Monday, September 17, 2012

Toolkit for Success - Adaptation

The goal of my blog posts are to encourage you and to share things I have been learning on my chronic illness journey.  Our disabilities and symptoms will not always be the same, but I have found that people who have a chronic or invisible illness often share symptoms, such as fatigue or depression.  These are two areas, with which I have struggled;  and they impacted my routines in negative ways, especially in the area of cleaning house.  I have been a Flylady fan for several years, and I have had success in using her methods to get on track again.  Being a flybaby and adapting the things I have learned from reading Marla Cilley's website have been helpful for me.  She has blessed many people in a variety of situations with her insight into FLYING, finally loving yourself.  As we travel this journey together, I would like you to think about this:  when you finally love yourself, it is a step towards loving other people better.  I am thinking I will also write something about this in my devotional blog, Take Comfort.

As you know, my week was busy last week;  and I have a little cold -- I think.   However, because my habits are improving, I know I can do some things around the house without making myself more ill.  We all have to adapt to our own circumstances, so I am not suggesting you do as I do.  No one knows how your body reacts better than yourself.  I have learned I must listen to my body.  There are times I need complete rest.  You need to adapt what you learn to your circumstances, just as I have.  I am not a doctor, a therapist, or any kind of medical professional.  I am a pilgrim on a journey to improving the way I live my life, so I hope we can have a dialogue during this series of blog posts.One of the things I want you to keep in mind, as you read,  is that I am trying to lay a foundation to work from in this blog post.  Or perhaps, we could call it a blueprint.  

The answers to changing habits and finding what works for you and me takes time.  And I do not want you to be discouraged, because it is a process which does not happen overnight.  However, when the light comes on, that change is possible, that one does not have to stay stuck, it is liberating.

I have been developing a Toolkit through the years,

and I add or take away from it as needed.  One of the things I discovered is that I am more successful in changing my habits when I use a simple method and when I take very small step steps.  This has been especially true in dealing with illness, which would not just go away.  Therefore, I suggest you put small steps into your tool kit.  My favorite term is baby steps, because a baby does not learn to walk in one effort.  It takes concentrated effort:  crawling, pulling himself up, holding on to something and taking small steps, letting go and taking steps with falls, wobbles, and repeated tries.  When I finally saw this, I began to make better progress:  I adapted this idea to my own life.

Next, think about what you need to work on first.  FlyLady says to shine the sink, and this has been helpful for many people.  Moreover, she does not say wash the dishes first.  Take the dishes out and just shine the sink.  I did this when I was quite weak, and it did not stay shined, but it did improve my mood.  However,  later on, I became so ill, I could not do that, so I began to pick up one item on my way to the bedroom, to the bathroom, or to the kitchen.   I would put that one item up, and congratulate myself.   That was my very first effort after a horrible bout with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  What can you do today or tomorrow?  One caution:  Do not obsess or worry about this.  Be gentle with yourself.  We are gentle with babies taking baby steps:  we need to care for ourselves this way too.

Be assured.  When I say take baby steps, I am not implying a lack of maturity.    If you decide to read One Small Step Can Change Your Life:  The Kaizen Way  by Robert Maurer. you will discover he suggests thinking about the change of habit first.  Visualize what you are going to do.  When one takes small steps, the brain is able to adapt and change with you.  If you move too quickly, it is harder to maintain a habit.  That means we have to get rid of the modern mindset of instant gratification.  And I think I am seeing that happen, as people realize we cannot have everything we want now.

The final step for today is make yourself a visual.  When I was working on the habit of getting dressed everyday  -- hair combed; casual clothes, not pajamas; sturdy shoes that I could slip on and off easily for my rest times  --FlyLady says shoes that tie, but I had to adapt--, I kept a calendar.  I just used the one on the wall.  At the first day of each week, I wrote "Dressed to the shoes", and I checked it off after I did it.  One time I used pretty flower stickers.   That made my record pretty and practical.  At the end of the month, I could see how I was doing.  As a couple of months passed, I saw I had created a habit.  I no longer had to think about dressing.  I just did it.  Also, it made it easier for me to move on to new steps in my journey.  And best of all, I felt good about myself.  

P.S.  1.  Next post -- planning for tomorrow --, I will tell you what I habit I plan to work on.

  2.  When I tried to make a correction after copying something from another post, I created a mess.  Since I do not want to wear myself out trying to fix it, by NOT leaving well enough alone, I have created today's colorful display for our pleasure.  LOL.  So I'm not perfect, and guess what!  I don't have to be.  I love you all.  God bless you on your journey.


  1. Your journey is very informative. I liked what you wrote, but felt it was intended just for women and not men. I have watched my husband go through just about everything you have written, but felt your target readers are women. There are many days I watch him struggle just to get out of bed. Maybe you could find some way of getting the male audience too. I am so proud of you Debby. God has given you a way to witness to others and let them know they aren't alone.
    Love you my dear friend,

    1. Dear Linda, I'm not sure if I replied where I was supposed to because I have this huge space and I can't fix it. So please read the comments I made below. Love you, my friend.

  2. Dear Linda,
    I don't intend for this to minister just to women. Please pray that God will show me how to reach out to men too. I think a man might think I am just reaching out to women, because I have a woman's perspective on so many issues. I have been in contact with some other people who have Chronic/Invisible Illness blogs. And there are men in that group. However, so far I have seen more women that are outspoken on the subject, especially on the internet, especially if they are still working full-time. I will see what I can find. I know there is a need. And I will try to be more sensitive to men. I know how hard it was to have illness dash my dream of teaching. That's why I went back to school and graduated.
    Love, Debby

  3. I meant I went back to school before I was ill, then my dreams were crushed later. Also, if they are men working full-time, I think some men might perceive that a boss or co-worker viewing their comments or blog would see this as a weakness, and that is not fair. But I have also seen this attitude towards myself with people that I have known over the years. Some people think it easy just to pull oneself up by the bootstraps. Well, they are wrong.


It's always lovely hearing from you. xoxo, Deborah