Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas

It has been a couple of weeks since I have posted on my blog. I'm taking a break until the new year. I did, however, want to take a moment to wish my readers a VERY Merry Christmas!!!

A Very Merry Christmas

It has been almost a month since I last posted. I was being all thankful during the month of November and now I find myself 4 days from Christmas and I am again feeling thankful. Thankful for my friends and family, thankful for my home and my cat, thankful for everything.

I have fallen off the training wagon until about a week ago, and fallen off the healthy wagon months ago. I guess I have fallen off the blogging wagon too. This is where I acknowledge that I am going to take a break from blogging until after the new year.

I wish you all the most delightful Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

People First

I was blessed with participating in meaningful volunteer opportunities at a young age. It all started with confirmation hours in eighth grade... I went on every trip to the soup kitchen and the Christmas wrapping days, I also signed up to help people with disabilities participate in recreational activities. And so began my first lesson on people first language. Perhaps you have heard of it? It is that whole idea that when you are introducing or talking about a person, you should always address them by name first. So for instance, if I were talking about my favorite TV show, and I wanted to talk about Max and his disability, I would introduce the topic by saying something like: Max, the boy with asperger, NOT: the asberger boy Max. This language has become so common to me, even writing the second statement makes me extremely uncomfortable.

So, I was having a discussion about how people hang flags in front of their houses, or put bumper stickers or messages on the back of their cars. We were discussing the motivation behind such displays, and this is where I tell you we put WAY to much thought into all of this!!! Anyway, this all came up because a truck was driving down the road with the ten commandments written on the back of it's vehicle, and it lead us to a broader discussion of those bumper stickers and flags I mentioned earlier.

It got us talking about how we perceive people we don't know, when the first thing we are introduced to is that one piece of them they put on display. We had differing theories, but this made for a more substantial and meaningful discussion. It also made me delve deeper into my thoughts about disclosing I have MS to people. First I want to say that I haven't made a ton of new friends since I have been diagnosed with MS. As a matter of fact, there is only one notable new person in my life, since I have been diagnosed. I made the conscious decision to not tell this new friend that I have MS right in the beginning. It simply wasn't relevant... And then she saw my shot, after I had known her for several months. This was the point in which I disclosed the fact that I have MS. It was an interesting conversation in which she told me she was going to ask if I had a stroke or something because my eye was droopy and she saw me stumbling. I laughed, we moved on, and we sometime talk about the fact that I have MS, but we primarily don't, because that isn't all I am... Or is it?

I don't care who you are, or what people say... When you are told you have some sort of chronic disease, regardless of the prognosis, there is a period of time when you simply can not live in a world where the people first language makes sense for yourself. What does this mean? Since I have been diagnosed, MS simply comes up first. Why is this? Because I give it that power. I'm not saying this is right, and I'm not saying this is how I want to live in the long term... I'm simply saying that it is!

I have recognized this, and it is precisely why I have my MS free months. I do that so I can reacquaint myself with, well, myself. It is also the time I give the most amazing friend I have known, a break from my meandering about MS. Unfortunately, this month has not been declared MS free, because I had my annual check up, and so it has been the center of my world with her again... Is this fair? Nope, but again, it is...

Anyway, because of all that I mentioned above, my relationships with other people have been tested. The most important people have become even more important, and I think they all know that. The most important relationship in my life, my relationship with myself, has been tested in the most dramatic way, and although I have my daily struggles, I know that at some point I will live in a world in which I can view myself through the lens of people first.

For now, I embrace and love any person who is willing to process through my struggles with MS, so I can get back to that place! Remember that those relationships that challenge you the most are the ones that give you the most reward!


Monday, December 1, 2014

Transforming Your Fears

I never realize how truly lucky I am until something very small happens and it sheds light on everything. One of the scariest symptoms I have with this thing called MS is my choking from time to time because I can't swallow properly. I remember the first time it happened and it really scared me. It was the final day of my jury duty for a murder trial, it was my birthday and also the day before Thanksgiving. It was about 8 years ago, actually.

The story goes as this, I was driving home from Jury Duty. I was in a crummy neighborhood on the southside of Chicago and I was eating a snack. The courthouse was not known for providing good food during lunch, nor was it known for its safe surroundings. Anyway, it was a cold rainy night, I was snacking on something and all of a sudden I was gagging on my food for some unknown reason. I wasn't known to carry my cell phone all the time back then, and my mind went to the worst place. I was going to choke and pass out at a stop light, someone was going to break into the car and steal everything, and I was going to get hurt... Silly I know!!! 

Back to the story, I actually thought I was choking because I was so sick over the trial that it was impacting me physically. I went home to a bunch of pizzas and cake, which I was extremely scared to eat because I was choking on everything. I choked down, literally, a couple pieces of pizza and some cake, and kept my insanity to myself. I figured it would go away once I quit thinking about the trial, and then it didn't... I simply kept a big glass of water near by to help me in the event I choked. And then one day, several months later, it was gone, no choking!

One of my best traits is that I am optimistic, except when it comes to my health that is. Everything is a big deal when I have an ailment. Not sure why this is, but it is. Anyway, recently I have been having trouble swallowing again, it has come and gone over the years, but this year it has been particularly bothersome. The moment it bothered me most was when I was in the MRI tube last night. I was laying motionless with my head strapped down, less than desirable music beating in my ears and the MRI machine making its typical banging noises. Saliva was gathering in my throat and I couldn't swallow. I, of course, went to that place where I was freaked out and figured I would choke on my spit and they wouldn't notice until they pulled me out of the machine 45 minutes later to inject the dye in my IV. 

And then I started channeling my best friend who always reminds me to chill out and take a step back. Next thing I know, I am still choking on my spit, but I'm not going to die anymore, but instead be a little uncomfortable for a short period of time. This is the same friend that reminded me, the day I was diagnosed with MS, that the only difference between the day I was diagnosed and the day before was that I had new information.

What I am really trying to get at here is that we have the power to transform every moment with our minds. We get to choose our emotional reaction (most of the time, I do like to cry A LOT) to physical circumstances. While I was hanging out in that MRI machine, I could have continued freaking out over my inability to swallow, and you know what? The problem would have likely gotten worse second after second. They would have had to pull me out of the machine and start all over again. A little positive thinking brought me back to earth. My swallowing problem certainly did NOT go away, but it also didn't get worse.

The reason I tell you this is because the power of the mind and the power of a friend's words can really make a difference in the long run. I am not always careful with my words, actually, I am never careful with my words, but there is likely good intention behind my words. Because of this, I listen intently to others because I know when they share information with me, it has the power to positively transform moments in the future.

Listen intently to your friends, as they may be saving you from an anxiety fed over reaction to an MRI machine in the future!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Final Thankfuls

And here is my final thankfuls for November. Thanks for sticking with me through the month of thankfuls!

November 23: Mexican Food - To celebrate one of my friend's birthdays, I met her and her husband at the most delicious Mexican restaurant I have been to. I'll certainly be going to that restaurant again.

November 24: Walgreen's - In a pinch Walgreen's is there for last minute photos and medicine. Walgreen's saved the day while making a birthday gift!

November 25: Birthday Dinners - I have several friends who have birthdays the same week as me. For the past few years, three of us celebrate our dinner together. You know what I like about birthday dinners? Time with my friends and dessert!

November 26: My friends - This was one of my friend's birthdays. Singing happy birthday to my friend reminded me that friends are really awesome. They celebrate you because they want to, and I got to celebrate my friend because I wanted to...

November 27: Turkey Trots - My sister signed me up for a notoriously hilly Turkey Trot in Palos Hills, Illinois. I have heard rumors about what I might be getting myself in to: all up hill, lots of hills, 12 hills in four miles. Then when I got there one of my sister's friends told me about the hill that appears twice. At this point I got freaked out... it was cold, there were lots of hills and I hadn't run 4 miles in a couple of months, at least; I had no idea what to expect at this point. I took off at a steady run, and, I'll tell you what, the hills weren't that bad. It was a great way to start the day!

November 28: My Niece and Nephew - I love all my nieces and nephews, but this past weekend I got to spend an evening with two of them. We went to Texas Roadhouse, and you know what? The excitement over big knives, cinnamon butter and peanuts created this awesome fun atmosphere. It was great to share the night with those little buggers!

November 29: My parents - I have been dreaming up homemade Christmas gifts this season. I am making all gifts to save some pennies and because it gives me immense satisfaction to make gifts for friends and family, that they might actually enjoy. So my dad and I were working on one gift. It didn't quite work out as planned so we changed our direction after a quick shopping trip with my mom, and were successful creating another gift. Spending time with my parents always sparks some creativity!


November 30: Piper - I was driving home from Chicago and Piper was happily keeping me company. She likes to meow every once in awhile, probably to let me know she is there. Well I stopped to get gas and at some point she dove across the car and I laughed. After getting gas, we drove and drove and it occured to me, when I had to make a really hard stop, that I hadn't heard or seen Piper in awhile. I FREAKED OUT!!!!!!!! My friend got a phone call while I was holding back tears, trying to find her!!! She was trapped between my two back seats, and I found her while on the phone with my friend... Piper sat next to me the rest of the way home, meowing every five minutes or so. Perfect company for my drive.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thankfuls

Week three of my thankfuls makes me realize that there are so many things in this world that make me happy. Here's this weeks list. If your looking for more of an athletic blog post this week, you should hop on over to my MS blog for the week. Otherwise, read my thankfuls here...

November 16: Organized Closets - My friend came over and helped me organize a closet last Sunday. After organizing we went walking through antique malls. It was such a fun day and now I have the most organized guest room closet I've ever seen.

November 17: New Colleagues - I got a new colleague this week who is awesome. I'm looking forward to working with her and maybe practice my exercise bully skills. We will see...

November 18: Doctors - I'm pretty sure this has been on my list for the last couple of weeks, but here is the thing... My medical team rocks! From the mind to the body, the people who support me medically are committed to my overall health, for that I am thankful.

November 19: Dreams - Ask me about my wacky dreams. If you lived in my brain at night, you might understand where my athletic ideas come from.

November 20: Words With Friends - This does not mean you should all go and request a game with me because I can guarantee I will turn down your request. I have a few people I play with daily, and my list will stay small. Here's the thing. I'm an extrovert who lives with a cat. I've turned into the cat lady!!! But, Words With Friends has given me my connection to the outside world as I sit at home in the evenings. I love it!!!

November 21: Dad Bernie - My dad rocks. He takes care of me, even at the ripe age of 35.

November 22: Sue - I have the best friend... She organizes closets, laundry rooms, goes to stupid movies with me, rides her bike with me, challenges me to help me become a better person. I got to spend my birthday with her... I am so thankful that she chose to spend the day with me when I'm sure she had other things to do, but she did really make me feel special. It really was a fun day! 

Excuses

When you are diagnosed with anything, from bursitis to dehydration to multiple sclerosis, the people who love you become experts on your disease. They know the most advanced treatments, the best doctors, all the symptoms of your disease, etc. The one thing they are not an expert on are the inner workings of your brain, unless you let them in. I have a friend who knows what makes me tick, and as much as I want to use multiple sclerosis as my excuse for things, she simply doesn't let me. As a matter of fact, if I even mention MS as an excuse, she calls me out on it and tells me to get over it. She is kinder than that, most of the time...

Anyway, one of my proudest achievements in life have been all of my athletic pursuits. I cross start lines and finish lines, I celebrate, hug my friends and spend some time celebrating. I have other interests that are of similar importance like my vegetable gardens, music and my craftiness. Although these other interests make me extremely happy, there really is nothing like crossing a finish line.

As an athlete with multiple sclerosis I live with extreme fear over the idea that I might not be able to run. FYI, that is a BIG might! So, I was having dinner with a friend a couple of months ago and she asked me why I keep running when, in fact, I have been struggling with running. I instinctively blamed my struggles on MS and she reminded me that my cycling is just as awesome. I agree!!! I love my bike, I love the adventures and memories and future adventures that I have planned with my cycling buddy/friend, thing is, I also love my running adventures and they challenge my body and my mind that no other sport has paralleled (except for that 175 mile bike ride).

So, I started thinking about that conversation in which my friend was offering me other options, I though WWSS (what would Sue say), and I heard an echoing in my ear that I was unreasonably allowing myself to blame MS for my running struggles at the time. After a lot of reflection, and a pretty good run this morning, I realize that MS is NOT to blame for everything... My mind is quite possibly more powerful, which is why my attitude is the best tool for moving forward with my athletic pursuits.

Just yesterday another friend of mine posted this video on my Facebook page, called Catching Kayla. Any time I start struggling both athletically or emotionally, I think it appropriate to remember the strength of Kayla and keep moving forward with NO excuses:


Sunday, November 16, 2014

More Thankfuls

Sometimes it can be difficult to recognize what I am thankful for, especially when I am encountered with challenges. Take for instance being covered in stain, and having it splattered all over your laundry room... Or dropping your keys in a public toilet before having a chance to flush. It is a very good exercise to do thankfuls when I am having a particularly challenging week. Thankfuls may be difficult to identify when in flux, but they can improve your mindset.

November 9: Kid Dates - I've been promising my friend's son, for a few months, that I would take him to Chuck E Cheese. Last Sunday, I picked him up and introduced him to the wonderful world of tokens, mediocre pizza and tickets. We had such a great time playing ski ball and every other game in that establishment.

November 10: Resiliency - As I mentioned earlier, I've had quite the week with computer outages, stain flying around my house, and keys in the toilet. Here's the thing... I've gotten to the point that I can laugh at all of these obstacles, thanks to practicing resilience.

November 11: Veterans - Every year, on veteran's day, I have the day off work. Historically I have appreciated the day because I didn't have to work, but things have changed. Trust me, I still appreciate my work free day, but more importantly, I appreciate all of the people who make the choice to serve and help us maintain our freedom in this great country of ours.

November 12: Youngstown - OK, so let me clarify, Youngstown is a mess, but there are people in Youngstown who are passionate and working with them reminds me to be excited about work.

November 13: Medicine - I wrote all about medicine on my other blog this week. Medicine is, quite frankly, a pain in the butt... Remembering handfuls of pills on a daily basis sounds simple, but it isn't, especially when you add pills to your regimen. Although I do not like to over medicate, I appreciate the necessity of the medicine I do take, and for the minimization of symptoms as a result of the medicine

November 14: Junk - I am making Christmas presents this year, other people's junk has been my treasure. Any of my friends who have been to my house recently can tell you my basement is full of other people's junk that I am turning into treasures for my people!

November 15: Running - I can do it, it makes me feel better, and I get to spend time with my amazing friend. What's not to be thankful for?

So, there you have it... My thankfuls from Sunday through Saturday. Try it out!!! This is the perfect month to be thankful, and let people know.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

November Thankfuls

 My friend pointed out that the thankful trend has not taken over facebook this November. We both have different opinions on people's propensity to identify the things they are thankful for during this month. I for one, love it. my friend argues that people should be thankful all year round and not just talk about it in November. I on the other hand, know that people are thankful all year round, and November is a special month that gives people permission to shout their thankfuls from the rooftops. What is wrong with that? In my opinion, it is sweet...

So, I'll plan to be thankful every Sunday this month, since it is HIGHLY unlikely that I will make the time to post twice a week. Here we go. I think what I'll do is post a thankful for every day of the previous week... With a little story about each thankful...

November 1: Organized basements - I have a good story about friends who came over to organize my life. My basement is now an enjoyable space for me.

November 2: Movies - I don't go to movies often, but there is something awesome about allowing yourself to escape in a movie.

November 3: My Job - It doesn't only pay the bills, it enriches my life. I know that when I go to work, the chance of a person's life changing (although 3 times removed) is a high probability.

November 4: My boss - I could tell you stories, but I don't need to. I'm just thankful that there is a person who is willing to help me develop as a professional and as a person.

November 5: Doctors - Yep, just two years ago I had a fear of the doctor, but knowing there are people who have devoted their profession to caring for and healing  a person, is quite honestly a gift to humanity.

November 6: Running - Seeing as I have been blessed with Multiple Sclerosis, I think it is important to recognize that I am still able to run. I honestly don't think it is running that I love, but the fact that I have the ability to run.

November 7: Ice cream - You heard it, even when it is 37 degrees outside, there is nothing better than a little Graeter's.

November 8: Honesty - It isn't honesty that I am thankful for, but instead the people behind the honesty. I would never begrudge someone who is honest, even if it doesn't feel good... Honesty is a gift that I like to give people and I love when I receive it in return.

OK, so you might be searching for the 'athlete' in this post, but without all of the items listed above, the athlete would not be possible.

Take a little time this month and let people know how you feel about them, think about the things that make you happy and you are grateful for, reflect... it is work, but work that is well worth the reward.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Medicine Debate

It is so hard to rationalize taking medication for something that you don't necessarily see immediate results. People with a disease the progresses over time may understand what I am talking about. Here's the thing... Although I am an expert on my body, I am not an expert on the autoimmune disease that lurks within my body. Who is the expert then? Well my medical team...

My initial conundrum with medication was that I have never wanted to be dependent on something... But there are very real and rational reasons why dependence on medicine is important. Take a diabetic for instance. Taking insulin is necessary or risk death. Taking disease modifying medication is necessary or risk faster progression. The same can be said for so many diseases...

So, I currently take seven prescriptions and two high dose vitamins on a daily basis. I would be lying if I said I didn't struggle with taking so many pills and shots every day. In fact, I would be lying if I said I was a perfect medication injestor... In fact, I put pills in packs and then look back on the week to see if I can find trends on days in which I forget my pills.

I have been known to have debates with one of my friends about the true necessity of the medication. I mean, why take it if I'm still a stumbling mess from time to time? Why take it if I am still crying, when it is supposed to help with my mood? Why take it if I'm still going to have those nagging head aches, be unable to sleep from time to time? She always grounds me and reminds me of the immense benefits of the medication.

Let me take a step back here for a minute though. Although my medicine is necessary to help slow down the progression of my 'disease', there is a limit to medication. For instance... One of my medications causes insomnia. Is it appropriate to treat a side effect of one medication, with another medication? Personally, I don't think so. I tried taking something for the insomnia and, although it helped me sleep, it certainly didn't help me stay awake during the day. Because of that, there was an option to take a medication that would help me stay awake during the day, but the side effects of that medication would have necessitated another medication. I drew the line and decided that I was over medicating. I instead have opted for other options to help me sleep. For example, a hot bath before I go to bed. Heat exhausts me so much that I could sleep all summer... Taking a bath is the perfect medicine and so I don't have to consider all the other options.

With all of that said, I have to say that we have to trust the experts in our lives. For instance, after my diagnosis I was struggling emotionally. Although I am an expert on myself, I have come to trust the people who I choose to surround me enough to tell me when I might need a little help. I wouldn't call it peer pressure, but instead trusting insight from those who truly care about me. I got some help... And I'm all the better for it now.

Similarly, I'm going to go back to my initial point in this blog. I'm not big on researching MS. I know what medications are out there, their side effects and their study results. That is really all I need to know. The other thing that my doctor told me, and that I have researched is that you slow down your progression up to 68% if you take a disease modifying medication from the point of diagnosis. I know I am over simplifying that statistic, but that is all I need to know.

So, what this all means is that, although I appreciate people's advice to try alternative options for treatment, I also put my trust in the experts and allow them to treat me as they see fit. After all, I will never be an expert on Multiple Sclerosis, but only an expert on myself.

I find myself writing this blog as a reminder to myself that medicine is NOT something to be feared, but another tool I get to tuck away in my toolbox to help me sustain my health in the long term. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Experiences Vs. Transactions

*** Originally posted on February 5, 2012. Read on if you wish...

A few notes, since this post was made, my Dukie man has passed away, but I still stand by the fact that an experience is much more fulfilling than a transaction.***

I was having a very interesting/enlightening conversation with one of my friends this week about the difference between an experience and a transaction. Every time someone calls me on the phone I have a choice to answer or not. I most frequently answer the phone because I am an extrovert and love talking to people, but on occasion I will pass up the phone call from a friend because I do not have the energy or time to give the phone call the attention it deserves.

Similarly, when I take my dog for a walk I leave the house free of technology because it is my pup's time to experience the world and I feel the only way I can be attentive to his sniffing needs is by paying attention to his experience. What I have noticed on these walks is that he interacts with me more when I am not distracted by the phone or music in my ears. These moments are bonding moments between me and Dukie! While I have a phone or music on a walk I tend to pull Dukie away from all of the trees before he is done sniffing out the territory; basically with technology I am transacting with my dog NOT providing him an experience.

Over the last week I have had many experiences that I will cherish for days/months/years to come. I had the pleasure of dancing with my sisters and two of my nieces and nephews in a flash mob (videos can be found below), I took my friend out for his first two runs in over 20 years and I ran with my running 'club'. I was fully present and paid attention to even the small things during these experiences; they reminded me to take a little time in life to have some fun! They have also reacquainted me with my love of running.

On the other hand, I also participated in a lot of transacting this week which included registering for the Chicago Marathon, Giant Eagle Olympic Distance Triathlon, Run Cbus 10 miler and Cap City half marathon!!! I also ran because my training schedule dictated a run.

While I truly enjoy running, there are certainly days where I have no desire to go out and run the mileage on my training plan. The runs that are done without the passion are what I call homework runs which means I do them because I have to, not because I want to; those runs are simply transactions that will lead to amazing experiences. Although I prefer having experiences in life, I recognize that some transactions are necessary to achieve our goals and enjoy our experiences.

Take a little time to look around to determine if you are simply transacting or experiencing!

FLASH MOB VIDEOS

Good video from the front, you can't really hear the music but you can get the idea. The second video is hilarious too:


Here is one video that include A LOT of me dancing in my MIT jacket. I'm not so sure they would appreciate my moves in their jacket, but hey it was advertising AND I had a few people ask me about MIT! Not the best video, can't really hear the music and the people talking in the background are a little annoying and use a little profanity so beware:




Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Great Escape

I have some friends who are data people. I get it, but I don't thrive on it. Over the past several weeks, maybe even month, I have been running and cycling sans a gps device. I have absolutely no clue how many miles have been logged, although I could figure it out if I wanted to. The thing is, it has been nice. 

I'm sure you have all had a bad day. What is the first thing you do when you have a bad day? My guess is you do exactly what I do... Wish it away. Thing is, you can't wish away a bad day, you have to get through it and NOT over it. The best way to cope with anything is to face it head on. Well sometimes an escape is just as nice.

So how do these two topics merge together? Well, my friend and I were talking about all of the runners in this world and why they run. I stated that they are escaping. I do want to mention that there is a VERY big difference between 'running from' and 'escaping'. By escaping, I really mean taking a break. Running from is trying to get away from something hoping to never look back. 

I think there are two types of people/runners; those that run away from, and those that escape. 

When I am tied to data, I am more likely running away from something. When I finish a run with all of my data in hand (mind you, if I were training right now, there likely would be data mining going on) I immediately analyze and focus on the next run, never allowing myself to focus on what might still need attention pre-run. 

Well, since I have let go of needing the data, and gone back to running for the sake of running, I have been able to use running as a momentary escape that then allows me to just be while the world swirls around me. It gives me the strength, the willingness to face what I need to deal with when I reemerge from those moments of escape. What kind of runner are you?

Here is a very good video of a favorite song... Check it out, although if you are on a mobile device, you likely won't be able to view it here, instead YouTube, Great Escape by Patrick Watson...


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Power of We

My team of WE (not including my parents)
Today was an interesting day. I went into it begrudgingly because I had to do something I didn't wan
t to do, but I gave myself an attitude adjustment on the way, which gave me permission to take a step back to learn something new.

There are so many thoughts and discoveries to process from today, but I'm going to focus on the one thing that is freshest on the mind at this ripe hour of 10:00 pm. I should first mention that this discovery came while watching the last two episodes of Parenthood this evening at my friend's house. TV is one of those phenomenons in life that has increasingly taken over simple evening chatter with friends, that perhaps used to be focused on the happenings of the day. Call this escapism, or what you will, but know that sometimes the biggest lessons come from those escapes.

If you have been following along this blog for the past couple of weeks, you likely know that I am in my month of no MS. I have been 90% successful, but the reality is, I'm learning that I will never get a 100% free month because there are doctor appointments that need to be scheduled, shots that need to be remembered AND taken, and medicine that needs to be picked up from the pharmacy, just to name a few realities. However, on the obsessing front, I've been pretty good. I've only made a couple of jokes and my friend here in cbus has given me permission to talk when she can see that I am having an internal struggle that necessitates a few sentence rant.

Anyway, back to Parenthood... If you watch the show, you know about the family's supportive nature, but what you also get to see is how people can all react differently to the same situation. One of the most recent struggles on the show involves the dad needing heart surgery and all of the children have different struggles with the potential loss of their father, but what really impacted me was the interaction between the father and his daughter-in-law. Zeek (dad) and the daughter in law both have experienced significant health crisis throughout the course of the show. Tonight they bonded over the fact that they couldn't stand how their supporters would say WE will get through this, WE will figure this out, WE so on and so forth. This discussion was very interesting because I oddly find comfort in the exact opposite, and can certainly appreciate why the supporters are compelled to use the word we when addressing the issue of a health problem.

The fact of the matter is I know that I can use all the support I can get, and when someone says WE when talking about one of my problems, it makes me feel less of the weight. I, in fact, love when people say 'we' and thrive on knowing they are there. For example, I know I will never have to face a brain doctor appointment alone because 'we' will go and take in all the information, and 'we' will process that information in a positive way. I also know that 'we' will deal with the emotional challenges, and 'we' will figure out the finances, and 'we' will find a treatment that will work for the side effects. This is a true testement to my friends and family. They give me the gift of WE every time they use the term.

For those of you who may be out there struggling with people saying we when you are the person who has to physically and emotionally deal with a chronic disease, I want to remind you of something very important. People may be saying 'we' so that you don't feel alone, but more importantly, the people who are by your side are also struggling and may be having an emotional reaction. Because we are in the situation together, albeit from different positions in the doctor's office, if we are lucky, we are surrounded by people who are willing to take on the new information with us. Embrace the WE and let people lift you up with their love in the way they know how, and guide them to enhance that support by teaching them what you might need.

Afterall, WE are lucky to have the love and support, and that is one of the most valuable lessons I have learned from MS.

Next week, watch out for another post about my discoveries from today!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

VolunCHEER!!!

Whoops, missed a week...

When I went up to Canada to run the Niagara Falls Woman's Half Marathon, I was embarking on a whole new experience. It included crossing a border, eating out all meals for several days before the race, the metric system on the course, and the most robust race packet I have ever seen.

Here's the funny story that has never been told. All the volunteer shirts said voluncheer. I thought it
Remember this finisher's photo?
was one of two things: a) the screen printers screwed up, or; b) the Canadians had some weird way of saying volunteer. I mean either could have been possible, right? Well, I believe it was while we were running this lovely half marathon that I finally asked Sue if that spelling was french or something, because it occupied my brain so much that I needed to know!!! She then, so kindly (or not), laughed and told me it said volunCHEER!!! It was a play on words, who knew?

Fast forward to this October, and I saw the 2014 Columbus Marathon volunteer shirts and found myself bummed that we, in America, like to spell words correctly, or don't like to make up words. 

This weekend, I found myself participating in the perfect combination of that play on words...

Friday night I spent several hours handing out race shirts to the wonderful athletes who were participating in the marathon weekend. It was fun to hear and see all of the excitement buzzing around the expo center. Hundreds of people getting ready to complete their journey to the finish line!

Then, you know what I did today? Only the second best thing you can do on marathon weekend... I picked an athlete and chased her around town on my bicycle. Sue and I met up at 7:30ish and chased a special person through the city. She may not remember when we saw her, or how many times we saw her, but I can tell you, the smile that appeared on her face every time she saw her mom was worth every second of my time.

What a way to spend a day!!!

If ever you want to get involved in a marathon weekend, but you don't want to run/walk the marathon, pick a special person, chase them around town and fuel them with your energy. Go out and VOLUNCHEER!!!!!!!


Monday, October 6, 2014

The Elephant

I'm in the sixth day of this little game I play with myself sometimes called MS Free time. What might MS free time entail? It is just a period of time in which I stop all talk about MS, and resume my life as if I was never diagnosed. Simply put, I just quiet my loquacious nature for a bit. I don't totally ignore MS though... I still take my meds. Oh, and I had a brief conversation with my mom about it today, but that was less about my MS and more about emotions surrounding chronic diseases.

I have successfully gone MS free on several occasions, one of which was my trip to Canada in the beginning of the summer. So why am I blogging about it then? Because, as my mom said today, I don't know how to quiet my mind. My friend and I talk about my inability to relax, I disagree and was telling my mom I am great at relaxing, which is true, but only physically. I mean I can ignore dishes in my sink and the ring around my bathtub for weeks out of my 'need' to relax, but my mind NEVER settles and relaxes. The time I was able to best settle my mind was when my buddy Mike coaxed me into practicing Buddhism. I'll tell you what, there is nothing like chanting away, in a language that you don't understand, to pull you away from your mind. Focusing on what syllable comes next is about all my mind can handle when I am sitting in a room with a hundred people chanting. It is somewhat soothing, but I would always get so focused on the words because I never wanted to mess up my neighbor with my bad pronunciations of the sacred words my neighbor was saying, and actually understood.

After my brief conversation with my mom today, I am understanding that being in a room with a person who has a chronic disease can be very similar to my experience in the Buddhist temple. I never wanted to disrupt the rhythm of the person sitting next to me, to gain a better understanding of the words, because they were so focused. The reality is, that person would have probably welcomed my questions and curiosity because I would have been trying to gain insight on something that is so precious to them.

You see, having a chronic disease is like walking around with a big elephant sitting on your shoulders, and it takes a special person to approach you and knock that elephant away. Last week I had the pleasure of spending time with a friend that I don't get to see or talk to very often. This friend asked me questions that may have been perceived as uncomfortable to the closest eavesdropper. The questions ranged from relationships to MS (which actually is best described as a relationship in my world), and I graciously answered every question, and was actually delighted to have someone ask the questions that very few will bring up.

So what does this all mean anyway? Well two things. The first is, if every you approach someone who tells you they have a chronic disease, don't feel like you can't ask questions and explore their situation. They likely want to talk and are more than willing to share their experiences with you. Not to mention, you might get to hear them talk about the fact that they initially thought they had formaldehyde poisoning, NOT MS...

Second lesson is really specifically for me: The MS breaks are necessary. This past weekend, I had the most fun having carefree conversation while installing doors at my friend's house. I think the reason I was able to let my guard down and just have fun making mistakes and a mess at someone else's house is simply because the elephant does not exist with this friend!

So, here's the thing. I'm not scared to talk about it, neither should you. Let's work to turn that elephant into a tiny little mouse! 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Lesson for the Friends

What do you do during your 'off season'? Well let's first define what an off season is for me... In my world, any time I am not registered for a big event, or the event I am registered for is more than 20 or so weeks away, I call it off season. One of my favorite things to do when I am not training for something is, well, nothing.

The last big event of 2014 is over. Pedal to the Point ended two months ago today. I'm still mourning the completion of the best event of the year, and certainly the most memorable of my life. Finishing Pedal to the Point was something!!! No other word can explain it...

So this is where I get to the point, and really explain what I do in my off season. I have post event depression, I watch copious amounts of TV, eat copious amounts of ice cream, lay on the couch, and do crazy household projects...

I am often told that I am not good at living in the moment, but I can tell you when you are on episode 23 of Sister Wives, finished a season of Breaking Amish, have 13 old window shutters, a new mountain of laundry needing to be folded, and a kitchen that hasn't been cleaned in too long, it might be time to quit living in the moment, because the moment is only getting more pathetic! I do have to say that the household projects have really turned into my biggest hobby, but there is only so much work that can get done before one starts making mistakes. So... what to do but sign up for, or plan my next series of events. If I don't start my planning now, I might end up eating more ice cream, collecting more junk and fill my basement with more yarn and laundry mountains. All of which won't get dealt with until someone comes to visit!!!

I seriously think this time should be called the lazies because, that is exactly what I am right now... So, let's get to the planning!!!

If you've been following along, with my blogging world, you know that I plan to hike Pikes Peak in 2015. I haven't heard much about this event in awhile, but my friend and I still plan to go! Even if we have to go on our own, we will hike!!! My first, and probably last 14er...

I signed up for the Toledo Half Marathon shortly after Pedal to the Point. This is quite exciting because I'm still hoping I can talk my friend and her husband to come out and run.

I am pretty sure another quick MS ride is in the works for 2015, likely in Washington, DC. I'm thinking a 50 miler will do the trick in 2015... Maybe more, but 50 miles, early in the summer sounds appropriate.

I also got another friend to commit to a half iron, but not for a few years. I'll take it, because it means that I will have to keep my eye on that prize by riding and swimming, in conjunction with my running!

For all of these events, I will likely be tugging on someone's pant leg to join me (insert your eye roll here), although I have already convinced a lucky few to join in on the fun above. As the schedule fills up, builds out, etc. the requests may get more intense, so watch out!

There is a lesson in here for my friends... Make sure I'm always training, or you just might be the one who is being lured into one of the best, most fantastic, amazing events of your life!!! Don't believe me? Well... look back in this blog, and you will see the proof!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

If You Can't Beat Em, Join Em

Susan, Me and Sue - Pre Race
I am a person who likes to have plans. I typically choose an event and beg Sue to join me. This time? Sue chose an event, mentioned it and I said OK. I also dragged another friend into this race.

This weekend was all about OSU. Now, I went to the University of Colorado at Boulder. I wouldn't say that I was a huge football fan, actually my friend and I were talking about the fact that I was more annoyed by football because the traffic made getting to the mountains difficult... But I am a loyal lover of the Buffs, from affiliation alone. So when Sue asked me if I would do this race with her, my natural answer was yes, but that was more because she wanted to do the race, and less because I got to cross the finish line on the fifty yard line.

So, yesterday, Sue and I were heading out to get our packets, and I expressed to her, that I wanted to be like the Amish this weekend. What does that mean? I just wanted to fit in with the crowd (the Amish do NOT like to stand out among their peers), and not wear a Michigan shirt like I initially planned. We went to pick up our packets and were faced with poorly sized, long sleeve OSU shirts. I planned to wear that shirt for the race but knew it was going to be HOT today and I had no interest in being hot while running this race because of a silly shirt. This is when our plans changed, and we went on the hunt for OSU gear. We had these great plans of finding cheap shirts. I mean, there has to be a place in Columbus where we could find something cheap, right? Oh, so wrong!!! But we did find ourselves the gear to make it official. I joined em!!!

So, at 8:15 or so this morning, Susan and Sue showed up at my house to take on the OSU world. We ate some breakfast cookies, and headed out for our race!!!

We went to the race with the plans of running together, my favorite way to run a race! We watched the fabulous M3S team and the OSU football players rev up the crowd. We then lined up to run this fabulous course. Three miles in I turned into negative Nelly for a moment, but we kept at it, and the finish line was quick to appear after that point. I am always extremely awed by the enormity of a football field, and today was no exception. Whether you are a football fan, or not, you have to admit, there is something incredible about that field! I had such a great time chatting with Susan and Sue as we weaved through the campus of OSU!!! Oh, and we were also very fortunate enough to run into the lovely Nita, the awesome Jimmy and the fabulous Laurie!!!
At mile 2ish, snapped by Jimmy!!!

Shortly after crossing the finish line Susan went missing, I collapsed, and Sue rescued my cane and managed to get it back into fort Knox for me. The race performance was nothing to get excited about, but the event was. I have never been happier to show up for something that was important to my friend. I always treasure the memories that are created during a race.

I guess you can say the OSU allure, pulled me in... And so I joined em...

We Finished!!!


Monday, September 15, 2014

The Fear of Loss

I have been told that I don't know how to live in the moment because I am always making plans for the next moment. I like to argue that I am good at living in the moment, except when I am planning for what comes next. What is the difference? I don't know... Do you live with your cup half empty or half full? Same thing, right?

Well, I'm learning that I am somewhat wrong. I still stand by the fact that I live in the moment, afterall, I will stop to appreciate the snowfall, stars in the sky, the most recent household accomplishment, but that is between planning away my life.

When you have MS, there is this underlying knowledge that you may someday be disabled, thus a fear may develop. Is it rational? Some may argue that it isn't rational, afterall, I can walk out the door on any given morning and get struck by a bus, or fall and break my back, thus resulting in the exact same affliction of MS, potential paralysis. The difference between these circumstances is that when you have MS, you have a ton of time to ponder the life of being disabled, or the loss of memory, or the loss of some other bodily function. When you have a tragic event that happens in an instant, you don't even know it is coming and then are faced with coping after the tragic experience.

Wow, just stating that makes me realize that knowing you have MS, and living with it daily, really is simply a gift. It provides the opportunity to cope with some of the emotions, prior to the potential event. Again, glass half full, here!

And I digress. The reality is, it is extremely hard to live in this moment, when you know there is a potential of loss. Take that relationship you may have experience, that you really want to be secure in, but you aren't, so you are always afraid it is going to go away. Have you experienced that phenomenon? I certainly have, but have come to realize that the people I keep around now, are trustworthy, otherwise they wouldn't be around. But if you have experienced that, you may have found yourself constantly internalizing what you might do if you lost that person. Again, MS is exactly the same. Pondering the what ifs, rather than appreciating the right nows.

The fear of loss is a profound obstacle to deal with. I don't know whether I have to deal with the fear of loss because I have lost something significant in my life? Or simply because I love what I have in the present and I can't fathom my life changing?

I need to give MS, technology and medicine a change!!! Because regardless of all that I say in this post, I do know the moment you quit fearing loss, whether it is the loss of a person, thing, ability, skill, you open yourself up to the possibility of appreciating the moment that is right in front of you. This is something I struggle with daily BUT I will never never give up!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Please Hold

I'm missing Pedal 2 the Point... What a brilliant weekend that I got to experience with all of the people I love.

I most recently had a run which I didn't drag my leg at all, until after the run! Thank goodness for the cooler weather.

I have so much to share, but need a break this week.

Please hold until I come back next week...




Monday, September 8, 2014

Keep Trecking

Ever hear the quote, "A body in motion, stays in motion?" I live by that these days. My friend Sue and I were running on Sunday, while we were running, we were having a conversation about my gait, and how it changes step by step through a run. My first step may be strong with both legs fully engaged, and my final step, my left leg can be fully disengaged and dragging behind me. I have come to accept that my body is the perfect specimen for Newton's Law of Motion.

One of the things I am learning from reading various threads in on-line MS support groups is that people who have stayed active over the years after being diagnosed with MS, are still active. Their activities may have changed, and in some cases change day to day, but ultimately, they are able to maintain some semblance of activity. I am now convinced that I need to keep this body of mine in motion.

Here is where Newton's Law really comes into play for me. Although Newton's law states that an object will remain in motion at a constant velocity, it also states that an external force can change that motion. MS is that external force that impacts my motion. Yes, I realize that my Myelin (or lack there of) is physically internal, but it is not something that I have control of.   In my conversation with my friend on Sunday, I told her that rather than stop running, because of the physical challenges I experience from MS, I need to continue running so that my left side doesn't atrophy, and figure out a way to strengthen my body to accommodate the loss of movement. Will that be physical therapy? planks? using my arms more? I honestly don't know. But it is all a learning process.

Pre MS, I considered myself an athlete. Everyone gets to define the term athlete, and according to my definition I qualified. As anyone with a chronic disease knows, after your diagnosis you are faced with redefining yourself, right or wrong. The honest truth is that, after diagnosis you truly are the same person, right? I think I am, but accepting that is a struggle for any human being, I think...

While I have my own little internal struggle over the new trajectory of my life, I can tell you that the best thing I can do for myself, is keep doing. I read so often that people with MS simply give up. I will admit, my house cleaning and laundry skills have taken a hit over the last year, and I am 100% content blaming it on MS, but the reality is, if I keep doing what I love, I will be able to better adapt what I love to conform to my life's daily changes. MS has also taught me a lot about who I love, what I love and what I love doing... More about that another day!

So, tonight I will do a pile of laundry and maybe do my dishes, because it needs to be done. However,  I will hang some doors at my friends house this weekend, because I love household projects!!!

Basically what I am getting at is that we all have control over our movement forward in life, and I'm not only talking about our physical movement. Sure we may have physical barriers, but that is when we adapt, learn the new process and move on. In the words of my FAVORITE sister in law... I simply will 'Keep Trecking'.

One of my favorite pictures of me and my sister-in-law!



Sunday, September 7, 2014

This Random Life

I'm lost for fodder this week. So I'm going to go with a random post. Random events from a random week? That sounds like fun, right?

Piper

I have this little friend named Piper/Pipes/Piper bug/Piper Diaper, and she is my cat. I love my cat!!! Piper keeps life interesting. Between her interest in taking showers and playing fetch with paper or socks or hats or bras, she has picked up a new hobby this week. Want to know what this hobby is? She drags clothes around my house.

Yesterday, I went to celebrate a friend's wedding. Before that, I was out riding with my friend Sue. To say my Piper Bug was a little neglected for the day would be an understatement. Anyway, I got home from the day and clothes were strewn all over my living room. At first I thought my house was ransacked and someone had stolen all of my worldly possessions, but my computer was sitting right on my chair, and so were my running shoes, so I knew it wasn't that. I then walked down to my basement and there was a dress laying on the stairs. Then Piper started pulling a shirt around the basement, and it hit me!!! Her new hobby is dragging clothes around my house. If only she would pull my clothes into my bedroom, fold them and put them away!

Speed

Sue and I have been cycling even though the big ride is over. I love cycling with her because we have this rhythm that is unparalleled. We ride next to eachother most of the time, but we also take our times to ride solo, several hundred feet away from eachother. It is awesome to have a friend to ride with, who really understands you.

So this week we have ridden twice. On Wednesday night we were betting on our speed. I kept saying that we weren't riding all that fast. Sue predicted 14 miles per hour, I predicted 13 miles per hour. We kept clipping along in this rhythm. At the end of the ride, I pulled my phone out of my bra, and there we learned we had ridden 14.7 mph.

Yesterday, we went out for our ride, and immediately started wining about how difficult the ride was, but we stuck with it. We ended up riding 24 miles. Again, at the end of the ride, I pulled my phone out of my bra and that is when Strava informed us that we were riding 14.7 mph again. No wonder it was difficult!!! Now, I realize that really isn't that fast to some folks, but it is a huge improvement for us. I have to admit that I am proud of our efforts!!!

Slow

It was hot this week, until yesterday. Not only was it hot, but it was humid!!! As no surprise to me, running has been a struggle. I like to say that I am heat sensitive, it just makes me feel better. On the total opposite end of the spectrum, our running speed this week has suffered, or has it? I think it has. I went out for a run on Tuesday with my friend Jen, and we were slowish. On Thursday, it was killer outside but Sue and I hit the trail anyways. Today we were thankful for a little relief. My watch was dead, I turned on Strava and stuck it in my bra (see a trend here?) and took off without having any consciousness about our speed. I felt like we were cruising!!! Finish the run, pull the phone out and learn we were running a 13:19.

Here is what I have to say about the speed demon (and I don't mean the fast one)... Who cares!!! Sue and I got out there and ran! That is AWESOME!!!

And there you have it, a few random thoughts from this random week!!!

Oh, and today I got home to yarn unraveled and strewn about my house. I love you Piper!!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Lessons from the Kids


The Tree House!
I spent the week at my sister's house, and pre-dinner they either say a prayer, say itadakimasu or do gratefuls. I particularly enjoyed the gratefuls because I got to hear about the things that really interest my niece and nephews, it also gave me the opportunity to let them know how much I enjoyed my time with them.

It was an interesting week because two of the kiddos learned that I have Multiple Sclerosis, and the other one learned that I take a shot every day. My oldest nephew asked a couple of questions, but didn't really show much interest, and my other nephew asked a bunch of questions and then moved on with the activity for the day. My niece was really only interested because she saw the pile of pills and the shot I take every day laying around the house, without any regard, on my part, to hide it. You see, they are all old enough to know they shouldn't touch pills, and so I could leave them around and talk about them from time to time.

So why is this all significant? Well, my biggest fear in sharing that I have MS with people, is that they will see me differently, see me as disabled or something. I'm lucky right now and have no major physical issues (except after exercise) and so it is frustrating when others put limits on my abilities, rather than me putting limits on myself, based on how I know my body. The beauty of these kids? Well, they are all very smart and may have done their own research by now, on what MS really is, but none of them really cared or blinked an eye at all. As a matter of fact, they instead 'ordered' me into the tree-house which is at least 8 feet off the ground on one side, and then put me on another ladder once in the tree house (another 4 feet at least) to install the roof.

These kiddos taught me a lot! Truly not hard to believe, because they are three of the five most brilliant kids I know, but they reminded me that I should not put limitations on myself unless there is a real barrier. Two inspirations for me are the dudes who wrote Run the Edge, and they say, why put off tomorrow, what you can do today? Anyway, for those of you who happened upon this page because of MS, you may not know I am an athlete, and this summer I have struggled a bit. I haven't struggled getting in the miles on the bike, but miles on my feet? A whole different story. But by reflecting on the kiddos not caring, I had to take myself back about 10 steps and take some limitations off of myself. I have been planning to run another half marathon next spring but was going to hold off on registration but today I said forget that, and took the plunge and registered.

Basically, what I am getting at here is this: We set our limitations. I do believe there are real instances in which we have to say the dreaded word can't for VERY real reasons, but until that happens, we all need to move forward.

Looking forward to another one of these pics soon!!!

Up Next: Keep Trekkin (inspired by my sister-in-law, but that is for next week)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Imperfection


An old friend lived by the quote: 'Try again, fail again, fail better.' I like it! My sister and I were working on my nephew's tree house this morning, before I made the trek back to Ohio. She got to experience with me, what my friend Sue puts up with when I help her with house projects, failure the first time, success the third time... The beauty of the process is, once you figure out your mistake the first time, the second time it is much easier. Unfortunately, I had to leave before the second time.

I got home to Ohio, and was smacked in the face with incompetence and a bored cat. My cat is currently laying across my back, holding me down, so I have to lay here while typing. I'm OK with that... But I am practicing extreme patience at this fine hour of 10:44 pm, Sunday evening. I've never been so glad that I have the day after vacation off from work.

Tomorrow, I plan to try again. Many things went wrong today, but many things went right too.

For instance, my nephew has a sunroof on his tree house, and walls! How about that! I also got home without a speeding ticket, my cat is happy to see me (and I was happy to see her too, until about 30 minutes ago). The imperfections of my day, are what made my day perfect... The failed swing set project that I thought about for half my drive back to Ohio, the chewed up cord, and incompetence are all little gifts that are reminding me that patience and perseverance always wins.

So, I think I'm going to treat myself to some new running shoes and take them out for a spin because I'm convinced that my imperfect running style is is going to be as peaceful as it was to look at the completed walls and roof of my nephew's tree house, with the imperfect swing-set remaining there to remind me of life's little lessons on patience.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Different Kind of Blog

With my awesome MS supporters at Pedal to the Point, a ride of BikeMS. 
I am an eternal optimist, and 90% happy. We all have moments of sadness, and some of us even bouts of depression; how you deal with your situation defines you as a person, in my opinion. One of the saddest things I have seen over the past year, since I have been diagnosed with MS is how people deal with this disease. I by no means have any right to judge another person's journey, but I can reflect on other peoples' journey and decide whether I want to apply some of their lessons, wisdom, statements, etc. to me.

One of my friends listened to me cry for about two hours last night. You see, I am a runner and it was too hot to run. What I didn't tell my friend is that I had significant physical challenges throughout the day, and didn't have any business running last night anyway. But the tears were all influenced by things that really don't matter when all is said and done! Or do they? I mean I cried about them...

In having this conversation with my friend, I talked to her about how frustrating it has been for me to participate in on-line support groups for Multiple Sclerosis and I see language that I perceive as so negative. You see, I am not a victim, and I don't believe that I am sick or that my life is any worse or better than anyone else's life, but I do know that my attitude carries me through every moment!

The things that triggered this conversation were two statements that I have read in recent months:

1) I have seen several people with MS state they are sick. I also had one person say to me "I'm sorry you are sick." Saying that MS = Sick has really challenged my brain. I honestly don't view people who have MS as sick people. I certainly know that we have different levels of progression that challenge us, but for me to say I am sick is almost like saying an amputee or a person born with a physical impairment is sick. Just something to ponder. I will unlikely say I am sick unless I have the flu, or some cold, or a terminal illness.

2) Another thing that has really challenged my brain, is my ability to immediately blame things on MS. I have thankfully gotten away from this, unless I'm joking with my good friend about my memory (I have a mind of a steel trap is what she says), but I steer clear of blaming MS for my regular life. The sad reality is that I have been a 'victim' of loss and clumsiness since I came out of the womb. Perhaps there is a medical reason for this, but I didn't have a medical reason losing my keys and cell phone all the time since I began to drive and got a cell phone, until last year? Not likely!!! Unless something truly impacts the function that I am used to today, or even a year ago, suddenly, I simply need to accept it as me being me. There is however a very fine line of knowing when to get help when you have MS. For instance, when I lost my vision in my right eye last year? It was totally appropriate for seeking out help. When I fell off my bike because I didn't unclip my shoes from my bike pedals? I would call that pure accident.

Basically, my thoughts have been challenged, and I see some of this language and blaming as a barrier to my own recognition of my strengths, and I seek out positive outlets ALL over the place for my mental meandering with MS. Aside from one of my favorite bloggers, Dave, over at ActiveMSers, I have not found what I am looking for, and my friend challenged me to change that. Now, she didn't tell me to go and start a blog, but since I already blog, I figured it was a natural fit.

What do I plan to get out of this blog? I plan to express my positive opinions about MS and how it can/has been a blessing in people's lives. I'm going to talk about my journey and struggles. I believe, with every struggle, comes enormous life lessons that can positively impact a person's life. I want to share some of my less private stories (some things are left between me and the world, or the person I shared the time with), and share with people my journey, because although having MS has impacted and will continue to impact my life, the strength I have gained from this little diagnosis has been a gift.

What do I want you to get out of this blog? Well, whatever you want. I'm doing this for me, but my hope is people will find some positive energy as they are struggling with their diagnosis of MS. Oh, and my friends can laugh at my story telling a little more1

Come along for the ride. In the beginning I will commit to a post every other week, and see how that goes! Share your thoughts, your interests, your stories! In life we only have eachother to learn from...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Journey

These moments, make every journey worth it!
Have you ever had a moment in which you overreacted, and when you reflect on it, you realize it is triggered by something that happened years ago, but in the moment of your overreaction you take it out on the WRONG person? Yeah, I had one of those moments today, and man did it drive me all sorts of crazy.

When I start reflecting on my new goal events, right now it is Glass City Half Marathon, I wonder how in god's name am I going to be able to run 13.1 miles again? It is interesting that, right now, my mind reverts to those runs that have challenged my core recently, but not to the finish line of the marathon I ran, or the half iron man I participated in. This is something I need to work on.

The reality is, every time you create a goal for yourself, there are different factors that will likely influence the
outcome, whether you want to admit it or not. Reflecting on the fact that I completed a full marathon may not even be appropriate because my circumstances have significantly changed. With the Glass City Half Marathon, I have already started planning my time goal. That is not normal for me, because quite frankly, finishing any event I register for is the most important. I have had my share of DNSs and DNFs, and I know this won't be one of them, but it is still an interesting to consider the start line of that race.

Here's the thing... I preach that every day we have a choice, and that choice is ours. Do we choose to look at the tough moments and have them define our attitude? In this instance, should I really look at the tough 2 mile runs as of late, and make a determination that that start line is impossible? Or do we let our attitude define the tough moments, and with this race, recognize that I can do anything I put my mind to, except when I can't because of REAL limitations? I strive to be the person who lets my attitude run my life, and I choose a positive attitude, but I'm human. Sometimes life simply doesn't follow a straight line, and we lose sight of what is important. Again, do we let that define us? Or do we make an effort to do better next time we are faced with an unexpected turn. Today was a day that I almost let that turn impact my every move for the rest of the day. Luckily, I have a good friend who knows how to straighten me out, but not until I declared why I WAS RIGHT!!!!!! Was that conversation even necessary? Probably not from the periphery, but had I not had the conversation, I would likely not have recognized why I had the initial reaction I had.

At the end of our bike ride today, my ever loving, caring, important and fearless cycling partner and friend told me that she enjoyed the ride, at which point I responded, so did I. Although I struggled with an interaction with a stranger on the trail, I didn't let it ruin the memory of the bike ride.

I am going to learn from all of this. Two weeks ago I rode 175 miles in two days, and that was huge. Today I rode almost 30 miles, and that was huge. Last year I did a half iron man, and that was huge. Today I finished helping my friend hang a door, that neither of us thought we could do, and that was huge. Next spring I am going to run a half marathon, and that will be huge. Why are all of these things huge, when it appears one thing might be bigger than the other? Because my attitude will allow me to love an appreciate EVERY big and small part of the journey, and because the circumstances that influence this journey will be different than the circumstances that defined all the other journeys.

And so I leave you with a song from, who else? Journey. One of my favorites, that I belted out in the car today, for all passengers to appreciate!!! (You likely can not watch this video on a mobile device)


Monday, August 11, 2014

P2P Pictures

I'm still processing the Pedal 2 the Point ride. I honestly still can't believe we did that ride. It is surreal that so many people came together to ride with me. All of my siblings, two of their spouses, one of their uncles and two friends made the trek to Ohio. I have story after story from the weekend, but I have no way to adequately share the stories...

Quite honestly, I lived in fear of doing a big bike ride like this. I've always wanted to do a ride like this, but never had the right motivation. Overnight rides take so much training and willingness to sleep in an odd place between days. Also, the people you spend the days with is extremely important. It is like traveling. There are VERY few people who I would travel with, and this crowd is certainly on my travel list forever now.

Rather than tell the stories that I hold so dear, I have put together one memory that I want to keep with me, along with a picture of two of each person I rode with. These brief notes from each person will likely not mean much to many readers here, but they mean a heck of a lot to me.

As scared as I was of this bike ride, I'm glad I took the chance, had I not taken the chance I would never have known I could do it. This once again was a moment in which I learned that I should attack every challenge that I am faced with. Will I always succeed? Nope, but darn it, the journey will always be worth it!!!

Here is a picture journal of sorts, pictures don't always match the captions, but are memories from the person in the picture, that couldn't necessary be captured in a photo:

Tina - You mean blood should be flowing there while you are riding your bike? Said on day 2 of the ride when we adjusted the bike seat. 


Janell - She said, Don't forget my cell phone. You (Christina) and Sarah are the most forgetful and I am trusting BOTH of you to remember my phone








Meredith -  Escaping the corn in the middle of nowhere!

My Momma - The best medicine carrier, cheerleader a team could ask for.



Christina - Walking out of the bathroom to a stranger in the room. Oh yeah, and she only had on her swimsuit and towel.

Bernie - He said, Meredith isn't ready to go... While she is waiting to leave the room and he is laying in bed.

RJ - The garbage bag fashion show on our 100 mile day!

John - 6:30??? It doesn't start until 8:00??? AND, be nice to him, get his phone number and we will call his wife at 3 in the morning for a week straight.





Sue - The selfie that made me wipe out and ice cream cheers.

David - I only ate 7 yesterday, when asked how many HoHo's he ate the day before. 


The Raincoats!

The 100 milers... Missing two arms though




The Selfie





Monday, August 4, 2014

My Paleton

Paleton: The main body of riders in a bicycle race.

My Paleton
OK, OK, so this wasn't a race, but a ride, and we weren't the main riders, but my team were MY main riders for the weekend...

So you have been reading about it for months now... That is right, Pedal to the Point finally happened this weekend. I was a little nervous and wondered if I would be able to finish 175 miles... I trained, and trained some more, and made plans, and trained again, and slept, and worked, and trained, and emailed my team mates about the weekend, and then continued training. I had big expectations for the weekend which can be tremendously dangerous, but you know what? All expectations were enormously exceeded.

I'm sure you want to hear about my weekend, but I'm afraid this will not even come close to a good reflection of our adventure but hopefully you get the idea.

The weekend started on Wednesday for some, Thursday for others and Friday for the remainder of the team. We all met up on Friday evening for our pre-race meal where we talked about our plans for meeting at 6:30 on Saturday morning to head out for the ride. We checked the weather and went to bed knowing that there was a 50% chance of NO rain on Saturday (the cup was half full). We also figured out who was going to ride the 100 and who was going to ride the 75 on Saturday.

We met on Saturday and off we went, splitting off after the first rest stop on our journey for the 100 or 75 miles respectively. Meredith, RJ, John, Sue and I headed out for the 100, while everyone else went for the 75. I heard the 75 mile riders were pelted with rain for half the day, while the other five of us were only pelted by rain drops that felt like hail for 6 miles. There were hills that were so challenging many folks were walking their bikes, and downhills that got us up to 35 miles per hour and HoHo's everywhere.

We got to the High School in Sandusky, the skies had cleared and half of us pitched out tents, while the other half headed to hotels. We ate pasta and then some appetizers, and went to bed knowing we would get to relive our experience the next day with 90% chance of NO rain. Us campers were kept awake by some birds, trains and volunteers who decided to bring their kids camping, and who were extremely loud... And if we knew who the mother was of the daughter, we would have all taken the opportunity to call her at 3 in the morning for a week straight to let her know that her kid was up REALLY late, but unfortunately, we never got his phone number.

We went out for day number 2, talking about what parts of our bodies were sore. Luckily, I was in good shape but others had pains in unmentionable areas that should never feel pain!!! We rode for about 20 miles when the 10% chance of rain decided to sprinkle on us, but this time it was refreshing. It only lasted for a few miles and no one really had a bad thing to say about it. We ate more HoHos and drank more Gatorade, and ate more grapes.

We then encountered the hill... This wasn't just a hill, but more like a mountain in the middle of Ohio!!! Well, at least that is what it felt like at the 173 mile mark of the 175 mile ride. There were volunteers standing in the middle of the hill letting us know that we were only 1.5 miles til the end. I said it was a cruel joke, but it was amazing. I made it up the hill!!! One of my team mates told a story about how her bike just decided to stop half way up the hill, but we all made it up to tell our own version of the tale.

My team mates who were all much faster riders than myself were there at the end to ride in the final mile of the ride with me. They stuck by my side and we all crossed the finish line together. It was a breathtaking moment for me. Why? Because these are the people who crowded around me and not only threw their support in my direction, but also took a journey with me that is worth a thousand years and a million memories.

I know this isn't the best write up of an event, but I couldn't even begin to tell you the stories that made this a weekend that will be in my memories forever. Sure, there were trash bags, hohos, stories about bodily functions, falls, corn fields, camping stories, commando discussions, and so on and so forth, BUT the most amazing part of the weekend was getting to spend it with my own personal paleton!!!

Thank you Mom and Cathy for being there to support us along the way. Thank you Meredith, Bernie, David, Janell, Christina, John, Tina, RJ and Sue!!! To 2016, when we are back for another MS 150 (or 175)...