Every morning in summer, I sit outside with my coffee and my daily spiritual reader. This year I am reading Your True Home: the everyday wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh, a book about living mindfully. Every day I treasure this ritual.
I am fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest in a home surrounded by nature. The gentle breeze blowing through the evergreens, rising and falling, creates a rhythmical sound. Two northern flickers fly overhead-- I hear their calls first, and then watch them fly over and disappear into a stand of Douglas fir. It is easy to be mindful and grateful living in a setting like this. I crave this natural beauty, and its quiet rhythms. It steadies, calms, and grounds me.
Looking out at my food and medicine garden filled with herbs, veggies, fruit trees, and the garden shed my husband built--it's beautiful--and it reminds me of something you’d see in Mother Earth News magazine! I chuckled to myself realizing that this is what I have been dreaming about the last decade, and here it is, manifested, one day at a time over a decade.
Having a garden gets me outdoors first thing every morning in summer, to check on things, harvest what is ready, water new seedlings, and marvel at the miracle of planting a seed in the soil and watching it grow into a healthy plant. This simple activity gets my body moving, reduces stiffness, and helps keep the blues away. With an abundance of fresh garden goodies, I eat fresh home-grown food every day in summer. My body appreciates simple food, sunshine and fresh air.
I've always enjoyed spending time outdoors. As a kid I loved running around barefoot outside with my two dogs, building forts, handling frogs and snakes, and playing down at the local pond nearby. I used to sketch trees and animals, and write poetry about the stars.
Sometime in my early adult life, I let all that go, and became a working machine. I’d often eat lunch at my desk at work, while continuing to work. At home I would do chores right away while I was still running on adrenaline. I was living a life of mostly work and not enough play. That busy, nonstop life took its toll. I became exhausted and several of my joints began to hurt, ending in a diagnosis of an auto-inflammatory arthritis condition with no cure.
After a decade-plus of medical care and holistic self-care, I am feeling much better, but inflammatory arthritis and fatigue is still with me. Each day is a balancing act of doing enough activity to maintain my current fitness level, yet not overdoing the activity and causing a flare-up.
In spite of ongoing challenges in living with chronic illness, here are five wonderful things that have come out of this journey: