Overcoming Fear…A New World View!

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Fear isn’t exactly specific to sarcoidosis but, for me, fear is a relatively new experience. I was not a particularly fearful person before my sarcoidosis diagnosis. In fact, fear is something that has actually snuck up on me over the years that I have been chronically ill. It has taken up a quiet residence in the recesses of my mind but it is constant now and I don’t like it.

Recently, I was given a golden opportunity to travel somewhere exotic that any person in their right mind would want to go. When the chance to have this great adventure was first presented to me, my heart raced and my mind exploded with excuses why I should not go. This was rather alarming to me. I was surprised by it. I hadn’t expected to feel this way and it confused me because, even though part of me knows I live with a new steady feeling of uncertainty in my life, I hadn’t realized that this fear had become so profoundly ingrained. I know this kind of alarm is not good for me and it is not something I can give in to.

After my panic subsided, I took a deep breath and decided that I needed to take a step back from this very odd reaction and examine it further, to better understand why I felt such trepidation at the prospect of being able to spend time in paradise. My head knew what my body didn’t. This was not a normal response. So, I did what I have learned to do since my sarcoidosis diagnosis, I took a self inventory of my feelings.

Self inventory is something I do a lot now that I am chronically ill. I know that I no longer see the world the way the world really is. I see it through the eyes of a person in a broken body but, I also remember who I was before I became broken and the only way I know to keep any part of that person alive, is to fight for her, to constantly examine my motivations and judgements about the world now that my life has been taken over by sarcoidosis. Am I seeing whatever I am looking at through my broken point of view and can I get past that point of view to improve the quality of my life? These are the key questions I have to ask myself whenever something new is presented to me.

Upon further examination of my overwhelming dread at the thought this adventure presented to me, I realized something. I realized that the fear was coming from the fact that my world now is small, very small. The thought of leaving the cocoon that I have created for myself is scary. I live in a cocoon now for a reason. It is safe here. I have routines that help me manage the symptoms of my disease in this cloistered place of comfort and familiarity. In this sheltered place, I sometimes forget that there is a big world out there and, apparently I’ve become a little afraid of it. In this sheltered place I can sometimes fool myself into believing I am physically and emotionally stronger than I really am.

After I better understood my fear, I realized another thing. I can’t let it rule my life and the moment I figured that out, I also realized that I have to take this adventure even if it scares me. While living on my cocoon is okay sometimes, it is not okay to be suffocated by it. The world is a big beautiful place and even if I am sometimes frightened by it, I need to remember that it is still better to remain part of it whenever I can than to shrink and wither in worry and angst in a completely collapsed place of illness and disease.

I will accept that taking this adventure is scary for me, that it will be an effort for me to stretch myself outside of my zone of comfort and routine. I will also and perhaps more importantly, acknowledge that it is good to be physically well enough to accept this challenge. There was a time I wasn’t and there may be times in the future when I’m not. I will embrace this adventure as a chance and a lesson to grow beyond my disease and to live my life, truly and completely. I will be grateful for the insight this trip as given me about how fear seems to be impacting my world view and I will continue to strive to overcome it wherever and however I can. Fear will not rule me.

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Visiting Lincoln And Lessons From A Flat Tire

Spontaneity is fun most of the time. And even when more than the unexpected happens it can still provide us with great life lessons, if we look for them.

My husband and I have been visiting his family in Muncie, IN this week. Every time we come here we think about going to Springfield, IL to visit the Lincoln museum, home and grave site. It’s only a few hours from Muncie.

This visit, we decided to throw caution to the wind and off we went. We got a hotel room and even left the dogs behind so it was like leaving the kids with a sitter. It was a real date night! YAY!

It took us about four hours to get there in the pouring rain. It was cold and damp. There was a lot of construction which slowed us down. It was not that fun a drive especially after we had driven 11 hours to get to Muncie a few days prior anyway. A lot of time in the car! My husband had a headache and I was, as usual, not feeling well at all. But we trudged our way there.

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Once we arrived at the museum, we both relaxed a little and things become more interesting. I even had my picture taken with the Lincoln family. I am apparently a little under dressed for the occasion!

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We really enjoyed the museum. It was well done. There was one exhibit that I found particularly moving. It was a restoration of what the state house in Springfield would have looked like when Lincoln was laying in state there. It’s hard to describe how it made me feel but I got teary eyed and walking through that exhibit I truly felt the impact of his life and his death on all of us…on our nation and what one man accomplished to keep us whole.

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After the museum, we went to his home in Springfield. It was very engaging to be in the home of such greatness and see such ordinary living all at the same time. I could really feel Mr. Lincoln at his desk in his bedroom reading and writing letters.

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After the museum and the family home, we went to get something to eat and eventually found our hotel. Neither our car’s GPS or the phone’s GPS could find it. We ended up taking quite a lengthy tour of Springfield until one of us finally relented and called the hotel for directions.

Oh wait…before we went to the hotel, we did make a quick pit stop to Wal-mart for some much needed snacks for the evening! Twizzlers, dark chocolate bars, trail mix. Yum! Then finally arriving at the hotel, dog free (yippie), cold, damp and wet, we settled in and with our tummies full of junk food we had ourselves a warm and good night’s sleep.

The next morning we went to Lincoln’s Tomb.

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I had hoped for a somber moment with our 16th president. One quiet moment to thank him and appreciate him and give him my respect. Unfortunately, there were school children everywhere and it was not at all quiet nor was there an opportunity for a moment to give my personal thanks for his nearly unimaginable contribution to history and to our nation.

So we didn’t stay long and I was able to snap this picture by nudging my way through a throng of pimply teenagers all standing around staring at their cell phone screens instead of appreciating where they were and the magnitude of this man’s impact on all of us. What is it they say…”youth wasted on the young!”

Anyway, after this less than worthwhile experience, we decided to head home. We were not ten minutes away from the grave site with a four hour drive ahead of us when suddenly we heard a thundering noise under the car and my husband, who was driving, let out a string of concerned words. We pulled over and sure enough…a flat tire.

Expertly, my husband pulled out the spare, jacked up the car and changed the tire. But it wasn’t just the tire that had been damaged. The wheel also had a huge gash in it. So, while the spare would get us back to Muncie, we needed to get a new tire and a new wheel.

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Thank goodness for smart phones. We spent the better part of the first hour of the ride back to Muncie calling tire places and junk yards and dealerships to find a wheel and a tire. Eventually we found a place that had a wheel that could be ordered for next day delivery and we also found a place that had the right tire.

So, our trip is being extended by a day or so to get all this taken care of.

But as I think about this experience, I realize that there are lessons from this flat tire and our visit to honor Lincoln. We could look at the flat tire like it was all a huge hassle and how unfair it was that this happened to us. Or we can look at it another way.

No one got hurt. We got all the parts we needed to fix the car. We can afford to fix the car. We get to visit with family for an extra day. It’s just a car. Getting the car fixed properly will allow us to travel home safely even if a day later than expected.

And after visiting Lincoln, you realize that a flat tire is nothing compared to what people endured during his presidency. Millions of people died, millions of families destroyed. People enslaved. A nation was divided.

We just had a flat tire and while it was annoying.. it is nothing. Truly nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Once again there is a lesson here in the importance of perspective. These lessons seem to be everywhere.

And Lincoln continues to teach us important life lessons.