By Lisa Fleming
These days, I consider life to be an opportunity. It’s a gift we are all given with an unknown expiration date, and I believe that we have a responsibility to live that gift as fully as possible, otherwise, we are wasting our time here on Earth. However, I haven’t always felt that way.
“Please let me die. Please let me die. Please let me die.”
In 2003, suffering from my worst flare of Systemic Lupus, I wrote those words in my diary, hoping that if I wrote them 100 times a day, God would take me home and end my suffering. I cried every morning upon waking, in disappointment.
I’d drive to work hoping someone would hit me on the way, or stand in the rain hoping for a merciful lightning strike. Anything. I’d have taken anything, except my own life.
At the age of 11, I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythmetosis and had struggled with multiple flares until remission at age 18 when I began enjoying life without feeling like “the sick girl”. I got a job, my own apartment, and fell in love.
When I was 25, I had been in remission for six years, and I was getting married to the love of my life. I felt so blessed to be healthy the entire time we dated and prepared for our wedding. I had even forgotten at times that I could possibly fall ill again. My wedding day was the best day of my life up to that point.
On the second day of my honeymoon, on the beautiful island of Antigua, I had the kind of pain that made it clear to me that my days of remission were about to end. A few short months later, my fears became reality. I was entering the most serious flare of my life.
As newlyweds, this was devastating news. My poor husband had no clue what he was in for.
Our marriage struggled, and all I wanted was to die.
When almost two years went by and God wasn’t answering my prayers for death, I had an epiphany. What if I was supposed to end “THAT life”, the life of sickness and fighting with my husband? Instead of praying for death, maybe I was supposed to take charge and end what I didn’t like about life, not my whole existence!
So that’s what I did. Maybe you’ve heard the quote, “Actually I just woke up one day and decided I didn’t want to feel like that anymore, or ever again. So I changed.”
That’s how I remember my own turning point. I got angry. I got motivated. I changed.
At a time in my life when I would only shop at 2:00 in the morning because I was embarrassed about the way the Prednisone and Chemo had changed my body, I joined the gym. I changed my diet. I stopped eating so much sugar and junk food and switched to fresh veggies and fruits. I bought hair extensions to cover the bald spots the medications had caused, and I became more social.
I took my life back.
I left my then unhappy and very unhealthy marriage and began a yoga practice for the first time in my life.
Within three months of beginning my practice, I stopped taking 8 different medications, including chemotherapy, ulcer meds, and anti-depressants. I ended my addictions to sleeping pills and Xanax naturally.
I drastically changed my diet and became the happiest, healthiest version of myself I had ever known. Most importantly, I felt connected to myself for the first time in my life.
Within eight years of choosing to reclaim my life, I realized it is my life’s purpose to share the body’s natural healing abilities with others. I opened two yoga studios to provide a safe place for others to do the same, and I loved my life.
Once again, though, I realized I wanted to experience more. I didn’t want to be on my deathbed one day wishing I would’ve “chased that dream”, and so I sold my businesses and belongings in order to fulfill my life’s biggest dream; to experience total freedom. Without a mortgage, a spouse, a job, or even a car payment, I put on a backpack flew to Central America. I spent one year traveling to multiple countries, meeting incredible people, eating and doing what I wanted, experiencing life the way I wanted.
Today, I am exploring one more life goal, to move to and live in my favorite town in the U.S., Wilmington, NC. No matter what happens here, I know that there is no greater joy than knowing I really and truly lived this life, and I am so grateful that God didn’t read or honor the requests in my journal all those years ago.
Lisa Fleming shares natural healing techniques through yoga, reiki, and nutrition. She loves to travel and meet new people. She believes the world is bigger than life is long, and she wants to do all she can while she is here. Find her on her website.