Gifts I Didn’t Ask For
(This blog by Ellie turned into a gift that I was not expecting. When you get to the end, her words will inspire you to look at your life as its Chronically Awesome gifts.)
I meet the awesomely cool Jules Shapiro, founder and executive director of the Chronically Awesome Foundation when I stalked her website for a while and one day cold emailed her about writing for her. She said yes and she’s become a gazillion times cooler since. I wrote an article for the blog and have been taking stabs at another.
So far I’ve missed. Nothing I can write seems awesome enough. I emailed her and asked for an assignment. She sent me back a few ideas, and one of them stood out. She suggested that I write about what makes me awesome in the face of chronic illness. She said I could write about the gifts I have found because of my chronic illness – the gifts I came across completely accidentally because life threw me down the path of illness, like it or not.
But I’m drawing a blank. I’m staring at an empty screen trying to fill it with the right words, trying to write about my awesomeness. I can’t think of anything. I don’t think of myself as awesome. I think of myself as someone just gets by the best I can. Sometimes it’s super hard. Sometimes it’s a little easier. How exactly is that awesome? That’s just everyday living. Thinking about it more, I realize that hanging on in a body that’s attacking you from the inside is no small accomplishment. So, autoimmune disease makes me pretty awesome.
Now I’m thinking about all of the gifts I’ve received because of my chronic health issues. Not ones that are like birthday
presents wrapped up in a pretty bow. These gifts arrive kicking and screaming. These gifts have teeth. But these gifts are far more valuable.
I feel more connected to the people who matter to me. People reach out to you in new and different ways when you are sick all of the time.
Chronic health issues have made me more direct. In illness, I have learned that it’s so important to express and demonstrate the love I have to give.
The present moment is a most precious gift. I could be depressed about the past or anxious about the future all of the time, but really, the present is all I know I have for sure.
For anyone reading this, please remember that facing the difficulties of chronic illness will make you strong. It will give you a world full of new insight. It is truly a gift to face the adversity that is chronic illness and not to give up. It may not be the gift you wanted, but it’s the one you got. Embrace it, be blessed and say thank you.
Thank you, Ellie for your kind words. When I ask people the very question I asked you I don’t often get an answer, and I love that you said that these gifts come with teeth. What a description.
Thank you. – Jules
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