“It is what it is”: Living with a Chronic Dis-ease

“In illness words seem to possess a mystic quality”, Virginia Woolfe

The phrase: “It is what it is”,  rooted in Buddhist philosophy, is beginning to irritate many people. But, personally I like it; it is an apt description of my health status. The words resonate with me and do not have a mystical quality as Woolfe suggests. It gives me a sense of acceptance for that which I can’t change.

Today I bought the October issue of Mindful magazine. As I was reaching for a candy bar while paying for the magazine I laughingly asked the young man if he thought that if I meditated more I might get over my sugar addiction. A lovely, calm looking guy, he said in a sweet voice: “No, but you will become at peace with it”. In short, it will always be my challenge, the same way that fibromyalgia and heart disease will be. It is how I will choose to live with them in a mindful, non judgmental  way that is the secret to some degree of peacefulness . It is coming to the realization that I cannot change my diagnoses but I can come to accept them without constantly looking back into the past to wish I had lived my life  differently, which may have caused or accelerated my conditions. It is also not about predicting a bleak future, which is not now a reality, but living in the moment and finding ways to arrest those negative thoughts and self talk that have such a profound effect on my everyday life.

I am eager to share each and every one of the articles with you and yet I want to encourage you to buy your own copy and read for yourself how we can work with our anxieties and depression, without more medications that already subsume our bodies. While I have most, if not all of the editions of Mindful I have found this issue of particular interest as it deals with my own anger about my health and the depression (the underlying fear) which is my constant companion.  Neuroplasticity, the ways in which one can change the brain and the article by Dr. Hanson was extremely helpful as has been his book  Buddhas’s Brain . There is so much more to say, but this blog will be a short one, rather than the lengthy (98!) previous ones with perhaps too much emphasis on the ways in which we can change our brains away from the pain, the fear, the anxieties and depression. So I will instead send you off to buy your own copy of this helpful journal and pause to do my own practice of mindfulness meditation.



  1. Valda Garner says:

    Barbara, The brain is such a powerful tool to overcome pain. I keep my brain focused on learning and have recently taken up beading, which gives me a creative outlet. When I am learning something new or when I am beading I am not as aware of my pain. Instead of taking a front row seat I tuck my pain away in the back row and make other things in my day more important. With practice it works, but I make sure I provide for rest too otherwise my activities can be counterproductive. I think the quote “It is what it is” implies a certain apathy, but it does reference those things which we cannot change and have no influence upon. Focusing on what we can do rather than what we can’t do is a noble cause, but can be difficult to resolve internally! Valda

  2. Barbara Keddy
    Barbara Keddy says:

    I agree Valda! Funny, I decided to change my brain by following my own advice. So, of all things I took up quilting (see my old blog about this somewhere). Well, my usual personality took over and after 22 of them I became more and more frantic about making more and it became an obsession:-), so I had to stop. The advice to change the brain by taking up something creative, new to me, repetitive was admirable but I didn’t know when to stop! Plus I kept thinking of people I wanted to make more for and got lost in the meditative quality of it! In fact, my shoulders and back began to ache more than before! Perhaps I will take up basket weaving next, haha! Don’t overdo the beading!

  3. Lois Roelofs says:

    Dear Barbara, I don’t believe I’ve come across your blog before. But it could be a bit of fibro fog if I did. I found it just now as I’m making my own connections between my 15-year fibro and my recent 8-month itching with no skin manifestations. I’m also a PhD, RN, and will be subscribing to your blog. Thanks for your encouragement here. I’ve just blogged today about my recent trip to Mayo Clinic for the itching and a diagnosis of Idiopathic Pruritus. I will be adding a link to your blog on my blog. Lois Roelofs

  4. Barbara Keddy
    Barbara Keddy says:

    Thanks Lois: Because of these itching bouts of ours I now know that it is probably THE most aggravating symptom of most of us with fibro. Now this month with the changing season it is much worse. Weather changes, stress, excitement- you name it- a flare up will begin! When I look at the itching blog I wrote a few years ago little did I know it would be the one with the most comments! Almost every day that blog receives at least one comment.
    These days with fatigue, pain, itching and stress it is difficult to have a positive attitude. But, I am working on it. After having had a heart attack this year at least I know the itching is not life threatening. Still, it is such a challenge!
    Best wishes,

  5. Lois Roelofs says:

    You are so right, Barbara. I’m just beginning to comprehend that this latest itching onslaught will probably be forever. It’s hot here today in Chicago, and I dread going out! Cooler weather does help. Best wishes to you alos1 Lois

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