“She had learned the lesson of renunciation and was as familiar with the wreck of each day’s wishes as with the diurnal setting of the sun.”
~ Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge
“Success is when everything that goes wrong, fits in your plan.”
~ Gary Rudz
When I was diagnosed, finally, with Lyme disease, back in January 2013, we did a lot of shuffling of plans. A much-looked-forward-to holiday was called off. I cancelled workshops and retreats. My clever PA began adding a footnote to each appointment she made for me, letting people know that I was being treated for Lyme and that I may need to reschedule their session at short notice, depending upon my health on the day.
I’ve had to do a lot of that anyway, in my adult life. Cancel things. Say no. Pull out at the last minute. Always because of unreliable health. Too often that has made me the unreliable friend, family member, or neighbour. The only area I have managed to be mostly reliable has been work. But doing that has meant creating a business where I can work from home, part-time, and where everything else suffers so that I can get that work done.
Sure I’ve gone ahead sometimes and done the thing, but too often afterwards I’ve paid the price. An afternoon of socialising might mean three days of crippling exhaustion. A few hours of gardening could leave me flat out for the rest of the week.
“Gee Nicole,” a friend said once, frustrated at my lack of energy, “we all get tired.” Yes, we do. But Lyme tired is something else. Lyme tired is truly chronic fatigue. Lyme tired is neurological fatigue, as well as physical. It’s the kind of tired where after just a few hours work I am in bed by seven and asleep by ten past. And that’s on a good day. :) Lyme tired is the kind of tired where I can struggle with basic daily living – like showering and dressing, holding a conversation, preparing a meal or attending to the simplest kinds of housework. The kind of tired where my arm stops working, or my eye starts twitching, or my brain goes on strike.
My exhaustion is an ocean, under the influence of some great unseen force. Sometimes it recedes, leaving a gleaming bright shore of possibility. I get stretches where I can do so much more, and I settle in to that as my new normal. But then the tide comes back, and I find myself with a smaller and smaller window of available time where my brain works, or my body works and I can get things done.
To be honest, I’d hoped that this far into my Lyme treatment, an aggressive protocol of drugs and herbs, that I would have been back to much more glorious planning again by now. That I would be saying ‘yes’ more often, and ‘no’ much less.
But as I’ve travelled this road I’ve come to realise that there’s still so far to go. I might be in this hazy half-life place for a while yet.
So, I’ve gotten smarter.
Now I make plans EXPECTING to be tired. I create my business around what I can do on a bad day, or an average week, rather than what I might be able to do if I had a sudden upsurge in energy or was miraculously well again. I plan socialising around my best times (mornings), or for early nights.
I am planning my whole future around having a flat battery.
It’s not pessimistic. I fully intend to get back to well. Or as well as it is possible to be, for me. But oh how it takes the pressure off, knowing that I am catering for low energy, or sudden patches of incapacity.
Anyway, my heart is on the way to being completely normal, and I have my brain back. There is no longer an imminent threat of dying. I can write and think and dream again. And I’ve always been able to do psychic work – no matter how ill I’ve been. That’s a gift that comes through me, and it’s never influenced by my health. In fact, it has often been the thing which has energised me and kept me going during my darker days. So, planning is possible. As long as my plans make space for down-time, disaster and the unexpected.
I even changed my whole business model, so that I can run an ever-expanding enterprise from bed, on a few average health days a week. Imagine how much lovely free time that will give me as I move back towards well. Imagine how much writing I will be able to get done. How much living. That’s exciting for me!
Maybe you don’t have lyme, or some other kind of incapacitating situation in your life, but I can guarantee you that making plans based on reduced energy and reduced input isn’t a bad thing. Instead it’s a plan for life that makes room for life. It’s about designing a life where there is space for you to grow, to heal, to love, to change your mind, to move in new directions, to spend the afternoon napping, or with your lover, or catching a series of perfect waves.
I’m all for planning. Planning moves us purposefully in a direction of our choosing. It enables us to be effective with the use of our time and resources. It helps us to actively design our lives.
But I am also for living honestly, and being realistic about what’s on our plates. I am also for being kind to ourselves. I am all for making room to breathe rather than heaping responsibility, duty and endless tasks upon us.
What kind of plans have you made in your life?
Have you crammed so much in that there is no room for downtime, rest or fun?
Lyme has proved to be a wise teacher for me. I hope that by sharing my story, it also helps you to be kinder to yourself, to be more trusting of the process of life, to focus on your most important priorities and still leave space.
All sorts of miracles and wonderments can happen when we leave enough space for them. It’s not up to us to have to fill in all the blanks. Where would be the magic in that?
Much love to you, Nicole xx