I think I’ve discovered my mantra, or as close as I’ll get to having a mantra.
Maybe mantra isn’t the right word.
I discovered this delightful phrase while re-reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
This was my second read of Ms. Gilbert’s book. The first time was three years ago. That time, I read the book, used my highlighter to mark “stubborn gladness,” and that was the end of it.
This time, “stubborn gladness” grabbed me. It stopped me from reading. I attached a purple Post-It to the page. And, surprisingly, it’s been my biggest takeaway from this read.
Ms. Gilbert explains that it is her destiny to be a writer. “I’ve decided to meet that destiny with as much good cheer and as little drama as I can – because how I choose to handle myself as a writer is entirely my own choice.”
She goes on: “My ultimate choice, then, is to always approach my work from a place of stubborn gladness.”
This time, when I read that passage I immediately saw its relevance to my life with an invisible disability.
I certainly don’t approach doctors’ appointments, lab work, and MRIs with “stubborn gladness.”
And there’s nothing “glad” about daily pain.
But I most definitely, absolutely, positively approach my day-to-day life with “stubborn gladness.”
That’s the reason why I do the things I do.
The reason why I bought myself a new bike.
The reason why I go for neighborhood walks with my son and coffee walks with my husband.
The reason why I went horseback riding this summer. (Before he started preschool, we took Ryan to Disneyland for a “big adventure.” It’s the one and only time he’s been. The summer before he started kindergarten, we took Ryan on his first hotel trip, spending a few days in Cambria, California. This summer, before starting middle school, Ryan chose horseback riding as his big adventure.)
I do these things, big things and little things and everything-in-between-things with “stubborn gladness.”
Because I can’t change my health. I can’t make my autoimmune disease go away. I have to learn to live with it, to handle it, to live with my life as fully as I can – with “stubborn gladness.”