Tuesday, December 20, 2011

mighty strong face of ms, let the fundraising begin!

How does that saying go???  Oh yeah...
What does not kill us makes us stronger
Multiple Sclerosis has attacked millions of  people worldwide and that number keeps growing.  It is a debilitating disease that is completely unpredictable.  No two cases are alike, yet we all have the same disease.  Our symptoms vary from physical to cognitive and if you are really lucky like me, you get to have some of each!!  This disease is a bitch, plain and simple.  She can rear her ugly head at any time, always uninvited.  For me she can literally knock me to my knees.  This past year she has attacked me with physical symptoms including complete and utter exhaustion, balance & gait issues, pain up and down my left side, along with numbness and tingling in my hands, arms, legs and feet (a constant).  She grabs a hold of my back and squeezes so hard around my rib cage that I feel  like I cannot take another breath.   She also attacks my mind, giving me moderate to severe impairments with my memory, my ability to process information & my concentration.  She has literally scarred my brain.  This bitch needs to go...

Personally I think that the way to fight back against MS all starts with my attitude.  Just like anything else life deals me, my attitude can change my outlook on even the worst situation. Of course there will be days when I fall into that dark hole, however I have a choice as to how long I decide to stay there.  I am human after all and I will fall, however I consciously make the choice to stand up tall in my stilettos (I have given up the boots and the straps this year!!) and take the smallest step forward.  After that first step, I take another and another.  Before I know it I am moving forward.

The MS Walk teams that I captain make a huge difference.  We have bigger goals than last year and I know that we will exceed those goals with your support.  I am asking you to be a part of my team. Join The Village People as we raise awareness, funds and positive encouragement to those afflicted with this debilitating disease.  Help me to help others who are having a hard time seeing that light at the end of the tunnel.  Together we can give HOPE to those who are hopeless.  We can encourage Faith in those who have none.  We can embrace each other with LOVE and make a difference.  We can work together to find a CURE.

No donation is too large or too small...every penny counts!  I ask again this year for you to share your blessings with me because...
 I am one Mighty Strong face of MS.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Just checking in

Wow, time really does fly by, even when we are in the midst of difficult times.  To say this past year has been a rough one would be an understatement.  While I am not quite ready to write about those difficulties, I am ready to start writing my first book.  It is a work in progress and sharing with all of you that I am going to do this will hopefully keep me focused to the task at hand.  I am going to start small and see where it takes me.  

As some of you know my oldest Julia has struggled in school for a while.  Well she came home today with a certificate for honor roll.  We went to go visit her teacher from last year to show her how well she did.  Her teacher looked her in the eye and said "what did I tell you?  You can do anything you put your mind to, you just have to believe in yourself. Do you believe in yourself now?" Julia replied "YES!"  Sharing in the moment with my oldest baby made me realize that we just need to believe in ourselves and we can do anything we put our mind to.  I must also mention that my brother Donnie earlier in the week gave me similar advice..."you just have to believe you can do it". 

Last week I received some results from some cognitive tests I had taken in October.  They took my by surprise as they said I have moderately severe impairments when it comes to my memory and my processing all thanks goes to MS.  The good news...I have above average language skills.  I have always loved to write.  Something about the written word...it is truly an outlet for me.  So now that I have taken a week to digest the results, I realize that I will have to come up with some strategies and coping mechanisms to keep my focus.  I am so grateful to still be able to take my time and let my thoughts flow from my mind to the keyboard.  Once again MS has reared it's ugly head.  I'll be honest, I had a rough week, no doubt about it.  After speaking with my brother and then seeing how Julia now believes in herself I am inspired.  Inspired by my brother's belief in me.  Inspired by the hard work my daughter has given and then to see the fruits of her labor is icing on the cake.  So I am going to draw my strength and focus from them and believe in myself.  Believe that I AM A WRITER.  Believe I can do anything I put my mind to.  

I am looking forward to sharing my book with all of you.  I hope it to be an inspiration to others, to believe in themselves and a reminder to me to believe in myself. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Stop the blame game

 Ok here I am again...I am following up on my last blog post about regrets.  I regret writing about how I am concerned about what other people think of me.  This is a long time coming and truly I had a break down and a break through this week.  The things I need to focus on are not what other people think.  Not whether other people forgive.  Not what other people say or do not say.  I need to worry about myself.  I need to focus on what I think of myself.  I need to focus on being compassionate towards myself and forgiving myself (no regrets!).  I need to focus on what I say or do not say.  I NEED to WANT to make myself happy.  No one else can do this for me. 

It has been brought to my attention that I feed the subconscious misery deep inside me.  I expect other people to meet my expectations and if they do not it is their fault.  Truly it is my fault.  I need to stop the blame game.  I need to stop the cycle of feeding this seed of misery.  This inner struggle is a pattern that has been going on for years and years.  Telling myself I am not good enough.  I have never put myself first because I never felt like I deserved first.

Earlier in the year I wrote about running my half marathon in Myrtle Beach.  I wrote that some told me I could not do it.  That some was just one and that one was me.  I talk a good game to all of you.  I need to talk a good game to myself.  

Becoming my own cheerleader!
The first step is for me to take responsibility.  No more blaming people, consciously or unconsciously.  I have one foot forward and I need to lift that other foot to take the next step.  I need to accept the mistakes I have made and forgive myself.  Then I need to take those forgiven mistakes, put them in a box and put the box away for good.  I need to realize that when I take care of me, I in turn take care of my girls.   

My strengths are determination, perseverance, goal driven, compassion and empathy to others.  I need to take these strengths and set a new goal.  I need to destroy the goal of misery and I need to make a new goal of being a friend to myself.  I need to realize that I do deserve to be first and then to take my determination, my perseverance, my compassion and empathy and GIVE it freely to myself.  I need to accept that gift, to embrace it. Only then will I truly ever be able to love all of me.  

It is a bit liberating to now know this about myself.  I am in control of me.  I can change the situation.  I can change the seed I choose to feed.  So today I am choosing to destroy the seed of misery buried deep inside and to plant the seeds of love for myself and happiness.  I know it won't be easy, however I do know that I deserve to be first and I want to be first in my own heart and soul.  Only then can I nourish the seeds of my children.  To show them the seeds of love, happiness and compassion for themselves. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Regrets...I've had a few

Last Saturday I was just arriving at my Auntie's house.  A last minute trip up to Massachusetts under very sad circumstances.  My Uncle Bucci had passed away late Thursday night.  He fought his battle for 8 years when they only gave him 5 years to live.  He made promises during that time and amazed me that he was able to keep them.  It was time for him to be with God and in peace.  The weekend was extremely emotional for me.  This was truly what I saw as the last morsel of food that could possibly be put on my already overflowing plate.  I had a lot of time to think on the plane rides up and back.  I had time to reflect on my own life and situations.  What my regrets are and what I could do to possibly make those outcomes different...could I fix the mistakes I had made? Could I make things right with people I had disappointed and hurt?  Could I stick with my decisions that hurt me to the core and continue on, knowing that in the long run my life would be better...eventually?

When people die I think we all reflect on the would have, could have, should haves.  When is it enough to just say we are sorry?  Is it enough to recognize our mistakes, big and small, and just move on?  Do we need to change people's minds about how they see us, compared to who we really are?  Will we always be judged by our mistakes?  When have we done enough to really be able to say "I have no regrets"?  Right now I am not sure that is possible.  I was told this weekend that I carry the weight of other people's worries.  That in doing so I am only hurting myself in the long run.  It is very difficult for me to let things go.  I know it is not healthy, nor do the people I concern myself with even realize that I am carrying their pain.

I would like to think that I am one who forgives others once they have apologized.  Forgiveness does give me a sense of letting go.  Problem is I do not know how to apologize to myself and therefore forgive myself.  This year has been a doozy with so many life changing decisions.  When decisions are this big, no matter how much I know in my heart that I am doing the right thing, doubt can creep in and f@#k with my mind. 

As this year continues moving forward I need to find out how to live with no regrets.   To let go of those things that I have no control over, especially how other people feel about me and perhaps how I feel about myself.  If anyone has any suggestions feel free to share....

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When the other shoe drops it should be a stiletto

Wow another unpredictable week blindsided by MS.  This week, in what seemed to be a split second, the shoe that has been in the back of my mind dropped.  I was overcome with weakness, had difficulty walking, and that damn dreaded MS "hug" reared it's ugly head.  I felt deceived, cheated and angry all in a split second.  I had a false sense of security.  I knew that shoe was deep inside waiting for an inopportune moment to drop.  I just did not think it would be NOW!  I had a great winter.  I had some fatigue and minor complaints, but all in all I felt good!  I trained for my half marathon.  I was a fundraising maniac (if I do say so myself).  I have been in high gear all year long.  I was walking tall and feeling good.  I was focused on change.  I was focused on my future.  I was focused on me!  Then out of thin air she comes back to try to steal my joy.  I am reminded again that MS will always be a part of me, whether I feel great or like shit or somewhere in the middle.  Like obstacles in life that everyone faces, it is what we do to move forward to get over that stumbling block that counts, not the obstacle itself.  I decided today that I am picking myself back up after a pity party and a little bit of a "why me" session (yeah I went there this week).  Today I am getting back to those boot straps and lifting myself up.  Up out of the dark place my brain drifted to over the weekend.  Once I am back on my feet I am going to drop the boots on my own terms and put on a pair of stilettos.  We only go around once in this life.  We all know it will be shorter than what we would like it to be.  So I am dusting off my fancy high heels.  I am going to climb this obstacle and get to the other side.  Then I am going to strap on my stilettos and live my life.  I am going to live it knowing that when the next pair does drop, on this road or a different one in the future, I am going to tackle it on my terms.  You know a girl can never have too many pairs of shoes, right?!?!

Friday, May 13, 2011

"A change will do you good"

Life is funny.  Just when you think you have it all figured out something happens to change it all.  A lightbulb goes on in your head and you see things in a new light.  Change can be scary.  Very scary.  Going outside of your comfort zone is...uncomfortable.  It's hard to challenge the status quo.  All these worries enter your mind.  You can lose confidence in your decision.  You ask yourself will all of this be worth it in the end.  It takes a lot of courage to take that leap of faith.  To not care about what people will do or say.  There are times when you want to throw it all away and go back to the way things used to be...except once you make the decision to change, there really is no going back.  The decision sits in the depths of your mind, ready to remind you of it's existence when you least expect it.  
I have recently found that the hard decisions I am making are in my best interest.  They make me want to cry and scream.  They make me want to crawl under  rock and not come out, ever.  They make me question my worth.  They make me question my future.  They make me think outside of my comfort zone.  I don't like to be uncomfortable...I don't know anyone who really does. 
They make me think.  
I have been doing a lot of thinking lately.  Reflecting on my life and on my future.  It can be painful to look back.  However I am finding that when I do look back I am encouraged to take the next step into my future.  I have found the courage to "Go confidently in the direction of my dreams and to live the life I have imagined".  I am finding my authentic self.  Seems to be the rage these days.  It's liberating,   discovering myself all over again.  Perhaps this is my mid-life crisis (I would be thrilled to live until 83!). Whatever it is I am looking forward to the second chapter.  I am excited to see what it brings.  I am ready to take the next step into the uncomfortable to come out the other side with a  happier and more fulfilled soul.  
I am committed to my future.
"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3

Thursday, March 24, 2011

what a whirlwind!

Where did the last three weeks go?!?!  Things have been so busy with my two teams fundraising for the Village People in NC and the Village People North in NH.  We had GREAT success last weekend with our Loose Change Drive in our neighborhood.  We had so many people help us cover the neighborhood it was fantastic.  Now I want you all to sit down because what I am about to tell you will lay you out FLAT! It took us 2 hours to collect LOOSE CHANGE and we brought in $1340.00!!!  You heard me right, $1340 smackeroos!!!  So for those of you who think you do not have enough money to make a difference, I am hear to tell you that YOU DO!  I usually say that every dollar counts...I am changing that to every penny!

Today I sampled wine with a few girlfriends at Niche Wine Lounge in Holly Springs, NC.  Nic and Devon were fantastic, especially for me since I don't know "jack" about wine! Nic has kindly allowed us to christen his new wine cellar on April 2nd.  If you are local you must go to Niche to meet him.  A true generous soul...with a salty mouth!  Just my kind of friend!  He does a lot for our local community and it would be great to show your appreciation by visiting Niche for a fine glass of wine.

If you are interested we have tickets for sale now($25) and at the door ($30).  We will have a superb array of wines to taste and a crowd that will have more fun than should be allowed.  Many thanks to Nic and Niche...I am blessed to know you!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The generosity and the kindness of strangers that become friends

Wow I have recently had the most amazing experience.  I was introduced through Facebook to a truly amazing soul Kathleen Barone of KB Designs in Massachusetts.  She is a jewelry designer that loves to give back.  She gives to all sorts of charities including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  She has generously designed some MS awareness jewelry for me and will be donating 50% of the cost to our Village People and Village People North MS Walk Teams in NC and NH.

Having MS has opened so many doors to the generosity and kindness of strangers, who are now my friends.  It continues to take my breath away.  It really changes my outlook on mankind...I know that sounds really deep...but I have a knack with sarcasm and some cynicism.  These people like Kathleen are proving that not all the world is hardened.  People do want to help their neighbor.  At the heart of it all people want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  They do want to give back.  It restore my faith and gives me hope.  You all know how I feel about hope!

I invite you to support my cause to find a CURE for MS.  Click the link with Kathleen's name and you will directed to her website where you can purchase one or both.  The bracelet is $25 with $12.50 going to NMSS and the earrings are $12.00 with $6.00 also going to NMSS.
Welcome to my village...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Finding myself in a dream

I am a dreamer.  I am an idealist.  I aspire to be the best I can be.  Some people think that dreamers have their heads in the clouds and do not have rational thoughts of the future.  They say we dream of the impossible and will only set ourselves up for disappointment.  I beg to differ...

 I am living proof that dreamers can reach for the stars and bring them home.  Dreamers have a vision of who and how they want to be. They can dream a plan of action and then put that plan in motion.  If they are hungry enough they will do what is necessary to realize that dream.  Dreamers are not wishy washy. They want the best and spend their lives trying to achieve it.  I believe I can change my destiny.  I believe that any obstacle is a challenge that can and will be overcome.  I believe that when life throws you a curveball you can still swing for the fences.

I have been doing a lot of reflecting the past couple of months.  Searching my soul for who I was, but not who I am.  My heart is pulling my dreams into new directions.  Today I am no longer asking why my history is the way it was, but I ask myself how my future will be.  This is a huge change for me.  I feel like I am releasing some chains that have been holding me down for years.  Instead of blaming the past for who I am, I am looking to the future to define who I want to be.  

I have so many dreams...running the Boston Marathon, someday owning a little beach house where I can hear the ocean waves crash day and night, watching my girls grow up and follow their dreams.  Some may say these dreams are not possible.  They may say I am not strong enough to run Boston.  They may say that I will never be able to afford my seaside home.  They may say that MS will not allow me to to grow old and watch my children reach for the stars.  Let them say what they may.  Many told me I could not or should not run my race this past weekend.  They doubted whether it could be done.  Sometimes I doubted myself.  That doubt gave way to will and determination. It showed me that no one could tell me if I could follow my dream.  This weekend I had the best run of my life.  Not because it was easy.  Not because I achieved a personal record (PR).  It was the best run of my life because it was my dream, and I ran it down.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hip Hip Hooray!

This week is a big one.  Today I had my one year follow up with the neurologist.  I got a thumbs up with some minor tweaking with some meds.  He seemed to forget my goal of running a half marathon this winter.  I was able to sway him into supporting me (he is a runner himself, so it wasn't too hard).  It's not like I would have not participated in the race, but it is nice to know that he does not think I am going to put myself back into a relapse.

So Saturday is racing day!  Grabbing life by the horns this weekend and hoping to get a PR.  I know, I know I had originally said I was going to run this just to prove to myself that I could but what the hell I may as well try to kick some ass (that being my own) and go for it!  I am scared to death and also so excited to take on this challenge.  It will be a true dream come true, crossing that finish line.  Last August I thought I was done for...limping and hobbling along.  I was beyond depressed and truly afraid of what was to come next.  Well with A LOT of stubbornness, dedication, determination and tenacity I am here to say that I have run down this dream and on Saturday I will achieve it.  There really is not a better feeling than giving it your all and then seeing yourself succeed.

While I have no idea what the future holds (do any of us really?) I am living in the moment this week and reaching for that brass ring.  I will have no regrets that I did not do my best when I had my best to give.  I encourage all of you to do the same...find something you want and go for it!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

one year after diagnosis

I just spent the last few minutes reading my posts from last January.  Seems like 100 years ago and yesterday all in the same breath.  It's been a year now since I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  I can honesty say that this has been the most difficult year in my entire adult life.  I thought once we had a name for what was wrong with me, as well as a plan to treat it we would be well on our way.  This past year has shown me that no matter how prepared with a plan I think I am, always plan for a wrench in the situation.  That's hard to do when the wrench is your health and daily living.  Nothing could have prepared me for the physical and emotional pain and exhaustion I had felt through out 2010, nothing!

As I look back at my "year in review" post from last January I am reminded of the promise I made to myself, to look at my life as a glass half full, rather than half empty. So although the year was difficult in so many ways, there is also plenty to be grateful for, including those difficulties.

The most noticeable change for me was within myself.   As I have mentioned before, I have always felt I was more full of "attitude" (good and bad) than full of "talent".  I have always felt like an "underdog" in life.  Always trying to prove something to someone, as a kid to my parents, my friends, my boyfriends, my teachers, as an adult still my parents, my husband, my girls, my friends, even strangers but most of all it has always been myself.  Some, ok many, have mentioned a chip on my shoulder.  For as long as I can remember I have always felt this way.  Even as I type this I think "this is crazy, I am a grown woman!" It is hard to explain the feeling and with last year's diagnosis I felt I was there again, an "underdog".  The difference now is that having the attitude of an "underdog"doesn't feel so bad to me.  I pushes me to be my best self.  It pushes me to look past the challenges and see the victories.  It reminds me to never count myself out.  As someone who has quite the competitive spirit second place really has never been an option in my mind.  I am reminded to see the everyday victories, not just the ones everyone else will see.  No one is harder on me than myself.  The expectations of being everything to everyone will always be in the back of my mind.  The fighter in me can't let that go and I don't want to, it has served me well and made me who I am today.  Changed, but the same.

The changes with my family I think bring a new understanding to my relationships.  James is a man of few words and not one to be overly expressive (this is an understatement!).  This past year we have grown closer than any other time in our 18 years together.  He is my rock, the port in my storms.  He keeps me grounded, but does not let me fall underground.  He has shown me a love with few words, and many actions that has carried me through the dark times this past year.  For this I am eternally grateful.  My girls and I have grown even closer.  Sharing our feelings, our concerns and our challenges of this past year together.  I am hopeful that my sharing with them will enhance the foundation of our relationships.  So that when they meet the challenges in their daily lives they will be confident in knowing that their mom will always be there to listen to them, cry with them and help lift them up when they think they cannot do it on their own.

The changes with my friends is a little different.  I have found out who is really there for me, anytime I need them.  I have found some of my relationships that were more of an acquaintance have blossomed into something that is more than I could have imagined.  A true outpouring from a few women, strong in faith and their friendship to me.  I have reconnected with old friends from 20+ years ago, who have been there for me over the past year, as if a day has not passed without seeing or speaking to me.  Some that I thought would be in the trenches with me, have surprised me that they are not.  Others, who I did not even think they knew where my trench was, have been down in the mud with me from the beginning of this journey.  This past year has truly blessed me with a core group of support near and far away.  I won't name names, you all know who you are and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being in my life.

So as this journey continues I choose to face my challenges head on...mental, physical and emotional.  I again have a cup that overflows with inner strength, a loving family and the support of friends who will stand by my side with encouragement, love and the occasional kick in the ass when I need it. MS will try to bring me down and I will fall.  However, I have confidence that with all that I have and all that I am this "underdog" will not only get back on her feet, she will be victorious!