Because I Want To: Operation Eleanor

Sometimes the hardest part about living and fighting with an illness is the living.

Let me explain, please.

It’s easy to wallow and feel shitty for yourself. I could do that daily if I wanted, and some days I do. But really, it’s more like some *moments* I do. That part is entirely easy. All the medication. All the doctor’s. All the IVs. All the fear for my family. Something many don’t get. I don’t really fear for me…I fear for them. And believe me that is way harder than just wallowing for yourself and feeling mad and angry about your situation. It’s feeling scared and worried constantly for everyone I love that kills me.

Then I get into the fight mood. I’m going to growl and kick Lupus to the curb, I’m going to be the strongest and most amazing person with Lupus EVER and will CRUSH anything in my path. ERIN SMASH LUPUS GRRRRRRRR.

But then, most of the time, it’s just the living. And that is the hardest part. Where you’re not really fighting and you’re not really angry and you’re not wallowing- there is no high or low- you just live. Every day. With this condition that affects of our lives right now.

Preparing meals ahead of time, scheduling pick ups and life for children whose mother will be hooked to an iv every single day this week so someone else may have to get them from school. Making sure permissions slips are signed, homework is done, husband has his hat for the cold wind by work, laundry is in, etc.

Life. Just life.

So when my friend Megan began her #OpEleanor challenge I ignored it. Well, I didn’t ignore, ignore it…I just decided that everything I wanted, everything I aim to do that I fear or that is new has no place in my life. This just life we have been struggling to cobble together since Lupus took it over.

As per usual, I want too much. I aim too high. I want it ALL and I want it NOW. So Operation Eleanor was too big for me. Right now, I have learned too much is too big for me. If I signed up I’d end up trying to climb Mt. Everest before the end of November and then Aaron would be mad because I’d train and get sicker and yet insist I keep training and then I’d end up med-evacuted off the top of mountain where I nearly killed myself trying to reach the summit because I want too much. I aim too high. I want it ALL and I want it NOW.

Go ahead, ask Aaron, he’ll tell you. I’d try it. I would actually try to climb that mountain, with Lupus, ¬†and nearly die, or actually die, doing it. And all because I signed up for a blog challenge from a friend and refused to go small, or give up. And because one of my biggest fears is heights and right now my biggest challenge is, obviously, anything physical. So without even thinking Everest comes straight to mind in my Eleanor list and there you have it. The Vest family would be somewhere around Nepal and Tibet while I try to trek and do the impossible all because that is just how I am.

Thus my ignoring Megan’s challenge. It was safer. Just trust me on this. This means no one dies- and I am not exaggerating here.

But then, out of the darkness of me feeling totally ‘wallow’ and angry that I couldn’t accept this challenge and thus die, my husband tweeted that our eating and trying a new vegetarian dinner was an Operation Eleanor.

And of course, he was right. It was small, but it was something. and it was something I could and did do. Not everything has to be huge. Not everything has to be NOW and ALL and larger than life.

Sometimes it’s just life. And all it has to be is just life. And that needs to be enough.

It’s a lesson I am still learning. There is joy in aiming – but you don’t always have to shoot for the moon. There is joy at going BIG and once in a lifetime…but there is also serious joy in going small, and every day.

The is one of hardest things for me to grasp- it doesn’t have to be Mt. Everest each and every time. Even if Mt. Everest is how I roll.

So while I am not sure I can commit fully to this blogosphere fun, I can commit what I can handle: and right now that is day-to-day. New food. New ideas. If it can’t be Everest, maybe I can climb a ladder…which is just as terrifying for me, if not more than a large mountain.

Or other days it can be Everest. Or that Morocco shopping trip I promised my daughter while we saw the EPCOT version at Disney World…the one she still remembers and writes about in school…the one I WILL give her some day:


Or maybe I can just spend each day learning to be. And to be ok with it being small, being big, or being somewhere in between. Learning that this new life of mine is going to last awhile and I need to accept its challenges and it’s limits.

And be ok that sometimes just life happens in my new limits and that life is just fine and wonderful as is- it doesn’t need to be bigger or ALL or everything.

I am still here, which is an Operation Eleanor in and of itself. And as long as I continue to be here, it counts.

And if i keep telling myself that I might actually believe it. I’d just rather Everest.


  1. I cried. I really did. and if you still want Everest next year, I’ll train with you. med-evacs are 2-for-1, right?
    seriously though, living your life every day and trying to make sure the medical stuff disrupts it as little as possible is #OpEleanor material. the bravest thing I think you do is wake up on the days you don’t have the strength to fight and just hug your family. you really are one of my heroes for getting up every day and just being you.

  2. I have a confession…sometimes i just avoid reading your blog posts…not because i don’t like it, or care, but because it makes me cry, it makes me feel too deeply for you & your family. I want to actually be there to help hold that ladder for you! i am so grateful though that all of us can be here for you, in whatever small way we can, and you aren’t struggling through this Lupus thing, alone like so many others do. That may have friends or family that don’t understand how you can look perfectly normal on the outside, but don’t realize how hard it is just to get out of bed some mornings… are truly an inspiration Erin, and shame on anyone that thinks otherwise….

  3. I have no doubt that one day it will be *the* Mt. Everest. And some days, I’m sure it feels like Mt. Everest – just not that one.

    You have always been a bring-it-on fearless female type and I know that big or small, you will make the very most of Operation Eleanor.


  4. I’m sorry, I’m not trying to make anyone cry or care- well, you know me. That’s why I haven’t been pushing my blog as hard lately on the masses- I know it’s a lot to handle. Hell, we can barely handle it over here. But I am honored that you all even still stop by

  5. I wouldn’t miss watching you accomplish an ant hill or Everest any day woman! It’s a true testament to your strength that a fear of yours is not going big and just going home. I love everything about it. xoxo, Bear Down! (I don’t even know how that is remotely relevant to this situation, but it struck me in the moment I was leaving this comment…so deal with it) ;D

  6. Habanerogal says:

    Anthill molehill or laundry pile sometimes each sinsurmountable

  7. A lot of little things are Mt. Everest and intensely enjoyable. Sometimes I don’t even want people to know and I like that they think it’s easy. Big is all relative!

  8. I may cry but you’re my reminder to push on. We got this.
    I wonder if there’s an app to log how many steps you take so you can climb Everest from your house.

  9. Well damn, now I guess I can’t go on ignoring Operation Eleanor out of fear anymore can I? Leave it to you to get me on board….

  10. I hate the fact that you make me pay attention to things I’m trying terribly hard to ignore. Or maybe I love it. I don’t know – it’s a fine line. Maybe both.
    Still love you though. Yeah, I expect pictures from Everest and Morocco 10 years from now… but little things are big sometimes.


  1. […] my fear in showing you all how I look with this illness ravaging my body. One of my biggest #Operation Eleanors to date. But what I learned was so much bigger than ‘I am not afraid’ or ‘they […]

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