Lessons in Sane Living (An Ode to Fibromyalgia and the Faroe Islands)

Steel Bridge, Portland

Life is speeding up, a wind-up carousel spinning faster and faster. People brush past me at various speeds, some only a step quicker, others a blur of motion. But everyone is scurrying on and my feet drag through an ever-thickening mud.

Maybe it’s just me, slowing down, step by step, to the plodding pace of a turtle.

Day after day, as the carousel winds faster, I seem to be falling out of pace with my world. I accomplish half as much as my peers at work, write less than my fellow writers, complete fewer chores around the house, and read fewer books than my bookworm girlhood self that barreled through Pride and Prejudice and The Hobbit in two days each.

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

This is the curse of fibromyalgia, and really any other chronic health condition. I am forever trapped in a slow-motion action sequence that looks amazing on film, but in real life grows exponentially more frustrating.

I am about to return home on my annual pilgrimage to my hometown of Portland, Oregon, and my daily shower contemplation left me wondering why, as the years pass, I feel increasingly out of synch with the incubator of who I have become. It’s still Portland. Still my drizzly, moss-laden, rose-scented, eccentric cradle of my heart. She may change her hairstyle with a few gentrified neighborhoods and a new building here and there, but it’s still Portland. I would recognize her just by the freshness of her perfume and the soundtrack of MAX clacking past if you blindfolded me before a quick teleportation to Pioneer Courthouse Square. I walk her streets, but everything is slightly…off. Like I am a second behind in time, racing vainly to catch up.

Turf roof, Torshavn

My recent journey to a land outside this hectic rat race illuminates this conundrum. For the first time since childhood, with my very first walk through the glistening streets of Torshavn, Faroe Islands, I felt right. I wandered through a fine mist past grassy roofs and serene, snug houses as locals bobbed their heads in cordial hello to a complete stranger. I couldn’t shake the communion my soul felt and I had yet to even reach my hostel. I was a pendulum, swinging back into place after years out of time. In this land of sea, mountain, and fog perched high in the forgotten corners of the North Atlantic, life continues at the pace we are meant to live. I could breathe, expanding my lungs in air that nurtured my perfect rhythm.

Maybe it’s not us fibromites. Maybe it’s the world at large, rushing into a future of expanding bandwidth, multi-tasking technology, and truncated soundbites shedding all nuance and contemplation. It is stress, brought on by this never-ending overstimulation that sparks our fibro flare events in the first place. Perhaps it’s our participation in this thankless race without a finish line that is the real problem. We could learn something from our fibromylagia. Stop, listen, and take a meander through life. Rediscover the world at a gentle pace that soothes our spirits and nurtures our bodies.

Faroe Islands, thank you. Fibromylagia, thank you. I am relearning how to live life just a little more sanely.

Klaksvik, Faroe Islands

Timeless Faroe Islands


About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
This entry was posted in Faroe Islands, Living with Fibromyalgia, Portland OR, travel with fibromyalgia and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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