Another act of senseless violence.

Watching the devastation brings sadness. In addition to the natural disasters, once again we have senseless violence from guns and trucks by deranged people, pure evil. My heart aches for the victims and families involved.

When will it end?

How do we continue to cope with the daily chaos?

Those affected have extraordinary struggles however I think everyone has circumstances where they struggle, some incidences worse than others.

It’s all about who we are on this journey. The person we are, in spite of life’s battles, whether it’s divorce, illness or loss of a loved one or any other thing that can tear a person down, and there are plenty!

I believe our outlook on life is what we choose. Personally, I choose to be a survivor vs. victim. Part of that is learning resilience. You know there are people who are fighters. They fight for life, to beat an illness, equality, and for the lives of others. Then there’s the opposite… that person who cries the sky is falling over a hangnail or a bad hair day and give up without trying. Of course, we cannot control what life throws at us but we can choose how we react to it. My situation is far less horrific than natural disasters or senseless violence but I think we all have our share of problems to deal with and we can’t let those problems or situations break us.

For example, today was a bad day, struggling with my lupus. I’m sitting here with ice packs on my hip and ankle after getting cortisone injections since the 6-month steroid regime didn’t work. I’m in pain, a lot of pain. Instead of crying, I choose to write. My writing is a bit of an escape, so is reading. Helping others will always get my mind off of my own problems. They’re many different useful distractions for instance hobbies, friends, family and a multitude of other healthy choices. Sometimes those distractions can even help someone else.

We can learn to become stronger from our challenges. Hopefully, we can use the trials and pain to become a better person.
A favorite Ernest Hemingway quote comes to mind,”The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are stronger in the broken places.”No one has a perfect life, we all have trials and tribulations. Right now I’m not a happy camper but I know tomorrow will be better. I know eventually the pain will end and I will be up and moving again.

In the meantime, I’ve learned some coping skills I’d like to share:
Everyone has good days and bad. It’s how we learn to cope that sets us apart from others. I’ve learned to accept consequences. Let go of what once was and embrace what is. When my mind says go but my body says no – I must adjust accordingly to survive. I have good days, bad days and sometimes a mixture all in one day.

I’ve stopped comparing my life to what it used to be.
Whether it’s illness or loss, let go of whatever isn’t useful!

Manage Stress, it’s a killer for everyone. For lupus patients, stress can provoke a lupus flare to cause increased inflammation. I’m including emotions in with stress because I feel they go hand in hand. Emotions, you’re entitled to feel however you feel so let yourself feel, otherwise there’s a numbness that can swallow you up. That numbness can carry over into the rest of your life affecting your family and friends, not something anyone wants to share.

I have found ways be happy and feel useful by volunteering and simple acts of kindness. I pray, have faith, meditate and find peace wherever and whenever I can. Yes, my lupus condition carries some baggage not only is there a traveling circus of inflammation but at times an emotional roller coaster that goes along for the ride.

Stay Positive.
Everyone has something to offer so look for the good in yourself as well as others.

Do your best to cut out drama! You know the old saying don’t cry until it hurts? I tend to overthink the endless possibilities. When I start going there stop that thought process by staying in the present. Focus on what is actually happening at that moment and try not to anticipate anything else.

I connect with nature by going for a short walk in the forest preserve as often as possible to connect with nature. It settles me and brings peace.

Limitations… the sooner you accept them the better you will feel. You can learn to compensate any disability. There are many groups of disabled people out in the world, from wounded warriors to Down’s syndrome. Living with limitations is all about knowing who you are and what you are capable of. And, for goodness sake, accept that everyone has baggage!

Last but not least, don’t let anyone stop you from living the life you want, especially terrorists. Go to the store, the concert, and live the life you deserve. Don’t give into fear or grief. The only thing anyone can do is to do the best you can with what we have. I know I’ve said this before but what’s the alternative?

The way I see it is everyone struggles from time to time. We all have scars from this battle called life and no one is getting out alive! Life goes on whether we are ready to deal with it or not, so pick yourself up, let go of what needs it and make good choices. And that includes learning from past experiences. Every storm must come to an end, let’s hope to find a rainbow.

There’s a Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with gold called Kintsugi. I love this as an analogy to life and resilience… our lives are the bowl pieced together with gold by overcoming our challenges. Yes, it’s a scar but it’s not unsightly, it’s molded us into who we are today.

Michele Palermo

Michele is a retired registered nurse who spent 15 years in Emergency Medicine. That's where she learned there's a fragility to life. Diagnosed with lupus, after going through a divorce, taught her to be a survivor instead of a victim. With her career shortened by illness she turned to books. She fell in love with the written word as a young child. To her, words convey emotion. Her new passion is writing. As an aspiring author, she hopes to inspire others on this roller coaster called life.

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