The turbulence of our lives is always undulating beneath the surface. Every couple of months my life speeds up like a plane racing along the runway towards take-off. Every year there’s a bout of family celebrations, holidays, weddings, work, rehearsals, performance, vacation and work deadlines. My busy times come in waves and, most of the time, I bodysurf along their stimulating whitecaps until I hit the sand.
The hitch in these frenetic times is that I forget about taking care of me. I forget that I don’t have the stamina I once had; I forget that RA is always bubbling beneath the surface, just waiting for the opportune moment to remind me when I’ve pushed too long and too hard. It is those moments when I recklessly race forward without putting on my seatbelt that RA steps up and throws that cloak of fatigue over my windshield, putting a sudden stop to my productive life, slamming my body into an airbag.
My fast and furious life can throw me off my routine – I fall of the wagon of regular exercise, I don’t sleep as much, and I forget to take my medication. Three meals a day become one, padded with handfuls of popcorn, and avocado rolls from Sushi restaurants on the road, cups of coffee and sips of bourbon before bed. Nights blend into mornings, I race from one thing to another, forgetting about self-care and all its benefits, until a sudden flare in the midst of my busy week reminds me that I always carry the weight of chronic illness.
It’s cyclical in nature, the rotation of my life as I know it. And since I know it so well, and my own familiar habits that accompany my busy times, I should know to be conscious of finding those self-care moments in between – moments of repose in the midst of the wildness, lingering bubble baths, afternoons on the deck, evening strolls beneath the stars, a late night film, and a lazy brunch. A moment to write something down, a moment to stop and listen to the leaves whispering to the breeze, a moment to sip a hot cup of tea in the middle of the afternoon, and a moment to stop and smell the roses.
When I pay attention to all the little things in my life, I restore a wellness and serenity that is often lost in the rush of our modern world. I can take a moment to breathe, to give some devotion to the things that matter. And I can find days like today, sitting on the patio under a summer sky writing about all those moments I didn’t have time for – until I did.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.