Chronic illness can dramatically alter life perspective. If there’s anything I’ve learned from having mitochondrial myopathy, it’s gratitude for my surroundings. I guess I’ve developed a kind of mindfulness from days spent inside my house trying to regain energy. If I’ve drained too much energy, it can take some time to recuperate.
There are only a few feelings in the world that make me realize I’m alive. When the weather is right, I go into my backyard to just sit and relish nature. I don’t notice how stuffy my house is until I feel the wind blow through my hair. I can feel the sun warming my skin, bringing a smile to my face. I love seeing the butterflies and hummingbirds zooming around the flowers. Being out there is much like meditating. It’s peaceful, serene. All the worries of life seem to melt away.
Sometimes my mom and I go on a short ride in the car for a change of scenery. My favorite drive is right down Pacific Coast Highway. We cruise the neighborhoods, looking at the cute houses. In times like those, I don’t dare look at my phone for fear of missing something — even minuscule things like a new sign on a billboard or a fresh coat of paint on a store.
Occasionally, my dog rides with us. My mom and I laugh as his hair blows in the wind, nose twitching while sniffing the air. Sometimes, we drive through Starbucks and order a “puppy frapp” for him — a cup of whipped cream. It’s the day’s highlight to see him get whipped cream all over his cute little face.
Those times make me realize that life isn’t just about working for an income and paying the bills. It’s so easy to get caught up in the motions. Sometimes it may seem like our to-do lists are all that matter. At night, when I pray, I think about my blessings and all the things I have to be grateful for. Even if I haven’t had the most positive day, this prayer is an opportunity to take a second and know that everything is, and will be, OK.
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