A New Attitude
I don't think I'm an official "Bah Humbug" type of person, but I WILL admit that I don't get as tied up in the hustle and bustle of the season as many people do. I used to make an incredible number of cookies and candies as gifts for friends, but I no longer take the time and effort. Right now, because of my upcoming prolonged job in East Africa, my focus is more on making money and saving for my expenses. I've been working incredibly hard matting and framing my photography work for sale--- spending tons of extra hours doing paperwork in my office, studying, and doing all of the myriad preparations that are needed for this adventure.
I was allowing myself to become overly tired and overly stressed from all of these activities when I had a few things happen to change my attitude. There are many things that we have no control over. In Illinois for instance, the weather can be a major challenge. Three weeks ago, after a million (or so it seemed) phone calls, I FINALLY located a church in my community whose congregation is primarily from Tanzania, where I'll be working. I needed major help with my Swahili and figured a little "faith" probably might help too! In spite of a major case of nerves on my part, I found my new friends to be caring and very understanding. So the next weekend, I was ready to go to church when a major ice storm hit, making driving treacherous and walking (particularly for someone with osteoarthritis) dangerous. Although I can become obsessed with my project, I knew better than to venture out! So, the following Sunday we were blessed not only with another ice storm, but the bonus of 4-6" of new snow on top of it.
Although we had just a dusting of snow to start with, I needed to drive to my son's to deliver some framed work (he lives an hour away). I took the time to quickly check my mail before getting on the road. I was somewhat grumbling to myself about the Christmas cards and bills when I opened one from a close friend, and was overwhelmed to find a very generous donation for my African project. I called another friend to talk about this, and she said this is just a way of telling me that they believe in me, even when I have doubts. With gratitude and a ton of feelings, I hopped into my truck (no, I'm not as graceful as I used to be with two artificial hips, and other joint replacements). The picture delivery was uneventful, and the high point was when my family discovered I'd taken the time to make my fabulous fudge!!! The snow appeared to be getting worse, so I decided to come home immediately.
I'm a very careful driver, but was horrified when my truck suddenly went out of control---sliding first toward a parked van and then coming to rest about 3 feet from an iron fence. After my breathing recovered to a more regular rate, I again started out---driving, I suppose, like a little old lady at 30mph. I encountered sleet, heavy snow, and patches of ice, but returned safely home. I will not venture forth to go out tomorrow. It's not fair to my family, or to my friends who have faith in me. I need to learn to take better care of me (yes, I'm returning to working out Monday). I won't be rushing out to do the "Ho Ho" thing, but there are ways I can show my love and appreciation. I've had five orthopedic surgeries at this point and people who don't know me say "Oh, that's awful"! The reality is that I'm incredibly grateful because they've allowed me the opportunity to return to Africa to work as a volunteer. Because of my OA, I've met awesome new friends. Because of some of the things I've had to go through, I'm actually a better person. I'm not always "tough" and "strong" as some people may think, but I DO KNOW that I care deeply about others. I can share my love without buying gifts.
I recently heard an interview with a Mt. Everest climber who happens to have severe arthritis. When asked how he "does it", he replied "you DO have a choice; either stand up and live with it, or curl up and die!" For today, I'm making the choice to do the best job I can to make the world a better place, to make me the best I can, to be there for my family and friends, and to not get overly tired and stressed. I HAVE A NEW ATTITUDE!