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


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! 


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!


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: