Category Archives: life philosophies and other esoteric crap

Bad news: The Covid’s kicking our emotional asses. Good news: It’s time to kick back at it.

A recent poll sponsored by MessageEnvy has cast a light on the difficulties we’re having as part of the Covid pandemic, showing that it’s not just the financial and health-related stress we’ve had to deal with, but a litany of other stresses as well. Among the findings:

  • 40% haven’t recognized themselves in a mirror.
  • About half have negative feelings about their bodies or don’t have the same level of confidence they had before.
  • Of the 55% who said they’ve never had chronic pain, about a third say they’re feeling that pain now.
  • Almost half (47%) said their body is aching in new ways.
  • 58% said their new normal is inflicting wear and tear on their bodies.
  • Half said they feel drained by the general stress of the Covid pandemic while 46% said it’s the sameness that’s affecting them (testify!).
  • 31% want to obtain mental health counseling.
I could’ve put the Limu Emu here, but I’m not evil.

It’s reasonable to expect that the last 13 months have added weight to our existence. We’ve going through a pandemic, extreme (for this country) racial tension, an economic crash, and watched as this country came the closest its come in at least 150 years to a partial collapse.

The last 13 months, captured in one picture

Even now, as the rate of vaccination is increasing, it’s starting to look like we might not have the clean exit from the collective Covid imprisonment that we’ve been wanting. Though time will tell for sure, there’s a constant murmur that the increase of variants will eventually confound our vaccines and send us closer to square one than anyone feels like going.

If you aren’t feeling stress or concern, then you either have the greatest relationship with God in the history of Christendom, or you aren’t paying attention.

It’s reasonable to feel one or several of the things listed above. The sameness is really affecting me. Working from home is awesome, but it was nice to go into the office every now and again, just to be able to do it.

Of the bullets listed above, the last one is the most hopeful–almost a third see there’s a problem and want to do something about it.

A third want professional help. Bob Newhart’s happy to pitch in.

That’s the part we seem to forget sometimes.

If you’ve put on the Covid 19 (pounds), you have options. As winter recedes into the past, it’s easier to get outside. Just feeling sun against your skin is a plus. Considering that summer heat’s still a ways away, now’s the time to get out. You don’t have to run a marathon, but maybe a ten-minute walk’s a good place to start.

Diet’s always been a bitch for me. I certainly don’t eat the way I did when I was 17 (or 27), but keeping clean’s still a struggle for me. It’s a struggle worth having.

If nothing else, run the vacuum cleaner.

Personally, I’ve made a point the last several weekends to do something useful. I exercise, but I’ve also been making stuff. Just this morning, I ironed my two Hawaiian shirts that need it because I like wearing them.

Though the ghost of John Hillerman may yell at me and take away the wine cellar

We’re not helpless against the Covid or whatever level of lockdown we’ve decided to place ourselves under. Individually, we can affect every one of the maladies listed above, including chronic pain (food choices are central there).

Even if we have to fiddle around with stupid stinking Covid variants for longer than we want, the darkest part’s over. Now’s the time to start planting seeds for the best post-Covid life possible.

But the government can’t do that for you. Your preacher can’t do that for you. Neither Oprah nor Tony Horton can do that for you.

It’s up to you.

What do you do?

In which Chris struggles with the concept of privilege.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of privilege lately. Not just the straight white male Christian privilege that marks everything I do. There are lots of kinds of privilege.

As I’ve noted before, I have a condition called Fibromyalgia. It’s a condition in which my brain reads normal nervous system chatter as pain. It also increases fatigue, malaise, cognitive functions, and digestive malfunction. My case is relatively mild, to the point where I ran five miles Saturday and walked another three. My goals right now are to complete a 10K sometime in the fall and a half marathon over the winter.

Most people with fibro can’t do that. A lot of them struggle just to get to the end of the day. And while I’m worried about having brain fog on calls late in the day, they’re struggling with holding down any job. It’s kind of like hell on earth.

As I walked Sunday morning, I thought a lot about those people and what I’m accomplishing.

No one will mistake me for a clean eater, but as I’ve taken my diet forward, my pain has almost vanished and the other symptoms are gradually getting better. I’ve worked hard at that. I’m making some of my own food and when I order out, mostly I’m getting low-calorie salads, rather than the burger I really, really want. and I’ve dropped some weight along the way.

I’ve accomplished these things when I could’ve gotten angry and turned inward. It makes me feel good about myself and how I’m managing all of it.

Until I think about the people who can’t. Not everyone has the Instant Pot to make yogurt every week. Nor can they afford the meat grinder attachment to the Kitchen Aid mixer to grind the lean pork for the homemade sausage or the ground turkey. And maybe they struggle to keep the kids fed and bills paid and don’t have time.

So, yeah, I’m doing those things, but maybe it’s only because I have the opportunity to do them.

They either don’t have the luxury to or can’t devote about an hour a day (as it’s turned out) to exercise.

It reminds me of a book we went through years ago in my men’s small group called The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis. I struggled with the content because it seemed to say that anything good in me was there because God put it there. All the bad stuff, that was just me.

And that takes me to the cultural discussion of privilege. I’ve covered this before. I can run before sunrise without worrying about what’ll happen to me. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never been followed around a store in case I decide to shoplift something. While people have made judgements about be based on race or the fact that I’m a dude, it’s been rare.

All the things I said I was privileged to do–the exercise, the cooking, and the rest–are things you can’t do if you’re trying to balance multiple jobs.

One way of looking at that would say that those accomplishments, along with the job I have, the house I live in, and everything else. are solely a product of my privilege. Sure. I’ve had bumps, but relative to women, people of color, LGBTQ+, atheists, Muslims, and a host of other people, I’ve gotten every benefit of the doubt.

In some eyes, as a white dude, I’m nothing more than an accumulation of my privilege.

In my fault, in my fault, in my most grievous fault…

You could even say that because of that fact, in a just world, much of what I have and what I’ve accomplished should belong to someone else.

To be honest, that pisses me off. It makes me functionally worthless.

But I can’t stop with that. It’s blindness to assume I don’t have any advantages because of my sex, my skin color, my heterosexuality, the fact that my Fibro is mild, and a host of other things. It doesn’t mean that I’m nothing more than a collection of my privilege.

Put another way, a lot of people without Fibro didn’t go out and do the road work this weekend. They didn’t accomplish the things I’ve done. I own those things, but even my hard roads might’ve been a little easier.

The question is what I do about that.

When it comes to answers, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

As a Christian, and not a great one, Jesus told us to love God and our neighbor. I’m not certain that’s a great comfort right now.

You survived that last year and that’s pretty bad ass

It’s been a year now, a little more than a year, in fact.

You know what happened, but it’s worth restating it, just in case you forgot the ongoing weight of it:

  • In an instant, the world went from its previous state to something we’ve never seen before. Almost everything was shut down. In many places, you had to go one way up and down the grocery store aisles. Sports went away–not a minor thing for people who find pleasure in them. And no one knew what would come next.
  • While everyone sat at home waiting, our leaders brawled about whether this was even real or just a really, really, really bad cold. (History will judge on that point.) Even talking about the Covid became a point of contention.
  • A black man was hunted down and ambushed while he was out for a run in Georgia. Then a police officer knelt on another black man’s neck for longer than the song American Pie until that man died. Then the US exploded. There were riots, it seemed, everywhere and parts of major cities declared themselves their own autonomous zone.
  • Millions of jobs were lost and people were left with no way to pay the bills and little in the way of hope going forward.
  • Kids schooled from home, meaning parents had to juggle work (or looking for work) with getting the kids online and refereeing the fights that seemed more frequent because they were stressed out, too.
  • As spring turned into summer, a low-grade equilibrium was found. The first wave faded, but there were warnings of a second wave coming in the fall. And the days fell one on the next.
  • Sports restarted, sort of. And even that was a point of contention. Why should we waste precious tests on athletes? Why should there be any additional risk? And yet baseball, basketball, and hockey managed through the best seasons possible without major outbreaks.
  • The election came with all the fear and tension of a Stephen King novel. And like everything, it turned into a food fight. Biden was declared the winner and Trump and his followers vowed not to concede.
  • Four Seasons Total Landscaping, Rudy Giuliani’s bleed hair, and Melissa Carone happened.
  • As predicted, the second wave came around the holidays and even those to whom the Covid had been distant lost people. Wearing a mask, like everything else, became a political and ethical food fight that infected even a trip to the supermarket.
  • Socially distant Christmas happened. For most, it was a pale comparison to the real thing.
  • As infection and death rates skyrocketed, vaccines started to appear in record time.
  • January 6 happened. And stunned the country.
  • The inauguration happened and though everyone held their collective breath, there was no new violence.
  • And now, as we stumble forward toward potential herd immunity, the good news of the vaccination rate conflicts with bad news of variants and a new third wave. That wave is prominent in Europe and parts of South America, but hasn’t established itself in the US. Our infection and death rates are flat, perhaps falling slightly–nothing like the step declines of January and February.
  • We probably all experienced loss during this time, and personal setbacks that may or may not have something to do with the Covid. Sleep’s a mess and stress has become standard operating procedure.
  • As we look forward, on the one hand, there are thoughts of a new roaring twenties. On the other hand, until herd immunity happens, it hard to imagine such a thing. Either way, it’s a tense scenario.
A visual representation of the last twelve months

That’s the Reader’s Digest version.

Imagine if your best friend had gotten through something like that while you were off vacationing on the moon. You’d struggle to believe it was true, and on the end of your struggle, you’d be impressed.

Be impressed. You had it through all of that. There might be some new scars, but here you are.

And that ain’t nothing.

I’m tired (but it’s not about me).

Conceptually, this post was just going to be a rant.

I was on a work call yesterday listening to our organizational leader talking about the attacks on Asian-Americans in Atlanta and around the country since the beginning of the pandemic. This is on top of sexual abuse allegations against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, New York governor Andrew Cuomo, and a growing list of men who’re being schmucks to women. This is on top of continued political hatred spurred from what should be simple disagreements about approach. And the beat goes on…

A year into this damn stupid pandemic, I’m tired. If I never hear about Covid again, it’ll be too soon. I hate masks. And I’m tired of people being assholes simply because they can.

At the risk of being accused of being woke*, if I’m tired, what about the Asian community in Atlanta who are shaken by people in their community who were gunned down in cold blood for no reason? Sure, you can say the shooter was motivated by a sex addiction. But the facts remain–everyone killed or shot was Asian. And crime against Asians have increased since the beginning of the pandemic.

What about the people of color, who have to tell their kids–in particular, their sons–about how to act and not act in a simple interaction with a member of law enforcement? I never felt the need to have those discussions with my kids. Over the past year, I’ve heard a couple dozen people of color say that’s a standard part of parenting for them.

The one discussion I had like that was with my daughter before she started college. If you put a drink down at a party, consider it gone. If you drink beer, drink it out of a bottle and put your thumb over the top. Because you have that discussion with your daughter. My daughter runs sometimes, but she won’t run when it’s dark out. When I run, it’s typically before the sun comes up. It fits my schedule and it’s a requirement six months out of the year in Florida.

As a guy, I don’t have to worry about that.

I don’t like references to privilege, because it implies that there’s something wrong with what I can enjoy. There isn’t. It should be the standard.

Just because I’m a white dude doesn’t mean I’m not tired. I’m not alone in that. But I need to understand that other people might be a little more tired or stressed.

When my wife’s tired and stressed, I try to accommodate her. I try to give her a little extra benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t mean I’m less stressed or tired. It doesn’t mean I don’t need or get a break when I need it, or that my stress or fatigue is any less important or real.

Let’s face it. Everything below the waist…is kaput..

So, yeah, I’m tired. And I’m not alone. Some people are a little more stressed and tired. But I’ve got some extenuating circumstances, too. Sometimes I need to reach back a little, but that doesn’t mean I always need to be the one giving support.

This isn’t a post about guilt. Guilt misses the point. God chose to make me a white dude. It’s about understanding and listening.

* — If I’m woke, I’m the very first woke fascist.

My crystal ball is broken like a Corelle Ware dish on a tile floor.

In church this week, we talked briefly about the things we worship rather than God. The pastor went through the usual list: money, fame, power, and all that.

I worship myself. More to the point, I worship my abilities. I’m really good at figuring out the best way through a difficult circumstance. It’s not easy, and sometimes you have to settle for the least awful alternative, but I fully believe whatever team I’,m working with will get there, even if it takes shear force of will. I believe I will find a way through whatever challenge is placed before me because I’m good at that.

Because of fibromyalgia, I can’t count on those abilities. To be clear, they’re still there. Most days, I can piece things together and come out ahead.

But I can’t on my ability to do that on demand the way I used to. I can’t fully depend on myself.

Through most of my life, I’d be angry about that. Although I’d focus my anger inwardly, it’s really directed at God–except you can’t call God a stupid, incompetent loser who doesn’t come through in the clutch.

I have cause. I used to be able to run five miles a day practically every. I can’t do that now. I used to be able to work through hell days on top of hell days and have something left when I log off. That’s not happening either.

I did nothing to earn this. It’s not like I went out and took a dip in the Fibro pond against all advice. This condition found me.

And yet, I’m grateful. Not always, but as often as possible.

There’s no way for me to forecast whether tomorrow will be a good day or a day when I close the blinds and let the world go by outside. Each day that isn’t awful is a precious gift. And each day that is awful is just a bridge to the next decent day. So that’s a gift, too–because it gets me there.

My crystal ball is broken like a Corelle Ware dish dropped on a tile floor

I have to give up control over things–surrender my absolute faith in my abilities. I have to accept that as ugly as it gets, I have a Father who has already said he’d take care of me.

Someday I’ll be done working for a living. That day isn’t tomorrow or the day after. It’s a ways away. Far enough that I’d be terrified if I had to do it on my own at this point. There’s comfort in the fact that I don’t have to figure all of that out. I can take it day by day and go from there.

And that has to be enough. Because if I do anything else, I probably won’t make it that far.

We don’t need to fat shame, but we need a respectful national discussion about obesity

Quite a few years ago, I was in WeightWatchers (now WW) with a group primarily made up of women. In the first meeting we did the basic why are you here? and what do you hope to acheive? introduction questions. My answers:

I’m here because I’m fat and I want to be less fat.

I’m not joking when I say there were gasps at my choice of answers. I was a wise ass, but that’s why I was there. To me, saying the word demystified it. It took away its power. Clearly, I see the world differently than a lot of people.

According to the CDC, 78% of the Covid patients requiring hospitalization, a ventilator, or who died were overweight (a body mass index [BMI] of 25 or higher) or obese (a BMI of 30 or higher). Those values compare to findings that 69% of Americans are either overweight or obese. In other words, people high BMIs were overrepresented in severe covid cases by nine percent.

While that difference isn’t enormous, it’s significant. As my primary-care physician is fond of telling me, being overweight is the trigger for a number of health complications. And even though none of my numbers are awful, if I dropped some weight, they’d be ideal. (A few years back, I weighed a little more than 30 pounds less than I do now and my numbers were outstanding. I also looked awesome in a shirt. And I looked decent out of it, if you know what I’m saying.

Me in 2014, when I looked good in a shirt.

Obesity places an enormous burden on the health system and degrades the quality of life for a lot of people in that category. When a pandemic occurs, obesity multiplies that burden because of the underlying health problems that come with it. Beyond health and financial systems, that extra sickness places a burden on our family and friends, too.

Which brings me back to my original point. I could stand to be healthier in my eating habits. I could stand to drop a shirt size or two. And to wear thinner pants.

It’s not a moral failing on my part that I got this way. It’s the result of decisions I made. I can refine those decisions to create a better life style. I’ve been working on since my life changed about a month ago, and I need to take the next step.

I see a place I want to change because I can make my life better. And I’m slowing evolving to a lifestyle that’ll help.

The problem is, we haven’t figured out an acceptable way to have that conversation. In the late 60s and early 70s, we figured out how to talk about smoking. Since the early 80s, we’ve figured out how to talk about impaired driving.

But with obesity, the best we can is affirm that every weight is ideal and you’re perfect even if your weight causes enormous potential for health problems. Even hinting that healthier habits are better and that every weight isn’t ideal is bullying and fat shaming.

It’s even fashionable in some circles to shame people who aren’t overweight. In 2014, Meghan Trainor made a mint with All About That Bass, which included the lyric “Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that.” With all respect, some of those skinny bitches are up at 4:45 every morning running to stay that way.

Meghan Trainor, who sang All About that Base. Base is great, but treble doesn’t mean you’re a bitch.

This isn’t to support fat shaming. There’s no reason to be a schmuck about weight. But there’s a plethora of reasons to talk honestly and respectfully about the health dangers of obesity.

My first discussion needs to be with the guy I watch shaving every morning. He’s not currently at significant risk for Covid or diabeetus, but he has a chronic condition which can be significantly controlled by diet. And he still wants to look really good in a shirt some day.

Nationally, we need to figure out a way to have that discussion without everyone jumping on the fat shaming train. Seventy-eight percent of the people who were severely impacted by the Covid had the same risk factor. We shouldn’t be jerks about that risk factor, but we shouldn’t celebrate it, either.

Fate whispers to the warrior, “You can’t handle the storm.” “Dude, I eat the storm for breakfast.” (Damn right, I do.)

Back in the old days, when I used to do obstacle challenges, I did a Spartan Sprint at Raymond James Stadium. It was pretty cool, except there was very little mud and a lot of concrete. Like Tough Mudder, you were encouraged to skip obstacles you didn’t feel comfortable with. But if you skipped, you had to do burpees. Being in shape at the time, I didn’t care. Burpees were okay.

Tough Mudder was more fun because of the mud and the team focus and the free beer you got at the end. And before each race, you recited the Tough Mudder pledge.

It’s been a few years since I looked at this pledge. Even though I can’t run a Tough Mudder at this time, it’s still as relevant to my life today as it was tben, and I’m probably better at meeting it’s lofty standards.

This week, I saw the Spartan Prayer for the first time. In reality, they lifted it from someplace and threw a Spartan brand on it. A brief google showed it as the Paratrooper’s prayer. One of the versions ends with “I ask You these things Lord, because I can’t ask them of myself.”

I love this prayer. If ever there were a 2020/2021 prayer, this is it. If we’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that uncertainty and doubt, torment and battle, are there whether you ask for them or not. The world has taught us this, and my personal experience has driven it home. When I wake up in the morning, I don’t know what my body’s going to decide that day.

Whatever it is, it is. It’s up to my what I make of it.

A Fibro Facebook group posted asking if we could wave a magic wand and make our biggest Fibro challenge disappear, what would we choose.

I responded that at the risk of missing the point, I wouldn’t choose anything. This is reality and it’s up to me to be creative and find a way. I’d love my old life back and if that happens, I won’t say no. But until then I’m playing the cards I’m dealt.

Right now, it’s the only thing that works for me. if I fantasize about something going away, then I judge my current situation as wrong. It’s not wrong. Or right. It just is. Because I have no mystical power or magic want, I won’t waste energy on pretending about it. This is difficult stuff. I need to direct my effort and my courage there.

And finally, since Spartan brought it up, God has said that I won’t be facing this alone. I won’t say to bring it; it’s already hear. Bitching about it won’t make it better. It’ll make me lose focus on my sizable ability to adapt, to improvise, and to overcome.

There’s really no other viable alternative at this point.

No, you can’t do this forever. Do it for today.

Note: Three days ago, I said I wouldn’t be allowing fibro to dominate this blong, hence, Fibro Saturday. Technically, this post is Fibro-adjacent. Also, it’s my blog, so…

The days have been a little harder lately. When I woke up yesterday, my body–that one that had given me a tough Sunday, told me it would be a tough Monday. I still did my walk, though I scaled it back to the minimum of half an hour with a very slow pace.

As I logged in and started work, I thought of the entire week in front of me. Then I thought about all the weeks that would be required of me. Although that number isn’t nearly as high as it once was, it’s pretty big.

I can’t do this, I thought.

Unless I hit Powerball, I have to do this. although some days will be hard, I can probably get myself there. It’s just gonna be a lot of work. But if I keep thinking about the totality of days required, the trek to the end won’t be much fun.

So maybe I shouldn’t think about the totality of days. Maybe I should get through today. Then repeat it all tomorrow, then the next day. To consider anything more is to allow the days to become an endless gray void, bereft of color or fun. I want more than that.

Richard Castle by way of Roald Dahl

Six years ago, the last time I was sick, each morning when I woke, my thought was of how many more times I had to haul myself out of bed before Saturday came and I could rest. Four more times. Three more times.

That approach got me there, but it assumed that each day before Saturday would be tough and miserable. Whatever I had in 2015 went away. (I had a friend tell me it would.) Maybe it will this time, too. I could wake up tomorrow feeling the way I before. Odds are against it, but I can’t discount the possibility.

It’s not just fibro where this approach is useful. If I could go back to younger-Chris as he went through the various struggles of life, I’d have told him just to get through today, that everything ends eventually. And in most cases (at least so far) it’s ended pretty positively.

So why not do your best today, then let tomorrow take care of itself when you get there?

The day to day approach right-sizes problems in a remarkable way. Sometimes Fibro flares for a period of time and goes away. It’s possible that’s already happened to me once.

If you’re looking at an endless gray void, I feel for you. I’ve been there. I’ll probably be there again. If that happens, at last I’ll have written this, so I can tell myself to go back to what some smug, self-assured bastard wrote that day, and pretend it’s real and valid, at least for a few hours.

Then I can sleep and try it all again.

The old world is gone. And that’s okay.

A couple weeks ago, in a fit of angst, I changed my Facebook cover photo to the one below.

It’s a shot from The Leftovers, which I’ve been watching lately, created by a group in the show call the Guilty Remnant, or the GR. They believe that when 2% of the world population just vanished–the catalyst for the show–the world effectively ended, so what’s the point of going on. They’re like new ex-smokers (ironic, considering they smoke like old-time sportswriters).

The day I posted the picture, I was in a downcast mood. Some stuff happened politically, there was more challenging news about the Damn Covid™, and I didn’t feel all that great.

It was meant as a negative thing.

And it’s not wrong. We’re never going back to 2019. Or 1986. Or whatever year you want to suggest as the pinnacle of existence. Even if Doc Brown showed up with the DeLorean, the role of you at that time is already filled–by you. You’d be an outsider. You wouldn’t belong.

He can’t fix today’s struggles. Even with a Mr. Fusion.

So here we are–in 2021, for all it’s plusses and minuses.

And there are plusses. The biggest plus is that everything ends–and that means we’ll get shots in our arms and eat at restaurants again and we won’t all suffer from maskne–zits under your mask. I mean, seriously, I’m <redacted> years old and I got a friggin zit. If that’s doesn’t show how messed up we are, I don’t know what will.

But we’ll get there. You’ll eat in a restaurant again. And you won’t have tan lines all over your face. And though we haven’t figured out what they are yet, good things will happen as a result of all this.

On Mad Men, Don Draper has to counsel a guy he has to fire. The guy asks him what he’ll tell his family. He says, “You’ll tell them it didn’t work out, because it didn’t. And you’ll tell them the next thing will be better, because it always is.”

The guy he said that to killed himself. It didn’t get better because he couldn’t see the possibility. He didn’t give the future a chance. If you don’t believe it can be better, it won’t be. It’ll suck.

If you don’t believe in even the possibility of magic, you’ll never, ever find it.

So yeah, the old world is gone. We’re in a new direction. It’s scary as crap, but that’s when we’re tested, and that’s when magical things can happen.

So, 2020 (and early 2021), it didn’t work out because it didn’t, and the next thing will be better because it always is.

I got fibromyalgia (I feel good)

When the rheumatologist diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, I was almost energized.

I’ve had pretty significant bone and joint pain for about two months and nothing on the Internet seemed to match my symptoms. But within minutes, the rheumatologist told me what I had. there are 18 potential pain points in your body. If you have pain in 11 of them, it’s probably a match. Though I met the criteria, my pain in those areas wasn’t extreme. When he pressed, it hurt a little, but nothing worth mentioning. So I mentioned it, but said it wasn’t bad. That’s how it goes with men. With women, that test can be extremely painful.

(The touch test has been de-emphasized. Given the nature of fibromyalgia, it’s entirely possible it won’t hurt on any given day. The official diagnosis requires widespread pain throughout your body for three months; so officially, I’m not there yet, but it was a useful diagnostic.)

Women make up about 90 percent of diagnosed fibromyalgia cases. But there’s educated conjecture that a lot of men go undiagnosed. That’s likely because a lot of men and women go undiagnosed. And men does register the as much pain in the touch test.

The undiagnosed just live with the pain and other symptoms. For me, pain, brain fog, and malaise are the main symptoms, but others have digestive issues and light and noise sensitivity. And many people have this for years with no understanding why. I was blessed to find out so quickly.

Lady Gaga has fibromyalgia and she did a Super Bowl halftime show.

When the rheumatologist diagnosed me, it was like a weight was lifted. Now I know what it is, and I can attack it.

Currently, there’s no cure for this condition, but you can manage it. I started by downloading the Mayo Clinic Fibromyalgia book. It’s a great primer. Among its wisdom: what you eat is important to controlling this, and though it’s not psychosomatic, your mental and emotional approach is vital.

Great book to start. About $11 on Kindle and $17 in hardcopy.

This is where this post stops being specifically about fibromyalgia.

I’ve been wanting to clean up my diet for a long time. This is giving new motivation. Since the diagnosis a week a go, I’ve improved a lot. And since it’s a continuum, I’ll keep improving. And I’m not jonesing for half a pizza and a bag of spiced gum drops.

I’m eating blueberries and oatmeal for breakfast. If that’s settling, count me in.

But my mind is more important. Last week, I took half a day of sick time on Monday and an hour on Wednesday. Monday, I was struggling, looking at words that made no sense to me (fibro fog). Wednesday, the pain was probably the worst of my life–9 out of 10 much of the day. But my mind was clear and I had things I needed to finish. I rested here and there, but got them done.

I feel good about that. I feel good about the entire week–though I missed some time. Previously, I’d have said I needed to figure out a better way. That the full week is the goal. It is the goal, but until I figure this out, it might be unattainable on a regular basis.

Until then, this is the better way. There’s nothing wrong or lazy with treating yourself as a valuable thing, because you are. My rest wasn’t taking away from what I got done, it enabled my completing them.

This is my reality now. And in spite of the pain, it’s not a bad reality. No one dies of fibromyalgia. It’s not degenerative. Your brain just misreads normal messages from your nervous system as pain. That means, once I figure this out, I get my life back. And I get a healthier diet and better mental focus, which I wanted anyway.

Wednesday was hard, but everyone had hard days. Mine’s is just a little different. I survived it. When it comes again, I’ll know it’s not forever. That’s enormous.

These days, my body’s marbled with pain in the 2-3 range, and I’m surviving that, too. I’m not running five miles, but one of the first things I did was to Google fibromyalgia marathon. I found a guy who didn’t just run a marathon, but who does half triathlons. If he can do that, I can get back to running and maybe accomplish the marathon.

This guy is a face of fibromyalgia.

My first steps aren’t massive. I ran a mile Friday. Today, I went out to run and my body said no, so I took a brisk two-mile walk. Today, I ran a mile and a quarter and walked the rest of the time. (The Mayo book says half an hour of exercise a day is important.)

But the steps are there, and with each step, the next one’s easier.

In short, sometimes this will suck. But that’s life. Everyone has hard days. But I might actually be better off for this in the long run. That’s not just pollyanna fake-it-til-you-make it noise. I really believe that.

What I want outside this reality is irrelevant. God’s allowing me to face this challenge and he’s there with me throughout. I’m up to it, even if the hill’s a little steeper than I anticipated.

That’ll make every accomplishment that much sweeter.

Final note: Everyone’s experience is different and there are people whose fibromyalgia is so bad they can’t work. My path is mine only. You may have different limitations and a different experience.