Monday, May 23, 2016

Pacing Myself

It's taken me some time to learn that, while going through cancer treatment, I have to pace myself. I can't do all of the things I used to do. At least not at the same time, or back-to-back. This means giving up some things that are very important to me.

I've been learning this lesson for a while now. Last February, there was a reunion concert for a band that I was in for three years, from 2009 to 2011. I was able to be part of it, but only part. I couldn't get through rehearsals like I used to. That was an eye opener for me. But I already knew at that point that my career being in bands was on hiatus, at the very least.

That experience made me realize that, even if a gig opened up for me, whether it be a position in a band, or a worship leading position in a church, it isn't something that I can commit to while I'm in treatment, if ever. But to be honest, that's a little bit like saying I'm unavailable to play quarterback for the Denver Broncos. And they could use one! There's about as much interest in my services as a lead singer or worship leader right now as there would be from the NFL. Another reason to believe that I'm supposed to do something else right now.

By the way, what a great blessing it is to feel like I do have something God wants me to do, and it's the exact thing I'm the most excited about doing. I know guys who are in my situation, vocationally, who don't have that. I'm very grateful to have this new passion. It makes it a lot easier to let go of the old one.

There are other passions that I don't think I'll ever lose, but that I still have to let go of, at least somewhat. I keep saying in this blog that many, if not most of my relationships have risen to a new level since my diagnosis. I crave contact with my friends in a way that I never have before. But our social calendar, which has been very active in recent months, has started to take a toll on me.

In my recent post, "The Bad With The Good," I talked about a gathering with friends on Saturday that made me too tired to attend a barbecue the next evening. A year ago, that would have been no problem. My life prior to Lupron. And the social engagement we attended last Saturday was at a friend's house, not at ours. Even so, I paid a price for it the next day.

This past weekend was worse. On Saturday, we had two couples over for dinner at our house. It was a wonderful time with friends who are very dear to us. But hosting is a lot of work. This is the exact sort of thing that my wife and I have always loved doing. We love entertaining. It's something that I'm very reluctant to give up, or even cut back on. But today, it seems that I have little choice.

We had so much fun with our friends on Saturday that we didn't realize how late it had gotten. 11:00 PM may not seem that late to you, but once our company had left around then, we didn't have the energy to do any cleaning up. It was very hard to get up and go to church Sunday morning, but we did. I took a two hour nap Sunday afternoon, and slept another seven hours last night, but I'm still dragging today. I still haven't recovered from Saturday night.

No, I wasn't hung over, in case you're wondering! I never drink that much. I'm a total lightweight when it comes to alcohol. I just get very tired very quickly, and it takes me a long time to recover.

This led me to a difficult conclusion today. We can't keep entertaining like we have been for so many years. I love being with my friends. I need to see them. But it's too difficult to entertain now. It takes more work than I can give, especially for larger parties. I'm glad our friends enjoyed our dinner party, and we did too. It will probably be our last one for a while.

This is especially true now, while I'm trying to finish the music work that I have left to do. Tomorrow I'm finishing my first project of the four I have remaining. After it's finished, I have another project that I have to finish in three to four weeks. God grant me the endurance and focus to get it done on time!

After that, I'll get a chance to exhale a bit. I'll be able to pace myself like I can't right now. But there will still be more work to do. I won't be able to completely retire until spring of 2017.

It's much easier for me to think about retiring from music than give up having friends over. My music career is dying of its own accord. Rather than stressing over the fact that I can't get a gig, it's easy for me to see the lack of potential work as a door closing. Before I was diagnosed, the fact that no church would hire me at 60 years old was a source of stress. After my diagnosis, it made sense.

But my desire to see my friends only increased after I knew I had cancer. It became clear to me how important these relationships are, and now I want to pursue them with all of my heart. They are a huge priority for me now. Which makes the fact that I can't physically do the work of hosting that much anymore heartbreaking. But I have to pace myself. I have to be realistic about how much I can actually do.

This applies to all of my plans. Every year in November, I participate in a progressive rock festival in Denver. This year, I had big plans. Now my plans will have to be more modest. I was planning on being involved in four different sets. Now I'll have to cut it down to one or two. I can't overcommit.

You see, one of the purposes of this festival is to give the musicians in the group a chance to perform songs they've always wanted to play. I've been looking down the road and wondering if I'll feel up to doing anything at all three or four years from now. That makes me want to try to do as much as I can while I can. But it may not be possible to check every item off of my bucket list. I have to prioritize. I have to pace myself.

It's not easy giving up things that are so meaningful. But even Peyton Manning had to retire, and so must I. Like Peyton, my body won't let me do the things I used to do.

This doesn't mean that I'll never perform again. It doesn't mean that we'll completely stop entertaining. But it does mean that we have to cut way down on those things. If you don't get an invitation from us, it doesn't mean that we don't love you. It just means that I'm pacing myself. If you want to see us, it might be on you to make it happen. I still want to see my friends. I want to see you so much it hurts. I just don't have the energy to throw the kind of shindigs we've become known for among our friends.

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41) As the above image says, I am strong, but I am tired. I hope that, tomorrow, I'll feel more like myself. But for that to happen, I have to make sure I get the rest that I need. I have to make sure to pace myself over the next few weeks, even while under pressure to get work done. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not the guy I used to be, for good and ill. Good and ill. There's a whole lot of good, but I am ill.

But I still have joy. And the joy of the Lord is my strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9) #waroncancer

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