Learning from the holiday craze, and improving on lupus one season at a time!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Over the holidays, my inbox was flooded with entries for the free copies of Despite Lupus. I'm happy so many of you responded to the offer. I just wish I had hundreds of copies to give away! I will be sifting through the emails this week, and the lucky winners will be announced this Friday. I'm extremely thankful for all your comments and positive feedback on my book. That certainly wasn't the point of the give-away, but I was overwhelmed by your kind and sincere words. Thanks to everyone for sharing!

As the holidays come to a close, I can officially say that I have emerged from the season unscathed. Hooray! Last year, I didn't fare too well between Thanksgiving and New Year's. The holidays fueled a flare that lasted for months, and I really didn't want to repeat those same mistakes this year. So I didn't. I slept when I needed to, ate well, maintained my exercise regimen, and stayed as low key before and during the holidays as I could. I took it nice and slow on the gift buying (starting early always helps), and allowed myself to drop dozens of to-do's from my list.  With the increase in activity, the busy social schedule, the added travel, and the deadline-driven nature of the holiday itself, I knew something had to give. So I was prepared to make choices in order to fend off the possibility of getting sick. We had to say no to several social engagements, and rearranged others to fit better into my napping schedule, but my strategy worked well.  I felt great the entire holiday season, and continue to feel 100%. And this was even a traveling holiday for us. I can't ask for much more than that!

Two of my golden rules during the holidays, particularly when traveling:

* Never sacrifice a nap.
* Book no more than one activity/get-together in a day.

It gets very tricky to stick to these some days, and as I said, I definitely had to say "no" to things that I would have loved to have done, but rules are rules. And these two continue to serve me well. (And I appreciated all of the encouragement from my in-laws to hit the hay. Daddy G - your nudges are always welcomed!)

In addition to these hard and fast rules, I usually end up learning something new about managing my life with lupus during the holidays, and this year was no exception. We had the pleasure of meeting up with two different groups of friends at the same restaurant two days apart, and I was amazed at how different I felt depending on the time of our get-together. Turns out I have an ideal social hour!

We met up with the first group at 12pm on Friday after Christmas. We'd originally planned to meet for brunch around 11am, but ended up moving it to 12pm. I thought nothing of it, since we'd have two good hours before my nap time, and Johnny would be able to deliver me straight to the hotel afterward, so I could get my rest. But as our lunch gathering got underway, I realized I was definitely starting to wilt. And quickly. I wasn't alarmingly tired, and I certainly enjoyed the gathering. But I was tired. We wrapped up right around 2pm, but it wasn't until we had our second get-together two days later that I realized just how tired I really had been.

Fast forward two days, and we found ourselves back at the same place, same booth, eating the same food. But this time, it was 4:45pm. I'd just gotten up from a great two hour nap, and this time, I was raring to go. I could just feel it. I was full of energy, with plenty of things to say, and excited about saying them. When I look back at our 12pm get-together, I can see how my pre-nap wind down was in full effect. I felt drained, and there was that familiar struggle of trying to find the energy to participate in the conversation. I loved seeing our friends, and I had so much to catch up on. But I distinctly remember that fatigue nagging at my every thought, making it a challenge to converse. When you're tired, it's so tempting to conserve energy by not talking, and I remember slouching back in the booth at one point, and thinking, "I wouldn't mind not talking for awhile." And that is very, very unlike me!

So based upon the stark contrast of our two get-togethers, I think it's clear when I'm at my best. It's a good thing to know. From now on, I'll be pushing for a late afternoon rendez-vous, or a mid-morning brunch. No reason to struggle when you don't have to!

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