Gratitude

Almost every autoimmune group and every social media post constantly reminds those with chronic illnesses to be grateful. It becomes the throw away comment which is used to silence a sufferer up by shaming them into feeling ungrateful during the struggles they face.

I contrast this to people who enjoy better health and how they communicate their lives and struggles. Those who share stories like ‘…lost my job today…’ or ‘…work is so damn busy I have no time to go to (insert event)…’ Those people are usually consoled, empathized with, encouraged but rarely rebuked for not being more grateful.

Why the double standard?

Ironically it is those who struggle with their health on a daily basis that know precisely the value of real care, love, support and kindness that we may be offered; much more than most people I warrant. Yet we face a wall of condemnation every time we try to share a struggle or challenge.

Why?

I have also observed that those with better health tend to express their gratitude more frequently during times when they are celebrating an event or person. For example, it is common for those in better health to post or write about how grateful they are at their weddings or on occasions when they achieve an award or something similarly gratifying. Listen to any award speech and you will witness an outpouring of gratitude but are those same people expected to constantly give thanks and gratitude every other day, and especially during difficulties?

People with health struggles are Constantly expected to be quiet and grateful and I believe it is not a fair requirement.

Gratitude, like any other emotion, only has meaning when it is genuine and rarely do we feel grateful for everything, everyday. We are given a range of emotions and experiences in life that we must face and often some emotions are important to work through in order to cope or grow from them, for example grief requires that we express and experience pain and a sense of loss in order to better manage and cope with these losses.

Gratitude is one emotion amongst a myriad of emotions we have as normal human beings but it is the one that tends to be used as a whipping stick for those who have difficult health struggles and often used to suppress and silence them. I believe gratitude was never meant for this purpose and is misused when it’s purpose is to shame or silence the chronically ill.

During my history with health struggles I have indeed felt such profound gratitude that it is often hard to express and it has been the counterweight by which I have balanced myself in some of the hardest and loneliest of times. I would go so far as to say that I experience gratitude much more deeply at this time of my life than I ever did as a healthier person. It carries far more meaning to me now.

I suggest that many people battling illness will also experience gratitude in new ways than ever before. It is the type of appreciation that can only be achieved in times of true suffering and struggle. I feel confident that most people with chronic illnesses are only too familiar with gratitude and rarely need reminding of those things that they should be grateful for.

Society seems intent on using concepts like gratitude to silence and mask the plight of those with chronic struggles. It has been used more often as a tool than a virtue. Memes are constantly being poured upon the ill about being grateful, thankful, joyful and strong in the face of their hardships, so much so that it becomes almost meaningless.

Even fellow sufferers are leveling such trite expressions at each other as though we have been trained to do so like one of Pavlov subjects. The moment we feel sad we must ring the bell of gratitude to quieten and silence each other. We simply become an extension of societies reactions to us and only achieve in silencing each other.

I have always considered myself an advocate for better understanding and appreciation of chronic sufferers and of Autoimmune issues, and I write what I do in the hope of inspiring respect and empathy for an ever growing number of fighters out there. I don’t pretend to speak for anyone else but my commitment has been to raising awareness for all and encouraging others to speak out too.

It is my honest opinion that chronic sufferers do not lack gratitude in their everyday lives but we require more appreciation, kindness, respect and empathy for the difficulties we face. Only then will we experience the lives and the love that we can be even more grateful for.

Gentle hugs,

Trish

It’s The Thought That Counts…

This is was what I was taught from a very early age about gifts and celebrations, but it seems like it isn’t even close to reality anymore. Sadly.

Ask anyone who has been chronically ill what holidays and festivals are like and you will hear some of the most heartbreaking and emotional responses imaginable. It’s even hard to put into words most times. However, once you are chronically ill your ability to celebrate holidays and milestones are changed forever.

Years ago I was a mad Christmas decorator and shopper. I would live for the lights, the food, the tinsel and the gift giving. I probably drove people mad around me with my Christmas exuberance but all that changed. I admit I was never a religious person so the holidays were more a time for decorating, relaxing, indulging and socializing for me and I reveled in it! Today is completely different.

Even birthdays are so difficult to plan and participate in. Even for those we love dearly. It is so hard not to be able to do the things we want to for the ones we care about and it is through no fault of our own.

Recently I watched a Christmas movie about a poor family who couldn’t afford presents, the movie centered around the struggle and the pain of no money and poverty, and then at the end of the film the reminder was that money and extravagant gestures are not what it’s all about and that it is the thought that really counts.

It strikes me as odd that there are no Christmas movies about the struggles with year long illnesses and disability with a reassuring message to those sufferers that it’s simply the thought that counts. No such holiday movie exists today and I doubt there is one planned in the near future either!

The reality is that we shouldn’t have to shower gifts on people. Sometimes the simple act of listening and accepting is the greatest gift of all. We can’t always be present at celebrations but our thoughts and feelings should still count, and even mean so much more.

But does it?

I experienced a tonne of guilt and shame for most of my battle with illness and it was always magnified whenever a birthday, wedding, holiday or celebration came up. I began to get comments and passive aggressive taunts in my direction which would succeed in hurting me deeply. They ranged from questioning how sick I really was to suggesting that if I really cared I would be available and present regardless of how much pain or difficulty I was in, as though my absence was a rouse and contrived for my own sympathy or agenda.

It’s heartbreaking enough that we can’t be there for the fun and enjoyment of each celebration without being demonized for not being there. A double blow.

I still shake my head as I reflect on these comments and accusations. I have learned to cope with them so much better now that I see the real cruelty behind them.

Many of my fellow fighters know exactly the type of pain and cruelty this is and have each suffered their own variation on this theme. From parents to siblings, friends to colleagues and everything in between. We are demeaned and criticizing for crimes we did not do. Parents who are chronically ill experience their own types of emotional hell whenever their children are angry and disappointed in them for not doing those things that they believe their parents should be able to do for them. I can only imagine the pain they must carry.

It’s so incredibly unfair and heartbreaking.

The irony is that growing up I was told to appreciate and honour those people who didn’t have the things that I did and carried burdens that I don’t have. People who gather around cancer wards or children’s wards to bring care and respect to complete strangers will shun the friends and loved ones that are battling just as hard with their own illnesses and challenges.

It just doesn’t make sense.

As I said before, I used to be sucked into this pain filled abyss but a few years ago I started to lift the bonnet on this topic and investigate what is going on underneath these expectations and accusations. It was only when I did this that I gained a self confidence and respect that I had struggled to find for so long. It was only then that I realized my own worth and what it should truly be based on.

By lifting the lid on those people who like to cast doubt and cruelty towards those of us who struggle to do the most simplest of things (let alone celebrate and party with people) I found where the real spirit of love and appreciation is lacking, and it wasn’t in me!

How you treat people through the year is more important than what you do on one day of that year. How you speak to them or interact with them has more value then the most expensive gifts of all.

The greatest gifts we give people is what we carry inside us and as cliched and corny as that is it is only those of us who have been through hell and suffered the most that truly understand its meaning.

We can’t always be present at parties, we won’t be able to shower those we love with gifts and we may not be able to drop everything and run to those we love when they need it and this is such a difficult thing to accept about this life but for those that appreciate love, kindness, empathy and loyalty than they will find no greater source than in those people like me.

There is an old saying that people will forget what you did or what you said but they will always remember how you made them feel.

I truly believe that the best gift you can give anyone in this lifetime is the gift of your love. Love doesn’t require grand gestures or extravagant price tags but it’s the things we say and the feelings we have for each other. Every. Day. Of. The. Year.

Gentle hugs,

Trish

What Now?

As I write this piece I am laying here in pain and using my writing as a crutch and a distraction. I haven’t slept much lately and heat packs are covering my stomach and legs.

I have been told that the result of my recent CT scan identified a mass in my ovary (adnexal mass) and it suggests an ultrasound for further evaluation.

What Now?

I keep asking myself why do all these things have to constantly barrage me? There is of course no answer except that that’s life! Whilst it may be the result of randomness and possibility it certainly isn’t everyone’s life challenges, and I think I have had my fill of pain and challenges for a life time.

My bloods show my white cells are very high and my ESR and CRP are steadily soaring, again. I don’t know what else to do to try and prevent these things from taking over and running my life. I keep trying. It’s like trying to run in quick sand. The harder to run the deeper you sink.

Late last night I sat and folded clothes and thought at least I can do that! I keep trying to think of things that I can accomplish from here. It’s important to me to always be able to do something. Even some small thing.

Fatigue takes over and runs most of my day now but my pain doesn’t allow sleep so it’s a weary limbo of fog and frustration. I hate this most of all because it won’t let me sleep and it won’t let me achieve anything.

I realized today that people have grown tired of me sharing my health battles and updating them on social media and I understand their reaction. They have become desensitized to my battles and any sharing now would only be wasted; so I won’t.

People want to read fun things, exciting things and be entertained by social media these days so I don’t blame them for blocking and skipping over anything boring and heavy. I am sure I would want to too.

Even the most hardened warrior and fierce fighter grows tired and weary at some point. We all lose our fight at some stage. I am at that point now and I know it is time to just simply be…

If surgery is in my future, for removal of this growth that is causing me so much pain, than I will have to find the strength to face it all. Physical and emotional strength. The only way I think I can do that it through tired resignation at this point and hope that there will be some relief in my future.

But not now.

Now I have to do whatever I can to manage the moments. Minute by minute. Hour by hour. Day by day.

It strikes me as odd that I have spent so long fighting my autoimmune fights that I had completely forgotten all the other fights that could come along… and they do.

How much is enough?

So here I lay with my little mass on my ovary, pressing on my organs and generally feeling like a rock has lodged itself inside me. Me and my Little Rock will need to work out how to sleep, shower and get along well enough until we can part ways.

It’s a warm sunny day outside and I dearly want to see my garden. I will endeavor to try and visit it later and hope that it is enough to keep my spirits going another day.

After all, tomorrow is another day…!

Gentle hugs,

Trish

Maintaining Connections

Every person who has ever been chronically ill will tell you that some of the most painful parts are not the physical symptoms but the emotional challenges we are burdened with.

After many years the emotional battles change us and the most important thing we can do is try to ensure those changes are healthier ones and going to help us rather than harm us further.

In the past decade I have seen the number of friendships and contacts dwindle as my ability to be actively in peoples lives changed. I can’t assist, support and fund friendships the way that I used to so it has broken down bonds that were built on those things. Sadly too many of my former connections were built on these shallow and meaningless attributes.

I no longer entertain people as I once did so people can find it very boring to be around me now and especially when I am unable to cater for them. An enjoyable time with friends is now usually a quiet coffee, a chat, a sit, a laugh and peaceful time, and usually at my home, this is not enough for most people so I have learned to let those people go and wish them well in finding more suitable company.

I was (and still am) a very caring friend who would work tirelessly for my friendships but this had to change, however what has surprised me has been my reactions and revelations to it all. Many years ago it would have deeply saddened me to lose a friend and I would spend time with guilt and remorse over what had gone wrong within our friendship, but today my spirit and personality has become incredibly resilient.

I look at it all in the following ways;

    If it was meant to be a lasting and close bond than it would have lasted. End of story. It is what it is…
    If something about me, and my changed abilities, are no longer attractive as a friend than it is better to end it rather than lingering and suffering.
    I realize that so many of my former friendships were skewed and imbalanced and I did much more and gave much more than I ever should have. It is my fault! I should never have developed such friendships and I only made a rod for my own back.
    I realize I don’t need a great many people or friendships to feel valid and worthy. A handful of people who really care is more than enough for me.
    I am far less sensitive to peoples thoughts, remarks and judgements of me. I have found it very easy to remind myself that very few opinions of me actually matter. Very few people really know who I am on a deeper level and so I don’t want to waste my love and efforts on unworthy situations.
    My understanding of real love and friendship has increased a million fold. The movies I saw of people together over the ages and soulmates are really incredibly rare. Many people like to say and believe that nothing will separate them but life events can and do! It doesn’t have to be a depressing or negative lesson of you accept the true nature of life and people. I don’t feel angry or bitter about friendships that did not live up to the together forever (BFF) ideals as that is not what most humans are capable of.
    As people go from our lives something always takes it place. Whether we learn to adjust and enjoy our own company or whether we find better suited relationships, something always takes its place. There isn’t a void unless we really want it to be. Learning how to better appreciate myself and appreciate quiet times has been an absolute breakthrough!
    I have finally truly discovered that my worth is not based on number of friends, visits, outings and social activities. In fact some of the most social people I know have been deeply disappointed when they found people had let them down or not shown up for them.
    True friendship makes you feel good about yourself when you are around them or in contact with them. If a phone call leaves me with a sense of disappointment, emptiness, confusion, unease, draining or one sided than I have decided to see it for what it is and cut it back or off! I find those calls where you struggle for something to say or there is no sense that the other person truly listens or cares very draining and a waste of my precious energy. Even relatives meet the same test.
    Just because I am not closer to someone or have a strong friendship with them doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate them or respect them. Far from it! There are many people I admire and wish well but I have no wish to be closer to.
    If I have to force a relationship or connection by always trying to initiate or approach a conversation than it’s a sure sign I need to let it be. Real connections don’t require forcing. I like the ones that develop and bloom with equal and honest effort.
    I see time as precious. I see effort as precious. I see energy as precious. I can’t afford to waste them so I have had to do very clear prioritizing.
    I used to think you had to share a lot in common to be close friends. As younger people we seemed to like people to thought as we do and acted as we do. I don’t have that thinking anymore. If we share some core beliefs and truly appreciate each other than that’s all I look for in my friendships.
    I used to let others opinions influence me a lot more. Their judgements of me and my life was ridiculously overrated. That was my fault. Illness has made me address this urgently.
    I used to keep my true opinions or truth to myself if it meant upsetting or offending someone I cared about. It meant I was always having to suppress myself for fear of what might happen to the friendship or relationship. Not anymore! I have lived through and survived the most loneliest and heartbreaking of times that I have a newfound respect for myself and anything less than the real me is not going to happen anymore.
    The connections, relationships and bonds that have survived these trials have truly amazed me. Truly. I am without words for those people who have stuck by me, encouraged me, treasured me, respected me, loved me and appreciated all that I am inside!! It’s hard to write this without tears of gratitude. Those people make every other relationship pale by comparison… and I would not have known all this if it had not been for these diseases.

My point, dear reader, is that despite the difficult life challenges they can also be the furnace from which we forge ourselves the strongest, most amazing, most loving, most authentic and most resilient versions of ourselves. Although I find I can’t talk or communicate as often as I would like with the people I consider real friends and loved ones, the fact is that when we do interact it fills us up with enough love and enjoyment until the next time.

The people that don’t want to embrace us or be part of our lives, and who can’t handle these changes, are better off finding their companionship elsewhere. The way I now see it is that someone more worthy and suitable can’t get in while someone else is using up their space and energy in our lives.

Gentle hugs,

Trish

A picture paints a thousand words…

And yet sometimes it shows absolutely nothing of what is truly going on!

That’s the harsh reality of that old saying and sometimes pictures can be horribly misleading. In this day and age where we all try and put the best version of ourselves (and our lives) into pictures and selfies and there are a million ways we can achieve this, especially with a little makeup or a well considered camera angle.

I have been guilty of using this medium for the purposes of updating my friends and loved ones on my life as I often can’t physically call people on the phone anymore, or visit with them, because of how painful and exhausting it is. I try and show them a smiling and happy version of myself because I want them to remember that person.

Take, for example, the picture below I shared to Facebook recently …

Here I am going to give a blood sample to the collection office. It’s a monthly realty since I started treatments some six years ago. I hate this regular chore and thankfully someone usually comes to my home to carry out these collections; a beautiful lady I have come to know well. Sadly, on this day, I had to go to the clinic which is about 5 minutes by car and around the corner from where we live. We are lucky it’s so close. Truly.

What you can’t see is….

1. My hip has deteriorated so badly I am facing the prospect of eminent surgery. It is so painful that moving, standing, sitting (including toileting) and sleeping has been incredibly painful for nearly 18 months now.

2. I have had approximately 8 hours sleep for the past two days prior to this picture and in 2 hour allotments.

3. Lack of sleep has become to be so common place that my husband and I don’t even remark anymore.

4. We no longer have a bedtime or routine but sleep whenever we can. Any time of the day we can.

5. Days (and time) no longer have any meaning to us anymore. We often ask what day is it because it has blurred into one endless cycle for us. No holidays! No weekend breaks! No days off!

6. The only time that time becomes important is when it is time to take medications and pain relief. My husband sleeps when he can and has often fallen asleep sitting up.

7. He doesn’t like having pictures taken lately because he always looks tired; so he says. Dear hearted soul.

8. I put on the sunscreen make up (tinted sunscreen) constantly now as I burn terribly these days since starting methotrexate and other drugs. I am never without sunscreen if I go outside the house. My make up is very simple but always ruled by needing to cover up.

9. Outings, like the one in this picture, are scarce now. It’s harder and harder to go anywhere, even to the doctors. I find I suffer from cabin fever, at home for months on end, so I will go with husband to pharmacy and put myself through pain just to see a view.

10. You can’t see I am covered in heat packs from the waist down.

11. You can’t see the bruises all over my legs from falls.

12. You can’t see that it took husband and I a lengthy process to get in the car.

13. You don’t see that later on that trip my husband swerved to avoid a car and I was in tears from being thrown around in the car seat from the pain.

14. You don’t see that I have to have the maximum pain medication to do this and I am often struggling with feeling groggy and yet still pained.

15. I had to go back to bed when we got home.

16. I don’t like taking pictures of me in my chair. Pictures like this one though still make me feel like my former self and without the need for chairs and such. I know it seems silly but I am still fighting these thoughts… Even ten years later.

17. I take the pictures because I want people to know I am doing my best, even though I write about the weather or something similar.

18. I still miss driving for myself! Terribly. And I still tell my husband how to drive from the passenger seat! LOL. Sometimes missing driving makes me cry and so we just drive in silence and holding hands.

A picture can say a thousand words but it also can hide an entire reality for me and many fellow warriors like me.

When you see a picture of a fellow health fighter please think kindly of us and know that it can take an incredible amount just to take a tiny little picture.

Gentle hugs,

Trish

Stronger

Tonight I was talking online with another AI sister and I came upon a real revelation. I hope that it resonates with some of you out there.

Here goes…

It is unfortunate that many people may hear me talk about my health, and some of the things that have happened to me during my struggles, and may leap to the assumption that I am feeling sad or depressed about it. Or even worse, they may simply assume I am feeling poor me. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Many of the things that I have dealt with and spoken about publicly actually make me feel a considerable sense of pride and achievement actually! … Even in the midst of pain.

Just as someone might write or post about doing a personal best at the gym, I feel I have done some real personal bests of my life when it comes to what I have survived, risen to, let go of and fought for. In fact going to the gym, going on holiday, getting a new job or losing weight on a new diet are really quite common place compared to some of the things that people with life long health challenges have to battle!

People don’t seem to grasp the real achievements that take place day to day and perhaps it’s because they have no possible understanding of the hard realities we endure. Perhaps it’s why it’s important that we keep explaining and not become silent and disappear?

For example, I have written or shared before how illness can cause us to lose many friendships and end many relationships, many may read this and think Trish feels sorry for herself and she wants to let people know how awful it all is. The reality is much different. You see although it is certainly a process in dealing with such things and working through the pain, I actually feel release and a dignity in moving on and moving forward through such events!

I believe that as painful as losing some people from our lives may be it is balanced by the fact that you are left with people of real quality. I am proud that I kept my chin up despite these events. I am amazed that I could deal with it all when I once would have felt rejected, abandoned and devastated. Now I feel that I am shown the real value of people and the character they have.

I also feel as though my sense of independence has in fact grown despite my physical abilities declining. Independence from peoples judgements and behaviors. Independent from needing their approval.

What is left now are people I have immense respect for. People who have amazing character and commitment. After all, why should I be considered any less desirable as a friend or loved one simply because my health is unreliable and damaged?! It should make the real loved ones value me and relish the time we talk and spend together; just as I do.

Even some of the relationships and bonds that I thought were validating, they have been severed and I feel incredible peace; at last.

As odd as it may seem but in the brutal pain and debilitation of this life I have also found focus and perspective. I feel I have grown in so many ways. I feel incredibly proud of that.

When I dare to share about a difficult night, a painful trip to the doctor, a long fight with a lingering infection, I am aware that many people will just ignore it and dismiss it as simple whinging or attention seeking and will never stop to think about what a test of the spirit it truly is!

Many people won’t ever realize that to do even the simplest of things is an incredible achievement and to do multiple things, as well as battling your health every second of the day, is nothing short of miraculous!

A dear friend I know has been in and out of hospital for several years now and whilst many may think how much more do we have to hear about this hospital stuff, those people couldn’t even phantom the sheer strength and courage it takes to keep going through it all. Time and time again.

Years ago I would have wrestled with relationship issues, feelings of disappointment and obsess over some dysfunctional family issues but not anymore! Today I feel a momentary regret that things had not been different but it passes quickly and I feel a freedom and peace I never had before.

Letting go becomes easier.

Letting go of people, things, places and feelings that no longer fill a life or strengthen it. Things that only drag us down must be put to rest. Finally. It is essential that due to the great load I, and so many others, are dealing with day to day we cannot be burdened with one unnecessary emotion.

Don’t get me wrong, in the beginning of this decline I felt only struggle and fear and didn’t see the things I was coping with as I should. I felt that I had no right to speak of my battles. That I should be ashamed of being sick and that my health should be a source of embarrassment (as one family member once stated). I also believed that compared to everyone else’s lives and daily events, my life was now just a blight and something I should never dare to speak about. In fact mentioning how I was doing and what illness was doing to me was self indulgent, rude, self pitying and perverse. I don’t believe this anymore. Not one little bit.

I have a real sense of pride looking back on all that I have endured and been through, even though I may not have chosen some of these things I still made it through. I survived. More than that I grew. Just as I look back with pride on my career achievement and personal experiences, I now see this part of my life as a real testimony to my character.

I actually have no time for people with no sense of empathy or compassion. I feel now that they aren’t worthy of me. I don’t share details of myself and I don’t let them into my private world and heart. I put a higher standard on those who get my time, effort and love now and I appreciate people for more meaningful things other than their job title, their latest hairdo and their seemingly picture perfect life.

It would come as a shock to most people but the things that I write and share, even the most heartbreakingly difficult things, I am also incredibly proud of how I have dealt with them, learned from them and kept going despite of them.

It’s not self pitying to speak of our battles and health struggles, it’s pride, and I hope all my fellow fighters feel it too!

Gentle hugs,

Trish

Constant Gardener

I recently had two conversations that in themselves explains so much about my chronic life that it is worth sharing as it may resonate with some of you wonderful people out there…

I was talking (or rather listening) to a relative recently who enjoys nothing more than to tell me how difficult his life is, in detail, as though no one else mattered. During this conversation he began to inform me how difficult it had become to water his few potted plants with his osteoporosis knee. He told me how he thought it was too much to do and no longer enjoyable now. I simply listened.

As he told me I imagined his older body watering his plants and I can imagine the effects that time has had. It can’t be easy to slowly age and witness your abilities change. I also believe that old age is a gift that many will never receive and many chronically ill may never know.

People half his age.

During his tale it never occurred to him who he was talking to and the challenges I face to nurture my own garden. I realized that he would have to want to understand or telling him would be completely pointless… So I didn’t bother.

The truth is that my own garden requires an enormous amount of time and work, and it is unrelenting. Everyday there is something to be done to keep it in a healthy state, even if I am far from a healthy state myself. I now know that a garden is a luxury that many fighters no longer can have due to disabilities and confinement, so as often as I can I go out in my little wheelchair and water my plants, trim and nurture my garden and do whatever I can until my body aches, shakes or breaks. Often I sit there and admire my roses through the tears of pain in my hands or back. It’s worth every tear to me.

I intend to do this for as long as I can and I get as much help from hubby and a gardener as I can. Early into my disabled life I decided that if I had to be confined to my home than it would be my paradise and not my prison. I would have a view from every window to make up for all the places I could no longer get to see. I have stayed true to my goal and today I can’t help but feel amazed and moved when I look back on our little garden and what it has become.

Proud moments are like diamonds to those who struggle for health; Rare and priceless.

I realized that most of my friends and relatives will never understand what it takes and what an amazing achievement it is to have a garden when you have debilitating illnesses. It’s just not something that they would even consider. So I don’t tell them.

A few days later I was chatting online with a fellow Autoimmune who also enjoys gardens, she is an amazing lady and we share our passion for our gardens with pride!

As we exchanged tips and stories of our beloved flowers a whole other conversation was also happening at the same time. We were appreciative of the effort each would have made to give life and love to our little plants. We were silently admiring the courage and perseverance that it takes to keep going despite the awful pain and fatigue we face. The tears we would have shed and the indescribable relief we feel when we see a healthy bud or a flash or green.

For Autoimmunes like us our gardens are built on our courage and willpower and watered by our tears of pain. There is no such thing as a simple garden for us as even the most hardy of plants requires some care and devotion. These are things that we work so hard achieve, and more than almost any other gardeners we know.

To the chronic gardener Our gardens represent so much more than a real estate accessory, they are our link with life. They are our personal testimony that we are alive and still doing our outmost. They are our ability to hope and to create in a world that feels like it is falling away and given up on us. It is our appreciation of beauty and Our renewed trust in nature.

Gardens are a reminder of the little things in life and a teacher that no classroom can provide.

I never thought of myself as ever being a garden lover as I am today, I was more likely to kill a plant than to nourish one, but today as I sit on my porch amidst the heavy sweet scent of the jasmine and watch a lazy spring breeze tickling its way through our weeping trees, I feel a peace that I have never experienced in my life and it’s addictive powers are incredibly deep. Just as there is currently no cure for autoimmune diseases, there is no cure for the love of gardening for a chronic Gardner and we will pay whatever price we have to just to see our gardens live and thrive, even if we can’t.

Gentle hugs,

Trish