A Difficult Struggle: Time Management

William Penn time quote

Right now, I am finding it hard not complain about the power of technology.

The intelligent person that I can be decided to do a massive update on my Windows computer just as I sat down to work on my blog. I thought to myself, “Oh, this update should take no more than 10 minutes.” Yeah, 30 minutes have come and gone, and it is not even 25% complete. Sigh.

Sadly, the above incident is quite an accurate depiction of my time management skills. Honestly, time management is one of my weaker areas in life. It isn’t a weak area in the way one would suspect either.

For instance, I have a strong knack for getting a ballpark idea of how long it will take me to do something. And I am usually fairly accurate–if nothing goes wrong or no distractions arise.

You see, as I’ve mentioned numerous times on this platform, I often seek and strive for perfection. Thankfully, I’d say I am now a recovering perfectionist in quite a few areas of my life. But, I still can’t let go of its grip in other areas. Time management is one of those areas.

Oftentimes, I harbor a lofty, more than likely unrealistic expectation of what I can complete in a certain amount of time. For, I do not consider slip-ups or unforeseen and unavoidable issues. I tend to view time management through rose-colored glasses.

As a result, I don’t manage my time to the best of my ability. I am often conflicted, especially as I strive to insert more moments for self-care. But, how much is too much self-care? When should I get down to business and actually start being productive?

Then, don’t even get me started on distractions or the noise of life.

Practically half of the reason why it may take me so long to complete an assignment or, really, any task, is because I get distracted. These distractions can come from a text message, a conversation with my husband, an undone chore, or just my phone, in general.

In a lot of ways, I think I have a mild attention issue. Even though I can intently focus once I am “in the zone,” some days, it takes me a bit to actually reach that point.

Regardless, in my short time as a full-fledged adult, I have yet to fully grasp that we humans only have so many hours in a day. Not only that, we only have so much energy to exert. There comes a point when our bodies say, “Enough is enough.”

I am constantly reminded of this. To be honest, the busy-body energizer bunny in me does not like it. I don’t like it because it is my own dose of humility.

I often joke with people, “I am always rushing around because I am Russian.” As humorous as the joke can be, I think it is an honest reflection of one of my deepest struggles in life.

That is, I always have to feel like I am going somewhere or doing something. Otherwise, I don’t feel adequate or worthy. I am sure I’ve touched on this before.

Nevertheless, my current course about international communication has taught me that my perceived idea of being busy isn’t the norm globally, nor is it always healthy. I’ve come to the realization that America’s almost constant aspiration for “the hustle” isn’t ideal.

Honestly, I am writing this to say, I am struggling. I am struggling to appreciate stillness, to appreciate time for what it is and not what I want it to be. I am writing this to hopefully begin to make sense of it all. I am also writing this to hold myself accountable, to ignite a fire of motivation to grow.

I’ve come to a point in my life where my confused idea of time causes more issue in my life than I’d like to admit. Thankfully, I can usually channel its nasty snare while at work, but it takes a great deal of effort some days.

Today, I don’t have a fancy call to action. I simply have a piece of my heart and life to share. I’d love to know what you all do to manage your time, while also setting aside time for yourself.

Blessings,

Renata

 

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Social Media: Why I Don’t Use Facebook

social media quote - craig hodgesProbably out of all weeks in the year, I have the hardest time coming up with content during Thanksgiving week. See, I post on Thursday evenings. America’s Thanksgiving always falls on a Thursday.

Therefore, most of my readers will probably be in a food-induced coma. Or, they may still be grubbing on food with family. So, Thanksgiving is wonderful for me, but it can put me between a rock and a hard place, especially since I am not a lifestyle blogger who can fill her page with pre-Black Friday sales. I am more than okay with this, though.

I am content with my food-induced coma audience. In fact, I know most of my readers will probably be doing one thing—aimlessly scrolling through social media while drifting in and out of sleep. But, I won’t be doing that as much this year. For, it was nearly a year ago that I got rid of my Facebook profile.

To be completely honest, I am extremely glad I did. When I deactivated the account, it was a spur of the moment action, driven by a long thought out decision. I thought I’d try it out for a little bit and see if I made the wrong decision. But, nearly a year later, I don’t think I did.

Before I divulge into the whys behind this decision, I’ll say I am not completely anti-social media. I am just extremely picky about it. In fact, I’ve talked about social media a little bit in a previous blog post, which you can read here.

As I’ve stated before, I maintain an Instagram because I just can’t say no to a feed filled with adorable fluffy dogs, San Diego scenery, and coffee. Besides, there’s something much more intriguing about sharing one’s life through photographs—even if they can be overly staged.

As I’ve also stated before, I opt for platforms I can interact with others without feeling obligated or pressured to post myself—also known as an introvert’s dream. When I do post something on my Instagram, it’s typically about my blog. I know, I know. I don’t have a spectacular social media presence. Again, I am content with this.

In fact, it is partially because of my not so spectacular social media presence that I got rid of my Facebook. I used to be one of those people who posted on a somewhat regular basis. Then, working toward my bachelor’s degree squandered that quickly. I came to a point where I did not post for weeks. If I did, it was a funny conversation thread or photograph. I hardly posted anything of relevant importance.

Before I took the plunge, I was conflicted. I have family all over the nation who I don’t see often. So, I found myself wanting to keep my Facebook to stay in touch with them. But, truthfully, my own family didn’t post much. So, I thought, was it worth it if they don’t post much either?

I also know a lot of people use Facebook to stay in touch with high school friends. With each year, I found myself purging more and more people from my list. I essentially came to a point when I asked myself, “Do I actually want to know what’s going on in their lives? Have we talked in a year?” If I answered no to either of these questions, I’d unfriend the person.

I also found myself conflicted with the obligatory friends. The people who I felt like I had to maintain a social media presence with for the sake of history or peer pressure. Yeah, I got tired of it real fast. There is a reason why I don’t stay in touch with people I went to high school with. Most of them were not a good influence on my life. All glory to God, I am a completely different person now than I was back then.

I constantly found myself wasting so much time. I’d say I’d take a small break that’d turn into an hour. Plus, I am one of those people who notoriously always found themselves annoyed after spending a certain amount of time on Facebook. Something or someone would irk me or irritate me somehow, which would cause me to be a complaining grouch. Social media scrolling was not good for my well-being.

Now, I understand the decisions I made may be callous and rude. But, I don’t use social media like the average person. I either use it for the people connection or lack thereof it.

For instance, I even recently purged my Instagram because I found myself spending way too much time on it. I said enough is enough. Honestly, I thought about getting rid of my Instagram altogether, too, but I opted not to—for now. Instead, I went through a cleanse of who I followed.

So, there you have it. I got rid of my Facebook nearly a year ago. One day I was there. The next I wasn’t. I don’t regret the decision. In fact, if you can resonate with any of the factors that led to my decision, I’d challenge you to deactivate your account, too.

No, you may not choose to stay off the platform like I have. But, I do think it will help you gain perspective. Social media is good when used wisely. Otherwise, it is only a more visible platform seeking to disrupt our well-being.

If you do not resonate with this, I’d love to hear why you use social media. I think a lot of people commit to decisions or behaviors because it is what is accepted in popular culture. We may neglect to see there are more negatives than positives. We may neglect to see the extent of influence one platform can have on us.

For now, enjoy your food-induced coma.

Blessings,

Renata

My Inner Monica Geller: Organization

organization-quote-aa-milneI am one of the millions, if not billions, of people who have watched Friends. One of the reasons why I enjoy the show is because the characters are relatable to most people. I related most with Monica.

Like Monica, I am easily borderline OCD about organization and cleanliness. I could highly relate to all the scenes when she freaked out about her home not being clean, especially the one where Chandler cleans their apartment while she’s at work.

Of course, everyone but Chandler seemed to think that was a terrible idea—with good reason. For, even though Chandler thought he put all the items back where they belonged, the moment Monica walked in, she freaked out. Monica instantly knew something was different.

That’s me, guys.  I am an organization and cleaning freak. I do not thrive on clutter and chaos. Instead, I thrive on order and routine.

I firmly believe everything needs its proper place. If it’s not there, I get frantic. My best rule of the thumb is to group like things together. Another rule I have involves practicality, functionality, and level of use. Therefore, if I know I am not going to use something as often, it will either go in the back of a closet or on a higher shelf.

I am that person who spends the first day in any new space labeling and envisioning what should go where. I am that person who will always believe my house could be cleaner. Spotless is my standard, practically.

One of the hardest parts of having a one-bedroom apartment is realizing that our bedroom typically acts as a storage room as well. Nothing makes me feel more anxious or Closter phobic than walking up to a dirty home. I try my best to pick up before bed each night. Yet, I also reserve Saturday mornings for cleaning and coffee.

I am also that person who needs to be cut off from cleaning. In fact, my husband must physically sit me down. Otherwise, I will keep going for hours. Once I get going, it is extremely hard to stop, especially when I am in the kitchen. Cleaning and organizing relax me.

I am a sucker for color coordination. I organize everything I can by color—light to dark. The biggest reason I do this is because it’s extremely easy for me to visualize my closet whenever I am trying to decide what to wear. Thus, ultimately making it easier to grab garments and go. I don’t have to go through the stress of finding the shirt I want to wear.

Also, I have four phone cases at my disposal so I can pick the one that matches my outfit best. Same goes for my travel coffee mugs. I went as far as buying colored straws for the same purpose . Even in those details, I think people can learn a lot about a person. For me, matching my colors in every way shows that I put in some effort and strive to look polished, yet not flashy.

At work, every bit of documentation I may need goes in the same place each day. For instance, a lot of what I do requires repetition. Therefore, once I come up with a process and placement that works for me, I stick with it. I tend to freak out a little bit when my trusted, tried, and true, routine changes.

I absolutely must clear off my desk before going to the next task, even if it means taking a few trips throughout the day to various offices to drop off paperwork. Doing so is like a breath of fresh air for me. It’s much easier for me to focus on a task when I am not worried about an excessive amount of no longer necessary paperwork in my workspace.

As I am sure I’ve mentioned before, my coasters at work and home must be lined up with one another perfectly and facing the same direction. I am not a fan of crooked placement. I place any storage canisters or figurines by height because is there any other way? I base my decision on which method is most visually appealing.

I take the time to organize my books, movies, and CDs like that of a library—by author and title. I keep multiple calendars—one on my phone and a paper one at home. It’s common for people to come to me about our schedule because I will make sure everything is in order and that nothing overlaps.

I will leave my examples at those. I don’t think the entire world needs or wants to know just how meticulous I am. Lord knows I am missing a great deal of them. Nonetheless, being in school has forced me to realize that my standards are not always realistic.

Thankfully, though, my husband understands my standard of cleanliness and organization. In fact, when I asked him about it, he said, I aim for “clean, very clean.” He’s done a wonderful job of keeping our home tidy while I spend my free time doing homework.

If you can relate to me in any way, I’d love to hear what you do to be just as organized as Monica Geller. We can confide in each other and give each other tips.

And if you can’t relate to me, I can assure you, you are not alone either. I think a lot more people have the “organized mess” standard, which is just fine. However, I do apologize to those who can be taken aback by people who obsessively clean and organize.

Blessings,

Renata

My Weird Habits: Alarms, Locks, Etc.

Chains of habit - Warren Buffett quoteI am just going to jump right into this post and say I have some weird or bad habits. I think it’s safe to say everyone does, though. It is part of being human. It is part of being a unique individual.

It makes me chuckle to think my husband loves me despite my weird habits. In fact, somehow, he loves me more for those weird habits.

First, I am that person who has a bajillion alarms on my phone. At all times, I generally have 10 alarms. I don’t use all of them each day. But, I typically use all of them within the week, depending on the day.

Of course, in my mind, all serve a purpose. But, to those who may not get it, they could get annoying quickly. Instead of using the notes in the alarm clock to identify what the time means, I use different songs.

I am that person who fears they won’t wake up without all of them. Plus, I am just generally not a morning person. I used to be, then college happened, regularly staying up past 11:00p.m. happened. Thankfully, it’s not as bad now. But, each course is different.

Not only do I have a bajillion alarms, I am extremely persistent about checking them. I will check to see if they are on. Then, I’ll check to see if they are set to A.M. I will do this to the point that my head hurts from focusing that intently.

In my eyes, it’s worth it. I have yet to wake up late. But, of course, that only works on the days I actually turn them on. There have been some nights when I was so tired that I forgot to turn them on. The next morning was not a pleasant one, to say the least.

In the same realm, I am obsessed with making sure I locked a door. I can thank my dad for that one. Growing up, I could always count on him checking to make sure his shop door was locked before completely pulling out of the driveway.

Now, I do the same. I double, and triple, check every type of door or cabinet is locked, including those at work. In fact, one of my coworkers who closes occasionally never has to question if my office is locked the days I work. I’ve made a reputation for myself.

This weird habit also stems from the fact if a door is not locked and someone were to come in unannounced, he or she could not get charged with forced entry. A lot of times that makes a difference with insurance. Thankfully, I have not had to deal with it. But, I am cautious, nonetheless.

Another habit I have may be difficult to explain, essentially solidifying its weirdness. I am notorious for going a different way to and from places. For instance, I am that person who will walk completely around the back of a car to get to the sidewalk instead of simply going around the front.

I don’t always take the long way, but I do tend to take a peculiar route. I cannot tell you how many times people made comments about it to me while growing up. This is one of those habits I tend to feel guilty for more than anything else.

Ironically, I don’t intend to take the longer or obscure route, I just do. Sometimes, I do to avoid falling. But, most of the time, it’s just what I gravitate towards. It’s always been something I have done without being aware of it. I have tried to get better about it. But, it does not stop people from giving me funny looks.

My final weird or bad habit is a common one. I bite my nails. I can’t stand how my nails feel after using a nail clipper, so I bite them instead. This habit drives my husband bonkers. I try my best not to do it around him.

Plus, biting my nails helps me calm down a bit. I’ve realized in the last year or so that I struggle with anxiety. When I first talked about my struggle with depression with my counselor, she asked if I had anxiety as well. At the time, I was convinced I didn’t. But, something as simple as biting my nails begs to differ.

So, there you have it. I am a bit weird and I am okay with that.

My call to you is this: Be wary of your weird habits. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge them, especially if they are unhealthy. It’s not always fun to uncover that part of your life. Sometimes, it’s humorous. Other times, it could be cause for a real concern.

But, no matter what, don’t lose sight of the unique individual God made you to be, weird or bad habits, tics, quirks, and all.

Blessings,

Renata

A Misconception About Me: Marriage

Single-marriage-Timothy KellerI recently attended a marriage conference at my church. It was a wonderful event. During the conference, the leader of my small group asked me and my husband how long we were single before we got together. I told him we met in junior college. Therefore, I was only truly single and not dating for a year after graduating high school.

The question itself did not bother me, especially considering the circumstance. Nevertheless, what did bother me were the common misconceptions one could make about me from that simple answer. Because, of course, it was not the proper time or place for me to vouch for myself.

Let me explain.

I got married in my early twenties. Honestly, I grew up thinking I would never get married. Simply put, I did not think anyone would love me that way. Plus, I had a lot of trust issues, thanks to spending part of my life as an orphan.

Nevertheless, even before I truly understood what it meant to have a relationship with God, I harbored the mentality that I would not pursue a spouse or marriage. Instead, I trusted that if it was meant to happen, it would.

Lo and behold, I got married.

Now, I don’t want people to think that despite my mentality growing up that I got married as a way to settle or prove myself wrong. No, I got married because I felt the Lord calling me to that. Or, based on the words of Timothy Keller: Singleness and marriage are both paths of brokenness. God knows when we need the agonies of singleness and marriage.

God ordained for me to experience the agonies of marriage.

But, it is hard to remember this some days. For, even before I got married, I had people tell me they thought I was too young to be getting married and whatnot. My young age and Christian values caused others to believe I fit a stereotypical mold. A mold that made it seem like I intentionally sought out marriage, that my heart deeply longed for it and I was finally getting my fix.

However, that wasn’t the case at all. Even now, I still find my heart wrestling with it all, especially since I know there are people older than me who do not experience marriage but long to do so. I am well aware those who want marriage the most are, often times, the ones whom God sends on a long journey of singleness.

My heart aches for these people and I pray, Lord willing, they, too, may one day experience the gift of marriage. Yet, singleness and marriage are both a gift in themselves. It is how we choose to use both seasons of life to serve God. For, again, as Timothy Keller said, “Singleness and marriage are not the ultimate life state. Both are second to life everlasting with God.”

So, all that to say, yes, I did get married young. Yes, I am a strong Christian believer. But, the misconception stops there. Regardless of what season you find yourself in, this misconception begins and ends at the notion that it is all part of God’s perfect plan. Nothing more, nothing less.

My call to you is this: Be gentle. Be kind. This is a common call on this platform because it is so necessary in this broken world. We should not feel ashamed about where God has placed us and how He is using us. But, we are sinful people in a broken world. It’s easy to understand why we would feel shame.

I am well aware I have blessings in my life others do not. Nevertheless, I also want each of you to realize that just because someone’s life may seem to fit a mold or stereotype you have does not mean it actually does. There is always more to a person and story.

But, I tell you: God has a purpose for your life. It may involve marriage. It may not. I know I am only one person in the billions of this world. Nevertheless, in my own brokenness, I am thinking of you. I am praying that God would fulfill His magnificent plans for your life.

Blessings,

Renata

My Journey to Recovery: Anorexia

Song of Solomon 4-7The post I am about to share is one on my list of unfinished blog posts I spoke about a few months back. It is one of the posts I started but let linger. I always found a reason to hold back. In fact, even now, I find myself grasping a reason to hold back.

Yet, I have thought about this blog post quite a bit recently. I find myself stumped and going back to this topic. I find God calling me to write this. I find Him calling me to share my heart and one of my biggest struggles to date.

So, here we are.

When it comes to eating food, I pride myself on having impeccable control. I can say no to almost any sweet. If I do crave a sweet, I give myself two hours and see if I still crave it then. If I do, I eat it. If I don’t crave it, I don’t eat it.

My self-control comes from a natural stubborn persistence I have always had. But, it also comes from my former struggle with anorexia.

I was anorexic for most of my high school years. It began to take root in middle school but really flourished in high school. It was an anchor in my life, though it took me nearly five years to see it as such.

Honestly, I use many unhealthy habits to cope with life’s messiness. I used my anorexia to feel better about my disability. In middle school, I really began to understand I was disabled and the physical challenges that came along with it.

Middle school also came with taunting and snickers. Middle school was my catapult of feeling ashamed for who I was and who God created me to be. So, I worked to gain control over other areas of my physical being. Thus, anorexia.

Anorexia is different for everyone, just like any struggle. But, from all the testimonies I have ever heard, the mindset of someone with anorexia is fairly common. In my mind, I believed there was something wrong with me. I believed I was fat, although I was barely 90 pounds and about five feet tall.

I believed that if I controlled my weight people would no longer notice me for my restrictions. I believed that if I controlled my weight people would no longer see my disability. Rather, they would notice me on a heart level.

I calorie counted. I ate only when I needed to, which usually meant just dinner at home. I reached for healthy foods. I practically lived off apples and pretzels. I constantly picked at my food. Usually, I only ate a couple bites of protein and carbs in my school lunches. I created this mental list of foods I was and was not allowed to eat and how much.

I freaked out whenever my family went to a restaurant because I knew it would be difficult to find a food that met the restrictions. Usually, I’d order a light dish and avoid any appetizer or chips. It also meant I usually had leftovers.

During this time, I ran about six miles each morning. I also studied up on a plethora of books on health and what to avoid at popular fast food chains. I constantly weighed myself. I did not seek counsel or tell anyone.

I hid this struggle. I was alone in this struggle.

I think the hardest part of it all was even when I did passive-aggressively hint at a struggle with anorexia, no one believed me since I was already a naturally skinny person. But, I knew what I dealt with was real. My thought attitude made this evident.

On a separate, yet related note, even before I was anorexic, I had people tell me I needed to gain weight, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that people did not notice my behaviors or weight change.

In fact, as I look back now, I think those comments only pushed me further in my spiral because I wanted to do anything but what people were telling me. I was tired of people telling me what I should or should not do about my weight.

Thankfully, I can say I am no longer anorexic. I haven’t been for nearly five years now. Honestly, there wasn’t any monumental moment that made me stop either. If anything, I think going to college saved me.

I was way too busy and stressed to skip out on meals. I simply came to the realization that if I did not stop, I wouldn’t be able to function properly. I did not go to a clinic, although I know a lot of people do.

But, those thought attitudes and lies still persist, occasionally. Part of the reason why I am sharing this includes those thoughts nearly came back in full swing about six months ago. I had a doctor tell me if I lost any more weight, I’d be an unhealthy weight. The doctor said I looked nearly ten pounds lighter than my appointment a year prior.

The observation caught me off guard because I wasn’t even trying to lose weight! I think my life had just been so stressful that I naturally lost the weight. Let me tell you, that one comment was all it took to replant the devil’s lies in my head. I found myself feeling like I needed to relive that portion of my life.

Thankfully, I was honest with my husband. I told him that I could feel those thoughts creeping back. I could feel myself wanting to check my weight, obsessively desiring to have a flat stomach. He knew I wouldn’t fully resort back to my anorexic days. But, he was aware the lies I once told myself found their way back.

In order to not slip back into my former ways, after the doctor appointment, I actively tried to gain weight. I didn’t necessarily change what I did as far as food consumption goes, for my diet isn’t the healthiest but it isn’t terrible either.

However, I did try to reduce my stress level. Six months later, I don’t think it’s really made a difference. But, that could be just because it’s my body. Nevertheless, I also think it’s because I have an extremely high metabolism due to my cerebral palsy.

Even after all this time, I still get comments about my skinniness and need to gain weight. I probably always will. But, those that know me well know that I love food. I don’t skip meals anymore.

In fact, my body won’t let me. I always tell my husband I think God gave me my hypoglycemia to ensure I wouldn’t be anorexic again. God knows me well enough to know it’s extremely easy for me to fall back into old habits.

I tell you this: It’s still hard. Even after all these years and knowing the truth about needing to care for my body, it is still hard.

My body naturally fluctuates between the same 10 pounds. I still find myself wanting to be skinnier some days, even though I am anywhere from a size 00 to a 1, depending on the brand and style.

I don’t struggle with it the way that I used to, but I do struggle. Now, I spend each day constantly trying to remind myself that my beauty is found in Christ. Some days, it is easier to remember than others.

Thankfully, I am at a point in my life where I am open to talking about it. I don’t think this will be the only time I will talk about it on this platform. Although, it’s still something I am learning more people should discuss freely, including myself. It seems like this is an area of my life I am ashamed of more than others, though I know it is a common struggle in society.

But, like most struggles, anorexia is often a silent, lonely experience, which is why it can be extremely hard to come to terms with and reach a point of positive, honest discussion. Please let me know if you would like to know more about this part of my life story and testimony.

Regardless, I hope this post is helpful for someone. If you can identify with any of the tendencies or lies I discussed, you are not alone. I hope and pray that you can confide in someone and bring your struggle to the light.

Satan is using your struggle in darkness to harm you more, brother and sister. Knock him off his feet. Blind him with the truth that you are not alone. Blind him with the truth that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by God.

Blessings,

Renata

Shattering the Stigma: Physical Therapy

There is no greater disabillity - Robert M. HenselI recently closed a chapter of my life that I was not ready to close. I finished another round of physical therapy. I did not think I would ever say I was sad to see physical therapy come to an end.

In fact, I usually count down the sessions until the last one. Usually, I long to be done before I even begin. This is because I have spent most of my life harboring strong stigma toward physical therapy. All that changed in this last round.

For those you who do not know, I was born with the physical disability cerebral palsy. If you want to know more of my general thoughts about cerebral palsy, read this or this. Regardless, it has caused me to have therapy off and on throughout my whole life.

Here’s a glimpse into what my history of physical therapy has been like. So, I have had a handful of physical therapists in the last twenty some odd years.

The first one I had I saw nearly every week during grade school. Altogether, I think I saw him for about six years. I was quite the stubborn child, so I often did not please him. I got on his nerves so much that one day he directly told my mom in a meeting, “I can’t work with your daughter anymore. I can’t handle her.”

Thankfully, I was not at the meeting. But, it didn’t hurt any less when my mom told me that was why I would no longer have physical therapy. Welcome to one of the worst statements a former orphan could ever hear. In grade school, that translated to me as, “You are too terrible for me. You are too broken.”

Welcome to the stigma.

Welcome to the start of a gut-wrenching anxiety toward therapy.  From that point on, I dreaded meeting new physical therapists. I was always afraid they would be like my last one. I was afraid they would reach a point of no longer wanting to deal with me.

From that point on, I abhorred physical therapy. I didn’t want anything to do with it. I did all I could to push it off or not do it. I managed to do so until I was married. After meeting with a new general physician, he said I ought to have therapy again.

I was okay with this at the time because I had a therapist in mind. A friend of mine recommended one. She knew of my history with physical therapy, so I knew she did not make the recommendation light-heartedly. As you can imagine, I was really looking forward to meeting with this recommendation. But alas, I did not get the referral for who I wanted.

The therapist I ended up seeing instead practically tried to “fix” my cerebral palsy. Instead of trying to help me cope and manage my disability, she tried to reverse it. She tried to get rid of it, treating it like it was an ugly problem that needed to go away. She acted like she only saw me for my disability rather than as a human worth getting to know who also happened to have cerebral palsy.

Fast forward about a year later, another doctor recommends physical therapy. Of course, I strongly oppose. I wasn’t up for it in the slightest. It would take seeing the doctor again and then some extra months before I decided to take the plunge.

I eventually reached a point in my life when I knew I needed to go if I wanted to take control of my disability. I can assure you, this time around, I was extra adamant about getting the proper referral. I did all I could to make sure I wouldn’t get anyone else. In fact, I even decided that if I didn’t get the referral, I wouldn’t agree to it. It was too great a risk otherwise.

Guess what? I got the referral. Praise God! Yet, I was still hesitant. I made my past experiences clear to her. I made it clear that I was there with a lifelong load of stigma, fear, and trepidation. She took my words to heart.

For the first time in my life, a physical therapist treated me like a human. For the first time in my life, I had someone who saw me for Renata, not for cerebral palsy. For the first time in my life, I had someone treat me well. I had someone who acknowledged my past and did everything she could to give me a better future.

And let me tell you, it made all the difference. In my short three months with her, I got to know her. I developed a connection with her. I enjoyed going to physical therapy. I wanted to go. I wanted to learn what else I could do to help myself. Most importantly, I wanted to meet with someone who cared for me at a heart level, not a physical one.

The stigma was shattered.

So, now, I find my heart breaking as I see the journey come to an end. I find my heart breaking as it means I no longer get to know someone more. My heart is filled with gratitude and thanks to God for blessing me with a tremendously positive physical therapy experience.

But, I also find my heart angry and confused toward God as I wonder why the wonderful experience had to end. Thankfully, my sweet husband reminded me, that even though it had to end, it does not mean I can’t meet with her again.

After all, I am at a point in my life where I need physical therapy about once every two years. My sweet husband assured me that even though this may be a temporary end, I now know there is someone I trust and respect when it comes time to have therapy again.

My sweet husband reminded me that I longer have to walk into a physical therapy session with a gut-wrenching feeling filled with anxiety, fear, and trepidation. Instead, I can know with assurance, I have someone in my life who shattered the stigma when I needed it most. I can reflect on God’s faithfulness during a valley of confusion and pain.

I tell you this: If you can relate to my experience or this stigma in any way, you are not alone. You are not in the valley alone. Something tells me this experience is fairly common. Nevertheless, I say, hang in there, please. God will surprise you when you least expect it.

He will answer your prayers a thousand times over. And before you know it, you, too, will long for the journey to never end.

Blessings,

Renata