“If we change the way we look at things, the things we look at begin to change.”
I sometimes go on Pinterest (an application I originally downloaded for recipes and things to do with my daughter) I type in chronic pain quotes. I am not shocked, but saddened that many quotes are very defeating and depressing. For kicks, I will type it in right now and type the first thing that appears: “Why are there no good side affects? For once I would like my medication bottle that says: ‘May cause extreme sexiness.'” I promise that is the first picture/quote that appeared this moment. Yes, it is funny and very true but no one with chronic pain will find it helpful in the long run and it is not a quote of hope or happiness, its quite sad if you think about it. I know, in the past I was prescribed every medication known to man from Neurontin to Percocet and every little thing in between. At the age of seventeen when filling out a doctor’s form there was never enough room to write out each medication I was on. Now, there are two and neither is for chronic pain. Better yet, I rarely go to the doctor and I never go to any doctor related to brain surgery or chronic pain: been there, done that for far too many years. I totally sound like I am bragging, I’m not. For over ten years I lived in doctor’s offices and my existence was solely based on chronic pain and every negative aspect that can come along with this diagnosis. I look at chronic pain a lot different than I did years ago. I had brain surgery because I fell off my bike, I have lived with chronic pain for over twenty years and that is that. I do not allow it to control my life or happiness (although at times it does) but I find ways to make me a healthier, happier, more grateful person. I cannot change my diagnosis but I can change the way I look at it.
This past weekend my family and I went to a “Camden Gardens.” I was born and raised in New Jersey and live very close to Camden (a city that was once beautiful and prosperous but is now rated one of the top most dangerous cities in America.) However, there are parts of Camden that are beautiful such as the Camden Waterfront where one will find the Aquarium, Ferry Rides, Rutgers University of Camden, and come to find out Camden Gardens. I use something many of you know called Living Social which sends me deals for attractions in my area and one day this came up. It was for two passes and two rides for nine dollars. I had never heard of this place but the pictures were awesome and what the hell, it was nine dollars and five minutes away so I bought it. Who knew? I took many pictures of my daughter, my husband and the three of us. I posted many to Instagram and multiple people I grew up with wrote: “Where the hell is this? This is awesome!” Had this been five years ago and I went I would have been bored, thinking about pain and nothing about it would have interested me. I have been to the Camden Waterfront hundreds of times in my life and never really though much of it until Sunday that is. I have my daughter to truly thank for my appreciation for things that in the past would have bored the hell out of me. We had so much fun. It was as if I had never been to the Waterfront before: I barely recognized it because I never truly saw it. Kayci is my greatest teacher, yes she just turned three. She looked at one of the tiny attractions at the “who knew” Camden Gardens as if it was Disney World. It was a greenhouse with butterflies. I never would have enjoyed learning about gardening and butteries: now my toddler and I are outside planting seeds and gardening. I never understood why people enjoyed planting flowers and vegetables now I see the entire experience differently. I never looked at the water at the Camden Waterfront and felt joy and gratitude. Holy crap, there is so many cool, beautiful things to do there and most of them are free. My husband and I took pictures as if we were tourists and although I am in a way even though I have been there a million times. The way I look at a place I have known for years has completely changed.
My dad has always loved birds as his father did as well. I remember as a child him pointing out various birds and boring the hell out of me. My Pop Pop had book shelves stacked with books about birds and we always had many birdfeeders in our yard: meant zero to me. This past weekend I bought a birdfeeder and I now love feeding the birds and watching Kayci mesmorised by Robins, Doves, Cardinals, and even Seagulls which I honestly only ever see at the beach or the parking lots at Walmart. I am not kidding, next time you go to Walmart I gurantee you will see a Seagull. My favorite yoga instructor and mentor once asked me years ago to spend time outside. I went to the gym to work out and always used a treadmill to run. I really only enjoyed being outside if I was at the pool or the beach. I saw no point in spending time outside if there was not sun or water. My daughter LOVES being outside. She acts like a dog and I mean that in the nicest way possible. The second I open our glass door that overlooks a lake she runs outside (this is becoming an issue but that is besides the point.) Now I understand what my yoga teacher was trying to teach me. There is so much to see once you begin looking, especially outdoors. There are woods as a teenager our class would spend weekends hiding from our parents and the police to drink and have fun. I have many funny memories there with one of my closest friend’s Kaitlin. My biggest memory in these specific woods was my bike being thrown into a river because the police had found the bunch of rowdy seniors drinking cheap beer in the woods. I was pissed, I loved that bike. Anyways, last week I took Kayci there because one of the boys I nanny for plays soccer there. I wanted to kill time and it was a nice day so she and I walked through Crows Woods for what turned into being an hour, possibly longer as Crows Woods is totally different sober and as an adult. Who knew there was a bridge there? We had so much fun, much more fun than I ever did drinking there in high school. My daughter was in heaven: birds, trees, rocks, the bridge I never noticed, rope swing, dogs, frogs, and bugs. I was pretty happy as well. Yes, a huge part of new found enthusiasm for plants, birds, and the outdoors is because I see them through the eyes of my daughter but it is more than that. It is just like how I manage chronic pain. The way I look at things has changed, so the things I now look at have literally changed.
Spend sometime outside doing something to distract yourself from your physical pain. I wish I had years ago.