Let me tell you what is doing me good…

In this spontaneous post, I have the sudden urge to tell you what is doing me good, perhaps better than most things on this recovery path.

Lately, I’ve had a bee in my bonnet for home improvement, a good sign in itself because it means I’m investing in the future again. So, weighing up all the options, I decided the only way to get done what I wanted doing was to tackle it myself and, in small daily increments (or, most days, when I can) I set about doing some painting or refurbishing of parts of my home, starting with the lounge (now done), into the kitchen (mostly there) and into the dining room, plus a few more rooms to tackle after that.

I’ve immersed myself in colour matching (I said “doing things up” not redecorating from scratch) and I’ve wrestled with deliveries of paints that aren’t quite right so try again, or with paint that was colour-mixed wrongly and had to be sent back. I’ve dealt with spillages on the floor, with holes that need filling, with hard bits to reach. Yet its given me a sense of purpose, of progression, of having something to “go to” each day, a benchmark to reach. I can say to myself “get that window done and it will be time for coffee” or “let’s just get another coat on those doors and then stop for the day”. And when I say “stop” I stop…none of my old-style “just one more thing…” moments where I used to stretch that “just one more” into another few lost hours and then fall exhausted in a heap. Nope, now when I say its time to stop (best to make a pre-agreed time…) I make myself head to the sofa with a drink and something gentle to read, or close my eyes, or I watch the birds taking their baths in the late afternoon sunshine, allowing myself to feel that I’ve done my bit for the day. This last thing is something important I’ve learned over the last few years; something my younger self never seemed to grasp until she was utterly burned out…and so, now I set limits, that fear of “making things worse” is leaving me because I trust myself to step in on my own behalf.

There are several things that are doing me good from all of this. One is the sense of purpose I’ve gained from it all…but a bigger one is the sense of making headway in small increments. The overall task itself seems hopeless, so much to do and even more mess being created all around the house while it’s still work in progress…paint tins left lying around, step ladder against the wall, clutter scooped off shelves so I can paint them. Yet (and old me would never have thought it possible) even by putting in this small amount of effort when I can, miniscule really, we are starting to see some real improvement…my husband keeps commenting when he comes down from his office, just wow really. The house is looking so much better, more coherent, the wear-and-tear of 20 years of family life erased away as though they never happened. So, I’m seeing in action how an unholy mess can be bettered, transformed, through small but consistent effort…and that its me doing this, me making it all happen.

Because, in some ways, I too am an unholy mess… I still have chronic fatigue syndrome, still have fibromyalgia, still have intense occipital neuralgia that sometimes peaks into something rather worse than migraine, still have moments of PoTs making my legs heavy or head light (I don’t climb the step ladder on those days!), still have lax joints that give me good days and bad, still have Reynaud’s turning my fingers or toes into dead lumps of meat, still hit a wall about half past two when I just want to sleep the rest of the day away, still limp my way to bed every night bewailing my “winter” joints. Yet, as I see it, I have a choice…that I could just continue to sit there on a computer most days or staring out of a window, trying to fill my time with positive distractions, or I could use my morning energy to do some of these tasks, even some of my late afternoon uptilt once I’ve had my crash, and then finish of my day in the bath feeling good about myself.

And what, of course, I am reminded of by this steady progression, ney transformation, fuelled by me, is that slow-steady transformation on the inside happens in just the same way, in tiny increments, and more so without the burden of high-expectations, the deadly weight of huge targets or imperatives…just simply rising up and making that small effort, day after day, with steady faith in the outcome. I guess, the Gupta Program has really instilled that in me this year; that slow and steady win the race and that by rising up to meet each day, taking it as it comes (I never force my body through times when it simply can’t) we get there, in the end. With the decorating, I sit down for some of it, but far from all of it, yet I always keep my goals manageable…bite-sized and relaistic…for me, not some other person and this is key learning, put into action. My needs are different to other people’s and I adapt things around (and stand by, advocating for) those needs, and may have to for the rest of my life, always with one eye looking out for signs of overdoing it. Yet this is how I get to really start living again, knowing I can trust myself to make these necessary adjustments.

So I feel good about myself (of course I do) and I’ve found my happy place with a brush in my hand…as ever I do, a reminder to stop overthinking it and get back to my canvases soon…and a meditation of sorts. Its restoring my sense of contributing to this household (though I always have, regardless, by my presence) but yet that part of me that felt like a waste of space at times, and bored rigid by the predictability of my days, is letting me off the hook and thriving for this gigantuan effort, and so it should. I’m investing in our future whilst improving our current quality of life (never underestimate the effect of our living spaces on our mental health and our sense of “stuckness”) and its no small part. Plus I’m moving and stretching more, let’s not underestimate the positive effect of that (yoga in action!) and the daily practice at being on my feet more is paying dividends when it comes to core strength and dysautonomia, which I’m convinced gets worse relative to how sedentary the “chronic” lifestyle can often become (so often, the advised “treatment” for chronic health conditions is to do nothing, risk nothing, at all).

Most of all, its having a monumentally positive effect on me because who would have thought it at the beginning of the year…me redecorating the house, and at my most challenging time of year too…not made conditional upon me having “fully recovered” but accepting that, even as I stand here as I am, I have plenty of life in me, a great deal to offer as a mover and shifter of realities.

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