HAWMC Day 21: The Disparity Between our Life Lists and the Reality…


Welcome to the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge brought together by WEGO Health – a social network for all health activists.  Again, I am participating in the annual Writer’s Month Challenge in which I will be writing about my health activism and health condition based upon given prompts.

Tuesday 21st April: Reflection 

This is a day to reflect.  For the WEGO Health family, we reflect on the inspiring and tireless work Health Activists do every day.  Reflect on your journey today.  What are your thoughts and hopes for the future?

Currently, I am reading an emotional and uplifting book, called The Life List, by author Lori Nelson Spielman.  It tells the story of loving daughter Brett Bohlinger, struggling after the death of her beloved mother.  In the book, she is left not only struggling with the death of her mother, but also is then left to pick up the pieces of her shattered life, after also losing her job at the family business, and then learning that her mother’s will, has one big stipulation – to receive her inheritance, Brett must first complete the life list of goals she’s written at the age of fourteen.

The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman
The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman

In the book, therefore, she is reintroduced to the goals and ambitions she made as a child and to reflect on the choices she has since made and the life she is currently living.

During my formative teenage years, although I never made a written list of the goals that I wanted for my life, but just like anyone else I envisaged what my future would look like; marriage to a wonderful and kind man, a couple of children, and a successful career helping people for instance.

It is interesting though to ask about the efficacy of making such life lists.  Are they a useful tool to direct your future toward a life that you wish to live?  Or, do they only serve for disappointment when the life you saw for yourself is so far removed from your current reality?

For those living with chronic illness for example, none of us or wanted or imagined the life that we have been stuck with.  There is nothing we want more than to be productive members of society, but unfortunately our bodies have other plans.  Once upon a time, we imagined a life full of love, happiness, career successes, but instead our lives revolve around our symptoms, hospital appointments and cancelled plans.

What would your ideal life list look like?
What would your ideal life list look like?

Admittedly, if I were to compare the life that I saw for myself as a teenager, like Brett in the book, and the life that, as if often seems, was planned for me, I would feel enviable disappointment regarding my life, and envy for those who are still able to pursue their life-long dreams and ambitions.

In the book, however, Brett embarks on a personal journey in search of her adolescent dreams, and by doing so she finds that life’s sweetest gifts can be found in truly unexpected places, and happiness can look remarkably different to the life that we imagined or had planned in a life-list.

And I believe that living with a chronic illness can also teach similar lessons; our lives may not have turned out as we imagined, but sometimes we may find little gifts which make life better than the one we imagined.  For instance, if it were not for the neurological condition I live with then I would not have found a passion for blogging, and I like to think that although I do not have a career which entails helping people, I do good work maintaining this blog and perhaps helping others in the process.  Another, gift I have discovered on this chronic illness journey is the wonderful friends I have made along the way, and continue to make everyday.  The support and friendship among the ‘spoonie’ community is astounding, and everyday I am discovering new friends who are special, and making friendships that will last for many years to come.

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