Why is Everything I Want a Secret?

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Source Google Images

While looking through quotes and inspirational affirmations I’m struck by the use of the phrase, “The SECRET to…”
The SECRET to being happy
The secret to being content
The secret to being successful
The secret to losing weight
The secret to gaining weight
The SECRET TO LIFE
SECRET? As if each one of these things really fall under the meaning of the word SECRET.
In the dictionary, the very definition of SECRET has nothing to do with how to gain the things, feelings, experiences we desire because SECRET means something meant to be kept unknown, or something meant to be unknown, such as where you hid the cookie jar from the children who happen to love the Oreos. Or “Hey Marge, what’s your secret to such shiny floors?!” “Oh Ella, it’s vinegar! I use it for EVERYTHING! But don’t tell, it will be our little secret.”

I think it’s rather smug of those who write books, give lectures, or advice citing they’re going to tell you their secret to happiness. That is the one that really gets to me.
How people choose to feel, or what they strive for in their lives is not secrets. It’s available to us all.

Below is the Merriam-Webster dictionary meaning of SECRET.
The use of the word, SECRET or phrase, “The Secret to…” sets us up to thinking what we desire or aspire to is so unattainable that it’s kept under lock and key, available only to scholars, the righteous, the enlightened.
No, these things we seek aren’t secret at all. They are for the taking, free, meant not to be kept “unknown” or hidden. Every human being has access to it, and once some of us realize this it’s easier to attain and for some may just lose its importance to us. As in, if there’s a secret to happiness, well maybe it will require covert activities and great difficulty in finding it and I’ve got dinner to cook, kids to bathe, groceries to buy, a house to clean, a job to do. I say No again, it’s not a secret. It’s attainable and may require work on ourselves. No one holds the key to these things we want, it’s a matter of what we aspire and then looking to ourselves for its priority in our life. If it’s very important to us, we live long enough, we’ll figure it out. Maybe what we want doesn’t even exist in its total, perceived form, so it’s a secret, that’s only for conspiracy theorist to figure out. Good luck with that.

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Source; Google

Arriving at Acceptance, the Stages of an Illness

 

EmusedoneWith this new year has come a strange calm. A feeling that the control I thought I didn’t have I’ve never really lost. That being a healthy, active wife, mother for years to suddenly a disabled shadow of a person wasn’t because an illness came and took over, taking my control with it and making me a useless burden. But rather I was never promised the perfect life without struggles, and that is a good thing. Because it’s honestly is through the struggles of illness I have grown to be a better wife, mother and now grandmother.

There are hundreds of books by inspiring writers who are soldiering through illnesses, situations, troubles. On any given day I can turn the television on and accidentally end up watching an inspiring interview of a person who is beating the odds and thriving during adversity or scroll down my Facebook Newsfeed to see more inspiring stories, situations that are far worse than mine could ever be. It’s during these moments I realize that had I not “gotten” Lupus or struggled with Achalasia I think I would have just turned the channel, or just kept scrolling down my Newsfeed until a funny video caught my eye or a new recipe looked like something I should copy down. That my illnesses have made me more in tune to others. Their stories inspire me, some break my heart, some anger me and push me to join the cause. My illnesses opened up a world, one of compassion, understanding and strength. Continue reading

How Photography Helps Me

Bald Eagle

My friend the eagle

I’m not a professional photographer.  I’m a person, with a camera who happens to love taking photos of the things in my life that bring me joy or things I want to have to look at in the future.  Being ill with chronic illnesses is a full-time job. Swirling around me are doctor appointments, managing the phone calls reminding me of doctor appointments, invasive tests, pain, questions, medical bills, hospital visits, anger, wrong diagnosis, right diagnosis, trips to the pharmacy, insurance problems, explaining… lots and lots of explaining. This is along with living life as a wife, mother and grandparent trying to act like I’m just fine because everyone has an opinion, if you just keep your struggles or problems to yourself then you don’t have to listen to the well meaning loved ones constant suggestions or, sometimes their anger at you.  I don’t blame them, I understand that they love me, maybe they’re scared but trying to not act it, their life is affected too.  I know when they’re using my illness as a way to not take responsibility for bad or rude behavior or saying hurtful things as well.  I don’t care if I’m sick or 100% healthy, I have learned that if someone sees your weakness, and they know you don’t have the energy to fight, they will do and say things they’d probably never do or say if I wasn’t just too sick to take action. So, I take responsibility and suggest counseling for us.  But back to photography.

Bald Eagles

Working together

All that comes with being ill with “diagnosed conditions” which is somehow a must have for the majority of people to treat you with respect and honor your less than perfect ability to meet everyone’s needs, I found I needed something to quiet my mind and release this anger.  I’m not an angry person, I thought, but I sure have a lot stored up.  However, by getting my camera and disappearing to my favorite places to take a photo or two or 500 I regain a calm that allows me to forget the pain and all that I must handle and instead, enjoy my life. The only person I should look to, to save me or to help me is ME.  My attitude towards all I deal with is going to either make me an angry sick person with a pessimistic outlook on everything which I never liked being around, or is going to help me see that I’m not totally gone, useless, broken, hopeless and numb.  Rarely am I well enough lately to take these photo opportunities.  But, if ever I get the chance, I fight to do it because it reminds me of all the beauty around me. Continue reading

REMEMBERING My Family SAVED Me 💙

Source: My Family SAVED Me 💙

This is a post I wrote in 2015. About my sister and brother in law. I lost them both, my sister in January and my brother in law the year before. I never dreamed they’d be gone so soon. I never dreamed I would lose them. Family is forever though

Slowly to God I Turn

Something happens when words which form your thoughts and feelings are written down. They stay and don’t melt away like snow flakes or evaporate like rain, they stay.

These words I’ve written about illness, pain, situations I haven’t handled well have stayed here in my blog, to be revisited now and again. In doing so, I’ve learned a lot about myself. That I’m not the hopeful, faithful person I say I am. Instead, I’ve chosen to give negativity and the enemy my precious time and thought. I’ve not allowed the time and the room for healing of heart and understanding to take place. I closed a huge door and behind it I lived a sad, painful existence. Not noticing that the God I cried to was right there, with the answers and the love. No door holds God at bay, He’s there, but I have to realize I must look to Him instead of treading in this sea of self-pity and anger.

In the past 4 years, it seemed like I was under attack. I would mutter under my breath, “why does God want me to hurt like this?” Feeling all the losses and disappointments were some kind of punishment for not being a better person or because I’d broken some rule. But I never spoke TO God, I guess I thought telepathically He knew. I know God knows our hearts, He knows my thoughts before I think them and lately I’ve begun to turn to Him, honestly and with purpose I have begun to turn around and feel His presence in my quiet hours, and there are many quiet hours. My prayers I pray each day are filled with sincerity and aren’t prayers that are scripted with all the right words, spoken as if I was reading them from a book on Prayers Examples, as if there was such a book. Or nice quotes that have popped up on my Facebook news feed as if God is trying to reach me via Facebook, letting me know THIS is the prayer you should pray. I don’t think so.

All the situations, the disappointments with canceled appointments, mixups with doctors, nights sitting up in pain, days staring out this same window, that have manifested themselves in blog posts of negativity and complaints, that fell like rain into these posts and never evaporated. Instead they stained where they fell. They’ve stayed as a reminder of just how much I’ve not understood that God has been right there, patiently waiting for me to look to Him and to see that I have a purpose on this earth. I can choose to hate my illness and spend my days on earth in negativity or, I can understand that, just like the 40 years before I became ill I lived loving life and my Creator and lived wanting to be an example of His unconditional love. That maybe, just maybe these struggles were given me because I had the strength to carry them with Grace and most of all, with Faith. Faith that yes, I hurt and my life may seem like a daily struggle and sad, but rather it’s the life of a person who was created to be an example to others. The very title of this blog, Praise You in this Storm, had finally taken shape and sincerity.

Of course, from the looks of what I’ve written in previous posts, I am far from a person living my life with Grace and Faith. But for whatever reason, I’ve recently been in a constant dialogue with God, turning my thoughts around daily from the usual negative patterns to finally speaking to God and honestly feeling I want to enjoy this day and I’m so thankful I have it. I’ve started my days telling God, “Lord, today I seek you in all that I do and I thank you so much for this day.” It’s not some exercise in whether positive words and prayer can change the pain or take away the struggles. It’s an honest feeling I’ve gained that is more pure and true than anything I’ve felt.

These are victories, victories in gaining a purpose so much larger than being a good example to others. They are victories of finding myself again, that person who truly is thankful for all things. A person who wants others to see that although I have illnesses that have changed the person who was 20 years ago, but hasn’t changed the heart and core of the positive and helpful person I used to be. Yes, I took a lengthy detour and wasn’t a positive person. The smile that people always enjoyed seeing in me had faded but was coming back, is coming back.

life is a gift, no matter how it’s wrapped

Why has this happened? What profound event has opened my eyes to my truth of who I am and what I feel my purpose is? I can’t say, all I know is I’ve had many trials lately and I’m amazed I’m still able to smile, to laugh with people close to me. That life is a gift, no matter how it’s wrapped. That no matter how old I am, where I’m at in my life, my grandsons are watching me. I’m still an example. Not only to them, but to others who may feel as if they’ve no purpose, that maybe if they weren’t on this earth it would be better for everyone. No, it would be a huge loss, that being a person in pain isn’t a punishment, it’s not even a test, it’s a situation that no one is immune to so carry that pain with Faith. That pain proves I’m human, I’m fragile and that by my actions and words I can show others, who may be hurting, there is hope, that there will be better days, followed by tough days, and that living with pain requires strength. You have strengths. My strength I have found in the Lord.


This quote I’ve taken from a fellow blogger named Savannah. Her words on Faith and chronic Illness have taught me so much about positivity lately:

So today I set out with purpose, an unconscious knowledge that life is to be lived, and living to me means a positive journey given me by my Creator to either enjoy and learn from or to waste away the beautiful blessings that surround me. It is doable even as I struggle on days I can’t get out of bed or my brain just can’t get it together. That these are snippets of pain that can make or break me. Because when I come out of the fog of unrelenting pain, a blessing has always been waiting to hug and hold me and to make me smile.

I waited to write this, thinking I just had a good day or a fairly lighter stage of pain week. Of course I’m going to be all butterflies and blue birds singing. I’m not bent over the toilet throwing up. Of course I’ll be full of optimism so let’s hurry up and write this down and share it. But I know better than to write blog posts when I’m in an emotional high or low. I write in draft and wait days before deciding whether to publish it. However this realization has come on little by little and has stayed. I’ve been growing in the knowledge that I, Susie, am a Child of God, loved and cherished. It doesn’t matter if a doctor or a receptionist is rude, my goodness they see many people day in and day out in some form of suffering and it’s their job to fix them. What matters is I’m not defined by my illness so why do I allow it to ruin each day so easily that I stress at how people I don’t know react towards me. They don’t dislike me and want me ill, they don’t know me. Maybe they, themselves, have struggles I could only imagine. I walked into a recent appointment laughing, and left feeling as though I was a nobody, hurt, sad, quietly sitting in the passenger seat feeling no hope. Now that’s how strongly the enemy can turn a situation around so you begin to doubt your Loving God. Making a small situation into a negative reasoning that no one cares, not even God, and I might as well just give up. Oh not today, that is the time to fight the enemy and prove to yourself (that is who matters here) that what I read in my Bible is the word of God, and He will never leave nor forsake me. That is my truth and therefore I must turn it around. And so the journey begins again of faith by grace. By the way, laughter has the natural ability to release pain relieving endorphins. When I laugh, my soul is lifted. When I pray, my soul soars. I know tough days are ahead but knowing they are and dreading it to the point of paralyzing sadness or knowing they are and that I am created to be strong, that the troubles will pass, just pray, is what has changed me. I’m human, I will stumble and fall. But, I will get back up with the help of my Creator and all the people who love me and I love them. This blog post I will read again I’m sure, and hopefully it will remind me of my strength and how God is my Strength.

So worth it and God thank You for your patience and your guidance. You truly are the God of all Comfort.

Toughen Up Butter Cup! Achalasia, you’re The Dinner Guest that Never Left.

Since I’ve decided to journal via my blog, my journey through the maze of; diagnosis of an illness and the crazy ride after diagnosis you take, I seem to have taken myself seriously and actually written each day this week. I know that people probably won’t see the words I write. I understand I write for the purpose of getting out what festers in my brain that is full of “what if’s” and “how did this happen?” But it is actually helpful. Why didn’t I do this years ago through teenage angst or mid-life crisis?!!! Oh, because there wasn’t an Internet much less an iPhone with a WordPress App. Also, my ADD wouldn’t have allowed me 5 minutes of concentration to form my thoughts and write them down.

How I ever trained horses for so many years and worked in the high stress film and television industry I’ll never know. I stood up for myself and was a woman respected in a male dominated world. They were my friends as well as co-workers. Maybe it’s because we’re all from ranching communities where hard work and long hours were normal. I say all this because I used to be tough, tough enough to stand up for myself as long as I was kind and fair.

This week of frustration at the medical community, the surgeon, the mixups and my resulting “poor me, don’t they know I can’t swallow that delicious looking chicken noodle soup?!!” I have witnessed on the news unbelievable shock and sadness at the gunning down of innocent people doing innocent things. I’ve read a young family member’s posts about what it feels like after having her colon removed. Her bright attitude saying it is hard but she knows things will be better. And (I know you’re not supposed to start a sentence with AND) I have to say that life and the struggles that come are what you make it. I have been so totally immersed within a self-pity that would rival any Hollywood A Lister who didn’t get the table she requested at the best restaurant in the city.

I’m currently at a crossroads. I’ve been absolutely, concretely diagnosed with a swallowing disorder or rather, my esophagus is closed off at the bottom. I’m to have surgery but, by whom I don’t know because I was referred to a surgeon who’s specialty is GERD, therefore he thinks I have GERD and didn’t do the surgery. But did look in there and saw the problem and dilated it with a balloon and called it good. So I got upset, threw a tantrum in the presence of only my husband in between throwing up, and said “whaaaaaaa! What just happened?! I’m still sick! Do I go back to the doctors that diagnosed me and tell them, Hey I didn’t get that surgery you told me about but I did get some more endoscopies and a balloon!” Or, do I move on to a second opinion and hope whoever I find will look at my five endoscopic procedures and see the problem and get that surgery going?

Who knows what I’ll do. Because right now I’m thinking about people who struggle with things unimaginable. I’m an empathic person. I feel the pain of others in a way that I am not physically in the same pain but rather I hurt for them. I want them to be well, I want them to be happy. I don’t want to upset anyone, therefore I wouldn’t stand up to that surgeon during my first and only meeting with him when he was interrupting me. I wasn’t able to correctly communicate to him my symptoms because he’d interrupt me and say things like, “you mean your chest burns and you spit food up into your mouth?” No! My chest has never burned and I don’t “spit up,” I eat something then I begin to hurt horribly down between my breast bone, the pain gets intense, I end up throwing up. So, therefore where I was diagnosed with achalasia he didn’t agree, he was sure I felt burning in chest area and spit up acid. Leading to not getting the achalasia surgery. My inability to interrupt him back and tell him, “please give me a moment. No, what you are saying is not what I just said. I don’t doubt I have acid somewhere but, my problem is severe pain at BOTTOM of esophagus where it meets my stomach from the food or liquid trying to move through. It is getting worse. I feel like an elephant is sitting, not on my chest but right here, between my breast bone. I don’t have heartburn. I have taken heartburn’ medicine in case that was the problem and it made no difference. There is something that is mechanically wrong in this area, the area your colleagues identified as the bottom of my esophagus.” I didn’t get to say that to him. Because I didn’t want him to get mad at me. I didn’t want to “take up his precious time because good doctors like him are very busy and very important. Why that’s why I had to wait so long for this appointment! He’s the boss and I need to listen to him” Now how sick is that behavior?!

In retrospect I recognized that my inability to view my situation as it truly was, an important consultation to iron out all the things that must be done before surgery. To meet the surgeon I’d been matched up with. This was an important appointment, one that would set out, before me, the procedures and surgery that will ultimately give me back an important part of my life, my ability to eat and drink and not be in constant pain. But instead, I walked out of an office in the big city feeling like I’d just lost my momentum and hope. I went to the store, bought some heartburn medicine and went home. Sadly the medicine did nothing for my attacks.

What would follow is months of miscommunications, frustration, and me feeling like I’d never get this fixed because a surgeon changed my diagnosis and set me lose.

I’m sure, had I stood up for myself and brought the consultation back to my Achalasia diagnosis and the POEM surgery I would probably have had the surgery, maybe not. But I must take responsibility for my part in all this. I’m a sick, people pleasing, shy, woman who people don’t take seriously because I can’t say what I feel. What I feel is, I didn’t need numerous, repeated endoscopies within months of each other. I feel I was matched with a surgeon that does hundreds of endoscopies and surgeries, and doesn’t take the time to discuss before or after what he’s doing. I feel like a nice little market steer at the cattle auction, gate opens, I run in and around while the auctioneer hollers my worth, the gate opens back up and I’m ushered out to make room for the next cow.

And this is where I’ll leave this post, in quiet contemplation of my Achalasia, thinking about how my young friend is handling her illness with such grace and hope and thinking about how small me having Achalasia is in a world gone mad. Telling myself it’s time to stop beating up surgeons, doctors their clinics. It’s time to switch gears and discuss solutions instead of the self-pity I seem to love writing about.

I’ve completely forgot about how my Lupus affects me every day. This is good.