There is a saying that fits this week's question well:
Too many people miss the silver lining
because they are expecting gold.
This quote speaks to me because I am guilty of missing silver linings too.
Early on in my chronic illness, I was so focused on finding a cure, the gold, that I lost focus of all other aspects of my life. Coming to that crossroads where I faced that this wasn't going away in spite of all my best efforts, I realized I needed to start living my life again. That meant finding or creating good out of a miserable situation.
Now I know that chronic illness is many things. One aspect I haven't discussed much is its role as a teacher. In preparing my answer to this week's question, I've realized that illness has taught me many, many things over the past 23 years, so much so that I am not sure how to answer this parallel question, "Who would you be without chronic illness?"
I can honestly say that because of these experiences with illness, I've uncovered glimpses of my true self. Or to put it another way, I simply can not imagine who I would be today if not for illness. Although oddly enough, I suspect I might be more unhappy and less fulfilled that I am today.
So in taking a closer look at my own silver linings, I begin with this list of ten things that chronic illness has taught me.
- to be patient and forgiving with myself
- to create structure and routine in my life
- to let go of the past, live in the present and remain hopeful about the future
- to be creative, flexible and resourceful
- to ask for what I want ... and be OK when someone tells me that they can't help me get it
- to recognize what true friendship looks like
- to be a container gardener
- to be a writer and blogger
- to be still long enough to recognize and enjoy the moments of happiness each day brings
- to know that bliss is a purring kitten in my arms and a warm puppy in my lap