Creative vacation from the couch

It’s that time of year when I wrestle with feelings of envy and jealousy. Friends and family are talking about summer vacations they’ve taken and fun adventures they’ve experienced. A part of me is happy for them but another part is jealous.  I want the life of a reasonably healthy person my age. Chronic illness does not take a vacation which means it’s a challenge to take ‘time off’ but it’s not impossible.

It is important to be able to recharge, to have a change of scenery, some fun, and some pampering. 

You’re wondering, ‘How can I take time for myself when my illness restricts me so much?’

Here are some things that have helped me:

1.       If you need to have a good cry to release some of the grief and frustration that chronic illness brings then by all means, cry it out. These are normal feelings given your situation but you have to find a way to release them.

2.       Don’t compare yourself or your situation to others. This is easier said than done but the comparison trap is a joy robber. The quicker you get out of the comparison mindset the sooner you can discover some peace and contentment.  

3.       Enlist the help of family, friends, and caregivers to brainstorm some ideas that would work for your situation. (Check out the list below for suggestions)

4.        Block the biggest portion of time that your situation will allow-a half a day, a whole day, or even a whole week, and plan with intention. Do not schedule appointments for those times unless it is something you 100% want to do. Turn off the energy drains of life as much as you can—phone, facebook, twitter, and computer. By all means distance yourself from negative people—especially during these times!

5.       Focus on gratitude. It’s true— acknowledging someone who has helped you or offering encouragement to a friend will leave you feeling good too. Who helps you on a regular basis? Do you have a neighbor who checks in on you from time to time? Do you have a favorite Dr., nurse, or pharmacist? Who could use some encouragement? A note of thanks, a home-made treat, a small gift card, a phone call, are all nice and inexpensive ways to brighten someone’s day.

Ways to pamper yourself and take a break from the routine:

  • Add a theme and some color to your day. Rally your team of supporters and friends and have them drop off items that fit your theme or color scheme. Balloons, flowers, wall decals, fun lighting, candles, a themed throw rug, colorful throw pillows—it’s amazing what a change of color and festivity can do to lift the mood. You could add movies or music that fit with your theme too.
     
  • Treat yourself to new pajamas, a new pillow, cozy blanket, or a set of sheets. If you know someone who sews ask them to make you a unique pillow case. Here’s a free pdf 
     
  • Arrange for a favorite meal or sweet treat to be delivered.
     
  • Visit a local park when the weather is good; even if all you do is lay down and nap or enjoy the cloud patterns (or the stars if it’s at night) that’s ok. The point is to give yourself a change of scenery and break the monotony.

  • Coloring pages. Here are some freebies . These are great color pencils that glide across the page well and don’t require much pressure from your hand.
     
  • Put together a puzzle. Try water color, paint by number, or design a t-shirt. Anything creative or artistic.
     
  • Treat yourself to essential oils. You can use them as air freshener, in a bath, or on your skin.
     
  • Play music that lifts your mood. Try writing a parody of your favorite song.
     
  • Grab a camera and head to your yard or favorite local spot and take pictures. Have fun. Look at things with a new view.
     
  • Get some videos of beautiful scenery to watch
     
  • Buy a book or audiobook that you’ve been wanting to read
     
  • Rent, borrow, or buy movies or binge watch your favorite tv series
     
  • Try thumbprint art
     
  • Start a journal or scrapbook- collect cartoons, funny things that people have said, pictures you love, or your favorite bible verses.
     
  • Find a way to get a mani-pedi or a massage
     
  • Learn something new—there are many online classes for hobbies that are reasonably priced. Check out craftsy or search Youtube for how-to videos.

Life with chronic illness is not easy but you can find ways to create special moments, take breaks, and recharge.

How do you plan to take a break and pamper yourself this week?

Dear Jillian

Note: This is a follow up post to what Jillian wrote on Father's Day. To read that post click here

Jillian tried to convince herself that everything would be ok. She squeezed her eyes and wrapped her arms around her middle hoping her stomach wouldn’t lurch out of her body.  Her thoughts raced as she wondered where her homework had disappeared. She pleaded with God, please let me find my homework. Don’t let Daddy find that letter. I can’t take no more of his beatings.
 

Kicking at the dirt, Jillian bit her lip to fight back the tears.  What was I thinking writing a Father’s Day letter to God? Obviously God knows how terrible I am- no sense in letting the whole 4th grade class find out. I’m such an idiot! I can’t let anybody find out about Daddy.
 

The minutes of her lunch break dwindled as did the air in her lungs. Needing distance from the noise of her classmates Jillian chose to sit at a picnic bench far from everyone. Anna, a 10th grader who often shared a seat with her on the bus, walked over and dropped the crumpled paper and an envelope in her lap. Jillian lowered her eyes and felt the burn of shame crawl up her neck.

Anna reached into her bag and tossed a roll of lifesavers to Jillian “It’s ok, I got your back girl! See ya on the ride home.”

Trembling, Jillian opened the envelope and began to read the note.  
                                                                                                                                 

crying-1315546_640.jpg

Dear Jillian,  

As I was walking off the bus I noticed your homework assignment on the floor. I picked it up and read your letter. You’re not alone. My dad isn’t winning any father-of-the-year award either. Your dad sounds like a clone of mine. Anyhow, I remember the dread I felt when Miss Boykin gave my 4th grade class that same assignment.
 

Like you, I sometimes feel angry at God. I think that’s ok. If God is who everyone says he is then surely he understands. Do you remember last year when Sam was killed in the accident? We sat on the curb and cried as our hearts broke into pieces. The worst was hearing Sam’s mother cry in utter despair and knowing we couldn’t take the pain away. I believe that’s how God feels when he sees us get hurt.
 

I heard my Grandma once say, ‘just because you think something doesn’t make it true’. I believe that. My grandpa is color blind. He sees the red traffic light as green even when it’s clearly red! Luckily Grandpa has learned not to trust his eyes to decipher color. Sometimes pain and hurt do the same thing—makes you blind to the truth. You think you’re bad, ugly, stupid, and deserve to be punished. None of those belief you hold are true! You don’t deserve the hurt and pain your dad unleashes on you. You are smart, beautiful, and brave. You are a survivor.
 

Hold tight to the hope that better things are coming. With help we can pick up the pieces of our lives and create a beautiful mosaic out of the brokenness.

As for today, I see a few good things:

1.       Miss. Boykin checked out at lunchtime after getting sick. She told the substitute she’d collect homework tomorrow. You have time to re-write your assignment if you want and nobody will ever know.

2.       You have me as a new friend!

3.       ‘Life savers’ they are delicious AND  they come into your life in all sorts of ways, shapes, flavors, and sizes—keep your eyes open for them.

I’ll save you a seat on the bus,
Anna

Jillian's letter to her father

Photo from Pixabay

Photo from Pixabay

To the genuinely loving, protective, nurturing dads out there -Happy Father’s Day! You are a blessing to your children and to the world.  

For many people, Father’s Day is challenging. Maybe you recently lost your dad, maybe you are grieving because you and your partner have experienced the loss of a child or the inability to conceive. Maybe you have painful memories of your father. Whatever your situation-- you are not alone! Be gentle with yourself today, reach out to someone you trust and share your story if you can, allow yourself to feel whatever feelings you have without judgment.

Below is a fictionalized, but sadly realistic, account.

Dear Father,

Miss Boykin gave our 4th grade class homework tonight, “Write a letter to your Father for Father’s Day”. There couldn’t be a worse assignment! Could be the quickest one ever though,  

       “Dear Dad, I hate you! ~Jillian”       

Photo from Pixabay

Photo from Pixabay

Momma says I trip all over my words when I talk but give me a piece of paper and pen and they flow like water; even still, daddy don’t like nothing I give him. Even if I lied and put the nicest words in my letter and gave it to daddy all he’d do is glare at me with those cold, glazed-over black eyes and spew his meanness, “Jillian, this is the worst father’s day gift! I done told you and your brothers I wanted that new grill--or nothing. I asked for ONE THING and instead you give me some lousy letter with misspelled words, mistakes, and everything done wrong. You ain’t no good….worthless.” His belt slashed across my face would end the conversation but his mean words would linger and repeat forever.

I don’t know if I should bother writin’ a letter to you either God but last week in Sunday school Mrs. Gibbs said you want us to talk to you--that you know our needs and answer our prayers--so I thought I’d write you instead of my earth father.  I’m thinkin’ you must be too busy for me ‘cause I been talking to you way before Mrs. Gibbs suggested it last week and you never answer me. Maybe you’re like me and you don’t remember stuff unless it’s written down. I read a book from the library last week, ‘Are you there God, it’s me, Margaret. She was mad at you too and wrote all about it; seems like you and her came to an understanding. Could you do that for me too?

Photo from Pixabay

Photo from Pixabay

Mama says she and daddy don’t play favorites with us kids but I don’t believe her ‘cause Tommy and Daniel never get beat, they never get sent to bed hungry, and daddy never sneaks into their bed at night. Anyhow, I think you play favorites too. My friend Olivia has nice parents, they don’t make her do disgusting things, they buy her clothes when she needs them, and take her to fun places too. Why did you give her parents like that but give me ones that hurt?

Some father you are! I thought you cared. Mrs. Gibbs said you know and see everything. If that’s true then you see what daddy’s doing to me and you know it’s against your rules. Why you not doing anything about it? What did I ever do to you? Why do you punish and hate me so much?

Yep…you fathers are all alike. Santa Claus is more of a father than you or my earth dad.

I don’t want a father no more.

Jillian, Age 9

Stay tuned to see the response Jillian receives. In the meantime, what would you say to Jillian? Click on the word ‘comments’ below to leave your remarks. 

The Power of Story

The power of story, regardless of the method used to share that story, can be profound and life changing.  About two years ago a high school senior, Molly Kate Kestner, used a cracked iphone and an out-of-tune piano to record a song she had written. She put the video on YouTube having no idea the impact the song would have. Within a few days the song had over 6 million views and Molly was being contacted by media and record labels. The song is called, ‘His Daughter’ and you can listen to it by following the link here.

Today the song has over 14.5 million views. Why? The power of story! While the song is ‘fiction’ it accurately describes a reality experienced by many people and offers hope, connection, and healing. It’s a reminder that life is messy but beauty can come in the midst of the chaos and brokenness.

I have had countless moments in my life when a character from a book or song ‘came to life’ and wrapped me in a hug of words and understanding—what a gift!

What book character or song made a lasting impression on you?

Welcome!

Thank you for visiting my blog! 

Pen and paper were my first ‘friends’ in life; the only safe space I had to contain the experiences, thoughts, and feelings that I dared not speak. Through the years my passion for writing grew and led me to create this website and blog.

My life has contained a blend of beauty, faith, hurt, chronic illness, grace, humor, and awesome friendships. I have been blessed by the healing and empowerment that comes from writing and sharing life experiences.

Whether you are healing from abuse, struggling with relationships, battling chronic illness, or working through issues of faith, I hope you will find support and inspiration here.