2013 To Do List

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions because once I label them as such I don’t keep them, but I do like to maintain lists at all times and get a thrill every time I cross something off. I’ve mentioned some inspirational words I plan to abide by, but to keep myself accountable, I’m posting the short version of my 2013 To Do list today.

But before I launch into my list, I want to share a little story that’s been on my mind if you’ll indulge me…

In late 2011, I was tentatively diagnosed with Graves’ Disease. Doesn’t that sound awful? As if I am already embalmed, doomed to an immediate burial. It sounds so…ominous. It is, in fact, named after an Irish doctor and is an autoimmune disorder that commonly affects the thyroid, and hyperthyroidism is one of the telling symptoms. I was referred to a specialist and the endocrinologist told me that my levels seemed a tad “hyper” (hence the tentative diagnosis) and wanted to monitor them. I didn’t take it seriously since I felt fine, and half-joked to friends and family to let me know if my eyes started bugging out. Clearly, denial was playing a strong role.

I was working on a very stressful project at the time, and was absolutely consumed by work. I hardly saw my family, barely ate anything that resembled food, slept an average of three hours a night. I was immersed in the kind of office politics I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I was on conference calls at midnight, only to wake up at 7am for another one.

Three months rolled around, and my next set of test results showed an alarming spike in my thyroid hormone levels and the doctor confirmed that I most certainly have Graves’ disease and that I needed to take medication and possibly discuss surgery to remove my thyroid if things keep going at this rate. It’s crazy, but I was so wrapped up in my job I kept forgetting to take my pills. The next set of test results three months later were just as worrisome.

And then things fell apart within and outside of work, and my health was a mess. I aged about 15 years in six months and I’m no spring chicken, so this was horrifying on top of everything else (“Who is that crone?” I would wonder every morning as I stared at the mirror). I quietly whimpered about wanting to quit but my type-A, “I can make this work no matter what” attitude made me stubborn. In the end, I was taken off the project. It was my biggest career failure, and it was, quite simply, the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Once I stopped working, I focused on restoring my health. I slept. I ate salads. I read books. I took daily walks. I spent a lot of time with family and friends. As I regained strength, I painted the upstairs bedrooms and built a shelf in the basement with a neighbor’s help. Then I dusted off my gouache paints and threaded my sewing machine. I reflected for hours and hours, trying to figure out what I was good at, or at the very least what I loved, because that job wasn’t it. You see, I used to have another blog. From 2005 to 2010, I used to chronicle much of the same topics I’m posting these days though not nearly as regularly and I got a comment once in a blue moon. I realized that the little blog had made me so happy. Creating and sharing my creations and writing about them regardless of whether anyone read what I yammered on about – that felt right. The old blog went kaput in a server transfer accident, but that was okay. I would start a new one. And here we are.

The reason I’m telling you all this is that I received some great news and wanted to document this because it’s so significant to me. I got the results of my most recent blood test last week, and my levels are nearly normal. So very very close to normal. It’s still a touch high, but lower than when I was first tentatively diagnosed. The improvement has been dramatic. I feel a million times better and just two days ago, a friend told me I looked very healthy. I confessed to my doctor that I hadn’t been taking my pills at all and just tried to change my lifestyle. Amazed, she told me how rare it is for hyperthyroidism to normalize like this without medical intervention. She was so curious and asked, “How did you do it? What lifestyle changes did you make?” And you know what? I really think it was reducing the stress and focusing on doing things that I love to do. “Keep doing what you’re doing!” she encouraged me.

Now, I don’t recommend that anyone not take their medication. My point is that I listened to my instincts (finally and truly) and made changes that made sense to me. I am a huge believer in doing things every day that energize us to wake up in the morning, things that delight and inspire us, even if it’s something tiny and perhaps insignificant-seeming. And for me, this blog is one of those things. So thank you to the folks who continue to be so supportive — I feel so honored whenever I get a lovely comment in my small corner of the blogosphere and you help me stay extra energized, delighted and inspired (and thank you if you’ve read this far. I guess this wasn’t such a little story after all). You’re helping me kick Graves’ disease to the curb!

I think this is going to be a great year. And my 2013 to do list? To keep doing what I’ve been doing these past few months:

1. Create
2. Share my creations here
3. Take care of my family and myself
4. Connect with friends (and that includes you!)

I have an extensive breakdown of each of those categories, but I won’t make you suffer through that. Oh, and I love that little chalkboard jar up there. I’m thinking of adding a quarter every time I complete a task and maybe treat myself to something special at the end of the year. My to-do list is very long so I might be able to buy something substantial. Maybe some Liberty fabric….

16 thoughts on “2013 To Do List

  1. wow. what an amazing testament to slowing down and doing what you love! i must say this blog and your creative efforts make my day. i love seeing the things you make for your daughter and all of the other lovely things you fill this blog with. such genuine and authentic writing is hard to find. your happy spirit is even reflected in your health now. i’m so happy for your latest results and so glad that i found this space through KCWC. have a great weekend!

    1. Liberty is SO gorgeous – I dream of going to their flagship store one day. Thank you for visiting my space regularly, Sarah, and I can’t think of a nicer compliment than a happy spirit!

  2. Sanae, this was such an inspiring post to read, and I’m so, so happy for you that you have found where you need to be in life! I have the “sister” autoimmune disorder of Graves – I have Hashimoto’s which is being Hypothyroid. And while I do take medication for it, I am thrilled for you that a lifestyle change was the ticket to stopping – and reversing – the effects of Graves. Kudos to you for your bravery in doing so, and we (meaning all of us who love your blog) are the grateful readers of your generosity in sharing what you do. Blessings to you in 2013!

    1. Lucinda, I know many people with hypo and have heard wonderful things about the effectiveness of the meds. I have a history of not reacting well to medications, so it was a rather easy choice for me. Thank you for your kind words – always look forward to your comments!

  3. wonderful news! congratulations!…i also believe and have witnessed(on people around me, including myself!) that our lifestyles today – stress, what we eat, lack of exercise etc. have a HUGE impact on our health!…it’s too bad the system seems to think it’s better/easier to take a pill instead of making a lifestyle change. your story could/should be an inspiration for others 🙂 thanks for sharing!
    i enjoy visiting your blog 🙂

    1. Oh thank you, Katka. It’s so true that lifestyle has a huge impact and I was really lucky that my choice to not take medication worked out, but I know that’s not for everyone. Cheers to doing our best to be healthy!

  4. Lovely to read such a good news story. Keep up the good work – doing what you love, and sharing it with us through your wonderful blog. Happy 2013!

    1. A happy 2013 to you, Marisa! Whenever I visit your blog, I get a good chuckle – love those skirts you’re making!

  5. Sanae, so happy for you….you may not know me,but I am a true admirer of your simple and elegant style and creativity….you and a few others in the blogosphere opened my eyes to the beauty of Japanese designs, the fabric choices and the subtlety…I have 2 lovely Japanese pattern books in my collection which I will try soon….thank you for being such an inspiration and I wish you the very best in your health and creative ventures…..

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