Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Struggle of Change

There are days when I am thankful for the struggles I've been given, because I know they have helped to shape me into the person I am today.  And there are other days when I would like to do nothing more than rip this CMT right out of me, stomp it flat and chuck it out the window...and then fly to an island and hide so it can never find me again! 

Now, I know that's a silly thought to even waste my time having, but sometimes I just can't help it.  Another dream I often have is that Johnny Depp will walk into my apartment one day and say "Put down that scrub brush, Christine...let ME do your dishes.  I'm here to take care of you!"  Don't worry...I'm under no illusions that Johnny will give up acting anytime soon in order to do my chores, nor do I expect to be living in an island paradise tomorrow, free and clear of struggle.  But it's nice and sometimes necessary to let the mind wander...if nothing else, it lightens the mood!  And who knows what the future brings??  Within the next few years there may be a medication that stops CMT in its tracks...someday there may even be a CURE.  And Johnny may soon get the uncontrollable urge to vacuum my carpets.  C' could happen!!

Why am I even having these silly thoughts?  Well, I am still in the process of trying to qualify for extra assistance now that I can no longer work...still caught up in the long, drawn out--jumping through hoops of fire--tightrope walking--wrestling alligators to the ground, process.  It's extremely frustrating, and I know from experience that it's far from over.  I've been told in the past that it's complicated and frustrating on purpose, in the hopes that I (or others like me) will give up...though possibly the 'Powers That Be' should have gotten to know me better, before making that assumption.  I may be tired and my energy may be limited, but I've never been one to give up without a fight.  I have to keep fighting, and breathing, and moving forward.  When I explore the alternatives, what choice do I have?

As you know, I've been concentrating on my painting and trying to find my way on this new path that has opened up to me...and as I came home, angry and tired from everything, I looked at my easel.  You see, I had started my latest painting last night--the vision of the final product already finished in my head.  And even before I saw the painting, I heard the title.  That's always how my ideas come to me; I get a title in my head, and when I ask myself how I would paint such a thing, the vision comes...and even though some are foggier than others, this one was clear as day.  It involves a butterfly, which represents the achievement of positive change through struggle...and it's called Breaking Free from Life's Chrysalis.  I think I needed to come home and see it, and be reminded of what is possible. 

Will I keep getting frustrated?  I'm almost positive...there are some feelings you just can't stop.  And I'll work through them, gripping my paint brushes a little tighter to my chest...and when that doesn't work, I'll take a breath, pop in a DVD and watch Edward Scissorhands.  When you're faced with struggle and fighting to make changes, you do whatever you have to do to find your way.  So as I take stock of things and breathe a little easier, I share with you this work in progress.  May it show you what is possible in your own life, and remind you to never give up...especially in times of struggle.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Retired but Busy

Many people have asked me to describe my life since I officially retired a couple of weeks ago, and I think I'm still developing an accurate response.  Most of my first week was spent staring at the inside of my eyelids, as I caught up on lost sleep and attempted to recover some of my energy.  During my waking moments, I've struggled with remembering what day it is as I try to get used to my new schedule, or lack thereof.  On the positive side I have managed to gain some energy back, and what I've gathered has been spent on painting...which I must admit, is awesome!  It is amazing to have the opportunity to create something solely for the joy of it, without an underlying purpose of teaching a lesson to a classroom of students...or finishing a Christmas present for a friend or family member.  Don't get me wrong; both of those outlets of creativity can be important and satisfying.  Though the chance to be creative just for myself is very refreshing!  And the opportunity to hang my pieces in art galleries has given me a whole new experience to enjoy, and a reason to get up in the morning.

When I began my retirement I felt awkward.  There was this overwhelming sense of being on vacation (one where I slept a lot) that would soon end...and when the alarm went off, my working life would once again start anew.  It took a while to get past that feeling, and there are still moments where I grab my alarm clock to set it for work.  My biggest fear when this began was that I would do nothing more than sit in my apartment, bored and lonely, with nothing to fill my time.  Luckily I have not encountered those feelings yet, and have kept myself busy with painting...and attending the many art events that have come up; some which include my work--and some that don't.  I've made it a point to go to all of them, even for a short while.  In the meantime, I still get the opportunity to see the people I worked with these past five years, when I go to the office for weekly chiropractic adjustments.  That is a blessing, because those people mean a lot to me!

Most of all, my friend M (CMT group support leader,) has helped me through this adjustment.  She went through the whole process of having to retire for health reasons, and knows the frustrations that can come with it...she, along with all my other friends and family, have helped me see the bright side of this experience and the good to come.  For that, I am very grateful!  There are still moments where the worries about my future rear their ugly heads, and I am still searching to find what other financial assistance I may qualify for (there's been no luck so far in that department.)  But I am determined to continue moving forward, and to see this through; I owe it to myself to do so.  I may not be able to change the world but I can work on making my own little part of it as beautiful as possible, and that starts with my own healing.  When the big financial picture gets too overwhelming and the fears start to creep in again, I just have to take a step back and focus on the little things I can handle.  I recently painted this piece called 'Through the Forest, To the Trees' to remind myself of those little details...and after I stop to look at them I can continue moving forward, one detail at a time.