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The power of positive thinking

Being positive in life is extremely important. I have seen its effect in my own life…the strength and determination it has built in me, and the courage it has given me to never quit no matter how tough things get.

But what does it mean to be positive? Does it mean you smile all the time? Does it mean you sit around telling jokes belting out volumes of laughter? Does it mean you never have a bad day, never cry tears of pain, are never fearful of tomorrow, or do all you can to pretend MS isn’t a part of your life?

No…being positive has nothing to do with how much you fake a smile or about the warm fuzzy’s and feel-good moments. Those things will fade away over time and leave you wondering how you’re going to be able to cope with today’s reality of MS. The reality that hits you so hard you get knocked off your feet. MS does that to us all at some point.

If you aren’t careful, the tears will fall, stress will build, fears will loom and your mind will wander into a world of negativity. It’s a place you don’t want to be. Depression creeps in ever so slowly and you find yourself drowning in the pain and darkness.

What do you do? How do you find a positive place there in the dark? What does being positive even look like?

You have to purposely choose to step out from the shadows and move towards hope. Hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Hope that you can make a difference in someone’s life. Hope that a better you is in the making. You have to pursue it, going after it with every breath you have, keep going even if it hurts.

Positive people still cry, tremble in fear, worry, and have bad days….but in all of the mess that surrounds them, they find a rainbow, a butterfly, a sunbeam, hope. Even though you are in the toughest place you’ve ever been, there is a possibility of wonderment and beauty. There is a hope that things will get better.

I can not convince a negative focused person to be positive. I’ve tried and it just doesn’t work. It seems negative people become angry at just the thought of trying to find something good in a time of misery. In their mind the two can never coexist, but it can happen.

If you will allow yourself to step out from the shadows, you will find the impossible can be made possible. The world could be crashing in all around you and yet your heart can find rest. That’s the power of positive thinking.

I want nothing more than for you to experience that kind of calm, happiness, and hope. It takes work. It takes purpose. It takes choices. And I know you can do it. Just one spark of hope can change your life forever.

Find something that fills you with passion, and go after it. That may mean learning a new language or writing a book. It may mean inviting friends over for dinner or cheering someone up who’s going through a difficult time. It may mean doing something to make a difference in a crazy, messed up world. It may mean letting go of the negative people in your life.

Whatever it takes…do it. Change your focus and you change your life. Choose hope. There is a great future ahead of you waiting to be discovered. Step into it.

Play in the mud

Go play in the mud

Sometimes my thoughts are hard to pull together and everything feels muddled in my head. It’s almost as if my brain is walking through a sea of mud. I think that’s why there are times when my words gets lost. They must get stuck in the puddles of mud sloshing around in my head.
Continue reading “Go play in the mud” »

The unexpected happens

I had an interesting past 4 days. Four days filled with pain, tears, doctors, meds and friends. Four days that shouldn’t have happened, but did. Four days that I’m thankful are over.

As many of you know, I ended up in the Emergency Room at the hospital because of a problem that occurred with my suprapubic catheter. For those unsure of what that is, it’s a tube that is surgically inserted into the bladder just below the belly button and attaches to a urine bag outside your body. The tube, or catheter as it’s called, has to be replaced once a month. I have it because the muscles that control my bladder no longer work properly. MS decided to paralyze them without getting my approval first and now my brain will no longer communicate with my bladder.

Well, my catheter change was done wrong by a nurse that comes to my house and it left me in extreme pain. And I do mean extreme. The urologists office was closed so the ER was my only option for getting help, but the only help they could offer was pain meds to get me through the weekend until I could see the urologist on Monday. That left me the entire weekend in misery.

Unexpected things like that happen in life. I hate it. We all hate it. But they happen. Each day we wake up to challenges and obstacles, and each day we must find the strength to get through them.

Today you may be faced with pain, weakness, uncoordinated legs, brain fog, dizziness, poor eyesight, numb body parts…so many things MS related. But you could also be facing stress on the job or at home, financial problems, relationship difficulties, sickness of a loved one, troubles with your kids…so many personal things that seem impossible to manage.

In the heat of the moment, it’s hard to see anything worth striving for when all you see is pain. Your thoughts are focused on getting through the next 5 minutes. Forget about tomorrow, you just want to make it through today. Sometimes it’s hard to see through the tears.

But just because the end appears to be far away or even impossible to find doesn’t mean it’s not there. I promise you…everything has a beginning and an end. Sometimes the end doesn’t happen the way we want it to, but it always comes and peace is always found. It’s just in those minutes, hours, days, years of going through the difficulties that we seem to get lost, discouraged, and weary.

I want to encourage you today…to let you know that you can do this. Don’t let the “going through” times weigh you down. Sure, MS may knock you down (sometimes literally) and mess with your plans, life may deal you a crappy hand, but don’t let that stop you from living.

You have to rise up with the kind of determination that never quits fighting. Don’t throw your hands up in surrender just because everything gets too hard. Take on the challenge and prove to the world (and to yourself) that you are not going down without a fight. Don’t stop trying, don’t quit, and don’t let MS get the last say in things.

bucket

There’s a hole in my bucket

The world is good at pointing out what’s wrong with our lives. If you’re anything like me, you have buckets full of mistakes that can be pulled out at any time to show how imperfect you really are. The only problem is, my bucket leaks.

It is impossible to go through life without making mistakes. You can’t do it and neither can I. One thing you can count on is that you will mess up. You will make wrong choices. You will disappoint people and even disappoint yourself. Failure is normal. I don’t know why we try to cover it up and hide away our flaws and mistakes. Being less than perfect is just a part of being human.

To the world, our MS body is a failure. The nerves in our brain and spine have chosen to fail us causing difficulties we would rather not have. The mistake our body makes in destroying myelin is not our mistake. Don’t, even for a moment, think you have done something to deserve MS or that you have caused it yourself, because you haven’t.

No matter what happens today, don’t listen to that lying voice. You are not your body’s weakness. That is just part of the packaging you have to work with. Mine just so happens to be pieced together with duct tape and super glue at the moment. It seems to be working at holding things together for now, but I know there will come a day when even the duct tape will fail me.

Count each day you get through as a victory. You have had victory after victory already. Today will be another one. You may be bruised and limping crossing the finish line as the sun goes down, but you are going to make it.

Instead of focusing today on the things you can’t do, look at what you can. Take a break from the pressure the world puts on you to be perfect and simply be you…and never give up.

A little bird told me

I woke up this morning to a bird singing outside my window. That’s great except he was singing so loud that I was awakened from the part of my night (rather early morning) when I was actually asleep. As I lay there in the bed not wanting to get up, yet unable to sleep, I’m almost positive I heard that bird talk. I could have been delusional from a lack of sleep—that’s always a possibility—but regardless, I heard it talk. Not bird talk either. It was “people” talk; lots and lots of people talk.

This bird, which I have officially named Tweets-a-lot, told me that you get discouraged some times. That you have days when you feel as if life has flipped your world upside down and inside out. That your plans, dreams, hope have all turned around, changing your future more than you thought could ever happen and have been causing you to feel overwhelmed.

You fight, you struggle, you cry, all in an attempt to wiggle free from a disease that is holding you captive, but you find no relief. People come along giving you an ole “pep talk” to help you out of this emotional roller coaster, and although you appreciate them taking the time to share, their words of encouragement seem to discourage you even more. You feel like a failure. Life has changed too much and you weren’t prepared for the change.

You spend hours and days looking back at what once was but the freedom is in the what will be. You have a future ahead of you, a world to be explored, people to meet and experiences to be had. You can’t do those things chained to the past and always looking back. You have to let go of what once was in order to live in the now and become a part of what will be.

So take it from me and the little bird outside my window…you’re hurting, not defeated. You’re broken, not destroyed. You have worth and tremendous value. You are perfect just as you are. Now is not the time to give up. Swim through the tears and refuse to drown.

Multiple Sclerosis and me are not a good fit

Some things just don’t go together, like peanut butter and mustard or swimming and lightning. Or how about music and ear plugs or driving and texting. Something else that doesn’t go together is Multiple Sclerosis and me. We are just not a good fit, the two of us. It’s a constant battle of what I want to do and what MS will allow me to do.

I still find myself over doing things and pushing myself beyond what I should be doing. And every time I feel the effects of it later. You would think by now I would know not to push so hard, but I seem to do it any way. Sometimes it’s because I just want to fit in with everyone else. Other times it’s because I still think I’m invincible. And then sometimes it’s because things just need to get done and I’m the only one to do them.

It’s important to know your limits and take time for yourself. To treat your body with care. Our bodies need more care than most and we have to be sure to not over do it. We all get busy. We all push too hard. We all forget at times just how much our body has changed because of MS. But we all need a break…a vacation from MS. Is that even possible? Taking a vacation from a disease that just won’t go away?

Maybe I can’t rid my day of MS, but I can  purposely give myself a break and do something just for me. I’m going to pamper myself and not lift a finger. No cleaning up messes. No work whatsoever. Just me time and coffee. Even if it only lasts for 30 minutes, I’m going to do it. Even if that means locking myself in the bathroom or hiding out in the closet…I’m choosing to step away from the chaos and rest. I’m choosing myself over MS today.

Living a life of thanks with Multiple Sclerosis

Being thankful when you’re hurting seems like an impossible thing to do. How in the world can anyone live a life of gratitude in the middle of a life of pain? You may be looking at everything happening in your life right now and thinking I’m crazy to even suggest such a thing. Being thankful with Multiple Sclerosis on top of everything else going on in life? Yeah, right!

When you look around all you see is pain and hard times. You can’t see anything worthy of thanks. Tears happen way more than smiles. I get it. I understand how overwhelming and difficult it is to live a life of constant change and uncertainty.

Do this for me…take a moment, pause and look back at your life. Look at everything you have come through over the years. You have faced circumstances that seemed impossible to others as well as yourself, but you made it through those times. You have seen heartaches and heartbreaks. You have walked through hell itself more than once. Most of those times you don’t want to relive, but as you look back you find things to give thank for. After all, you endured and didn’t give up. The strength and wisdom you gained during those times are lessons worthy of thanks and gratitude.

Giving thanks when you’re hurting is something most people don’t want to do, just like most don’t want to go to the dentist for a root canal or start a new diet, but the rewards are worth it. You can’t give up hope and allow the weight of your current circumstances keep you from seeing that life is filled with more than just momentary pain. It’s filled with beauty too.

Pain has a way of changing our lives for the good if we let it. You don’t have to give thanks for Multiple Sclerosis, but you can be grateful for the things it has taught you and continues to teach you. When you approach life with that kind of thinking, you find that being thankful is not only possible but doable.

Find three things you are thankful for today. You can have a hundred thing to want to complain about but choose to focus on those three good things. Tomorrow do the same thing…then the next day and the next day do it again. I challenge you to a week of gratitude. Can you make it through an entire week focusing on things each day worthy of thanks?

I’ll start…three things I’m thankful for today
1. a good cup of coffee to wake me up after a night of no sleep.
2. the beautiful people in my life that go out of their way to help me do the things I can no longer do.
3. that my move to Alabama went well and I’m starting to get my house organized and feeling like home.

hero

You are an MS hero

I’m not ashamed of my story. I’m not ashamed of the life I live. I’m not ashamed of my problems, struggles and hard times. I wasn’t before I had Multiple Sclerosis and I’m not now.

We live in a world filled with people who pretend their life is full of only sweetness and that problems simply don’t exist in their world. They think that denying all pain and problems is what a positive attitude is all about…but it’s not. There’s a difference in smiling through the pain when faced with difficulties and in hiding the fact that you’re hurting simply because you can’t bear someone knowing that your life isn’t perfect or that you need help.

We have this inner desire to be accepted and liked by others but don’t hide the realness of who you are just to fit in. That kind of “fitting in” will fade away and you will be left wondering where the people went as time passes. True friends accept you for you…warts and all.

There are times I might share some TMI (too much information) moments…and I’m okay with that. If I want to tell a poop story, I do. I’ve told neighbors, strangers, bosses, friends and family some crazy TMI moments when asked how I’m doing or what’s going on in my life. Sometimes the stories come tumbling out of my mouth before I even realize what I’m saying, but I’ve never been one to hide how I feel or what’s going on in my life.

Why do I do that? Because if I don’t share the reality of MS with others or talk about the struggle I’m going through, how will they ever learn or even know when I need a hug, some encouragement or help? They aren’t going to learn about MS by watching a movie or going out to eat with friends. Most won’t even look things up for themselves online (no matter how inaccurate the information may be) unless it affects them personally. They learn by asking questions and by watching us as we deal with our daily struggles with MS. Our lives are a walking billboard and we get to choose the message on display.

It can be a message of denial and pretending to be okay, but people will never learn anything if you cover up your needs and pains. Asking for help, sharing your problems, opening up your heart, talking about the difficulties…that’s what’s needed to get the message out. Not in a complaining, “woe is me” kind of way but in an “I’m in a lot of pain today and having trouble thinking, can you help me get a few things at the store” kind of way.

You can’t be ashamed of your life or of the fact that you are living with MS. Embrace the person that you are and use your life as a living example of how a person can rise up in the struggle. It’s okay to have a melt down. It’s okay to fall apart. It’s okay to have a bad day. Real heroes do. And you are a hero. Don’t hide your cape under a boring t-shirt. Wear it proudly and rise up to become the warrior you were meant to be.

potatoes eggs and coffee

Potatoes, Eggs and Coffee

The past few weeks for me have been hard. Sometimes life just keeps happening and no amount of searching uncovers the STOP button. This short inspiring story has been running through my mind lately. It was something I read a few years ago and I find myself thinking of it from time to time, especially when I’m having a really bad day. Every day we are faced with choices. We may not be able to choose the struggle, but we do get to choose how we will respond to it…

Once upon a time a daughter complained to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it. She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed.

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot and ground coffee beans in the third pot. He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter. The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. After twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup.

Turning to her, he asked. “Daughter, what do you see?” “Potatoes, eggs and coffee,” she hastily replied.

“Look closer”, he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft.

He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face.

“Father, what does this mean?” she asked.

He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity-the boiling water. However, each one reacted differently. The potato went in strong, hard and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak. The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard. However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.

“Which one are you?” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

In life, things happen around us and things happen to us, but the only thing that truly matters is how you choose to react to it and what you make out of it. Life is all about leaning, adopting and converting all the struggles that we experience into something positive.