The Seatbelt Sign is On

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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  1. Rick Phillips on May 28, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    J.G. I think self-care is so important. I also think that it is ok to press if we know we are doing it. I am ok sacrificing feel well, for some opportunities or to help others. I hate it however when I do it and do not even know I am doing it.

    • J.G. Chayko on June 4, 2017 at 12:31 pm

      I agree. Self-care should always be number one, however, sometimes it gets lost in the wonderful chaos of my life and I’m okay with that – because I know I can always find my way back. Wishing you well. X

  2. Tracy on May 29, 2017 at 8:51 am

    Its funny how our brain tricks us, then bang – here have a flare! We all do it, but sometimes what we do can be worth the pain just to be able to smell the roses!

    • J.G. Chayko on June 4, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      I agree. We have to live life in spite of chronic illness. I will always do what is necessary to “smell the roses”. Thanks for coming by. Stay well.

  3. phat50chick on May 29, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Amen. Perhaps it’s a trademark of many of us RA patients. We used to work hard and play hard and now in our new normal we still have moments of working hard and playing hard. I’m still happiest when I’m going at a fast pace. Can’t do it at all anymore….sure wish I could

    • J.G. Chayko on June 4, 2017 at 12:35 pm

      I love getting lost in my projects but I can’t do as much as I used to. My brain is often ahead of my body and it’s a challenge to keep up. But I’m going to continue living the best way I can, including those mellow moments 😊 Hope all is well with you. ❤

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About me

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.