2019: My Year of Courage

image description- courage doesnt always roar. sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying i will try again tomorrow.png
Image description: Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow”

My 2018 resolution was to pick a word and incorporate that word into my life. I like the idea of incorporating a word into my life that I wanted to practice or embody in the new year. The word that I chose for 2018 was self -care. I chose self-care because as a chronically ill person I feel that it is important for me to take care of myself, meaning set time aside to rest, consciously do things that I normally wouldn’t… like rest. 

For example, early on in graduate school, I would do school work long into the night…exhausting myself and quickly burning myself out. But through self-care, I realized that was unnecessary and unhealthy for me, so I established a rule: no school work after 9pm. And it was a beautiful rule that enabled me to know there was an end in sight. At 9pm, I would stop and I could do anything I wanted, watch tv, read a book or go to sleep… just not school work. 

If you haven’t guessed it already my word for this year is: courage

Courage (noun) cour-age \ker-ij  :mental or moral strength to venture persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. Synonyms: bravery, daring, courageousness 

This is an anxiety-filled challenging year. And ya’ll I just gotta tell ya… I’m kinda shaking in mah boots. It’s a big year. First I have my full-time internship which is 32 hours a week (4 days a week) until May. This internship is a big one. It’s at a psychiatric hospital an hour away from where I live and it’s not only super important but incredibly challenging. The patient’s in the hospital were sentenced there by the court system after they were found unable to withstand being in the prison system do to being mentally incompetent. If you have been reading my blog for awhile you know my last internship was at a reentry organization where I worked with recently released inmates and went to the DC Jail on a weekly basis. So this internship is exciting and challenging. I started it on January 3rd…so far so good. I can talk more about it later.

Dealing with stress in any form can be impactful on chronic illnesses. As many people with chronic illnesses know…big life changes bring about big health problems. Do I worry that this might happen? Sure. Going into this new internship is exciting and stressful and it has caused a lot of migraines just from changing my sleep schedule.

After then I graduate. And I will be done with school for a while (until I decide to go for my Ph.D.). I have been a professional student for … well… forever. I love school. I’m not too cool for school as the kids say. I’m too school for cool.  

This will be the first graduation that I actually walk the stage for. I figure…well I didn’t walk for high school, when I graduated the interpreter program or when I got my BA in Deaf Studies from Gallaudet. But I am getting my MSW (Master of Social Work) from Gallaudet, so I might as well walk…even though I really don’t want to…it’s not something I’m interested in. It’s very stressful for me as a very introverted person. Also, I’ve been to graduations and just going causes me a lot of pain. By the end of it, I always feel worn out, exhausted, in an excessive amount of pain and have a migraine. So as a chronically ill person, it’s a lot for me too. 

But I was also threatened by my friend, Shelby (yea I’m calling you out)…. she said I have to walk or else. Or else what? Not sure. Didn’t ask. But let’s gather up the courage to do something I’ve never done before and walk that darn stage, right?! Here’s hoping I don’t trip and fall… Oy!

And then… getting a job? I’ve already begun the process of looking. But I’ve never had a full-time job. I’ve worked multiple part-time and/or freelance jobs most of my adult life. Until grad school, when it became too much for my health. I don’t doubt I’ll find a job, that’s not the issue. I’m more just worried about what it will do to my health. But maybe having a steady job will be good for me instead of the erratic schedule and heavy workload of grad school. Only time will tell. 

I also have a few other upcoming things that I will need courage for, but I’ll be explaining that in my next blog post. 

I believe that manifesting and mediating on courage each day will help me get through this year of unknowns. We can never know where life will take us but we can try to be courageous and brave while we are along for the ride! 

Do you have a new years resolution? Or a word you want to reflect for your new year? 

Here’s to a courageous 2019!

@rachelbob_here
Image description: Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage – Anais Nin

 

 

 

 

 

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2018: Reflections of a chronically ill 30-something

image description- dont expect any new years resolutions from me i plan on staying the same awkward sarcastic foul-mouthed delight that youve all come to know and love
image description- dont expect any new years resolutions from me I plan on staying the same awkward sarcastic foul-mouthed delight that you’ve all come to know and love

As I write this 2018 is drawing quickly to a close and oh what a year it has been: emotionally, healthwise, politically….don’t get me started.  As I am writing this from my bed curled up in a fleecy warm throw blanket while three of my four fluffy cats are lounging on the heated blanket I keep at the end of my bed.  And I am here ready to start reflecting on what 2018 has been like and what 2019 might bring. 

2018 has been filled with so many ups and downs. 

Health: I struggled with chronic throat infections for 9 months until I had my tonsils removed in July 2018, which was also my first surgery to date. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and then Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, my first official autoimmune disease..soo exciting. I started Immunotherapy for my allergies, asthma and chronic bronchitis. I have had two rounds of botox treatments for my chronic migraines which will hopefully reduce my migraines long term.

My IC has been waxing and waning poetic with me all year. After my tonsil surgery, it seemed to go into hiding for a bit…maybe to give me a short break? But the last two months it’s come back with a vengeance and I’m in all the pain and just living the IC dream… which is to say I go to the bathroom 4-5 times a night plus some other stuff, which I’ll spare the details on right now. Am I missing anything?… hmmm I think that’s it… I think that’s more than enough. It’s been a busy year for me and my health! 

For 2019, I would like to see more health improvements. I would like the botox and immunotherapy to actually work and show signs of improvement. 

Educational: Going to grad school as a chronically ill person is a challenge, to say the least. But I just keep on truckin and now I just have one semester left! Granted it will be the most challenging semester because it will be a full-time internship where I work 32 hours a week (4 days a week) at an internship that is an hour drive from where I live. But going into 2019, I am looking forward to the internship and all that it will bring. 

Sleep: There are days I struggle to get out of bed because my whole body is rebelling against me and is screaming in pain. So at some point in the year, I started setting my alarm for 30 minutes before I needed to wake up so I could take some pain meds and/or CBD oil. And then I go back to sleep until my alarm goes off again. By the time I wake up, I am in much less pain. Looking back on this… this was a good choice, I will continue to do this going forward.

Emotional: As you can imagine all of this has had a lot of impact on my emotional well-being. Along with some other family issues that have been going on. I have been struggling with my mental health in 2018. But in 2019, I am really hoping to get a hold on it and this is something I will be talking about more in the weeks to come here on the blog. 

Relationships/Family: Relationships of any kind can be beautiful or devastating. I have been so fortunate to have friends and family support me along my journey. My best friends who are always there for me, even if we hardly ever get to see each other for one reason or another #gradschoolife. I have also had the blessing of finding a new family in Aaron’s family this year. His mom, as well as his brother, and sister-in-law plus their 3 kids have really become a beautiful family to me that I never expected. 

But I have also had the misfortunate of having devastating losses this past year. Some in the form of deaths in the family and others in the form of bridges being burned… but what I have learned from it… is that no matter what happens, life goes on and there is nothing we can do to stop it. 

Image description- In three words I can sum up everything I learned about life- it goes on
Image description- In three words I can sum up everything I learned about life- it goes on

Love: And, of course, there is Aaron who is right there with me no matter what, even when times are tough. We have a beautiful family together…Me and Aaron, our son, Reid and our four fluffy cats. We don’t have an Instagram perfect life and I don’t really trust people who do…or rather claim to have that. But push come to shove I know we are in it together when things are tough.  

Here are a few family pictures we took this year. All of our pictures were taken by the amazing Tiffany of TMGSFotographyShe can also be found on Facebook at TMGSFotography, she is local to DC/MD.

18a
Image description: Picture of Rachel, Aaron, and Reid all smiling but not looking directly at the camera. Photo courtesy of TMGSFotography
17a.jpg
Image description: Picture of Rachel, Aaron, and Reid all making funny faces at the camera and sticking out their tounges. Photo courtesy of TMGSFotography
22a.jpg
Image description: Picture of Rachel and Aaron holding hands and walking with their backs to the camera and then looking back to the camera and smiling.  Photo courtesy of TMGSFotography
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Image description: Picture of Rachel and Reid holding hands and facing each other smiling and laughing. Photo courtesy of TMGSFotography

Will 2019 be better than 2018? I sure do hope so. 2018 was filled with love and loss…ups and downs. But aren’t most years? I think that every year we hope that the next year is better than the last and it can be easy to forget that each year comes with its own set of challenges. I’m not being pessimistic, this is more realistic actually.

As a chronically ill 30-something who is going into my last (and most challenging) semester of graduate school, it’s easy for me to say that I am going into this new year with a brand new challenge. Am I looking forward to it? sure. Am I nervous and anxious? You bet! I have to earn 500 hours at my internship, from January 3rd to May 6th. So New year here I come! Jumping right into my internship…rolling up my sleeves saying EFF THIS, lets goooo!!!!

Okay, I’ll stop myself here. But I have so much more to say about resolutions and goals related to health. Expect another post soon! 

See you all in 2019!

image description- fireworks lightig up to say happy new year