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The Snuggly Sleepwalker
Do you check in with yourself from time to time? Does that sound like a strange question? As I have mentioned previously, I check in with myself on purpose at least 3-4 times each year. It has proven to illuminate what is going on in my mind, in my habits & my heart each time. This time of year I find that I tend to go to an even deeper level of taking an honest & serious look at how things are going in all the different areas of my life. I look to see which legs of the chair have given way so to speak. Without fail also each year at about this time I wonder what it is about February & March that give me the blahs. No siree, I am just not a winter person. That is ok however since winter is going to come each & every year to my little corner of the world it is up to me as to what I am going to do about my blah blah blah attitudes this time of the year & not let the winter get to me at the levels that matter most. I choose not to survive through winter in a hybernate as if that would ever really be enough. It takes considerable effort yet it is worth it to get to a place way beyond the blahs.
Have we caught ourselves sleepwalking through life at times? What I am referring to here is that sense of waiting for something to be over. If we are waiting for a whole season to be over then are we hibernating almost? We each answer that question for ourselves. We can call it sleepwalking through life or hibernating or something else. Since I realized a couple of decades ago that every day is precious & I am the one who steers my thinking, it is up to me to navigate the blahs as well each year around the winter season. Many people have said to me over the years that it seems that people need something sad to happen directly to them to cause them to come to stop taking each day for granted as well as to take loved ones for granted and more. I personally disagree with that. What if we bathe ourselves in gratitude by choice each & every day though instead? I will share emphatically that even on the most challenging days I find something to be thankful for every single day. That does not happen on its own though. I know that I had to decide to live this way & I am grateful that I made that decision a couple of decades ago. The neat thing is that I only had to make the decision once for the rest of my life & then commit to it daily. We don’t need to choose to numb out & sleepwalk through life. What is the opposite of numbing out? For me I would say that it is embracing life. Some days things just do not fall into place for us. That is a given whether we live with diabetes, another “365” or enjoy perfect health. What an incredible gift the small circle of Dear Hearts are that are our go to battle buddies when we are having a bad day. They are the tiny circle of trusted confidants that will not judge us or criticize us or tell us to in one form or another to just get over it. They are the antidote for a world that at times can be quite indifferent to the suffering that is very evident. They are the people as well that we can’t wait to share celebrations or good news with as well. Hopefully we are this gift to others & we have others in our lives that are this gift to us. It is really not complicated to be one of these go to people. It can be as simple as honestly caring. Last week a friend shared something with me that stuck with me. He said that he had been at a community meeting & after it was over he saw 2 ladies remain behind & they were crying. He said that it can be difficult sometimes to figure out whether one should get involved or mind our own business. Ultimately he decided that he felt compelled to make sure that the ladies were okay. They thanked him for asking & said that the one lady had had an especially bad day & that what really helped was having a good cry with a good friend. That is what the human response is hopefully & that when a friend needs us to cry for them & with them that we do not hold back. An act of love of consolation is a gift. The ladies were present with one another & they had that good cry together & then they said that they felt much better. They did not feel better because the problem was solved. The one friend felt better because her friend cared. Indifference is sleepwalking I believe. You & I are not sleepwalkers because we get how important it is to have encouragers in our lives & people who would take our call day or night without a second thought. That is a rare & beautiful gift. We don’t sleepwalk by taking those rare souls for granted.
As a literal example of sleepwalking, here is a sweet wee aside to share with you. Our youngest son, Alex (affectionately known as “the alligator”) sleepwalks in the middle of the night every once in a while. 99% of the time his sleepwalking takes him to his brother, Brian’s room. Alex sleepwalks to Brian’s room, gets in with Brian & snuggles in under the covers with him & goes back to sleep. Alex is always surprised when he wakes up in the morning in Brian’s room. Alex has always been quite a snuggler so it does not surprise me that his end journey even when sleepwalking would involve snuggling. When I think of that form of sleepwalking that is the endearing form of it. This form of sleepwalking unlike the numbing out variety involves snuggling in. All I know is that when I see those little faces the next morning sound asleep all snuggled in it is endearing.
There may be many reasons that we can come up with for numbing out/sleepwalking through life. We may not want to go through the discomfort of working through grief or another challenge. I know that the big breakthrough for embracing each day once again with diabetes came after I worked through grief feelings about my health. Grief in many forms enters life often I have found so we can either try to numb out & put our lives on hold in one area or another or we can take the brave journey through it & come out stronger. All I know is that the passage of time alone is not the answer to dealing with anything of significance. If I want the all in joy then I have found that I have had to do the all in grieving as well. What I can say though is that I am more filled with life & joy, hope because of the choice to be all in during the painful & celebratory times that life provides. The neat thing about having the all in approach to life is the permission that we get to give ourselves to be exactly ourselves. If I am having a bad day, I just admit it, work through it, keep my gratitude & keep going all in. Recently I had a silly day full of annoyances as we all do. Even after 5 attempts at trying to make a medical appointment I was unsuccessful. It is such a simple thing making an appointment or at least it should be. If you like Monty Python sketches too, let’s insert the “Cheese Shop” sketch in our imaginations right now. It is the one where John Cleese walks into the cheese shop & asks for various types of cheese & the shopkeeper declares that they are sold out of them. Finally in an exasperated fashion, John Cleese asks if there is any cheese for sale there at all & the shopkeeper says no. It is good big time to carry these sketches of humour because in life sometimes the shops have “no cheese” for some absurd reason. We can get fed up or we can laugh. We can shake our heads & let it all go or hold onto it & let it ruin our day. The choice is up to me I have learned. Another aggravation that happened that day was that while one of our sons & I were waiting for his exceptionally late school bus in the morning my insulin pump alerted me that I had an occlusion. Getting an alarm for an occlusion away from home & away from insulin pump supplies is never a good thing. Thankfully, I rarely get that alarm. Still though, it is an exercise in will power not to panic big time over that alarm since we know that we have an insulin delivery problem & that can turn into an emergency in short order. On the same day, I also tried to order my infusion sets for my insulin pump. This ought to be a non event. Instead I noticed that the sets were not listed on the vendor’s website so I placed an enquiry about them to see when they would be back in. I currently have 2 weeks worth of infusion sets so I wasn’t overly concerned at that point. The level of concern heightened however when the vendor told me that the infusion sets would be unavailable for the foreseeable future & then they went on to state that they are the only seller of the infusions in Canada. What, what, what I thought to myself. If you also are an insulin pumper you and I will be shaking our heads together on this one. Nonchalantly the salesperson had essentially said that maybe my infusions would come in at some point but who knows when or maybe they are discontinued & that she did not know. The add on piece is the sleepwalking piece of indifference. In the spirit of excuse me Miss but in order for me to sustain life I need the infusions I followed up with her once again. Again, I got an “oh, that’s too bad” but no resolution. The next thing that I did seemed to make a positive difference towards resolution. I calmly yet panicked on the inside contacted the insulin pump representative & explained the situation. Magically the next day the infusions were sent to the vendor & now I have an order placed. Two days later the box with infusions arrived however they were not mine. The orders had been mixed up at the packaging place. A week later I finally have my infusion sets thankfully. These are the types of annoyances that can affect our day if we continue to carry the exasperation with us for the entire day. It takes a lot of effort on my part & it is a work in progress but I try to express my feelings & then let it go when it comes to annoyances along the way like these examples.
Embracing life is the choice I make on the good days with diabetes & the days that are brutal. The days will look different for sure on the really good days. I am not beating myself up anymore over diabetes & the way it rears its ugly head on the brutal days. It is what it is. I am not numbing out or hiding out or living in denial over it. I am not pretending. I am me. I am not diabetes. Diabetes is not me. It gets to us all some days. None of us quit though. Why? We are not sleepwalkers or indifferent. We live in a community of battle buddies who cheer one another on, encourage, listen, cry with & for one another & laugh, really laugh from the belly in a bellowing, genuine way. We might hear others around us complain about it being too cold or too snowy out with a ho hum, woe is me attitude & be able to shrug that off because of the little wins that we are celebrating big time like seeing a gorgeous, breathtaking 5.5 (Canadian measures) on our glucose meter (99 for my U.S. Battle Buddies). Yes, it is cold out...so what. Today, we woke up & get to embrace life & what really matters. No sleepwalking & no ho hums needed. I know I am always grateful that there is a community of battle buddies who is embracing life right along with me. There really is no time for the ho hums & the hot enough cold enough for you approach to life when we literally have to cooperate in sustaining our own lives. I say cooperate because it would be easy to say that I am the one keeping myself alive each day but that would not be how I truly personally feel. It is through grace, a lot of help from my Guardian Angel, technology, a medical support team, and my loved ones that I do what I need to do each day. This rascal just cooperates with all of this.
This week our sons & I did up a list of activities that we hope to enjoy together during March Break this year. Last year during March Break I got hit with strep throat & psoriasis so this year it is the type of embrace that hugs the stuffing out of life that will be happening. We cannot make up for lost time but we can live right now & be 100% present. We can hug the stuffing out of life. I am an optimistic realist so I already know that there are going to be gliches, hiccups, exasperations, inconveniences, problems to solve & more during March Break already. Type 1 diabetes has a way of complicating everyday simple plans let alone more elaborate plans. Type 1 though I have found has been another reason to embrace life. I hate diabetes. I hate everything about it. I love the heart to heart all in embracing friendships within the diabetes community that I have. I do not need to keep asking myself why me or why has this happened to the countless other battle buddies. That serves no purpose. Diabetes is what it is. Instead I look way beyond the beast of diabetes & instead embrace the champions that I am blessed to call my friends fighting diabetes and other 365’s day in and day out in an all in fashion.
Here’s a wee smile to share with you in closing. One day last summer our golden retriever & I were walking along the shoreline. There were lots of other people walking & riding their bikes & jogging as well in the area. Some people would smile or nod & others had kind of a commuter face on like they were walking in a bubble or a fog & did not see anyone else. One young lady was jogging & all of a sudden she stopped in her tracks & smiled a brilliant, present smile at my dog & I & asked if she could say hi to my dog. Without hesitation I told her that Beddy would be delighted about that & smiled big time right back at her. The young lady sat right down on the ground in front of our goldie & snuggled Beddy’s head in her hands & was so joyful with Beddy for those few minutes. “I love golden retrievers” she exclaimed & added, “I cannot contain myself when I see one.” I replied, “I totally get that & you made our day & please don’t ever look for a container because what you have there is unmistakable overflowing joy.” She did make our day that day. You could tell that she just embraces life & joy. I love that.
My heart’s hope for you is that you get that embracing spirit within you always too. If it starts to fade away, we can get it back. May you cross paths with countless other Dear Hearts who are also embracing life too. And may you be the one that gives the gift of exactly this to countless others too. The world needs this & the world needs this from you.
Next Monday's sharing is "The Perpetual Toddler." Have an all in week...no sleepwalking through life...no indifference to life and the people around us...all in...