Friday, June 27, 2014

This too shall pass

Good Friday morning…. Gosh, it’s been a rough week.  It has been a very long time since I struggled with the RA like I did this week. It just about did me in but I think I am on my way to slowly starting to come out of it, although it will take several more days for any lingering pain, stiffness, and fatigue to fade. I had forgotten how debilitating it can be; how quickly a flare can come on…literally overnight; and how completely exhausting it can be. It literally zaps every bit of energy from me, but hopefully, I’ve turned the corner. 

Today is the first day of my annual 4th of July family reunion vacation. I have more than 30 relatives coming up north beginning today to spend the week at Pip’s Place, the family vacation spot that has been a part of my family since I was a very little girl. My grandparents purchased the property (literally 2/10ths of a mile from my current home so I don’t have to travel and get to sleep in my own bed) back in 1970 as a place for their children and grandchildren to gather during the summer to spend time together. Now, 45 years later, the tradition still lives, even though my grandparents have been gone for many years.  Some of my cousins weren’t even born when Pip bought the place, and now they are bringing their own babies to join the fun.

I am blessed to have an extended family that enjoys being together and gets along so well. Each day of this coming week has a specific theme, with food and activities to go with the day’s theme. One day we will be flying kites, another will be spent at the beach for an all-afternoon ‘fun in the sun” day. 

We’ll even have a big family/community 4th of July parade next Saturday, but it is yet to be determined if I am even going to make a float this year. It all depends on how I’m feeling in the coming days. Much of the week has to be planned so that food is prepared on certain days by certain families, costumes and games can be prepared, and activities coordinated, but there will still be plenty of time for impromptu fun, and good times around the campfire (that is for THOSE, unlike me, that can actually stay awake until dark!  LOL.  Here it is the first day of my vacation and I’m up at 3:00 a.m.!)  There will be much laughter and a lot of love shared in the coming week, but also a lot of food and temptation heading my way.  I will need to be focused and keep reminding myself how much more enjoyable this family week will be now that I can participate in the fun rather than just sit and watch. This past week of RA issues was a reminder of the life I used to live on a daily basis and it just reinforced my commitment to maintain the weight loss to help combat future flares. Feeling better and being able to join in the fun tastes MUCH BETTER than the any of the good food that will be surrounding me all week.  I’m sure I’ll be posting more about the week in the coming days.

The physical issues this past week was a reminder to me that losing weight and completely changing one’s life DOES NOT MEAN that every day is going to be “sunshine and roses.”  Nor can it ‘fix everything” and guarantee that there will never be struggles, pain, or difficulties again.  IF only that were true; every overweight, addicted, depressed, or otherwise sad, despondent, or struggling person WOULD have the motivation to change his/her life.  Life isn’t like that, however.  Losing weight is not going to FIX and/or take away EVERY struggle in life.  What it does do, however, is MAKE IT SO MUCH EASIER to deal with those annoyances in life that come our way.  Dealing with an RA flare at less than 200 pounds is certainly much easier than at 400+ pounds. Just the stress of the extra weight off the inflamed joints alone is significant.  

I’ve shared before about some of the day-to-day struggles that often come with life; those things that threaten to sabotage our will.  Things like the death of friends and loved ones; job complications; relationship issues; job stressors; family conflicts; illness; storms; disappointments…….you name it…..are a  part of life and going to happen. Sometimes they might even be brought on as a result of other’s reactions to your life-changing journey, but more often than not, they are things beyond our control.  Losing weight….giving up bad habits….changing one’s life doesn’t take these things away…..but the joy, peace, confidence, better health, new way of thinking/acting/feeling, etc. that comes as a result of your journey will make the struggles easier to bear and cope with….THAT IS…if we remain strong, hopeful, and know that the “storms in life” won’t last forever.  AND….we remain committed to “starting over” again and again if we falter in any way during the difficult days.

I don’t believe in any way that God wants us to suffer, be sick or sad, fail, or struggle in life, but I do believe that He can/will use those experiences to teach us perseverance, dependence upon Him and others for help, and to be people of faith….in better days….that “this too shall pass”…and that we are never alone in our struggles. And also….to remind us that when we are down and out, for whatever reason, or faltering on our way….that we are never alone: we have HIM….and we have each other to help us through. Being a person of gratitude….and trying to remain positive and hopeful in a direct result of this life-changing journey.

Here’s hoping that each of us has more days of joy than struggle….more victories than defeats…..more sunshine than storms….and more hope than doubt.   Keep on believing….keep on working….keep on fighting….regardless of how you feel at the moment!  You can and you will get through it….get to it….and succeed in changing our life!