December provides great lessons for pacing yourself. A flurry of activities turns into a fury of activities when a tight work schedule is part of the mix. Fibromyalgia had to get in line just to get my attention.
I felt pretty good after Thanksgiving. The air was filled with the scent of hope and nutmeg. Then it began: the parade of boxes. Shouldn’t the Saturday after Thanksgiving deserve the title, Boxing Day? That’s when driveways are littered with boxes of lights, lawn ornaments, and animatronics figurines.
I dragged one box after another from storage where it seems only yesterday I’d put them. I placed my favorite decorations and re-boxed the rest. In the first few weeks of December, I did some baking and shopping. I wrote my Christmas letter between marathon sessions of book editing, hunched over my desk like Scrooge. Besides being a pain in the neck, I bet Ebenezer had one, too.
Fibro flares in December are not surprising. Every ache and pain is hard-earned.
I try to be flexible with my holiday goals. In my BF life (Before Fibro), I always had my Christmas cards in the mail by December 5th. This year, having them ready to go by the 15th seemed a miracle. I waited for the pretty Christmas stamps I ordered from USPS.com to arrive so I could check another task off my list.
My office window overlooks the street below. I ran down the 37 steps to the mailbox and back each day. When my stamps failed to arrive by the 19th, my husband suggested we buy plain old ones from a vending machine at the post office. No go. Sold out.
More waiting … more stairs.
On the 23rd, my husband found a roll of regular stamps under the seat of his truck. The cards got mailed — much later than anticipated. I also finished the remaining holiday preparations — much later than anticipated. And Christmas Day came as it always does, right on time.
The real problem was my expectation. I need an expectation adjustment — something tangible to remind me to pace myself. And, that’s exactly what I received. My reminders finally arrived in the mail. USPS sent me exactly 120 beautiful remembrances of Christmas that will adorn my envelopes to the mortgage, gas, and cable company probably ‘til Easter. With each holiday stamp I affix, I’ll take a deep breath and remind myself to keep my expectations flexible.
The New Year has already started off with a bang and my to-list grows each day. Boxes have been filled, re-filled, and are still waiting to go back into storage. My neck and shoulders ache more than “normal” but at least I know that’s temporary. When I get back into the swing of consistent exercise and taking care of myself, I know I’ll feel better.
For now, my “pace myself” reminders are tucked away in my desk drawer. My stamps may have missed their opportunity to grace my Christmas cards, but they’ll still serve a valuable purpose. Like many lessons that we learn, it turns out that this one arrived right on time.