Cords were wrapped around my foot and tangled in my flip flop, so jumbled I could not tell where the mess began. Each cord was connected to a cell phone, a tablet or a laptop. I looked down and sighed.
As I unraveled myself from the tangle I began to think about how much we rely on our technological gadgets. But our devices are only useful to us when they have power. Recharging is necessary to keep them working. And to recharge them we need a reliable and accessible power source.
I began to think about our personal power sources. How do you refresh and recharge? What are you doing to give yourself energy?
These questions have long been on my mind as I work to remind myself to take time to recharge. Often, I go and go until I cannot remember the last time I sat down. As a manifesting carrier of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, I often find myself in a state of fatigue. (“Manifesting carriers” are females who have the mutated gene that causes DMD in boys and display some of the characteristics of the disease.) I also have difficulty climbing stairs, walking and standing for extended periods of time, and rising from chairs. Chronic muscle pain, especially in my hips, back and legs, is part of my everyday life. My heart is also affected with chronic myocarditis, which also contributes to my tiredness.
It can be especially challenging to do life when I have little to no energy. My work suffers, my social life suffers and, worst of all, and my attitude suffers. I am a wife who works forty hours a week and attends graduate school full-time — of course I should be tired. But I want to be more mindful of making that my default response.
While it is good to have endurance and to be diligent in taking care of my responsibilities, it is not necessary for me to exhaust myself. Countless times a day I hear myself saying “I’m tired.” I say it to my husband, my family, and my co-workers. It has now become an automatic response when someone asks me how I am doing.
Now that I recognize this pattern, I am working to change it. I have made a commitment to myself and am taking this opportunity for growth seriously. The deal I have made with myself consists of two main parts:
- Be intentional about the words I speak and weigh each word before it rolls off my tongue. Or more simply stated, think before I speak. Stop saying I am tired ALL. THE. TIME. Use the word sparingly, but don’t be afraid to use it when it is necessary and appropriate. “Tired” is not a dirty word. In fact, perpetual fatigue is a physical issue for many people. I will not ignore fatigue when it interferes with my life. But I also won’t use it thoughtlessly.
- Rest when rest is needed. Take into account those things that make me happy and calm my soul. Pray, take a hot bath, get some fresh air . . . whatever makes me feel renewed. Purposefully create space for myself to practice self-care. BREATHE.
I have been able to implement these ideas into my life in practical ways. First, I hold myself accountable for the words I say and allow my husband to do the same. Together we can work to identify unhealthy patterns and work to replace them with positivity. Second, I have a special “me” place in our home where I practice ways that revitalize me. I have recently starting journaling using colored pencils to illustrate my life journey. I love how the colors and artwork give me a creative outlet for expression. It’s amazing how revitalized it makes me feel.
What words are you overusing? Is your inner voice being kind to you? I challenge you to think about what is life-giving for you, and practice it. Be thoughtful about your speech. And breathe right alongside me.
When I finally got my toes loose from the vice grip of the cords, I thought about finishing the next item on my long to do list. Instead, I made myself a cold drink and found my favorite spot on the sofa. With my untangled feet propped up on the coffee table, I took a deep breath and recharged.
Jennifer Massey is a hospital chaplain who lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with her husband Zack. She balances a full and joyful life with her journey as a manifesting carrier of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Some of her favorite things are her husband’s laugh, country music, chocolate and going to the movies.
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