michelle nicole photography

michelle nicole photography

I have always lived my life with an Orphan Annie[i] type of attitude.

“The sun will come out tomorrow

So you gotta hang on to tomorrow

come what may…”

Tackling life day by day I would greet the dawn with expectancy and optimism; a song in my heart and a faithful friend by my side, facing each new challenge like an adventure.

But what happens when the sun doesn’t come out tomorrow, the next day or the day after that? What happens when the musical of your life suddenly changes venue and without notice the marquee announces that you will no longer be starring as Annie? Your new role, until further notice, will be as the captive Belle in,

 The Beauty and the Beast[ii]

In an instant, your whimsical and optimistic lifestyle has been replaced by one that centers on an unpredictable and demanding tyrant. Life with chronic pain or illness can often make you feel as if you are living trapped in a castle with a beast whose tantrums supersede your ability to bear the repercussions of its wrath.

So how do we maintain an Orphan Annie attitude when living a Beauty and the Beast kind of life? Much like Disney’s protagonist Belle, I have found that changing how I viewed my captor helped me to feel less imprisoned by him.

I have found that knowledge is power. By educating myself about my condition and treatments, I feel I can make informed decisions and like I am in control of my own welfare.

By accepting the changes and embracing the idea that I was entering a new season of my life, I felt more capable instead of less able. I chose to view the inability to continue some of the more strenuous activities I had previously enjoyed as an opportunity to try new things I was interested in, but didn’t make time for in the past.

 Connecting with others in similar circumstances helped me feel like I wasn’t alone in my struggles and afflictions. Listening, encouraging and sharing other’s burdens gave me a renewed sense of purpose.

 By throwing off the weights of bitterness, resentment and hopelessness, I was able to discover and enjoy blessings resulting from the new opportunities I’d been given.

While my Beast, chronic pain, is not likely to be tamed by a kiss and transformed into a handsome prince; I have been able to restore my optimistic attitude by remembering that even when it rains, “I look around and see the whole world differently”[iii] knowing the sun will come out tomorrow!

There’s been a change in me
A kind of moving on
Though what I used to be
I still depend on
For now I realize
That good can come from bad
That may not make me wise
But oh it makes me glad

And I– I never thought I’d leave behind
My childhood dreams
But I don’t mind
For now I love the world I see
No change of heart a change in me

For in my dark despair
I slowly understood
My perfect world out there
Had disappeared for good
But in it’s place I feel
A truer life begin
And it’s so good and real
It must come from within

And I– I never thought I’d leave behind
My childhood dreams but I don’t mind
I’m where and who I want to be
No change of heart
A change in me

No change of heart
A change in me[iv]

[i] Martin Charnin

[ii] 1991 Walt Disney Animation based on La Belle et la Bete abridgement 1756 Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont

[iii] Belle to her father from Beauty and the Beast

[iv] A Change in Me, sound track Beauty and the Beast written by Tim Rice and Alan Menken