Monday, April 19, 2010

Yes, I am perky despite everything. Why? Because I'm alive.

It was brought to my attention recently that I'm always very chipper and don't talk a lot about having MS. I think it's important to share what it's really like for me living with it.

I am a naturally positive person, but, I also work very hard at being perky. Anyone could look at my life at the moment and feel sorry for me: single mum, small apartment, not much money, incurable disease. I focus my mind on having a good attitude and being in gratitude, because if I didn't, I know what would happen. I would go down a very negative path that would be very hard to come back from. I went down that path when Emily and Elliot were very young and it was horrible. That's another story for another time maybe.

I choose not to talk about my symptoms all the time, cos talking about them gives them power and turns me into a victim. I am not a victim nor will I ever be. Period. I am strong, I'm a Rugby midlands girl (think Trainspotting with an English accent, and ecstasy instead of heroin), we can take care of ourselves. Sure, I'm soft, gentle and very patient, but I will not be controlled by any disease or anyone. You can push and push and push me, but when push comes to shove, I will find my inner fire and will power and I will get what I need to survive with grace and integrity.

Yesterday, at Walk MS, I was reminded of the potential devastation of MS. Before the walk, a man talked about his wife who died last year from MS related complications. She was 52. He said she was the love of his life. We had a moment of silence for everyone who has died from MS related complications this last year.

That made me cry and makes me scared. I know we all die. But I don't want to die young or be disabled. I want to stay strong and healthy and continue to play with my kids.

Just because I don't talk about my symptoms all the time, doesn't mean that there aren't any. My right hand has numbness all the time and especially when I'm tired. Also when I'm tired my vision gets blurry in my right eye. When I go for a hike, after about 20 mins, my legs get wobbly. A couple of times recently I've had to walk back to the car holding onto my friend for support. I'm 36. I've watched that happen this last couple of years. So although I'm in remission, the disease is slowly, slowly progressing.

The NMSS talks about 'Living with MS'. That's just it. You live with it. It doesn't go away like a cold or a bug. Even when it's in remission, it's there all the time, you just get good at ignoring it or making decisions to not let it control you.

For example, last week my kids and I drove to LA to Disney Land. Not only was it a big deal cos it was us on our first vacation together as a family of three, but it was also massive doing that trip as someone with MS. It is vital for someone with MS to get lots of rest and keep the central nervous system calm. I probably 'shouldn't' have done it. (I'm not 'supposed' to do long haul flights, but I don't adhere to that either...jet lag - too shocking for the body and the air pressure causes the lesions in the brain to swell).

Before I went on the rides at Disney, I said a prayer asking God to take care of my spine and central nervous system. I chose to ride every ride even though I probably 'shouldn't' (jarring for spine). I was so grateful for the experience, cos, it did cross my mind that I don't know if I'll be well enough to do it again. (Note: it crossed my mind several times, but I honestly do not believe that will be true, I am strong and I will be running around Disney Land and the whole world for years and years to come. I quickly switched that thought around and thanked God for the experience of being there with my beautiful kids).

A few weeks ago, when I started back to work by day four I had a relapse. My symptoms were in full force - blurred vision, weakness and numbness in limbs, spasticity in right arm and hand, and fatigue. I knew what was going on and why, so I rested, made schedule changes and the following week was ok again.

It doesn't stop at making choices about what to do - like going on rides, flights, to bed late, back to work full-time - it relates to everything I ingest too. Every time I put anything in my body, I ask myself "is this good for me?" and I stop and evaluate how it could affect me - from something as small as an iced water (ice=bad, shocks digestive system) to a potato (too much sugar=bad for CNS). Also what and when to listen to music, watch tv etc - if I'm tired, I consciously decide whether to have music on to stimulate my CNS or to be quiet to let it rest etc.

When you see that I'm perky, know that I am, and know how hard I work to be in this place -constant thought monitoring, replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, prayer, yoga, diet, sleep, salt baths, reiki, vitamins.

When I was first diagnosed, they didn't know if it was an inoperable brain tumor or MS. For two weeks I lived wondering how long I would have with my kids. Now I have lived with MS for nine years and although I'm not looking death in the face, he's at the back of my mind - that's what motivates me to live so consciously. And, sometimes, like being at the walk yesterday and praying for everyone who have died from MS related illnesses, he's right here in front of me.

I have learned so much from living with this disease, mainly about the importance and fragility of life. About being fair and kind, and being the very best I can possibly be to all people at all times, including myself. Also about not worrying about the small stuff, like getting stressed out about breaking a plate or taking a wrong road. I've learned the importance of being happy and free, however that looks - a road trip to LA with my kids, or being alone in my teeny apartment when my kids are at their father's place.

So yes, I am perky despite everything. Why? Simple. Because I'm alive. And what an incredible gift life is. We get one chance at it. And I am making sure that I make the most of every single second.


LIVING IN GRATITUDE: here's what I do, you're welcome to copy it and add your own categories. It's super powerful at switching up your attitude and making you grateful for the small stuff in life. Then the bigger stuff seems less scary.

I also take a bunch of vitamins and supplements that help keep me balanced emotionally and physically. They help me sleep well, thus play well and keep a clear head. I'm not going to list them here cos would hate to get into some kind of trouble, but if you are interested in knowing what they are or seeing my traditional Tibetan physician, let me know.

Every morning I say a prayer asking for help and strength for a safe and positive day. I offer gratitude for my life, for my kids, parents, friends, teachers, career, abundance, nature, safety, strength and health. And, throughout the day, I work at catching myself going into negative thought patterns and consciously turn them into positive thoughts when I notice them.

Throughout the day, as often as I can, I say thank you for anything I can think to thank. The wind in the trees, the cosy sweater I'm wearing, the computer I'm typing on. Then, at the end of the day, when I'm falling asleep, I go through a mental thank you list for the day that's been, my safe travels, the phone call from my friend, the unexpected gift, the great parking spot.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Unseen Street Signs

The Universe/God gives us signs all the time. They're like sign posts on the street, directing us which way to go. When we are open and paying attention, we cruise along in life.

However, when we fail to observe signs or chose not to see them, life gets complicated and messy until God knocks us over the head with something that forces us to pay attention and make us change our patterns of behavior or alter something that's not working in our lives.

We've all experienced it...6pm, tired, making dinner, juggling kids/pets/homework/trying to get out somewhere on time. CRASH. We drop a plate. Smashed china everywhere. The situation forces us to stop. It's a perfect little sign - no-one was hurt, nothing serious happened, but it's like pressing the reset button: "Guys, chill out. Focus. Come back to the present."

Like a couple of weeks ago when I started back to work full-time. By the fourth day my MS symptoms were hardcore - blurred vision in right eye, spasticity in right hand, numbness in arm and legs, fatigue and sadness - you can't really get much clearer than that...As strong as my body is, it is fragile, and in order to maintain my strength and health, I have to tread a fine line. I got the lesson and changed the situation (two or three days a week of SF film PR, the other days yoga) a week later, am good and strong again. And sitting here reflecting on it.

Had another biggie on Saturday at Little League. Sitting with my friends watching my son and his little mates have a blast at baseball when five minutes in my ex showed up with his girlfriend, flanked by his brother visiting from England and his sister from Seattle. It was the first time I've seen my ex and his girlfriend together as a couple - I've known her for a few years and saw the chemistry between them when he and I were married, so that wasn't it. But it was, of course, hard seeing them together at my son's game. The toughest part though, was that she was part of the family instead of me.

My ex has a strong family. Four siblings, close in age. Strong personalities, strong family resemblances, when you see them together it's like seeing a blonde mafia family strut their stuff. They have a strong bond that fluctuates between love and hate according to whose in favor at any particular time. Being part of that family was a big deal for me because it was so different to my own - me, my lovely big bro, and chilled-out drama-free mum and dad.

I've known my ex's family for 20+ years. My brother is best friend's with the fourth sibling who wasn't there on Saturday, he's actually more a part of our family that theirs. There was no contact made during the game. It was as if we had never met.

Meditation to 'get' the sign and move on
Obviously this was a sign of some sort. But, on Saturday I wasn't sure what it meant. I knew that I needed to process it and 'get' it pretty fast in order to move on. So, I did the meditation technique described below.

During the meditation I cried and released the ties of being part of that family, and eliminated any feelings of grief that I'd been carrying.

At the end of the meditation I felt a huge sense of love and support, and felt happier and more supported than I have for years. I realized that I'm part of a much bigger family, the family of God/of the Universe. I felt, and continue to feel free, strong and powerful.

The key is to NOTICE THE SIGNS
From dropping a plate, to getting sick or being in uncomfortable situations, if we can step back and observe the signs, we can get closer to ourselves, closer to God, closer to our Higher Beings and closer to living our Highest Truth. There's no room for dishonesty or lies. And that, I believe, is our ultimate goal this life, because when we're living our ultimate truth, there's only room for love and kindness.


Love Always,


*CONTACT with the Higher Self wisdom with an particular question
*FOR ANY difficult or negative personal habit or pattern
*TO CONTACT for understanding and balance of the female and male aspects

GARDEN VISUALIZATION (have a pen a paper handy)
Start with regular full breaths, feeling all areas of the body relax with each breath. When your feelings calm, and you even get drowsy, allow your imagination to move you outside to a very special garden. Here is the symbolization of all the thoughts and events of your life and patterns. Certain plants may have thorns, others droopy needing attention. Some need pruning or even pulling out. What is in bud and what is in full bloom? This is a wonderful place to visit at any time. You can find a bough to sit beneath or a pretty brook to sit besides. You can see various paths. Some are clean and well kept. Others are over grown. There may be interesting stepping stones.

Intuitively you know that each path will lead to a special area of study or answers. Choose an appealing path. It may take you to a sanctuary site, a place of remembrance or a comfortable place to sit and state your present need.

Who or what representation do you want to see? When the requested presence arrives, be aware of every detail.
Is it male or female or a feeling? Is it a replica of someone you now or from the past? Carefully describe expressions, actions and any apparel. What more do you sense?

Ask the following basic questions according to your need. Take time and listen to the answers...
1. Who are you or what do you represent?
2. Where did you originate?
3. What do you want with me?
4. How best can I balance or care for this issue?
5. Perhaps ask for a special message or symbol or gift.

Feel gratitude and 'get' the lesson/answers.

Return to the main garden. Note any changes. After moving back into the physical body, sit quietly and reflect upon your experience.

Breathe and arrive home.