Best Laid Plans

By Emily

For the month of August I had challenged myself to push my physical limits daily. My plan was to then turn that into a journal blog chronicling my journey. As you may have already guessed from the title, that is not this blog.

As opposed to choosing the path of writing something completely separate, I wanted to discuss something Spoonies know all too well: changed plans.

My motivation to challenge myself this past month was twofold:
1. As of late I have managed my triggers and treatments quite well and it seemed like a good time to test some new boundaries.
2. I had been looking for a job, and after a couple months with no success, I was feeling discouraged. I needed a goal that was within my control and would make me feel empowered as opposed to powerless.

I’ve slowly been pushing myself this year but had still been holding myself back from doing a lot of things out of fear of waking the beast.

It felt a lot like when you lose three dress sizes but are still wearing your old clothes. The fear of putting the weight back on has kept you from going out and getting that new wardrobe. You don’t want to celebrate too soon and feel foolish if it all comes crashing back down.

This was the same fear I was feeling. What if I push too hard and all my hard work is undone?  

What I was forgetting was that my pain management wasn’t a fluke. It’s the result of a lot of hard work. First, in identifying the right pain management methods for me, then putting those methods into practice, and finally, keeping these things top of mind everyday so that what I feared most wouldn’t happen.

After reminding myself that I could push myself while still practicing good pain management, I knew I needed to take this next leap. I knew my pain levels might increase during this experiment and I’d need to continue listening to my body, but also that this is what I needed to really transcend to the next level.

The month of August started off well. I wanted to ease in so for the first few days I focused on amping up something I was already doing: yoga. Many, many yoga poses are just too difficult for me, including quite a few beginner poses. I use the Yoga Studio App to make custom classes for myself and have kept them quite basic. Poses that are often still difficult but I know I can handle. I daren’t leave the comfort of my custom classes. But in the spirit of pushing my limits, I decided to try the pre-made beginner classes (strength, flexibility, and balance) to see how I’d do.

None of them were easy. Every class included poses I flat out could not do. I remember in one class coming into child’s pose during a difficult section when it had become too much for me and then a few moments later the instructor saying if anything is too tough feel free to move into Child’s Pose. I couldn’t help but chuckle and feel grateful that the app seemed to know I was struggling even with the beginner poses.

I thought I was easing in but those classes turned out to be quite difficult for me. However, in each class I was able to find some new poses that I could handle and were the perfect next step for me for a little more challenge in my yoga routine. One pose in particular, the Boat Pose, was one I thought I’d never be able to hold. Much to my surprise, I could, and it ended up being a fantastic pose to add to my regular routine to improve core strength. This was exactly what I was looking for! Little was I could take my yoga routine to the next level.

I also made a point to go on a hike. Something I love and have missed. I chose a short beginner trail with a waterfall. It was a trail I had never been on before but turned out to be perfect! There was a large area to explore off trail that was not to strenuous. We were able to explore all around until I was out of steam.  

Shortly into the challenge I was offered a job. This was unbelievably great news! However, it put a wrench in a lot of the exciting things I had planned to challenge myself with for the month.

Not only would my work schedule affect previously scheduled activities, but I needed to slow down my boundary pushing a little bit because I couldn’t push myself past a boundary that would make my job more difficult. Additionally, my new job is its own new boundary pusher in and of itself. I have a built in ways to push myself and I’m getting paid to do it!

On my days off, I make sure to keep a balance of rest days and boundary pushing days. Had I not already started down this path to push myself, I think I may have been so worried about pushing myself on my days off, but I’ve shown myself I can still do it while keeping a proper balance.

One of the first things you learn as a Spoonie is expect the unexpected. Plans will change regularly. You’ve got to go with the flow or you can make matters worse. I certainly could have continued with the challenge activities I had planned for myself but that would have been counterproductive.

Moreover, in setting this challenge for myself I was almost announcing to myself, and the universe, that I’m ready for this next stage. It’s easy to get hung up on the goal you think you are trying to achieve and forget what you really need.

I thought I needed a job to feel like I could accomplish something. I wrote a whole blog on the topic. But it turned out what I needed came from within. Once I realized that, the universe delivered with what I had been chasing in the first place. Now I get to go into this new job feeling more confident than I have in years.

There are so many times as Spoonies that we set out plans or big goals and our bodies’ fight us. It’s all about balance. My body forces me to listen to it at every turn. I’ve been able to find a really good balance and I will continue to adjust to my body’s needs accordingly.

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, but it’s not always bad. More often than not, if we take a step back, we will realize that we still ended up in the right place. We were just mistaken about how we would get there.

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