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- October 13, 2016 by AliThings That Make Having Crohn's Easier (And A Few Things That Make It Worse)
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The Lessons I Learned In 2012
I think maybe I’ve mentioned once or twice that 2012 just never quite felt like my year. A running injury plagued the early months…
…and from March through August I had that nagging Crohn’s flare-up that refused to quit.
But it wasn’t just my life that seemed daunting at times. The world, in general, was far from at peace in 2012. There were heartbreaking mass murders, people pushing other people to their deaths on the subway tracks, and natural disasters ripping entire communities to devastation.
This was not an easy year for many people.
Ultimately, of course, the year turned out pretty OK for me. Amidst the struggles, there were some awesomely life-changing developments.
In April, Brian and I moved in together.
In May, I met my new best friend, who instantly made my world a million times better.
By the time summer arrived, I had been promoted at work — editor in chief of my favorite magazine! — and served as maid of honor in my childhood best friend’s wedding.
And at the end of the summer, I was finally admitted to the hospital where my doctor gave me new drugs to end that pesky Crohn’s flare for a while.
When fall — my favorite season — kicked into high, colorful gear, I was feeling good. I was running again. I was even racing again.
I was traveling a lot for work and I was finally feeling stable.
Wrapping up the year with a ton of family time and a marathon PR was the peanut butter-flavored icing on my proverbial cupcake.
I’m big on doing the whole year end reflection thing. I love analyzing all that shit.
If I were to wrap up 2012 with a few words, I’d go with growth, strength, self-awareness and, simply, tough.
I feel like I struggled a lot in 2012, but those challenges, as much as I hated them, made me a stronger person.
And the lessons I learned? There were plenty of them.
I like to cook! Remember how one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to “cook a new, legitimate dish once per month?” And remember how I cursed that resolution repeatedly. Turns out…I liked it. I liked trying new things and I truly do enjoy being in the kitchen, following a recipe and then getting to chow down on the good thing I whipped up. I look forward to cooking more in the future because I want to, not because I forced myself to.
I specifically like cooking things that are described as “easy” or “done in just 30 minutes.”
I hate to grocery shop. That is why I never want to cook. If I lived in the suburbs, I bet I’d love grocery shopping, with those fancy carts and wide aisles and parking spaces for your car. But in the city, grocery shopping is a bitch. Fairway is a great grocery store, and I guess it’s reasonably priced for NYC, but it’s just far enough that I can’t carry a huge load of stuff back home. Also it’s crowded. Always. And the people there are nasty. They will push you to get ahead in the deli line. It’s un-fun and it scares me.
I enjoy racing! In moderation. Last year, I burned out on racing because I was doing the New York Road Runners 9+1 program. By the end of that year, the thought of pinning on a bib and latching a D-tag to my shoes was puke-inducing.
This year, I did one race in January with friends…
…and then didn’t race again until September. That huge break in racing reminded me of how fun it can be when it’s something you want to do…not something you have to do.
I hope to race more in 2013. I don’t know which distances I’ll be aiming for and I don’t have a single race planned for the year. But I think I’ll be back in the spirit of bib pinning and D-tagging.
I’m more in control of my life than I think sometimes. I’ve learned that while I may not be able to control specific situations, I can control how I react to them.
OK, I didn’t learn this lesson as much as Brian shoved this lesson down my throat and forced me to accept it. One too many freakouts over “things I can’t control” led to a few sit-down discussions about life and also my severe, obnoxious anxiety.
But this is a good one and it really has changed how I act when things don’t go my way.
Like last Friday, as Brian and I were on the MegaBus from Boston to NYC. We decided to “be frugal” and not fly or take the precious train. And naturally that was dumb. Because we sat in so much traffic that the bus ride took eight hours (it should only take four hours).
Around hour 6.5, I started to get pissed. Why was the bus taking so long? Why didn’t the MegaBus driver know a super secret back way to the city? Why couldn’t we blaze a tunnel to transport us to the city?
Naturally, in the seat to my right, Brian was totally chill about this. His face wasn’t red hot from rage and he was just sitting there, trying (unsuccessfully) to beat my Bejeweled high score. As I demanded he, too, get upset with me, he pulled the classic line: “Yeah, it sucks. But what can you do about it?”
Oh, right. Nothing. I can’t move the cars on 95 South. I can’t get out and run to the city, unfortunately. So I whipped out my own game of Bejeweled, rolled with it, and listened to outstandingly loud techno music.
It’s up to me to determine how much negativity to allow in my life. And I choose “little to none.”
There are people in life who enjoy and thrive off being angry. There are people who will bring their own unhappiness into your life. You can be around these people or you can not be around these people. This year, I distanced myself from a few of the people in my life who were massively bringing me down. I’m better for it. I choose to be happy.
I can do a handstand! I made this stupid New Year’s Resolution to do a handstand, and up until yesterday I hadn’t given it an honest shot. But then, I told Brian to “spot me and not let me die,” which to him meant “stand guard and protect the flat screen.” It took a few attempts, but then I held a handstand — unsupported — for just a few good enough seconds.
It’s silly to dwell on the little details in life when the big picture is so good. Like, OK, I don’t necessarily agree with every decision made by the higher-ups at the company I work for. And those things used to drive me crazy, as I’m sure everyone in this world can relate. But…so? I love my job. I love the work I do and I love my staff. Isn’t that more important than getting annoyed about a fifth email reminding me to label my food in the refrigerator?
I cannot eat a green apple and not burp afterward. I eat at least one of these at the office every day.
I always, unintentionally, burp afterward. I realize it’s disgusting. I’ve tried to kick the habit but I can’t. It’s involuntary. So I guess I’m giving up. I will eat my Granny Smith, damnit, and I will burp as needed. (Also, is it just me? Or is this a thing?)
Just because something affects you every day of your life doesn’t mean it defines you. For a long time this year, I felt like Crohn’s disease did define me because it affected every single thing I did every day. It was on the forefront of my mind every second of every day.
It was a phase. These days, Crohn’s isn’t something that controls my every move, and I’m so thankful for that.
I need to stop trying to plan everything. Turns out, the best things in life can happen when plans go awry.
That’s a wrap, 2012! Thanks for the challenges, thanks for the good times and thank you for pushing me to my limits — and helping me realize that my limits can be significantly pushed.
We had an OK run, 2012, and I am so damn glad you’re over.
Let’s do this, 2013!
WHAT DID YOU LEARN IN 2013? Share your best lessons. I love this stuff.