Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Overcoming Adversity; Lessons from a Yellow Jacket

My house built-in 2000 came with a gas fireplace.  They had changed the regulations on wood burning fireplaces a few years before to help the environment.  Since the fireplace runs on gas it’s required to have a vent to the outdoors.  Our vent is surrounded by mesh wire, I’m assuming so birds won’t fly in and build a nest.  There are these small holes that allow the fireplaces to vent.

I’ve had wasp nests and yellow jacket nests around the house before, but I noticed a steady stream of them hanging around the fireplace vent.  Lo and behold, the yellow jackets had entered the fireplace vent and seem to have built their own version of a housing sub-division.

I have a black lab that likes to attack yellow jackets, well not so much attack as try to eat them…not a good thing.  I figured I needed to try to displace the yellow jackets by creating a natural disaster, a wildfire.  I turned on the fireplace hoping that would eradicate the problem.  What do you know, the yellow jackets left for a while, but then returned.  Obviously like the homes consumed by the Colorado wildfires; they’re home did not burn to the ground.

My next venture was to take a skewer, poke it through a piece of paper creating a shield and trying to demolish the housing unit.  All I did is seem to agitate an entire community.  I guess it’s like the idea of eminent domain; the yellow jackets are going to fight for what they believe is rightfully theirs.  The only thing they were accomplishing, at least from my point of view, was pushing me to the brink and leading me to making the ultimate decision.

***Note: if you are against killing any living thing please look away or stop reading**

The last step in this process was to get the wasp spray and eradicate the yellow jackets and their abode.  Some of the yellow jackets fled for safety, a bit sick I’m sure, but looking for safety (ok maybe I’m projecting), and obviously the rest died.  At that time I was able to demolish their home.  The amazing thing is that the yellow jackets that had not been part of the air raid of toxicity kept returning to the nest, even trying to rebuild, but like Chernobyl the place was uninhabitable.

I know this wasn’t as eloquent as one of Aesop’s fables, but there is a lesson to be learned in this process.  If a creature with limited intelligence and reason skills can persevere against numerous attacks on their lives and their homes, what can we do to persevere when faced with a health challenge?  We have many more resources at our disposal so what will we do to insulate ourselves from the negative forces, and recruit more positive energy into our lives?

We live in a time when the options available to us for both traditional and complementary healing modalities are out our disposal.  There is a tremendous body of knowledge about mind-body medicine that dates back to the Middle Ages and is being resurrected as viable opportunities for healing.

Do you have the will to keep on your journey to health and healing?  What can you do today that reinforces your sense of determination and personifies your tenacious nature?  If you need a role model, think about the yellow jackets and their will to stake their claim and defend their property.  Are you willing to defend your sense of well-being?


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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