When you deal with major life illness, quite a number of unexpected things could happen. I’m going to focus on one in particular.
First, something expected happened when I had to leave work on disability: I gained a new perspective on life. I changed my mind about what I thought was important. A lot of people talk about that happening. Even healthy people expect that to happen to anyone dealing with a big illness. But then something unexpected happened, too: I had a lot of time to think. It makes sense to me now, but I hadn’t considered it before. Back when I was unemployed because I quit my job, I was busier than ever. I volunteered, did housework, met up with friends for lunch, exercised regularly, spent time looking for a new job, caught up on random life stuff (you know the constant “to do” list.) But this is different. I can’t go out much. I spend a lot of time at home and alone. At the beginning my brain was foggy and my memory was lousy so that I couldn’t do much reading or serious thinking. But thankfully those symptoms have improved. Now I read a lot of personal development books and blogs and I take the time to really think about them. After all, what else am I able to do?
I’ve been trying to stay positive and believe that I will get better at some point. The new treatment has helped a bit, and I’ll probably change the dose or try a different version soon. I really do think something will help. I know that I’ll never be truly “healthy.” There’s just been too much damage to my body. Still, I could be well enough to work, date, and socialize more. And when I think about that life, now I have a pretty good idea of what I do and don’t want it to include.
I don’t want to work too much or spend too much time doing boring chores and errands. Yes, the laundry has to be done and meals have to be cooked, but that needs to be balanced out with more fun things. I want to spend a lot of time in nature. I want to be around people I who make me happy and vice versa. I want to save my money so that I can quit working as soon as possible. Mostly, I want a simple life. I want to get rid of the clutter around my apartment (I’m working on that now, bit by bit.) I want to be present in the moment. I want to keep my to do list free of unnecessary things. I want to cross things off my to do list each day without stress, to just do them without procrastinating and then move on. I want to exercise regularly. I want to keep my health at the forefront by eating right, exercising often, and taking care of myself in general.
It’s so easy to imagine this life. I’m sure it will be harder to carry it out, but I sure plan to try! I imagine going to bed at a decent hour and waking up after 8 or 9 hours of sleep. I work efficiently at my own business for the first few hours of the day. (I think I will have to have my own business so I can have flexible hours and can work from home to accommodate my health issues.) I will take a nice walk, then eat lunch. Then I’ll work a bit more. I’ll stop working in the middle of the afternoon (I’m working on a plan to do the job part-time) and then use the rest of the afternoon to buy groceries, cook meals, do laundry, exercise more, etc. I will have the evenings free for dating, socializing, etc. My weekends will be free for that also. I will do as many chores and errands as I can during the week so that they don’t overrun my weekends. I will avoid shopping unless it’s completely necessary. I won’t buy anything unless I truly need it. I will get rid of anything in my home that I don’t really need. I will get rid of my car if I get healthy enough (I live on public transportation, so I only keep my car because some days I’m unable to walk to the bus or train.) I will spend most of my time enjoying nature and being with friends. I’ll save up the money I don’t spend so that I can retire young. After I retire, I’ll be able to volunteer more. I may even start a nonprofit. I’ve had an idea for a nonprofit floating around in my head for a while now, but I’m not healthy enough to manage it yet. If I feel able to, I’ll travel. There is so much in this world that I want to see and I’d be grateful to see even a small part of it.
Ok, I know this sounds a bit idealistic. And maybe it is. But I think I can do it, at least mostly. Sure, there will be stressful days. There will be days that I flip my priorities on their heads. That’s ok. It’s ok as long as most days are the way I just described. It will take effort and patience, but I’ll do it because I think it will be worth it.
So that’s the potential future that I’m picturing for myself. I don’t know if I will ever have the opportunity to try it, but I’m sure as hell going to keep working towards that goal!
Side note: If you like the idea of simplicity, try starting here: bemorewithless.com This is my favorite simplicity blog at the moment.