On one of my recent daily walks, I finished an audio book I’d been listening to before completing my route home. I decided a little upbeat music might help me finish and so I touched the audio player screen to launch my Top 25 Most Played playlist. I hadn’t listened to these songs in awhile and was delighted when some of my old favorites rang out in my ears (be thankful you weren’t nearby when I sang along!). One of these songs was I’m In A Hurry by Alabama (I told you they were old).
This song got me thinking and also reminiscing. The lyrics, in case you were never into country music or haven’t heard this song in years, go something like this: I’m in a hurry to get things done, I rush and rush until life’s no fun. All I have to do is live and die, but I’m in a hurry and don’t know why. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. These lyrics describe the life that many of us live today; we are so busy doing that we never stop and think about truly living an amazing life. I can tell you that living with chronic illness (and also aging, though I don’t want to admit to that one) helps to put life into better perspective. The old saying that, “with age comes wisdom,” certainly seems true. Both chronic illness and aging have the ability to slow us down physically. I’ve learned that when lupus slows me down, I’m never happy about it… yet I no longer rush and rush until life’s no fun. Though lupus and joint issues have the ability to zap my energy and restrict my movement, the combination of lupus and age forces me to prioritize my day by the things that are most important.
In the past, the things that were most important to me were things on my To Do List, like work, carpool, groceries and other errands that had me running from place to place until I collapsed into bed at night, only to get up and do it all over again the next day. I never really looked at that list and thought about the things that I wanted to do, these were all things I felt I should do. And here’s where the wisdom comes in: I’ve now learned that it is not the rushing from activity to activity that my grown children or my husband and I remember, it’s the time we spent doing things together as a family. The things I often prioritized really didn’t matter so much in the long run. If the laundry didn’t get done on a certain day, everyone made do. If there were a few dust bunnies under the bed when the children were little and I chose to read them a book instead of dusting, they were still waiting patiently to be swept up the next day (unlike real bunnies, these couldn’t hop too far!).
I really have learned that slowing down (although sometimes forced) often brings a sense of calm to my life and my family. Lingering around the dinner table after a meal and chatting isn’t wasting time. In this world of striving, I wonder in the end what I’ll consider my greatest achievement. I’m guessing it won’t be the amount on a paycheck or the hours I’ve “saved” by skipping a vacation to work, or the rushing from activity to activity with my children. Rather, I’m quite certain that, when I one day look back on my life, my greatest achievement will be rooted in the love shared with family and friends, the strength of those connections, and the memories we share that bind us together and add purpose and meaning to life.
About Cindy Coney: Ambassador of hope and author of The Wild Woman’s Guide to Living with Chronic Illness, Cindy Coney is a nationally acclaimed speaker, trainer, human resilience expert, and philanthropic force. Dedicated to helping both children and adults achieve optimal health and success, Cindy has taught thousands of people to move beyond coping with limitations to recapturing joy and fulfillment in their lives.
Diagnosed with lupus in 1980, Cindy has since driven a race car 124 miles per hour; completed the Chicago Marathon; championed countless nonprofit organizations; presented to the World Lupus Congress as a keynote speaker; and shared her inspiring, empowering story from Belize to Baltimore.
Follow Cindy’s Blog at www.cindyconey.com