Reflections

I’m glad it’s a new year. Just the thought of a new year is like a breath of fresh air. It’s a clean slate of months. More opportunities. New chances about to unfold.

And I’m ready.

2018 was hard. Very hard. It took its toll physically, mentally, and financially. If I could sum up the year in one word it would be—PAIN. I was in pain the whole year. The tests of 2017 led into 2018, searching for answers to the pain and the constant problems inside of my body. After exploratory surgery and a cystoscopy, we finally reached a verdict. The urologist diagnosed me with interstitial cystitis (a chronic bladder disease) and pelvic floor dysfunction.

Good, I finally had the reason. But now, what to do with that? The answer—a complete life change. My entire diet had to change in order for my bladder lining to repair itself. Everything that was acidic, citrus, or acid-forming had to be removed from the menu. Basically: no chocolate, no sugar, no soda, no alcohol, no gluten, no tomatoes, no fruit (other than blueberries, pear, papaya, watermelon), no regular coffee, no cultured milk (sour cream, etc), and no boxed foods with preservatives. The list is longer but you get the picture. Talk about a transformation. Suddenly, I had to cook everything from scratch and learn to be creative in cooking.

The next piece of the puzzle was physical therapy on my bladder and pelvic floor. When I began therapy in April 2018, I cried each time I went home. I knew the therapy was supposed to help, but it hurt. Advil and I became close friends. Nevertheless, I went, each week, for therapy, knowing the pain would lessen. And it did, over time.

Today is February 17, 2019. I sit at my desk writing this blog, and I’m not in pain. I attribute that to diet change, therapy, but also…To God. I cried out to Him at lot in the last year. I wept. I curled up with a hot pad and wept. I know He heard me. Interstitial Cystitis is an incurable disease, but I’m living proof that pain-free days can still be possible. I have flare-ups from time to time, but oh, to have days where I’m not plagued with pain is glorious! To be able to run with my kids again. To be able to have dance parties with them. To be able to clean my house without paying for it the next day. All these things tell me that God has had His hand on my life. He not only spoke comfort to my body, but He also spoke comfort to my heart.

2019, I’m ready. I’m ready for you and all the possibilities.

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The Benefits of Discomfort

It’s uncanny how going stag to a conference can revert me into an insecure high school student.

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I fretted over whom I would talk to, whom I would sit with, and whom I would have lunch with. My mind hustled to remedy a plan. The morning of the conference, I prepared to text a friend when I felt a soft nudge in my spirit telling me, no. “No, Catie you don’t need a safety net. Go and meet new people. Be open and see what happens.”

Though it made me anxious, I listened to that subtle voice inside. Entering the building for the Breathe Writer’s Conference, I determined to make it memorable. At times, I felt uncomfortable and shy, but I pushed past those feelings, introduced myself, and met many great and inspiring people. If not for the discomfort of being alone, I wouldn’t have been forced to make friends.

If I had arranged to hang out with people I already knew in attendance, I wouldn’t have met such a wide array of amazing, vibrant, and creative individuals. I wouldn’t have met Pearl, a writer of inspiring blogs called “LookUpSometimes.” I wouldn’t have met Alyssa whose posts bring awareness to mission work in South Africa. I wouldn’t have met the adorable illustrator, Cathryn. I wouldn’t have met writers: George, Donald, Christina, Marianna, Kelli or sci-fi Sam.

I walked away not only enriched by the conference sessions, but by the extraordinary people I met while I was there. The initial discomfort produced the benefits of lasting memories, encouragement, and inspiration.

This principle applies to more than just conferences. We need to be okay with getting uncomfortable. We need to push ourselves out of our normal social spheres, beyond our same cultures, past our same skin colors, even outside of our beliefs and meet people different than ourselves.  Because when we do, amazing things can happen, and I believe we become better versions of ourselves.

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Pearl and I at Breathe