First, before we get to this week’s change, I just have to say: how are we possibly only on #44? It feels more like 74. Is there room for negotiation? Could we call it 50, at least? No?
Good Lord, you people are unrelenting. Always trying to hold me to my word.
Anyway, back to business. Friends, a funny thing happened to me this past week. I had in mind a change to make but the universe, as it sometimes does, had other plans. A different approach emerged. And what struck me as most interesting about this change is that I think it was the direct result of my last two changes – advocating for myself and getting ahead of the game. Like, change begetting change. Yeah. Take a moment to let that sink in. Dag!
As a result of advocating for the right medical treatment and proper adjustments from both my physician and my orthodontist, I experienced a rather sudden and significant reduction in pain. I mean, less pain than I remember being in well over a year. It was weird, frankly. In accordance, I also experienced a sudden uptick in both energy and enthusiasm, a lifting of the mild physical and emotional “depression” – for lack of a better word – that I’m used to having as my baseline.
As a result of the other change – getting ahead of the game – I had so much of my Christmas stuff done, I wasn’t bogged down with To Do lists, nor was I freakin’ out or stressin’ about obligations. Instead, I found myself with the rare combination of a lot of time on my hands plus the energy – and the desire – to do things. To get stuff done. To participate more fully in my life. And while it may be the most boring change of mine you read about to date, the combination inspired me to spend seven days – assuming the relief would last that long – simply making the most of it.
So I did. Boy, did I. I found myself ready and willing to do all the things I wish I felt like doing the rest of the time. However, I got off to a bit of a slow start. Like so many who are granted superpowers, I didn’t know how to use mine in the beginning. I was over-eager, clumsy and unfocused. I rushed into getting organized, making something, getting things done. I proceeded with hubris.
The first thing I decided to get done was building myself a fire, just the sort of thing I wouldn't bother doing under normal circumstances -- not worth the energy. This required bringing in firewood, a task I'd normally leave to my husband. Except he was out of town. So what? I felt strong and capable! Confident! I could do it myself! Except...I tried to bring in too much wood at one time with one arm, while also trying to close the door with the other hand. I promptly dropped four logs on my foot, all of it somehow landing on the same toe.
My toe swelled up like a small plum and was excruciating to walk on. I assumed it was broken. I felt like I was losing a day, but damn if I didn’t feel good while I was lazing around. In fact, I was impatient, itching to do things. So when Day Two rolled around and my toe had returned to somewhat normal size and appeared not to be broken, I was able to get a pair of shoes on and get to work. A little more carefully, this time.
And then, you know what I did? Things! I did things. I made things. I hung out with people without wishing I were home with an ice pack on my neck. I entertained. I sewed. I knitted. Here, for your edification, are some of the things I did. (Warning: your sense of wonder and amazement over these items is not guaranteed. In fact, it’s not really likely.)
- Met friends for dinner and donuts, in that order.
- Shopped for cookie-making ingredients and supplies at Meijer on a busy Saturday afternoon, without wanting to kill anyone at the stores. No, really!
- Made a homemade melty, rich dark chocolate sauce. Took said chocolate sauce to a friend’s house for dinner. That’s two nights in a row of socializing.
- Planned a dinner party for some special ladies in my life and drove all over creation picking up this ‘n that, that ‘n this in preparation.
- Spent an entire day making and decorating Christmas cookies with friends. Mixing, stirring, rollin’ out some dough. Decorating. Talking. Laughing. (I never make Christmas cookies! Also, while we’re counting, that’s three days in a row of hanging out with other people.)
- Worked out without even whining too much about it.
- Learned how to make peppermint stick ice cream for the aforementioned dinner party and loved every minute of it.
- Decorated my house for Christmas. Usually this involves the bare minimum – dragging my little silver Charlie Brown tree from the basement and hanging a few ornaments on it. This time, I did my mantle, took more care with the tree, put together a centerpiece for my table.
- Cleaned the heck out of the house for said party. (Okay, fine, Chris did the bathroom, but he’s better at it than me!)
- Wrapped, packed and shipped off Christmas presents to relatives in Scotland – to arrive in time for Christmas.
- Decided that what the dinner party really needed was a festive table runner. Dusted off the sewing machine for the first time in more than a year, dug up a few scraps of holiday fabric and in an hour or so whipped up a passable version! Who. Am. I?
- Enjoyed said party! Laughed my ass off for hours with women who mean the world to me and to whom I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude. To have the energy to give back, even in a small way like that, was the high point of my week.
- Sat down in front of a roaring fire with a big mug of tea and got all my Christmas cards written and mailed.
- Saw some more friends and was so energetic and upbeat, I think I actually annoyed them with what I would be like if I didn’t have pain. They had no idea what to do with me! Awesome.
- Made jam. Lots and lots of cherry jam. Screwed up some batches. Didn’t flip out about it. Kept going. Triumphed.
- Bought stuff to make more jam, because I am a jam-makin’ fool.
Then…another funny thing happened. After precisely seven days, I awoke in pain, feeling hit by a truck once again, exhausted and drained. It probably shouldn’t have been surprising, considering everything I’d done the past week. In addition, I’d been to the orthodontist and had some new equipment installed that was messing with my sleep and triggering more pain.
Still, I felt a bit like Cinderella the day after the ball. I mean, I knew this crazy burst of what I imagine is normalcy for some people – but felt like fantasy to me – wasn’t going to last. After all, wasn’t that the whole impetus for trying to make the most of it – the understanding that feeling this way was temporary?
I couldn’t help feeling a bit disappointed, because some part of me had secretly hoped that it might last longer. Maybe even, like, forever longer.
I suppose I could cry like a baby over the loss of Energetic Me. Instead, building on this week’s change, I’m trying to make the most of having had that week. I’m trying to be hopeful that perhaps there’ll come a time when I live like that, a person out in the world, fog cleared, no weight dragging me down.
Maybe even just a few days, every once in a while.
I think even my friends could handle that.