Achieving Resolutions

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As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It has been a few months since I have published a post, however I have some good news! As most of you know, I have had a rough time with my health over the past year and a half. Recently, as of the last 2-3 months, I have gradually been feeling better and have been able achieve my biggest New Year’s Resolution – to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu! After being practically bed-bound this time last year, it is overwhelmingly exciting for me to be able to train a martial art again! I’m loving it!

Being chronically ill is scary, I’m not going to deny that – especially when you remain a medical mystery over countless medical specialist appointments. Making plans for the future feels impossible, let alone making plans for the following week. Having CFS/ME means that each day is unpredictable – you can be doing well for X amount of days, and then randomly relapse with zero warning. This took a huge emotional toll on me, as I have always been a “planner”, a “do-er”. At the beginning of the year, I was determined to make realistic, yet significant goals that would lead to methods of improving my health, life-direction, and well-being. I was not sure if I would be able to exercise again, let alone train within martial arts – something I have been passionate about since I trained karate as a child. For me, martial arts fosters self-confidence, strength, dedication, determination and direction. It helps my emotional and physical well-being.

Stay passionate!

Moreover, I have found a career direction – another big New Years Resolution of mine. Volunteering with the disabled has made a big impact on me. I am really enjoying it and have decided to make a career out of it! I was completely lost when I left Veterinary school. I was devastated, but I knew it was not right for me due to health and financial reasons. While I had made peace with this, I had no idea what to do next. I kept applying for Marketing jobs and was not successful in landing a position. I had lost my enthusiasm. I was applying for a field that I did not want to work in. Nevertheless, life had other plans for me. When I signed up to volunteer at an organisation that helps the disabled, I had no idea that it would end up my next career direction!

It has been an uphill battle, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to achieve any of my resolutions – yet I’m on my way to achieving them all! It goes to show that it is imperative to just keep trying.

Just show up, as you are. You don’t have to look or feel great. You don’t have to be prepared for each challenge or know all the hows of every situation. You don’t have to be fearless, or have all the answers, or be 100% ready. Nobody is any of these things. Nobody ever was. It’s not about being perfect, at all. You just have to show up, as you are, despite all the objections and insecurities of your mind, despite each and every fear that threatens to hold you back, despite the limitations and criticisms others will place on you. To hell with it all. This is your life, your journey, your adventure, and all it’s asking of you is to show up for it, as you are. That’s enough. That’s more than enough. That’s everything.” – Scott Stabile

 

 

When the Only Certainty is Uncertainty Itself

One of the hardest things to come to terms with in life, is that the only certainty is uncertainty itself. Change is inevitable, and that is not a bad thing. Sometimes it can seem bad, particularly when you face the need to alter life goals due to unforeseen circumstances – and sometimes this can happen more than once, like it did for me. This does not make it “bad”, all it means is that an adjustment period is required. In hindsight, it often appears that everything happens for a reason. There are pro’s and con’s for every situation.

In an ever-changing world, the only constant that remains to an individual are core values. These can help. Honestly, I have found that rebuilding confidence is quite difficult. I tend to struggle to believe in myself, and in my capabilities, on a regular basis. I tend to forget about what I have achieved, or the positive things I have done, and focus instead on what I cannot do. Thus, mindset makes a big difference. It is easy to fall down the rabbit hole of negativity, but once in there you need to find ways to climb back up instead of the much easier route of spiraling down. Discovering the root cause is a challenge within itself. For me, it was the realisation that I now seem to lack direction, which in turn made me feel hopeless and worthless. My whole life I was driven by what I wanted to work towards for my future, mainly career, lifestyle and such. I always dreamed of success and happiness in the working world. Hence, my life was practically turned upside down when I fell chronically ill. Instead of dwelling on this turning of events (as I had already done this enough, and probably a little too much), I decided to evaluate what exactly I missed about how my life used to be, in order to determine whether I could get back to a similar point, or at the very least to a similar mindset. Continue reading

Raising Awareness

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), or more commonly labelled as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), is an immunological and neurological dysfunction disorder. It is characterised by a severe worsening of symptoms after minimal physical or cognitive exertion. ME is a chronic illness that lasts for years and is often lifelong. It is a controversial diagnosis in need of more awareness and understanding. Due to a lack of medical education and government research around ME, many affected by the disease remain misdiagnosed or even dismissed, being wrongly told their severe disabilities are a result of their imagination.

There have been various articles discussing ME in prominent newspapers all around the world, such as the New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Australian. Despite this, the stigma seems to continue surrounding the disease, mostly due to a lack of understanding by both the medical community and the general community. It is an invisible illness, so people will not often “look sick” on the outside, yet their lives are often so compromised that the majority of suffers cannot work, some remaining permanently housebound. Researchers have estimated, among those who have received a diagnosis, that approximately 150,000 Australians, 1-2.5 million Americans, 250,000 British people, and 400,000 Canadians have ME.

“I don’t know is a beautiful thing. I don’t know is where a discovery starts.”

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On Creating Confidence, Coping Mechanisms and Symbolism

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Creating confidence through chronic illness is an up and down process. We often cannot do as much as we used to be able to do, across many facets of our lives. Once we’ve built ourselves up, something else may come along and throw us back down again. However, this seems to be just the way life is, it is a roller-coaster. We can make a choice to stay strong, to look for the silver lining. When I catch myself being afraid of the future, I remind myself that I should instead focus on my next step.

In order to get through difficult times, I pay attention to things that I can look forward to each day. For example, my morning coffee, writing for my blog, having the time to read or paint when my mind and body permits. I practice mindfulness. I look for little bits of inspiration, Pinterest is a great one for that. I really enjoy reading various blogs on WordPress. I admire the stories and posts; the various topics people write about; the insightful discussions that ensue; and love the supportive community. 

Symbols are a strong motivator and coping mechanism for me. When I was going through different struggles in the past, I bought myself an arrow necklace. For me, the arrow symbolizes strength, focus and determination. When I wore it, the necklace gave me confidence to keep trying – that no matter what difficulties I faced, I had to just keep aiming forward. It worked.  Another symbol is the Phoenix, the mythical creature whose core is in line with Maya Angelou’s great poem, “Still I Rise” An anchor reminds me to stay focused on the present, to be mindful, and just do what I can for now.  The wildflower, the symbol of persistence and independence from which I named my blog, are flowers that grow and flourish no matter what environments or situations they face.  Continue reading

When it feels like the sloth has become your spirit animal…

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I never wanted to be one of those people who simply “exist”, those who just go through the motions of life without actually living. Experiencing adventure, trying new things, helping those who need it, are important to me. The thing is, with ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), you’re permanently exhausted along with a myriad of disabling physical and mental symptoms that I prefer not to bore you with. If you have ever seen a video of a sloth moving, it gives a pretty good indication of how it feels. Continue reading

A Matter of Perspective – the Importance of Hobbies and Interests

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Since becoming chronically ill, I have been unable to keep up my main sporting hobbies and interests. I used to love training various forms of martial arts (combat fitness, kickboxing, mixed martial arts). I am outdoorsy with a passion for nature, so naturally I loved hiking and horse riding. I have gone from high intensity training three times per week plus walking at least 4kms per weekday, to now not being able to have the energy to walk around a small zoo. My exercise has been limited to short walks and hydrotherapy.

Conversely, I have been able to rediscover hobbies and interests I otherwise would not have had the time to. I have brought back my love of art and creativity, through sketching and painting. These modes of expression are an emotional release, as well as a silencer for my ever-racing thoughts. Continue reading

Let your past make you better, not bitter

screenshot_20170228-144216-2Feeling like a lost cause, a waste of potential. Sometimes, I find myself missing veterinary school. Above all, I miss the way my life was in Sydney. The new friends I had made, being out of my comfort zone, having the freedom to finally find myself. I am incredibly grateful for my time there – the experiences, the lessons. It was a difficult journey consisting mostly of a lack of sleep, intense levels of pressure, and crazy working hours. Was it mercy or was it a curse that made me fall ill? A blessing in disguise perhaps? It is difficult to tell. While I did fall of the path I loved, I learned some invaluable lessons along the way.

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