By Tamiko Arbuckle
Do you have words that help you get through the day? I have a few words that are always on my mind. Abundance… Gratitude… Perspective. As I hit roadblocks or start to spiral down that black hole, I try to focus on these words. It doesn't work all the time, but when I am able to get out of my own way (trust me, I am very good at getting in my own way!), these words help me see the light in the darkness. We could all use a little (or a lot in my case) more light! Why these words?
Abundance – I learned many years ago from a very, very dear friend that whether I’m creating a fruit platter or putting flowers in a vase – the end result should always look abundant. With everything I do, I try to think with abundance. In my professional life, it's not easy managing my pain and working full-time, but to work with abundance means being available, exceeding expectations and working with the right attitude. In my personal life… in our personal lives (my husband and I), living with abundance means not taking anything for granted and sharing our blessings. Living an abundant life, for me, is what give my life purpose.
Gratitude – One of my 2016 goals is to keep a gratitude journal every day. I believe for those of us suffering from chronic pain and depression or anyone that is dealing with a chronic condition – no matter the issue – taking the time throughout the day to identify what you are grateful for is important. Each night before I go to bed I have been taking 15 minutes to journal the moments from that day that I am grateful for and I include a picture. I also track my mood and pain daily. It forces me to do a couple things:
I consciously take at least one picture a day that represents something good/happy, which means I have to stop and recognize that there is at least one good moment in my day.
I have to end my day thinking good thoughts.
Even on my worst days… and lately I have had quite a few bad days, I find that while life is challenging there is still so much to be grateful for. I have also found that when I finish my journal for the day, I go back through my timeline and re-discover all the great memories I have experienced to date in 2016. It provides that added validation that my life is often so much more blessed than I realize.
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Perspective – With everything going on in this world and in our lives, it’s so easy to get lost in all the sadness and crazy and get stressed, depressed, angry, frustrated – all the negative emotions that lead to physical and emotional pain. Perspective. I find myself saying that to people a lot. I need perspective every now and then to identify that what is happening in my life is far less traumatic, far less horrible than people that are living in war, picking up the pieces after a natural disasters… just really not so bad when I have friends dealing with the grief of losing a loved one, managing through a debilitating illness or some other personal tragedy. In those moments when I start to feel sorry for myself, perspective makes all the difference… and in 100% of the times, it leads to gratitude.
In my worst pain – I still have so much to be grateful for. On these days, while journaling, I find myself realizing how blessed I am to have the most supportive, loving friends and family… I have a roof over my head… I have a job that allows me to work from home and with flexible hours… I have transportation… I have food in my fridge… my children are healthy and on great paths in their lives… I live in the most beautiful place… I could go on and on, but you get the gist of it. I am blessed.
The last six months have been very trying for me. My body has flared every other week and I have worked through some extremely difficult personal events. It's a learning experience every time. I know, from a "I have learned all the coping skills" perspective what I should be doing to manage my physical and emotional pain, but what I know and what I do are not aligned most of the time. Being healthy takes work. It's an investment that I lose sight of all the time. It's my responsibility to take care of myself so I am able to take care of others (you know the drill… put the oxygen mask on yourself before anyone else). Each time I go through these difficult times, I have to re-learn the good habits. And each time I have to forgive myself and accept that this is not easy.
These three words – Abundance, Gratitude and Perspective – help me. I should also add Forgiveness. We all have to be able to forgive ourselves; it's not our fault we have these chronic conditions. We have to be able to forgive ourselves when we have bad days (self inflicted from eating that chocolate cake or the weather changing… you know what I mean).
I hope you have your owns words to help you get through the day. No matter what, know you are awesome! Don't let this medical stuff take away your ability to be happy. We can be happy, we can have lives and we can be successful at anything we put our mind to. Believe it!
Tamiko Arbuckle was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2008 after many years of living in pain. She shares her experiences with fibromyalgia, depression, ADD and other assorted diagnoses on her blog My Foggy Brain. You can follow Tamiko on Twitter at @myfoggybrain