Temporarily Permanent

Perspective.

What is it exactly?

By definition, perspective is “a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view”. (It can also be defined as “the art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point”, and although it is arguable that life is art, I won’t be addressing artistic perspective, per se, today.)

I find it interesting – nay, intriguing! – how perspective influences our opinion. Much like experiences having leverage and significant impact on the dimension of our focus (see post Finding Humanity in Winter), one’s perspective in direct relation to a situation not only predicates the response given, it often monopolizes it, regardless of any previous experience to the contrary. Basically, if we’re in the dark and darkness is all we see, it is unfathomable to see anything more than darkness despite having experienced ‘light’ and ‘bright’ in the past.

Extreme? Perhaps. But nonetheless not necessarily untrue.

Illustration: Think back to the last time you had a severe cold, or the flu (or, if not yourself, a loved one that you helped care for during that time). Day Two or Day Three into the experience, the wretchedness of sinus pressure, the shredding pain of broken glass shards tumbling down your constricted, raw throat with each swallow, feverish chills forcing you deep under the tonnage of fleece and woven cotton only to be marred by the beads of sweat on your brow, and the ripping ache throughout your joints, restricting fluid movement, draining every ounce of energy out of your listless frame. Even to partake in a cup of lemon chamomile tea with honey or bowl of chicken noodle soup is a monumental chore. You lay there, tissue in hand, dabbing your swollen, chapped nose and expel the simple words illuminating your current perspective, “this flu is killing me!”

But, wait!

You’ve had the flu before. And you’ve, well, survived… And, despite that present position, deep within the recesses of snuggle blankets and menthol throat lozenge wrappers, the predominant prognostication is that you, indeed, will again escape the clutches of Death in a week or so – with plenty of rest and clear fluids – but you can’t see beyond the mounting pile of discarded tissues, drawing on faded memory, to know that you will see the light of another day. Your feet will touch ground again, gleefully participating in retail therapy. Your tongue will relish in fantastical feasts and roaring repartee. And yes, your heart will languish in the thought of wasting another breath in the living tomb which is your office cubicle… But you don’t see that; you see death. You see permanence in the temporary – darkness in the midst of residing in the dark, casting aside the lucid remembrance of healthier days…

Point made?

So, how is it that we shake off this “permanence in the temporary”, and realize things for what they are – or what they could be? How do we change our perspective even if our circumstance has not changed? If the physicality of something remains the same, how do we redefine it?

Several of my current circumstances can easily lend to melancholy and the ambiance of defeat. That’s not to say that there aren’t times when I succumb to these jesters and lose sight of things beyond the temporary; however, as the past chapter’s song floats away on the evening breeze and providence crashes upon a new calendar year (Hello, 2017! Let’s be friends, shall we?), I’m determined to remain aware of my perspective, adjusting it as one would a manual camera lens, allowing in light and clarity of focus, distilling shortsightedness, and capturing inspiration, catapulting me through – beyond! – the darkness and into the warmth of glowing hope, where once before I drew breath.

Page-Turner!

So, I’ve been “absent” from the Blogosphere for a few weeks…

With cause, perhaps. Without cause, mainly, except in that I have been overwhelmed with work assignments as well as other tirelessly monotonous “to-do”s and a sheer lack of drive and willpower. It pains me to say that, yes, pain – physical, agonizing pain – has also played a huge part. It’s as if the breaking of my heart has found some way to manifest itself into the needling anguish of arthritis and tendonitis, coupled with MS and fibromyalgia, crippling my hands with searing discomfort and affliction. My mind, twisted and tormented by sprouts of new ideas bursting through a barren wasteland of decades-old non-composition, enduring the pulverizing wallop of giant new characters scrambling around, seeking to mingle and cavort with the edges of reality, and gasping for air, avoiding the sinking, drowning sensation within, yearning to stay connected to eyes, ears – a whole consciousness – awakened to the ‘New’, hidden in plain sight, by virtue of new, broadening perspectives.

For anyone who has known me longer than a week, my fierce desire to be a writer is more than evident – even in the performance of my rather lifeless “day job”… With the onset of such debilitating pain, I was beginning to feel as if I had been led down a long, winding road that culminated in a wall of thickets and brambles, impassable without seeing my dreams ripped to shreds. Even these few words today are met with bittersweet passion and, well, infuriating pain! (I say “infuriating” because if it weren’t for the pain, I would write and write and write – but even if I were to “power through the pain” as I have in the past, it ends up leaving me truly incapacitated, with barely enough strength to hold a pen, raise a glass to my lips, or pet my fur-babies; therefore, I am truly infuriated by the pain!) However, I felt it necessary to expound on both my recent hiatus as well as something I read this morning that struck my inner soul like a flash of lightning.

My truancy, I believe, I have sufficiently addressed. I now wish to share something with you that I hope touches you in a way that helps elevate you beyond any barriers that stand between you and your dreams:

In the reflection portion of a devotional I received via email this morning, the question was asked: how much energy do you expend crafting words or stories that are here one moment and gone the next? It was followed up with this question: what could you speak or write today that might outlast you?

…let that sink in…

Here’s where I was struck by a jolt of electricity: the ending prayer called on a thanksgiving for the deliberate and intricate unfolding of my own life’s story, with its unpredictable plot twists and myriad of interesting and motley characters. It reminded me to grieve the sorrows – “the dark episodes” as it referred to them – and unabashedly name my fears and hopes for the chapters yet to be written.

In that, I was reminded: My. Story. Is. Not. Over. There are still chapters that have yet to be breathed into existence! Who’s to say that my hands will always ache? Who’s to say that my rather lifeless “day job” may not disintegrate into a beautifully fantastical dream job of imagination and writing? What I can say is this: absence truly does make the heart grow fonder! Despite the pain, my heart’s fire is ablaze just in composing this short oration! And with such, it spurs me on to continue!

On. Fire.

This girl is ON. FIRE.

Before you start waving disproportionately large foam fingers and flapping poster-board banners amid chants and cheers in rousing support, let me drizzle a damper on your enthusiasm… I know, right – nobody’s questioning anymore why I’m at home, writing a blog on the weekends and not out hooping and hollering and creating a general ferfuffle of mayhem with a group of scantily-clad lady-friends, tipping our frou-frou drinks as we climb up on tables to dance and sing and… Ah, who am I kidding? I’m not even sure I watch movies where the main characters do that! Anyway, back to the “fire” and “extinguisher”…

Last week, I hit mid-point in my classes – YAY! (Okay, foam fingers and poster-board banners accepted HERE!) However, in order to do so, I pushed myself to limits that were extreme. Let me see if I can put this into perspective: this past Monday – just a couple days ago – was the first time in 10 days that I went to bed before it was “tomorrow”, and I’m not talking about a leisurely stroll across the PM/AM threshold! Most “nights” ended around 3am, with dry, scratchy eyes, clenched jaw, a crabby dog chasing a bewildered cat on a trek from the laptop to the bed. From there, I’d muster enough energy to pet/lecture the bellowing feline from upstairs (yes, I have one cat that’s afraid to come downstairs, but at the same time suffers from separation anxiety – go figure!) to remove himself from my bathroom sink long enough to afford me a swipe with the toothbrush, drop my frame onto the mattress, only to start the process again at 6am. Lucky for me exhaustion helped induce rapid sleep – most “nights” I couldn’t recall five minutes after pressing my head to the pillow… But, after a while, a routine like that catches up with you. *Spoiler alert: I don’t run very fast!*

The vicious one-two-three pounding of Thursday, Friday and Saturday were definitely my undoing. There was a HUGE group project due in one class, and one quarter of our group was M.I.A. There were fourteen parts to the assignment, and 8 of those fourteen parts had over 5 parts to them. So, in essence, the project actually had over 60 parts to it, and we were a man down! I couldn’t spare any time at the office, because, well, I had work to do there (duh!), and even had an obligation to be present one evening at a school function for my youngest child. I forewent the concept of eating to save time, stretched minutes into hours in front of the computer, compiling data, analyzing ratios and forecasts, formatting spreadsheets, and composing technical mumbo-jumbo to coincide with the charts and graphs that would comprise our group project. I managed two and a half hours of sleep Thursday “night” before heading out the door for a full day at the office. Friday night quickly became Saturday morning, and the sun was up before I went down! I stole five and half hours’ sleep that morning, but repeated the process that next night – teetering off to bed Sunday morning about 5am, and returning to the glow of the computer screen at 9:30 that morning. All of the week’s assignments were due by 9pm local time. Oh, yes, I guess I failed to mention that besides the group project, I had FOUR other individual assignments to complete that week! Luckily, two were done already (the smallest of all the assignments that week), but the other two required a colossal amount of reading – not my forte! 200 pages in one book, and 15 peer-reviewed articles for the other assignment. Ugh. With six minutes to spare, I had all my homework turned in! (Again, foam fingers and poster-board banners…)

That’s when the stress level lowered, and the auto-immune triggers started their pyrotechnic display!

I was reluctant to head to bed early Sunday night (that’s its own blog post, trust me!) and so I kept with tradition, and meandered toward my room around 1am (relatively early for me)… Halfway through the night, I woke to immense pain. My legs ached and my skin felt as if it was on fire! The mere contact of one foot against the other and my right calf resting atop my left calf as I lay curled on my left side created sparks throughout my nerve endings. I slowly reached my arm to brush the blanket away from my legs, and struggled through the stiffness in my shoulder. Wow! I. Was. A. Mess.

By the time 6am rolled around, I was cognizant of the leg pain, the resurgence of the right shoulder ache, and was presented with tenderness and aching in the left elbow, additional “fiery” skin sensation along the mid and lower back, and non-stop pain in my left thigh and right thumb (two pains that I was aware of and have been dealing with for some time now – at least the left thigh… see Power Through the Pain). In as long as I’ve had fibromyalgia, this was quite possibly the worst flare-up I’d ever experienced! My wily schedule had definitely caught up with me, and I was paying a hefty price!

For two days, I quietly endured the “fiery” flesh at work; however, Tuesday was coupled with a few other ailments – most likely because I took a low-dose muscle relaxant Monday evening on my way to a full seven hours of sleep! (The muscle relaxants do their job wonderfully; however, they and my stomach don’t always have such a complaisant relationship…) I had to rein myself in, contact the appropriate personnel, and eventually just leave my poor, wrecked body in bed for hour upon hour.

I’m happy to report that the “fire” has scaled back tremendously; my left thigh, left elbow, right shoulder, and right thumb are still giving me fits, but at least I’m not writhing in agony if my legs touch, anything! Rejoice in the little victories, my friends!

          Speaking of little victories, twenty-three days left of school! Then I can actually get to writing my stories again! No more 12-page research reports! Woo-hoo!

Power Through the Pain

I’m in the most ridiculous place I’ve ever been in my life:  having the opportunity to write – classes haven’t started up again, so I’m not bogged down with homework or research assignments – and there really isn’t anything that is absolutely vying for my attention. However, I’m finding it difficult to find the motivation and concentration to write, falling victim to both boredom and, sadly, pain. The headaches have been a part of life for the past 8 years – the lovely side effect of playing host to my resident benign brain tumor; usually, I don’t let them slow me down. Today, though, the combination of gentle, dull pain throughout the left side of my sinuses and this new, deep ache in my left thigh that’s developed over the past month or so has me a bit agitated, restless, and distracted. I have several different pieces of “inspiration” for my story/stories, and I know I’ve got to get some of them on the page before I lose them to the “I’m not as young as I used to be” broken webs in my memory vault.

Aside of the brain tumor – this current one (alluding to the fact that this is NOT the only one I’ve had!) is one that was discovered in late 2008, and deemed inoperable because of its positioning around the internal carotid artery – I also dance a delicate ballet with fibromyalgia, able to leap, pirouette, and spin some days, while other days, full-on solo “Fish dive”! But wait! There’s more! (As a kid during the rise of the original “infomercial” and the coveted Ginsu knives, I’ve always wanted to say that!) Because I also carefully manage hypothyroidism, gout, and hypokalemia, the pain in my left thigh could stem from so many different things. I’ve been jumping around so much lately at home (summertime lawn maintenance, a whirlwind weekend trip to Los Angeles to celebrate Mother’s Day and a milestone birthday for my beautiful mom – during which I also sustained a right rotator cuff injury – entertaining family members from out of town with a four-day trip to Canada, keeping up with my 14-year-old son and his “band of brothers”, not to mention the dog and two cats) and working extended hours at the office, I’m not sure I know where this pain is coming from. I’m trying to maintain a decent balance of electrolytes and proteins to make sure my muscles aren’t “starving”, including plenty of potassium. I’ve suffered through potassium infusions in the past, and do not wish that torture even on the most belligerent politician.

I could roll up in a ball somewhere in the house, whether on the sofa or on my bed, and attempt to take a nap – I’m sure some parts of my body would audibly thank me if they could! At the same time, I believe the pain in my thigh would keep me from actually falling asleep, and I would be just as restless in the supine position as I am sitting here in front of my computer… And far too often, I start “writing” in my head as I recline just prior to drifting off to sleep, wrinkling my nose in disdain for not having spent more time actually writing! So, I say ‘power through the pain’ – a life motto, of sorts – and at bare minimum, kick out this monologue. If I can get borrow my mom’s classic philosophy, and maybe slam my thumb with a hammer to divert my attention from the pain in my head and thigh, I may be able to make some headway on these stories… Wish me luck!

….

p.s. Kudos to all of you out there who make it through each day! It can be a challenge, and rarely do we have a cheering section, carrying us upon their raised voices when our energy, strength, and hope falter. Kudos to you!