Easter Morning: 2020.
It will be very, very different this year.
Most years past, after our move down south to Florida, Easter Morning has become a wonderful and tropical tradition… and always, at the beach.
We’d wake early - as usual.
Make a fresh pot of coffee - as usual.
But then, not, as usual…
I’d pop a tube of highly processed, cinnamony, and sugary goodness into the oven. As the rolls of spiced dough rise in the heat we’d get ourselves ready for a day in the sand. Surf and turf. And pure fun.
As the heavenly scent of cinnamon wafts throughout the apartment in windy swirls, combined with the fresh, salty, ocean breeze floating through the patio door. And coffee beans - doing their thing. We then ready our beach bag and grab our umbrella. When all is packed up and ready to go, and the buzzer finally decides to ding, I then proceed to slide the Easter Morning breakfast treat out of the oven. Something that costs a mere couple of dollars, but brings forth great and priceless joy.
In the final step of preparation, I then glide the spatula over the cinnamon rolls and spread the most delicious frosting atop. Standing in the kitchen, I watch as the ice cold frosting melts over the slope of a doughy mountain. And then, finally, the frosting completely melted, meeting in its final descent, gently hitting the baking tray. And with that act, it is our que to leave.
It’s then off to the beach for our Easter Morning. To sit and gaze at the ocean. To take in all the beauty of the sea directly in front of us. Stretching all the way out to the horizon. No end in sight. What’s past that line nobody really knows.
Going to the beach is something we do all the time. But on a holiday - it’s just all the more special. And all the more peaceful.
Hubby plants the umbrella into the sandy floor. We lay out our beach towels. And our doggie sitting between us nestled in the shade. And we swim. And read. And listen to podcasts and music. And mostly, we just drink coffee.
But Easter in Florida will definitely be very, very different this year.
The beaches here are closed to the public. Wrapped up with police tape. Barricaded. Coned off. Caution and warning signs abound. Parking not allowed. To help stop the Coronavirus spread, of course.
So, while there may be coffee, and while there may be cinnamon rolls, and while there may be frosting. There will be no surf and turf.
But knowing all that, one thing is still very, very certain. While they can most certainly close the beach, and can do so fairly easily I might add. There is no front door to the ocean. There is no window they can shutter and latch to prevent us from taking a look. And they certainly can’t throw away the key.
So while it may be in everyone’s best interest that the beaches remain closed this spring, the sea is still sitting out there - doing it’s own thing - very much alive and breathing - and it will be there still, on Easter Morning.
In fact, I tend to think the Sea and all the life within it, are kinda, sorta, wondering, at this point, where all the humans went? I think, maybe, the ocean is getting a little lonely? The dolphins that swim alongside us… what are they up to right about now? Either that - or the sea is laughing at us and saying, “Good riddance! They’re finally letting me take a nap!”
And it is with that thought in mind that we have been regularly going for our morning walks, still, throughout global chaos. As usual, throughout this pandemic, we take a peak, and glance out toward the ocean - from afar. As we get our cardio in, doggy included, we take a look outward toward the gorgeous and colorful and ever-changing skyline. And the forever distant horizon. While never, ever, crossing over the strategically placed yellow and black police tape. Of course.
And that is what life at the beach is all about, Charlie Brown.
Life. And The Sea.
Life surrounding the sea. On the sea. In the sea. And… looking at the sea. Gazing at the sea. And dreaming of The Sea.
Yes - I’ve lived The Sea Life for a few years now. It’s been over three years since I moved to Florida from the Midwest. Dreaming of the sea, ultimately, brought me to the beach. To San Pablo Island.
And with that milestone, there’s another kind of Sea Life that I’ve been living since my move to Florida. It has also been nearly three years since I was discharged from the Mayo Clinic Pain Rehabilitation Clinic - located in Jacksonville.
There is a cognitive behavioral therapy tool that all of us patients learned as we went through the long and detailed and rigorous rehabilitation program.
It divides our life - the life of an individual living with chronic pain - into three very distinct phases…
The A Life.
The B Life.
The C Life.
And while my C Life is ultimately why you are reading this right now, I wanted to provide you a brief explanation as to how the A and B life have to be lived - in order for a participant in the program to EVER even obtain the opportunity to have a C Life. Their own C Life.
First up is The A Life. And The A Life is just that. It’s LIFE.
The A Life is everything and anything and anybody that came before chronic pain took over the body. The A Life, for me, and for hundreds of other patients, was growing up… it was going to school… it was sports, it was college, it was marriage, it was graduate school… it was first jobs, or many jobs. Full careers. Family. Friends. Parties. Travel. Success. The A Life - was life, itself.
And then, all of a sudden, that darn, no good, very bad day of a B Life came along - and that was a very, very Bad Life indeed.
The B Life enters into a person’s life as chronic pain takes them over. A patient's body succumbs in almost every single way to unrelenting pain. Marriages are lost. Jobs are most definitely lost. Whole careers upended. Some patients even get fired from their life-long career on the very day they choose to take back their own life. To be admitted to hospital.
Money = gone. Even responsible and diligent financial penny pinchers and savers - their financial statuses, quickly changed.
Debts add up. Lots and lots of bills. Bills that can’t be paid. Bills on payment plan. Bills leaving one drowning in paperwork and dollar signs. A feeling that they will never be able catch up. Financial ruin….
All as the patient, and sometimes their family as well, spends every single penny at their disposal on doctors appointments, tests, experimental treatment, lots of travel to specialists, surgeries, injections, miracle creams, potions, lotions, powders, herbs, capsules and tablets. In search of a cure.
Daily life is abruptly changed. All the little things that make up a life. Hobbies are gone. Forgotten in nearly every way. Sports are not even an option. Cooking - gone. Reading - gone. Books sit closed and their bindings collect dust.
Parties - gone. Friends - lost forever. Mental strength. Physical abilities. Exercise. Self care. As chronic pain sets in, as chronic pain takes over… everything else is lost.
And The B Life can be a very long life. The B Life can leave a young 39 year old with a whole lot of gray hair on top of her head.
After the patient has done nearly everything, and lost nearly everything, that tends to be when they find out about Mayo Clinic’s Pain Rehabilitation Clinic. Some kind soul usually refers them. A friend, family member, doctor, or maybe even a quick Google search - a quiet whisper in their ear - informs them of Pain Rehab at Mayo.
And yeah - lots of people really do not even find out about the program I am discussing with you today until they’ve lived The B Life for a very, very long time. And a lot of pain has already been experienced. To the point that it’s all sheer madness of a life to live.
But then… That’s when PRC comes along. The C Life comes along. And The C Life - is a brand new life.
The C Life - is being reborn.
Think of it kinda like a cat…. Just as a cat has nine lives… graduates of the PRC Program at Mayo Clinic have three lives.
Like - no joke. I WAS reborn - at Mayo Clinic. My life WAS saved - at Mayo Clinic. I WAS transformed - at Mayo Clinic.
But it wasn’t a light bulb moment. No one flipped the switch. I wasn’t injected with a shot, vaccinating me into a different realm.
No, nope, nope, nope. That’s not how any of this works.
I had to earn my C Life. Through a lot of hard work on my part.
The C LIfe is a lifestyle choice.
But The C LIfe is, once again, Life itself.
The C Life is about acceptance. The C life is about making peace. The C Life is about discipline. Diligence. Routine. Adaptation. Moderation. Forgiveness. Patience.
The C Life is about faith.
The C Life IS hope.
And, maybe most importantly, the C Life helps a patient to say goodbye… To say goodbye to their nightmare, of a B Life.
And then, to take it even one step further - To say goodbye - for good - even to their A Life.
Yes, that’s correct. The A Life is tossed out the window too.
It is then and really only then that the C Life can become a real and new Life.
We do not look backward in The C Life. We don’t try to meet up with our old selves. We do not try to re-obtain our A Life. We accept that it is gone forever. And we simply accept the new selves we have become. Accepting of our past, and working toward a better future. And work - each day - to build a life around that knowledge.
If a patient fully believes and practices the program… all knowing the C Life Is a lifestyle - and not a magical lotion, potion, prescription, or pill - the C Life can really become a brand new life. A real rebirth. An Easter Resurrection.
The C Life, for me, has been truly life-changing. Just as it was meant to be. Just as I allowed it to be. And. Just as I continue to allow it to be every single day.
I’ve been practicing The C Life for nearly three years… It’s lifestyle - not a cure. It’s hard work - and not the waving of a magic wand.
And, The C Life is not perfect. In fact, there may be newer, stranger, or more horrible nightmares of problems that crop up in The C Life. Maybe even more so than in either The A Life, or The B Life. And I say that to be honest. But with great confidence. Because even with pandemics, massive contagions, and disruption of the entire world order, The C Life - can still be a fabulous life.
And anything, anything at all, can be accomplished living The C Life.
Despite all obstacle.
Despite any challenge.
Despite a roadblock, clearly sitting directly in front of a person.
The world is at the fingertips of the discharged patient - from the very first day they exit the Program and walk out the hospital doors for the final time. Life - is waiting for them as they enter their third life. Their new life.
The C Life has brought me more joy and happiness than I ever thought possible.
The C Life has stopped me from waiting… Waiting….. To LIVE.
I now am fully alive. Even today. In the midst of the world’s largest global crisis of our lifetimes. Yes, amidst the apocalypse of this plague. This global pandemic. Every day is still special to me. Every day I am grateful. And every day I am truly alive.
As we all continue in this, our strange and new kind of life. As everyone on Earth, right now, is also going through a transition of life. And, as Easter Sunday arrives on our doorstep.
Churches, for the most part, remain closed. Family and friends will not be meeting up, from afar, to celebrate the special Sunday. Most of us, throughout the entire world, will be having our Easter dinners with only the members who reside in our immediate households.
And while we cannot have the beach, and we cannot look out at the beautiful sea - as we sit in the warm sand - we can all still have each other. While we are all far apart.
Yes, there will be no beach on Easter Sunday this year... That is - Unless Dr. Fauci goes on television sometime between when Christ dies and when Christ has risen - and then proceeds to tell us that it is all now safe, let’s open up the world again! But something tells me he won’t be saying that any time soon.
Yes, Easter Sunday will be very different this year.
And with some supply chain disruption, there may not even be those highly coveted cinnamon rolls.
But there will be people sacrificing. For the good of humanity. And for the continuation of life itself.
I saw in the local Jacksonville news the other day that an administrator at Mayo Clinic Jax is now accepting letters, words of encouragement, drawings, images, etc. They will be sent onward - to all the doctors, nurses, and hundreds of other staff members who make up the Clinic. To thank them. We, the general public, have been asked to pass along our best wishes and support. As Mayo plays a prime role on the front lines of this global war on disease.
Mayo will no doubt be on the front lines of research, studies, testing, and treatment of patients - all in the CoVid19 fight.
It’s basically like this - As one of the most amazing humans on Earth always says, “We’re number one!”
All kidding aside though - They really are number one.
And yes - they saved my life. They brought me back into the world. And they lifted me up when I needed it the most.
My experience at Mayo Clinic has given me my C Life...
As I started my first job outside the home in a decade. As I’ve now completed road races, a half marathon, traveled, met countless amazing people, and various other opportunities I never thought humanly possible. Countless milestones and achievements I never thought would be available to me, merely a few short years ago.
But the most important part of what Mayo gave me really is my overall brand new life. The different life. The one that is in no way at all part of my A Life or my B Life. All the countless new doors that have opened. All the boats I’ve hopped on board - to float on out toward that distant horizon line in the vast and open sea.
As I volunteered.
As I fell completely and madly in love with Art.
As I started my own Etsy Shop, Website, Lifestyle Blog, and Art Studio. As I fell in love with writing.
As nothing is impossible to me now. As there is no limit to where all my dreams may take me next.
As Christine’s Floridian Dreams was dreamed up - because of them - because of Mayo.
Doing all things new. With confidence. Doing what was never completed in the A or B Life. Yes, I am truly living The C Life. Even amidst a global pandemic.
In fact, I actually tend to think that it is because of Mayo Clinic that I am simply plugging along, no big deal, throughout this sci-fi, apocalyptic life we all now find ourselves within.
When I graduated from the Program. I had a whole lifeline of tools at my disposal. Tools I have diligently utilized each day of my C Life. Tools I am continuing to use - right now - through crisis.
Life is good. Yes, life is still good. And while there may be crisis. And while there may be death, and horror, and evil, and destruction. There will always be hope.
So, to answer the call from the local news stations. These words of thanks are now my words of encouragement to all the doctors, nurses, and staff - as they fight on the front lines. As they battle the evil virus. As they fight for humanity. As they give hope to countless others. As they change lives each and every day. And as they continue to - right in the middle of a plague.
As they give countless patients a new life. With each deed, word, and action:
You’ve got this. And we are all here with you.
Yes, this may be a very different Easter.
All throughout the world. And even right here in Jacksonville, Florida.
And, rightfully so - There may not be the beach. There may not be surf to ride upon. There may not be men with metal detectors walking up and down the shoreline - looking for shiny coastal treasures. There may not be little children collecting shells, and building sand castles next to the tide pools. There may not be a grown woman with graying hair sitting out on the beach with cinnamon rolls, hot coffee, and a doggie sitting beside her in the sand.
But there will always be life. There will always be hope. There will always be faith. And, there will always be good people doing God’s work - each and every day. And maybe, and most importantly, floating out there on the horizon line… with a door that never closes and most certainly never locks, just waiting for that next someone to step out and push themselves off the sandy floor, onward and outward toward their next high and mighty adventure… forever unknowing of what truly lies ahead… The Sea Life. ~
*Happy Easter to Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, Florida.
Thank you - for everything.*
*This painting, titled - “The Sea Life” - is being donated to the Pain Rehabilitation Center at Mayo Clinic Jax - and will be hand delivered, in person… Whenever we can all see each other, once again - In real life.*
[Editorial Note]: I am not a doctor. And I don’t pretend to play one on TV either. This article and personal story is not medical advice or a prescription in any way. But - if this post reaches you because you are living in chronic pain. If you found this article because someone thought it may be screaming YOU. If you were referred here by others who thought you might benefit from this story. Let this reading be that whisper in your ear - informing you of possibility. Know there is always hope. There are people everywhere - on all corners of this globe - who know how to help you. Never give up. The people and place that helped me are referenced within this publication. The main phone number to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida is 904.953.2000. Go ahead and pick up that phone of yours. Punch in the numbers. And help yourself - by getting help from others.
Hey - you - over there. If you’re looking for more stories of hope, inspiration, faith and optimism, check out the links below:
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