Enjoy what is

Decreasing stress is one of the components of the Dr. Wahls Protocol. Stress is known to be a catalyst for illness. My own experience proves that. I was under a great deal of duress building up to becoming sick. Life happens, sometimes it isn’t pleasant. I’m stating the obvious, but its important to look at the truth of that. I have learned over the years due to a different illness I have that relies on the practice of gratitude to stay in remission, how to live in the moment, to look at my part in relationships and mistakes, to do spot check inventories, to make gratitude lists and to enjoy what is. Like anything these habits require a commitment and daily practice. I have had years of successfully applying these practices to my life and I’ve had times when I let them go and let old negative habits creep back in to the detriment of my serenity.  It was during those times that I got sick and running scared, made bad decisions that made the situation ten times worse then it had to be.

How to practice serenity is to be grateful for everything. To remind myself to live in the moment. I like these statements, “God will only give you what you can handle in one day.” and “I have all the money I need provided I die at 12 midnight tonight.” That doesn’t mean that I don’t plan for this or that. It means, I make the appointment, research the information, jot down the idea, then let it go, putting it out of my mind till its time to deal with it. This takes practice and is sometimes easier said then done. However, like anything, practice makes it easier to do, then the rewards flood in from the practice.

Sometimes to get down to a free flowing serene state, I must look at unpleasant truths about myself, especially if the same set of calamities or repeated mistakes happen over and over again. That’s usually a sure fire sign that the fault is mine. Somewhere, there are deep rooted issues that must be unearthed, amends made, myself and others to be forgiven and then, if the work is earnest and sincere then peace for this situation or relationship happens. Other people are usually necessary to help with this, such as support groups, advisers, counseling, religious practices for some people, etc. Food for thought, the smartest and most powerful people on Earth have advisers, the more responsibility they have the more advisers they have. It is, paradoxically, not a sign of weakness, but of strength to seek advice and assistance.

Meditation is the practice of being in the moment. To be aware of all five senses, to quiet the mind, concentrate on breathing, build a deeper communion with a Higher Power if one so chooses, or to feel a deeper connection with the Earth with sounds of nature and thoughts of ancient trees and pathways thru the woods or how the Earth feels on your hands when you plant something. We can do quick, in the moment meditations with everyday mundane activities, like concentrating on the warm sensation of sudsy water as I clean the plate, listening for the sound of clacking silverware when I drag the bottom of the sink for silverware to clean. Or we can do long prepared meditations. Set the scene, a favorite spot in our home that we create the space for. Burn incense maybe, light candles, play serene music or sounds (I like the ocean) or listen to a guided meditation. Exercise and jewelry making are both deep sources of meditation for me. I am completely focused when I create, colors, sewing, the feel of beads in my hands, or exercise, I’m off in my own world. When exercising, I am completely riveted on the teacher, the movement I’m doing, the feel of the water, the weights in my hands, the flexing of the targeted muscles, my breathing. When I do these things, I am not thinking about the bills I need to pay in two weeks, or the appointments I have tomorrow or even in two hours, I am completely in the moment. This is one of the reasons I love doing these two activities. Anxiety, fear of the unknown, causes the body to do certain things, increases heart rate, gasping for breath, racing thoughts of fears and over dwelling on negatives. Meditation is the practice of clearing the mind, deep thoughtful breathing, bringing one’s thinking back to the present moment and the realization that one is safe in that moment. Many fears are of bogeymen that are not happening right now and in most cases may never happen. And if there is a difficult loss occurring, job, family, health, then the practice of these above can make them easier to handle, more manageable by making it possible to take the situation(s) piece meal.

To enjoy what is are all these practices, that is the goal for me. That and humor. A sense of humor can cut stress in half and help keep a heart light. There is always two ways to look at any situation. Most of the time there is something good to consider even when it feels unfair. Here’s a silly joke:

Four men from Boston meet every Sunday to play cards. Clancy, Taylor, John and Ian have known each other for decades. John is the upbeat positive chap in the group. No matter what anyone says he always answers, “It could be worse.” This always rubs Clancy the wrong way. One Sunday, only Clancy, John and Ian show up. Ian, visibly upset, breaks the news to Clancy and John that Taylor is in jail after coming home Saturday night and finding his wife in bed with another man, he shot and killed them both. To which, John says, “It could be worse.” Clancy yells back, “That’s the last straw! You drive me nuts, how could it be worse John, two people are dead and our good friend is in jail, how could it be worse, you tell me that?!” John replied, “It could be worse because he could’ve come home on Friday when I was there.”

It could be worse.

 

Bonne Sante

The Lobster Man

I checked my bank account for the fortieth time thinking, “Is it there?” It never was, six months and it still wasn’t there. A single mother at the time, I had to make an emergency move due to my eighteen month old daughter’s consistent illness because of a basement apartment and very old rugs and moss. My US tax returns were due to be deposited in my bank account and I felt confident that that would take the pressure off the extra cost of the move. We moved into a nice place and my daughter’s health returned to normal. But, the tax returns never deposited. It threw us into a financial vise. I obsessively checked the account often to no avail. Six months later the phone rang. It was my aunt informing me that my mother with advanced diabetes had pneumonia and that my brother and I needed to make a decision to let her go. I was living in New Brunswick and my mother was in Massachusetts and I had no money. I called the bank for the one hundredth time, I heard the recorded voice say, $1,028.00. That was my tax return. Two things were amazing about this, one is that it happened just in time for this, fore if I had had it sooner, it would’ve been spent. Two, I wasn’t surprised. Why did I know it would be there? Because deep down inside, I knew I needed to be in Massachusetts. That it was those cliche sayings people say they hate to hear, “It was meant to be.” and “God makes no mistakes.” Its easy to say, that one freak accident means nothing, possibly true, but this story is full of freak accidents and that adds up to something.

My young daughter’s father took her for two weeks and my eleven year old son and I left for Worcester, MA. I drove a three quarter ton truck with a cab on the back, a Chevrolet Silverado. Halfway to Worcester I blew a tire. We made it to the side of the highway. It was August and I was wearing a dress. I looked miffed at the big spare tire bolted under the truck. I had no idea how to change a tire. I didn’t own a cell phone. In the those days, especially in the rural area I was living in, cell phones were unusual. After watching car after car blow by us for forty five minutes. I told my son that I was going behind that tree to talk to God and ask for help. I just needed to take that extra step to connect and got on my knees. I finished and had just reached my son’s side when a pick up truck pulled up. A man and his daughter, the same age as my son, got out. He had a vanity license plate that said, “The Lobster Man”. He had an easy way about him and after setting me at ease, he set to work. It took him 30 minutes to pry the tire that was secured with rusted bolts to the undercarriage of the truck. Even if I knew what I was doing, I didn’t have the strength to do that. I felt bad that it was taking so much of his time. When he was finished, I tried to give some money, but he put his hand up and said, “Absolutely not, its my belief that what comes around, goes around. One day, when I need it, it will come around to me.” I asked for help and God sent me The Lobster Man.

In Worcester, my mother had been non-responsive for several days. Yet, when I took her hand, I said, “Mom, I’m here.”, and she squeezed my hand. After speaking with the doctor it was clear that her prognosis was horrible. Even if miracle of miracles she made it out of her distress, she wouldn’t last and would suffer. Her body had blown up like a whale because her organs were shutting down. The decision was to take her off of life support. We waited to notify everyone. Immediate family stood around the bed. My mother’s cousin told humorous stories of their teenage exploits. Soon laughter filled the room as everyone jumped in with a story. We were so engrossed in the memories that we hadn’t noticed the nurse at first, she repeated, “Excuse me. She’s gone.” My mother’s cousin had a tag with a Catholic saint on it that she pressed into my mother’s palm. As she closed her hand around it she animatedly said, “There’s your ticket Mae, your all set to go, you got your ticket!” That was that, she was gone.

She had made it clear for what she wanted for her funeral arrangements with us a year before. She did not want us to spend money, she didn’t want a wake. She wanted to be cremated and she wanted her ashes spread over the ocean off the coast of Salsbury Beach. We honored her request, but we had a Memoriam. We rented a VFW and put an announcement in the paper. My mother is the polar opposite of me. She was effervescent in personality. She bubbled over with a positive gaiety that most people who met her loved. She was tall, statuesque and had Elizabeth Taylor eyebrows. She dressed elegantly always. Never saw my mother in a pair of jeans. She had carefully styled hair and make up and brightly colored polyester suits. I am a more serious person in personality. I have to work at being lighthearted, whereas for my mother, it was second nature. We wanted to celebrate her life. We wanted her Memoriam to be full of life like she was. We played her favorite music, BB King, Patsy Cline and Hank Williams and displayed pictures and momento’s of her favorite days. I dressed up in a brightly colored fuchsia blouse and black polyester slacks and I did my make up. I flitted and greeted everyone, then sat with a table of women that my mother had worked with at a bank twenty years before and they swore to God that they were sitting with my mother. For that day, I was my mother.

When it came time to take care of her ashes. I was there for just a few more days before I’d have to return to Canada. We set out to Salsbury Beach. We thought the State Park was not a swimming area and would be best to go where the rocks are craggy. But, we thought we should sneak in after the park closed. It being a Saturday night in August it was packed as we drove from the public beach area and amusement park to the State park. It was around 9:30 pm. We got in, my brother, his wife, my son and his two kids, thirteen and fourteen. My mother was in a paper bag. We found the right spot, my brother took Mom to the edge of the water and after we each said a few words, he opened the bag and swung his arm out in a big wide arc to distribute her ashes out across the water. But, just then a big wind came out as waves crashed blowing the ashes back at my brother, some of it in his mouth. Larry spat and spit and we laughed hard. Just then, the fireworks went off at Hampton Beach not far up the coast. This was all my mother. She loved the ocean, she loved fireworks and she loved to laugh. That was exactly how she would’ve wanted it.

My Aunt in Florida had heard of my trouble with the flat tire and she mailed me an old cell phone. She said that even though it wasn’t in service, that I could still call the police with it if I had to. I had the tire plugged and put back on the truck. The next day, we began our trek home. About 30 miles outside of Worcester, the tire went. But, I had that phone and it really did work, I called the police and told them my predicament and could they call my brother, which they did. He came and we bought a tire, then I drove home. I don’t care what anyone says, that whole trip was under divine guidance and nothing will ever convince me otherwise. I seek strength from a Higher Power that I choose to call God. I began this relationship 26 years ago and over the years, there have been many moments like these. I call on that same source of strength to help me stay the course with the Protocol.

I miss my mother, I always will. We know she made it to where she needed to go, because she had her ticket!

mom 3 mom1 mom 2

Love you Mom

 

Bonne Sante

 

Picture from Angelsta Creation’s: http://angelstarcreations.com/wallpapers/salisbury1440.html

Rise Above It

I use many ways to over come adversity. Life has its up and downs. I didn’t ask for MS, but it happened when I had two children depending on me as their main provider. Placed on temporary disability, I set to work finding other employment options. I went to college and excelled. Halfway through to a Bachelors in business, I suffered a particularly horrific MS attack that took my daughter away and caused my teenage son to lose the stability of his home and I became near homeless, bankrupt, and my car, which I could no longer drive due to cognitive damage was repo’d. I didn’t ask for that either. We all survived it though. My children are 17 and 27 now and have grown into responsible adults. We are all very close. It sounds simple (or maybe it doesn’t), but these set backs took years to settle. Its hard to describe in one paragraph what we had to do to overcome all of this, but we did and were stronger for it.

This is one of the strongest aids I have. I seek winning stories of others overcoming adversity. I seek people who inspire me to do the same. I seek their stories and examples in the media, in movies and books, in history and in everyday people I meet. What is important for me with these role models is to not see them as better or different than me, but rather to see them as ordinary people who have risen above their hardship and to let them teach me the method for their successes by observation. In every case, hard work, perseverance, a clear objective, and inner reflection were the ingredients that brought them through.

One of my favorite examples of this is the movie Cool Runnings about the first ever Jamaican bobsled team. Their first year in the Olympics was right here in Calgary, AB in 1988. I wasn’t here then, but I knew about them because of the movie. The movie itself is more fiction than fact, but no less inspiring because of it.  In the story, everything is running against them. Each must overcome some personal issue in order to push past all the naysayers and do the seemingly impossible. When they make that turn of attitude, they play a song in the movie titled Rise above it by Lock Stock and Barrel. I have sung that song many times in my head or out loud and it always works to cheer and bolster me up. Its a wonderful and very entertaining example. Now’s a good time for me to remember this one. Whereas I am working towards resuming employment, but before I do, I need to deal with the abject fear I have over the vulnerability of my situation, hence the MS psychiatrist and MS social workers I will be seeing.

Cool Runnings came up in conversation earlier today with a good friend. I have Netflix and looked it up and was excited to see that they do have it available to watch right now. That’s what I did, I watched it again and again, it inspired me deeply.

Rise Above It lyrics from https://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/coolrunnings/riseaboveit.htm:

Rise rise rise rise

Well, if you’ve got a problem, you’ve got to rise above it
When you face a challenge, you’ve got to rise above it
When you’re back against a wall, only way to go is up
Rise above it, come on and rise above it!
When you think you know your mind is really made up
When your dues have already been paid
Gotta know where to go where angels fear to tread
Only you and me against the world, against it all
If you’ve got a problem, you’ve got to rise above it
And when you face a challenge you’ve got to rise above it
When the sea bubblin high, all around is running dry
Rise above it! Come on and rise above it
When the road seems very long and narrow
Better make the shot go straight just like an arrow
To watch the movie, try Netflix or a movie ordering service on cable.
Bonne Sante

“To float or not to float?”, I ask you.

A day in the life! Milestone today. I take two deep water aerobic classes with a flotation device and I swim alone twice a week and do laps, swim underwater and practice the exercises in the deep water class without the flotation device. Been doing that for the last two months. With my confidence bolstered by my walking improvement yesterday, I made the decision to try the class without a flotation device. One thing about it was that it was embarrassing, because no one takes the class without the float belt on. I felt a little (a lot) like I was showing off, but I knew that its the next step in challenging myself. I need stronger core exercises and doing this class like this forces me to rely harder on my core muscles, which is exactly what happened. And, I did get a lot of attention, which I really didn’t want, but I took it in good humor and made jokes. What was funny, as one woman floated by, she said, “I know CPR.” That struck me funny. After all the initial, ‘Are are you wearing a different belt (I wear a yellow one, my bathing suit is blue)?” “Without a belt?!” “Your very brave.” “Your very low in the water, are you wearing your belt?” and several more. But, my favorite definitely was, “I know CPR.” LOL!

I lasted a strong 30 minutes. What stopped me more than anything else was, God damn it, the carpal tunnel in my left wrist. My pointer finger and thumb went completely numb from the non stop extra sculling I had to do with my hands.  I had carpal tunnel on my right wrist about two months ago and needed to schedule the left. But, the first surgery took so much out of me, I didn’t want to do it again. But, today proved to me, that I do need to have it done. Good news is, my right and dominate hand, which was the worse, was fine. So, the surgery did do its job. The surgeon gave me a year to schedule the left, I’m thinking after I finish my physio, if it ever gets started. Waiting on my neurologist to fill out his form. I need to call his office and ask the nurse about it tomorrow. This is the physio for e-stim and gait strengthening exercises for my left leg.

Finally, I am going to an all day workshop on Saturday that includes a lunch. Finally got the skinny on that and its lasagna. So, will definitely have to bring a salad. Which will be odd, because I will be the only one doing that and then will need to explain it. I’m searching for the most concise way to say it, “I’m on a special diet for MS.” “I’m on a diet.” “I’m on a special diet for health reasons.” or simply just, “No choice.” Yeah, I like that one.

 

Bonne Sante

 

Picture from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/summer-abstract-swimming-pool-61136/

Practicing Gratitude

Gratitude

the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
                                                                                                                                      Dictionary.com

Besides Multiple Sclerosis, I am an alcoholic, sober 26 years. Two things keep a soul sick, one of which is self pity, the other is resentment, really one interplay’s with the other. Both self pity and resentment had to go if I wanted to live sober successfully and equally, they must go to successfully adapt to the Wahls Protocol lifestyle. If I practice gratitude, I don’t feel sorry for myself and if I don’t feel sorry for myself than I am not resentful over what others have or don’t have. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have this mastered, that would make me a saint, a saint I am not. However, I do have a lot of practice applying the principle of “active” gratitude.

When I am feeling low, as I have this past week. I get out of it by finding a way to be of service. Even if its simply noticing and complimenting someone’s new hair cut. Its a simple thing that can make someone’s day. Or avail myself by answering if someone calls or call someone, just because. I can’t complain about being lonely, but do nothing to improve my situation and go out of my way to be a part of something. These acts take me out of my tendency for self absorbed reflection, which sometimes is necessary for change, however, to be constructive, the self reflection has to then progress to an action or it becomes morose. Yesterday, I said that I would do housework, I did my laundry, not a biggie, yet it left them clean and fresh. I made a point of getting out early this morning to a support group that I frequent at 7 am. A positive power hour of which I showed my support by being present and vocal when asked. After, in my neighborhood, I walked a lot and was shocked to find that I had another leap forward in my walking ability. My speed has picked up, my walking surer. Falling is not an issue anymore, if my toe does catch, it doesn’t spell out a fall as it once always did, hence the former need for a cane. Morose feelings that I’ve had as of late, can stop me from experiencing what I experienced today. By, staying home, feeling bad, feeling hopeless instead of hopeful, I wouldn’t have realized that this had happened. Funny thing, all that gratitude put a big smile on my face and a skip in my step that people were responding to. I was nicer, I was fully engaged in my surroundings and the people in it and I was patient. I chose to be grateful. Music and dance is a way that I treat myself to the expression of gratitude. I listened to Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation’s album Mighty ReArranger. I forgot how good that album is and was filled with joyous dance.

I’m so grateful for the Dr. Wahls Protocol, I want to carry a message about it, to be a part of getting this information out to as many people as possible so that they can at least consider it. I hope to show them how it works with my own example. The damage and calamity I could’ve avoided had I known that certain foods taken in or excluded, and that a lifestyle could make an impact like this on an otherwise hopeless illness. Here is where I can’t rue the past. What is is. Instead, I’m grateful I have the opportunity now. When I feel sorry for myself that I can’t have birthday cake or pasta, I ask myself, do I want pasta or do I want to walk? When I put it that way, well, its obvious what I want. Action!

Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Bonne Sante

 

Picture from Pexels

 

 

Coconut Oil Kills by JP Sears

I love this skit. Many have seen this, so enjoy again and for those who haven’t seen this, its intelligent wit reminiscent of Monte Python. Follow the link to watch this hilarious spoof:

 

 

Bonne Sante

 

Picture by Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/search/coconut/

Video by JP Sears : )