“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.” Theodore Roosevelt
Moving forward is difficult for me. I imagine it to be difficult for many, but especially anyone struggling with acute or chronic health challenges. For me, the physical pain and nausea I lived with non-stop for years was a huge block to my mind being open to anything new or different. Every day what I was going through and feeling was almost all I could handle.
The thing is, change and movement are constants in life, whether we’re moving toward our desires or away from them. I eventually began to realize my physical health was not just holding my mind stuck, but that stuck-ness was slowly oozing my life in a direction I didn’t want to go. So how do you weather changes gracefully and in a forward fashion with what you have available to give?
Somehow it’s connected to coming into a peaceful relationship with the things you can and cannot control. And that is NO SMALL THING. A friend recently mentioned she’d been saying the Serenity Prayer (by Reinhold Niebuhr) more often as she wrestles through a chaotic transitionary season. So I refreshed myself. Here is the first line:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference…”
Acceptance. Courage. And wisdom. Three things any health warrior is intimately acquainted with... peaceful terms or not. Pain and illness are not simple things to live with. But in my experience planting seeds for these three qualities and nourishing their presence in our lives makes walking the path we must face a doable thing.
The opposing options I saw in front of me helped bring that to light:
- 1By choosing refusal, cowardice, and foolishness (some words for opposites of the words in the prayer) I can feed the pain, dig my heels in and make my circumstance that much more difficult.
- 2I can choose to feed progress by accepting, taking up courage and becoming wise. And in so doing, I am making the choice to and allow my mind to creatively search for alternative ways to salvage the pieces of my failed expectations.
What we feed grows.
It’s important to feed what you want to grow! Picture the end result… a beautiful homegrown flower or tree! …or your own personal goals and dreams!
Less than ideal happens to ALL of us. Whether we look like we have our act together on the outside or not. Many times I’ve had to cancel or leave early from something I really wanted to be a part of. I’ve collapsed in public, I’ve puked, I’ve crumbled into a ball of anxiety and sobbed and raged over the differences between what I wanted my body to do and what it could give me in the moment. Each time something different than what I would prefer comes crashing through the front door, I have a choice to feed my heartbreak and rage or learn… (and I do mean LEARN because it’s a process) to feed the creative part of my mind and come up with alternatives and work arounds to my obstacles and pains.
Expectations and realities don’t always match. Remain open to new things that can come out of a broken set of hopes, allow room for all sorts of beautiful and unique things to shine through! There are precious things that never would have been if it weren’t for xyz struggle or obstacle.
It’s not a quick fix. (I find quick fixes are rare occurrences.) But rather it’s a lifestyle, learning to transform one thing into another, growing towards flexibility and allowing the winds (and sometimes choppy waters) of change to work in mysterious ways.
One of the activities that helps me to be creative and come up with new ideas for my life and problems is dance!
Dance is a huge part of how I process my emotions. Even at my sickest, moving just a little helped unlock me. And some of the loveliest things I’ve created have come from working my pain and disappointment out on the pole, dancefloor, gym, or even just shuffling up and down the driveway. These and other artistic expressions of our experiences and feelings make a way for us to process the tough stuff and move forward.
If you can feed the progress and move through the something hard, it turns a pain point into an added dimension of your beauty.
What are some of your creative outlets that support taking you forward?
If you’re a dancer, what songs do you like to dance to?