When you can’t always count on your body to handle the everyday things that life throws at you, you learn to listen for that little voice that says, “pace yourself,” or “skip the stairs”. It begins as a fleeting thought that’s gone before your brain even has time to process it but as time goes by and you begin to experience the fallout that’s associated with ignoring your body’s requests, you suddenly begin to hear it loud and clear, above everything else.
Learning to listen to my body and achieve better life balance was a giant learning curve for me. I’ve always been a busybody, persevering and pushing through the pain or the fatigue until I accomplished whatever it was I had set out to do. It made me feel good to accomplish things and cross items off my never ending list. When I began to realize that I could no longer do that without consequence, I resolved to slow down and started taking little breaks here and there. When that wasn’t enough, I opted to break things up into smaller tasks and do them little by little. When that didn’t work, I finally came to the realization that I needed to do some serious self-assessment. I needed to stop committing myself to so many things at once and learn to only take on things that I could realistically handle and let the rest go.
I made some big changes. I switched employers and took on a much less demanding role in the workplace. I shifted my work hours to avoid rush hour traffic both ways, which also resulted in a bit more time for sleeping in (yay!). I started to take on a little less around the house and in my personal life as well. I spent a little more time reading and a lot less time cleaning. I stopped planning out every aspect of my life and just started handling things as they came at me. I learned that if something slipped my mind and got done a little later than expected (or not at all), the world did not end and nobody died because of it.
I stopped worrying about the things that were beyond my control and I found a little bit of myself in the process. To my surprise, underneath all of that anxiety and compulsive list-making was a super peaceful gal who loves to watch the sun set (albeit usually in my rear view mirror on the way home from work). I have discovered that my hobbies and abilities aren’t strictly functional in nature, as I had once believed, but rather creative and a little bit artistic. I’ve rediscovered my love for live music and my appreciation for poetry. I’ve become someone that the former me might have once longed to be friends with and for that I am proud.
It’s not often that you can look in the mirror and like what you see or what you know about yourself but I strive to reach that goal every single day and the more I try, the more I succeed. The other day I realized that I often forget that I have MS and it made me smile. Although I continue to struggle with certain things day in and day out, those things are no longer at the forefront of my mind and they don’t encompass my thoughts. MS is not my life. It’s one aspect of my life, but certainly not the one that I want to be known and remembered for long after I’m gone.
If I had to offer one piece of advice to anyone struggling with the desire to always do more, it would be to learn to make your own path in life, but don’t allow making that path to be your life. Our opportunity to be a human is limited to our time spent here on Earth. Don’t waste it trying to be a machine.
I’m finally listening instead of doing, and I like what I hear.
Inspired by the Daily Prompt: Heard