Intro: I’m very excited to introduce you to our guest blogger today… The Female Yoda! Check out her blog at thefemaleyoda.com, and in particular, take a moment to view her new children’s e-book, Once Upon a Lyme, which teaches children about ticks and Lyme prevention in a gentle, whimsical manner. I’ll be giving away 100 Once Upon a Lyme books to Words From The Sowul readers… oh wait. I don’t have to. It’s already free!
Hi, Words from the Sowul readers! The Female Yoda, here. But you can call me The Foda. I’ve been an avid Sowul-searcher (yes, pun intended) for some time now, so I’m thrilled to be guest posting here today!
You see, I’m a blogger for people dealing with chronic illnesses who are looking for hope, humor, and inspiration as they learn how to grow and smile through adversity. (I also may or may not make a rather large number of Star Wars references… hence, my alias.) I myself have been battling Lyme Disease for many years now, and since May is Lyme Disease awareness month, I was so excited when Leanne asked me to do a guest post. Especially since her focus this month is on the topic of beauty.
You see, dear readers, I make a very pretty sick. My illness doesn’t show up in casts or crutches, it doesn’t claim all my hair, and if you meet me while I’m sitting down, you’d probably have no idea there was anything wrong with me. Well, until you saw me try to walk away. And then you’d probably look at me oddly, trying to figure out what kind of weird swagger I’m trying to mimic. (Ah, joint pain. Making me walk like an arthritic ostrich since 2011.) But I digress.
The point is, my illness is, for the most part, invisible. Which, on one hand, can be quite nice, because it allows me to choose how much I want to tell people when we meet for the first time. On the other hand, it creates a real division of self, because most people don’t understand why I can’t do a lot of things, or just how debilitating Lyme Disease can be, which can be very isolating and instigates many “woe is me, no one understands me!” moments. When asked how I’m doing, (which I tend to gloss over, lest I be graced with the awkward deer-in-headlights I have no idea what to say to that look) most of the time the conversation ends with people saying: “well, you look great!”
Why, thanks. That’s like telling a plus sized woman she has “such a pretty face.” It’s supposed to be a compliment. But actually, it’s a blatantly rude consolation message as if that one superficial thing is more important than the person as a whole.
This “pretty” sickness of mine has caused a lot of change in my life, and forced me to adapt not only how I see myself, but also what I place value on in my life. I used to, like most women, place great value on my appearance and my physical accomplishments. When I graduated college, I told my parents it was more important to me that they attended my first half-marathon than my graduation ceremony. That’s just how important these physical accomplishments were to me. Then when I lost the ability to run, or even walk more than a few minutes, I felt lost. I looked the same- but I wasn’t. And it took me years to let go of what used to make me feel powerful and beautiful and learn how to find it in who I am rather than what I do.
You see, I am a born creative. Nothing makes me feel better than when I make something from nothing with my own two hands, whether that’s writing, painting, song-writing, or sewing an obscene number of throw pillows. (Because, really, who doesn’t want to live in a house of pillows??!!) And these are things that represent who I am because they come from a place of inner happiness and spirit. And more importantly, these are the things no one will be able to take away from me, no matter how old or debilitated I get. Creation. That is my true beauty. That will be my legacy.
So today, I’d like to shout out to all the other “pretty sicks” out there. Perhaps you, like me, deal with an invisible obstacle in your life. Maybe it’s an illness. Or perhaps you’ve been depressed for some time, and mask it from the world with a smile. Maybe it’s just a really tough time in your life right now. Whatever it is, however “pretty” your sick or situation may be, it doesn’t make it any less real. But it also doesn’t take away the true eternal beauty in your soul. It just may take some time to learn how to find it. But once you do, the external things- the parts of you that change and evolve with life- those become the styrofoam peanuts they pack precious cargo in. And who you are becomes the real trophy. So I’d like to invite you to take a moment today to peruse your inner catalog and praise the priceless person within. (You catch, you!)