Kia Ora again!
I have gradually become very slack at writing blogs, so I apologise to anyone following me for updates. As I mentioned in my last post, a lot has happened this year already, so my brain has been swamped with thoughts and I haven’t been able to write anything that is fluid. Please bear with me, as this post is a whole bunch of muddled and messy musings; I feel you may need a coffee for this one!
A common theme that’s been running through my mind recently is happiness. About a month ago, on my Facebook time-hop, it told me that 5 years ago I posted this quote,
“Life is like a mirror. It always looks better if you smile at it”
The day that this popped up, I was having a particularly bad day with my anxiety and was stuck in the valley of “I don’t want to smile because everything sucks.” Of course, the reality of this is not true – it is scary how reflecting on when I last posted this, made me realise how much happier I am now then I was when it was written. I have come so far from the bedridden Keira, but it is so easy to forget it!
I know I’m not alone with sudden realisations of how good we have it compared to other people. Just looking at the world’s current situations – bombings, mass shootings, natural disasters and so on, it really hits home that our time here on earth is short, and that we really need to grab our happy moments, and enjoy them as much as we can. For me, I momentarily lose my happiness because of simple things, which then snowball into full on meltdowns.
The last few months, I struggled with talking to friends and I slowly (and accidentally) cocooned back into myself (forgetting to even skype friends back home!) I apologise to anyone who has taken this personally, I needed some time out to be with just Elliot and God, and remember the big picture. I get particularly down when I start to compare myself with others, and although I make a conscious effort not to do this much, when talking with friends about long term goals (like family planning, buying a house, or adventure plans) it’s hard to accept where I am. I long for just one day that I don’t wake up exhausted and in pain, and then the cycle of thoughts haunt me until I’m having a full blown anxiety attack about never being able to work/afford to live life like my peers. Again, when I calm down I know this is not the truth, but sometimes it takes me longer than others to realise that. Sometimes I don’t even notice I’ve lost my happiness until someone close to me points it out. It’s definitely a balance of thinking positively but also processing the negative.
Another catalyst for my latest meltdown was my last trip to the Marfan Clinic. If you have been following my blog from the start, or you’ve read any articles about me, you will know since age 11 I have been clinically diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome. Although my parents thought this was genetically confirmed, we decided to get me re-tested to see if I was eligible for the 100k human genome project. My doctors (and the geek in me!) were quite excited to find a new mutation causing my symptoms, and we’d hope this would help join some more dots in connective tissue disorder genetics. However, my basic screening showed that I actually have a TGFβ2-ligand mutation. In other words, I don’t actually have Marfans, instead, I have a condition called Loeys-Dietz Syndrome (Type 4). Now really, this could be a whole post in itself, so I will update more when I have come to better terms with my new diagnosis. But for now, it means a whole lot more tests, and potentially a lot more complications and possible surgeries for the future. However, for now, I look to be a very mild case, and will continue my regular check ups.
This diagnosis definitely put a spanner in the works of my life plan though; it means I have to be a lot more careful (possibly no more bungee jumps 😉) and it puts a halt on family planning for now – but I know deep down that God is in control and He will make all things work together for my good. I just have to hold onto that hope, and keep enjoying my life for now.
To put it all into perspective for me, after this diagnosis, I was part of a team who went to Romania on a missions trip. For a long weekend, we helped run a camp for kids in an orphanage and a soup kitchen, from the town where our Romanian friends are from. These kids have very little – some of the soup kitchen kids live in terrible circumstances, with no power, hot water, or toilets. Some of the orphanage kids were abandoned when young, or have been saved from abusive households. Yet these kids were genuinely happy, and genuinely appreciative. Their genuine smiles are ingrained in my memory, and it really made me reflect on how happy I am. Since then, I’ve been much more aware of the little things that make my life as great as it is, and appreciate the basics a lot more.
In some ways, this period of reflection has been much needed, it has forced me to rest in between my hectic schedule. I’m now working almost full time as a nanny, for three different families, so along with youth group and church commitments it’s safe to say I’m still as busy as always. But I am loving it – I’m happy that I have the opportunity to work, and especially working with adorable children!
I’ve learnt that you really need to actively smile at life in order for your reflection to smile back. That no matter what is happening, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and things will get better. After all, in the words of Charles Spurgeon, “It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness”
I encourage you to also take some time out and remember the little things that make you happy. And please come back to read my next blog which will include Moroccan musings!