What goes up, must come down.

This phrase has been heavily on my mind the past few days. I have been on this high since I started writing again and things were going really well. I hadn’t had significant pain for a few days and all was well.

juliemountains

Julie Mills

I opened my eyes on Thursday knowing that I had to go to work, but the second my eyelids uncovered by eyes I was already angry. I am still stumped as to what came over me. I set my alarm for 15 more minutes hoping that maybe it would allow me just that little extra boost to turn me around.

Nope.

I dragged myself out of bed, stiffness in tow, and got ready for the day. The outfit that I had dreamed up in my head didn’t quite look as I expected it, and so I threw something else together (I’m laughing now that this was so frustrating to me). A random fact about myself: I dream up my outfits in my mind and then I put them together in reality. Most of the time they turn out okay, but then there are days like Thursday…(and Friday).

Ugh.

I’m sure you can imagine how the rest of the day went–negative thoughts and dragging feet.

It was the end of the workday where the headache came in, the backache started, and then suddenly my hands and feet just stiffened up. The drive home was unpleasant, and when I got home I fell tearfully into my sweet husbands arms, and quesadillas were made for dinner.

Thursday night errands were run, a McFlurry (Oreo always!) was savored, and a few episodes of Gilmore Girls were watched.

Friday the flare continued, and as I drove home from work again it hurt to even push on the gas pedal, and holding on to the steering wheel was an unpleasant experience.

But I made it home.

And I made it to dinner with friends.

And I made it to the movie theater (and I loved Interstellar.)

And I made it home and to bed.

And this morning I woke up and relaxed, and I watched Psych and I finished homework, and I got ready for the day, and then I started writing.

I had two off and flared days in a row. My confidence was shattered and all I wanted was to crawl into one of those “cryosleeper” things (watch Interstellar) and wake up weeks later but then I just stopped what I was doing and realized that I was alive and that I had a million things to be grateful for. It hit me like the bikes on campus almost always do. I suddenly felt a weight lifted off my chest and as though my eyes could no longer only see the pain and suffering that I was enduring. I looked around and I saw a  beautiful, cozy home (a small one bedroom home, but a home nonetheless). I saw a comfortable bed that helps me manage my level of fatigue. I saw my husband who has stood by my side for so many years and cheers me on always. I saw hands and feet that although ache and swell, take me places and do amazing things for me everyday. I noticed a strong spine that still holds me up, legs that support me, shoulders that keep my arms attached, and an all over functioning (almost fully) body.

How could I have missed all these things days ago?

Talk about a little humble slap to the face.

Have we ever realized how much gratitude changes things in our lives and how much the altering of perspective can change the way we see things? Have I ever realized how much gratitude changes things in our lives? Rheumatoid arthritis sucks. It sucks hard, but I love my life, and no desire to cut my hands and feet off when they hurt would change anything.

However, being thankful for the fact that I even have hands and feet, and for all of the things that they have helped me see and do is the greatest thing in the world. I’ve hiked 21 miles in a single day because I had the feet that allowed me to do it. I’ve written many of my life’s stories and it’s because I had hands to do it. I love that my hands allow me to hold my husband’s. I love that they allow me to type this post to you now. I love that they show imperfections because they work hard and it shows. They push through so much, so why can’t I? The same goes for my feet. I ran around every corner of my neighborhood growing up. I ran up and down basketball courts. I jumped on the tramp, I rode my bike, I kicked a ball around, I let my feet take me where they wanted to go. Each day I wake up and my feet are right beneath me, holding up this stiff and tired body of mine. They are there. If they don’t want to give up on me, then why should I?

Is it any coincidence that valleys can be just as beautiful and amazing as mountain peaks? Have you ever looked down into a valley from atop a summit and wished you could be there? I have. I lived in a valley for most of my life and there is a distinct beauty living in the shadows of mountains. Comparative to life, sometimes the mountains are where we dwell, whereas other days we may be in the valleys. Mountains show us all that we have conquered, but valleys humble us, and let us know that there is still more to come.

How terrible would a life be if we reached the top and that was it? There are always setbacks because we are in constant need of growth. Staying in the same place forever is quite unfulfilling. So though we may be in the valleys of arthritis at times, I have come to find that gratitude can be our greatest climbing tool. Heck, some days gratitude can be our jet pack.  In life we learn, and grow, and overcome no matter where we are in the spectrum of ups and downs. Mountains may provide a larger, more expansive view, but valleys require us to focus on the things at hand and treasure it. So yeah, Thursday stunk, and so did part of Friday but instead of being a permanent turd face, all rotten and bitter, I choose to learn, grow, and overcome.

All three.

Every day.