Life Lessons From The Cemetery

Hanging out in the cemetery does something to you. More specifically, it does something to your inner-spirit.

The cemetery is walking distance from where I’m staying. It’s a place I frequent often, and it’s become part of my walking ritual.

I could take a different route, but I choose to walk through the cemetery as often as possible. Something draws me there.

At first, I thought it was the beautiful landscape. I became convinced it was the solitude I craved. Now, I realize I’m drawn to the cemetery for a different reason.

Today, I found myself being pulled toward a particular tree on the cemetery grounds.

I sat down and was surrounded by hundreds of burial plots. It wasn’t eerie. It was comforting.

Have you been to a cemetery lately?

You’d be amazed how beautiful a cemetery looks during the holiday season.

The living have decorated with Poinsettias, Christmas trees, and an array of festive holiday decorations. It’s breathtaking.

As I sat there, I found myself fixating on one particular burial plot. It was amazing. Christmas tree, ornaments, lights and festive trinkets. It was a Christmas celebration.

Then it hit me, only the living can experience the holiday festivities with their family and friends!

Would this individual trade places with me knowing that I’m living with a chronic illness?

I’m certain he would!

I’m certain he would take on my current health burdens in exchange for being in the presence of the awesome people who honor him in such a publically visual way.

I’ll leave you with this.

On the Christmas tree was a large sign decoration with the word “Hope”.

beautiful visual display of love

I’m convinced the decoration is a positive reminder for all those that stumble upon this post.

Hope:
Hope you find a cure.
Hope you find peace.
Hope you find love.
Hope you find acceptance.
Hope you find…..(whatever makes you appreciate that your still among the living.)

Much love,
Marissa

PS: Walking through this cemetery has changed me. It’s going to be a constant reminder of how blessed I am to be among the living despite chronic illness!

How Many Years Can Chronic Illness Keep You From Marriage? | Life With Chronic Illness

Engagement- hands behind back holding ring box

Image by: scottchan

I need you to listen up now! I don’t want you to make the same mistake I did… SO PLEASE… pay attention.

Maybe you’ve come across the discouraging stat: 75% of marriages end in divorce when a spouse is stricken with chronic illness.

This distressing statistic didn’t even phase me. Getting through a wedding day terrified me!

I’d been engaged for years before I even considered getting married. (Didn’t Babe know about the stat?)

When Babe proposed I didn’t hear “Will you marry me?” I heard… ” I ACCEPT YOU”!

Chronic illness really messes with your head! A specific piece of information comes into the brain for processing, but your so battered from feeling like s@%t you don’t properly process the intended message.

See, the acceptance message I pulled from Babe’s proposal was all I needed. I wanted to stay exactly in that moment. Acceptance was my happily ever after!

After the unforeseen engagement, I didn’t run out and purchase bridal magazines, start a “wedding of my dreams” Pinterest board, and I sure wasn’t in the headspace to set a date.

Don’t get me wrong. I was on cloud nine knowing I would be spending the rest of my life with an AWESOME man that made my heart flutter!

So, what was the problem? I was uncertain.

Questions started to collect:

Can I make it through my wedding day? How long can I stand still during the ceremony? Should I hire a DJ even if I can’t dance at my own wedding?

The questions kept coming!

The burden of questions became paralyzing. I didn’t have the “right” answers. I didn’t know who to turn to for support. When I did attempt to express my feelings, to a select few, I didn’t want to accept their solutions.

Weddings are supposed to generate one of the happiest days of your life, however, questions piled up so high I couldn’t see how I was going to experience a joyful day.

So, I did what most people do when their facing an uncomfortable situation, I avoided it. I steered clear of the idea of marriage. I was content with being engaged.

Funny thing happens when you attempt to avoid something specific, it ALWAYS seems to show up!

I couldn’t attend a major family function without someone hinting about wedding dates and plans.

Didn’t they get it?

You see, marriage was only possible after “the miracle”. I was waiting on a cure!

It’s evident that my hesitation to get married was kept alive by a belief that I was going to be miraculously cured.

Subconsciously, I REFUSED to entertain the idea of getting married. ONE DAY I was going to have a joyous wedding day, which was not possible if I remained chronically ill! ( What a horrible message to have continuously playing in the background!)

Listen up: DON’T make this mistake. Don’t distance yourself from experiencing joy because your waiting on a cure. Don’t bombard yourself with burdens that will bury you. Surround yourself with practical solutions that lead to positive outcomes.

If you find yourself asking questions that don’t have meaningful and productive answers… consider rephrasing your questions!

I’ll leave you with this.

Last month I got married. WHOOP…WHOOP… We ELOPED!

I couldn’t have been more proud of us as a couple. It wasn’t about dancing, being walked down the aisle, or making it through the day.

It was about our commitment to one another. It was about creating an environment that allowed us to celebrate one another. It was about putting ourselves in a situation where we had the opportunity to process and experience the beautiful union known as marriage.

I LOVE being married. I LOVE being a wife. I LOVE that I get to be happy despite chronic illness.

In sickness and in health!

Much love,
Marissa

PS: Babe and I were engaged for 7 years before we got married!

PPS: Crazy thing…in my mind we’d only been engaged for 3! Allow me to repeat: Don’t keep yourself from experiencing joy because your waiting for _________(insert whatever excuse you’re currently harboring.)

Start Writing Your Own Prescriptions (RX)

Daily RX pad

Photo by: voraorn

Just admit it…

Your sick and tired of feeling “sick and tired”.

One cry away from being “all cried out”.

Taking pills for “this” or “that”…Distressed by the number of pills you’re forced to take, or resentful because there’s not a pill to treat your condition.

What if you possessed control over the prescriptions you’re being administered?

I get it… the physicians in control… in possession of a magical prescription (RX) notepad that grants access to a rainbow of drugs that can treat MANY symptoms you’re battling.

While this is true… maybe it’s best we’re not granted full access to this magical prescription pad. We might soon find ourselves with another problem – ADDICTION!

Alright, let’s agree to leave legal-drug-pushing to the professionals, but…

Have you considered writing out your own “Daily RX”?

Call me crazy, but I’m going to bet on someone… YOU!

I’m going to bet that YOU can safely write yourself out a daily RX that strengthens your inner-spirit.

Inner-spirit?

I’m not going to get woo-woo or preachy on you, however, I’m going to challenge you to develop a plan to combat the dark emotions that accompany chronic illness…

A plan that helps you withstand: Anger… fear… stress… worry…

A daily RX, you prescribe, focused on enhancing your quality of life.

Unless your physician is Patch Adams, you won’t be prescribed the following RX list:

  •  Watch a funny YouTube clip.
  • Make your bed.
  • Take a shower and brush your teeth .
  • Open your windows to let in some fresh air
  • Pray
  • Meditate
  • Write for 15 minutes on any topic of your choosing
  • Send an email off to someone you admire
  • Read something uplifting for 15 minutes

 

Seems silly, right?

Who’s sillier?:

Person A: Chooses not to wear a life jacket while kayaking.

Person B: Chooses to be properly fitted for a life jacket that may save his/her life in case the kayak capsizes.

Uplifting, daily RX lists, are your properly fitted life jacket! An important part of your safety equipment that keeps you from drowning into the emotional, dark, murky waters of chronic illness.

I’m hopeful with regular use, you may start to see the positive side effects!

Dont sabotage, just start!

My list often contains 3-4 daily prescriptions. (If you’re hesitant, start experimenting with just one daily RX!) There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to do this.

Daily RX list written of whiteboard

I use a whiteboard, but i’m considering purchasing my own RX pad!

Are you open to sharing what you’ll consider adding to your daily RX? If so, comment below.

Much love,
Marissa

PS: If you suffer from anger… fear… stress… worry… etc. on a daily basis, please consult with your physician! Hugs, and know your’re not alone! There’s help out there.

 

No Room For Two Sick People In This Inn |patient caregiver relationship

woman looking away  with hand up

by: David Castillo Dominici

If you’ve ever been to a church service, especially around the holidays, guaranteed you’ve heard about the dismissive inn keeper that turned a pregnant Mary and Joseph away as they searched for shelter in the middle of the night.

Stay with me….

Two weeks ago my fiancé, AKA Babe, came down with an illness. Nothing serious, just one of those yucky-sorta-illnesses that turn your lips pale. He started his descent Thursday and by Saturday he was a mess. We were invited to a family function, which we had to miss; therefore, no one was around.

I found myself alone with this helpless, sickly soul. You would think my loving instincts would have kicked into gear, and I would have rushed to his aid.

I hate to disappoint, but I morphed into Drizella Tremanine (One of the stepsisters from Cinderella)

I got silent, lips pursed and pouty. I was PISSED! Every response he made was disregarded by my sharp, rattlesnake responses.

What the heck was happening to me?

Why was I acting this way?

In the moment, I knew I was wrong, but I couldn’t shake off the piss-poor attitude!

Has something similar happened to you?

If wedding vows were run on a trial basis, I failed… “in sickness and in health”!

How could I be SUCH a JERK, to a man that has stood by me through my worst, and is still standing by me through a medical condition that appears to be incurable.

SO CRAZY. I got the chance to redeem myself when this illness reared it’s head this past weekend. I was better, but my performance was still disappointing.

We can’t grow unless we reexamine the demise…

  1. Babe got sick.
  2. I turned into a beast.
  3. I had a moment of clarity and walked to the local store to retrieve chicken soup, sprite, and ginger ale.
  4. Babe was thankful.
  5. I was pumped I was able to walk to the store to retrieve the items he needed.
  6. Babe wasn’t getting any better.
  7. I morphed back into Drizella.

If we were preparing to cross-examine the accused, we would find testimony 5-7 interesting.

I got pumped because I was able to walk to the store, (I don’t drive because of my condition) and retrieve the items babe needed. When babe didn’t get better, I got pissed.

Yoda to my defense…

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

I got scared! I often feel defenseless because of this chronic illness, and babe is ALWAYS there to guard and protect. His illness left me venerable, and that venerability turned into fear which morphed into anger.

His illness shed light on my own insecurities and inabilities to be a proper caregiver. I wouldn’t have been able to rush him to urgent care. I was only able to walk to the local mini-mart to retrieve comforting items, which did not include a pharmacy.

What if my condition prevented me from walking that day? FEAR turned into ANGER, which was misguided and placed onto him!

I’m not sure why that inn keeper turned Mary and Joseph away, but I have to make sure I don’t follow suit and slam doors on my blessings because I’m vulnerable and scared.

Maybe it’s time to put some energies into planning for emergency preparedness in our home?

Much love,
Marissa

PS:  Raise your hand if you are a work in progress!

Positive Messages: What Are You Projecting Out Into The World!

Note attached to Gram's refrigerator.

I am blessed to have an outstanding Gram(Grandmother)!

My parents worked long and hard hours, which meant I would spend a considerable amount of time with my Gram.

A few weeks ago, I was alone in her house awaiting her return from a doctors appointment. I found myself wandering the house, in awe of all the positive messages that have been staring back at me since I was a kid.

Every uplifting and encouraging message I have received from Gram is not because she reads out loud inspirational scripture, and shares enormous loads of wisdom.

It’s much deeper than that!

I realize what makes a person a positive influence is not the positive messages they pin up for all to see, or the positive sayings that roll off their tongue. It’s how they internalize those lessons, sayings, and messages. Gram lives and acts in accordance to what she believes AND THAT makes her the most positive influence in my life!

Thought:

 Are we living a life in accordance to what we are projecting to the world?

Much love,
Marissa

PS: Thanks Gram for living your truth so I can be inspired to find and live mine!

Go Ahead It’s Just Sprinkling-Breaking Beyond Life Barriers

Sitting down tying my shoes I heard Gram yell over from the next room… “Mija, it’s starting to rain.”

I quickly finished tying up my shoes and walked over to acknowledge Gram. I could sense my defenses rising and a hesitance about walking in the rain.

“Should I take a jacket? Maybe I shouldn’t go?”

Grams response… “Mija, go ahead it’s just sprinkling.”

I threw on my hat, grabbed for my walking stick, and headed out the door.

The intensity of the sprinkling started picking up after rounding the corner of the second block. I slowed down and contemplated turning back. I thought to myself…

“I don’t have an umbrella. What if the concrete gets too slippery and I fall. I should seriously turn back…”.

I quickly convinced myself to keep going (“Gram says it’s just sprinkling!”).

About a mile, into the walk the sprinkling turned to rain and it started coming down hard. I was about to get annoyed, and then something happened.

I found myself at the intersection where I normally turn around and head back home. Next thing you know I was pushing on the traffic signal button with the intention of walking across the street.

Beyond that intersection, about half a mile up is the grocery store and Target. When I first moved in with Gram I could only dream of walking to the grocery store. I envisioned walking to the store, shopping independently, purchasing a few items, and walking back home.

On a day filled with excuses and my walk threatened by weather, I realized I was MUCH CLOSER to my goal of shopping independence than ever!

I moved beyond that intersection, reached the grocery store in the pouring rain, turned around and headed home.

Walking home in the rain felt AWESOME! I didn’t have time to worry about feeling yucky because I was so pumped that I hit a significant milestone.

The WEIRD THING was, the last few blocks walking back home the rain let up, and it was back to… “It’s just sprinkling!”.

As I headed up the driveway, Gram greeted me at the door.

“I feel so guilty that I pushed you to go. I didn’t think it was going to start raining like that…”.

My response…

“Gram! I made it to the store, take my picture.”.

marissa_walking_grocery_milestone

Had to share this photo! Gram’s first few shots using the iPhone camera. Guess you don’t need to see my head. heheh Pants, shoes and 1/2 of my shirt were soaked. Rain never felt so good!

The lesson…

Hesitation, fear, excuses, pressure, outside factors are simply distractions. When all those barriers are up, and you push beyond those distractions you began to reach the seemingly “impossible” goals.

Much love,
Marissa

12-12-12 The Lesson: Life may go different than planned

I can’t imagine a world where people plan and prepare to get sick.

MOST OF US travel through life at the speed of a hamster on a wheel.

You become bombarded by the stresses of life and IF YOUR SELF AWARE you recognize the importance of slowing down and appreciating memorable moments.

When your life becomes derailed by an illness you may entertain the thought that LIFE IS OVER.

But this month’s 12-12-12 project member Sarah Levis reminds us to re-evaluate your “life is over,” thought process…

“Just because your life goes a different way than you planned, it doesn’t mean that it necessarily has to be worse than you planned.”

I hope that this is something that everybody can take something from. I think one of the things that I’ve learned most from what I’ve gone through is just because your life goes a different way than you planned, it doesn’t mean that it necessarily has to be worse than you planned. I definitely haven’t pictured everything that’s happened to me since the stroke happening, but there have certainly been many, many blessings in my life that have come as a direct result of meeting the people that I have, being in the places that I have – even having to live back in my home community, which I didn’t think would ever happen. It is what you make it.

Here, is the reality. Sarah has had two strokes before age 35. She is living with physical disabilities that stemmed from the stroke. She had to go through months of grueling rehabilitation to regain her independence and at the end of the day she still believes that LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT.

Much love,
Marissa

30 Things I Needed to Hear Before I Got Sick-Life lessons learned

Life lessons I have learned a little late. Please don’t make the same mistake!

What’s your typical weekday look like?

If you are LUCKY ENOUGH to have a job in this economy, your averaging about 7.5 hours a day at work according to the American Time Use Survey.

Some of you are clocking a commute of 100+ miles round trip daily.

So let’s break down a possible scenario:

You get up at around 6:00 AM and put some sorta breakfast together. I won’t forget to mention your much needed morning cup of coffee.

You realize it’s too late to workout, so you head for the shower. Too tired to lay your clothes out the night before, so your fumbling around looking for something presentable to piece together.

Your hair has taken a bit longer to style than usual, so you slack on your makeup routine.

You know you shouldn’t put on those new high heels, because you haven’t had time to break them in, but you ignore your moment of SANITY.

DANG! You forget to pack your lunch. Oh well, your used to scrambling, grabbing a quick bite to eat during your 45 minute lunch break.

Fumbling around looking for your keys, you catch a glimpse of your purse and realize it doesn’t match the outfit you pieced together at the last minute. You don’t have time to mess with it. Your out the door hoping you grabbed everything needed to get through ANOTHER DAY.

You start the car to find you have a quarter tank of gas left. You say to yourself…“Figures!  I can’t be late again. My boss is going to kill me. I can’t get fired.”

You see where this is heading. Since the minute, this poor gal woke up the cards were stacked against her. She failed to finish before given the chance to start.

I am comfortable saying this scenario rings true for a great majority of individuals.

EACH DAY runs into the next, and you realize you are just another HAMSTER ON THE WHEEL OF LIFE!

This was a typical day for me before I got sick.  I was getting trampled by life, and I never questioned slowing down and checking in with myself.

 SO, if I got a chance to go back in time and speak with healthy Marissa, THIS is what I would say to her…

(If you are healthy and feeling a bit out of control, THIS ONE’S FOR YOU!)

Continue reading

Podcast July 12-12-12 Project Member Peachy

Play

HEALTH ADVOCATES…You admire them from a distance and love their tenacity!

Peachy is a passionate and friendly advocate in the world of arthritis, and I believe EVERYONE can learn a thing or TWO from her tenacious spirit.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download the Audio

See The Transcipt

Much love,
Marissa

12-12-12 The Lesson: Major Life Lesson Only 4 Words Long?

Let’s be HONEST with each other…LIFE chronic illness CAN and WILL put you in some sticky situations physically and mentally. How many times have you felt trapped by your situation? Once.. twice… more times than you CAN COUNT!

12-12-12 project member Dale shares a lesson that may be mighty familiar to you (Thank you Gram) YET…this time it felt wonderfully different. If you have not checked out the podcast it’s well worth the listen.

4 simple, yet POWERFUL words… THIS TOO SHALL PASS!

 It’s a lesson that I’ve learned a long time ago, and it’s something that’s key for me in how I am both with my pain and my condition of being paralyzed. When I get into a difficult moment, just knowing that this too shall pass. So many of us concentrate on those difficult moments and we obsess on them and they become overbearing to our ability to move forward. They slow us down or hinder us from whatever is happening around us. Just whenever you get hit with a difficult situation, just realize this too shall pass. It’s only a momentary thing. Our life is a journey, it’s a moment-by-moment journey. Live in the moment, and understand that the next moment will be different.

Much love,
Marissa