Oh, the energy of a young person at the beginning of their journey into adulthood.
The energy we've all had as we weigh our options, the possibilities,
as we embark on the chapter deemed 'Livin' the Dream'!
I have a friend whom upon a greeting of 'Hello Chris, how are you today?' always simply
replies with enthusiasm in his voice, 'Living the dream.' And he is living the dream. Chris has a wonderful wife and two beautiful children. His beautiful family has their good health, their home and their jobs to be grateful for.
He is most definitely is 'Livin' the Dream!'
The things I said my friend Chris has to be grateful for, are the main components to this idea of 'Livin' the Dream' as adults in this world: family, home, health and jobs.
What happens when the existence of any of these four components changes?
What happens when one day we wake up and what we know
as our version of 'Livin' the Dream' is no longer a dream?
For me one day, turned into many days, which turned into many weeks, then months and now years. Waking up to the realization that my version of 'Livin' the Dream' was no longer what I had dreamed. It was no longer what I would ever dream of. I was an artist. I used my hands in every aspect of my life, because I wasn't just an artist that painted a picture, but rather one that created with everything I did. I created through food, décor, photography, graphic art, paint, clay, drawing, jewelry, my yard and many other mediums - all of which I used my hands intensely with a passion that defined me.
At the time of my diagnosis I had been experiencing symptoms in my hands for eight years. I had changed majors in college several times in reaction to my hands hurting, cramping and then freezing up and tingling.
At the time of my diagnosis I had convinced myself two years prior that I could go back to school for graphic design - my thinking was that at least I could create through my computer if I couldn't throw a pot on the wheel, hold a pencil or paint brush. I was wrong and failed at finishing my degree because the pain was too intense.
Two months after my diagnosis I had to quit pursuing my degree. Two years after this I completely stopped working as a graphic designer. So I continued to create as a mom - painting the interior of my house and cooking wonderful food - and by this time gluten free for Faith and I. One year later I had to quit cooking, painting and even cleaning of my house to have the necessary surgeries on both hands and arms.
My version of 'Livin' the Dream' as I knew it was gone.
My dreams, my ability to pursue them and my identity were no longer a part of my present world.
I was no longer an artist. I was not even the mom I once was.
The use of my hands, my energy and my identity as I knew it was gone by age thirty.
For me this was the furthest thing from 'Livin' the Dream' - it was a nightmare.
Over the next months I had five surgeries to correct damage from my rheumatoid arthritis. And then spent the next six months undergoing every treatment my insurance required I try on my knee before it's replacement in June of this year. During that six months I lost the ability to walk on my own. Again a change that affected my identity.
I've heard people say of those who are chronically ill that we let our disease define us.
When your disease takes your version of 'Livin the Dream' away - your identity away, I, as a positive, strong lady, do not see how it cannot define you. It does define you as you begin the journey of finding your new version of 'Livin' the Dream', your new identity.
We all experience loss in our lives.
We will all experience many different losses in our lives.
I've experienced the loss of me. And the loss of my dream.
So here I am, today, on my journey to finding the new me. On my journey to finding my new abilities, my new talents, and my new version of 'Livin' the Dream' -
finding a way to not let my identity be rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia,
but to include rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.