4 Ways I Reset My Optimism During a Flare

26 Apr

I’ve finished a marathon. In the last 12 weeks, I spoke in 5 states: at 11 college campuses and 1 Native pueblo. I debuted a brand new program and customized existing programs for unique audiences, like non-native-English speakers and veterans. I traveled to 3 foreign countries … for fun! I began my first term as an elected official. I made a TV appearance. I tried 3 new martial arts styles (eskrima is awesome!). I performed 3 comedy shows, hit 4 open mics with new material. And I published my first book!

It’s been a dream. I’ve had so much fun and such great support for my work. Splat is getting out into the world at last. Life is just grand.

Through it all, though, I’ve brought along my 5 diagnoses: fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, irritable bowel syndrome. And yes, I quit folding the IBS under my fibro umbrella. I was first diagnosed in college. It’s been awful lately. It gets it’s own space within the commas.

My 5 diagnoses are terrible travel companions. They are the levity in my dream life. They are the literal pain of typing this.

I’m super proud of myself for still doing it all and doing it successfully despite my obstacles. If you’ve been following along in my blog, you know I had my tough times. If you have your own chronic conditions, you can imagine.

This past Tuesday, I hit a real low point. I was on the home stretch, but I wanted nothing more than to be in a ball in my hotel bed and watch whatever USA Network was marathoning that day. Giving up is not a thing I do, though. Plus, I had 2 speaking programs that day.

I started talking to God. I’m not going to make this blog about faith, but I wanted to give you the context of how I just began talking through things. Once this talk got up and running, I found my way out of that desire to be a ball. I got myself actually feeling better. These are the 4 things I did:

1. I talked through the losses.

Yes, I was speaking out loud. To God. But it kind of ended up just being self-talk. I was talking to me, giving myself assurances. So you don’t need to be a spiritual person for this to work. Just start talking.

I asked myself, What am I upset about? What’s bothering me? Well, I’m missing out on a lot of things because of my conditions. What specifically? And what would it look like if I could do/have these things? I drove past a couple wineries today, and I would have loved to stop. One had fudge. I could totally go for some fresh peanut butter fudge. Then again, I’ve been to wineries, done tastings, and when I’m alone, they’re not actually that magical. I might make small talk with the person there. Might taste something good. Probably will spend money on something. It’s really not super special. And I’ve had fudge before. I know it’s good. If I had some today, it’d be gone in a couple bites and then just be a memory … one I already have. I don’t need it.

Each thing I felt I was depriving myself of, I talked through similarly, and by the end, I didn’t feel deprived. I instead felt gratitude for past experiences and optimism for future experiences.

2. I returned to my own philosophy.

The philosophy I specifically went to this day was: If you can’t do it right, do it wrong.

OK, so I didn’t feel well enough to do one of the fancy hotel room workouts I saved on Pinterest, but I could do like 4 yoga poses. I totally did it wrong, but I did something, and that was awesome. I brainstormed other things I wanted to do and could do “wrong.” I got partially caught up on my expenses. I decided to write just one paragraph for my novel. I didn’t worry a bit about my presentations, because even when I mess up, they go great!

3. I stood up and I drank water.

What a magical little bump in energy this is. When you’re just lying there, feeling pinned and paralyzed, stand up. And we never drink enough water, so chug some of nature’s best medicine.


4. I invented an on-the-fly Impact Map variant.

I don’t always do Impact Maps on the road because there’s all the driving, and then the main thing I need to do is my presentation. Usually I crash right after, each day. I pointedly don’t bring along to-do lists. On this trip, I was actually in the same hotel 3 nights in a row, so it was logical to try to get some things done. So I drew a line down the center of a page in my notebook – top to bottom. I labeled the left column “MUST” and the right “WANT.” I listed all the things I absolutely had to get done, including presenting each of the 2 programs, and then I listed all the things I could possibly do. And I went to work. I got the “must” things done and then I tried to do as many of the “want” things as I could. No priority, no order, just picking one, doing it, then picking the next. I actually got 6 out of 9 done! And it didn’t feel like a failure that those 3 things didn’t get done because they weren’t “musts.”

I think I might use this idea as a permanent spin-off for the Impact Map. Like, always have the “must” and “want” columns, then on my Impact Map do something like so:

  • moped/Eurocar/sedan day: Do all the musts and all the wants.
  • pickup truck/tractor trailer day: Do all the musts and half the wants.
  • freight train/asteroid day: Do only the musts.

So I got a couple great tools from a terrible morning. I got this “reset” sequence of the 4 things to do –which actually works!!! – and I got a cool new method to use with Splat.

And I showed myself once again, and get to show you in a new way, proof of the gifts that come from our worst times.


3 thoughts on “4 Ways I Reset My Optimism During a Flare

  1. On my best day, I can do all the musts and one or two wants. Maybe. By the time I get to pickup truck, half the musts are undone and I might get one want out of it. You might want to keep that in mind as you write about your system – which I do love, it’s such an easy way to communicate how functional I am at any given time. Note I said “any given time”. My splatiness can change at any time, I cannot ever count on a whole day being what passes for good for me. And it all seems kinda logarithmic. You can do far more on a freight train day than I can on a pickup truck day. There’s no way I could go on any kind of trip like you’ve been on, for example.

    Just some thoughts. I love your system. I just want you to realize that your level of functionality on your worst days is better than mine – not quite on my best days, but certainly better than my sedan days.


    • Yeah, I’m very fortunate in the realm of Splatties as far as what I can do. And you’re right. My freight train day is not the same as someone else’s. Also, I try to convey, when I’m presenting, that just because 2 people have the same diagnoses, doesn’t mean they feel the same. I have a milder case of fibro. The pain symptoms usually aren’t nearly what other people describe. I need to communicate this so others with my condition retain their credibility.

      My Splatus typically doesn’t vary much within a day, but sometimes does. Yes, I want to continue developing my systems and do more with what happens as one’s Splatus changes during the day.

      Splat is a living, growing thing. Your feedback, Holly, helps that growth so much. Thank you!!

  2. Pingback: Creatively Overcoming Mental Health Effects of Chronic Pain - Christina Irene | Christina Irene

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