I consider every vacation day precious. I savor them, think carefully about what I should do with each one, and expect them to count. I suspect few people value them as much as me. But what do you do when reality gets in the way and cancels your plans? It has just been one of those years for me. I plan a day, and then something at work would come up. I had a graduation gift trip to plan with my niece, but we couldn’t seem to get it scheduled. Finally we did, and a December cruise it is. I want to take another trip, but it never seemed to materialize (yeah, that means I failed to plan it!) Actually let’s just call December vacation month because that is when most of my days will be taken this year. While I will enjoy, it would not have been my choice.
Yesterday I had a day off planned to visit my friend Regina in Virginia. We were going to go to lunch and perhaps shop a bit on Friday and go and see a concert that includes one of her son’s compositions on Saturday. Sure to be a fun time. Until I realized I had committed to run a 5k with a friend back in the summer. Then I had signed up for another 5k Saturday night. Then I realized it was also the day of our ballooning association’s Christmas party. So I had to cancel the time with Regina.
But as life often goes, my weekend has not quite shaped up as planned. I found out a couple of weeks ago that the friend who I planned to run the 5k with had to do a command mother-in-law visit instead, so would not be running the morning 5k with me.
Earlier in the week I found out that there was a reason for my constant exhaustion and general feeling of lethargy these past few weeks…..I’ve suffering from a bout of anemia. It was a constant companion when I was younger, but normally if I eat well and keep red meat in my diet, I keep it at bay. Once again I have proven when I forget the red meat, my red blood cells choose to abandon ship. Years ago working with my doctor and a nutritionist trying all kinds of food combining and iron supplements, I learned that our bodies process different types of iron different ways, and evidently my red blood cells are carnivores!
So while the normal me would run both 5ks regardless of who was running with me (my determined practice after years of living the single life), the anemic me doesn’t want to do either one. In fact, the anemic me wants to skip the Christmas party with some of my favorite people, too. The anemic me wouldn’t have wanted to drive to Virginia. The anemic me feels a bit sorry for myself and is just feeling a bit annoyed and left out of life in general.
Because I am not prone to illness or depression, the times when it hits make me quite aware of why people who regularly suffer from both may sometimes seem remote or cranky. There is a level of your brain that feels that you are in it alone….and actually you are. It really is as if you are enveloped in your own inpenetrable black cloud. I can’t imagine living life like this constantly. But the truth is that there is a degree of choice involved. There are times when we have to belie the body, and choose to live. We have to accept, even seek out, the company of others, and medical help if it continues. Suffering alone just makes the darkness envelope us more and it can become like that frog in slowly increasing hot water that never jumps out of the pot. We have to do things that we don’t want to do, that may not be where our brain wants to take us or seem “really necessary”, and bust out of that fog.
I spent my vacation day alone, the high point being going to the movies and watching Catching Fire. I accomplished little with the day, but did force myself to de-stress a bit and put a few things in perspective. I indulged my self pity a little throughout the day, though mostly with humor. Well, humor when I let my brain think about my actual thoughts. I have so few valid reasons to feel sorry for myself, and in spite of “feelings” I still can’t help but acknowledge that, so I have to make fun of myself a bit when I see where my mind goes. I try to do it kindly! I am fortunate to know the source of the feelings are physical, while many can’t get beyond the overwhelming feelings to get to that point. I will fight mightily so these toxins do not take up permanent residence in my body….but I also understand those who feel they just don’t have the energy. (Fight it anyway!)
Perhaps I put too much value in vacation days. My expectations are probably too high. Or perhaps my expectations for my “regular” days aren’t high enough. Our days of life are limited and all should be savored. Something to ponder later in the month when I take a lot of this year’s vacation. What do I need to do so that every day of my life is well spent and enjoyed? Because when it gets down to it, if I don’t do that I am wasting the gift I have been given. I want to wake up every day and say “Lord, I can’t wait to get started living the today you have planned!” That hasn’t been happening enough lately and I don’t think it is just the anemia. I need a plan, because sometimes my body and my circumstances are going to fight me! It requires a review of all areas of my life (mental, physical, spiritual, vocational, and relational) to make sure I am doing what I need to be doing, when I need to be doing it. Sometimes it is time to change course, or change our attitude, and if we aren’t doing that periodically we can find ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time surrounded by the wrong people. That can not only make you unhappy, it can make you sick. That can be the start of a cycle that can overcome us in time. Let’s instead overcome the cycle. What is ahead may not be what we planned, but maybe it will allow us to count each day as special.