I was inspired by Terry for my New Year’s Post. Terry raises his glass to continuing RA rebellion in 2012 and new adventures and I join him in this. I was already inspired for the New Year and Terry’s post further inspired me. I am going to continue to rebel against RA and I am going to look for new adventures.
A Career Path Changed
When I was diagnosed over three years ago with RA, I thought I would be disabled by now. However, I have been so very fortunate and I thank the Almighty every day for that. At the time I was diagnosed, I had just given birth my now three year old son and I had been planning on going to law school. I knew that I would come out of law school with flying colors and I knew that I would be a damn good lawyer. What I didn’t know is that my plans would change. Looking back now, I am glad that they did. I thought the law was my passion but the legal field is too demanding for anyone. I never imagined that two diagnoses would change my life for the better or that they would change it so significantly.
In February 2010, I started advocating for arthritis when Arthritis Connect was launched. Later that year, Fibromyalgia Connect was launched and I became the advocate for that site as well. Before Thanksgiving, Alliance Health launched Rheumatoid Connect and I was asked to take over that site as well. I have done other arthritis and fibromyalgia projects and I have had the opportunity to write articles for a variety of sources. In fact, my latest article will be featured in the Creaky Joints newsletter on January 3, 2012. I have also had the opportunity to connect with many wonderful people who live with and triumph despite chronic illness and for that, I am forever grateful.
RA and fibro gave me something to be proud of. I went into the legal field to help people, but it didn’t turn out as I planned. If I wanted to make money in the legal field, I wouldn’t be helping the average Joe. Making money meant I had to work for law firms that represented corporations and those with the deep pockets. My previous law firm defended corporations in asbestos law suits. After my brother was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, every single file that came across my desk had a face and a family. I had to walk away from that and money was the last thing on my mind. I took a lower paying position in a legal department of a realty company and left the corporate world behind me. My job is about bringing home a paycheck but it should also be something that allows me sleep at night. I wasn’t able to do that before. Advocating allows me to feel like I am making a difference. So yes, I make less money than I did a year ago, but I am happier that I was a year ago.
Goals for 2012
With 2012 almost here, I have thought about what I want to do with my life and what I want to accomplish in the upcoming year. I have two major goals. The first of those is to continue to work on my relationship with the Almighty. I got closer to God after I was diagnosed with RA and fibro and after my brother became ill and passed away. After my brother’s death, I found myself questioning my faith and it has taken some time to truly understand what God’s role in my life is but I think I have found that medium between God and me. For 2012, I plan on working on that relationship and to hopefully become more religious.
My second goal for 2012 is work on myself professionally. In 2011, I worked the personal aspects of my life. In 2012, I plan on reaching for my dreams and I plan on spending a lot for time advocating and focusing on advocacy projects. Further, I have wanted to teach for a long time and in 2012, I plan on working towards that goal. Hopefully, by the end of the year, I will find myself in a educational setting.
Reflecting upon 2011
Last year at this time, I write a post about what my plan was for 2011. My brother had just passed away and saying goodbye to him was the hardest thing I ever did. I promised myself that in 2011, I would celebrate life and that I did. What I didn’t realize is how much I would grow as a person in 2011. When my brother was battling cancer, it was like all of us (my siblings and I) woke up older from that experience. I promised myself that I would be a better person and I would stop seeing competition as progress and I did this to the best of my ability. I appreciated life because I knew all too well how short it was. I did everything to be a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend. I tried to laugh more and cry less but I ended up crying more and laughing less – that didn’t work out as I planned. But those tears taught me so much about myself. They thought me that I was stronger than I ever imagined, that I was compassionate and kind, and that I wasn’t alone. I made a choice that being tough was overrated and I allowed myself to lean on others for support. What I realized from that experience is that support was essential to life.
I closed in my last post of 2010 asking of you to look at what mattered most and to love the people in your life that treat you right and forget about the ones that don’t. I asked you to make wise choices, to not have regrets and to not take those you love for granted. I took this lesson from personal experience and I took my own advice to heart. 2011 was a great year for emotional growth for me and while times were hard, I got through it as I always do.
2012 – My Year
I have outlined my goals for 2012 and if my plans have to change, so what. My plans have changed before and when they did, they changed me for the better. I am a different person that I was when 2011 started and I am leaving 2011 humbled by everything around me.
Happy New Year to all of you and God bless each of you and your loved ones in the upcoming year.