Today, a friend directed me to a powerful video message. It was extremely thought provoking and inspiring, similar to a few other motivational speeches and songs that I've listened to recently.
When times are difficult, it's so easy to sit back and try to "wait" it out or hide. But how often do we actually "FIGHT" for what we want, persevere with relentless drive for the dreams we envision, use our power of our mind to change our circumstances?
While listening to the video, I tried to look within my heart and soul. I'm not going to lie - I experienced a myriad of emotions. Part of me became sad because I honestly felt as if I was giving everything I had and more to make my dream of being an inspirational teacher come true. I pushed myself through sickness and pain, spent endless hours searching and planning for meaningful classroom lessons and experiences, laid my heart out to reach and connect with students that didn't see the potential that resided inside of them. I LOVED teaching with a PASSION - it was, without a doubt, a dream come true. A career that I enjoyed and that made me feel prideful. I honestly felt like I was making a positive impact on the lives of others, thought I was using the talents that I was blessed with to live a life full of purpose. I was sure that I was taking the path GOD intended me to follow.
When I became sick, I admittedly didn't listen to my body's personal needs. My body and my health, were not my priority. Teaching and being an active parent were much more important to me. I literally continued teaching, working, and staying on the go with my kids. While feeling worn down and sick I continued to stay busy with all of their school related and extracurricular activities as well as all the "motherly" duties I expected of myself. I even took classes online at night for a few years so I could earn my Master's and better provide for my family. Regardless of what my body was trying to tell me, I was strong minded, strong willed, and gave everything I had to live the life that I envisioned as a mother and teacher. I was determined to not let anyone or anything (including my own body) destroy my desire for teaching. I did not bother to consider or listen to the advice that my family kept expressing. Instead, I kept fighting and kept pursuing my dreams until my body ultimately crashed. I did not value my needs, because to me that felt as if it would be selfish, expressing weakness, and was just not a priority. In retrospect, and as an outsider looking in, I realize that to give my best, I need to be at my best. And that can only happen when I fulfill my personal needs, namely my health. Ignoring my health needs and symptoms will not make them disappear. I've tried that thinking over and over again and all it does is lead me to more issues. Unfortunately, some of that ideology came from medical "professionals" (such as doctors and nurses) that minimized my concerns and the impact it was having on my personal life, when I did finally reach the point to actually ask for help/assistance.
As I reminisce now, I'm not sure what to think. Could things have turned out differently if I'd taken different actions? Did I inadvertently cause self-destruction? Did I take my health and time with family for granted? Was I missing something? Even though I was living with purpose and drive for what I wanted in life, was there something else that GOD had in mind for me?
I don't know the answers to these questions. Have I made mistakes in my life that make me wonder what if? Sure, everyone does. Was life peachy clean? No, but I knew what I wanted to do and I did whatever it took to be successful as a mother and teacher. At least that's what I thought I was doing.
Now, look at me. Illness has overcome me. I don't want to be a "victim" but I also don't want to make my situation worse. I still have a difficult time listening to what my body needs, but attempt to make my health a higher priority. My dreams of making a difference in the classroom has ended - at least for now. My role as a mother has been altered. Activities, hobbies, and interests that I once enjoyed are not possible at this time. In the beginning, I was persistent that illness was not going to interfere with my personal life. Wow! That was a joke - the harder I fought for normalcy the worse my health declined.
For the past 4 years, I have tried to determine what the right balance for my life is. How can I fight with mind, heart, and body to accomplish my dreams without causing more damage? How do I determine which dreams are worth pursuing and which are too costly or too far out of reach for my reality?
Life is not meant to be easy. We are meant to be great - not average, but you have to be willing to put forth the work and heart to make it a reality. But how? I understand that we grow during our most difficult battles. I'm aware that there is so much left for me to learn about life, but which aspects are the most essential to fulfill in my lifetime? So much time has already been wasted - so how do I make the most of what time I have left? Which dreams are worth pursuing? When one dream conflicts with another - what do you do? When giving 120% in one area requires me to compromise or give up on a different one because I can't envision a path that would effectively meet or surpass all of them, what then? How do I ensure that my choices are respecting my personal needs while servicing others to my full potential? I am aware that not all of my decisions can be easy, that the most difficult decisions are the riskiest yet also have the capability of being the most worthwhile.
God is the only one that can see the future, so sometimes we have to take a leap of faith - and that's fine- but when life and health is so fragile - how do you determine which choices will lead to the most desired results? When health is an issue, where do you draw the line between making healthy choices and taking the risk of chasing dreams?
(Just something to think about.)