It’s been a couple of months, but now that things are settling down around here again, I wanted to join the Linkup with the lovely Sheryl over at A Chronic Voice. Each month she graciously hosts a linkup for bloggers who write about chronic illness and provides some thought-provoking prompts for us.
This month’s prompts are (and yes, mine are out of order, much like me ha ha):
Does anyone else feel like this year is just speeding past???? It seems like we were just welcoming the new year, and now it’s apple-picking season again! My Mom is fond of saying “the older you get, the faster it goes,” and I’m really starting to believe it. The time is just flying!
Unfortunately, once we get to this part of the year, things only seem to speed up even more. For us, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a sprint. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, but over the last few years the Christmas season has become a time of stress instead of the joyous time of year it should be.
To combat that, last year I made a conscious decision to start slowing down and actually enjoy the holiday season, and this year, I plan to start my slowing down early. This time of year, the apple orchards and pumpkin patches are bustling with activity, ghost tours are being offered, and there are Fall festivals everywhere.
I’m sure we’ll make our usual trip to one of our favorite orchards, but this year my goal is to branch out and visit some others. I love these visits because it gives us a chance to slow down and enjoy the beautiful scenery, an apple cider slushy, and the resident farm animals without expending a huge amount of energy.
Depending on the weather and the length of time they take, I’d love to go on one of the ghost tours. I think they’re really tours of some of the more historic places of interest than haunted places, but I think it would be fun to see our city in a different light.
Part of being able to slow down and enjoy everything is budgeting my energy by budgeting my time. Like most people with fibromyalgia or many other chronic illnesses, I have a limited amount of energy, and I have to budget that energy just as we budget our money.
With a typical financial budget, we have a specific amount of money that comes in each month, and a good spending plan ensures we don’t overspend and run out of money before the month ends. By the same token, budgeting how we spend our energy each day helps us do the things we need or want to do without completely bankrupting our supply.
Pacing activities throughout a given time frame allows us to keep our energy budget “in the black.” By planning and spreading our activities out over time, we give ourselves the best chance to keep our energy supplies more stable and keep from overspending.
This energy-budgeting process can take some time to figure out, and may require some trial and error, but it really can make a positive difference for allowing us to do the things we want to do. Of course, we know that there are some days that we’re overdrawn on our energy budget before we even get out of bed. During those times it’s important to put something back into our account by taking a recovery day.
Learning to live our best life with a chronic illness really requires an ongoing process of evaluating what is working for us and what isn’t. This evaluation process can take several different forms. It may be something as simple as recognizing that something we’ve been doing is no longer serving us well, or it may be an actual formal evaluation of what we’ve been doing, how it’s been working for us, and how we may need to adjust our self-care plan to improve.
Sometimes it reveals that things aren’t working so well and making those adjustments may involve escaping from old ways of thinking or doing things. Occasionally we have to loosen the bonds of those controls we put firmly in place to protect ourselves and try something new. I’ve talked before about how those controls that helped me so much in the beginning started to hold me back. It wasn’t until I loosened them and started to step out of my comfort zone that I was able to start moving forward again in my quest to enjoy my life.
One of the quotes I shared in last week’s Wellness Wednesday post was by Jon Kabat-Zinn and concerned not taking our thoughts personally: We learn to believe many things about ourselves, mainly because we do tend to take our thoughts personally. If we remember that we don’t have to automatically believe everything our thoughts tell us, we have the opportunity to write a new narrative for ourselves, to realize that what we’re thinking about ourselves may not be true at all, and escape those bonds that are holding us hostage.
Thanks so much to Sheryl for hosting our link-up each month. If you’d like to participate, we’d love for you to join us! You can join in here.
What are you up to this time of year? Do you have any special activities that you enjoy around this time?