I was recently doing some research on a few RA websites and Facebook groups and I was completely thrown off guard by the number of “whoa is me” memes, comments, and pity stories. All which got me thinking, what can I do to help these people? To be encouraged and to encourage others to Be_again (once more, anew, afresh). First off, listen, let’s get one thing clear folks, RA is not a death sentence, and taking a victim approach is not going to help you or your condition. Guess what? I have RA also and so what, who cares. Many other people have other illnesses or conditions that are equally or even more debilitating, autoimmune or not. My goal has been, and still is the same; to be healthy, live happily, and to live a fulfilling life. And I am the one who’s in control of that.
This may be tough for you to hear, but wake up. For the most part, other people don’t really care about your condition, and when you victimize yourself to them it only makes you look sorrowful, and who likes to be around that? Each day I get to choose. I can choose to take control of my RA, my life, to own it, and to use my condition to enlighten and inspire those around me to do the same, not to seek sympathy. I like a good meme or post making light of the situations RA can put us in, just like everyone else, but dwelling and griping over it does nothing to resolve it. In fact, how you overcame the situation or are planning to, is inspiring, encouraging…and laughing about it is a powerful healing tool. Pity is for fools, thanks, Mr. T.
Each day when I wake up, life comes with a choice to be happy or not, to be inspiring or to be a victim. Hold on, this is the amazing thing, if you choose wrong, with each new day you get a chance to reset that choice. I know, pretty spectacular, right? And, it even gets more amazing. That choice is purely up to you, and other people don’t get choose it for you. I know, mind-blowing. Now some of you self-behavioral masters out there can even do this mind-shifting hour by hour or minute to minute. I bow to your excellence and someday I will master this practice, through your various mysterious and magically natural methods.
Each and every day when I get up it’s my choice to eat healthy, exercise, meditate, laugh, smile, to do everything in “my” own power to control “my” condition and “my” life. When I was first diagnosed with PsA, (Now reclassified by my “practicing” doctor as RA, even though I have psoriasis, whatever?) I would often say to myself, well “I can’t” do (fill in the blank) anymore. I recently had a friend ask this question on a Facebook post, which is actually what sparked this story. “What old stories used to hold you back and how did you overcome them?” He called it your “Bullshit Story”. Bing…
After rediscovering my love for hiking since my RA awakening in 2013, I woke up from my first multi-day overnight hiking trip on the Knobstone Trail, IN. 13 miles in to the hike with a 28 lb pack on my back, I was sore, stiff, beaten and I said to the world, or more like a few trees, “I’ll never be able to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail”. Since running damages my joints, I’ve turned to hiking. And I had just denounced a dream that was to satisfy my past goal to be a multi-race UltraRunner by the age of 50. Over the past year, that specific statement has really freaked me out, my “I can’t bullshit story”. How can I say that when I haven’t even tried it? A fearful person..that’s who.
I’ve overcome a lot in my personal life. Growing up in a divorced family, managing depression, struggling with anxiety, raising a child with disabilities and losing her way too early, losing a parent, and watching your child struggle with gender identity (who is now flourishing into the beautiful person that “she” is), just to name a few. Not once did I ever say “I can’t” do this. All of these life experiences had only inspired me to seek to continually improve myself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically. So come on, I ran numerous 5k, 8k, 10k, marathons, triathlons, and even an entry-level Ultra 30 mile race. Never once did I say then, “I can’t”…So why start now? RA will just change my approach to fulfilling my dream, so let the AT planning begin.
Listen, I’ve said this before, I’m not a professional athlete nor am I a life coach, nutritionist, or doctor, and don’t proclaim to be. I’m just an average guy seeking to live a purposeful and happy life, and I’d be over the moon to inspire just one person to shift and reshape their life. I mean, I’m doing it anyways with or without you. I don’t blog for fame or fortune, I blog for personal therapy, and if one person finds inspiration from my stories I am happy. If you’re lost, you can be found. If you need help finding your center and not good at self-motivation, I can provide plenty of recommendations (Love me some Gabby Bernstein). I highly recommend seeking a life coach that you connect with.
Special thanks to my international Facebook friend, Will Aylward, founder of Orange Box Professional Development, who doesn’t even know that he inspired me today. And of course, Jennifer Waligora, my wife who gets extremely frustrated with me (often) when I don’t practice what I’ve learned, but has stuck by my side and hasn’t killed me yet. Honey, remember even the professional life coaches fall off the wagon, recognizing it is the first step to fixing it and to Be_again…and again.