In Exactly 4 Hours…

In exactly 4 hours, I should get to see how/if all the hard work of the last couple of months, promoting (read ‘nagging’) the Make Fibromyalgia VISIBLE Thunderclap, has had any type of effect on Facebook and Twitter.

Hopefully, all of those supporters (as I write, at 757) and at least some of their friends and family (currently at 254,384) will upload this picture to their Facebook cover-photos for the entire month of May.

Right click this picture to save to your computer; then upload to your cover photo.

Click on this picture: Right click on the full-size header to save to your computer; then upload to your cover photo.

Visible army squareHopefully, all 953 members of the VISIBLE Army will upload their VISIBLE Army photo to their profile pictures for the entire month of May.

Hopefully, in exactly 4 hours, more people will be aware the Fibromyalgia exists.

However, in exactly 4 hours, I will be sitting in my dentist’s chair, getting prepped for a crown (Not happy, Jan!)

lrg_Ornamental_Divider__Englische_Linie

niagaraBut one thing I definitely won’t be missing is when Niagara Falls goes PURPLE for Fibromyalgia Awareness. Niagara Falls will be PURPLE from 10:15 to 10:30pm EST on May 12th. No, I won’t be going to Canada! I’ll be watching it live from my lounge room in Melbourne, Australia on http://www.niagarafallslive.com/

If you want to see it, too, and you’re somewhere else in the world, check out the countdown to Live Webcast: Niagara Falls & Fibromyalgia Awareness.

Can you tell? I’m a bit excited by all the happenings for Fibromyalgia Awareness.

The Pursuit of Happyness

Contrary to popular belief, happiness doesn’t come from fame, fortune, or money. (We would still have FM if we were rich!) Rather, it comes from within. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy. They maintain a positive outlook on life and remain at peace with themselves.

The question is: how do they do that?

It’s quite simple. Happy people have good habits that enhance their lives. They do things differently. Ask any happy person, and they will tell you that they …

1. Don’t hold grudges.

Easier said than done, right? Happy people understand that it’s better to forgive and forget than to let their negative feelings crowd out their positive feelings. Holding a grudge has a lot of detrimental effects on your wellbeing, including increased depression, anxiety, and stress – something we definitely do not need more of! Why let anyone who has wronged you have power over you? If you let go of all your grudges, you’ll gain a clear conscience and enough energy to enjoy the good things in life.

2. Treat everyone with kindness.

Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that being kind makes you happier? Every time you perform a selfless act, your brain produces serotonin, a hormone that most of us seem to need more of. Not only that, but treating people with love, dignity, and respect also allows you to build stronger relationships.

3. See problems as challenges.

The word “problem” is never part of a happy person’s vocabulary. A problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle, or an unstable situation while a challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task, or a dare. Whenever you face an obstacle, try looking at it as a challenge. Yes, we have a lot of challenges in our lives – but together we can meet them.

4. Express gratitude for what they already have.

There’s a popular saying that goes something like this: “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.” You will have a deeper sense of contentment if you count your blessings instead of yearning for what you don’t have.

5. Dream big.

People who get into the habit of dreaming big are more likely to accomplish their goals than those who don’t. If you dare to dream big, your mind will put itself in a focused and positive state.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Happy people ask themselves, “Will this problem matter a year from now?” They understand that life’s too short to get worked up over trivial situations. Letting things roll off your back will definitely put you at ease to enjoy the more important things in life.

7. Speak well of others.

Being nice feels better than being mean. Saying nice things about other people encourages you to think positive, non-judgmental thoughts.

8. Never make excuses.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” Happy people don’t make excuses or blame others for their own failures in life. Instead, they own up to their mistakes and, by doing so, they learn and proactively try to change for the better.

9. Get absorbed into the present.

Happy people don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. They savour the present. They let themselves get immersed in whatever they’re doing at the moment. Stop and smell the (purple) roses.

10. Avoid social comparison.

Everyone works at his own pace, so why compare yourself to others? My father used to quote Desiderata* to me: If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter…If you think you’re better than someone else, you gain an unhealthy sense of superiority. If you think someone else is better than you, you end up feeling bad about yourself. You’ll be happier if you focus on your own progress and praise others on theirs.

11. Choose friends wisely.

Misery loves company. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with optimistic people who will encourage you to achieve your goals. The more positive energy you have around you, the better you will feel about yourself.

12. Never seek approval from others.

Happy people don’t care what others think of them. They follow their own hearts without letting naysayers discourage them. They understand that it is impossible to please everyone. Listen to what people have to say, but never seek anyone’s approval but your own.

13. Take the time to listen.

Talk less; listen more. Listening keeps your mind open to others’ wisdoms and outlooks on the world. The more intensely you listen, the quieter your mind gets, and the more content you feel.

14. Nurture social relationships.

A lonely person is a miserable person. Happy people understand how important it is to have strong, healthy relationships. Yes, it can be harder for us than others; but, try to take the time to see and talk to your family, friends, or significant other.

15. Meditate.

Meditating silences your mind and helps you find inner peace. You don’t have to be a zen master to pull it off. Happy people know how to silence their minds anywhere and anytime they need to calm their nerves.

16. Eat well.

Junk food makes you sluggish, and it’s difficult to be happy when you’re in that kind of state. Everything you eat directly affects your body’s ability to produce hormones, which will dictate your moods, energy, and mental focus. Be sure to eat foods that will keep your mind and body in good shape.

17. Exercise.

Studies have shown that exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft does. So just think how good you will feel if you’re taking your anti-depressants AND exercising! Exercising also boosts your self-esteem and gives you a higher sense of self-accomplishment.

18. Tell the truth.

Lying stresses you out, corrodes your self-esteem, and makes you unlikeable. The truth will set you free. Being honest improves your mental health and builds others’ trust in you. Always be truthful, and never apologize for it.

19. Establish personal control.

Happy people have the ability to choose their own destinies. They don’t let others tell them how they should live their lives. Being in complete control of one’s own life brings positive feelings and a great sense of self-worth. Be your own advocate. Figure out what really works for YOU. Learn how to manage YOUR own FM. There are on-line tools (such as FibroTrack) that can help you work out a structured plan and let you regain control!

20. Accept what cannot be changed.

Once you accept the fact that life is not fair, you’ll be more at peace with yourself. Instead of obsessing over how unfair life is, just focus on what you can control and change it for the better.

 

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

Scary With You is Better Than Scary Without You

Some-one wrote that I was incredibly honest, shamelessly honest. But right now, I’m about to be shamefully honest – I am full of shame for how I am feeling about the topic that I am choosing to write about today.

I have fibromyalgia (you know that) and, before that, I suffered with 3 years of debilitating depression. It has been a VERY long time since I have felt good, alive, normal. I can’t remember what it feels like to fully enjoy life; and I definitely have no idea how to enjoy life as a grown-up.

Before all of this, I worked on a cruise ship so life was just one big party – now, I’m supposed to be an adult with a career in law. And, I don’t know how to be that kind of normal.

So here comes the shameful part: I’m scared of getting better!

I’ve felt bad for so long, and I don’t know who I am without being sick. It’s almost like a screwed-up safety blanket. In the state I’m in now, I don’t need to deal with real life; I can hide away in the darkness of my bedroom; I can put my head in the sand; and pretend that nothing is going on around me.

And I’ve gotten used to sleeping when my body tells me to (not an alarm clock), spending lots of quality time with my Mommy, meeting my whole neighbourhood.

Doesn’t that sound awful?

In between the depression and FM, I had a short period where I think life was normal (although I was already feeling unexplained pain, fatigue and sensitivities) so I might just be afraid that, if I get better, it won’t stay that way.

I guess what I’m trying to say is I don’t know what to do when I start feeling better, if I start feeling better. It’s terrifying and I don’t understand that. I should want to get better with my whole heart and, in some ways, I don’t.

During this time, I have found I have very few friends, very few people I can depend upon (although a couple of surprises have popped up) and I’m petrified that I will doubt future relationships forever (whereas, right now, it feels like I won’t even make those relationships).

I’m worried that I won’t be able to continue where I left off with my career – I was already an old first-year lawyer; now I’m an even older first-year lawyer, who may not remember anything she learned during her 6 years of study.

I’m scared that I will never get out of this hole of debt that I have accumulated while being sick – but, if I stay sick, I have an excuse.

I’m frightened that I can’t handle normal life – with work, make-up, driving, washing, cleaning, paying bills, social obligations, continuing professional development…oh, and the list just goes on.

I’ve lost SO MUCH time and I feel VERY sad about that.

What we go through each and every day is horrible, but after so long, it becomes normal… And while it seems ridiculous to be afraid of getting better, it may (probably!) just be a fear of change…It doesn’t seem right to feel this way, but I do.

BUT I really don’t have a choice… I have to try to get well and I’m scared.

Attention Single, Divorced and /or Friendless

 

Firstly, some facts (this is not me feeling sorry for myself, just facts):

  • I am single (read divorced and/or friendless depending on your situation)
  • I am sick (with no cure on the immediate horizon)
  • I have only one friend who actually visits with me
  • I have no particular interests outside my home

So, I was thinking, is this my lot in life forever? Will I ever meet a prospective partner? How will I meet a prospective partner? Does he deserve a partner who is continually unable to meet her responsibilities? Okay, forget a partner, how about some new friends?

These questions sent my mind racing – I can’t drive more than about 10 kilometres before my arms, shoulders and head start to hurt; I can’t go to parties (even if I was invited) because the noise and other distractions are too much for me to handle; there are no clubs or groups in my area that I wish to join. So, what is a FM sufferer to do?

Why, take to the internet, of course! ‘How to meet new people’ was my search term:

Succeed Socially.com offered a list of places to meet people

  • Through your friends, significant other, and other people you already know

This point obviously will not work for one in my situation

  • Work

I am still unable to work

  • Volunteering

As I am unable to be reliable in a work situation, I am unable to commit to volunteering. I used to volunteer regularly at a local legal centre – it was incredibly satisfying and I miss being able to help others.

  • Classes

I go to my self-help hydro groups, where the closest person in age to myself is about 25 years older than me. They are a lovely group at Hydro but I doubt greatly that we have very much in common outside being ill and/or disabled.

  • A club or organization

The appeal here is obvious. You join up and you instantly know a group of people who share a similar interest to yours. But what happens if you no longer have any interests? Other than researching fibromyalgia, spreading awareness about fibromyalgia and raising funds for fibromyalgia research. Kind of sounds like I should join or start my own fibromyalgia support group, right?  But, with this type of group, it would probably take all our efforts just to turn up to meetings, let alone maintain friendships outside the group.

  • A sports team or league

Are you kidding?

  • Through your religion

I am not religious. I believe in a higher being but I do not know of a public denomination which shares these same values.

  • Through your kids

Another moot point for me

  • Your living situation

Living in a large building with lots of other people your age around is better than being in a small place with no one who’s similar to you. Guess what my situation is? I live in a block of units (alone) where, currently, there is no-one with any similarities to me at all. How can this happen? (rhetorical question!)

  • Your family

No real help there, although my grandfather (before he died) tried to set me up with a 71-year-old ex-doctor.

  • At a party

Too much noise, too many people, just TOO!

  • An individual sport

How many FM sufferers do you know who do a sport? And I’m not one of them.

  • Online

Hmm…what would my ad look like:

SWF in chronic pain, with control freak tendencies, seeking understanding, compassionate friends with low expectations.

Would any of you answer that one?

 

There were a number of other suggestions but you get the idea…so, tell me, fibroMAGICians, what do you do?

 

The Chosen People

When I made my video ‘Why Me?’, it was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek title.

Basically, as many people pointed out, FM can happen to anyone – so why not me?

At the age of 34, I embarked on a six-year adventure to study law – my friends wondered why I would do it.

At 40, I graduated, was admitted; but was only able to practice for one month – why me? I asked.

In February of this year, I discovered Facebook pages (rather than personal sites) and I quickly became addicted – my friends wonder why I would do it.

At about the same time, I discovered the wonderful world of blogging; and in March, I wrote my first blog post. Whoa! Have I come a long way since then. But my friends wonder why I do it.

I cannot even work part-time; I cannot drive more than 10 kilometres; I cannot participate in my favourite activity – retail therapy; I am lucky if I can read one chapter in a book; but, worse than all of that, I experience excruciating pain, forget things most of the time and almost always have a headache. Some of my ‘friends’ think that it is all in my head, others think that I am just being lazy… yes, I am misunderstood. I wonder why my friends do that!

LIGHT BULB MOMENT – I have the answers:

I can research most topics as I studied so much. I can ask questions (no matter how silly) as I learnt that there are NO silly questions – just silly people who don’t ask questions. I can create visual material to raise awareness about FM as I like to think that I am a creative person. I can reach out to millions suffering from FM, force their families and friends to accept and understand them as I have already established a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter personality and a Pinterest persona. I have a background in hospitality so I will get my International Fibromyalgia Awareness Day Symposium/Luncheon off the ground – even if I have to raise the money myself (one bracelet at a time!)

I am one of the chosen ones – I can combine all my experience to raise awareness of our condition; and touch the lives of many.

If I did not have FM, would I have ever thought of doing so? Would I have even heard of the condition?

So, I know why I have FM. As one of the chosen, why do YOU have FM?

I Know What You Did – Last Night

Yesterday, my friend completed Tough Mudder – congratulations to her (and are you crazy?)

I couldn’t go to support her because that meant I was going to have to find a spot in the mud to call my own, and then stand there for at least 4 hours (not counting the 2 hours prior for registration)

When she had survived this ordeal, my friend drove for 2 hours to visit with me – the chocolate candle were alight, the meditative music was playing, and warm, fluffy towels were arranged appropriately so when my mud-encrusted friend limped in, she could relax.

While she was in the shower, I started to prepare the strawberry margaritas (oh! what a mess in the kitchen, still!) I realised that I had nowhere near enough ice in my freezer so my wonderful neighbours went to buy a bag of ice (they were rewarded with a pitcher of margaritas, of course).

We ordered in Chinese food, watched a not-so-great movie, smoked a joint and drank margaritas all night; babbling and laughing late, late into the night…

It was FABULOUS!