Clearing the Cobwebs
I did not feel so overwhelmed by my own space or trapped among too many belongings. I could breathe, I could slow down.
It is remarkable what a catalyst cleaning house can be. I soon turned my attention to clearing outside activities and commitments. Back when I lost my career, I immediately volunteered for charities I could help from home and joined a few organizations.
Eager to live a normal life, I did not take into consideration how it would affect my body and mental state. I was making decisions for living with MS in the same way I approached life before MS.
I simply could not see the pattern that was destined to fail. Again, I had too many plates in the air.
Over time, I gently and humbly removed myself from far-stretched commitments. To my relief, they no longer gnawed at my conscience daily. I started to understand the concept of learning to live slowly, but deliberately.
I did not need, nor could I handle, a million plates in the air. Realizing I had nothing to prove to anyone, I brought my focus closer to home. Worrying less about the outside world and focusing more on what was directly in front of me helped me get a solid footing with daily activities.
I went to a quieter place within and did some soul searching. While focusing on taking care of my home and seeking solace in my little garden, I came to a realization: I’d always dreamed someday of giving up the rat race and living the life of an artist.
A New Path
Now, from a place of newly realized clarity, the artistic urges I had locked deep within started to bubble to the surface. I was excited about the idea of devoting myself to a new career in art.
Eager to be a part of things, I grabbed at too many opportunities and over-promised on what I could deliver. Again, I ended up with too many plates in the air. But this time, I caught myself in the act and slowed my pace as a result.
I knew I was on the right track. I was beginning to have an inner sense of place, a sense of endless possibility. I pressed on, but now considered how things would be affected when/if MS symptoms flared or I if had a string of low energy days.
I began turning down opportunities that had too tight a deadline. I didn’t sign on right away to projects until or unless I explained in advance to peers what my limitations might be. When I did engage, I explained to whomever needed to know that some days I may be tired, or seem a little off.
It is liberating to not worry about pleasing others. Now I know to set boundaries and I do all I can to not set false expectations. I enjoy what I do and I often laugh and shrug my shoulders at the things that go wrong because I’m no longer racing to get ahead. Striving to be perfect is no longer a consideration.
I can still be the person I have always been, albeit with slightly different outlook and a new set of tools. The difference is that I have an unpredictable and permanent disease I need to partner with now — like leading a dance with a partner who has no rhythm.
I am ever-adapting and embracing this slower pace of life. Whenever I get a bit overloaded, I think back to Key West and smile. I remember the powerful beauty, the pristine and perfect sunset outstretched to the heavens. Indeed, there is an entire world of possibility beyond the silhouette of all those little spinning plates.