Week 64 – Little Bits of Illness

Happy November, Celebrationists!

  1. I am grateful for a wonderful closing weekend, and for all the sweet friends who were kind enough to come out and support us during the run
  2. I am grateful for a whole week off to do some work on the next projectIMG_3280
  3. I am grateful for the discovery of Karma, in Downtown St. Pete, introduced to me by two lovely friends. The Brainiac acai bowl is beyond out of this world…IMG_3263

It seems like everywhere we look these days there is illness and disease. I’m talking about sickness that is closely connected to our every day lives. When I was little, I used to associate the phrase “illness and disease” with either:

A.)  Something like a common cold that I could get, or could pretend to have, so I could go to the nurse’s office and (hopefully) leave school early for the day, or

B.) Serious things that old people have to deal with

And now that I’m an adult, I continue to be amazed by how illness of all kinds affects the most unlikely people. Without even thinking hard about it:

  • Two girl friends my exact act who have/have had breast cancer
  • A dear friend, also my age, who had a stroke this week
  • A little boy I babysat for who passed away from brain cancer
  • My parents, who are relatively young and ordinarily healthy people, both having dealt with, or are dealing with their respective cancers
  • Two friends from the theatre community who passed away this last year, with almost no warning at all

That’s just naming a few. As you well know, my situation is not unique. I bet anyone reading this has their own list of people whose experiences they’ve been affected, dismayed, and touched by. Who knows why it happens. But there’s a lot of it.

The thing that I find for myself, is that when confronted with these moments, I’ve basically got some version of the following inner monologue rolling around in my brain:

Oh gosh, Pekar. This is so terrible, and sad, and weird, and unfair. And a reminder that life is so short. And it can change, be dramatically altered, or taken at any given second. You need to live life to the fullest! Create things, do things, make a difference, help people, heal people – GET MOVING!  

And then it goes… (in acting, we would call this a beat change)

Am I taking the best care of myself?? Does it matter? THOSE people took care of themselves! Oh, just stop thinking about it so much! Just get out there and live, and have fun! …Am I having fun? Do I know how to have fun? Am I a fun person? Maybe there’s a self help book for that…

Needless to say, sometimes I don’t find myself becoming especially empowered by my own inner voice. I frequently experience some of the following, and am willing to bet that you might, too:

  • I wonder when I will know that I’m doing enough
  • I stress out about anything that feels to me like I’m wasting time
  • I find myself obsessed with lists, because they prove that things are happening. Even when the list holds an activity like “buy bananas,” or “read this play” – I’ll feel somewhat unnerved until things are checked off. But then of course, I replace them with new things, pretty much immediately
  • What does “making a difference” even mean? How will I know when I’ve done it? Does that knowledge even matter?
  • Maybe if I avoid doctors entirely, for the rest of my life, I’ll never have to deal with any of this

Don’t lecture me about that last one. I know. I’m aware.

I haven’t figured out a remedy for how to grapple with illness that touches our lives.

And certainly there’s no sure-fire way to prevent illness. For every article you read about how a certain lifestyle will prevent this or that, you’ll read another one to the contrary. Which doesn’t stop me from trying things. I’m an absolute cheerleader for people trying whatever makes them feel best, and brings them the greatest peace of mind. I think this will look totally different for every person. And you know…sometimes people get on their soapbox about a particular lifestyle choice, diet, or exercise program. They get fired up, and angry when people don’t listen. They condemn people who eat this, or drink that, or don’t adhere to *fill in the blank*. And people on the outside of that experience often find such behavior annoying, threatening, offensive, or pushy. I understand that totally. But also…probably some part of them is just a little scared, don’t you think? Aren’t we all? I say we support each other in doing what feels best for our own bodies, and health. But that’s really a whole different blog post.

With all of the uncertainty, here are some things that I like to try – whether you’re dealing with illness yourself, are being affected by the illness of someone close to you, or are living in fear about the idea of illness affecting you or your family:

  • Focusing on gratitude whenever possible. We won’t remember to do it all the time. We’ll still complain and be dissatisfied, and be totally, cloyingly human – and we just need to forgive ourselves for those moments where we forget to be grateful, and then hop back on the wagon. There is SO much to notice, if we allow ourselves. So much to appreciate. And making a habit of active appreciation can be healing in many ways, no matter what our current circumstance looks like
  • Let go of our human desire to find fault or blame. This can be harrrrrd
  • Recognize that there’s no way to get through this world doing everything “right.” Doing “enough” doesn’t exist. I don’t know anyone who ever feels like they are doing enough. If you feel this way, come find me and I will buy you dinner, and maybe even a puppy. Or at least a chia pet
  • Accept the support you need. There are so many wonderful, kind, compassionate people in this world. No need to be a hero and muddle through alone. Accept the love you deserve. You DO deserve it. Take it. Then share your own with someone else
  • Just do something. It doesn’t matter what, though I recommend doing things that make you happy. What fires you up? What excites you? What brings you peace? Do those things. And let go of your guilt. No. Actually, let it go. : ) We don’t know how long any of us has here. But I say that we do our best to enjoy it as much as possible, on our own terms. And be gentle with ourselves, and each other.

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Sending you love this week, Celebrationists – and wishing health, happiness, and vitality to all.

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