Day 14: Healthy Deed of the Day - Took a Pass on Making Dinner (and Walked the Dog instead!)

A few weeks ago, we had gorgeous spring weather here in the D.C. area. The sun was out, birds were chirping, and there was a light breeze blowing in 76 degrees. It. was. fabulous. I worked outside on our balcony for much of the day, and our pup Tia and I couldn't have been happier.

But at 6:15 pm, I found myself at a crossroads. I'd planned to have dinner ready by the time the rest of the family returned from softball practice at 6:45 pm, But what I really wanted to do was to take Tia for a nice, long walk around the neighborhood.

Do I stay inside, slave over a hot stove, preparing an elaborate meal for my family?  Or do I forget dinner, have sandwiches or take-out instead, and head outside to enjoy a nice, evening stroll?

I bet most of you are thinking, "Forget dinner! Go outside!" In fact, most of you probably fail to see that there's even a dilemma to begin with. I agree with you! Who wouldn't come up with a plan B when beautiful weather awaits? No guilt or regret in taking advantage of a gorgeous spring day, right?

But, now, let me ask you - what if I said that the reason I wanted to skip out on making dinner was because my joints were aching, my hands were swollen, and I was tired? What if the reason I didn't want to make dinner was to, instead, curl up on the couch and nurse my flaring body?

All of a sudden, things change, don't they?  Guilt and anxiety creep in, at least for me. The answer should still be the same - I should absolutely forgo making dinner. But do I feel the same freedom to do so? Do I feel as entitled? Will my family understand my logic? Will they agree? What's more,  will I feel defeated by ordering out? Will I feel like a failure for not sticking to the plan, for letting my family down, for not being able to provide?

These feelings of guilt, self-doubt, and negativity are exactly the emotions that lupus preys on. I've been there many times - when my symptoms rage, the last thing I feel like doing is giving in. I want to fight. I want to come out swinging. I want to show the world and myself that I can still be me and  still do more, despite lupus.

But I've learned to retrain my brain. Now, I'm able to squash those nasty feelings of guilt and failure when my disease is active. When I'm in a flare, I strive to give myself the same latitude that I would if I wanted to shirk my responsibilities for a walk on a warm sunny day. It is the same thing. It's about giving ourselves permission. About taking care of our bodies. About living well, despite lupus.

Now, to tie up loose ends, I was not in a flare on the evening described above. I was very much symptom-free, and felt like a million dollars. So indeed, I DID blow off dinner that night. Tia and I took our walk, and returned at the same time the rest of my crew got home. I declared that it was "Sandwich Night" - and the girls let out a big cheer. Johnny liked the low-key dinner so much (read: no dishes), that we have had sandwiches for dinner once a week since. We choose an evening when sporting events/piano practice/homework collide more than usual, and we all enjoy the break.

I had no intention of it becoming a tradition...but that's what happens when you listen to your body, and give yourself permission. Positive results beget repeat behavior. 

Ready to try "Sandwich Night" in your household?


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