One of the biggest struggles I hear from other people with Chronic Illness is that there is a sense of losing yourself. Mainly because so many of the things we enjoyed pre-illness are no longer something we can do, or we can’t do it as much as we did before. Physical activities we loved prior to illness cause us pain or exhaustion. Often times we are forced to give up the jobs that we spent our lives working towards.
When asked what our passions and hobbies are we often answer these questions with “I’m a runner.” or “I’m a lawyer” or “I’m a dancer”. These things make up who we are. They give us purpose. They help us identify ourselves in the world and they tell other people that we fit in their group. When we get sick and have to give these things up, it shifts who we are deep down. It changes how we identify ourselves. It takes away our purpose.
Since leaving the work world 6 months ago I have been struggling to identify myself without the title Business Administrator. I started to embrace my role as mom and wife as my new “job” and I had hoped that would be enough but I still felt like something was missing. As much as I love my family, I don’t feel fulfilled with just those two things. I want to do something. No, no, I want to do some things.
We’ve talked some about getting back on track with working out, and how much I’ve loved that. I really think that yoga can be one of my “things”. Unfortunately much like anything else physically demanding in my world, I am at the mercy of my pain when it comes to yoga, so there are days I had planned to practice that turn into couch days instead. My month long flair up of back pain meant yoga was on hold until I healed up some, and this sent me searching for some other “things” I could do.
I’ve always loved to bake, though with work and family and PCS it was always hard to bake without extreme discomfort. Now that I am home I am able to spend more time baking and I am finding that I really, really enjoy it. I can take my time and prep early, bake a while later and clean up in the evening if I need too. I like tweaking recipes and trying new things and there’s a sense of accomplishment and pride when cupcakes turns out like I envisioned they would. “Great job on this report” has been replaced with “Honey, these cupcakes are great.” and honestly, it feels just as good. So I’ve been feeding this interest by supplying my kitchen with baking utensils and keeping my cupboards stocked with the staples should the itch to bake hit on a good day. I keep my Pinterest board full of recipes I want to try and I’ve been posting my masterpieces on my Instagram (Secretly.a.Superhero) and I am loving it.
Another love I have cultivated over the last few years is makeup. I spent the better part of my 20’s dancing for Sound In Motion and other promotional companies in MN and absolutely loved the costumes and theatrical feel of a show. Getting to use makeup to look like a fairy one night and a superhero the next was about the best form of dress up a girl could ask for. Since retiring from dancing I’ve really missed the fun of playing with all that color. One of the great things about taking on makeup as one of my “things” is that I can do it no matter how I am feeling. I just set up shop on the floor in my bedroom and go to work. I can spend an hour or so just blending and messing and I am completely happy. If I run out of canvas on my own face, I am blessed with two daughters who tolerate me using their faces as well. These projects too find their way to my Instagram.
Sharing my “things” on my Instagram, Facebook and other social media outlets has allowed me to talk with other people who enjoy these same hobbies and trade tips while sparking new ideas. It opens up my social world in a way that makes being stuck in bed a little less isolated and lets me feel just a little bit normal. I’ve found a bit of a home here with these few “things” but I am not sure I am done growing yet. I feel inspired to do more and that’s both fantastic and frustrating because I know that my body really just can’t handle “more”. That being said, I would love to know what you all are doing with your time. What are your “things”?