Patience Is Power

I started teaching a mindfulness class for 2nd graders and I was reminded about how important patience and focus are to my wellbeing.

Doing tasks as quickly as possible

I’ve written numerous times about how when I was younger I rushed around and tried to complete as much as possible as quickly as possible. That was my nature but also the expectation of my environment. "On the move" was the motto for my life.

That all came to a roaring halt when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I fruitlessly tried to continue on my Tasmanian Devil path. But, as you can imagine, it did not end well.

I either pushed myself so hard that I flared after the event or I was already running on empty and did more damage to my body. Either way, I had to change.

I was never a patient person

One important point to note is that I was never a patient person. My mother tried to teach me patience but it never stuck. I became "calmer" after I got the pets but, even then, they matched my need for speed.

Patience forced itself into my life when I started working with children. I needed patience. And, when that patience came, I felt better. I felt more at peace. I felt more in control. So, I allowed that patience to trickle into my personal life.

I took my time, I rested and I really focused on what I was doing.

I became more mindful.

Allowing myself to slow down and focus

Before, I would work on multiple projects at a time. While, physically, that was not too terrible, mentally I was pulled in too many directions.

What I’ve learned is that RA is just as mentally draining as it is physically draining and I had to protect my wellbeing just as much as my joints.

When I made the conscious decision to slow down and focus on one task at a time I thought it would take me twice as long to complete the same amount of work. I was wrong. Instead, I finished tasks quicker AND better. Giving my full attention to one thing meant it was done faster and with more care.

Patience was power.

Patience and my physical health

I let this idea cultivate my physical health, as well. I was an avid rock-climber. There were two distinct styles of climbing: dynamic and static.

The dynamic style is more about moving through a problem with speed, agility, and fluidity. The static style is more staccato and deliberate. I was always a static climber, but I took it to the next level.

I completed every move with purpose before moving on to the next. I waited on each move until I was perfectly balanced before attempting the next.

My climbing just got better. I used up less energy and overall, preserved my joints.

Saving energy made me productive

In everyday life, I moved gingerly to protect my aching joints. I took my time eating as not to onslaught my system with a massive digestive undertaking. I sat straight, looked forward, and typed/took notes slower. I did everything with one word in mind: composed.

I found that I saved energy which, in turn, made me more productive during the day. As you know, energy is a precious commodity for those of us with chronic illnesses.

Being deliberate with my actions

Many years ago, my climbing coach told me that when I made something look easy to another person, that meant that I had mastered the climbing technique. That has always stuck with me.

The slower I moved, the more deliberate my actions, the easier everything looked (and felt!). Even though I moved at a different speed than my peers, I still looked like I had mastered IT, possibly even more than my average able-bodied counterparts.

Patience was power. Patience is power.

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