Sunday, August 18, 2019

Weekly Inspiration: From Other Chronic Illness Bloggers

I've been seeing so many inspirational posts from other chronic illness bloggers this week that I wanted to share them. There is a wealth of experience and knowledge and understanding here for all of us...and maybe you'll discover a new blog that you like!

True Friends in Unexpected Places
If you have lost old friends due to your chronic illness (as most of us do, sadly) or feel a lack of meaningful connections in your life, check out the excellent post at My Medical Musings about friendship and creating new connections in your life. Like the author, I, too, have started discussion forums and support groups in order to help others but have also gained new friendships and support myself. It's an inspiring post.

And if you need help in exactly HOW to find others in similar situations that you can connect with, both locally and online, check out my own article on ProHealth: Birds of a Feather: The Joys of Community, with the story of how I started a local support group and how you can find others to connect with, online and in real life.

The Five Stages of Grieving Your Diagnosis
For those still in the early days of chronic illness or who have maybe just recently received a diagnosis, Teena over at Whoa Mumma has a great post on the stages of grief, as they apply to chronic illness. Take a look at her wonderful explanation of the natural process of grief in those with chronic illness. One thing I would like to add to her beautifully written post is that these stages don't always happen in this order, and they can recur at unexpected times, even years after you are well into the Acceptance stage. As an example, I wrote this post on Mourning Losses a full 10 years after I first became ill and many years into my settling into a "new normal" and fully accepting my new life of restrictions. That's just the way grief works, and chronic illness is no exception: everyone's path is different, and a stage you finished with long ago - like anger or depression - can still take you by surprise years later. It's OK, it's normal, and you will return to your usual place of acceptance when you are ready.

Chronic Illness and Grief
A Journey Through the Fog, an ME/CFS blogger, has also written about grief this week, in her post on Chronic Illness and Grief. She writes of her own personal journey toward acceptance, including how memories and photos of "the old days" can sometimes be depressing, the emotions she's experienced as part of the grieving process, and the particular grief in losing control over your life and losing income when you can no longer work. A few years ago, I also wrote a Weekly Inspiration post about Acceptance, with some quotes that I found inspiring.

Asking for Help (and Why Everyone Needs to Learn This Important Life Skill)
Finally, A Chronic Voice (one of my favorite chronic illness blogs) has written a very important post about Asking for Help, and I agree with her that we all need to learn this skill...and get over our hang-ups about it. This was SO hard for me at the beginning - and still is to some degree - because I was used to being independent and hated the loss of control and needing help. Luckily, I had some amazing friends who didn't wait for me to ask but just helped me. I have learned over the years that most friends and family DO want to help you, but they don't know what to do and feel uncomfortable asking. That's why this life skill - asking for help - is so important. Check out A Chronic Voice's blog post on this topic, with plenty of inspiration and practical tips, too.

I hope you enjoyed this journey around the Blogosphere today! There are so many wonderful chronic illness bloggers out there, sharing their insights and experience. It is truly inspiring. For more links to chronic illness blog posts, check out the Chronic Illness Bloggers page on Facebook.

And please share your own favorite inspirational links in the comments section!

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

TV Tuesday: Hanna

Earlier this summer, without much of interest on cable, my husband and I turned to streaming and finally watched Hanna, an Amazon Prime show he'd been bugging me to try. He was right - it was amazing! This unique and suspenseful show was engrossing, and now we can't wait for season two.

In the opening scenes of Hanna, Eric, played by Joel Kinnaman, rescues a baby from some sort of isolated institutional facility in Romania. He tries to escape with a woman (clearly, the baby's mother), but the car is blown up. We next see Eric living in a cave in the woods with a teenage girl named Hanna, played by Esme Creed-Miles. He has brought her up there, in the middle of a deep forest in Romania, and is training her intensely: for strength, agility, self-defense, and even in multiple languages. The two have formed a father-daughter bond. One day, Hanna ignores his frequent warnings and goes further than she's ever been allowed to go before. She meets another person (she's never seen anyone but Eric before), a teen boy working in the lumber industry, helping with his dad's business. Hanna begins to experience normal life for the first time, including her first taste of Snickers(!), but her journey outside their boundaries attracts some unwanted attention. Soon, there are military-types after both she and Eric, and they are each forced to go on the run separately. Eric has drilled her as to what to do in this sort of situation, so Hanna is curiously adept at fleeing through various countries and evading capture, though sweetly naive in just about everything else. A woman named Marissa, played by Mireille Enos, is an ex-CIA agent heading up the forces looking for the two runaways, as she tries to cover up something from her past.

Hanna oddly combines a sci fi-type thriller with a funny coming-of-age story, but it works beautifully. The stories of Hanna's beginnings, why she is unique, and who is after her are revealed gradually throughout the first season. She and Eric, both separately and together, are chased all over Europe (and a bit of Africa, too) by Marissa and her team, as Eric scrambles to make contact with old friends and get some help. Many of the episodes are action-packed and suspenseful (and sometimes quite violent), but there are also sweet and often hilarious scenes of Hanna experiencing the outside world for the first time, making her first friend, and testing out what it feels like to be a normal teen-ager. All of the acting is excellent, and it's wonderful to see Enos and Kinnaman back together on screen (though on opposite sides now) - we loved the duo in The Killing (another great show). But Creed-Miles steals the show as Hanna, giving an intense performance where she is alternatively scary strong and sweetly innocent. In all, it is highly entertaining and wholly addictive. We were hooked after the first episode and can't wait for a second season.

Hanna is an Amazon Prime original, so it is only available on Amazon (note that there was also a movie based on the same basic framework called Hanna from 2011, but the link will take you directly to the new TV show).

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Weekly Inspiration: Grateful People Are Joyful People

I have often written here on my blog about gratitude; it's not a new concept to me but something I have embraced as an integral part of my life. I have written blog posts about Finding Joy in Every Day and my Joy Journal. I shared with you my daily #GratefulToday practice, posting almost every day on Twitter and on my blog's Facebook page what I am grateful for and encouraging others to join in (and I have learned that the more difficult it is to come up with something, the more necessary and helpful the practice is!). So, I consider myself well-educated in the importance of gratitude in my life...but yesterday, I was reminded there is always more to learn!

I was visiting and reading other chronic illness blogs (this Facebook page lists loads of great chronic illness blog posts) when I came across My List of Little Joys by Cassie Creley - go check out her post! Cassie writes about how it's been a rough summer for her, with respect to her chronic illness, but then she looks back on the past few months and lists some of the small joys she has experienced. Even though I often write about gratitude and write my daily #GratefulToday post, I realized there is value to a larger look back like Cassie did. This really hit me because I, too, have considered this a rough (perhaps miserable?) summer, with excessive heat I can't tolerate, a lack of outdoor time or travel, and several serious family crises. Despite my generally good outlook, I have been thinking how awful this summer has been and how I can't wait for it to be over. Cassie's post made me realize I am drifting into negative thinking and forgetting to be grateful in a larger sense, even if I take a few moments each day to think about it.

So, inspired by Cassie's post, here are some of my own Small Joys from this summer so far:
  • We cleaned out our screened porch Memorial Day weekend, I bought some inexpensive pillows and plants to spruce it up, and we have been enjoying it all summer.

  • We bought a new-to-us truck to replace our rapidly failing one. Our old truck was much loved and gave us 217,000 miles and lots of memories, but it's nice to have one for trips where everything works!
  • I have been working on two books about chronic illness and have made some important steps this summer - I hired a cover designer and love the final cover, and I found an editor I worked with years ago who is the perfect fit. I finished my part of the editing process and turned the book over to her, which was a huge step forward.
  • We have enjoyed an evening out with friends most weekends.
  • I saw two great movies: Rocketman and Yesterday - I am VERY grateful for movie theaters with full recliner seats!
  • Although our son's decline this spring has been the source of much stress and worry these past few months, we are starting to see signs of improvement from all the new treatments, slowly but surely. Every time we see him smile, hear him laugh, enjoy a meal with him where he's able to enjoy his food, or see him go out with friends, my heart soars, and I feel hugely grateful.
  • We enjoyed a nice trip to my hometown of Rochester, NY, to visit with family and attend a family reunion - the whole weekend was relaxed and enjoyable.

  • My Big Book Summer Challenge! Every summer on my book blog, I host a reading challenge for reading books with 400 or more pages, and I SO enjoy it. I love finally tackling some of the bigger books on my shelves I don't usually have time for, and I love talking to others about the Big Books they're reading, too (there's still time to join and fit in a Big Book or two before September!).

Huh, so maybe it hasn't been such a bad summer after all! Seeing all of these joys listed together like this reminds me that it hasn't been all doom and gloom (and heat).

For one more take on gratitude, check out this TED Talk from David Steindl-Rast, Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful:

His soothing and inspiring talk explains that grateful people are joyful people. He says that often we think that gratitude follows happiness - you get everything you want and then you are grateful - but in reality, it's the other way around: happiness follows gratitude. And he gives some concrete advice on how to be more grateful with his Stop, Look, Go reminder.

So, how about you? What small joys have you experienced this summer? Share your joys and gratitudes in the comments below - as David explains in his talk above, the more we share our gratitude and network, the better the world becomes!