12 post-surgery life lessons : part II

Relax copy
 
 
A few weeks ago, I had surgery for the first time and last week I wrote about some of the life lessons I gained from the unsettling and unpleasant experience of undergoing surgery and facing some of my biggest fears — namely, anything related to doctors or medicine! (Check out PART I here.) It's been a challenge to get back to the point where I'm able to do work and write again, but I'm so happy to be getting better day by day. Keep reading to discover some of the lessons I learned from having surgery and spending weeks recovering from it...
 

7. VERY FEW THINGS ARE AS URGENT AS THEY SEEM. 
 
Before surgery, I never would have dreamed of taking a week to respond to an email or asking to push off a deadline for a month. When it comes to work (and even to simple things like text messages), everything always seemed urgent to me. I had to respond as soon as I could. I had to complete a task before it was due. I had to text back right away. But now — after rearranging my workload, getting back to people when I felt up to it — I've realized that there is very little in this world that's urgent. Almost everything can (and does!) wait if you allow it to. That's not to say I will be putting things off (that goes against my Type A nature!), but I'm hoping I'll learn to chill out a bit more now that I've seen first-hand that not everything needs to be taken care of ASAP. 
 
 
8. BE CAREFUL ABOUT WHAT YOU READ. 
 
When I'm faced with an unknown situation, my first instinct is to gather all of the information I can about it. Having a better understanding of a subject makes me feel more secure and prepared. So, of course, when I found out about my condition and the surgery I'd be having, I began Googling like a madwoman, gathering all the data I could so I'd know what my doctor was talking about and, more importantly, I'd know what to expect. This was both good and bad. On the bad side of things, I read some horror stories that made me more anxious than necessary. But on the good side, I got some great post-surgery tips that really helped (and that my doctor failed to mention) and I had some idea of what to expect. For example, I knew that there was a good chance I would have to have more than one surgery so, when I met with my doctor for my post-op checkup, I wasn't surprised (or upset) when he told me another surgery would be necessary. Information is powerful (in a good and bad way) so be mindful of what you read. 
 
 
9. YOU WILL LEARN AS YOU GO. 
 
Surgery has taught me that you'll learn things you never thought you would need to learn (like how to pull up your pants when you can't properly bend your legs!). You'll learn how to do very unpleasant pre-op prep. You'll learn how to follow post-op instructions from your doctor. You'll re-learn how to do basic things, like showering and sleeping. And you'll learn to do things you'd never heard of before — and you'll become good at doing these things. One of the great things about humans is how amazingly well we adapt to new circumstances. Things that seemed really difficult right after surgery are now second nature to me. Things I once thought of as gross don't even faze me now. I've learned, in a very short time, how to take care of myself in new ways and it's shown me that, no matter what we're facing, we can and will adapt. 
 
 
10. JUST TAKE EVERYTHING 10 SECONDS AT A TIME. 
 
If you're an avid Positively Present reader, you probably know how much I love Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (read my post about it here), and the show taught me a very important life lesson that proved invaluable in the face of pain and fear: take it 10 seconds at a time. In the show, Kimmy gets through difficult situations by telling herself that she can get through the next 10 seconds...and the next 10...and the next 10. This little trick can be a lifesaver when you're in pain (emotionally or physically). When faced with pain that feels as if it will never end, it's so helpful to break it down to 10 second bits of time. You can do anything for 10 seconds, and when you think about it only as surviving through that short period, whatever pain you're facing becomes more bearable. 
 
 
11. LITTLE VICTORIES SHOULD BE CELEBRATED. 
 
Who knew that simply taking a shower could be considered a major accomplishment? After surgery, I quickly learned that it was important to celebrate the little victories — no matter how small. Even the act of getting out of bed was something I could be proud of! Instead of focusing on what you can't do (as I often found myself wanting to do since I felt immobile and unproductive), celebrating the little things you can do is a way to shift the focus away from complaints and toward gratitude. While there was a lot I wasn't able to do, I was still able to do somethings and, as I recovered, I was able to do more and more things. Celebrating this little victories — even if it was just with a "Look at you! Good work!" — helped me feel as if I was making progress. 
 
 
12. DO WHAT YOU CAN WHERE YOU ARE. 
 
The most important lesson I learned while recovering from surgery was this: do what you can while you can. Throughout my recovery, I was very frustrated by the things I couldn't do, but I tried to transform that frustration by finding things I could do. For example, I was able to get a lot of reading done, which I loved. Due to the beauty of my iPhone, I was able to respond to emails while lying in bed and even draft this post! I downloaded some apps for my phone to keep me busy (like Colorfy and Boggle) and allowed myself to do some research for future work projects. I wasn't able to do much, but I did the best I could to fill up my time with what I could do and this served two important purposes: (1) it distracted me from my pain at times and (2) it gave me a feeling of productivity. While I'm not saying we should always be doing something, I was glad to learn that, even when stuck in bed, there are ways to make the most of your time. 
 
 
Whether you're going through a situation like mine or just looking for some inspiration, I hope theses lessons have inspired you in some way. I'll leave you with one final thought that helped me get through recovery: try to envision yourself healthy again. As I was stuck in bed, I sometimes found my mind wandering to a negative place, thinking thoughts like, "I'm going to be in this situation forever." or "I'm never going to be well again."
 
Of course, those kinds of thoughts are immensely unhelpful when it comes to recovery and I knew it. So whenever I started to think this way, I'd remind myself to calm down, focus on the moment, and keep in mind that this was just one chapter of my life. As a greeting card I got from a friend said, "This is but a crappy chapter in your amazing life story." When I focused on that thought — reminding myself that I would get better, eventually — I found it much easier to cope with the pain and frustration.
 
So if you ever find yourself in a tough spot in life, remember those words: This is but a crappy chapter in your amazing life story. It really does help to remind you that one day you'll be in a another chapter and whatever you're struggling with right now will be nothing but a memory.  

 

 
PPGTL-Get-the-BookWant to explore how to have a more positive, present life? Pick up your very own copy of my book, The Positively Present Guide to Life. The book is all about how to stay positive and present in various areas of life including: at home, at work, in love, in relationships, and during change. I've turned back to it often this year as I've gone through major changes and it's been tremendously helpful. The book is filled with inspiring images that make it even easier to stay positive and present. You can learn more about the book and find out where to buy a copy here. (You can also get a sneak peek at the book, access a free download, and watch the book trailer!)


positively present picks: july 24, 2015

Strong
Source

 

Quote-of-the-week

"We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong.
The amount of work is the same."
Francesca Reigler

 

Links-I-Love

Secrets of Happiness in 60 Seconds : a great, quick little video

Love Yourself! : get inspired with my Pinterest self-love board

17 Coloring Books Every Grown Up Needs : in love with coloring!

What To Do When Life Throws You a Curveball : excellent wisdom here

Perfect Words to Start Using : love these made up (but accurate!) terms

18 Reasons to Be Happy : such a lovely little reminder from Buzzfeed 

Why Busy Isn't the Same as Productive : and what you can do about it!

Choose Happiness and Excitement : this post really inspired me

37 Things You'll Regret When You're Old : so much truth in these

Blinding Radiance : what happens when you get through big pain

The Power of Saying No : always saying yes? read this. 

It's Not Too Late for Summer Reading : check out my books here

 

Listening

Listen to this playlist on YouTube.
 

"Against the Grain" — Hudson
"Semantics" — The Mynabirds
"Life Underwater" — Flagship
"Julia" — Al Bairre
"Leave a Trace" — Chrvches
"Berlin" — Paper Lights
"Blue" — Marina & the Diamonds
"On the Frame" — Beta Radio
"Fire in My Bones" — Fleurie
"Pages of Gold" — Flo Morrissey

 

Reading

Check out my reading list on GoodReads.
 

The Secret Life of Violet Grant
Beatriz Williams

Everything I Never Told You
Celeste Ng

I wrote a book too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

 


12 post-surgery life lessons : part I

Take-Care
 
 
About two weeks ago, I had surgery and I'm finally feeling a bit like my old self. I still have a while until I'm 100% back to where I was before (and I have the joy of another surgery to look forward to as well. ugh.), but I'm happy to say that I'm here and I'm writing again. YAY! 
 
As you can imagine, I've learned a lot over the past few weeks — about myself, about facing fears, about staying positive and present even when it's really difficult to do so, and, importantly, about what it's like to face a situation in which I was forced to spend days and days in bed, recovering and taking care of myself. 
 
It wasn't easy, focusing on taking care of myself. I felt completely and utterly unproductive. I felt bored and useless. And, of course, I felt the oh-so-unpleasant pinches of physical pain. But, as challenging as it's been, I have to say it's been a great eye-opener in terms of life lessons on self-care. I've learned so much from facing my fears (though I didn't really have a say in the matter, as surgery was my only option!) and about managing my (often negatively-skewed) mindset. 
 
As I was lying in bed for days on end, ideas and lessons came to mind and, as they arrived, I'd type them into the Notes app on my phone so I could recall them later. (Because, I'll be honest — those pain meds can do a number on your brain!) Some of these lessons relate specifically to life after surgery, but most of them can apply to any difficult situation. 
 
 
 
1. A BREAK IN ROUTINE CAN BE GOOD FOR YOU. 
 
I'm a huge fan of routine. I love creating patterns and sticking to them. It gives me a sense of peace and order in a sometimes chaotic world. However, when a health issue presents itself and there's no other option that to have a surgery that involves a six week recovery, routines pretty much get thrown out the window. Like it or not, you have to adapt. And I've discovered that this can actually be a very good thing. Breaking my routines helped me to come up with new ideas and solutions to problems I'd been having. Changing things up forced me, in little ways, to change myself. 
 
 
2. ACCEPT THE MOMENT MAKES IT MUCH EASIER. 
 
Nothing is worse than being in a situation you don't want to be in. A couple of weeks ago, I experienced one of my worst fears — having an IV put in. In the past, I'd thought to myself, If I ever need an IV for any reason, I'm just going to run away. I don't need medicine. I'll be fine so long as I don't have to have a needle that stays in my handEven now, thinking about it, I feel a little shiver of fear run down my spine. But I had no choice but to be in that moment, to experience one of the things I'd most feared. (And, as it often happens, what I feared that most really wasn't all that bad!) Staying in moments like that one was difficult, but the more I focused on acceptance, the easier it was to cope. 
 
 
3. THERE IS ALWAYS GOOD IN A BAD SITUATION. 
 
Having surgery is no walk in the park. It's not fun and it's hard to make it seem fun — but! there are some small joys to be found, even in the most unpleasant of situations. For example, I got to spend a lot of time resting and reading. Reading is one of my favorite things to do and I can't remember a time before now that I felt completely guiltless spending an entire day just reading (other than when I was on vacation, which was always prime reading time!). Instead of focusing on what I couldn't do — work, for example — I tried to enjoy the down time, to embrace all the words I got to read, and do be incredibly thankful for wonderful parents who took care of me day in and day out. 
 
 
4. SOMETIMES THERE ARE GREAT LESSONS IN PAIN. 
 
While I was resting, I started daydreaming about how I would spend my time once I was back on my feet. I'd go running! I'd take my dog on walks in the woods! I'd have more dance parties! I'd go on more adventures! All of these grand (and active!) plans were very un-me, but after lying around for so long, all I wanted to do was get up and move. I realized that this new desire to move around, to hunt down adventure, might be a lesson.  I'd been spending a lot of time on my couch, watching Netflix and reading. Back when I was well, I'd been spending a lot of down time on my couch by choice. But when I was forced to be on the couch and it wasn't a choice anymore, I realized how much I'd been wasting my health lying horizontally on the sofa. Surgery taught me this lesson in a way I might not have learned otherwise. 
 
 
5. A NEW SITUATION CAN BE AN OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE. 
 
Health has never been a huge priority for me. Exercise is something I'd rather not do (though I did get into a lovely habit of yoga, which I hope to resume as soon as I'm better). Eating healthy always seems to take too much effort. And caffeine and I have become soulmates over the years. But when I was forced to change — to spend my time focusing on my health and recovering — I managed to make some great changes. I started eating healthier, incorporating vegetables and fruit into most of my meals. I cut my caffeine intake way down. (What did I need caffeine for if I was just going to be lying on my bed reading?) This unfortunate situation was the kick in the pants I needed to change some of my bad habits. 
 
 
6. TRUE COLORS SHINE IN TIMES OF TROUBLE. 
 
Wow, did I learn a lot about the people in my life when I went through this tough time! People I hadn't spoken to in years reached out to me; people I see on a weekly basis said nothing. Some people sent gifts and texts and checked up on me. Others rarely inquired about how I was doing. When you're going through a tough time, you learn a ton about the people around you — and some of that knowledge will be really surprising. Sometimes it will hurt. Sometimes it will erupt in unexpected joy. It's an incredible way to see the people around you for who they really are. Those who are there for you are the ones you should devote your attention to; those who are not should not receive much of your time and energy. I will never forget the way people treated me during this time and it will forever shape how I view the character of others. 
  
 
 
Thinking of these lessons and trying to find the positive in a negative situation was extremely helpful for me while I was going through this. And, to be honest, I'm not sure if I would have been as focused on having a positive, present mindset if it weren't for the knowledge that there are people out there like you, reading what I write and seeking inspiration from my words. You might not realize it, but just by reading Positively Present, you've inspired me to be more positive and more present. So, thank you. Thank you for inspiring me to write these words and thank you for reading. 
 
Stay tuned for PART II of this post next week! Once it's been published, you can read it here.

 

 

 
PPGTL-Get-the-BookWant to explore how to have a more positive, present life? Pick up your very own copy of my book, The Positively Present Guide to Life. The book is all about how to stay positive and present in various areas of life including: at home, at work, in love, in relationships, and during change. I've turned back to it often this year as I've gone through major changes and it's been tremendously helpful. The book is filled with inspiring images that make it even easier to stay positive and present. You can learn more about the book and find out where to buy a copy here. (You can also get a sneak peek at the book, access a free download, and watch the book trailer!)


positively present picks: july 17, 2015

Oscar Wilde

 

Quote-of-the-week

"There can be no happiness if the things we
believe in are different from the things we do."
 
Freya Stark

 

Links-I-Love

Gratitude : the latest (and greatest!) self-help trend

I Dwell in Possibility : loving my new necklace! thanks, Laurel Elliot!

40 Ways to Let Go of Anger Right Now : let it gooooo

Printable Post-Its : I love this idea of customized Post-Its

Cloud Classifications : I love this visual reminder of cloud types

21 Positive Expressions : use these to attract a better life

Find the Right Therapy for Your Sign : mine (Virgo) was spot on

Lessons from Clueless : great life lessons from a film I used to love

Breaking Up + Getting Back Together : how to end the cycle

7 Ways to Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed : love this inspiring advice

Dreams with No Action Are Fantasies : you need to have a plan! 

Turn a Horrible Day into a Positive One : eight great tips here

Conscious Optimism : absolutely adore this concept

7 Things You Gain When You Let Go of Control : love #1 so much

 

Listening

Listen to this playlist on YouTube.
 

"Grow" — Frances
"Golden" — Szymon
"Regret" — Everything Everything
"Lost Track of Time" — MNTS
"Honeymoon" — Lana Del Ray
"Into the Dark" — Amarante
"Forces" — Japanese Wallpaper
"Drifting" — Nate Eiesland
"Clean" (Cover) — Travis Altreo
"All We Do" —Oh Wonder

 

Reading

Check out my reading list on GoodReads.
 

Tiny Beautiful Things:
Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

Cheryl Strayed

I wrote a book too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

 


positively present picks: july 10, 2015

Swing
Source

 

Quote-of-the-week

"Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin,
and a single courageous step would
carry us clear through them."
 
Brendan Francis

 

Links-I-Love

Project Semicolon : such great inspiration for those feeling hopeless

17 Ways to Conquer Negativity : battle negative thoughts with these tips! 

Don't Take Any Shit : excellent advice from Danielle LaPorte

8 Types of Toxic Friends : have any of these? get rid of them ASAP

How to Help a Friend Who Is Grieving : when you don't know what to say...

19 Songs That Will Calm You Down : turn these on for stress relief! 

5 Reasons to Stop Ignoring Negative Emotions : facing them is much better

Purpose Is the New Bottom Line : love this inspirational talk

10 Times It's Okay to Be Lazy : go on -- do nothing for a bit! 

How to Waste Time Properly : if you want to be lazy and productive

Colors! : this short video starring color makes me happy

 

Listening

Listen to this playlist on YouTube.
 

"Bad Blood" (Cover) — Madilyn Bailey
"Tired of Talking" — LEON
"Wings" — Birdy
"Landslide" — Oh Wonder
"Low Brow" — Chelsea Jade
"Stay Coloured" — I Know the Chief
"Bird of the Summer" — A Fine Frenzy
"Fears" — MTNS
"Beating Me Up" — Rachel Platten
"Who You Are" —Hannah Susan Crane

 

Reading

Check out my reading list on GoodReads.
 

In the Unlikely Event
Judy Blume

I wrote a book too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro