I look something like the Tin Man on the Wizard of Oz before Dorothy oils him up as I make my way to the Keurig machine in the mornings. Just as rust immobilized his hinges, arthritis is taking its toll on my creaky, achy joints.
Though I’m not proud to admit it, as my arthritis symptoms worsened, I found myself comparing myself to others quite a bit, lamenting that I could no longer do things I saw others my age doing seemingly with ease. In fact, I became so focused on the negatives that I couldn’t see anything good around me at all. Not only did I wish I had the beautiful hands of the woman next to me in line at the grocery or the scar-free legs of the lady playing volleyball on the beach, the comparisons snowballed until every which way I turned there was someone with something better than me. A bigger bank account. Better behaved dogs. A svelte body that fits into a pair of skinny jeans. Beautiful hair that doesn’t defy the laws of gravity. A nicer mother-in-law.
As you’ve probably already guessed, the comparisons didn’t help my arthritis. They also didn’t get me a nicer mother-in-law. In fact they were nothing but a colossal waste of time and energy because regardless of how much money I make, there will always be someone with more. No matter if my hair suddenly decides it will indeed adhere to scientific certainties and grow into a magnificent mane, there will always be someone with even better locks. And even if my body were arthritis free, there would always be someone younger and healthier for me to compare myself to.
I might have taken the long way around the barn, but I eventually realized that the key to my happiness and wellbeing isn’t trying to get what others have—it’s being thankful for my own journey and the many blessings that are mine to enjoy along my way. Sure, jars are now my arch-nemesis and custom insoles are my new best friend, but the joys in my life far outweigh the aches and pains.
Of course I am thankful for the biggies: family and friends; love and health. But there’s little things, too, that cause my cup to runneth over: good hair days (they happen!); the smile on my husband’s face when he discovers a new favorite craft beer; a sloppy, on-the-lips lick from my pups; the smell of a bookstore; tan lines; taking off my bra at the end of the day; discussing a good book with my sons; whip cream squirted right out of the can into my mouth; the smell of that coffee I mentioned. Oh, and artificial joints…how could I forget those? Thanks to that advanced technology, I know that no matter what these creaky body parts of mine decide to do, I can keep on keeping on. My keeping on might involve doing the Tin Man Shuffle through the house to get to my morning cup of joe, but you can bet I’ll be counting my blessings every waddle and wobble along the way.