Find your balance in a world full of obstacles

That’s it! I’m done. I’m so over it! No more. I give up.

Do you remember the potato chip commercial that proclaimed you can’t eat just one?

It first aired in the early 80s. It was on that day something inside me woke up and became stubborn — no, not stubborn. Independent. From that day forward, I was determined to be free-thinking and solely responsible for my choices. I consciously chose that I alone would dictate the course of my life.

No marketing campaign would tell me who I was or how I should act. I can’t say it’s my proudest accomplishment, but, to this day, I can eat just one potato chip. Now, mind you, oftentimes, I make the deliberate choice to eat several other chips in rapid succession. But that’s not out of some compulsive behavior initiated by a random marketing executive or by a secretly irresistible potato chip recipe. That’s wholly on me.

Recently, I feared my resolve had been destroyed, my strict adherence to independence, the woman who walks her own path regardless of obstacles, was threatened. Admittedly, I lost a little bit of my spark. And what’s worse? I caved for something the size of a grain of rice. I literally slumped down in a chair in my backyard and was on the verge of crying. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I felt so out of control. There can’t be anything much worse than feeling like you have no influence over your own existence.


I didn’t like them before I knew they were part of the arachnid family. Learning that those annoying pests were spiders pushed me over an edge, just put me in all-out war mode.

The problem is my big beautiful Australian shepherd. She is a lot like me. She loves being in the woods. It’s where we both let go to de-stress. We can run free. We can explore. There’s no one around to interrupt our Zen-like nature experience. Or should I say there’s nothing immediately visible around that could destroy the chill feeling we have in the woods?

But then we get home and we’re just sitting around minding our own business and BAM! I’m petting her and feel a tick.

At first, I jump. It’s just a natural reaction. Then I get mad. Because, as a fairly responsible individual, I don’t get in my vehicle, nor do I let my dog in my vehicle after a wooded adventure in the summer without doing what I think is a thorough tick check. Plus, I give us all the precautionary sprays and ointments to repel ticks before entering our sanctuary.

So, to come upon a tick is surprising. And then, once I calm down, I attack the situation. I swallow whatever irrational fear bubbles up and deal with it. So, on the floor pup and I go. With my husband, we locate more than two dozen ticks. I know it’s part of nature. It’s part of life in this part of the United States. But I was insulted, enraged really. How dare those mutant spiders attack my puppy! I felt defeated.

What has happened in your life that altered your course? Did you give up? Did you adapt? I would wager that we need to be constantly adapting.

Our life can feel like a pinball arcade game. Sometimes, we’re the little ricocheting ball. Sometimes, we’re the bumpers and levers.

Yet we can’t maintain our equilibrium if we are constantly reacting to outside forces. We need to create a balance that fits our life. As we each individually maneuver our way through life and all its obstacles, forward movement must continue.

Do not become stagnant.

Don’t get stuck.

Have you injured a body part and it no longer works the way it used to? Have you had an illness? Is it chronic? Are you simply aging and must come to terms with the fact that you will never function as you did last year, 10 years ago, 20 years ago? I highly recommend coming to terms with your situation sooner than later. Absolutely work on fixing any problem the best you can.

But then redraw your picture. Adapt.

The longer you fight the fact that you can’t do X, Y, or Z, the less time you have to enjoy the days in front of you. And there is much to still celebrate.

Don’t relinquish your joy. Make a pact with yourself. You are done comparing today’s life with yesterday’s. Whether it’s bodily functions, relationships, or circumstances; celebrate what was, but focus on the time you have left and fully live each day.

So, no, I’m not going to let ticks stop us. My pup and I will still have adventures this summer, they will just be different adventures than we have in cooler months. I’ll protect us the best I can and we will still go outside and enjoy what the world has to offer. We will overcome the singular issues in order to fully embrace the life I want to lead.

Lesslee Dort is a board-certified patient advocate who firmly believes knowledge is power when it comes to being in control of one’s health. She spends her days helping others navigate their healthcare and her free time exploring. Reach Lesslee via email lesslee@friendstogethermi.org. Read her here the third Thursday of each month.


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