Mostly Better

It’s been a week. My last entry happened on a day when I had more than 20 seizures. I’ve learned that if I’m that incapacitated by seizures, I’m definitely having an MS relapse. I called my neurologist to follow up, and he called in a medrol dose pack on Friday afternoon. The effect was damn near instant. Thursday: 20+ seizures, Friday prior to meds: 13 seizures (I took the first day’s worth after dinner), Saturday: 0 seizures. NONE. Not one.

I wish I could say that I haven’t had any since Saturday, but that wouldn’t be true. Yesterday I had a couple, but they were simple partials (facial twitches), so I’m not worried about them. I’ve come to the point in my experience having seizure disorder where 1-2 simple partial seizures a day doesn’t feel like any big deal to me at all. Today, so far, I’m good. Maybe that means that tomorrow I can get back to the gym. I’d really like that.

Doing The Right Thing

Sometimes, I do the right thing without even realizing that I’m doing it. It always makes me smile when that happens. Take that letter that I wrote myself last week, for example. Apparently, science has proven that writing yourself compassionate letters is good for your mental health. It stops you from ruminating on the negative and allows you to take positive action. (Like taking a much-needed nap!)

Today, I’m doing my best not to ruminate on an irrational concept that a friend brought up in reference to herself. She said that she didn’t want to live a mediocre life.

A Mediocre Life? There’s No Such Thing.

For whatever reason, reading the phrase “living a mediocre life” felt like a punch in the chest. The idea that I might be living what she considered to be a mediocre life stuck in my craw. What upset me worse was the idea that I might think that I’m living a mediocre life.

I mean, I spend most of my days alone in an apartment, doing household chores and participating on social media.  It’s not exactly the stuff of legend.  Back in the day, before seizures, I used to be much more social and was very career-driven. But does a change from that way of being mean that my life is second-rate or ordinary? Since when has anything about me been ordinary?

Truth be told, I spent a significant amount of time in therapy wrestling with the question of why I’m even alive, if I’m not doing anything important. The answer to that question was remarkably simple: Because it’s better than the alternative! And, besides, how am I supposed to accurately know what is or isn’t “important” in the grand scheme of Life, The Universe, and Everything? That requires a level of objectivity that no human can possibly attain.

So, sure, I’m not living life the way that I had hoped for myself. So what? What person living with a chronic illness is? Hell, I’d go so far as to wager that no one is! We all deal with shit being thrown at us that we neither expected nor wanted, and we deal with it. Does living a life that is different from the one “of my dreams” mean that my life is inferior, insignificant, or of poor quality?  No, it doesn’t.

Just Because You’re Not Living The Life Of Your Dreams Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Living Well.

There’s so much pressure in our society to stand out and be considered important, and it’s totally unnecessary. It comes from our constant consumption of narratives: TV shows and movies and books. And most of these narratives are fictitious. In real life, we’re each the protagonist of our own story, but none of us knows the whole story because it’s constantly unfolding before us.

Hell, the US military even capitalized on this idea by asking the question, “If your life was a story, would anybody read it?” in recruitment ads. It’s such a silly way of thinking. Comparing stories from our lives with other people’s stories based on entertainment value is fruitless. It’s a directive for misery. There will always be people who have it better and those who have it worse. There will always be people achieving more and those who aspire to far less.

I mean, let’s take a step back from the question of “Is my life mediocre?” and ask an even more important question: who’s judging? Society? The media? History? Why should I care what anyone (other than me) thinks of my life? I’m the one living it, and I’m proud of who I am. That’s what studying Tao is all about: the idea that your path is unique to you, and that you can’t do life wrong.

If we must put ourselves up for judgment, I think it’s better to focus on a set of objective metrics.

  1. Do you do something to learn and grow as a person every day?
  2. Do you engage in activities that contribute positively to your community, such as philanthropy, charity, or advocacy?
  3. Do you treat yourself and others with kindness, compassion, and respect?
  4. Do you make an effort to use your unique talents when you’re able to?
  5. Do you take time to express gratitude and to appreciate the people and things in your life?
  6. Do you share your knowledge with others? Everybody knows something you don’t! It’s one of humanity’s greatest gifts!
  7. Do you make an effort to be empathetic and honor the experiences of others?

I think that if you can say “yes” to those questions, then you’re living a life you can be proud of.  And to be honest, even if you can’t answer “yes” to all of them, it doesn’t mean that your life is mediocre.
 

Shake It Off

Today’s earbug is a pop song by Taylor Swift. I usually don’t like her music, but I’ve had this song stuck in my head for a few days, and it works with the theme of today’s post. I hope it makes you want to shake your booty too.

The Tao of Rae – for Free! And – Rachael Ray’s Garlic Roast Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon – Paleo!

Tao Square

Tao Square (Photo credit: Rosa Say)

The Tao of Rae

As many long-time readers know, I developed the Tao of Rae on this website.  I have finally compiled it and put it together in PDF format.  This morning I also published it for nook on Barnes & Noble‘s website and for Kindle on Amazon.com.

But here, it’s free.  Download The Tao of Rae in PDF format for free here and check it out.

I put a lot of work into it, and I hope that whoever downloads it enjoys it.

Speaking of things that I hope people enjoy — I’ve got another paleo friendly recipe from Food Network!

Rachael Ray’s Garlic Roast Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves stripped from stems
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning blend (recommended: Montreal Seasoning) or, coarse salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Arrange chicken in a baking dish, 9 by 13-inch.
  3. Add garlic, rosemary, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest and grill seasoning or salt and pepper to the dish.
  4. Toss and coat the chicken with all ingredients, then place in oven.
  5. Roast 20 minutes.
  6. Add wine and lemon juice to the dish and combine with pan juices.
  7. Return to oven and turn oven off. Let stand 5 minutes longer, then remove chicken from the oven.
  8. Place baking dish on trivet and serve, spooning pan juices over the chicken pieces.
  9. Enjoy! 🙂

Chapter 81: Conspicuous Substance

True words are not pleasant,
thus beautiful words should be distrusted.

Good folks don’t debate;
debaters are bad!
(Hey, what about attorneys, Lao Tzu?
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!)

Those who are aware don’t gamble;
those who gamble aren’t wise.

Saints don’t accumulate (stuff),
they believe that the more they help others
the more they help themselves.

Because he gives to others,
he will have much.

Heaven’s Way benefits without needing to do harm.
Saint’s Way acts without needing to struggle.

Chapter 80: To Be Independent

In a small country, there are few people.

To enable the country to run, there is one tenth
of the eldest gentlemen who are kept as a tool
without needing to be used;
to enable the people to endure the heavy burden of death
without needing to go far to change ones residence.

Although there is boat carriage,
it does not matter if you ride it,
although there is first in order, soldiers,
it does not matter the arrangement.

Enable the people to recover binding rope as well as to use it.

Sweet is their food;
Beautiful are their clothes;
Peaceful are their homes;
Vulgar is their laughter.

Neighboring countries gaze towards one another;
chicken and dog make noise and sniff at one another;
the citizenry arrive at old age and even death,
and have nothing to do with each other’s dealings.

Chapter 79: Contractual Responsibilities

To bring harmony to an old, great complaint,
necessarily there will be some remainder of the old complaint.
By recompensing the complaint with De (virtue and goodness).
may it be possible to bring peace and to serve the greater good?

To be like the saints, execute your portion of a contract
without the expectation of duty of performance by the other side.
Virtuous company keeps their contractual obligations.
Those who lack virtue do not.

Heaven’s Way lacks intimate relations;
it is always on the side of the good man.

Chapter 78: To Give Free Reign to Belief

In all the world, there is none
who is more soft and weak than water,
and yet, to attack strongly,
there is none who may get the better of it,
in order to best it.

Inferior, it is able to get the better of force.
Soft, it is able to get the better of hard.
In all the world, there is no one who doesn’t know.
There is none who can be as effective.

According to the saints say,
“To receive the nation’s disgrace, to speak of society’s cereal master,
to receive the nation’s inauspiciousness, is to act as the world’s King.”

Correct words often seem wrong side-out and upside down.

Chapter 77: Heaven’s Way

The Path to Heaven, is it not like the stretching of a bow?

The favored, it humbles, the lowly, it elevates.

To exist with remainder, it causes harm;
for those who are insufficient, it supplements.

Heaven’s Way is to remove where there exists abundance
and to heal where there exists insufficiency.
(Heaven levels the playing field.)

Man’s Way is not so.
Take from the insufficient to give to the abundant.

Who can exist to use his abundance to revere the world?
Only the very most chaste.

To be like to the saints,
act without needing to rely upon achievement.
Accomplish without needing to dwell on the wish to appear worthy.