Bending with the wind

We all have those days when nothing helps, when fatigue or pain or cognitive issues knock us low and it seems there’s nothing we can do.

Lately I’ve been thinking of myself as a tree and my illness as a strong wind. Even the strongest, oldest trees sometimes can’t stand up to Mother Nature. Rigid, old trees can’t sway with the wind very well. Their branches snap off, endangering the health of the tree as a whole. But young branches are soft and flexible, and so they move with the winds that blow against them. When the storm is over, they simply bounce back.  They’re resilient, and better able to endure.

Likewise, no one can keep bad days or bad things from happening, but we can try to accept and adapt.  Rather than wasting energy resisting every force that blows against me, lately I’ve been trying instead to move along with it, to accept and adapt to its pull or its pain.  I imagine this force as a wind that blows around me rather than through me. As I feel is mighty force coming on, I acknowledge it and respect it.

It helps somehow to imagine these difficult things as mere winds blowing through my life and to think of myself as a supple tree bending as it moves past me.

I’m not saying to give in.  Like martial artists, though, I’m using the force of an opponent to my advantage. I feel like I’m taking the momentum of whatever life is throwing at me and converting it to something that can help me on this journey.

So the next time a strong wind blows at you, rather than fighting it, lean into it. You’re not letting the wind “win.” You’re letting it pass by you, so that you can go on with your journey.

Patti Stilley Schmidt is a health coach, counselor and consultant. She’s a chronic illness survivor, with years of experience managing, researching and advocating to improve the lives of the chronically ill, especially those with stigmatized illnesses. She’s been a peer counselor, support group leader, national advocacy organization board member, and has written dozens of articles on these topics, along with the book Mold Warriors with Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker.  She is finishing up a Master’s degree in Clinical and Counseling Psychology at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia.