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This year’s journey with MS

It’s hard to believe another year is almost over. Tonight, a new year begins. As they say “out with the old, in with the new,” right? As I reflect over the year now gone, I realize I have experienced some truly wonderful, beautiful moments. Times that made me sing even though I can no longer carry a tune. Times that gave me great joy and created memories that I will hold on to for the rest of my life.

It has also been a year filled with pain, weariness and sorrow. Those are the times I wish I could forget but know I won’t because those moments are still a part of who I am. If nothing else, they have made me stronger. And trust me, I need all the strength I can get right about now.

Last year at this time, I was in the hospital for an entire month working to regain the use of my legs. And although the rehab was well worth it and the exercises I learned I still do to this day, my legs never returned to their full function. Does that make me sad? Angry? Fearful? Sure. But I’m not going to let my disability stop me from living even if I do it from my chair shaking my trembling fist in the air at MS.

My daily routine is different now. My needs are different. The things I consider important have changed. But me…I’m still me. No amount of ability or disability can change that.

Think back over your year. I’m sure you’ve had both beautiful and terrible moments. Times that make you still smile to this day and others that bring tears to your eyes. That’s called life…and you lived it. You experienced it. And although your experiences have changed how you do certain things, why you do them and when you do them, they haven’t changed the person you are. You are still you.

You may live life differently than you have in times past. You may need additional tools to help you get through your day. You may get tired and weaker faster than before. You may even do everything slower. But you…YOU are not your MS.

You are an amazing, beautiful, lovely, awesome, precious, one-of-a-kind, delightfully unique individual. There is no one else in the entire universe like you. You have so much to offer the world, even with a disability.  Don’t allow MS the satisfaction of stopping you from enjoying life or even from enjoying today.

As this year comes to a close, choose to be thankful for all the beautiful moments you’ve had and to use the terrible times as bricks to fill in the potholes along the way. I can’t promise you that the new year will be wonderful and void of any pain. But I can promise you that together, with each brick we place along the journey, we are building a path that just may ease the burdens of those newly diagnosed that come along behind us.

MS may only leave destruction in its path, but we are leaving a legacy of strength, resilience and beauty. You didn’t know you were doing all that, did you?  Don’t ever underestimate your value and worth. You are priceless and those bricks…well,  they just might be rubies and emeralds!

strong

You are stronger than you think

There are so many things that I’m thankful for. I could list the usual: family, friends, warm fuzzy slippers and coffee…but those things seem so shallow to me now. Not because they aren’t important, but because my focus has shifted greatly over the past several years.

This morning, as I sat asking myself why I’m thankful, a flood of thoughts came to my mind. I have seen people faced with terrible circumstances who have become bitter in the process, and I have seen others rise above their challenges and become a light and a source of hope to the world around them. Which am I? Which are you?

As someone living with multiple sclerosis, I can remember the very day I sat in the doctor’s office when he gave me the unwelcomed news that I have MS. I went through a full range of emotions in the weeks that followed from denial, to pain, to anger, to peace. It was a shocking blow to my life and something that I never saw coming. I had plans and MS wasn’t one of them.

It’s been a hard road. I have had to learn to adjust the way I do just about everything because even the simplest of things have become challenging. But I refuse to give up. I refuse to let MS keep me from being thankful…or from living.

The questions that I’ve asked myself even just recently have been simple. If I didn’t have one single family member to stand by me at this time, could I be thankful? If I didn’t have one friend to call on for encouragement, could I be thankful? If I didn’t have my warm fuzzy slippers to bring a feeling of comfort to my body, could I be thankful? And God forbid, if I didn’t have my morning coffee, could I be thankful? I’m sure you could ask your own questions here too.

I have learned to be thankful in all circumstances. To look this disease of MS square in the eyes and say, “I am not defeated because of you. I am thankful for each new day I am given.”

We will never understand all the “why’s” in life.  It’s time to stop questioning why you are going through the storm you are currently facing and determine to be thankful as you go through. You can be thankful even in the most horrible of circumstances, but it’s a choice; and you can make that choice today. You can stand up (even if only on the inside) and say, “I refuse to be defeated by MS.”

For me, I’m thankful for my weakness; I’m thankful for the difficulties…because they show me just how strong I truly am. Sure, I have days when I lose it and break down in a puddle of tears, but I also have days when I can hold it together.  I have learned that strength isn’t measured by the amount of things I can do or how little I cry, it’s determined by the attitude that I have while going through the storms in life.

You are stronger than you think. Square your shoulders back and hold your head up high today because you are STRONG! Find something to be thankful for even in the storm. Have your moment of tears then wipe them away because today is a new day to be thankful for.

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.

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.

I think we just broke the world

There have beens days when I have looked back at what used to be and wished life was different. I have even envied others who didn’t have a disability. What? I shouldn’t think like that? Sure that’s easy to say, but thoughts happen, and in my head they happen more than I care to admit. I don’t think you would want to live a day in my head. It’s kinda scary in there. I can think of some crazy ideas and have some equally wild woe-is-me moments.  Continue reading “I think we just broke the world” »