In Pursuit of TLC

Take care of this momentThe pursuit of consistent self-care lives in the penthouse of my mind, ever present, most often personified by the wagging finger of guilt and dread. Are you sure you want to eat that? You don’t really think you can handle all that, do you? You’ll get sick if you do that. Stay home. SAY NO.

Sometimes I get defiant and turn that voice off because it’s exhausting to care so much about the consequences of everything. I eat what I want. I take on too much. I go through cycles and each time, I pay the price.

A self-inflicted hectic pace has resulted in my absence here and as I start to feel some space opening in my life, I can hardly wait to fully embrace a gentler pace. Ever since high school, I’ve taken on multiple jobs and projects at the same time, my energy and attentions constantly divided. I’ve come to the sad realization that I’ve never given 100% to anything. How could I? It’s time to simplify, to focus in: I need to take care of this moment. I need to figure out what that means in the context of my life. Big decisions lay ahead…

In other news, I’ve missed this tiny corner of the blogosphere! I’m looking forward to spending more time blogging and connecting with you! In the meantime, here are some FACE FORWARD updates:

  • I’d like to give a huge shout out to the winners of this year’s WEGO health activist blog awards. Congratulations to everyone involved! It was such an honour to be nominated for two categories and to have had the opportunity to discover the advocacy work of so many amazing individuals.
  • I also want to spread the word about a fabulous Facebook group called “Changing the World When You are Chronically Ill, Disabled, or Housebound.” According to creator, Esther Smith, it’s a “collaborative community of chronically ill, disabled, and housebound individuals, coming together with ideas to make small differences in the world, changing the world together.” How awesome is that?
  • Lastly, I’ve created a “Links: Get Connected!” page located on the top bar of the blog. I’ve listed a variety of sites ranging from lupus blogs to my favourite food bloggers, to some awesome blogs that will give your brain a break from health-related reading. If you want to be added to the list, email me at elena@lupusfaceforward.com!
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The Discomfort Zone

rain-water-falling

(source)

I eased the door of my apartment open, the mad percussion of the downpour reaching full volume in my ears. I stood there for a moment, in the way we all do before heading into the storm; my hood tied tightly, my chest lifted from a deep, preparatory breath. I was steeling myself, eyeing the driest path, taking the time to fully accept that I was leaving my warm, cozy apartment for the wet and windy world outside.  I scurried to my car, the fog creeping up my windshield as I plunked myself down into the driver’s seat. As I sat in my little puddle, I realized that I’ve been in the middle of that deep, preparatory breath for the last four years. I’m on the threshold… and apparently, I don’t want to get wet.  I’m taking that as a sign that it’s time to get uncomfortable. It’s been a while since I’ve pushed my boundaries or tried something new, so I’ve just booked my first solo trip in 8 years (paid completely with points!) and have put in inquiries about an intriguing herbal medicine workshop here at home. As of late, my crafty, talented friends have inspired me to rediscover/find my inner crafter (if she exists). Who knows, I might try and dig out my old knitting needles, although I’m pretty sure the skills that earned me my knitting badge in Girl Guides have long since dried up! I guess you wouldn’t necessarily term those things as “uncomfortable,” but for me, the “discomfort zone” encompasses any experience outside of your “wheelhouse,” the very specific list of things you think you know and are good at (so you keep on doing them and nothing else). These experiences can be as small as trying a new type of food or taking a different route to work. It’s about bringing the newness and excitement of traveling and discovering a new place into your everyday life. I believe that those little discoveries ultimately lead to the broader answers we seek.  And so, I’m ready to release my preparatory breath and make the mad dash into my discomfort zone. After all, it’s the only way to get to the warm and cozy place on the other side.

On a more sombre note, I realize that my rainy metaphor for reflection coincides with the devastating flooding that is happening in Alberta. I have fond memories of that province, especially living and hiking along the Bow River and surrounding area. My thoughts and love are with those who have been affected.

Saying No

At this present moment, my city is celebrating Nuit Blanche, an annual all night arts festival. There are free parties and exhibits at museums and art galleries, public art, short films shown on street corners, even a “bike crawl” to each event… but I’m not there, I’m here at home.  I’m feeling the effects of an incredibly busy month with little down time and in the last week, little energy to cook and eat as healthy as I do regularly. I’m not feeling sick, but I’m tired, craving a quiet space and the permission to be slow.  I want to be out there tonight, but my Lupus “spidey” sense is tingling. I can feel that I am nearing my “danger zone,” still far away enough to feel fine, but I’ve crossed that line enough to know that one night out (or in) can make all the difference.  On one hand, I feel happy that I’m finally sensing my limits intuitively, that I have cultivated a list of preventative measures that has, so far, kept serious Lupus symptoms at bay, but even after 11 years of saying no, it never gets easier to miss out. I try to remember that in my situation, the real freedom is not living without restriction, it’s in the choices that ensure I have a say in the quality of my life. So, as I continue to learn the illusive, magic formula of life balance, I feel content enjoying my quiet and restful night at home. And really, there’s nothing like a cup of tea and a book in bed… and there’s always another night on the town.

Cooking for the Wolf: Black Bean & Butternut Squash Burrito

First, an apology for not blogging regularly the past few months.  As soon as New Year’s 2012 hit, I allowed myself to be sucked into a vortex of never-ending commitments.  As a result, I’m left with little energy and not surprisingly, with less white blood cells.  Since my test results, I’ve already taken action to lessen my load.  Learning the lesson that “feeling good” doesn’t necessarily mean “do way more” is one that I’ve had to re-learn over and over again.  All my life, I’ve been the kind of person who wants to know and experience everything.  There is a deep urgency to that now, one that I struggle to keep in check.  The pain-free hour glass is on it’s last grain of sand… or, at least, I feel it’s best if I tell myself that.  It’s a fine balance knowing your limitations, yet leaving room for new challenges and adventures.  All I know is that whatever I’m faced with, whether it be illness or otherwise, I refuse to expect less out of life.

That being said, I’ve done my moping around about the prospect of the return of Evil P and have chosen instead, to celebrate the fact that I’ve been P-free for 7 months!  It’s the longest time I’ve been off it in the almost 3 years.  Yay!  I also decided that my time would be better used focusing on the “pharmacy” I have complete control over:  The kitchen!

Here’s a Black Bean and Butternut Squash Burritos Recipe from one of my favourite vegan food blogs, “Oh, She Glows.” I decided to do a lettuce wrap version, but the filling is actually great all on it’s own.  Super easy (well, I found chopping the squash hard, but I’m a weakling) and makes a really delicious, healing meal to take to work for lunch!

Not a very good picture, but you get the idea!