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Radiate Goodness | A poster from the Chronic Positivity Project by Mary Fran Wiley

Radiate goodness.

This is the story behind the 54th poster in my Chronic Positivity Project, “Radiate Goodness.”

Radiate Goodness | A poster from the Chronic Positivity Project by Mary Fran Wiley

Those words. They were the closing sentence on a poignant post about the Pulse Nightclub shooting in June, and they’ve been stuck in my head ever since.

I can recall the first time I encountered terrorism. I was 16 and standing in front of a Monet painting at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, absorbing all I could from each brush stroke. I was seeing what I couldn’t see in an art history book and I was in heaven. Out of nowhere, French police were herding museum visitors in lines to the exits as quietly as a building evacuation could be. We were speculating about fire drills or faulty fire alarms as we abandoned our tour and headed for the exits.

My French was good, but not good enough to understand everything that was being said around me. I was confused as were most of the guests. It wasn’t until we were outside that we finally heard what was happening – someone had called in a bomb threat to the museum.

No one used the T-word that day. There were no explosions. I had no idea what might have been. I was a teenager mad about about missing out.

Just over a year later, I watched in horror as planes flew into buildings. I sat on my porch with my family listening to fighter planes flying over head. I felt the world change around me. A day like that doesn’t just get brushed away. It was terrifying. It was overwhelmingly sad. And it keeps happening.

I’ve watched in horror as terrorists have brought guns to movie theaters and churches. I’ve been angry as they shot children and people out to celebrate. A hate monger is running for president. Hate seems to have bubbled up just about everywhere I look.

But if you look past the headlines, you can see healing. People offering to ride public transit with Muslim women in Australia. Counter-protesters with angel wings blocking the nonsense of the Westboro Baptist Church.

The point? In all this darkness, you need to be the light. Small, quiet gifts of hope add up and don’t cost a thing.

Radiate goodness.



Credit: Rosa Raffart

Dancing into Two Thousand Sixteen

Facebook presented me with a memory from 2011 this morning. Usually, when Facebook brings up the past, I am reminded of something funny or happy. Today, not so much. My tiara says “Happy New Year”, but the night of that party was anything but.

Everything about the picture broke a little piece of my heart. I remember dyeing my hair back to my natural color so I didn’t have to worry about maintaining it. I cut off 8″ of hair to accommodate my treatment. The purse on my shoulder couldn’t be put down no matter where I was. I was wearing clothes that I had to buy for what they could function rather than fashion. I was with a boyfriend who was afraid to touch me anymore.

It was the time I tried a 6-week epidural catheter. I couldn’t shower, bend, lift or twist. I carried a giant purse to conceal the shoebox sized drug pump and IV fluids. That treatment left no part of my life in tact – it forced a wardrobe change to loose clothing that could accommodate the tubing inserted into my spine.

I didn’t know how I was going to keep on keeping on. I couldn’t live in the future I could see.

a photo from ballet this morning and a photo from New Year's Eve in 2011

I scrolled past it. I scrolled back up to it. I scrolled past again. There was a pit in my stomach as I remembered the desperation I felt that night. That year. I’ve been thinking about that picture and that time all day.

Five years later, I found myself in a ballet studio. I woke up early and headed downtown. I was tired and working through a flare. But I was dancing. I was jumping. Today, I was free.

Everything is different in the photos I took this morning. The droopy attitude leg, slightly sickled foot and awkward hands are secondary to the fact that I am holding a position on the CRPS-affected leg on releve. I see the fighter who managed a full pirouette despite being in need of a nerve block. I see a body that is fighting its way back. I see the possibility of a future. I see the life I wanted when I wrote my new year’s post last year. (At that time, I had no idea that the dancing metaphor was going to turn into a literal passion). Like the Captain Picard meme says, I made it so.

Tap dance on the CTA

Image Credit: Rosa Raffart

“It matters that you take the steps, not how fast you take them.”

After a year of radical change mixed with a serious stubborn streak, and I made it farther than I could have ever imagined. CRPS is still incurable. I’m still a cyborg. My body still has veto power over my brain. But my life has become damn amazing.

Credit: Rosa Raffart

I’m taking steps. I’m making plans. Big, life-changing plans. In the wise words of my pain specialist (a few minutes before my last Lumbar Sympathetic Nerve Block), Dr. Amin, “It matters that you take the steps, not how fast you take them.”

Two thousand sixteen is bound to be great

It just is. Because I am going to be alive. Because I am going to dance. Because I am going to hope. Because I am going to love.

I want the same for you. A great year. Stuffed full of things like hugging, smiling and love. Of course, I made you a poster.

The poster is wise words from one of Neil Gaiman’s New Year’s Wishes “Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.”