Rising from the ashes

“In order to rise from its own ashes, a Phoenix first must burn.”
-Octavia Butler

I got a tattoo. A big, beautiful, loud, colorful one.

I got it a couple of weeks ago, so it is finally healed up to where I can show it off a little. And I know some people may think I’m a little crazy, especially for getting it right on my forearm, but this was actually very well thought out and planned for months and months.

I have actually been thinking about getting one for a number of years and even decided on what I wanted about three years ago, but I finally made the decision to officially go through with it last December. Due to other issues like a broken wrist, surgery, half-marathon training and having to fit the artist’s schedule, it got pushed back almost a year.

So this is her… my phoenix.phoenix phenix tattoo feminine fire bird flame ashes burning stephanie hughes stolen colon crohn's disease ulcerative colitis ibd inflammatory bowel disease ostomy blgo

There is a lot of symbolism involved in my choice of image. I always knew if I was going to get a tattoo that it would have to be an image that really meant something to me. My original plan was to get her on my back and neck, but just a few weeks before my scheduled appointment, I thought about the fact that I would never actually get to see it. Sure, I could see a reflection or a picture of it, but would never actually see it with my own eyes. And this was such a profoundly personal symbol for me that I wanted to be able to see it all of the time. So my forearm seemed like the right place.

In mythology, the phoenix, at a certain point, ignites and burns to ashes, but from those ashes, the phoenix is reborn. This idea of rising from the ashes really speaks to me. We all have our struggles and battles that we fight. And while there may be times that we feel like we have been completely consumed by it and reduced to ashes, there is hope in using those ashes to rise again, even stronger than before.

There have been times where I felt that Crohn’s had destroyed me. I felt like I had nothing left. And it’s in those moments that we really find ourselves and show what we are made of. I love having that reminder every day that no matter how bad things get and even when we feel like we have been consumed by fire and turned into ashes, we can that and make it into something beautiful and powerful. We will fly again.

What inspires you?

I’ve been feeling a little stuck lately. A little uninspired. Even as I’m writing this post I keep changing and deleting and rewriting because it’s all sounding… wrong.

I’m at a point in my life where I’m not exactly where I want to be. And that’s not to say that I’m not happy. I have a wonderful husband and family; I have a great community of friends, both in everyday life and online, that mean a lot to me; I have more blessings than I can count and I’m very thankful for them.

I think I’ve had a hard time finding my “place.” Where do I fit in? What was I put here to do? I think having the Stolen Colon has been the one thing that has really gotten me through because it’s something that I feel I can contribute to and possibly make a difference with. It’s something that brings together everything I love into one place: writing, helping others with Crohn’s/IBD/ostomies, creativity. And if I could spend all of my time working on all of those things then I don’t think I’d feel this way.
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These three remain

1 corinthians 13 faith hope love bible verse stephanie hughes stolen colon ostomy crohns blog

I have been pretty overwhelmed with negative feelings recently. You can probably see it in my writing and in the lack of attention to what has been going on in my little Stolen Colon world. I hit some bumps in the road lately that have made me feel down. Basically, I’ve felt like a failure.

It has made me think a lot about what is most important to me in this life. I start making a list of all of the things that I care about and all of the things that I want to be apart of or want to accomplish. But when I start taking a hard look at that list, I realize how little of it actually matters.

I have tried to take a step back and look at it with new eyes. As I’ve done that, I’ve realized that there are only 3 things in this world that really matter: my faith, my family and friends, my health. Outside of that, it’s all really just details. At the end of the day and at the end of this life, those are going to be the things that make a difference.

While I don’t believe this is exactly what Paul was talking about when he wrote 1 Corinthians 13, I do believe that the words of the Bible were meant to be a living entity that mean different things to different people at different times. Today, this is what it means to me:

FAITH
This represents my faith in God. My belief in what He did for us and what He offers us today. Making my faith a priority means spending time on it and enjoying learning more and listening to that still, small voice.

HOPE
Anything I can hope for the future rests on my health. If I don’t have the strength or energy that comes with being healthy, I know I won’t become the person I want to be. I have to focus on taking care of myself by eating right, staying hydrated, getting enough rest and not stressing about insignificant things.

LOVE
My relationship with my husband has got to be one of the most important things in my life on a daily basis. I think it’s easy to take this for granted and just live each day together. But I want to continue to grow together and learn about each other even more.
Keeping a good relationship with the rest of my family and friends is just as important. These people are always going to be a part of my life and are going to be the ones there for you when you need them, so I want to make sure to maintain those relationships and not let months go by without spending time together.

It’s amazing to think about how little I focus on those things. I don’t read my Bible or pray as much as I ought. I don’t spend purposeful time with Jarrod every day or my other family and friends like I want. I’ve been more focused on my health recently, but I also don’t put a huge emphasis on all of those aspects. 

If we base our worth on all of the others things that happen in our lives, we’re probably always going to feel like a failure. I keep thinking that once I do this or accomplish that, then I’ll be where I want to be and I’ll be able to kick this feeling. But that’s not going to cut it. Those things aren’t going to fulfill the things that I need in my life. What’s going to bring about the change I need is to remember what my priorities are (or should be) and to go after them.

I apologize if I’ve sounded like a broken record here over the past weeks/months, but sometimes the best way to make it through a tough time is to to lay it all out there for the world to see and work through it piece by piece.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Sitting, waiting, wishing

I am not the most patient of people. For this reason, I’ve always preferred to do projects myself and make the plans when with a group. It’s not that I feel I have to be in control. I just can’t deal with standing around while we discuss what to do next. I just want to do it.

I feel that I am in a bit of limbo at the moment. I’m trying to move forward, but there are so many unknowns at the moment that I don’t know what my next step should be. I know if “A” happens, then I need to move in this direction, but if “B” happens, then I need to go this way instead. If both happen, then I have to figure out how they’ll fit together. There are a number of scenarios out there that could drastically change my plans, and I don’t know what any of them are at the moment.

I don’t like waiting. I want an answer, even if it’s not the one I want, so I can deal with it and move on. But we don’t always get what we want.

I’m learning to be patient and to trust the powers that be to make the right decision and lead me down the right path. Patience is one of the fruit of the spirit and I think it’s one that often gets overlooked, because being impatient doesn’t equate in our minds with being “bad.” Being unkind and unfaithful are obvious to us as the wrong way to act. But impatience kind of slips under the radar.

I came across a quote several years back that really hit me and made me stop and think.cardinal sins impatience laziness franz kafka patience stolen colon ostomy crohns blog I think there is a lot of truth in those words. Think about it: why do people steal? Because they are too lazy to work for the same money and are too impatient to receive it in smaller amounts. Why do people become angry? Because they have lost their ability to be patient with the person they are dealing with.

The last thing I want is to become a breeding ground for other sins by laying down a foundation of impatience. I’m really happy with where my life is now. There are so many times I have been impatient and worried about what would happen next, but in actuality, I don’t feel I have ever been lead in the wrong direction.

So I’m having to let go. I’m having to trust. I’m having to believe that there’s something better out there for me.

Spoiler alert

I hate knowing the ending of a movie or book before it happens. Just ask my husband, one of my biggest pet peeves is when someone reveals the ending beforehand. He should know because he loves to do this!

It doesn’t matter if whether or not it’s something I plan to ever read/see. It COULD be something that I want to watch someday and therefore, I don’t want to know. I also don’t believe anyone else should know the outcome. So even if you’re begging to know what happens, you’ve come to the wrong person.

I’m not always like this when it comes to life, though. I want to know the plan. I want it all written out neatly in my calendar and I want to know where I need to be and when. I make meal plans a week in advance and plan out an exact grocery list. I have been known to put together a detailed calendar that accounts for every minute of my day. If I have a plan and it doesn’t work out, it’s ruined! No doubt about it. And I usually have a small meltdown until Jarrod convinces me I’m being silly.

I wish I knew where things were going. I wish I could write them all out clearly and know when I would get there. I wish I knew that I would end up in the right place.

Things don’t always go the way you planned or the way you hoped. But that’s when it’s time to realize that there’s a bigger story in play. In the Bible, Jesus says not to worry about tomorrow and that tomorrow will worry about itself. I don’t think he said this to mean that we shouldn’t plan or prepare for the future. I think he means that we need to be open to whatever comes our way and to embrace it and to know that he has a plan.

We’re all players in his story. So don’t spoil the ending.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? … But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 6:25, 33-34