Karen Cripps writes at The Reinvention Tour about reinventing herself into something new and sparkly and amazing. After waving goodbye to a chronic illness, she has re-emerged with a new zest for life – but oh what to do with that zest?
The Power of Passion
At the risk of sounding arrogant, I like to think of myself as intelligent: I am well-educated, I have a thirst for knowledge and I am quick to learn. Or am I?
After several years of working on regaining my health (seven years ago I was diagnosed with CFS, but after a bumpy recovery road I am now knocking on the lovely wellness door), I seem to have finally grasped how important it is to have a sense of purpose.
I have read, listened to, watched and analysed ? possibly over analysed! ? many recovery stories. And for all the variety in people?s approaches, one of the common themes was purpose, almost as if the body – and mind – need a reason to get well. Or maybe, your body needs to know you are not taking it back to the lifestyle that got you in this mess in the first place.
I dabbled with searching for a purpose along the way. Initially, I was obsessed with getting back to my old life: my ‘big’ job in the commercial world, my career focused life. If I had a glimpse of feeling well I would start planning my return. But the glimpses were short lived and my plans never came to fruition.
As time went on I moved away from wanting to return to my old life; the longer I was out of that environment, the less hold it seemed to have on me. Or maybe on some level I was actually starting to appreciate that I needed to fundamentally change my life to move forward.
I explored the idea of retraining in psychotherapy or psychology. I applied for an MSc and thought, yes, this is the new me. But as the course drew closer I was apprehensive that I wasn’t well enough (I already have a Masters so I was fully aware of how much work is involved) and I wasn?t able to start the course.
After a few of these false starts I decided I would do it the other way round – I would get better first then decide what I want to do with my life. I packed up my career dreams and filed them at the back of my mind, confident I could pull them out when I needed to.
Somewhere in this time I started blogging – it was an experiment really, a bit of fun. I had a feeling I would like to write but it wasn’t based on much: I had written a few pieces for a local CFS support group newsletter and realised how much I enjoyed it (told you it wasn’t based on much!)
The blog became my writing apprenticeship – a public way of seeing whether I could write; seeing if people liked what I had to say; seeing if I could come up with regular material. Almost overnight, writing became my passion and 18 months on it still is. (I am actually writing this post whilst on holiday, because that’s what I feel like doing.)
‘If you could do anything’ Kelly gently probed in a recent coaching session, ‘what would it be?’
‘I want to write’ I said cautiously.
Self limiting thoughts flooded my mind. Am I good enough? Why should I get to do something I love? Will I ever be able to make any money out of writing?
‘I have become scared to dream‘ I said, feeling sad as I realised I had learnt to accept the limitations of my situation.
‘Don’t worry about having all the hows at this point’ said Kelly, as if reading my mind. ‘But I think this is the final piece of your recovery jigsaw Karen.?
I spent the next week or so mulling over our session. Whichever way I dissected it, I ended up at the same place: Kelly was right, I had become stuck.
But not anymore, I am ready, ready to dream again, ready to let go of the old me.
You see, if I am perfectly honest, I always felt I hadn’t found my niche in my career. And I am also sure my fast paced life style was part of the reason I became unwell in the first place. So is it in any way surprising that all the time I associated wellness with that life, I couldn’t get there? I think my subconscious was in some way protecting me from myself. (And maybe this was the same story with the MSc, maybe it just wasn’t a good fit.)
This coaching session was a few months ago and since then I have been working on what type of writer I will be and how I am going to make it happen.
I am continuing to get stronger and achieve the consistency in my health I have ached for over the last seven years. As I learn to trust my body again, my body is learning to trust me again: trust that I will make decisions that are good for my health. My old life was not good for me ? my new one is. Simple!
So it may have taken me seven years but I am getting there. I have stripped away the ‘shoulds’; I have stopped comparing my life to others; I have stopped holding on to my old life. I have a new life which is full of hope and possibility; a life that feels like it suits me like my gorgeous red dress, not like my unflattering jeans I squeeze myself into; a life I want to live, not one that makes me feel overwhelmed. (Don’t laugh, but I’m actually feeling tearful writing this – finding your passion is emotional!)
My name is Karen and I am a writer. There, I said it.