I Choose to Be Me
Mar 16 10:44
I’m writing this blog entry from a small art studio – art shed, actually – on Herrbrook Farm, located in the center of Pennsylvania Dutch country in Lancaster County. Herrbrook Farm is owned by a Mennonite family that sets aside a few buildings for people who need space to create or rejuvenate or, as in my case, both. The art shed’s next door to the “retreat cottage,” which is heated by a wood burning stove. I woke up about three times last night to the sound of popping wood and fire-fueled dancing shadows. It’s a little bit scary and awfully exciting.
So why am I here?
Like I said, I need to both create and rejuvenate. My house is full right now, our grown-up married-lady daughter and her baby are staying with us while our son-in-law serves as a medic in Afghanistan, so our small house feels very full. It’s wonderful to have our daughter with us one more year, but we all feel the strain caused by lack of space. Also, even though I have a well-earned reputation as a major extrovert, my introvert side is just as strong. Sure, sure, I talk too much – as everyone who knows me knows – and maybe this is why I crave intentional periods of meditation and solitude.
“Intentional” is the word of the week for me. I am intentionally withdrawing from my daily routines to work on a few personal projects, to pray and to meditate; my intention is to not see a living person until Thursday, at which point I will go back to the world. In the mean time, every act I do will be intentional, from the music I hear to the foods I eat to the paths I explore to the words I write.
Living with MS often means having less choices than other people. Everyone, to a certain extent, is powerless over their bodies and their lives, and I understand that. But for us, there is a heightened awareness of what we can no longer do, as compared to what we were once able to do. I am finally coming around to the place where most of us arrive, I realize that what I can’t do anymore matters less and less with the passing of time. And besides, there is so much I can do, and that I will be able to do for probably a long time to come.
So in this place and at this time of choosing, let me claim my intention, where life with MS is concerned. I hereby choose to do that which I can do, and I choose to let go of that which I can no longer do. When I can once again do something that I couldn’t, I choose to embrace the returning ability like the free gift it is. Often I find myself unable to trust these returning eyes, limbs and other bits and pieces that fritz out for periods of times ranging from days to years. So my intention on this day is to choose to trust what I can do, and find ways around what I cannot do. And to forgive myself for the times I won’t handle it all as well as I might wish.
Compared to a nondisabled person, my MS is much worse than I let on. Compared to most of the disabled people I hang out with, it’s not that bad at all. So while I’m at it, I choose to stop apologizing for being too disabled, or for not being disabled enough.
In this week of retreat, rejuvenation and creativity, finally, it feels as if I’ve arrived at the end of a long journey just in time to begin another.
Finally, I choose to be me.
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Mar 16 12:54
Outstanding post Josie! You are traveling the path that Barry Corbet chose, complete with intentional isolation and meditation. (Highest compliment!). In my younger para days I would have thought your actions and words were blasphemy--"how dare you not fight each loss"--now age, over used body parts, injuries and illness, and (I hope) a bit of hard earned wisdom, is helping me let go things I can't do anymore. Thanks for sharing and enjoy the pop popping of the fireplace.
Mar 16 03:04
Your words today are strong because they speak the truth.
I was fortunate to have discovered that truth many years ago. Some may find your stance a weakness, but they are the fools.
Which is smarter, shoring up a dam that will certainly break or building a boat that will carry you when the waters release?
Too many people continue to grasp at the past that they can not change.
Good for you!
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