Let it go!

How do you know when it’s time to let go of something? Is there a right answer?

We spend so much of our lives trying to get stuff, from clothes to cars to jobs to relationships, that I think it’s somewhat against our nature to let things go. There comes a time, though, that we have to dispose of things that we’ve accumulated for our own well-being. When it no longer serves its purpose or no longer feels good, it’s likely time to let it go.

What are some things that we might consider getting rid of? Hard feelings, toxic relationships, objects that don’t make us feel good anymore, negative feelings that are getting in the way of personal growth or contentment. There are a number of other things that can affect our lives that we should consider dismissing from our lives.

It seems that I’ve been on a purging expedition for the past few years. I’ve reexamined relationships, living environment, finances, emotions and feelings as well as my general “stuff” that I’ve spent decades accumulating. I’m not sure that there’s necessarily one reason why we do this. Rather, I think it’s a gradual process that we go through and sometimes we’re just more aware of it than others. In my case, I think it’s a combination of events including illness, financial necessity, reprioritization of what’s important to me, and capping it off with a milestone birthday (i.e., ageing!).

We all have things that we hold onto that we know we should get rid of. Sometimes it’s emotional, like anger, grief, or resentment. Those things take a toll on us, emotionally and physically. Sometimes we’re able to process these things and move forward with our lives. Sometimes we get stuck in a perpetual replay of whatever incidents caused these feelings. Sometimes we need longer to process something that happened and that’s okay. At some point, though, we know that we’ll have to let it go, to move forward and start healing. That can mean mending a problem that we’re dealing with in order to move in a more positive direction. We can do this by letting go of something or someone or by actively addressing the problem itself. Making a decision and taking action at all is positive.

Sometimes we have ideas, principles, or beliefs that we hold dear to our heart, those things that define us; who we are, what we stand for. These things are really hard to change but sometimes we have to examine them and determine if they’re still appropriate or right for us. If you start feeling uncomfortable about things that you do or things that you think or say, it’s letting you know that perhaps those things no longer belong in your life. Our culture and our surroundings are always changing and what you used to think may no longer be applicable. It’s up to us to ensure that we are self-aware and behave according to our norms and morals. Additionally, as we age and as our life circumstances change, so do our beliefs or the things that we expect in our life. How we think about things at 15 isn’t how our circumstances are reflected when we’re 35 and certainly different than when we’re 65. Things that we experience, people that we meet, and things that happen to us throughout our life will, of course, affect the way we view things. We SHOULD be changing our beliefs and ideas about things. If we didn’t, we would always be disappointed! It’s important to let go of things that we thought should happen or we wished would have happened. We have one life to live and we need to move forward. We need to adapt our own beliefs and ideas to the person that we actually ARE and that may not be the person you expected to be.

Then there’s our STUFF. I’m a person that had (has) boxes of the kids’ stuff in my attic. Every card I received was something that I loved and wanted to keep. I have mementos from vacations and wear a t-shirt to bed that I got at Niagara Falls probably 20 years ago (OMG, I just realized it was that old). I like my stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hoarder and it’s all put away somewhere, but I have a hard time parting with things that mean something to me.

We keep things for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s simply because of where/when we received it (vacations, memorable times, etc.). Sometimes it’s because of the person that gave it to us; perhaps they’re no longer with us or you identify that person with the item. Sometimes it reminds us of better times and we hate to get rid of it. There are any number of reasons that we hold onto things and lots of them are good reasons. There are some things, however, that would benefit us to let go of.

If you’re holding onto clothes from 10 years ago because you might fit into them again, you’re constantly thinking about how you DON’T fit in them now, which is defeating.

If you’re holding onto every single piece of paper your kid brings home, trust me when I say that you’ll be able to remember their accomplishments and their personality 30 years later without looking at that picture they made in kindergarten. If you order just the school pictures you need instead of the full package just to throw away 90% of them, you’re not a bad parent. Don’t let guilt guide your decision. You don’t need to keep or buy everything!

Old batteries and light bulbs are a great example of keeping things just to keep them! How many times have you replaced either of those and held onto the spares because they MIGHT still be good and you MIGHT be able to use them at some point? No more! I’m throwing them away…starting today.

I just let go of my treadmill and exercise bike. If I had to guess, I would say that I’m not the only one with exercise equipment in my home that isn’t used (or used much). I tried to get in the habit of using them, I really did. When I walked past it, I would occasionally walk for a bit or spend some time on the bike, but it was more out of guilt than it was enjoyment or even for the benefit of exercise. I was defiant in holding onto it, though. I kept convincing myself that I would soon be in the habit of using them every day, or at least every couple of days. Why? Because I wanted to be that person! I really wanted to be the person that exercised a few times a week and was fit and toned and healthy!  I wanted to be dedicated enough to stick to it and see results. Sadly, I’m not that person.

Many times, we hold onto things, not because of the things themselves, but for what they represent. To me, that bike and treadmill represented success, diligence, and health. That’s a lot of pressure for exercise equipment. The fact that I had to admit that I don’t have the dedication I expected is something that I finally dealt with. The fact that I had to admit that I’m not physically able to use those things on a regular basis (and likely will never be) was a lot harder to accept. It was something that I’ve been trying to ignore for awhile now. That part makes me sad. So in getting rid of these two items, I’m releasing the guilt and the sadness that I lived with daily when I saw them and reminded me that I didn’t live up to my own expectations. Good riddance!

In the end, not everything is worth hanging onto, from our thoughts to our belongings. Be choosy about what you’re thinking, what you’re doing, and what you’re holding onto. Not everything benefits you. We all have things that we have to deal with. Sometimes the best course is to keep something and other times, it’s to release it. When it’s time to let it go, take a deep breath and just DO IT!

Life with Limitations

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Everybody has something to deal with, whether it’s chronic pain, illness, injury, stress, or trauma. I have some limitations in my life due to chronic illness. I won’t bore you with all the details of how chronic illness is defined or what it means. I won’t explain the names of the illnesses with which I live. Everybody has their own problems, ailments, and other struggles that they live with. Mine are certainly better than some and, for that, I’m grateful.

Having said that, I feel that it’s also beneficial to raise awareness for the struggles that people live with, whether the limitations are physical, mental, or emotional. I feel like they’re all intertwined anyway. For sure, when I feel physically depleted, I also feel angry or depressed or sad (or all 3). Sometimes my thinking is adversely affected and I don’t trust myself to make important decisions or even drive. My anxiety ramps up even more than usual. Conversely, if I’m feeling down or thinking less clearly, it also seems to magnify the physical aspect of my conditions. Being affected like this means that I’m incapable of functioning at my best. Continue reading “Life with Limitations”

Change Happens, Ready or Not

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Throughout our lives, we come across times of change, whether we looked for it or not and whether we want it or not. Obviously, how we react to these changes will affect the next portion of our life.

Some changes are easier to react to than others. For instance, if we actively decide to make a change for the better (new job with better hours, more pay, or a better location or a new house/apartment, new relationship, etc.), the change is much easier to live with. You’ve made the choice yourself and you’re benefiting from the change in a positive way. Does this mean everything is rosy? Nope. Continue reading “Change Happens, Ready or Not”

World Lupus Day

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For those of you that may not know, this topic is near and dear to my heart. I’ve been diagnosed with lupus myself, as well as some of the other autoimmune diseases. It’s important to identify and treat these diseases as soon as possible in order to prevent damage to your body. In most cases, people spend years and see several different doctors trying to find an answer to explain what’s wrong with them. Please make yourself a priority. Don’t give up. Keep looking and fighting for yourself. It’s important.

World Lupus Day

Today has been designated as World Lupus Day. It’s important that this autoimmune disease be recognized and discussed.  It’s important to recognize the symptoms and to fight for a diagnosis. The longer you’re undiagnosed, the more damage can occur to your body.

What is lupus? It’s a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of your body. Something goes wrong with your immune system and, instead of fighting off viruses, germs, and bacteria (like it’s supposed to do); it fights and destroys your healthy tissue. This causes inflammation, pain, and damage to various parts of your body.

The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that there are currently 1.5 million Americans that have some form of lupus. While this is a widespread disease, awareness of it is way behind many other diseases.

A recent UCLA study found that lupus is among the leading causes of death in young women between 5 and 64 years of age. Often, children and teens are among those most likely to suffer the more severe and life-threatening consequences of the disease.

Currently, only 73% of Americans between 18 and 34 are aware of lupus and most know little about it. This is upsetting because this is the age group that is at the greatest risk of developing lupus. It affects mostly women of child-bearing age.

It’s sometimes difficult to diagnose lupus as it is often called “the great imitator” due to confusion of symptoms with many other things including fibromyalgia, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, Lyme disease, and many more. It is important to be diagnosed as it affects many different parts of your body and can cause significant damage. Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening.

Symptoms may be vague. Symptoms may come and go and new symptoms can pop up and disappear at various times, sometimes even in the same day! Some of the more common symptoms include (but are definitely not limited to):

  • Extreme fatigue (worse than being tired)
  • Headaches (from mild to severe)
  • Painful and/or swollen joints
  • Anemia
  • Swelling (edema) in feet, legs, hands, and/or eyes
  • Sun and/or light sensitivity (photosensitivity)
  • Pain in the chest on deep breathing
  • Fevers
  • Hair loss
  • Rashes
  • Abnormal blood clotting
  • Mouth and/or nasal sores

Some more serious consequences can be attributed to lupus both directly and indirectly (through permanent damage due to inflammation, treatment drugs, etc.). Some of these can include things such as infection, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, osteoporosis, and fibromyalgia.  Infections, cardiac conditions, and lupus itself are the 3 top causes of death in lupus patients. It is imperative to identify, monitor, and treat all conditions with a diagnosis of lupus.

Rarely does lupus come alone. Once diagnosed with this autoimmune disease, you are far more likely to develop one or more others. Some of these may include inflammatory arthritis, connective tissue disease, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, vaculitis, Rheumatoid arthritis, eye problems such as uveitis, Raynaud’s, peripheral neuropathy, and blood count issues. These are just some of the others to look for. This is something to be aware of and follow up with your physician to ensure diagnosis and treatment for each condition.

Please take time and learn a bit more about Lupus. It’s important to learn the facts and to bring any unexplained symptoms to your doctor’s attention.

 

 

 

 

In the Interest of Awareness

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Every month, we are provided information about whatever that month’s “Awareness” campaign is about. How much time do you spend on that? I think it depends on what our interests are and if we know somebody that may be directly affected. If those things don’t apply to you, do you still spend any time looking at this information?

We are inundated daily with facts, suggestions, and ideas to digest. How, then, do we determine which ones we’re going to spend more time on? We only have a limited amount of time to spend on things that aren’t necessarily on our to-do list. I guess it’s what each of us considers to be interesting or enlightening. Where do the monthly “awareness” issues fall on that scale?

It’s obviously important if it affects you directly. It’s likely important enough if it affects a family member or good friend. What about the coworker or neighbor that might be impacted by whatever the awareness month is about? It might not hurt to learn just a little bit about each topic that comes along. It might even inspire a new passion or interest in something you hadn’t been aware of.

Each and every month there are new “awareness” topics. Obviously Breast Cancer awareness in October is a great example and one that most of us are familiar with. This awareness campaign has raised not only money, but interest, compassion and understanding surrounding this topic. Other campaigns have hopes of doing the same. Without awareness, there is no understanding or action.

Social media is hard to stay away from these days. It’s the quickest, easiest way to stay informed. It’s pretty easy to find as much or as little as you want to know about something. The “hot” topics or those most timely are readily available so you don’t have to look very hard to find it. Even if you only spend 15 minutes each month learning about something, you can learn enough to make a difference to somebody.

Please take a few moments each month to learn more about that month’s awareness topic. Your interest, your understanding, and your support can make a world of difference to somebody.