By Lorelei Hill
23 Jun

“Commit to Doing What You Love.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

This is a phrase I often use with my children. My 13-year-old son Riley tells me that he loves to play the drums, but the truth is, the thing he has committed to is playing Clash of Clans on the computer! My 12-year-old daughter Kate, on the other hand, tells me that she loves to draw. After an artist friend convinced her to let her light shine, Kate committed herself to being the best cartoon pet artist she can be. Evidence of this adorns my home and can be found throughout my office. Her commitment is so strong that she often neglects her schoolwork and house chores!

Despite all that, I give her credit. It takes a lot of dedication to truly commit to doing what you love. Our society seems to be moving so fast these days that most people, myself included, have many things we’d love to do, with little time to actually do them.

For instance, I’d love to write more. I’d love to draw. I’d love to get more exercise. I’d love to visit friends and distance family. But in truth, the bulk of my attention is more often than not paid to family and work. I confess these “other things” have taken a distant back seat. Even with respect to my health, my level of commitment falters as the busy-ness of living day to day takes hold.

Don’t get me wrong, many years of living with CHD has conditioned me. I converted to a vegetarian diet when I was 15, about the same time I underwent valve replacement surgery. I didn’t do it to be cool or to save the animals, although I have to admit, it was a happy by-product. I had simply discovered that my body—and my heart function in particular—benefitted from such a diet. In fact, it took very little commitment at all once I got over the idea of needing to eat the foods I had been raised on.

Frequent and often longstanding school absences due to the surgery led a guidance counselor to suggest I prepare for failure. Instead, her suggestion drove me to succeed. I became determined to get a university degree and, much to the chagrin of my cardiologist, become a teacher.

Like the guidance counselor, he too reasoned that my career choice was possibly more stressful of a profession than what I should pursue. That sealed the deal for me, and five years later I was teaching a very rambunctious class in a small town school.

Was it hard work? Yes. Was it a hazard to my health? On the contrary. I believe it was my determination that kept me healthy and strong.

Commitment, however, can be tricky. Like Riley, I will often commit to one thing, while neglecting another. This can be especially true where my health is concerned. I love my body and myself, so I eat right due to habit. I keep my mind sharp due to interest. I maintain my pill and biopsy regiment due to obligation.

But with all of my daily “commitments,” I can easily forget what is important. If you were to ask my nurse practitioner in the transplant office if I was doing everything I could to maintain my optimum health, I am certain that she’d say no. I am not as committed as I could be to a daily exercise routine and my blood testing regiment is relatively non-existent these days. I avoid anything having to do with IV injections, and sometimes I just can’t find the time to slow down and allow myself the “me time” I require to nurture myself.

Sometimes I wish I could be as committed to myself as my daughter Kate is committed to her drawing. Lately I say I’m committed, but when it comes to taking care of myself, I still tend to put my family first. Changing my diet was easy. Having those blood test and awful infusions are neither easy nor comfortable—but necessary. I realize that my next commitment must be to myself. Otherwise who will take care of my family?

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