This is my column that was published on August 1st. It is a subject that I tend to talk a lot about as it is one that I often turn to when I am struggling creatively or when I am have the difficult ME days.
I hope it helps you as well. Enjoy!
There is this innate desire in human beings to document their life. It creates a tangible and visible record of where they have been, what they have accomplished, and all they have been witness to.
I, personally, have over 200 hundred photos of my 1998 trip to Côte d’Ivoire, Africa.
Today, when I look back at these photos, I can still recall the unique smells, the beautiful landscape, and the wonderful African people that I met during that trip.
I can also, vividly, recall the traumatic event, which left me incapacitated (by tear gas) and being trampled by 6,000 panicked and fleeing women.
Thirteen years later, instead of these photos bringing up the terror I felt that day, they now serve as a reminder that I can endure anything because … I survived that moment.
Interestingly, living with a chronic illness is not much different than being trampled on by 6,000 women because both …
Create a loss of control.
Cause physical pain.
Cause extreme mental and emotional anguish.
Afford me the opportunity to test my character.
Reveal with crystal, clear clarity what I truly believe at my core.
Often lead me into a dark, terrifying place, where at that moment, my future is not assured, as well as, imbuing me with the realization that I, in and of myself, cannot change or control the event that is currently happening.
Serve to remind me that life is ever changing and if I can just hold on to what is too difficult today; this challenging moment in time will become a tangible record of a moment in my life that proved I do have the endurance, strength and character to overcome, because …I have done it before.
As a result, one lesson I have repeatedly learned throughout my life is that what feels impossible in a given moment, often turns out to be one of my greatest and proudest moments.
As a result, I have learned to create records, or memory stones, as a way to document my many accomplishments despite living within the confines of a chronic illness.
While some of these memory stones are in the form of photography, some are awards I have been given or certificates of accomplishments and achievements, and so forth.
Recently, I re-read every column I have written in the past year for Life Skills Magazine. I was surprised to find I had written thirteen columns and done three interviews. Each of them written from my bed in the midst of many challenging moments such as last year’s poisoning, losing my home and possessions, losing my beloved Pug: Dekker, and a dramatic change in my health.
Even more amazing, however, is that I have written my column for a full year! There were many times throughout the year that I doubted if I could even do it! Writing my column for one year with Life Skills Magazine is cause for celebration, as well as a wonderfully, motivating, memory stone!
Often, because of an intense desire to do more than I am currently able to accomplish, I become thoroughly discouraged. I then find myself wondering if my life has any value when I constantly struggle to accomplish even the simplest of things.
I tend to derail in my thinking believing that these limitations reveal that my value as an individual is less because …
I am doing less.
I am not engaged in activities in my community, church, family or friends.
There are many days that my ability to fulfill my purpose is non-existent.
I struggle to fulfill the many dreams and hopes I have within me.
However, my memory stones tell a different story. They show me that in the past 18 months, I have written 13 columns, done 3 interviews, launched a new organization: Becoming VISIBLE 4ME, created 266 posts for my blog, and have taken several hundred photos.
Without these memory stones, however, I would undermine what I have accomplished and find myself struggling to hang on when I find myself in the midst of another setback, overwhelming event, or despair and disillusionment.
Memory Stones can serve several purposes in the life of someone, like me, living with a chronic illness.
First, they serve as a factually accurate record of what has been accomplished in our past. They remind us that we are accomplishing something, and more often than not, more than we realize.
Second, memory stones become stepping stones that help us traverse and navigate the challenging obstacles we are confronted with by reminding us of all we have already done.
Third, memory stones offer us a life line when we find ourselves in the throes of disappointment, despair and disillusionment. They not only serve as a gentle reminder that devastating days will come, but also, that they always have an end.
Fourth, memory stones provide us a means to encourage others when they are in the midst of their own struggles and vice versa.
Lastly, memory stones are stepping stones to a purposeful life. The trick is to remember to continually visit our memory stones whenever life’s challenges knock us down so that their truth can help us step back into the purpose we were created for.
Determined to continue forward,
Note: “Dominique’s Corner, Dominique’s monthly column printed in Life Skill Magazine, is cross-posted here with permission of LSM. If you would like to receive a free copy of Life Skill Magazine, you can sign up here. Or you can check out Discovering Purposed, a blog about creating a purpose driven life, by going here.