Tag Archive | Spontaneous

Toeing The Elusive Line of Life


I am always trying to pin down that elusive line between doing too much and not engaging enough.  Dancing just over the edge into the land of “I am going to enjoy this adventure today even though I will ‘pay’ for it later” and standing at safe distance back, “forgoing opportunities for the sake of protecting my body from the ‘over-do’.”

To me this line is LIFE.

And I am not ready to give up on life yet; to fade into the background, observing others from behind my own personal protective observation glass.

Yes, this option ensures a more stable physical state of being. But it doesn’t guarantee it. I am just as likely to experience an unexpected (I was going to say “unplanned for,” but aren’t they all?!) flare of my physical symptoms after days resting “safely” on my couch.

And there is always one thing that suffers from my hesitancy to participate… my emotional well-being.

So it all comes down to another elusive concept: BALANCE.

I don’t think this is a plight just of the chronically ill.  We may suffer more serious consequences for misjudging our abilities to participate, but I know just as many well-bodied friends who also struggle with this.  Their “price” may just look different: stress, fatigue, or loss of time.

As I tiptoe around my Line of Life, I am getting better acquainted with my limits. For me, I know I will pay a steep price, so I weigh my options and choose the ones that are the most appealing and unique. 

I now pause before I make any commitment (I used to “over-commit” to everything for fear of saying no, only to have to constantly cancel at the last minute, frustrating everyone).

I check in with myself- mind, body and spirit.  I take my own set of vitals, so to speak.

And, no matter what my decision is, I try to clearly communicate with the invitee. I think the guidelines I have set up for myself can be applied to a wide range of situations and people.

It usually comes down to three categories:

  1. “I’m sorry, I have to decline this time. But please don’t let this keep you from asking me in the future [big fear=being “forgotten”].  My physical well- or unwell-being is constantly fluctuating.” (insert your limits: time; commitments; family obligations; job stress; etc.).
  2. “If it’s okay, I am going to have to wait and decide nearer to or on the day of.  I’m just not sure how I’ll be feeling from day to day right now and I don’t want to over-commit.”
  3. OR: “I would love to accept! I am planning on being able to participate but if my body takes a down-turn, I may have to change plans at the last minute.  Are you okay with that?”

I have discovered that the honest approach best serves myself and others. Most of us want to “people please” and in doing so can create an environment of always saying “yes,” leading to feelings of stress and resentment later or a constant cycle of saying yes and then having to change our minds/plans.

By giving people an open look into your life, you are showing trust in the relationship.  As well, I try to always give people the option of letting me know if last-minute changes are uncomfortable for them.  Of course I wish everyone could be supremely flexible to my needs. But some cannot. And this is all part of accepting both my and others’ limitations.

You’ll also begin to discover the friends who truly do understand and are willing to adjust the typical “friendship guidelines” to maintain a relationship with you and those that are just “good time friends.” And that’s okay.

The week-end before last was one of those “seize the moment” opportunities for me.  A friend spontaneously invited me on Thursday to accompany her to Pittsburgh, PA for a one-of-a-kind puppet play by Heather Henson (Jim’s daughter- yes, The Muppets’ Jim!). Now, this was a huge risk for me. It was for just one night and would require a minimum drive of 6 hours both ways. Two “no-no’s” in my typical Boundary Box. But sometimes boundaries are meant to be broken, and this was one of those times.

Not only was it an amazing adventure and bonding experience with a dear girlfriend, it provided me a chance to be honest about my chronic illness in a way I have not before.  Traveling that close with some requires intimacy and vulnerability. And I was proud of myself for not hiding behind the mask of, “I’m okay.”

She knew I had to make many rest and stretch stops.  She saw my feet and ankles swell to the size of Nerf balls. She observed my nightly ritual of 20+ medications. She listened to me when I explained the complexity and history of my disease. She witnessed the “sudden coming” of a severe migraine. She saw me grow breathless because of my pericarditis (fluid around the heart) and the necessity of many “sit and rest” periods as we trekked around the city.

She saw the all of me. And she embraced and accepted me as I am.

Yes, I’m paying the steep price of admission still now 7 days post, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing about this experience. Can I always make this choice? No. But I am also not going to let my fears get in the way of considering similar spontaneous opportunities in the future. I used to always live my life this way… seizing crazy last-minute excursions left and right. And I forgot how much I love that.

I forgot what it is like to not only dip my toe over the edge into the Waters of Life, but to plunge head first into the icy chill of the thrill only to come up breathless by embracing the All of Life.

Where are you making choices in your life that serve not only your physical and mental needs, but also your spiritual and emotional needs? Perhaps you aren’t shying away from “frivolous experiences” because of the limitations of an illness, but because you are overwhelmed and stressed by the sheer complexity of living and balancing life, work and family.

Where and when can you throw caution to the wind, even for just an hour, and do something just for the sake of doing it?

Go on… life’s waiting for you!


All It Takes Is a Little Note of LOVE


Imagine my surprise when I discovered this “love note” (photo above) tucked in my mail amongst the bills, catalogs and fliers!  At first glance, I was confused to see this hand written envelope, thinking; it’s not my birthday yet, I haven’t accomplished a feat worth celebrating, there are no other recent milestones reached.  Why would someone be sending me a note?!  And therein lies the beauty… this love note was written and sent just because.

I savored every moment of this gift… from the happy orange envelope, to pulling out the crimson rice paper and unfolding it in anticipation, to absorbing each lovely word and sentiment.  While I read, my husband was peeking over my shoulder. Little did he know that this note was meant for him as well!  When I finished reading aloud, he audibly swallowed a lump in his throat and with glistening eyes expressed his gratitude for our kind friends.  I on the other hand, had no words that could express my feelings in that moment.  I felt a warmth spreading over my entire body, I was enveloped in a hugging embrace.  I felt the power of words.

We forget the “power” our words have, both spoken and written.  They have the influence to lift another up, to tear another down, to give bits of hope, to rip all hope away, to encourage, to shame, to support, to abandon… All it takes is just one word.  It is wise to choose our words carefully, to use them to create a word filled with love, light, peace and hope. 

One simple, yet oh so powerful way of doing this? . . . through The Art of The LOVE LETTER!

It’s funny, even before I received this love note, I was already drafting this blog entry, unbeknownst to her.  Several months ago I had read about a national movement called “More Love Letters;” a calling to citizens to spread their love in a disconnected world.  Their mission completely resonates with my own mission, to spread hope, one person at a time.  It’s such a powerfully effective way to spread love on to those we don’t even know and may never meet.  And, it’s done anonymously, which I think is beautiful.  Check out their website to learn more: http://www.moreloveletters.com/ and to read about dozens of stunning examples of the love letter movement in action.


Sit down and write a love note to someone who is significant in your life.  It doesn’t matter the quality of your penmanship, handwritten is always the most meaningful!  We live in the age of digital communication, abbreviated thoughts, and deleted sentences.  Write something that can be literally held close to the heart, that can be displayed, that can be kept and re-read for years to come.  Create a piece of history, build a heritage of friendship.

When writing a love note, whether to someone you know or to someone anonymous, your sentimentsDSC04034 don’t have to be lengthy, they should just be thoughtfulIf you know them, tell them you love them and mention one or two things that are unique to that person, ways they light up the world around them.  If that person is in a place of hurting or pain, send them a few words of encouragement, let them know you believe in them, and that they are not alone.  Tell them how much they mean to you.

If you are writing an anonymous note, you can use the guidelines from “The World Needs More Love Letters.”  Or, even better, you can write whatever is in your heart.  Breath and say a small prayer of gratitude first, and then let the Universe speak through you.  I believe that you will intuitively write exactly what the recipient needs to hear.  Don’t include personal information; just let them know that the world loves them, and that they have a unique role to play.  Encourage them to let their inner light shine and to spread happiness and hope to others.  You may want to remind them that if they are struggling today, it will pass… to hold on and never give up!

DSC04033The most important element of the anonymous love letter?  The envelope!  Make sure it is bright and eye catching.  Write in large letters, both to catch someone’s eye but also, so that it (hopefully) won’t get thrown away. See my personal example and others on the love letter site to give you inspiration.  Are you artistic?  Include a drawing.  A photographer? Add a picture.  The ideas are endless!  Embrace this activity and most importantly, pour a ton of love into whatever you create, whatever you write!  That passion will shine through.

Where to leave the letter?  Anywhere there is traffic… tucked in a store shelf, in a cushion at the airport, in a magazine at the doctor’s office or hospital (two places people are often in need of a little extra love), next to the creamers in the coffee shop.  The options are endless.  As for me, I am going to keep my love letter in my bag and trust that the right place will present itself, and when it does, I’ll be “armed with love!”

Don’t get caught up in drafting the “perfect note.”  Perfectionism only paralyzes us from ever achieving action!  The letter that carries the most impact may just be a hastily written note of love and encouragement scribbled on a piece of scrap paper and left in a waiting room.  It makes my heart swell to imagine finding a note while anxiously waiting to see a doctor.  I picture myself flipping through a magazine, when a piece of paper flutters to the ground. I pick it up and all it says is, “Smile 🙂 You are loved today!  Whatever you are going through, you are not alone!”  How simply eloquent is that?

When I read my own love note from Adele, I was deeply touched that my friend felt inspired by my blog.  It’s difficult for me to accurately express how much this means to me.  I hadn’t explicitly put out a calling for my readers to send love notes, I don’t even remember if I mentioned it or not.  But, that’s the beauty of this forum, this exchange of thoughts and ideas, the reader takes from each post what they need to hear in that day.  And this friend read between the lines and unearthed exactly what I needed… to be loved.

I have already re-read my love note almost a dozen times since receiving it yesterday.  Talk about inspiration for me to pass on the same to others…


Let Your SOUL BEACON shine!!!

(Don’t forget to leave a comment about your love letter experience… inspire others with your sharing!)