Lupus and Saying "No": Learning it's Okay!

Around the first week in August, I told myself it was time to get back to blogging. I had taken time off after my dad passed in the spring, and then summer came. Everyone knows it's not easy to dive into work or build momentum with the kids home! But I promised myself I would revisit it at the beginning of August. The 1st came (and went), but around the 5th of the month, I woke up and said, "Today's the day. I'm going to blog". I grabbed a hot cup of tea, found a cozy, shady, quiet spot on the patio, and opened my computer. As I looked out at the water to gather my thoughts, I said, "Forget work, I want to go canoeing!"

I shut the computer, grabbed my waders, and went out on the water. It was so unbelievably peaceful, and I was instantly transported to a morning without "shoulds", to-do lists, or agendas. I paddled a bit, floated a bit, and allowed the tide to take me wherever it wanted. It was the most relaxing, rejuvenating way I'd spent 30 minutes all summer! 

As I made my way back to the house, I snapped back into reality as I found someone had waded out to meet me. My fearless pup! I hauled Tia up into the canoe, and out we went again to explore. I didn't want to deny her the serenity I'd just experienced!

Sure, the goals I'd had for that morning had been pretty clear. In addition to a blog post, I was also supposed to tackle some inventory management and bang out a marketing email. I should have done those things. But I didn't.

Without realizing it, I decided those "shoulds" could wait. And I am so glad I did.

This kind of allowance or flexibility didn't always come so easily. I spent much of my early years with lupus caught in a permanent internal struggle. I wanted so badly to show lupus that she wasn't in charge - that I could still accomplish everything I wanted to. But both on a daily basis and in life overall, my body just couldn't keep up. Physically, I was pushing myself beyond what my aching, swollen, broken body could handle.

Forcing myself to scale back was no picnic either. It was like I was losing a part of myself every time I said "No" or "I can't". It was so painful to constantly monitor my how much was too much. There were lots of tears, and a ton of frustration. I didn't know it then, but it was a twentysomething's version of a tantrum.

But then, a shift took place. Making sure I didn't overdo started to pay off. Saying "No" one day meant I could say "Yes" on another. Slowly, I started choosing when, what, and how I wanted to expend energy, rather than lupus dictating my choices. Wise decision-making came easier each day, because I was experiencing the benefits. My health improved; my tantrums diminished.

For the most part, I continue to exercise healthy choices when it comes to the "shoulds" in my life. But on those rare days when I feel an overwhelming compulsion to blow off my responsibilities and hop in the canoe, I take full advantage of it. No need to fight the inner voices now! Just look at that view!


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