Road Trip Thoughts

It was a road trip weekend. About 12 hours in the car. Laughing with my mom and best friend. Saying see-ya later to my best friend. Seeing the forest-covered mountains on the eastern side of the country. Breathing the cooler air. Pushing my body to a point that it hasn’t been in several months. Capturing moments of happiness and gratitude. Spending time in small towns. Drinking coffee from local coffee shops. Having nature surround me. Seeing where my best friend calls home. Spending time with mom. Being tired and in pain.

This weekend was worth every ounce of pain, every second of exhaustion, and every gasp for air.

Mom, me, and Brooke at DuPont State Forest in North Carolina.

I’m learning to push myself, because I will not get stronger, I will not experience life, I will not breathe new air if I don’t. Pushing my body’s comfort is easy, it’s the mental piece that is hard. I have to learn to listen harder and deeper. I have to know how much my body can handle before I take on a new adventure. I have to learn to be humble and seek help if I feel I can’t accomplish what I had anticipated. I have to learn to tune into each joint and muscle. There is no fine line when it comes to chronic pain. Each day is its own. Each day presents different levels of pain. Learning to have a flexible mind is tricky. Chronic pain is a whole lot of shade of gray.

I am beginning to understand my body better. I am starting to see my body in light and ability, rather than in a shadow and disability. I may walk slower, I may have a limp, I may need someone to lean on, but I will reach my destination. Getting past the mental block has been hard but it’s necessary. To be an 18-year-old walking at a turtle’s pace is sometimes humiliating, or to be seen needing to hang on to the wall or a friend because of joint pain can be degrading. It’s the fact that I will get to where I want to go that matters. I will keep moving forward and that’s what counts.

After 600+ stairs up and down, I needed to get blood flowing the opposite direction. 

I push myself because it’s important for my happiness. I push myself because I want to prove to myself I am not as weak as I think. I push myself because I am stronger than people believe.

My heart is oh-so happy when I’m outside, with a camera, walking amongst God’s most magical creations, breathing in the purest air, seeing the incredible things that God put here for us to see. If my body hurts after doing what my heart is happy doing, then so-be-it. If I have to take a few days to recover after a couple of days doing what I enjoy, then I will deal with it. I will keep moving forward. I make a conscious decision to continue putting one foot in front of the other despite the pain and exhaustion.

One of my few life goals is to be perfectly content with whatever life is at any point of my journey. I will choose joy. I will choose God’s grace. I will remain faithful. I will not doubt my God-given qualities. I will hold love closer to my heart than any other thing. I will let God be my rock and foundation for everything.

Being chronically ill has its negative effects, but it’s how I come out on the other side of this tunnel that counts. I will choose the choice that makes my heart happy.

Talulah Gorge in the North Georgia Mountains.

Road tripping with my mom has its negative moments, but we enjoy each other’s company, she goes along with my local coffee shop hunts, we laugh together, we have deep talks, we sing to songs together, we sit in silence together. I try (sometimes not hard enough) to find light and joy in an otherwise mundane trip.

I am in pain and I am tired, but we find ways to make the car ride less agonizing.  Being together makes my heart happy, so I will push myself to be better than crabby. I will push myself mentally because I know it’s not easy traveling with an unhappy passenger. (I was a nanny, after all.)

My heart is happy, despite my body yelling at me to rest. I will pay for pushing my body, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay if my mental health is in a good place. I would rather be drained of energy and filled with joy and memories, than laying low and not have any stories to tell.

Learn to listen to your mind and body. Be in tune with your heart’s desires. Be willing to adjust to each day. Have a flexible mind. Learn what your balance between rest and activity is. Life isn’t done overnight. Be patient but persistent. Persevere and fight. Make your heart happy.

Elise Hendrickson

“She is tossed by the waves, but does not sink.”


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