Would you like to be featured in Stories From The Community? Check out our new opportunities for ways to participate! Mary responded to our recent question about self-care.

Move it or lose it, we say. So, move it, I do.

As a lifelong athlete and outdoor sports enthusiast, losing my ability to participate in intense activities has been devastating. But rather than sulking and giving up, I look for the things I still can do, and I do them.

One trick I use is to modify the intensity of the activity and keep at it. In fact, I often tell others “modify, modify, modify.”

As a young girl, I received a hand-me-down bicycle that made its way down the line of five children to me. I rode everywhere and anywhere I was permitted. I often reflect on how grateful I am that God made me so athletic and that He gave me the love of cycling.

I live with Rheumatoid Arthritis and currently, cycling is the one activity that I’m able to engage in at a level that is satisfying. I often call my bike my wheelchair, because though at times, it’s too difficult to walk, I can still get on my bike and ride like nothing is awry. I believe it is the reason I’m still somewhat mobile and not using actual mobility devices.

Self-care is important for everyone, but when you have chronic, debilitating disease, it can be a necessity.

As a Michigan girl, it’s not a viable option to ride year-round, outside of a closed-in space. So, I’ve recently booked my winter 2020 RV site in Florida and I’m looking forward to continuing some great self-care activities down there for the season. It is so uplifting to know I’ll be able to be active just about every day during my most challenging season of the year. I’m looking forward to riding, perhaps daily, but I will also have access to a heated swimming pool, where I am able to do some strength exercises on a regular basis as well as a slew of other activities that are great for morale.

To have moments in my life when I feel strong and able is the greatest level of self-care for me. As I ride, I forget about my pain, my disabilities, and my concerns of what the future may hold. I feel empowered and grateful. It clears my mind, gets my heart rate up, strengthens me and my fortitude, and well, it’s just fun.

Mary Williams, Rheumatoid Arthritis