Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Moving Forward When Times Are Tough

by Gavin, from The Greening of Gavin.

Some days I have no inspiration or get up and go, but never from a lack of enthusiasm!  Today is one of those days.

When you embark on a lofty life goal such as mine, it is quite intense during the day. Juggling a full time job, coming home to a wonderful family, but then catching up on Sustainable Living group responsibilities and then spreading the green word via this blog and my personal blog, The Greening of Gavin, and then garden maintenance on weekends. It certainly makes for a very busy week, but I wouldn't miss all that action for the world.

However, when you come down with an illness or cronic injury that you just can't budge, it shakes your routine, beliefs/behaviours and sometimes your world. Deadlines get missed, promises get broken, and inevitablbly projects get delayed. I have one of those cronic injuries, that doesn't seem to want to go away, and I get very frustrated when I have a relapse, as I am now. One of my chief values is congruence, doing and delivering what I say I am going to do, but with this injury, I have had to learn to reassess timelines and promises.

With a 48% reduction in income, limited physical capability, and struggling to pay our mortgage, it really puts preasure, and self doubt within me when I don't or can't provide, or get all obligations, let alone my green projects started or even completed. Life just gets hectic and you have to slow right down and recover. Everyone has these days, and I certainly realise I am not Robinson Crusoe when it comes to ill health.

The only thing that keeps me strong is my family, my personal values and belief set, and the realisation that all the carbon reducing behaviours that we already have in place do not get thrown out the window just because I am in pain or imobile.  Back in the old days, it could become all too hard and pointless. I remember that this would be the first thing to go if I was sick before I had my green epiphany. Waste would accumulate, too lazy to recycle, too tired to turn off the lights when leaving the room, or too tired or complacent to actually do much at all except lay infront of the telly and veg out and put it all in the too hard basket!

Now, I have been living with this back injury for 2 and a bit years, and the circumstances of how it happened are quite ironic and somewhat humourus, but know that I am not alone in the world and there are people with greater and worse afflictions, so this post is not a call for sympanthy or sorrow on my behalf.

It is simply a message to remind me and all of us that when you feel low, or don't think that you can keep up with the change towards a simple life or whatever your life goal is, think again and think hard. The end game is worth all the effort if you really, really believe in that goal. Don't let anything get in your way, because if you let an established habit slip, then it is just as hard to get back to where you started again.  The old saying 'two steps forward, one step back' comes to mind. However, if the citizens of the world don't make the changes we are seeking, then nobody else will. Governments are already struggling to get concensus on climate change targets, and most Corporations will not give a hoot until Governments act.  It is truely up to the people of the world to change it for the better.

So, when feeling low or in pain, as I am now, I always try to remember of all the great things I have achieved so far on our journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle, and that things will always get better. All I have to do is take baby steps each, and every day, and put one foot in front of the other. That is all anyone could possibly ask of themselves or their fellow global citizens!

Lets all take those baby steps together in the right direction.  Big things will happen, I just know they will!


Joanne said...

Baby steps...
Thanks for the reminder, Gavin. Sometimes its leaps and bounds, sometimes its baby steps.
I don't have chronic illness personally, but I am now homeschooling my son who had to leave school for a while and although I never regret that decision, he now takes up a lot of my time that was spent on my simple|green|frugal pursuits. I have gone backwards a little in terms of made from scratch foods, gardening and 'simplifying' (which in fact is often more complex and more work) and it makes me squirm a little. But the heart is and always will be set on the simple paths so I know that when I can, I will do more.
Sorry to hear about your pain. Gardening with a bad back must be agony at times!
Thanks again for sharing your story and this much needed reminder.

Slice of life said...

Great words, something to ponder today.

Hope you are feeling better

Gavin said...

Thanks Joanne. The back will heal eventually, but during the healing process, we must remember to be true to ourselves. Well done on taking up home schooling. It is a big ask for any parent!

Thanks Slice of life. Yes I am getting stonger every day, it just takes time!


GooseBreeder said...

Yes chronic pain is sometimes hard to learn to live with but once you've learned to balance things and deal with the emotions, the regrets and the pressures life gets better.
Have information,useful CD and experience in this area to share if you want to email me.Go through one of my blogs eag-The Good Good luck and also to Joanne with the Home Schooling.I doubt you'll regret it,one of the best things our family ever did.My Daughter now doing very well at Uni.Stick with it!

WelfareWisdom said...

CAn totally relate to being down and wondering if your original goal is worth it, I had one of those weeks recently. But we plug on and days get brighter and ideas get stronger. Hope your back mends well, its a bummer when you are used to being active and you all of a sudden can't, but sometimes a forced break helps with ideas and planning. Hope all goes well:)

NMPatricia said...

Chronic pain cannot be overrated. It saps a person. Such a timely post for me. It was as if I called up Gavin and cried on his shoulder and he gave me these words of wisdom. Thanks SOOOOOOO much for the post Gavin. And here's hoping you hold on to your strength and inner fortitude to continue to put one foot in front of another.

Chiot's Run said...

Hope you feel better soon, I know exactly how you're feeling!

I've been dealing with chronic back pain since last Nov, they finally figured out what the problem is and 4 months of physical therapy have been working (although it will still take a few months to be back to 100%).

I was very discouraged because I was not allowed to do a lot of the things I wanted to do this summer in my garden. I had to let go of a lot of dreams and plans of things I wanted to accomplish this summer. But I think that through these experiences I learned valuable lessons. I have learned to be ok with things not being perfect and I've learned to be able to put off projects until I have time and be content with that decision. I have also learned to be content with imperefection.

When we decide we want to do something like grow our own food, be greener, or something else we often want to jump in with both feet and accomplish as much as we can in as little time as possible. We have to remember though that the joy is in the journey as well as the destination. Learning to enjoy the journey no matter how long it takes is a beautiful thing!

Emily @ Under$1000PerMonth said...

Thanks for not letting anyone off the hook. Everyone can do their part in sustainabe living, some more than others, but if we all do something, we'll be better off.

Eliza said...

Gavin, You are an inspiration in so many ways. In fact it was a google search on cheese making that lead me to this blog in the first place. You have created so much and I love reading your blog.

Stella said...

Hi Gavin
Hope you soon start feeling better in all ways! A chronic back problem can really drag you down.
We all need constant encouragement from like minded people. This road we are treading is very lonely sometimes. Most of the time I feel completely isolated from everyone around me because of my views and the efforts I am making to live my life according to what I believe. Thankfully, inspiration can always be found somewhere in this world wide internet community.
I am struggling healthwise at the moment too. Swine flu? Who knows. This hacking cough and splitting headache are bad enough, but worst of all is the general lethargy. So your post is well timed, thanks.
I've also just had a bit of a bruising time with posting comments on a certain newspaper columnist's blog which was trying to discount the whole idea of any sort of climate change. You all know the sort of head in the sand attitudes you come up against. As I said to them, sticking MY head in the sand and hoping for the best is not an option for me.
The stakes are just TOO HIGH.

Rhonda Jean said...

Hi Gavin, back pain is one of the real downers, it affects so many things. I hope you're feeling better soon. Thanks for a good reminder about taking small steps.

Take care.

Mia@agoodhuman said...

I feel your pain. I have a degenerative disk problem in my lower back and in my early 30's I have the back of an old lady (or so my doctor tells me). Thankfully I am pain free at the moment, but I do have relapses every so often and when that occurs life can be a real drag. I'm actually finding that if I keep moving and stretching often that my back stays better. It's easy to become too busy not to walk every day, but I know I will suffer the consequences if I don't. Taking care of me comes first, and then I'm well enough to take care of saving the world :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Gavin,
Sorry to hear about your back problem but at least you know it will recover, just so difficult when we get afflicted like this.I slipped a disc 18 years ago, first time I had ever been off work for any length of time and it changed my life for the better! Suddenly I reassessed what it was I wanted out of life, did lots of thinking laying on the couch. Stella hang in there I feel like an alien here at work, people don't quite roll their eyes at me but you know that 'look' you get when you try and explain about the world getting hotter, exploding world population, using resources etc etc. Gavin, hope your recovery is speedy and baby steps is the way all of us need to go day to day.
Virginia K, Blacktown, Australia.