Not long ago, a fellow blogger on a different site described my daily dose of inane, insane ramblings, insights and observations as “Tea and sunshine” – stating that reading my less-than-deep meanderings always made him smile, and implying that my words are some of the first he gets to read over his morning cuppa (time differences).
That phrase – and indeed that compliment to my personality and outlook – warmed my heart and stayed with me. I still go back to read that comment because it makes me smile so much. Also, the blogger who referred to me in such a meaningful (to me) way knows just how tough the last couple of years have been for me.
Perhaps surprisingly, this has never been my natural disposition. I’m a born worrier, I’m competitive and I like to succeed – or better yet excel – in all I do. This mindset is what made me into a natural athelete and hard worker all those years ago.
It seems to me that disability moulds and tempers your attitude. I believe that you have to allow that change, because otherwise you would simply end up thinking of all that has been taken from you; you’d be bitter and angry about “what could have been”, rather than warmed by memories of “that which was achieved”.
I have epilepsy, related mobility problems and asthma. There are a lot of things that I am no longer able to do, such as competitive swimming, or cycling for pleasure.
I have, however, discovered hobbies, interests and skills that I may never have found if I were still out there working, training and competing – because I would never have had the time to discover them! I can cross-stitch to a fairly high skill level; I discovered a love for science fiction and I gain pleasure from collecting memorabilia, t-shirts and action figures; I gain great joy from cultivating seeds on the kitchen window sill and watching them blossom into a young plant that will develop into something magical; I decided to take up the acoustic guitar again, along with learning to play the ukulele. Why should I allow a bad day to affect my mood when I have all of this to be grateful for?
I never dwell on the days (such as today) when I am rendered bedbound through dizziness or seizure. I take pleasure in the days that I can be up and about with Dom, and try to make these “duvet days” as constructive as possible.
Allow it to gnaw at me when my eating disorder kills my appetite for a few days? Goodness no! Instead, I savour the first meal I can manage and enjoy it all the more, on account of being aware that it might be another two weeks before this wretched body of mine can entertain the thought of ingesting food again. I choose to be grateful to have food when I’m able, rather than stress about the days that I simply can’t. I try to view this as a hill that I have to climb: once I reach the top I need to learn to balance my centre of gravity so that I can remain at the summit.
When I finished mourning my grandmother I planted her favourite climbing rose (Crimson Glory) in my garden and decided to focus on the wonderful memories that she and I created together, rather than to look ahead at all the days that I won’t get to spend with her. She would have hated for me to be drifting around missing her when I can still smile and laugh at our cooking and gardening experiments over the years, and the weekly lunches and gossip that we used to share. My grandmother was one of the funniest, liveliest, most welcoming people who were ever put on this earth, with inner strength that would have immediately sent Goliath running for the hills. I remember her as that amazing tour de force in my mind. Not the frail little stick figure I last saw in a hospital bed; that wasn’t her.
No matter who you are, how healthy you are, how rich or poor you are, there are always positives that can help you to smile through the negatives. Believe me, I’ve found them and I embrace them wholeheartedly.
On the rainiest, stormiest, gloomiest day, there can always be Tea and Sunshine.