Refresh Your Hardships with a “First Day of School”

30 Aug

Remember the thrill of the first day of school? That new beginning? I won’t assume this was a positive experience for everyone, but for a lot of us, it was an exciting time. A clean slate, a fresh start. I had new sneakers, a new backpack, a new outfit that I would suffer through, because all my new clothes were fall clothes and it was still hot out, but I didn’t care. I wanted to look amazing. I wanted to make that perfect first impression.

I love new beginnings. It’s a time when I can reinvent myself, be that me I want so badly to be.

It’s that glorious time when I haven’t screwed up yet.

And I know a secret about beginnings. They can happen at any moment you want. This is why I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. I don’t want to wait until December 31 to make a decision to improve my life. I want to start tomorrow.

So I do.

Every day can be a new beginning. And with chronic pain, chronic illness, mental illness, or even just life, aren’t we always wanting things to be better?

Would a fresh start help you?

I’m now beginning my fourth week with the horrors of this herniated disc. The worst of which isn’t the pain, but what the pain is preventing me from doing, and that’s anything for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time besides lying down. Yes, that means I’m house-bound. That means I’m constantly panicking about how I’m going to manage traveling to all my speaking engagements this fall. The one I’ve done so far was pure hell.

I’m not getting better.

What I am getting, though, is better *at* being this.

My days are no longer assessed by the state of my physical body, but by my mindset on this state. Also, though, I am learning to do the things I need to do, and how that looks now. What must happen differently.

I’ve learned that I can stand at the sink longer to wash my dishes if I lean on my left elbow and hold whatever dish in my left hand while doing most of the movement with my right side. I’ve learned that if I lie down for ten minutes and come back to it, the water is still warm. I’ve learned to shorten my to-do lists to account for all the breaks I need to take in a day.

I’ve learned that when I read some motivational and spiritual books in the morning, it helps me fix up my brain to reject the pit of depression and focus on not just gratitude, but actively working on what I am able to do and give to the world in my current state, which is a lot.

The past two days, I did an obscene amount of wallowing. Today, I decided on a new beginning. You can bet your butt I did my morning reading, and it filled me with positive intention.

Eventually, this back thing I’m dealing with will get better, whether it works out with therapy, or I finally get the surgery. But my having a wrecked back is never going to end. My other conditions aren’t going away (well, maybe someday there will be a REAL cure for fibromyalgia). So I, like many others, can really only control one way of getting “better,” and that’s being better at having what I have, with adjustment, skills, and mostly, mindset.

And if I screw up at it today, I can start all over again tomorrow. Because waiting until January 1 is a total myth.

What does your new beginning look like? How would you like to be better at or feel better about what your going through? What can you do during your ideal day to go to bed knowing you knocked it out of the park?

Here are some ideas to try for your figurative “first day of school”:

  1. Do it now. I always say, if you don’t do it now, you’re never going to do it. Remember, if it doesn’t go perfectly, you can just decide the next day to have a new, new beginning. Also, keep in mind that other thing I always say: If you can’t do it right, do it wrong. Just … do it. OK, so tomorrow, then, all right?
  2. Remember — meditate on, even — everything you do have, and then go bigger: focus on what you can do, especially what you can give. Creativity and kindness are powerful forces for joy.
  3. Don’t “overpack.” That means your to-do list. Let’s be reasonable, people. (Don’t forget, the Impact Map can be super helpful.)
  4. Love yourself. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion in every moment. You are part of something greater than just you and the consequences of your being unkind to yourself overflow into the rest of the world. Self-care is remarkably unselfish.
  5. Get a new backpack — or your adult equivalent to an exciting new thing. No, you can’t buy yourself a new thing every day (or *can* you, you fortunate bugger?), but try to affirm one of your new beginning attemts by starting it with a new thing. It doesn’t even have to be an item you purchase. It could be rearranging the furniture in your living room, and I’ll just go ahead and make that number….


    I love my twinkle lights. This strand in my Word Studio died. Yesterday, knowing I needed to make today a new beginning, I made sure I finally hung the replacements I’d ordered.

  6. Change your surroundings somehow. Doesn’t have to be major. Trade lamps between rooms. Write yourself a nice little note on your bathroom mirror. Print out a photo from a favorite place and put it on your fridge.
  7. Start the day — and every day — doing something that you love, that gives you joy or peace. Get yourself in a good mood and remind yourself of your strength. You’ve been through a LOT and are still here, still trying for yourself (reading this is proof) so duh, remember that.
  8. Avoid negativity. That friend who’s always complaining. That video game that stresses you out. That fried chicken sandwich that wrecks your gut. Do everything you can to keep yourself in a realm of positivity. Turn off the news. See number. 4.
  9. Let go of the accumulation of what’s always been. In fact, just forget that, “It’s always been this way, so it will always be” mindset. Sure, your circumstances actually are the same, but you can start fresh with your new expertise with them. Wouldn’t it be cool to go back to high school knowing what you know now about life? Look at it like going back to your life knowing what you know now about your life. Those mistakes aren’t who you are anymore. That bumbling through the initial acceptance is done and over. You’ve got strength, knowledge, and skills now! That’s the way it’s going to be from now on!

I’m not promising this is all going to work and bring about some miracle. These are just ideas I have that I’m trying to do for myself, so maybe there’s something in here that you can take away to help make your life a little better. Or maybe you can just scoop it all up and become an instant superhero of your own life! That would be awesome! Then you can show me how it’s done!

Do you have ideas of your own? Please write them for us in the comments below.



4 thoughts on “Refresh Your Hardships with a “First Day of School”

  1. Right now I am fighting with all my might to avoid slipping into my Pit of Depression, because when I’m in there I’m stuck and unable to do *anything* until I get out again. I’ve been teetering on the brink for longer than I care to admit…but every day IS a new day…and a new beginning. 🙂

    What I have learnt is that I have more energy straight after breakfast in the morning, and that is when I do my dishes. If I don’t do my dishes every morning, they pile up and it gets harder and harder for me to actually tackle them. I never want to do the dishes, but I always feel proud as soon as they are done.

    Getting any chore done, no matter how small, is a big deal. Not feeling guilty for everything that I can’t do is also a big deal. Guilt is Depression’s favourite food, whereas pride of accomplishment is its anathema – so that’s how I’m avoiding falling in.

    I’m SO tired though – I’m constantly fighting against the urge to curl up in the foetal position, pull the covers over my head and just stay in bed! As I write this I’m at work, but my brain fog is making it extremely difficult for me to concentrate on what I should be doing. I’m counting down the hours until I can go home and climb into bed…until tomorrow….

    • I totally agree with the guilt versus reward of doing just a small (to other people) chore! Oh I do hope your fog, fatigue, and lingering depression ease up soon. You’re fighting so well!

  2. Pingback: Get Out of the Gallery and Into the Studio - Christina Irene | Christina Irene

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *