This month’s kind promise is “I will reinvent whimsically.” This promise makes me smile and brings me a lift of energy. Just what I need in these pandemic-influenced times.

Disability is the mother of invention. Illness means my body works differently than most bodies do. I use assistive technology to help me through my everyday life: from the adjustable air mattress I wake on each morning, through the Smylemouse and Dragon software that help me write this blog post, to the wheelchair and Hoyer lift that enable me to head for bed in the evening, my life is a cooperative reinvention. This promise encourages me to meet each challenge with a spirit of possibility.

The attitude is helpful for someone living with chronic illness and helpful for all of us living through a pandemic. We can’t do things in the way we’ve done them in the past. Here are the steps in the reinvention process:

  1. Process your emotions: Take a moment and feel the loss and anger that may arise in those circumstances. You don’t have to DO anything about them. Just notice the emotions as they move through your body. Imagine the emotions washing through your body and dribbling out your toes. No need to fling them as weapons toward other people. You are spacious enough to process them responsibly.
  2. Create a statement of need, what is it you want to accomplish? What’s getting in your way? You can use your journal or a notebook to help you figure it out: “I want to…, But [fill in the blank] is getting in my way.”
  3. Find people to help and ask for it. Sometimes all you need is a helping hand. Be as clear as you can about what you need, how the other might help, and when that help will be finished. People are more likely to help if they know it won’t be forever.
  4. Research possibilities. Who else faces this challenge? How have they overcome it? (An online search may be a big help, as might expert advice and your helpers’ ideas.)  Would that alternative work for you? Why or why not?
  5. Conduct a test. Give the possibility – or some part of it – a try. This is only a test. If it doesn’t work, you’ve gathered more information and can try something else. If it does work, or almost works, you are on the road to a solution.
  1. Institute a trial period. When you think you’ve found a solution, try it out for a period of time. If it fits for you, that’s wonderful. You can make the change more permanent. If it doesn’t work or doesn’t work perfectly, you can make more changes. Calling it a trial period is just a way of reminding you to hold solutions lightly, allowing your world to evolve.
  2. Celebrate your solution. If you find a new way that works for you, congratulations! Take a moment to appreciate the road that brought you here, the people who helped you, and the answer you’ve found.

Reinvention need not be as formal a process as those steps seem to make it. I have separated them here so you can follow the logic. Notice what’s not working, figure out what you need, and explore the possibilities.

The addition of the word “whimsical” in the promise is a reminder to have fun with it. Play with the possibilities, rather than grab at them. Juggle solutions.

The purpose of reinvention is to keep the dance nimble, rather than getting stuck when illness or disability toss another “no” in our paths. Reinvention allows us to say yes to life.