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:

Click to access 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!

 

 

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

Too Much Tuesday: Too Much Stuff

To the tune of “Three Blind Mice”

 

Too much stuff, too much stuff,

More than enough, more than enough.

It’s out of the closets and filling our space;

It’s growing and spilling all over the place;

We’re tripping all over, a terrible case

of too much stuff.

 

Too much stuff, too much stuff,

More than enough, more than enough.

The piles are staring us in the face;

They multiply at an alarming pace;

And soon we’ll be buried without a trace

in too much stuff.

 

Too much stuff, too much stuff,

More than enough, more than enough.

It isn’t easy to run the race,

With all this stuff slowing down the pace;

I think I need some additional grace

for too much stuff.

 

Marjorie Morrison shared via Elisabeth Elliot on “Gateway to Joy” over a decade ago.

 

 

 

I Must Decrease

Source: I must decrease

Back to Basics: A Simple Prayer for Strength

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on developing a flexible routine that tries to accomplish both routine household maintenance (including administrative tasks) and the necessary self care chronic illness requires. I have made more progress than I have in previous years–where I set my sights way too high and then crashed and burned–but I’ve been struggling with my old foe perfectionism and what I “should” be able to get done. Thankfully my therapist provided a much-needed perspective last week by reminding me that my overachieving personality was creeping back in as I was feeling better and so when I had some not-feeling-so-well days I was being too harsh with myself.

As a result, over the past several days I was able to be both more flexible on a daily basis and yet more productive 0ver the course of the weekend and beginning of this week. Of course I also asked for help when needed! I now am giving myself credit for what gets done and am not beating myself up for all that remains to be done, especially as I remained physically and mentally stable through a family member’s out of town birthday celebration.

Now as this week gets underway I’m rereading the chapters on simplifying one’s weekly and daily schedules in Marcia Ramsland’s book from which I’ve been sharing these Back to Basic posts’ prayers. As she points out, we need to organize our time both horizontally (“looking forward to the week and the month ahead to pace your schedule and energy accordingly”) and vertically (“accomplishing the day’s tasks in a time sequence from morning until night”). Marcia also says, “The key to successful time management is evaluating your time from both angles. When you plan horizontally and vertically, you control your schedule, rather than allowing life’s events to control you. Being proactive rather than reactive is a wonderful way to live.” I can personally attest to the truth of this statement from a lack of doing this for decades! She also advises “only plan up to 70% of your time with a 30% time cushion for the unexpected.”

Finally, whether or now we have less energy due to chronic illness we all need down time, transition time, and unscheduled time to handle the fact that Life is what happens to us while we’re making other plans” (Allen Saunders, Reader’s Digest 1957 but also slightly modified in John Lennon’s song “Beautiful Boy”). 

Here’s the corresponding prayer for this topic:

“Dear God,

You know my life, and You know how much I can handle in a day. Please help me to organize my time so I can accomplish all that is in front of me. Gently remind me in stressful times to quiet my heart with a quick prayer so I can draw upon Your great strength to help me. Amen.”

Marcia Ramsland, Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay That Way!

organizingpro.com

 

 

The Power of 15

The following post on the power of 15 minutes is one I could have written myself. For those who don’t read comments, here’s what I had to add. I’ve found another thing that works well with using this approach is to take a quick pic of the area(s) I’m working on before and after the 15 minutes. Seeing the difference I can make in this concrete way really helps motivate me to keep on going with this “one bite at a time” approach. Additionally, using a timer–(I like the Time Timer app for my phone–http://www.timetimer.com/)–is helpful in making these 15 minutes happen for me. I need help both in starting and stopping! 

https://unclutterer.com/2015/08/24/the-power-in-15-minutes/

 

 

 

 

 

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