Gong Hoi Fat Choi, my friends, xx Happy Chinese New Year, xx
For the last three years Magic Dude has taken me to see the Chinese celebrations in our local town. I adore the event and always take lots of piccies and come home feeling exhilarated and smiling. Today, though he had to work, and I am in self-inflicted flare anyway from my venture from Tai Chi into a Filipino stick fighting (Kali) seminar yesterday(!).
Ahhh, being woken by pain the day afterwards that is so bad that you stifle a scream. Good morning CRPS!
But I don’t regret it (or at least I didn’t at first!) – sometimes it feels good to dare the flare and push myself, even though the aftermath is so horrific. Every day is a blanket and hot water bottle day, but today has been a rocking back and forth inside my head day and I have been grateful for my friends online helping me through it (huge hugs to all of you).
I am very good at controlling my activity levels, at ‘pacing’ what I do, it really is the greatest tool that I have to keep the pain levels from rocketing. And yet (at the risk of sounding like I should start ordering in the padded wallpaper) I’d still rather do something different once in a while and end up with a pain flare to get through than have to deal with the emotionally painful alternative of sitting at home while other fully able-bodied people do what I’m too sensible to put my body through. Just once in a while I say, “Screw sensible, I prefer living!” Or at least that was the idea! It gets to the point where the relentlessness of the high pain levels start to make me wish I hadn’t pushed myself so hard, that I’d sat down more. I even went to the effort of forewarning the teacher but then I never dropped out! My bad! As I’m always so good with my pacing of activity and being sensible it feels good to dare to buck the trend every once in a while. But now it’s just trynottoscream, trynottoscream, iwishihadtea, trynottoscream…!
I’m still smiling with my friends, though. A video chat with one of my amazing friends online (with me still in my dressing gown and with a massive spot on my face *sigh*) meant that we ended up talking about what I’d like to do, to achieve, to experience.
So I told her my little dream… that I get paid to do a PhD (har!) that I somehow manage to do despite my health and brainlessness. That if they asked me to teach a lesson or two to undergraduates I’d be scared but I’d push myself to dare (seems daft to not even try), but I’d much rather teach Tai Chi than psychology! I love Tai Chi. It’s around two years(ish) since I started learning Yang style Tai Chi. As I move into this Chinese new year of the snake I am already learning the Sun style 73 form and finding that two styles and three different routines in my head can get interestingly muddled at times! I’m always glad of new sources for laughter 😉
I’ve spoken with my teacher many times about how much I love Tai Chi, she knows I’m a lifer! I hope to learn some Chen style as well, before learning the competition 42 form which is a combination of all 5 styles (the others being two different versions of Wu style). After that? Well, there’s weapons Tai Chi of course! The sky is the limit. I do not believe in capping our own potential. We do not know what we are capable of until we try. And until we try different things we might not know about untapped skills and natural abilities just waiting there, full of potential… potential joy, potential smiles, potential new parts of our life and being. When we discover something that we really like it can become a well loved hobby or interest that helps us to escape from the stresses and express who we are. We are each ourselves, and finding ways in which we can *be* ourselves is a beautiful thing indeed. It feeds the soul, it lifts us up, it adds quality of life that cannot be measured.
For me, it is Tai Chi which has added a different level of appreciation to my physio’ paced activity time. It is more than a set of movements, it is a way that I am me: time for myself, time away from stressful thoughts and worries, doing something that I wouldn’t have done otherwise, to learn something just for me, to experience progression instead of health deterioration. Even with bouts of regression in health the skills themselves can still improve, I can improve my technique on the bits I can do – when I hurt my back I couldn’t do the arm movements so much, but my footwork came on a treat! There is always a positive for me. Even if I felt that I could not progress any further I would always have the achievement of everything learnt so far, hurdles overcome, improvements made, I would be proud, no wait.. I am proud! I am proud of what I’ve achieved.
Whether it’s a bit of artwork, a bit of writing, or reading, or anything, time for you is essential. And being able to *be* you is the best thing ever. To just be you.
Ill health is but a part of our lives, it’s not who we are. It restricts us, but we can get stubborn-in-a-good-way and still find things we can do during our physio’ time. And it doesn’t have to be physical things either, after all most of our physio’ time is taken up with mundane things like getting dressed or getting some food from the kitchen.
Writing can be done with a headset, reading can be done in ways that mean you don’t have to hold the book or kindle, artwork can be many things, or indeed anything (art is art, it is expression, it is whatever we want it to be). Even studying can be conducted from home through distance learning classes. Ooooh, the possibilities are exciting!
Living with a chronic condition means that we are limited, restricted, we experience flares and set backs, and if we don’t keep on top of that it can take over our inner world as we have to think ahead, and plan all the time. It’s exhausting….. all the more reason why it’s so important to create time for yourself.
We associate Western new year with making resolutions for the coming year, and we also associate resolutions with things that we feel we should do, like go to the gym more, watch what we eat, cut down on our swearing…
Chinese new year has beautiful meanings in the lion dance. It is looking ahead to a new year full of possibilities, scaring away evil spirits and bringing prosperity and luck in the year to come.
We’ve had our western new year, we’ve tried the resolution thing, we feel we’ve failed when we don’t stick to what are often huge steps we’ve tried to take. So let’s take inspiration from the Chinese new year, let’s scare away those negative thoughts and think about what we might like to try. It doesn’t have to be major, it doesn’t have to be permanent, just some things we’d like to try. Not even necessarily now – after that hospital appointment is done with, after this flare has calmed down, whatever it is it should be enjoyable, not pressured. Don’t let that wish to try something get away, just allow yourself to not feel pressured. If it’s something you really want to do you may want to start straight away anyway.
We are more than this – we are each an individual *me*. I, for example, am someone who randomly practices Tai Chi in the local DIY store whilst Magic Dude chooses some paint! Well, I have limited time that I can actually physically function and then the rest of the day is worked around regulating even higher levels of pain, so I’ve gotta grab my chances, right? 😉
Happy new year to you, may it bring you some smiles and some opportunities to try things that it might turn out you love, xxx
If you want to know more about my hobby.. I have written about the health benefits of Tai Chi here.