Whole 30, Day 7

One week down, 3 more to go! Ugh, I miss cheese! And chocolate, but mostly cheese. That’s really about it though, yay!! I don’t miss the sugar in my morning coffee and while my evening cup of tea isn’t quite as pleasurable as it was before, I’m learning to enjoy it. 


Overall, I’m feeling really good. Pain is still currently an issue, but the cold and I are old enemies, nothing new there. Winter is always bad for me as far as pain goes. The Reynaud’s really starts acting up, adding an extra layer of pain to my already aching hands and feet and the fibro itself always seems to get more active in the cold. The snow storm I mentioned in my last post has finally cleared up, so that helped a little. We’ll be back up in the 60s by the end of the week, so I’m hoping the rest of my pain will ease up by then. 

In the meantime, I can enjoy the extra energy and clear headedness I’m experiencing from clean eating. So, what have I been eating that’s allowing me to feel so good? Here are a few of the things I’ve been eating during week one of my whole 30: 

For breakfast, I’ve been enjoying fried eggs with, (un cured, no sugar added), bacon and a hash made of baby potatoes and fresh veggies such as kale, cabbage, asparagus and Brussels sprouts. 

Earlier this week, I used my instant pot, (AKA the most amazing contraption EVER!), to make a huge batch of kale and potato soup, which I’ve been eating for lunch. Note: to make this recipe Whole 30 compliant, I omitted the beans. I also added some ground turkey “sausage” and used no sugar added chicken broth, so my version is definitely not vegan.


I’m not supposed to be counting calories while on the Whole 30, but I have to point out that this whole bowl of soup comes in at under 300 calories and is super filling! 

One of the more difficult things about the Whole 30, for me, is that you’re not supposed to snack between meals. I’m terrible about eating 3 meals a day, I prefer 5 small meals, so this is a huge adjustment for me. This week I ate a larger breakfast and an earlier lunch to cut out my mid morning snack, but I couldn’t quite make it to dinner, so I’ve allowed myself a compliant afternoon snack of either fruit or this awesome roasted cauliflower “hummus“. I think it sort of looks like cat food with green bits in it, but it tastes awesome. 


Dinner this week was Kalua Pig (another instant pot success!!) with coleslaw, (epic use of the home made mayo), and fresh green beans. Note: while most legumes are banned on the Whole k30, green beans are an exception since they’re mostly pod.


For those of you wondering, yes, we did eat the same thing for dinner every week night this week. I made a huge batch of everything and portioned it out into lovely little boxes to make life easier. I don’t know about you, but I rarely have the energy to worry about cooking every single night, so this process helps A LOT. It also helps cut down dishes, so major bonus. 

On the weekends, I do try to make dinner both nights, as a kind of reward for finishing up all of the prepped meals. Last night, we tried a paleo beef stew with roasted beets, carrots, parsnips and Brussels sprouts and some mashed potatoes. 

Tonight’s dinner is going to be carne asada with pan seared asparagus, but I’ll have to share that in my next post since I haven’t made it yet. 

Happy Sunday!

Where’d my spoons go?

I am so exhausted lately that I feel like I can barely function. I can’t explain why I’m so tired; I’m sleeping better than ever, but my batteries are just not re-charging. I’ve always had an issue with energy levels and poor sleep; I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome around the same time they diagnosed the Fibromyalgia. Most of the time I can manage, but then I get stuck in these cycles of exhaustion and I start to wonder why I even bother fighting it. All I want to do anymore is sleep. I can get 8, 9, even 10 solid hours of sleep and I still wake up feeling like I’ve been up for 48 hours straight. Before I got off the medications, the answer was to simply throw more pills at the problem until something worked. Now that I’m off of them, I don’t have any choice but to push through it. 

It’s not depression. Aside from being tired, (and frustrated from being constantly fatigued), I’m happier than I have ever been; no dark thoughts, no mood swings, no appetite changes… It’s also not a Fibromyalgia flare up. I’m not pain free, but the pain is intermittent and mostly manageable. Somehow, I’m still managing to go to the gym and workout, but anything outside of my normal routine is just not happening right now. Every day, I am counting and recounting my spoons like a miser because I just can’t be sure I’ll be able to do the things I need to do. I am not normally the kind of person who plans their days, but lately I don’t have a choice. As it is, I’m having more trouble focusing on tasks, I’m constantly forgetting things and I can’t sit still for very long without nodding off, which is not only immensely annoying, but makes things like driving very difficult. I find myself getting grumpy for no good reason and I hate it. 

This particular cycle of exhaustion has been going on for at least 2-3 weeks now and there’s no end in sight. It’s wearing me down, it may not feel like this is a depressive episode now, but I worry that I’m heading that way. Getting out of bed in the morning is a chore. Going to the gym is getting harder and harder. The important thing is, I am still going. I’m still working through the Couch to 5k program and I’ve started lifting weights. It takes a dose of pre workout and usually a cup of coffee, but in the end, it’s worth it. I know that if I stop now, it will be even harder to start again. I’m hoping that the exercise will help me get break the cycle, so far, it doesn’t seem to be working, but in the end it’s worth it. If nothing else, I always feel better after a workout. 

Setbacks, road blocks and fighting through them

For me, the hardest part about chronic illness has always been the ups and downs. A few years ago, I was mired in misery and the good days were so few and far between that all they did was point how very awful my “normal” was. Even when I had a good day, I was unable to enjoy it because I was dreading the return of my pain. 

Now, I generally have more good days than bad, but the bad days hit me much harder than they used to because I am no longer accustomed to the level of pain and fatigue they bring with them. I find that it is so much harder to bounce back from the bad days, especially lately, since I’ve fallen so far off track. 

I finally started going back to the gym about 3-4 weeks ago. Week 1 was great! Tiring, but I felt amazing. Then, on Thursday of the second week, I slipped and twisted the bejeezus out of my left ankle. It was bad. Tears and cursing and more tears followed by a miserable drive home. It nearly took the wind out of my sails, but I got through it, (thanks largely in part to my ever supportive husband!). I gave it a few days to heal up and I got back to walking. 

Last week, I started running again. I decided to restart my couch to 5k program, (AGAIN). I made it through the first two days and then I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday sick as a dog. It seems to happen every time I start working out, the best explanation I can find is “irritated airways”. We’re talking full blown flu symptoms, they come on super fast and usually last just long enough to throw me off track, (if I’m lucky, sometimes there’s a wracking cough that lasts for WEEKS). This time, I’ve decided that I’m going to fight back. I got sick on Friday, today is Tuesday and I went back to the gym. My workout was certainly not amazing, but I managed to do week 1, day 3 of the C to 5k program. I’m going to take it easy tomorrow and then on Thursday, I’ll start week 1 over again. I figure there’s no point in moving forward until I can comfortably do the entire week’s program. 

I won’t lie, it’s taken a lot of fighting to keep from getting discouraged. I feel like every time I turn around, something goes wrong. It’s a daily struggle for me not to give up, but I know that if I do, I’m lost. I cannot go back to the dark place where the fibro rules, I don’t have what it takes to pull myself out of that pit again, so my only option is to not fall into it.

If I have to, I will do every week of the program over and over until I can get through, but I don’t think it will come to that. Hopefully, I can acclimate myself to the more strenuous workouts and my body will adjust accordingly. My goal is to finish the entire 9 week run plan before the start of 2017. I may be back at square one, but at least I have the benefit of knowing how my body reacts to it. Fingers crossed!

Looking up

I know that my last couple of posts have been downers. It really has been a rough summer, but it’s not all bad! I put a lot of effort into finding the good in a situation, so I wanted to take some time to talk about some of the good things that have happened over the last few months. 

For starters, I got engaged!! This happened back in May, so I’m more than a little late in announcing it, but it’s definitely been the highlight of my summer. As awful as this summer has been, there is one definite positive to come out of it: I have absolutely no doubts about the man I’m marrying. We’ve been through a lot since we got engaged and it’s only made us stronger. Even if the road gets rough, I know that he will be right there beside me every step of the way. I know that if I stumble, he’ll be there and when I regain my wings, he’ll soar right along with me. If there is a better feeling in this world, I haven’t found it. The wedding is set for early November and I could not be more excited. 

Of course I couldnt’t leave out the ring!

I’m also excited to get back on my feet. Yesterday, I got the official clearance from my doctors to get back to normal. (Yay!) It’s going to be a long road and I know it won’t be easy, but it’s nice to feel like I have at least a modicum of control back. I may be a house cat/couch potato by nature, but I’ve managed to change some of those tendencies and it’s been incredibly difficult to be forced into doing nothing. 

I’m looking forward to the challenge of getting myself moving again and I hope to have more good news to report soon! 

The light at the end of the tunnel

Saying it’s been a rough summer is a bit of an understatement. 

Several times, I started writing posts about what I was going through, but I could never get the words out. I’ve never been very good at expressing my struggles; the worse they get, the more withdrawn I become. That’s why I began writing this blog in the first place, it’s one way of dealing with life’s hurdles without the added stress of actually talking to someone.

Unfortunately, even writing out my thoughts is often difficult for me. I have no problem writing about happy, positive topics, but when it comes to pain or stress, I just feel like I’m whining. I know that there are others out there struggling with worse situations than my own and it just feels silly to sit here and whine about my problems, even when I know it will help me in the end. Which brings us to this current post, I guess I’ve hit my limit of what I can actually carry because now, the words are boiling over in my head, so here goes… 

I’ve been dealing with my own chronic illness for my entire adult life. I know how to live with it and I’ve (mostly) finally figured out how to ask for help when I need it. No big deal. It is what it is. Unfortunately, this summer I got a crash course in the monumental difference between living with a chronic illness and loving someone with a chronic illness. I may have said it’s harder to love a sick person than it is to be the sick person, but until now, I had no actual experience on which to base that observation. I can now say with absolute certainty that it’s true.  

I have no problem being the patient. I’m a great patient, (assuming you’re a doctor who doesn’t mind a million well informed questions). I do my own research before the appointment, I generally know exactly what kind of treatment I’m looking for and I’m usually fully aware of any side effects/complications involved. Unfortunately, none of this is very useful when you are not the patient. 

My fiancée has been dealing with his own chronic illness for about a year now, but over the last few months it’s been getting progressively worse and he’s had to resort to some more aggressive methods of treatment. I do what I can when we go to his appointments, but the doctors rarely want to hear from me. 

The worst part, however is having to sit idly by while he’s in misery. The hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life so far is watch him being hooked up to an IV for treatment. I knew he was sick, but until that moment, the severity of his illness hadn’t really hit me. He has to go to an infusion center every few weeks or so and seeing him in there with the other patients, (many of whom are receiving treatments for things like cancer), is heart wrenching. The first time we went in, I thought I was going to burst into tears. I know that his particular illness isn’t life threatening and I know that it is treatable, but knowing that there’s nothing I can do to help only adds to my everyday anxiety.  

That was all at the start of the summer. Between the added emotional stress, taking care of my fiancée and my own existing issues, I haven’t been able to keep up with my routine. If I’m honest, I stopped working out (regularly) at the end of May, due in part to feeling under the weather myself. Much of my summer was spent taking care of my fiancée, (while trying not to smother him with attention). I made a few sporadic attempts to get back into the habit of workibg out or at least walking daily, but those were brought to a complete halt earlier this month due to serious complications with my own health. 

I’m on the mend now, but this last month brought some very difficult decisions and more pain, both physical and emotional than I have ever experienced. I am not exaggerating when I say I now know what my own personal Hell would be; I’ve experienced it at the hands of doctors and nurses under the guise of “treatment”. Before these last few weeks, I was confident that I was familiar with pain. I was wrong. What I previously believed to be a “10”, (aka, the worst pain imaginable), is now only about a “3” on my scale. I laid there, on that table and the only thing I could do was endure it; there was no way to stop it, I couldn’t even move. All I could do was lay there, screaming inside my head, silently praying for it to be over. 

I think the worst part of this whole experience is that I was not expecting that level of pain. I knew that there would be some pain involved in my treatment, but I was led to believe that it would be minimal. Too late, I learned that I had been mislead, whether or not that was intentional on the part of my doctor, I cannot say. I only know that on top of the physical pain I felt during the procedure, I am left with a seething rage as well as a feeling of complete and utter violation. 

I know I’m being rather vague, but at the moment, it’s the best I can muster. I’m just not ready to delve into the details; I still have too much left to sort through before I can process it enough to make it comprehensible. 

I spent the last 2 years training myself to channel all of my stress, pain, anger, etc. into my workouts only to have that outlet unexpectedly taken away from me. I’m not confined to bedrest, but I’m not allowed to do much either. It’s a strange and very unpleasant sensation, not knowing what to do with yourself. Once, I would have turned to art, but there’s just too much pain and emotion to wade through. It’s as though I’m full to the brim and there’s just no way to channel it into any one thing. If I could run, I could burn enough of it off to make it more manageable, but at the moment, even walking is difficult. 

I’ve screamed, cried and raged, but still, I’m overwhelmed. I can feel the black hole of depression pulling at me, drawing me in; it’s taking all of my energy at this point to keep myself from sinking. Two years ago, when I first started writing this blog, I was in much the same state, except I had actually fallen into that hole and hit the bottom. My life was falling to pieces; I was alone, in pain and had no idea how to handle any of it.

I may be in pain now, but I am not alone. That knowledge is truly the only thing that keeps me going. Not only do I have my amazing fiancée, I have my family and I have those of you reading these words. Even if only one other person out there reads this, it is enough to remind me that I am not alone and that is the true source of light at the end of the tunnel.

Pain and guilt

Lately, I’m rediscovering just how insidious pain really is. If there ever was a double edged sword, it’s name was pain. Living with pain is one thing. I find it far easier to manage my day to day issues when I’m on my own. Loving with pain, however is a whole new form of anguish. 

Part of the problem is that pain is completely subjective; you can never fully understand someone else’s pain and no one will ever understand yours. If I’m on my own, I don’t worry about that. My pain is my own and I don’t feel the need to share it with anyone else. The truth, however, is that I am rarely on my own. I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to have nearly always been surrounded by people who love me. They want to understand what I’m going through or how I feel and that’s where things get messy for me. There is no way to share your pain without inflicting it on others, which is why I generally keep it to myself. It makes me feel guilty to watch my loved ones suffer under the weight of my pain. They can’t physically feel it, but I’ve found that describing it in detail is often enough to cause emotional pain in someone else. 

I don’t mind keeping my pain inside, I’m used to it; most of the time sharing it just makes it feel worse. Sometimes though, some very rare times, the only thing I want is for someone to understand; someone to share the burden when it just gets to be too heavy to carry on my own. 

Every now and then I run into an instance that forces me to reevaluate the very scale by which I measure pain. Something happens that makes me realize what I thought was a 10 (aka the worst pain you could imagine), was a joke. Those events leave echoes that eat away at me for hours, days or even weeks after the pain itself is gone. 

Then, I have a choice: 

A) I can suffer in silence and make everyone around me miserable 

or 

B) I can choose to let someone in, sob my way through a generally graphic, horrifying description of my agony, thus sharing the burden. 

At first glance, it’s a no-brainer. Obviously, I should choose B, if that really helps. And yet… If I choose B, yes, my mind is eased a bit, as far as the physical pain is concerned. Then comes the backlash. I’ve just unloaded my physical trauma onto someone I love and now I have to watch them struggle under the weight of this new knowledge. They now have new concerns about me or my wellbeing, they empathize with me and now they’re stuck with the image of my suffering in their heads. In the end, the guilt I feel over dumping that burden on someone else makes me feel even worse. 

I know that I shouldn’t feel guilty about it, I know that that’s exactly what a support system is for, but I can’t help it. If I had my way, none of my loved ones would ever suffer. I can’t stand the thought of being the cause of their suffering and I hate feeling like I’ve just heaped a whole new load of worry on their plates. 

Right now, you’re probably thinking that I should consider counseling. Believe me, I have. I’ve been to many different therapists who specialize in pain management, they’ve all been extremely wonderful. My problem is that I’m never able to really open up. Even after seeing the same person for months, by the time I get to their office, I’ve mentally tidied up all my issues into nice, neat little packages and when I talk about them, it’s as though I’m discussing the weather. More than one therapist has outright told me that they don’t know how to help me because they can’t get a read on how I feel about any of what I tell them. It’s not intentional on my part, it’s just that I have trouble connecting with people and if you’re outside my little circle, it’s incredibly difficult for me to let you in.

The upside, (which I’ve been realizing as I type this), is that writing it down and putting it out here helps. Sometimes, you just need to be heard, even if what you actually say doesn’t directly relate to the issue you’re dealing with. 

Allow me to (re)introduce myself

It has been two years since I first decided to turn my life around and start writing about my journey. Looking back now, I can honestly, (and proudly), say that I am not the same person that I was two years ago. Since fighting fibromyalgia is an ongoing battle and I intend to keep chronicling my fight, I thought it would be appropriate to reintroduce myself to those of you who have wandered into my little corner of the web. 

My name is Christina and the most important thing you should know about me is that I am happy. I don’t just mean with my life or the people in it, I am happy with myself. For the last two years, I have been actively creating my own happiness, by seeking out the things that make me feel good and eliminating those that don’t. For me, happiness isn’t in my bank account or my jeans size, it’s in what I do each day. 
I am a runner. I am neither the fastest nor the slowest and I don’t run for miles at a time, but I run by choice. More importantly, I love it. Running has taught me how to listen to my body, I know when to slow down and I know when I can speed up. I have learned that having a bad run every now and then is a good thing; it allows me to truly appreciate the great runs. When things get stressful, I lace up my sneakers and I just go. Instead of punishing myself by wallowing in stress, I punish the pavement beneath my feet and I am free, even if it’s only for a few minutes. 
I am an artist, with a creative streak that refuses to be denied. I paint, draw, crochet and in case of emergency, (or boredom), sing weird little songs about my cats and house plants. 
I am also a teacher, although I don’t have a herd of students or a classroom to call my own. Instead, I have the privilege of working with two wonderful children for a few days a week in their home. I suppose that some might call me a “babysitter” or a “nanny”, but when was the last time you met a babysitter that enjoyed finger-painting or understood what a “teachable moment” was? Several year ago, I had given up on being able to ever put my passion and experience to good use, but I discovered my own path that allows me to continue teaching and interacting with children without putting my sanity at risk. 
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that my life is all puppy dogs and cupcakes, (actually, there aren’t nearly enough cupcakes, for my tastes). I still have bad, (and really bad), days and I still get grumpy. I am still completely capable of being a hot tempered bitch, the difference is that I have learned how to manage it a bit better. Exercise gives me a proper outlet for both the pain and the rage. It also helps me fight the crippling depression that often follows a flare up and it allows me to clear my head, which is very useful for stressful situations. 
On the bad days, I have to fight against myself to keep moving, but if I have learned anything over the last few years, it’s that the clouds always pass. 

Acupuncture and shamrocks

Hooray for warmer weather! As much as I love snow, I’m really glad that it’s gone. It’s nice to be able to get out for a walk without having to put on 27 layers of clothing. Winter is hard for me because the cold hurts. I find it very difficult to stay active when it’s cold and dreary, which means it’s considerably harder for me to find relief from the pain caused by the cold. Staying active is the only sure fire method that works for me, but I still continue to look for other alternatives. If you’ve read my other posts, you’ll know that I’ve tried a wide variety of approaches to find pain relief and have had little success with most of them. Up until this point, the only thing I haven’t tried was acupuncture; however, I have finally decided to bite the bullet and give it a try. 

Honestly, to say that I am skeptical about this treatment is an understatement. It was all I could do to not roll my eyes when the acupuncturist I’m seeing gave me her spiel about how much better I would feel. The important thing is, I am willing to try. So far, I’ve had two sessions and I can’t say that I’ve noticed any change in my pain. What I can tell you is that after each session, I feel energized. Not just immediately after, either. After my first treatment, I noticed an increase in my energy for several days. I had my second treatment yesterday afternoon and I am definitely still feeling it. It’s not pain relief, but there’s definitely something happening, so I’m willing to keep at it. If I’m really lucky, this energy boost will last until Saturday and get me through the Shamrock 8k. Fingers crossed! 
Speaking of the Shamrock, I’ve got to say that I’m a little nervous about it. Like I said earlier, winter is a tough season for me, and I didn’t get to spend the time preparing for this race like I had planned. I had the same problem last year, so maybe this just isn’t the best race race for me. I’m still shooting to complete the 4.9 mile course in an hour and 10 minutes, which is the same goal I set for myself last year. My final time last year was 01:07:49, I’m honestly not sure I can beat or even repeat that, but I am darn sure going to give it my best shot! After my human pin cushion session yesterday, I went for a trial “run”, (which wasn’t a run at all, just a fast walk), and I managed to make it in just under 01:12. Not bad, considering that I didn’t push myself to the max; if the race was happening at 3pm, I’d be set. Unfortunately, it starts at about 8am… Let’s just say that I am not a morning person. 
Something else interesting happened while I was out on my walk yesterday. I found this: 

A “lucky” four leaf clover and on St. Patrick’s day, no less! Perhaps if I carry it with me on Saturday, it’ll bring me some luck? 

That’s all I’ve got for now, but I’ll be sure to check in after the race! 

No excuses.

It’s raining.

It’s cold.

With the wind, it’s cold enough to make my muscles feel like there are shards of glass layered between them. I’m hurting, about an 8/10.

I got maybe 5 hours of sleep last night.

I spent 5 hours babysitting a two year old and 3 month old infant, so it wasn’t a laze around kind of day.

This is what was going through my head yesterday afternoon. I was exhausted and all I wanted to do was go home and sleep. Any one of these excuses could have been reason enough to skip my workout; and yet… I finished babysitting for the day, I got in my car and drove to the park.

Before I even finished my warm up, I was soaked through, I was still close enough to the car that I could have easily given up an just gone home. I didn’t. I turned up my music and I ran. I did 4 miles all by my lonesome in the cold rain. By the time I was done, my fingers and toes were burning, (thanks to the Reynaud’s Phenomenon I developed last year).

It was worth it.

I’m not looking for a pat on the back, I can do that myself. I’m sharing this experience because I’m sick of excuses. Mostly, I’m sick of my own excuses, but I’m also tired of listening to people whine, (via every social network that exists), about how miserable they are. Would you like to know why you are so miserable? Because you allow yourself to be.

I’ve been doing my own fair share of moaning and groaning, (mostly to myself), about how I’ve plateaued and can’t seem to shake these last 20 pounds. I whine that I just can’t run like I could this time last year, I fuss about the fact that my size 6 jeans don’t fit the way I want them to. Then, it occurred to me: the only thing keeping me out of those jeans is, (cue mental face palm), myself.

No one is keeping me tied to a chair, no one is forcing me to eat cakes or cookies, I’m doing it to myself.

I realize that this whole thing probably sounds harsh, but I’ve never been a very cuddly kind of person. I don’t sugar coat things and I don’t do fluff. If anything, my journey to beat the fibro has made me even harsher. I have no tolerance for people who claim they want something and then do nothing about it, myself included.

I understand now why personal trainers and fitness experts tend to seem like bullies; they know that people are their own worst enemies. About 10 years ago, I took a kick boxing course in college. The teacher was a serious ball buster and her motto was: “why be slack?”. I hated her. She was loud, harsh and allowed no room for half measures. Suddenly, I understand. If you truly want to achieve something, there is no room for half hearted attempts. You may not succeed on your first try, but if you don’t put 100% into every attempt, you’ll never reach your goals.

Yes, that is easier said than done. I may understand it, but I am still learning to put this concept into action. The cold burning sensation I’m still feeling in my fingers tells me that for today at least, I have succeeded. That leaves me with just one question: what’s your excuse?

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Here’s to the hidden paths

One of the ways I combat the pain from fibro is through art. I don’t react well to pain medications, so I do what I can to get through the bad days, which sometimes includes losing myself in my art. I’ve never really considered myself as an “artist”, I think I’m more of a “creative gypsy” (yes, I made that term up), since I tend to wander from medium to medium. Pastels, water colors, crochet, cross stitch… I’ve tried my hand at a wide variety of hobbies in my quest for creative expression.

Lately, I’ve been painting, which is something I haven’t done in nearly two years. This isn’t unusual for me; I’ve been known to go a year or even several before picking a hobby up again. This time, though, it’s different; I didn’t pick my brush up in order to escape the pain. I picked it up because a two year old boy asked me to.

I guess I need to fill in some back story here. In order to keep myself from becoming a grumpy old troll again, I babysit, when I can. I’ve been watching this little fella for about a year now; I’ve seen him grow from a toddling baby into a rough and tumble little boy, and I have loved every minute of it. He’s at that funny age where children latch on to something and obsess over it. They want to watch the same movie, hear the same song or read the same book over and over and over again, until you think your head will explode if you have to endure it one more time…

Well, D’s obsession happens to be construction equipment. This kid can, at two years old, name more heavy machinery than anyone I’ve ever known. As a matter of fact, he often talks about machines that I’ve never even heard of.

We often color or draw together when I watch him and he always asks me to draw things for him, a doggy, a kitty… Usually it’s just simple stuff, which is great, because I really can’t draw, (there’s a reason all of my art up to this point has been abstract). So, anyway, not long ago, D suddenly asks me to draw an excavator. My mind went totally blank. Eventually, I managed to draw a box with wheels and an arm with a scoop on the end of it, D approved and the mission was accomplished.

Not long after, D’s mom told me that because D loved that (hideous) little drawing so much, she wanted to put it on canvas or something to hang in his room. It was at this point that I decided I needed to at least try to come up with something better; I really didn’t want my name attached to that awful doodle. So, I set out to draw the best darn construction equipment that I possibly could.

That, ladies and gentleman, is how my very first commissioned art work ended up consisting of a bulldozer, an excavator and a dump truck. It’s certainly not the kind of work I dreamed I would sell, but if I’m honest, I never expected anyone to ever want to pay me for my scribbles.

As it turns out, I can draw! Who knew? I’ll never be asked to do sketches for an anatomy text book or anything, but I bet I could illustrate a children’s book. How cool would that be?

I realize that on the surface, this post has basically nothing to do with fibromyalgia or dealing with a chronic illness. I shared it because I wanted to share what I’ve learned. I know I’m always talking about fighting on and not giving up, but this experience showed me that I had, in fact, given up on some things: my dreams. I’ve been so focused on getting healthy and beating this disease that I couldn’t see anything around those goals. If anyone ever asked me what I would after I achieve these goal, I wouldn’t know what to say. I’m not saying that those aren’t good goals, they’re still at the tippy top of my priority list, but I’ve come to see that I can be more.

A two year old child took me by the hand and showed me a path for my life that I hadn’t even seen. He has made me realize that there is always more to learn and that just because our original dreams are no longer possible, we should never stop searching for more.

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