed with gratitude in your heart for what was good about your day.
  5. Wake up each morning thinking about who and what you love most.
  6. Eat a lot of fruits and veggies.
  7. Put down the donut.
  8. Get some exercise.
  9. Don’t make excuses about anything.
  10. Rest when you need to but don’t be lazy because life is too short for laziness.
  11. Admit mistakes and apologize when you are wrong.
  12. Another person’s bad attitude doesn’t have to be our problem.
  13. Avoid drama.
  14. Watch sunsets.
  15. Sit by the sea whenever you can.
  16. All politicians lie.
  17. We don’t have to agree to get along.
  18. Diversity of thought is a good thing.
  19. We cannot win if we don’t ever play the game.
  20. Mistakes are as important as success if we are willing to learn from them.
  21. Not all battles are worth the fight.
  22. Take care of your body as it is the only place you have to live.
  23. Get a dog so you can truly experience unconditional love.
  24. Be a good advocate for your needs because others cannot read your mind.
  25. Don’t look behind you…you’re not going that way.
  26. It’s okay to change direction.
  27. We can’t always get what we want.
  28. Sometimes the thing we want most isn’t good for us.
  29. Live your life your way and let others do the same.
  30. Judging others will come back to bite you.
  31. Ignorance is not always bliss but sometimes it is.
  32. There is life left to live after grief and loss.
  33. No one person can meet all of your needs.
  34. Do what you say and say what you mean.
  35. If you can’t do what you say, explain yourself without excuses.
  36. Actions matter…so does inaction.
  37. You cannot unsay something.
  38. There is nothing like losing something to make you appreciate it.
  39. Don’t take your loved ones for granted.
  40. Our health matters…without it everything is harder.
  41. Don’t believe everything you hear or read…if it sounds wrong, it probably is.
  42. Live an examined life.
  43. Be kind to strangers…you don’t know what they are going through.
  44. If you hear music…dance!
  45. An academic education is important but so is the school of life.
  46. If you have all of your senses…use them!
  47. Eat to live…not the other way around.
  48. Taking the high road sometimes means walking away.
  49. Showing weakness can actually be a sign of strength.
  50. Be honest with yourself…always.

What We Have Left

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I’m finding that Facebook is full of a lot of pithy little advice, condensed counseling and succinct direction about how to live your life. I came across this little tidbit during my morning scroll through the endless noise of social media and it immediately made me think about my life with sarcoidosis and my daily decision to live and fight or give in and give up.

You see, sarcoidosis had taken much from me. It has taken my career, my energy and my strength. It has invaded my body with constant pain. It has dulled my once sharp mind and melted my quick wit. Sarcoidosis has turned my life into a daily battle of wills…my will versus its desire to destroy me. There are things this disease has taken from me that I will never get back. I know this and accept it but there are things this disease has also given me that I would not otherwise know or understand and, while I would not call this a “win win” proposition, as I’d much rather be a little ignorant and have a healthy body, I will say that I have learned to make the most of not only what I have left but what I have learned.

I haven’t lost the core of who I am. I may not be able to run as fast or remember every word I want to say but I am still me. I am still the person I’ve always been, at the heart of who I am…perhaps even a little better because of sarcoidosis. I know that I make some decisions differently now, not just about how to use my energy because it is limited but, also about how I want to be treated and how I treat others. I find that as I have to be a lot more patient with myself, I am with other as well. I am less judgmental than I used to be…less of a know it all and this actually makes me a happier person.

My mother used to say, “Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy because most of the time you cannot be both.” Before sarcoidosis, I thought I understood what this meant. Now I know that I actually had no idea. What I know now is that other people’s negativity, need to control and ignorance aren’t my problems. I don’t have to be the fixer or prove that I am the smartest person in the room because I have finally learned, thanks in part to being chronically ill, that the smartest person in the room is usually the quietest.

I find that I am also wiser with my time. We only have so much of it. I don’t want to waste it wallowing about what used to be or what isn’t anymore. Instead, I choose to cherish my husband, my home, my dogs, my world…albeit on a much smaller scale. I’m no longer driven, no longer striving, no longer reaching. Today, I know that truly living requires me to be present in this moment, right now. It’s hard to do that when you are always seeking the next “big” thing because life is not really about the “big” things. Most of the time, life is most enjoyed in the small quiet moments, often missed when “big” things are being coveted and mindless chased after.

Sarcoidosis is going to do what it is going to do to me physically. I can spend my energy and time in worry over that and over what it has already taken or, I can spend what is left of my time and energy making decisions and taking actions that seek to bring my life peaceful relief and joy, that seek to mend past regret, that are healing and hopeful and that bring me comfort. It really isn’t what happens to us that matters but how we decide to respond that makes all the difference. Things may have been taken from me because of my disease, but I still have a lot of life left to live and I intend to live it well no matter what might come my way. This is one thing no disaster or disease can take from me.

The Anger Allowance

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I don’t spend a lot of time wallowing in “what ifs”, nor do I allow fear to creep into my daily thinking but every once and awhile with this lousy disease something happens to me or to someone I know with this disease and I get really mad. I got mad today. Someone I know has been blinded by this disease, literally. Yes, sarcoidosis can cause blindness if it’s in your eyes. It can permanently damage any organ it touches and it leaves lasting consequences as a result of that damage too difficult to contemplate, too overwhelming to fathom, too outrageous to be believed. So from time to time, I don’t know what else to do besides get angry.

When I find out these things are happening to people I know, when I learn that someone has been blinded or is on the organ transplant list for lungs or, when some other horrific nightmare befalls the people I have come to care about with this disease, the reality of how monstrous it is hits hard. The reality of how little is actually known, researched or done to eradicate this disease infuriates me. The suffering, the sorrow, the confusion, the uncertainty, the loss that sarcoidosis reeks on the lives of those chronically affected by it can only be compared to what it must be like to fall out of an airplane with no parachute. There is no preparing for the disaster that is life with sarcoidosis.

By nature I am a positive person, perhaps in some odd way even more so now because this disaster is part of my life now too. It has taught me the true value of my time, how limited it is and what is most important. I cannot dwell on stupid arguments, when one day I know I might be lost to a complication from this dreadful disease. My reality now dictates that I be focused on the present, entirely engaged in living and, that I no longer be distracted by pettiness. I know how to get up when I fall with a smile on my face better than most people, thanks to living with a chronic condition. Once and awhile though, this disease angers me and this type of anger is not petty. It’s important. It is necessary. It is the fuel I sometimes need to keep fighting. People’s lives have been devastated, detoured and in some cases destroyed by this disease.

When you live with a disease like sarcoidosis, it is like living life on the edge of a cliff, every step you take could be the rock that falls, plunging you into utter darkness, no one to rescue you. It’s a precarious disease. Once you are diagnosed with it, there is no safety net, there is no way to know how hard it will strike or what it will take down as it blows like a hurricane through your body, leaving unrepairable wreckage in its wake. Sure, you can rebuild, but you’ll never be the same. This disease makes me angry sometimes and while I strive to be positive, I have also learned that we all need an anger allowance, a time to say…enough is enough, we’ve had it, we don’t want do do this anymore, we are sick of what has been taken from us. So, right now I am using my anger allowance. I am letting it out, releasing the valve so the pressure does not blow me up. The anger I feel now, is not just mine, it is for our entire chronic community, all those who suffer with sarcoidosis because we know how cruel life can be.