Friday, May 2, 2008

Fallen Rose Petals

I do not often write about my illness, as I am usually trying to distract myself from experiencing the constant pain that my body is forced to combat each day.  It is a daily battle for me.  I try to view it as something from which I am supposed to be learning.  Only there are truly days when I just want to cut school!

During the past several years, I have learned to live life at a much slower pace.  I was one of those Moms who was always running her children around from here to there.  I volunteered as a Room Mom in all of their classrooms and organized activities along with their teachers.  I went on every field trip, attended every assembly and assisted their teachers in any way that I could, usually with a baby or two on my hip.  I was the consummate Super Mom.  There was no stopping me from saying "Yes" to everything that I was asked to do.  

After all of my angels were in school, I felt "called" to our local hospital to volunteer as a Spiritual Care Counselor.  I was able to put my Psychology degree to work in a setting which allowed me the freedom to tend to people on not only an emotional level, but on a soul level, as well.  I felt like I was in the right place at the right time.  I suppose that is why I felt that my work at the hospital was a "calling" and not just another way to be of service.  Motherhood was my first calling and the direction that spiritual care was taking me in felt like a natural extension of that.

When I became ill, I had to learn to say no rather quickly.  I had to say no so that I could say yes to doctor's appointments, blood-work, having a core-biopsy taken from the bone-marrow inside of my hip and having MRI's which told the story of a sadly congenitally damaged spine.  Fused vertebrae, scoliosis, cervical stenosis, and a couple of herniated discs.  The main support system of my body was crumbling right before my eyes.  The fibromyalgia only aggravated my spinal conditions to the point that my entire body throbbed with pain.  I had to make some very quick and drastic changes.  I had to learn to say yes to myself.

Fibromyalgia can drain the life-force out of you.  It is debilitating in the way that only someone who lives with a chronic illness can understand.  If you do not listen to the "voice" of your illness, it will manage to get your attention in another way.  If you have never heard your body scream, you are a very lucky person.

So why the pictures of beautiful roses on a post where I am discussing the severity of my illness?  
Because I am learning from and listening to my body.  I am not always perfect at it and there are days when I rebel and try to pretend that I can do more than I really should, but for the most part, the pace of my life has slowed down.  I am learning, day by day, to stop and smell the roses.

Grammie Hoffman asked me if I would have been a working Mom had I not gotten ill with Fibromyalgia.  The answer to that question is an absolute no.  When Mark and I decided to become parents, we also decided that I would stay home with them.  There was never a question in my mind about being at home with my children.  I viewed them as my full-time job.  Mark, being the fully devoted husband and father that he is, worked his butt off so that I would be able to work my butt off raising our children.  We created a little cocoon of six in which our children could be nurtured and loved.  My only plans for when our girls got older and were all in school, were to utilize my time volunteering and starting a philanthropic foundation.  If I had not become ill, I still would have remained a professional Momma until all of my angels were out of the nest.  Fortunately, the one thing that my illness can never take away from me is my job at being a mom.  Mark and I have now arranged it so that he takes care of most of the physical stuff(ie. driving, going to all of their competitions, etc.), and I take care of the emotional and spiritual stuff.(ie. PMS, boyfriend problems, "Mom, I have nothing to wear!", etc.)
So, back to the roses and slowing down.  Having been a stay-at-home Mom for all of these years, my illness struck at a time when I was able to slow down.  My girls were all in school, so I was able to get them up in the morning, do all of the mommy things with them, and then come home and collapse until they needed to be picked up.  Over time, Mark arranged his schedule so that he could take over the mornings.  I don't really sleep at night.  I also have Restless Leg Syndrome which is very disruptive to my sleep.  Mark understood that having to get up early in the morning to get the girls ready for school and then having to drive to either two or three schools to drop them off, was not a very good thing for my health.  He jumped right in and picked up all of the slack which my illness created.  His generosity of spirit enables me to get all of the rest that I need while knowing that my girls are being well taken care of in the mornings.  He is such an amazing husband and father.  Without him as my life partner, I honestly do not know what I would have done.  He has given me the space I need to create a life that is both manageable and productive.
And so, although the petals must eventually fall from the roses, there is still absolute beauty which is inherent in each rose.  The same is true of people.  Eventually, the body begins to age and things do not work as well as they used to, but there is still absolute loveliness in the essence of each individual which will never fade.

I am learning not only to stop and smell the roses, but to examine their thorns and blemishes and to find the beauty in those, as well.

My blessing for you is that you are able to find some time, a moment in your day, to slow down and take it all in.  Smell the roses, but observe the beauty in their fallen petals.  Cherish not only the perfect, but the imperfect.  May you slow down enough to appreciate who you are now, and say thank you for all that you are still capable of.


Laura ~Peach~ said... you inside and out.

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Beautiful reminder to appreciate all that is around us - perfect or not. I appreciate your literal "stop and smell the roses" more than you can imagine.


Cucina Cara Mia said...

I am a new blogger, and I am amazed by your strength and courage. I really enjoy your blog,I have a 16 year old daughter
that is a Leukemia survivor. She was the one that suffered not me, and I would trade places with her any day. You sound like an amazing woman. God Bess You.

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Losing my mind? Never!! I am merely helping to educate the masses. What if no one ever told people that hair could be consumed by eating fast food? Or if no one ever shared that there is hair dye for certain body parts?

I hate to think about what the world would be like without people like me. (don't answer that!)

And, fyi....I never thought to partake in John's pain meds! Imagine if I did? ;)


Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Dear, dear and precious lady,
You are a joy and inspiration to me. The way you face life with such grace and beauty in spite of your pain encourages me like you cannot imagine!

We all have our adversities yet so very few of us manage them with dignity, strength and beauty. It is so easy to crumble like our failing bodies, fragile minds or broken world around us. People like you are such a great inspiration to persevere in spite of it all, making the best of what we have. It is easy to lose sight of those beautiful things when the world closes in around you. Hold on, dear one! I am encouraged to do the same...there is so much beauty, still...

Much love to you (this is my BFF, Debbie, Four Angels Momma, right? Oh my classic faux-pas will always leave me panic-stricken as I am about to hit publish comment! I will check and double check just for good measure! LOL!)


Ness said...

Deb, you were also blessed with the gift of words and the timing of when to share them when someone needs to hear them. Thank you for just being you and listening to the still small voice that guides your steps. I think I married Mark's brother as he is as wonderful to me as your Mark is to you. You have helped me more than I will ever have words to tell you. And you have given a face to the fibromyalgic world in which we are sisters. Except for the blood(which I don't think counts) you are my sister in every sense of the world. Thank you for the roses you posted and the beautiful words that come straight from your heart. I am so fortunate to have crossed paths with you.

Kari & Kijsa said...

A beautiful post!! Have a wonderful evening!

kari & kijsa

kim-d said...

Another lovely post, of course. And interesting, too. One of my friends was diagnosed with fibromyalgia years ago, before I even knew her, and I have several co-workers who also suffer with it. I've often wondered if I have it, along with the arthritis. I was in a car accident at 21 that was the start of many unpleasantries that are just a part of my life since. I basically do what I can, what I know to work, and sort of ignore what I can whenever I can. Sometimes it's hard, though. That's why it's nice to come here and read your words, and look at your beautiful pictures. No matter what happens, I know that for me, I just have to try to look for the good stuff. It's so much better to try for happy. And reading your blog makes me happy :)!

Love & gentle hugs, Deb!

Irene Latham said...

Hi Deb - I think there are definitely things in life that no matter how empathetic or compassionate one is, you just can't completely comprehend those things unless you experience them personally. So I can't say I understand the difficulties you experience, but I can certainly appreciate the hugeness of your heart as you continue to love life and do your darnedest to cherish the beauty you encounter and create. I honor your experience. You are a strong, brave, beautiful woman. So happy to know you. xxoo

Irene Latham said...

p.s. looking forward to the Bachelor too. :)

Alison said...

such beautiful roses Debbie, they are my favorite flowers, I have about 50 bushes in my yard. Your husband is a wonderful man, I am not surprised since you are such a special woman...your are beautiful on the outside and the inside, thorns and all...thank you for your beautiful words.

Coffee Bean said...

I've been reading books written by Patsy Clairmont. She is a Christian author and one of the speakers at the Women of Faith conferences. I do not recall which of her books I read this in... but it really struck me.

She was given two perfect roses that had yet to open. They looked identical and were beautiful. She clipped the ends and placed them in a vase in her living room. As the days went on, one of the roses opened and displayed itself, releasing a wonderful fragrance. The other rose never opened but just slumped over and died. It was such a powerful picture to me of what can happen when our circumstances change in our lives. Do I want to be like that rose that closes up and just slumps over to die... or do I want to open myself up and release a beautiful fragrance? I think we both know what each of us has chosen. What a gift to have our blogs to give us the opportunity to do and say what we can't always do physically. God Bless you friend. You are a wonderful aroma.

cheryl finley said...

Dear one...I am deeply touched by what I've read in your blog. Your appreciation for your husband and daughters, and furry-feathered family. I'm sorry to hear about your illness and the pain; I can relate because I too have dealt with a chronic condition for 10 years trying to learn what I can on the spiritual level and seeing various alternative therapies as much as I be released so I can feel ease in my body again. You name it, most likely I've used it to some degree, which have included: massage therapy, rolfing, NUCCA - a gentle/non-cracking chiropractic; video at this site:; cranio-sacral therapy: and others on that link. Each therapy has been a stepping stone to healing. It's been a long journey, for both of us. Keep believing and keep looking. You WILL find something to help you. Over the last few mos. I was introduced to Body Talk System which is 2-fold: by a BodyTalk therapist: and/or you can learn the layperson's version called Body Talk Access: - This has helped me tremendously so I wanted to share this all with you. Oh my dear, there is an answer, you can feel better and get relief. You to can Defy Gravity (I posted about that in January :) -- I trust that you'll find relief by one of these therapies. And, they say EFT works well for pain too: - they even have a demo on You Tube. Then there's the natural remedies at Whole Foods etc, i.e. Boiron homeopathic helped quite a bit.

Thank God for your loving soul and family. Please know that I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

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