JoJoisms

Sometimes You Need a Pity Party

Written By: JoJoisms - Feb• 28•17

This month’s blast from the past: Sometimes You Need a Pity Party: 

I don’t think you’d be human if you were sunshine and roses every day, especially in the face of chronic struggles and hardships.  However, some will tell you you’re not a good Christian if you share that you are depressed or upset or frustrated.  It’s not like the Lord doesn’t know you feel this way. It hasn’t escaped His notice.  It’s not a sin to be angry or sad or frustrated with your situation.  It’s only destructive if you stay there.  It can actually be quite therapeutic to throw yourself a little pity party now and again.

I think the only people who don’t ever go down deep in the valley of despair are those who don’t have any problems. Know any people without any problems?  Me neither!

So when you are exhausted just after getting up in the morning, you go looking for your sandwich in the closet, your electric bill is past due and you have only two nickels to rub together…AGAIN, you will enter that valley.  What you do there and how long you stay will determine your quality of life and the joy you find in spite of it all.

The value of a pity party:

Allow yourself time to grieve and/or express your negative emotions so you can move on.  Without a pity party, some find it difficult to gather the strength to move on to life’s next chronic hurdle because they haven’t dealt with the previous one.  Making time to express your anger, sadness or frustration can help you get rid of those feelings.

What to do at your pity party:

Invite people to your pity party.  You don’t have to send out formal invitations or anything, but fellowship with one or two trusted, Christian friends or family members who understand what it feels like to deal with the issues you are struggling with.  They will not only understand and allow you to vent, but lead you back out of the valley of despair and back to the Lord.  They can help by validating your feelings so you aren’t concentrating your energy on justifying why you feel the way you do.  You have a right to your feelings.  You don’t have to marry them, but you have a right to them as you come by them honestly.

Play Woe is Me.  Express how you feel and allow that trusted friend or family member to see the real you–even if it isn’t pretty right now.  It’s your party and you’ll cry if you want to so…cry if you want to!  You’ll feel better afterward.

Allow friends or family to lift you up.  I know.  It’s frustrating to make one single statement and have well-meaning Christians immediately jump all over you about not being positive and tell you just to cheer up.  But once you’ve had a good cry (or scream as the case may be), you need to be lifted up out of the valley or you’ll be tempted to stay there.  And trust me, pity parties are a nice place to visit, but you don’t want to live there!  Your friends want to help.  Let them.

What to do after your pity party:

Have some FUN!  Here are a few ideas.  Go for a walk, see the beauty God put on this earth.  See the humor in your situation and poke fun at yourself. Lift someone else’s spirits.  Make someone laugh.  Concentrate on someone else’s problems for a while and try to help.  It’s amazing how focusing on others will draw you out of the pit you’ve fallen into.  Write about it.  Sing about it.  Hug your blessings…better known as your children.  Hug someone else’s children.  LOL

Pray.  Pray that God would take this from you and, if God doesn’t take the struggle away, pray that He would use it, your experience and you to lift someone else up.

Lastly, thank God.  Thank the good Lord for the good things in your life.  Count your blessings.  You have some!  Even in the lowest pit of despair, you have some blessings you can count.  If your dishwasher broke and you can’t afford to fix it, you can thank God your water bill is paid this month and you can afford dish liquid.  If you are so tired you can’t get up out of bed, thank Him for the bed you have.  If your pain level is high, thank Him for the life you have and the chance you have today to perhaps find your answers. Maybe you’ll discover something that helps you.  Maybe you’ll discover a $20 bill in the couch that will pay for a few groceries.  I know, I’ve looked there a time or two as well!

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed”—  2 Corinthians 4:7-9

I pray this has been helpful and uplifting. Please leave me some feedback in a comment.  Share your story.  Tell me what you’d like to see in the coming weeks as I share.  And please pass this post along to others who may need to start planning their own pity party. 

What do you think?

Menopause Comedy Video

Written By: JoJoisms - Feb• 21•17

For your giggling pleasure: YouTube Menopause Comedy Video…

For those of my readers who are struggling with menopause or peri menopause issues, it’s good to look at the funny side of the issues we face.  After dealing with these issues for almost 18yrs, I can tell you it’s better to laugh than the alternative so…Here’s a short comedy routine by Christian comedian Jeff Allen. 

Had me rolling! I can soooooo relate to the AC part!  

I’d leave the windows open in January during a snowstorm if I could! How ’bout you?  Comment with your own story and/or a great funny meno video you love!  Keep it family friendly, please. 

What Chronic Illness Sufferers Want for Valentine’s Day

Written By: JoJoisms - Feb• 14•17

Valentine’s Day might feel like a commercially forced day of celebration to some, but to those of us with chronic illness, we have our own issues with it.  Ever been too tired to go out to dinner?  Had too much pain to snuggle? It can be disappointing and frustrating both for us and for our spouses.

Often our spouses don’t know what to get us for Valentine’s Day even if we do celebrate it.  Here’s a list I put together that might help:

  1. Bring home dinner. That way we don’t need to cook and we can stay home and enjoy our time in a comfortable environment and rest if we need to.
  2. Cleaning Lady for a day!  A week of cleaning services to get our house in order.  That way we can start off with a clean house making it easier for us to maintain the cleaning if we can.
  3. Back rub/foot massage.

What would you like for Valentine’s Day?

My losses brought gain!

Written By: JoJoisms - Feb• 07•17

It’s 2017!  Boy does that sound weird to me!  I was born the middle of last century. I used to think 2001 was only a space odyssey!  But here we are and this new year is starting off with many new gains for my body that took place as losses in just the last few years.  That’s a few years of loss that brought gain. Here’s what I mean.

In 2014, I lost the use of my left hand for a while in a car accident. It was a roller coaster ride where we slid several hundred feet during a snowstorm, jumped a tree trunk, and came to rest on the roof of the car as we dangled from our seat belts with passersby certain we were all dead.  After much physical therapy and retraining myself to type, I have regained almost all the use of my right hand with the notable exception of being able to snap my fingers.  A great loss to my social life, I’m sure! ROFL  Now one might look at this as a bad thing and it WAS.  My hand was broken in three places, I don’t have full function, and it still aches from time to time.  But it is also a huge gain.  I gained my life!  It was amazing that we hit that snow covered downed tree trunk instead of sliding unencumbered to our death in the highway below.  Flipping over stopped us and saved us a painful death.  All four of us!  A pretty large gain in my book!

Additionally that year, I lost my gallbladder.  Good riddance I say as it caused me such excruciating pain that I was unable to eat anything for two weeks.  It’s a great diet plan if you’re a fan of fainting and nausea. My gain on that one was that my dh was working for a company that had JUST updated its health plan that we could afford and that covered many more things.  We are still paying our out of pocket deductible on that surgery, but I had a fabulous surgeon who got me right in and took care of a very sick ugly gallbladder with a penchant for pain.

In 2015, I lost the use of my shoulder after I nonchalantly raised my right arm to stretch upon waking up.  I heard a crack, felt incredible pain searing through my arm, and found that I was unable to move my arm in any direction even a slight amount without aggravating the pain monster so I kept it close to the vest for 8 months.  After extensive physical therapy, I was able to regain the use of my right arm for pretty much whatever I needed to do…unless that included being able to put my right arm behind me far enough to be able to apply soap to a particular part of my upper back.  BUT, not having the use of my right arm for 8-12 months meant that I had the opportunity to train my left hand to do some of the things I used to be able to do with my right.  Being right handed and quite NOT left handed, this did help!

2016 was the year of taking stuff out of JoJo!  Within a six month period of time, I had my left ovary and Fallopian tube, the rest of my womanly pieces parts to a radical hysterectomy, and two and 1/3 of my four parathyroid glands!  It seems they were gaining weight at an alarming rate causing all kinds of havoc with my energy and sucking all the calcium out of my bones.  I was 54 and had the bones of an 80 y/o!  They took so much stuff out of me, I’m now like Dr. Who’s TARDIS, bigger on the inside!  Within six months, I had had three surgeries, one of which was confirmed cancer.

The gain there was three fold: my life, my energy, and my bones.  I was a cancer survivor before even my doctors knew I had cancer and I didn’t even require chemo or radiation to rid myself of this mortality menace! My last surgery is the only one that has the capability to actually affect two of my most problematic symptoms of chronic illness that I’ve struggled with for years: fatigue and pain.  Having growths on your parathyroids cause fatigue and increased pain and, while they probably will not go away entirely, they both will be reduced this month after removing the little tyrants.  Lastly, my extremely fragile bones are already eating up the calcium to help build their strength back up.  And I never did experience a break which is usually how most women find out they have Osteoporosis!  My own mom had this happen that year. She was diagnosed with Osteopenia, but after breaking her hip, foot, and wrist, she was told she actually has Osteoporosis.  A very painful way to find out, I must say…and quite a painful recovery as well.

If I look at each pain, each surgery, each frustration from fatigue, all I can see is loss.  But when I look at the gains inside of the loss or the blessings inside of the pain, I’m able to feel better, blessed.  What gain do you see inside of the loss of your chronic illness?

Blast from the Past: The Blessings of Pain Part 2

Written By: JoJoisms - Jan• 30•17

And here now is part two of The Blessings of Pain.  You can check out part one here.

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JOJOWHANDS

5. Pain enables you to be sympathetic.

Not only do they feel compassion for those who are suffering, but they are sympathetic.  They not only say the right things, but they do so in the spirit of sympathy that means so much to others even if they haven’t experienced exactly the same struggle.

6. Similar pain enables you to be empathetic.

That sympathy goes above and beyond when they HAVE experienced exactly the same pain or problem.  Empathy is an even more powerful support than is sympathy.  To have someone who has been through the exact struggle you have been through, share with you, help you and say they understand is even more of a blessing.

So far you say, all these blessings are bestowed upon others.  But I tell you it is a blessing to be a blessing to others.  To give blessings blesses you in return. But if you need a blessing that is truly your own, look at these:

7. Pain makes you appreciative.

Those who have suffered a great deal appreciate the little things.  You get great joy from a simple flower, a pain free moment, a few extra dollars, a bit of free time, a rest, a beautiful day showing God’s beauty in the midst of your suffering.  Appreciation gives you hope and hope brings even more blessings.  Being appreciative of the little things means you are grateful for even small advances in treatment, tiny steps forward in financial matters, and most importantly grateful to God and other people for their help in getting through the tough times. You know the depths of sorrow and it stands in stark contrast to some of the wonders of the world and the amazing people you meet. Managing to be grateful helps you find joy even in the midst of pain.

8. Pain makes you stronger.

Though it doesn’t feel like it at the time, in retrospect, you do feel a sense of strength having gone through something so difficult.  Whether it’s physical or emotional pain and as difficult as it is to admit, we do feel as if we’ve overcome after we are over the worst of a particular struggle de jur. After the pain of childbirth, I don’t much worry about the pain I feel when I bang my knee.  As compared with the pain of worrying about my dd’s heart condition when she was young and seeing her jaw bone through her chin when she hit the ice while skating, I wasn’t as easily frazzled when she tore a ligament in Karate.  After having been through the pain of seeing her empty room when she left for college or when she spent a semester half way around the world in Russia, the sadness when she left to go to grad school in Texas didn’t seem as devastating to me.

My sister’s kids where always having high fevers and were forever getting sick.  I remember talking to her about my fear when my dd’s fevers would spike and she was able to reassure me based upon her experience.

People ask me about the stress of having to replace all of my electronic devices after a lightening strike took out 18 of them back in June.  I remember thinking, yeah. It’s a bit annoying having to buy and install or schedule repairs on all these items.  This was a mild annoyance, but we had the money to replace them all.  Having to figure out where to find the money to replace a $15 item was much more stressful!

Those of us suffering from chronic illness are pain warriors!  We’ve been through it all and back again and, though we’d never knowingly ask for it, we are stronger for having had to deal with it in our lives.  It’s been much easier to handle little setbacks the last several years than it was in the beginning of my journey with chronic illness. I used to immediately jump on the “freaked out” wagon.  Now it takes a lot more for me to get freaked out. To paraphrase a popular meme on Facebook, my track record for getting through difficult times is unblemished.  I’ve done it each and every time and God has been there every step of the way with me.  It’s not too much of a leap to assume He’ll be there again and I’ll come through.

Has sanity returned to JoJo? While I’d never choose pain and I do whatever I can to alleviate it, I do count these among my blessings.  If you have to have pain, at least there is something good that comes of it.  “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” -Romans 5:3-5

My debate class learned a lot that week. I’m proud of them for reaching into their hearts to see the blessings past the pain they saw in the world, in their families or inside themselves.  How can YOU see the blessings in your own pain?  Please share your comments/feedback here as a blog comment.  And please share this blog post with others who you think will benefit by seeing the blessings in their pain.

Blast from the past: The Blessings of Pain Part 1

Written By: JoJoisms - Jan• 23•17

I wrote this blog post back in 2014 when I started this blog and it got incredible feedback that it is now on my Article Archive section.  Each month though, I’m going to bring you a blast from the past to remind my readers (and myself) about some lessons I had learned as a chronic illness survivor. This month’s is probably the one I get the most comments about: The Blessings of Pain: Part 1.

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JOJOWHANDSOkay. JoJo’s gone off the deep end!  Brain fog has taken over and she’s completely out of her mind!  I hear ya out there.  You’ve stuck with me through some of my other unusual posts, but this one’s gone too far.  Stick a fork in ‘er, she’s done!  As someone who is in a fair amount of physical pain as I’m typing this, I understand your horror at this title, but give me a few minutes of your time and I think you’ll see my sanity returning and you’ll be blessed.

This idea started as a debate topic.  You see, (those of you who may not have known me long) in a former life I was an author and speaker on communication skills at www.ArtofEloquence.com.  I used to teach speech, debate and communication classes both online and off. Nowadays, I’m too tired, overwhelmed and in pain to run my business much less teach so I only do that on rare occasions.  This month was one such occasion.  I am teaching a homeschool co op class on debate.  One of the topics I picked was Pain is Good.  I figured it was something with which most teens would be unfamiliar and would be a good life lesson as well as a great debate topic.  Pain keeps us from more harm.  Even babies would remove their hand from the fire, right?

As I began putting my week’s lesson plan together, it occurred to me that, while I am not a fan of pain (emotional or physical) itself, enduring it can bring some blessings that I’d never have had the opportunity to experience had I been healthy. There are some lessons you only learn from pain.  There are some lessons life cannot teach without it.  There are some blessings you will never notice unless you’ve been through a day where you felt your head would explode or years when you thought if you woke up without pain one day, you would HAVE to be in heaven.

Pain itself is bad, but enduring pain can be a good thing and bring blessings you’d never have known-but you have look for them.  They can’t always been seen by the naked eye or heard above the white noise of the TV.  But as soon as I reveal to you how pain can bring blessings, you’ll never look at it the same way again. There are several ways in which pain can bring blessings into your life and the lives of those you touch.

1. Pain makes you compassionate.

The people who have suffered the most, tend to be the most compassionate.  The more struggles a person goes through, the more they have compassion for others who are going through difficult times.  I’ve known some amazingly compassionate people who consistently take time to support, uplift and help others.  I almost always find that they have suffered a great deal in their own lives and have a calling to be of help to others. There is a saying, “hurt people hurt people,” but I have found that struggling people help struggling people because they seem to have a heart for others and feel their pain as if it were their own–because it was (or is).

2. Pain makes you supportive.

Those who have struggled with something, especially for a long time, seem to have a need to alleviate the pain and suffering of others.  Their compassion manifests itself when they lift up and support others going through the same thing. They don’t want to see the pain–even if it’s in another’s life and not their own.

3. Pain gives you understanding.

Nobody can understand what another is going through like someone who has already been through it.  Understanding is a huge blessing to those who struggle with chronic illness, especially the kind we call invisible illness where test results and doctors don’t corroborate or justify their experience.  Most people with invisible illness are desperate to feel understood.  When they encounter someone who truly understands them, they feel vindicated and not so alone.  Someone acknowledges them. Someone truly hears them and understands and that is priceless to one who has been fighting the good fight alone for years.

4. Pain makes you a good servant.

Those who have struggled with something for a long time are not only compassionate, supportive and understanding, but they often go the extra mile to help relieve another’s suffering.  They are the ones who take a meal to a neighbor even though they, themselves, are having a rough day.  They bestow blessings upon others who are suffering and struggling with life’s difficulties.

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Stay tuned to this blog next week for part 2…

What do you wish people understood about your chronic illness?

Written By: JoJoisms - Jan• 17•17

Here’s your chance to explain how you feel and ask for what you’d like people to know about your chronic illness/issue.

I’ve talked to so many people who say that nobody who doesn’t deal with this on a daily basis can possibly understands what it’s like.  I agree.  Most situations that are not experienced personally cannot be fully appreciated.

Most people who don’t have to struggle with daily pain or fatigue or limitations can’t really have a proper understanding of what that person goes through on a consistent basis.

However, if we explain it to them, they can at least have an idea of what it means to us…to you.  So here is YOUR chance to explain.  Here’s is your chance to be heard.  Here is your chance to be better understood.

I’ve started us off with my Silent Pain poem. You may write a poem, post a YouTube video, song lyrics, or just write from your heart.

My heart is to allow you to be heard.  Allow you to express your grief, frustration, passion, struggle and be understood.  Maybe you can share this blog post (after folks have shared) with your loved ones so they can read through the comments and be a bit more understanding of what you go through.  Maybe someone else can explain one of the things you deal with better than you could.  I could.

So I’d like to take this week, this time, and allow you, my readers to share from your heart in order to help educate others who don’t understand.  That way each of us is comforted in knowing we are not alone.

So…

What one thing do you most wish others understood about your chronic illness/issue?

Go!

Fun with JoJo

Written By: JoJoisms - Jan• 10•17

Lest we forget to laugh, giggle and smirk our way through life’s difficult journey’s, I will be including a regular segment here this year I’m tentatively calling Fun with JoJo.  Humor is a HUGE part of JoJoisms and to JoJo’s approach to facing life’s challenges because it’s too hard to go through a mess with a grumpy face!  Humor makes our burdens lighter and allows us to sail though things we’d otherwise trudge through and trudge through things we’d otherwise get stuck in.  So…this is where I’ll be posting the newest and greatest Visual JoJoisms and poems as well as other fun stuff I find hanging around the internet.

By the way, if you have something that would qualify, please feel free to bring it to my attention by posting it as a comment to this blog post.  It will need to be funny, fun, and of course, family friendly.  Thanks!!

This month, I’d like to feature a few of my latest Visual JoJoisms. Which is your favorite?

 

 

New Year; New Beginning

Written By: JoJoisms - Jan• 03•17

  Welcome to 2017!  I declare this year to be a new beginning and I’m looking forward to good news, good times, and good friends in 2017.

For many years, I’ve struggled with various chronic illnesses.  There were many and most of them were long lived.  The last several years that I’ve been blogging about chronic illness, I’ve talked about how a person’s spirits can be weakened and their faith can be tested.

I thought I’d start off the year with a recap of where I started.  You can read more about my journey here, but I’m going to post my first video here as well to show you where I started when I began this blog in 2014.

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The last two years have been a different kind of health journey for me.  I’ll talk more about them in my vlog (video blog) post later in the month, but suffice it to say I’ve had more stuff taken out of me the past two years that I’m surprised I still have my appendix and my tonsils. LOL 

The last few years have also been a struggle for my family financially since my husband lost his job.  He’s still searching for a permanent job two years later, but we have renewed hope this year with a company near our home.

Another area of difficulty for us the past few years has been adjusting to Indiana.  When we first moved here, we lived in NW Indiana where we were introduced to all manner of natural disasters.  Our house was hit by lightning that fried 36 electronic items in our home and caused a house fire.  We had tornado warnings, one of which managed to trap us inside a Walmart for a time.  We had a flash flood masquerading as a puddle with evil intentions that took the life of our beloved car.   

In all honesty, I’d probably not choose to go through all those things again.  But I’m happy to say that they did prepare me for my ministry and my next project for 2017.  It also strengthened my faith as I was able to see how all things happen for a reason.  It was amazing to me how God took things like tragedy, cancer, and other not so good stuff and hid, inside it, a blessing.  I’ll talk more about that in my video.

But this brings me to the new beginning I mentioned in the title of this post.  I’m in the process of writing a book that I’d like to get traditionally published about my journey the past few years.  I strongly believe it will inspire those who feel discouraged, weary and stuck in whatever struggle the Lord has allowed you to go through–especially if it has been long and many in number.  There can be meaning in the struggle for you if you look for it hard enough.  I’d like to show you how.  I’d like to show you how I found blessings in the pain, meaning in the chaos, and purpose in the strength it takes to go on when STUFF happens.

So that is my goal this year and I’ll be sharing a bit of that each month in 2017.  So you, my readers, will get first look at some of the lessons I learned and strength I found in the midst of the mess that was my life.  Stay tuned and buckle up. It’s going to be an amazing ride!

 

Three Things to Do for Someone Who’s Hurting

Written By: JoJoisms - Oct• 20•16

hear-no-evil

If someone has had an illness long enough to be termed “chronic,” trust me. They have probably researched more about it than you have. They’ve probably tried all the conventional remedies and most of the unconventional ones as well.  We don’t want to be told about this fix or that drug.  We’ve heard it all before.  We don’t usually share our struggles, but sometimes we just need to be understood or we need some help.

We don’t want to hear how we should pray more, not be so negative or that other people have it worse than we do.  It might be true, but when we are in the middle of a long overdue pity party or melt down because we are at the end of our rope hanging by a painful thread, now is NOT the time!  Now is not the time for “I told you so” or “You should have…” or “I had a friend whose cousin’s uncle’s neighbor’s dog’s veterinarian’s mother, tried XYZ and it did wonders for her.

When we confide in you that we are hurting, desperate, frustrated, or depressed, now is the time for compassion.

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And there are three things we need and would appreciate:

  1. A hug– We are a lonely lot having had many of our friends and family abandon us because they didn’t know what to do for us and/or were tired of  hearing how painful our lives are.  We are desperately in need of a hug, to be held, comforted.  We are tired of defending ourselves to our doctors and friends and family.  We’re often alone because we are too tired or in pain to make it to social events.
  2. A prayer– As a Christian, I feel comfort when a sister or brother in Christ prays for me, but what really makes me feel God is near is when someone prays WITH me.  Even if the someone you know who is hurting isn’t a Christian, it is often a gesture of great comfort.  Very few nonreligious people will turn down a caring friend’s offer to pray with them.  If they are not willing, you can tell them you’ll pray for them, but it’s often a source of comfort whether or not they are a believer, just to know someone cared enough to take the time.
  3. A listening ear– So many of us have stopped talking because, when we do, we are either dismissed, ignored, told to be more positive, or told it could be worse.  Even worse, we’re told we should be doing the things they recommended we do every time we speak.  People mistakenly think we tell everyone how we feel and are just not willing to do anything about it. Take their advice.  Truth is we don’t tell anyone exactly how we feel.  We lie and say we are fine when asked “How are you?”  We smile through the pain and we laugh and make jokes so we don’t cry.  Truth be told, we feel better when someone is willing to listen without judgement and without a recipe for our medical, spiritual or emotional salvation.  Once we get out what we need to say, we release it and can move on.  Keeping it bottled up is what causes melt downs.

After we have felt like we are worthy, we have people in our corner, remember that God is with us, and have had a chance to talk, we can move on to handle our next hurdle or challenge.  And there WILL be others in short order.

What is something that gives you comfort when struggling with a chronic issue?  Please share.