I have a whole page in the “notes” app on my phone of quotes. I scroll through it occasionally. It is interesting, because depending on my current struggles and triumphs, different ones stick out to me. Sometimes, they even mean different things to me on different days. Here’s the one that stuck out to me today.
“You cannot expect victory and plan for defeat.” – Joel Osteen
Well, I would like a victorious holiday season. Who wouldn’t? My list of what constitutes a victorious holiday season has slimmed a bit compared to what it may have been 4 years ago, but for me right now, it would include, ordering/purchasing presents, wrapping presents in pretty paper with bows, having some Christmas decorations up, making holiday ornaments with Emma to give to family, going to all Christmas engagements, and soaking up every moment of “Santa” with Emma. I would like all of these things done with as minimal symptoms as possible and no backlash from my body. That’s the part where I get stuck and sort of “plan for defeat”. Never planning for defeat and having a chronic illness is sort of tricky. I need to accept I’m going to always have symptoms and certain activities are going to trigger them, possibly for days. I can wish and wish this wasn’t so. I can even say “I love decorating the house, it won’t make me sick!” It actually is the approach I used to take when I was still well enough to work. Guess what? It doesn’t work. My lack of acceptance, my belief my symptoms wouldn’t appear if something meant/was important enough to me.. It lead to me ending up symptomatic and without a plan of action.
I need to plan for the fact holiday festivities will make me sick and then take steps to minimize the effect activities have on my health. I have had to admit there are some things I’d like to do that are 100% off the table for now (walking tour of Christmas lights, for example). It’s my choice on how to interpret the situation and whether or not these facts make me feel defeated. I don’t want to become a grump who dreads activities I used to enjoy or someone who focuses too much on how sick something will make me. By planning for the difficult moments that I wish wouldn’t arise, but surely will, then pushing the worry out of my mind, knowing I have a plan in place, so worrying is pointless… I think I can have a victorious holiday season. I’ve come to the conclusion any victory involves a little bit of planning for defeat trying to work its way in. I will feel victorious when a symptom pops up, and I can handle it because I planned. If I am extremely ill on the day of a family gathering, will I still go? If I miss something, is it a defeat because my health is making me miss a holiday, or is a victory because I’ve come far enough that I respect my body’s needs and don’t force it? Maybe planning for defeat and accepting defeat are different. Maybe we should never plan for defeat, but it is okay to accept it when it comes. Planning for defeat would mean I just never even bothered to try and make things happen. Planning for victory, but accepting defeat would mean I plan for things to happen my way, but if they don’t, I can accept it… and maybe not even think of it as a defeat. Is feeling defeated a defeat? Man, I’m thinking way too much into this, don’t mind me!
In day to day life, I have come to a point where I rarely say today I will do “x”. I think of it as I’m going to start doing “x”, and I’ll keep doing it until my body says to stop. Surely I can try to clean the kitchen, even if it means I just pick up some cups from around the house and realize I’m too symptomatic and stop at that. Heck, I can even just look at the kitchen and think about how I’d clean it if I could. With this mindset, I’m both planning for victory and making victory something that is achievable despite how ill I am. So long as I continue to never stop trying to do things, no matter how many times I fail, I achieved my goal. I suppose this is the approach I should take with the holidays! It’s just a much more condensed, fast paced version of how I approach my limitations each day. not.
As I wrote this, I wondered which came first, the popular quote that goes something like, “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst” or “You cannot expect victory and plan for defeat.” Hmm.. I think I’d like to see the two people those quotes are from debate their stance. I think you should “Expect the best, set up the path for victory, and plan for bumps in the road.” It’s not near as catchy.