KEEP THE MAIN THINGS THE MAIN THING

The Final Review of the e-book, my first step away from symptomatic insanity, and a greatness ahead.

On Saturday, January 21, the last day of the “21-Day” e-book review and 2023 challenge, I attended a gathering with my oh-so-sassy sorority sisters. The event has been on my schedule since September 2022, and I had long planned for the time to wish everyone a Happy New Year! Saturday’s event was vastly different from the evening of Tuesday, January 3, 2023, when I felt that odd ache on the right side of my head.

There was nothing right about it. I remember wanting to rush to rinse my nose–something I had not done since the conciliatory trip to the hospital and then a meal with a friend. I whispered my intentions to my mom during that evening’s bible study. She said, “Don’t worry about it.” Great advice had I not worried about it thirty minutes later as we continued to sit and listen to my uncle give the message. 

By that weekend, the symptoms were not better but worse. I had no intention of having a cold or flu (or whatever type of COVID virus lurked in my body, but I am grateful it was not the dreaded Covid-19. 

I have a friend who always says he is great whenever you ask him how he is doing. “I have good days and bad days,” he says. “But every day is great!”

Using his logic, I guess I had a total of three good days leading up to day 21, a couple of other “good days” when my body shored up to meet commitments, but most of my days and all the nights were not only bad, but they sucked! The weakness, migraines, the congestion. It pained me to turn to the left and right to look up and down.

But I was living. Therefore, all days were technically great. I was alive and would get through this battle, even if I did not know when. 

The sickly trend probably would have continued until I stopped. Seriously. I stopped trying to get up, trying to act normal, trying to be a part of the conversation, trying to be present when clearly, I was not present, trying to keep up with text, trying to answer the phone, and all the rest of the stuff I tend to do even when times are tough. 

Whenever I feel bad, I try hard not to be a burden. I want to put a fancy dress over a bruised body and hug everyone. The reality is that when you do that so much, people expect it, and when you feel bad, you wish they could feel your pain just a teensy bit so they would understand that this is real. What I am feeling is real. 

One early morning, I felt like the Lord gave me a pass. He said, “Be still and know I am God,” and several other private words of encouragement. He revealed how He had made room for meet every task I was already committed to doing and nothing more. Requests that popped up and seemed insurmountable were. They felt 100-pound weights on my head. God had not given me grace for those things.

So, I stopped doing what I could not do and stopped feeling bad about it. And I looked forward to those sweet short messages, “How are you doing today?” “Is Leah feeling better today?” or even a little meme of inspiration. 

Slowly, I began to do simple things like sipping on warm hot lemon tea and staying hydrated. I took naps as often as necessary, took medicine every four hours, and ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner (even when it wasn’t a significant portion). 

I continued to avoid stressors. I did not try to do what I could not do. Since it hurt to read text messages, I did not; if I did, I only read the short ones. Also, the meds gave me crazy brain fog, so I did not try to write anyone a long message or have an in-depth conversation. 

I returned to my favorites: smooth music, watching a comedy on the big screen television, free-writing, and journaling.  I used my 21-Day exercises of meditating on goals-roles, seeing myself at the end of my current battle, and visualizing the things I hoped to experience in the new year. 

In short, I took care of Leah, my main priority.

And I paid the bills.

If I can encourage anyone who suffers from chronic illness or issues that prevent their body from recovering from setbacks quickly, I want to tell you not to be too hard on yourself. Stress is not your friend when your body needs to heal.

Also, when you begin to feel better, do not try to convince anyone that you have it all together by trying to be who you were before.

Lastly, rest and recharge as often as necessary. When we are still, God gets to do His best work in us and through us. 

Be cognizant that well-intentioned people will want to tell you how to get up. If I have done that to anyone, I apologize because I cannot tell you how you should recover from your loss of time and health. What I will tell those people who think they know what’s best for us, please, allow us to heal at our own pace.  Let me explain why:

I was seriously ill for seven years. For the first part I still maintained a full-time job, travel, trained, and tried to be normal. My symptoms had me up (good days) and down (bad days) constantly. My life was like a roller coaster ride, not knowing what to expect in a day. Perhaps that is why I have learned to roll with the punches and keep moving (even when I need to be still). After my last surgery and a short stint in a rehab facility during a hurricane (no, I am not making this stuff up), the pandemic hit. During this time, I began to recover in many physical ways. I began to feel normal again because the world had slowed to my pace. Doors of opportunity opened miraculously, and I tried to walk through as many of them as possible. But I had forgotten the seven years of unfinished business and open loops in other areas of my life as a single woman navigating through illness. My semi-retired mother, who was still navigating her divorce and being a full-time caregiver to my sister, tried to assist with my finances, but she had no clue where to begin. Thankfully, my church and some of her friends gave her some guidance.

In the end, well, or unhealthy, when you are single, these trials are yours, and any help you get is a blessing, but it is no one else’s burden to bear. I share these details because healing in one area may be only the beginning of the holistic healing journey. I still have seven years of business affairs and open loops to attend to, and life is not stopping, so I can catch up. During this recent setback, I had to take stock of the fact that I had unfinished business and I had jumped back into the mainstream too soon, once again.

One of my favorite sorority sisters, yes, we do have favorites, sweetly said to me a couple of years ago (during a setback), “Sis, you were trying to do too much too fast.” She understood why I needed to pull back from some activities that made me feel alive again but also drained my energy. I did not have enough grace for all the races I wanted to enter. My sister was right because I must remain mindful of my health. 

During my 18-day trial, I redefined my body goals, and I’m revisiting materials from a former dietician to get back to the basics.  Acknowledging my limitations has lightened my load once more now that my priorities are more apparent.

Without health, I can do nothing! When I am in the wrong race, it is stressful. But when I run my race, I know God will give me the strength to run with purpose. 

You may have to make similar acknowledgments this year. You may have to learn how to say “no,” and feel good about your response. So, stick to your role-goals, keep your commitments, and assign dates for completion of tasks, but keep the main things the main things–like wellness.

As far as the 21-day e-book is concerned, it remains a good exercise for someone starting to get back on their feet. The book helps any reader regain a sense of purpose for life and a plan for a blessed life. And if you have physical challenges, keep your limitations in mind while implementing the SMART method (Specific, Measurable, Achievable (or Realistic), Relevant and Time-Bound goal setting). 

Lastly, do not worry about what others say or think about your pace of healing or work. Always be gracious with them but do not fret. And when your goals are written, refrain from laboring over how things will get done. We never really know what a day will bring, so trust God and allow Him to order your steps. (Proverbs 16:9 CSB)

Thank you for reading, and stay well out there. 

Really “free-writing” Leah

Published by Really, Leah?

i am many things - a Daughter + Sister + Authorpreneur + Artist + Advocate. here at www.reallyleah.com, is a place where passion, productivity, and purpose harmonize.

4 thoughts on “KEEP THE MAIN THINGS THE MAIN THING

  1. Yeah, Leah’s back with more powerful tidbits for a sis (or anyone who’s reading! Really Leah…yes really, Leah! Thank you sis💕🙏🏾God bless always 🙏🏾

  2. This reminds me of what the air flight attendants instructions, to put on your O2 mask before you try to help others. Very well said Leah, I too have a chronic condition, and setbacks (flare ups) really do suck. I’m so glad you’re better Leah! 🙏🏾❤️

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