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?

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

Job One: Overcoming Adversity

The world can change in an instant and if you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness you know this is very true.  We get so comfortable in the status quo that when something earth shattering happens, either figuratively or literally, we’re not sure how to cope.  The news is wide spread about the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti.  A country plagued with corruption and rampant poverty has seen a change for the better and then the quake.  They couldn’t prepare for it, but they have to begin to recover from it.

When diagnosed with an illness it’s a personal disaster.  The difference is that the rescue team is comprised of health professionals and others looking out for your emotional and spiritual well-being.  You can be rescued from the negative thoughts, but the disaster itself can’t be reversed, unless you were mistakenly diagnosed. 

Where can you go to prepare for the potholes in the road ahead on your journey to wellness?  Overcoming adversity requires a lot of self-knowledge, so the place to start is within.  What are your strengths and talents?  How are your relationships with family and friends?  How can you use the resources you have without worrying about cultivating a new set of coping mechanisms?

Overcoming adversity requires that you stay steady on the course you’ve set toward health and healing.  It requires that you not abandon yourself.  It requires honesty with yourself and perseverance.  Wellness is not a one-hit wonder.  It’s an ongoing process that needs your attention and commitment.  Yes, it’s true that it also requires you be on alert, but not a tense alert, but a consciousness to your physical, emotional, and spiritual self.

Letting others share your experience is another great way to overcome adversity.  I was at my spirituality group last night and we went through an art meditation.  Following the creative time we shared our experience of the process and the outcome of our creative energies.  Feeling safe enough to share even those things you’re not the most proud of gives you freedom to move forward toward health and healing.

There’s no one way to overcome adversity; it’s a personal journey.  Developing strategies that are in alignment with our beliefs and values will carry you far.