Brave.

 

It’s hard for me to write why I’m scared and what’s making me nervous. Clearly it’s all of it, but there’s something keeping me from using the words. In three days I’m moving out to a place I’ve never lived before to live with people I don’t know, and start a new job at a center where I know no one and will have to prove myself from scratch. It’s a lot, and my pain is through the roof. I’m barely sleeping and for the first time in awhile it feels like fibromyalgia is a dragon breathing fire once again.

I’ve been making promises to myself recently. Maybe I’ll use those words.

I promise to remember that it’s okay if:

  • I cry a lot.
  • I don’t conquer everything at once.
  • I feel scared.
  • I call home a lot.
  • I ask for help with silly things.
  • I cut myself some slack and not try as hard as I always do.
  • I feel lost and small. No need to feel even worse for feeling those things.
  • I don’t have fun right away. Things take time.

I promise to take good care of myself. To do so I need to make sure to:

  • Stretch before bed every night. Seriously.
  • Follow the annoying but wise “no-screens-after-nine-p.m.” rule.
  • Eat well, which means cook.
  • Keep up my exercise. Find a class or something… Yes! Become that young adult in a new place who joins groups to meet people.
  • Call my people.
  • Write a lot. It keeps me sane, it keeps me calm, and it’s beautiful to look back on. 
  • Listen to music all the time. Have dance parties. Rock out to my jams when I’m feeling down. It always works, like true magic.
  • Be nostalgic the appropriate amount. It’s par for the course. Draw strength from the experiences and memories.  

I promise not to forget that:

  • I deserve my best shot at life.
  • This whole adventure is a good thing. It’s what I wanted. Remember why you are where you are.
  • I am creative, capable, and a total badass, so I can turn anything that’s thrown my way into a piece of cake (that’s non-processed, dairy-free and chocolate-free. Maybe I need another metaphor). 
  • It might not be right away, but I will have fun! I will have so much fun. I can’t lose sight of that. I purposely created this year to have what I’ve been missing this past year – new people, independence and some fun.
  • There are so many people rooting for me. They have faith in me and they know I’ll do well and succeed and live a good life. If they know it, I should know it too.

Also, Ella? Once everything settles down your pain will alleviate. You know that, so don’t freak out. Survive it like you survive everything else. Don’t lose sight of everything. Ready set go.

Time to be brave.

~~~

Ella
Song Quote:

I did my best to assure her but assurance isn’t easy to give. -Words, Passenger

 

As promised, a new collage! This will go on the wall of my new bedroom.

collage

All of the pictures are from magazines, and I like to cut flowers out of different ads and glue them on for a pop of color.

collagecorner

“She believed she could, so she did”

One Hell of a Year – 19

18 started with uncertainty, exhaustion and a dramatic collapse. I was plagued by the question marks and the sorrow of regret, immersed in the emotional storm of goodbyes and the pre-graduation pressure. My strength was failing me, just when I needed it most. I couldn’t help but reflect on the year I had had and feel as though it might have gotten the better of me. I graduated and said goodbye to a place that had been my home for the best and worst years of my life. A few days later I fulfilled my dream of cutting my hair short, and embraced the new look as a symbol of the new phase in my life.

18 continued with me starting my volunteer position and feeling lonelier than I’d felt in a long time. Starting from scratch in a new environment was a challenging, frustrating and upsetting process for me, and my friends weren’t around. They too, were going through their own processes of change. It took some getting used to.

I wasn’t quite sure where my place was. High school wasn’t my home anymore, but the foundation wasn’t my home yet. It was strange, and at the same time sort of freeing.

A few months in and everything had settled down. By ‘settled down’ I mean ‘picked up’. I had so much going on – because things were going well – that I very nearly couldn’t handle it all… And I loved every minute of it. My friends and I adjusted and the time we spent together became true quality time. My memory and my diaries are peppered with our adventures, our birthday celebrations and our (many) lazy, lounging catch up sessions. We realized that not being together all the time meant having countless stories to share, and we appreciate every moment we get to spend together now. We are evolving and so is our friendship. I love them so much. I’ve also made new friends along the way, and we’ve had our own share of wonderfully random adventures…

The foundation became my home (understatement). I’ve always tried to be kind to other people, but this year it was my job to do so. I made people’s lives better and I made magic real. I’ve grown so close to the people I work with and we’ve had such a beautiful time together. The staff meetings, the lunches, the office banter, the events, the work itself… It’s been my everything. They know me: they know how much I care, they know what I’m capable of and they know just what to say and just when to say it. I’ve learned so much from them and I’ve loved feeling embraced by their love and appreciation.

As 18 started to come to a close I started to figure out what my next step would be. My goal was to know my plan by my birthday and my plan succeeded. I’ll be finishing my year with the foundation in two months and moving out of my parent’s house to do another year at a new non-profit. I’m not sure I’ve ever been this excited about something so inherently scary. Realizing how little time I have left with the foundation has made it all very real. I’ll miss them and I’ll miss being one of them, but I will never, ever, forget how much it has all meant to me.

18 is over, and it was better than anything I ever expected it to be. I’m overjoyed to say that looking back, I feel proud. This year did not get the better of me – I made it what it was. I truly lived it to the fullest. 18 will go down in history as one hell of a year…

This year I’ve realized that I love who I am as an adult, I’ve wasted way less time worrying about things I can’t control and I’ve learned how not to give a fudge and just cut myself some slack.

This year I changed my ringtone to “Here Comes the Sun”, and that really says it all.

19 – bring it on.

Love,

Ella

Song Quote:

I see skies of blue and clouds of white, the bright blessed day, the dark sacred night, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world. –What A Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong

 

“You can take the girl out of the foundation but you can’t take the foundation out of the girl.”

I Hate Everything – A Tale of Optimism

For quite a while now my first thought every single morning has been, “I hate everything”. Well, to be fair, it’s usually a word that starts with “F”. Or “S”. But the second thought has been, “I hate everything.” It’s like the soundtrack to my life. *

Why? Because I’ve been in immense pain. But why have I been in immense pain? Because I’m busy. And that’s why it’s a phrase of optimism.

You’ve known me for a very long time – remember when I turned 16 and started freaking out about growing old and being sick? – and you know I’m big on self-reflection. I’m astounded when I think about how much I’ve grown in the past seven months, on so many fronts. Besides all kinds of official things – being upgraded to an adult credit card (not below 18 anymore), having no more age-related driving restrictions, having control over my own medical everything – there are the things that are less obvious.

I’m not here to list all those things. Normally that would be a classic post, but today I’m content with just the knowledge that I have grown. Today, I’d like to talk about the fact that I’m busy (and therefore I hate everything).

Since September I’ve been volunteering with a certain charity, and in the past few months I’ve had to make a decision: either find another place to volunteer for a year, or go on to university. I took the higher education entrance exam (psychometric test) and got a high enough grade to enter the excellence program and receive a 50% scholarship (!) at my school of choice. Attending the course, preparing for the exam and still working (i.e. volunteering) three days a week took a lot out of me, but the success felt amazing. So that covered the technical aspect of university for me, but I was left with the question: am I ready?

I’ve never told you where I live, what my real name is or what my religion is, and you’ve never seen a picture of me. You know no truly identifying factors (which I’m sure has driven some of you crazy). I have my reasons for this, but the reason I love the most is that this blog is the opposite of real life. In the real world, the first things you (usually) know about a person are what they look like, the part of the world they live in, their name and maybe their religion. It takes longer to learn about their personalities and their feelings, if you ever do. In this world, our world, the only things you know about me are my personality and my feelings.

Which is why I’m still not telling you anything, including where I’m volunteering or what country I live in. I wrote all of this simply to explain that in my country, it’s not weird that I’m not starting university at 18. In fact, even if I go when I’m 20, I’ll still be on the younger end of the scale. Generally speaking, I’m much older than my age suggests, so I’m not worried about fitting in socially with an older crowd, but I am worried about my feelings. I’m so separate from my contemporaries as it is, and if I jump shoot choosing a profession, studying and starting a career I fear I’ll feel galaxies away from everyone.

It has come down to the fact that I have doubts. I’ve decided that the fact that I doubt I’m ready to start is enough to decide I’m not ready. I’m not the sort to waste my time and I take things very seriously, so I’m not going to start until every aspect feels right.

Which leaves me with finding another place to invest my heart for a year. I’ve been busy because I’m following leads and putting myself out there, all the while keeping up my regular work schedule. Sprinkle in tutoring, physical therapy, exercise, doctor appointments, additional work events and the occasional (*gasp*) attempt at fun, I am exhausted.  

So my brain is occupied with hating everything the majority of the time because I constantly feel like I’m dragging my body around and running myself into the ground (please note that I’m still taking care of myself – I haven’t aborted the mission of health just yet). When the thought first started popping into my brain I was kind of amused – it is kind of a funny way for my mind to have phrased my displeasure – but I recognize that it’s a sign of me being proactive with my own happiness.

I am my own person, and I am making the decisions that are right for me. I’m not just sitting here, feeling miserable, and hoping I do something worthwhile with my time. I’m already doing it. I’m being smart about my life. I’m building my path from scratch and turning it into something I can be proud of. Even if I don’t always realize it, I know that every step I’ve been taking recently has been an offspring of a superpower: optimism. Somehow I’ve been operating under the assumption that I have the ability to make everything work out.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why hating everything means I am a true optimist. Farewell.

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

We’re on the right side of rock bottom. –Rock Bottom, Hailee Steinfeld

*I literally push myself up into a seated position on my bed and think, “I hate everything.” Then I go to the bathroom and think, “I hate everything.” As I’m getting dressed, I’m thinking, “I. Hate. Everything.” When I find my way to the kitchen and start making breakfast, I’m just a broken record of, “I hate everything”. It’s quite the life I lead, my friends.

Describe the Pain

You ask me how it feels.

How it feels?

Describe the pain.

The pain?

That I can’t.

~~~

It is a thin, gray substance that coats my entire body. It is elastic – it clings to every fold, crevice, dip and bulge. It is a glove, not a mitten, covering each of my fingers individually. It is a film around my eyeballs. It’s a thick platform beneath the soles of my feet. It is weaved within the hair that I chopped off. It is my outer layer of skin.

It is like a rubber band. If I focus, really hard, I can push it out – away from me – enough to let air in. If I push it really far, it lets hope in. But you must understand what being rubber means: it will always snap back. The minute you forget to focus on the light and hope, it smacks back, vacuuming itself to your body.

You can see through it, in the way that others don’t see it at all. You can see what you’re missing, but there isn’t a thing you can do about it. It is like walking with a heavy cloud above your head every day, except the cloud is not above you but within you.

It is as strong as I am. The harder I fight to be rid of it, the harder it fights to stay with me. Because it is me. It’s my brain, it’s my wiring, and it’s my nerves. It has my nerve.

~~~

Ella

Song Quote:

We’re tethered to the story we must tell. -Turning Page, Sleeping At Last

Remember the Truth

Isn’t it crazy that you write the truth and then forget how it feels? You believe in looking at things as beautiful, but you simply don’t remember to. Because bad monsters clout everything, because you can’t remember what it’s like to feel like yourself, because sadness is so overwhelming while happiness is so fleeting.

But yes. For the first time in forever, you feel like you’re going to be okay. And for even just a few days, you felt good. You existed under a new sky, you rediscovered what it is to hope, you felt optimistic about new opportunities and you felt worthy of love. You also believed in it.

A new sky... (Taken in Baveno, Italy, this summer)

A new sky…
(Taken in Baveno, Italy, this summer)

So relax. Take a deep breath. Tell your brain that everything is going to be okay. Sleep well. Dream happy.

Just live. Isn’t it beautiful seeing the magic?

Ella

Song Quote:

I just want to be ok today. –Be OK, Ingrid Michaelson

(The third in an unintentional trilogy… Some Truths, Actual Truth, Remember the Truth.)

A Letter to My Enemy

Writing-A-Letter

Dear Fibromyalgia,

I’d like to talk doogree with you.

           Doogree- straightforwardly, with no beating around the bush

I am no longer naïve enough to believe that despite your presence I can make my life the way I’d like it to be. I am old enough now to realize that I can never make peace with you. I will never be my truest self until I am rid of you.

Did you hear that? I will not be free until I am free of you.

You are constricting me. You are suffocating me. You are the enemy I fear, the pain I dread, and the negative I cannot escape. You. Suck.

My friends wonder how I do it, how I live with you in my life. I wonder why.

I just want to make sure you are not mistaken on this: we are not friends. It has been years and I tolerate you, but that does not mean I do not hate you with every fiber of my being.

See what I did there?

There is not much more to say.

The next time I write to you, I hope it will be a goodbye.

Ella

Song Quote:

Light up, light up, as if you have a choice. –Run, Snow Patrol

The True Reason You Should Be Kind

How cool is the world? I mean, seriously, how cool is it? Because I think it’s pretty freaking cool. There are just so many people. Every single one of them has a name, has thoughts, feelings, and a story. Then I think of how many people have lived since ever, how many nights have been slept through and how many sunrises watched. How many breaths have been breathed!!! The average person takes between 17,280 and 23,040 breaths a day, and there are about 7.2 billion people alive today. And that’s just one single day…

I am the only person who will ever be me, and there is so much to me. That means that… it’s just… wow. I can’t wrap my mind around the vastness of it all.

I think these thoughts more often than is probably normal (we’re talking at least once a day, usually more), but especially prompted by two things: good news and bad news.

The good news is when I’m uplifted, when I realize how awesome and incredible the world is (in other words, a Big Thinking Moment). Things like the “Project for Awesome” remind me how many people have good values and are creative and inspiring. Music and books and movies remind me that I am not alone. Nature brings me back to earth (literally), and it’s when I feel peaceful and whole that I value the beauty of our surroundings and remember to stay connected to it. My family and friends remind me how lucky I am to have them. Or all of these at the same time.

FullSizeRender

Had quite the onslaught of Big Thinking Moments as I stood staring at this and wondering how the colors could possibly be natural. I didn’t edit this picture at all — it was real life, in all it’s glory.

The bad news is when I hear about suffering. War makes me sad, and I become sadder when I realize that if we haven’t yet found a way to eradicate it, we are not as developed as we think we are. My hopelessness strips away the beauty I previously saw. Racism, cruelty, prejudice, hate, torture, rape, murder… I lose my faith in humanity, if only for a few moments. This is when I realize that if there are so many people in the world and we each experience hardships, there’s a sh*t-load of hardship going around.

The bad news is also what leads to me keeping things in perspective and not taking anything for granted. So on the personal scale I suppose you could say I find a way to make something positive of it, but in reality it just sucks and I hate the world sometimes.

I would say I range from being realistic and practical to being truly optimistic, and this is what keeps me going. My ability to find good and change the way I look at situations is something I have worked to cultivate and plan to fall back on throughout life.

So the way I approach the bad news? I try to be nice. Because yes, there are those with a vision who can change the world, and yes, I could set myself the goal of being one of those people, but that isn’t me (at least not yet). What I can do now is see people. I can notice when they’re having a hard time and need a kind word or gesture. I can tell when they need to be recognized for their personal successes and their abilities, and I try to do that for them. I also just say “hi” and ask how they are because I genuinely want to know. The ways are endless…

This doesn’t mean I’m perfect. This doesn’t mean I’m a good person. What this means is that I’m trying. That is all that can be asked of a person, and that is what I ask of you: please, try to be nice to all of those around you. Small gestures can make such a difference to people, and I’m not going to get all cliché and say that together we can change the world, but together we can make someone happy. Maybe that’s enough.

In the words of the great Ellen Degeneres, be kind to one another. Bye-bye.

Ella

Song Quote:

So, so you think you can tell heaven from hell, blue skies from pain. -Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd