Getting Things Done with Chronic Illness: Lupus edition

Today’s reblogged post is written by someone who knows the ropes when it comes to managing her lupus. Thanks to Sara Gorman’s innovative, comprehensive approach–detailed in her outstanding book, Despite Lupus: How to Live Well with a Chronic Illness (my all-time favorite book on living with chronic illness)–she has been able, over the years of learning to live with lupus, to write a book, blog (Despite Lupus), have two children, and start a home-based business related to her lifestyle (Sara Gorman’s Pillbags). Despite what you might think, she’s no superwoman but rather an extremely realistic person who has accepted her limits and learned how to manage her health so that it supports her life’s priorities, all one step at a time. I thought this post might appeal to my readers who are chronically ill and/or are writers who are chronically struggling with finding time to write.

http://despitelupus.blogspot.com/2016/04/finding-time-to-manage-lupus-just-put.html

More on a Rule of Life

Here is another helpful description of what a Rule is and isn’t:

A rule of life allows us to clarify our deepest values, our most important relationships, our most authentic hopes and dreams, our most meaningful work, our highest priorities. It allows us to live with intention and purpose in the present moment…creating a list of rules to follow is not the intention of a rule of life…

It is not something fixed and rigid, but something which can and should be adapted to our present circumstances and shaped to fit our current needs and desires…

Like any spiritual discipline, adopting a rule should help you to live more faithfully. It is a tool to aid you in living a rich and meaningful life. Designing a rule is not an end to itself, but rather a means to an end: namely, to live our lives for God with purpose and intention.

Br. David Vryhof, Living Intentionally: A Workbook for Creating a Personal Rule of Life, available as a free PDF download at:

http://ssje.org/5.pdf/cowleypdf/2011%20Summer%20Insert.pdf

 

What Exactly is a Rule of Life?

For starters, let me say that it’s not about a schedule; it’s about a flexible routine that enables you to create stability, both spiritually and personally in your vocation. Here are my favorite definitions. The best, in my opinion, is the first and shortest, as it captures the traditional essence of a Rule.

A Rule is most often a chosen daily pattern of life and is arranged so that there area particular moments in the day when certain things are done.

Corinne Ware, St. Benedict on the Freeway

The second is much more comprehensive and deals with the underlying motivation as well as reminding us the Rule’s focus is the essential responsibilities of one’s vocation in any particular season of life.

A Rule of Life is not just  a schedule, not just a collection of activities organized into a set pattern for repetition. A rule is an organization of everything that has to do with your vocation, based on a hierarchy of the priorities that define the vocation and done with the intent to please God. It deals with the essential responsibilities of your state of life, organized to ensure their fulfillment.

Holly Pierlot, A Mother’s Rule of Life

Hopefully these will have provided some clarity about what it is I and many others are doing when we say we are trying to live by a Rule. More

Living with a Rule of Life

Eleven years ago–in my continuing saga to learn to live in the present moment–I read and tried to implement a rule of life. Ultimately I was unsuccessful at sticking to one and became frustrated with my search for greater spiritual and personal stability. Over the years as I tried rebooting my attempts I used two very different resources on this subject;  unfortunately neither one provided me with the ability to create something that I could stick to for the long haul.

I’ve come to finally realize that it was probably not in any way due to the books being inadequate but rather a result of the combination of my ADHD and OCD tendencies, in addition to deep-seated perfectionism, and, probably most significantly, an extremely challenging season of life that included multiple chronic health issues that sabotaged my attempts. Now that my health is improving I am optimistically embarking on a reboot of a rule and have decided that it has a greater chance of sticking if I share it here and therefore insure some measure of accountability!

My primary resources for developing a rule are those two books that have helped me in one way or another over the past decade. While I don’t agree with everything the authors have written I’ve gleaned what makes sense to me and feel both books have more content that is worthwhile than not.

The first book I read was one devoted exclusively to the subject, Holly Pierlot’s A Mother’s Rule of Life:

http://www.amazon.com/Mothers-Rule-Life-Bring-Order-ebook/dp/B005D9IDZ2/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1459767168&sr=1-1

The second and ultimately most helpful was Jane Tomaine’s St. Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living:

http://www.amazon.com/St-Benedicts-Toolbox-Everyday-Benedictine-ebook/dp/B010EINBZS/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1459767086&sr=1-1

This book was greatly expanded and revised last summer so a few months ago I treated myself and was not disappointed. What was already an exceptionally good book was made even more outstanding and although it has only one chapter specifically devoted to developing one’s rule it is packed with helpful insights and practical instruction.

So, gentle reader, join me as I share my ongoing journey of developing and living by a rule of life–all for the glory of God!

 

 

Coffee and Canticles

In my last post I referred you to Daria Sockey’s excellent blog post, “Breviary Bootcamp.” However, I should have mentioned that her entire blog is a unique resource for anyone interested in learning more about the Liturgy of the Hours, from novice to veteran. Her site has a few posts that are helpful overviews to various aspects of the Divine Office (a.k.a. the Liturgy of the Hours) plus the five years of  engaging posts and the lively comments provide a treasure trove of valuable information. You can find Daria’s conversation about praying with the Church, known as Coffee and Canticles, here:

http://dariasockey.blogspot.com

 

Praying with the Church

Have you heard of the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours as it’s also known? If not you are in for a pleasant surprise. Many lay Christians in the Catholic Church and liturgical faith communities as well as other believers have been discovering this public prayer of the church–normally associated with the clergy–that stretches backwards across centuries of the faithful and around the globe to join a great host of brothers and sisters in Christ. One of its beauties is that it can be prayed privately or in conjunction with fellow believers. Rather than try to explain it in detail here I commend to you the excellent and accessible slim volume on the subject, The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, by Daria Sockey.

http://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Catholics-Guide-Liturgy-Hours-ebook/dp/B00BSI816S/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1459421181&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=everyday+catholic%27s+guide+to+the+liturgy+of+hours

Additionally, should you just want an overview of the Liturgy of the Hours or start praying them, Daria has written an extended blog post called Breviary Boot Camp that is a terrific tool for throwing yourself into the Divine Office prayers–if you read about them and discover you are so inclined.

http://dariasockey.blogspot.com/p/breviary-bootcamp.html

For me, a previous participant in these prayers who eventually fell out of using them and then came back several years later, they have been serendipitous in helping my faith journey stay on course during some tough times over the past few months. Now that things are looking up I am addicted to continuing them as I can’t imagine trying to get through my day without their help. If you’re curious about the idea of praying the Psalms and other Scriptures regularly you should read Daria’s post and consider diving right in.

Finally, there’s a wonderful website you can use to get started without any outlay of cash. It provides the prayers in either visual or audio form and you don’t have to figure out where in the cycle of prayers you should be on any given day as the work has already been done for you. It is also available for purchase as an app for iOS, Mac OS10 Lion, Android, Kindle and Nook platforms.

http://divineoffice.org

If any of this sounds intriguing I encourage you to check it out. And remember: you don’t have to pray all the hours. You may be a Night Prayer user as my family and I were when our son was much younger and this was part of our family’s prayer routine. Or you may switch things up daily and pray whatever hour or hours that work for you that day. The beauty is that you can’t fail to benefit from whatever you pray in conjunction with believers all over the world, however that looks for you. No doubt if you become devoted to it your practice will change with the ebb and flow of the seasons of your life.

But no matter whether you stick to it faithfully or go on sabbatical you will always find it there waiting for you to pick up and be refreshed. Peace be with you as you draw closer to the Lord Jesus through the prayer of His Word.

Writers’ Wednesday

She didn’t know what she could write. She just knew that she had to. Not writing at various periods in her life meant that something was seriously wrong. Not wrong as in things were difficult; after all, things usually were difficult. But something was wrong with her. Because when she wrote she coped, she functioned as the more or less best version of herself–the good and the bad all mixed together but with the good predominating the majority of the time.

But when she didn’t write bad things happened. Not so much to her–usually what drove her to the quiet desperation in which she sought solace in anything other than the written word, oddly enough, was the bad things for which she was ill-prepared, to cope with–but in her. She ceased to be herself, a person whose most cherished moments in life featured a preponderance of books in one form or another, often reliving certain sensations brought by her childhood or adult favorites over and over, so that they became as real as real life. After all, it was real–her love of books and her need to surround herself with their assorted treasures, be they profound stories or pertinent information on topics of interest.

And it was her life–or at least an important part of it anyway. Just how much a part of it even she might not ever fully realize without the very physical presence of the growing collection of volumes that sprawled throughout her home…

January 2011

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