Friday, February 6, 2015

Be Kind

Every year at this time I get anxious as I sit down to write my personal fundraising page for the MS Walk.   I don't know about you, but it's hard to open myself up and let people see what's really going on inside. It's hard to be vulnerable.  In years past I've had a "theme" of sorts to my fundraising.  Whether it was hope, strength, joining together as one for a cure...this year I'm struggling.  I'm exhausted, forgetful and to be honest a little afraid.
 I've got some decisions to make regarding medication that I have pushed off for over a year.  This past year I tried a new avenue with a more holistic approach.  I tried acupuncture, went to a nutritionist and saw new doctors up at Duke Integrative Healthcare.  I "cleansed" my body of gluten, alcohol, sugar, caffeine, dairy and meat.  I started seeing a therapist to help me accept this diagnosis, some 5 years later.  I started taking a private Pilates class to help my body be less stiff, to work on my balance and to challenge myself mentally. I quit my job last September because it was just too much for my mind to handle.  I got confused and it started taking me longer and longer to get my projects done.

Through all this I have I have done my best to remain positive.  I've tried to take something from each of last year's experiences to move forward.  After many a crying conversation with Stephen, we decided that if I was going to quit my job it wasn't going to stop me from working.  The focus was just changing.  The focus became working on me.  Trying to find a rhythm to a disease that has no rhyme.  My job was to focus on getting me stronger, physically and mentally.  We bought a piano last October so I could challenge my mind to learn something new.  I now take Pilates classes three times a week.   Sometimes that is all I can do...go to Pilates and then come home and rest.  Other days I can go on for hours and then later that night it hits me like a ton of bricks that I have done too much.   It's hard to accept that I do not have control over how my body feels and reacts to MS and life's daily stresses.

I have learned something very important along the way.  It's funny because I have always preached this to the girls, ever since they were little.  It is simply to be kind.  Be kind to others.   Try to understand that everyone comes from a different place and we never know what has happened to them before we meet them that day.  They could have had a fight with their mom.  Maybe their dog is sick.  Maybe their best friend said something mean.  Maybe their parents are getting divorced and they don't know what to do.  Maybe they just don't feel well.  It could be anything under the sun.  No matter how they treat you, you must be kind in return.  I never really told them to apply that to themselves.   This year as I have explored new ideas and approaches to my MS and I have found one common theme in all of it.  Be kind to myself.  Treat my body and mind the way I want to be treated.  Take care of it.  Challenge it.  Understand that there are some days when it's not going to do what I want it to do.  Let go of unrealistic expectations.  Embrace the challenges and be proud that I give my best and it is good enough.

As I reread what I have written so far I have to correct myself and say that I am not struggling with a theme this year.  I've learned something new about myself this past year and I need to share that with all of you.  BE KIND.  It's that simple.  This is something you all should do whether you have Multiple Sclerosis or not.  I think if we make the choice to be kind to ourselves the results will be tenfold.

As I've said, MS is an unpredictable chronic disease for which there is no cure.  If sharing my story with you has touched you heart, I ask for you to thoughtfully consider donating to my MS Walk team.  The funds raised go to local people right here in NC, as well as much needed funds for medical research to find a CURE for MS.

As my beloved New England Patriots have said "Do your job".  Well they did theirs and won the super bowl!  I'm going to do mine and win this fight against MS.  I would love to have you by my side supporting me on Saturday, April 11th for the MS Walk.