Happy 2014! Time to re-assess and re-new!

“January 1st is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”
― Brad Paisley

Well, another new year is upon us. Wow – 2014…already?? How time flies… Time for a new 365 page “Book of 2014″, as Brad says.

I have always felt that this time of year is a good time to reflect, re-assess, and renew. It can take the shape of re-organizing a closet or a cupboard, to renewing a commitment, to re-assessing a goal or two.

I have to say that 2013 has not been my favorite year – but I plan to make 2014 a better one! You see, 2013 had me bouncing around a bit too much in terms of medication side effects, changes in my health, and menopausal symptoms and MS symptom flares and … well, you get the picture. Confusion was the Word of the Year for 2013 for me. (Though hindsight is as clear as a bell!) And I spent much of 2013 crying all the time – for no reason! I just would cry for no understandable reason…which turned out to be medication and symptoms side effects.  Between my seizure meds causing serious anxiety symptom side effects for months, and menopause bringing me a new meaning to the phrase “hot and sweaty” (dripping…OMG), I have found the process of aging gracefully to be a bit of a challenge in 2013. (I mean, c’mon, Mother Nature: whiskers, acne, return of bad cramps, and sleep deprivation? Seriously? Erg.) So 2013 was a very soggy year for me.

So I decided to look as what needs re-jigging for 2014.

One of my top personal goals for 2014 continues to be competing in Synchronized swimming by my 50th birthday. Since I am currently swimming with a team, this one is working well so far. Keeping up with a group of 20-somethings is tough, but I am doing it. It is not so much the physical part as the mental parts that are the biggest challenge. Remembering counts of music and how the routine’s choreography goes can be more challenging some days, and less so others…depends on my MS cog fog levels! But, so far, so good – MS brain farts and all!

Another of my top 2014 goals is to help people more…by blogging, by volunteering, by talking, by sharing and raising awareness of MS symptoms like seizures, and of living a full life no matter what. I currently guest blog at MSRelief.com, and I volunteer my time with the local university Health mentoring program, as well as other volunteering for the MS society and other local health societies. Where ese can I help?

And over all of this – my priority goal is to manage my health well and maintain a quality life balance for myself and my family while I fulfill my personal goals. But as you know by now, I am not one to go slow or go small, eh?

My wish for you all, as you write your own 365 page Book of 2014 is for a great quality of life, good health, and personal balance.

If I shoot at the sun, I may hit a star. —P. T. Barnum

namaste.

Carolyne

MS and Working from Home: Dream or Dread?

“If I told you I’ve worked hard to get where I’m at, I’d be lying, because I have no idea where I am right now.”
― Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not for Sale

Working from home – isn’t that the ultimate dream? When you have an illness like MS, that dream often comes with a hard edge. Not everyone is able to be an entrepreneur, and so working from home can become a challenge.

I consider myself very fortunate that I work for an organization that is open to options like working from home, especially for people with health challenges like mine. That being said, it is not always wine and roses! But it can and does work well, and allows me to retain a standard of quality of life that I treasure.

When my MS took me to a point where I could no longer do my shift-working job, I went to day work. I was lucky – I ended up in my dream job as a “front-lines” severe weather specialist dealing with various clients. Then, when my MS developed more complications, I had to leave my dream job  and began working from home. While I have always managed to find my work interesting – I know that I had to give up a part of me by leaving that dream job behind. There’s one edge.

Working from home is not for everybody. You have to consider your personal work habits and abilities. Some questions you have to consider are:

  • Does your job allow for an option of working from home? What adaptations could be nade to allow it? (For example – if you drive a truck for a living, continuing that from home is not possible. Is there another role you could play?)
  • Does it make sense for you to work from home? Or is your health situation indicating that not working is the best option? (There are a lot of things that need to go into determining that!)
  • Do you like working alone? Or do you need regular face-to-face interaction with people?
  • Are you disciplined enough to work from home? Or do you end up getting distracted from your work by kids, pets, household chores?
  • What are the benefits of working from home for you and for your manager?
  • Do you have the space/ability to work from home? What is needed? What is your company’s policy around that?

These are just a very few of the types of questions you need to ask yourself. Each situation is unique and will need thorough research and investigation for your own personal needs.

You have to be willing to address (or ignore) strange responses – even hostile reaction from colleagues. Since beginning to work from home, I have faced questions and comments such as:

  • “Oh – you are still here! I thought you had died.”
  • “Who are you sleeping with to get such perks like working from home?”
  • “You are so lucky! I wish I had MS too if I could get to work from home!”

Wow, eh? None of it was maliciously intended…but it sure comes across negatively, eh? Another hard edge.

For me, I find it interesting that there have been so many ups and downs over the 3-4 years that I have been working almost full-time from home. I am inherently an extrovert, and I thrive in an environment where I get to interact with people directly, not just over the phone, but face to face. After my seizures began, I worked from home full time (M-F) but I found myself going a bit batty – I need interaction with people. And for professional purposes, it is always helpful for people to actually see you – otherwise you can kinda get “forgotten”. The “Outta sight, outta mind” mentality easily develops in colleagues and managers alike! I now go into the office 1-2 times per week (even though it does fatigue me greatly) in order to maintain strong professional connections and give myself that boost of interacting with people directly. (Hallway chats go a long way to help one feel connected!)

Working on your own can be a challenge for some in terms of getting work done. What I myself find is that I am actually way more productive working from home than at the office. There are fewer distractions for me, and I can focus and complete things more easily. Sometimes, if I have had a really difficult night or day, I can sleep right up to 8AM and start working the moment I wake up. If I am having a symptom flare-up, I can rest or nap, then approach my work again once rested – with a clearer head and much higher productivity: win-win for me and my manager. I have also developed a very open and honest relationship with my managers that allows for this success. (And I even get to wear my jammies all day if I wanted to!!)

Working from home is a not always a choice – but if it is an option for you, it needs significant thought and work ta actually make it successful. It needs honesty, trust, and a willingness on both sides (yours and your managers) to make it a successful arrangement. It takes teamwork.

“Working from home meant we could vary snack and coffee breaks, change our desks or view, goof off, drink on the job, even spend the day in pajamas, and often meet to gossip or share ideas. On the other hand, we bossed ourselves around, set impossible goals, and demanded longer hours than office jobs usually entail. It was the ultimate “flextime,” in that it depended on how flexible we felt each day, given deadlines, distractions, and workaholic crescendos.” ~Diane Ackerman, One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, A Marriage, and the Language of Healing, 2011

Working from home as a health management technique can work well – you just have to find the way that is most beneficial for you.

Namaste.

Carolyne

Stress, Swimming, Change and other Stuff

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” ~Leo Tolstoy

I saw this picture online at the noted link, and it resonated with me in a very deep way. Why? Because of stress.

Stress, you question? Why would this picture move my mind to think of stress? It doesn’t – it reminds me that stress can become so “normal” that it can become a way of life that we don’t even recognize. It reminds me that there is more to life than stress – such as pure joy.

This picture reminds me that we need to always seek ways to let go of stress. For me – nature and water are typically stress reducers.

Stress isn’t always bad. In small doses, it can help us perform under pressure and motivate us to do our best. But for those of us with MS, symptoms can often be exacerbated by our own action or inaction in dealing with stress.

Personally, I seem to have a really bad habit of finding myself in situations of spiraling stress. Sometimes (too often, actually)  it takes a medical crash to make me wake up to the levels of stress with which i have been living. But I must say that as I get older and gain more experience with my personal MS course, I am slowly learning to start to recognize my stress levels sooner – and take mitigating action sooner where I can. I am learning to adapt and change.

This can be really tough when I am working full-time, trying to manage my MS symptoms, and trying to fulfill some goals. What I am learning now is to understand where the “stress line” for me – the line or edge that, if I go past it, will inevitably lead to a medical crash of some sort – whether it is seizures or multiple MS flare-ups. Often – the stress can be a product of my own making, truth be told. For example – when I take on too much at work, because I am trying to prove myself or ensure my professional value. I can end up cutting myself off at the knees because my body wears out, leading to a crash, and I don’t succeed as I expect. Or by trying to fulfill a goal such as swimming competitively in synchro with a team again, and pushing myself to reach my goal, even if it may not be the best fit.

The importance of being able to pull back, look at the bigger picture, see where the stressors are, and figuring out how to let go of the stressors that you can control…well, that is a special art, as far as I am concerned. And one that needs significant time to master! And I am in no way close to mastering this art myself, that is for sure! Though I am getting better at identifying the source of the stressors. Some I can control; some I can’t – it is situation dependent. The stress sources that I can control – well, I have to figure out how to lessen impacts on my health. That can take the form of pulling out of a project; adapting a routine, and/or removing oneself from toxic situations or people.

Finding the courage to follow through, however, can be a b@%ch, I can assure you! (This seems especially true of those of us who are over-achievers because we tend to not want to give things up easily!)

Obviously, we can’t get rid of stress completely. This is especially true  when you have a disease like MS - because the very nature of an unpredictable illness like MS means there is always a basic level of stress that will be present. The constant changes that can come with MS, such as not knowing from one day to the next what part of you may or may not be working as you expect, can create a constant low “stress buzz” that niggles at the back of your mind for various reasons. That’s why having a stress-mitigating tool – such as exercise, yoga, or meditation – becomes ever so important for us.

For me – those tools come in the forms of swimming, walking, yoga, crafts, and good friends. I can’t change everything – but I can change myself. I can adapt. I can let go of the stress…or at least some of it!

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” ~ Frederick Douglass

Namaste

Carolyne

MS Brain Fog – huh, what?

“They are able who think they are able.” ~ Virgil

“Huh? What?”

Sometimes that seems to be a phrase I say way too often.

Now – I consider myself very lucky in my MS – because, while I have some serious symptoms such as seizures, chronic pain, and chronic fatigue, I am still quite physcally able. That said, I do have cognitive issues as a result of MS that affect considerably how I live, adapt, work. For me (and many MS’ers) – MS manifests iteself in a way that is mostly invisible to the every day eye looking in from outside.

Many of us with MS experience some form of cognitive issue. The National MS Society reports the following:

In MS, certain functions are more likely to be affected than others:

  • Memory (acquiring, retaining, and retrieving new information)
  • Attention and concentration (particularly divided attention)
  • Information processing (dealing with information gathered by the five senses)
  • Executive functions (planning and prioritizing)
  • Visuospatial functions (visual perception and constructional abilities)
  • Verbal fluency (word-finding)

Certain functions are likely to remain intact:

  • General intellect 
  • Long-term (remote) memory
  • Conversational skill
  • Reading comprehension

I see the top list and find myself checking off each symptom on the list. (Check. Check. Check….Erg.) Then I get to the second part and think “Thank gawd – I still may have some basic marbles left!”

I myself am always re-evaluating, re-discovering, and re-analysing my own cognitive issues. I say “re” because short-term memory is an issue…so I often re-do things and re-discover what I knew before. Add in menopausal mayhem, middle-aging memory slumps, and multi-tasking mash-ups…and, well – you get the picture. And is there any real point to trying to figure out if it is due to the proverbial MS Chicken or menopausal Egg? Really, MS may have come first…but at this point, I think the “cause” edges may be getting increasingly blurry! (I think of the information processing issue: yes, I do definitely deal with MS repercssions of that…but as I age, I think menopausal fall-out happens too! Hormones strike again!) I just have more trouble, well, simply thinking.

Most recently, one of the things that I am finding more challenging than I expected was the challenge of associating figures to counts in the synchronized swimming world.  I have lived with the physical and cognitive repercussions from full-on grand mal seizures in the past (ie. severe concussion and associated memory loss for weeks, cracked ribs, wicked bruising, etc)  and the on-going up and down cognitive levels associated with my MS (i.e. inabiity to do basic math or remember what I am talking about mid-sentence on one day, then “geniosity” levels the next day). But I figured that simply counting to eight musically and associating routine elements would not be too problematic. Ha.

What is happening is that physically, while synchro swimming is definitely a challenge, I am able to master most elements. The biggest challenge is happening mentally – because of cognitive issues around numbers and short-term memory issues. Basically – all the symptoms from the top list is happening – blatantly and obviously. In synchro, while developing a routine there is a lot of trial and error: “Let’s try this; let’s see if this works”. This means that the need for short-term memory becomes critical. And MS can make this very difficult.

As an example – on a recent practice, we were developing another segment of the routine. Then we did a full run through. I did the entire routine just fine until we got the the newly developed part – then I totally blanked! ACK! Now, the more I practice, more and more of the routine sticks in my head. But the most recent sections always lag behind at least 1-2 weeks, memory-wise. This can be a huge frustration – not only for me, but for the people around me (especially if they do not understand why I am havng trouble remembering things). The phrase “Huh? What?” is something that I find myself saying much too often during practice!

But while it can be frustrating and challenging to push again cognitive issues – I am doing it. Do I need to adapt? Yup. In synchro, it means that  I need to do more repetition than the rest of the team. I need to repeat more things more often. I need to write things down more.

In the rest of my life, I need to take more time to fully be sure I understand. In speaking – I need cue cards because I have much more difficulty “winging it” than before. I need more and more lists for everyday things like shopping and regular daily tasks. I need frequent reminders – and I use more and more tools to do exactly that.

I seek out whatever tool and trick that I can to help with whatever new cognitive issue that pops up. And I adapt every day – because every day changes.

Um…Where was I going with this again…?

“The future is completely open, and we are writing it moment to moment.” -Pema Chodron

Namaste

Carolyne

Me & my MS: Finding “Normal” … Again

Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. ~ Albert Camus

What is Normal? When you have a chronic illness such as MS, does the definition change?

Someone recenty commented that I was trying too hard to be normal. So I have been having a philosophical discussion with myself in recent weeks about what I consider my own “normal”. What is normal anyway? Is it a behaviour? A way of speaking? A way of interacting? Is it skin colour? Is it clothing choice? Is it education? What is “normal”? More importantly…what is MY normal?

My answer? Normal is a very individual thing.

My own “normal” has undergone a reformation and reshaping this year…so I am trying to figure out what that normal is now. In the past year I have moved, gotten re-married, started full-on menopause with its roller coaster ride of crazy symptoms, found myself unchallenged at somethings and over-challenged in others, dealt with the ups/downs/and sideways issues of having 2 kids in university, and thrown myself heart and soul into my personal cause of swimming against stigma (by swimming competitively in synchronized swimming after 30 years out of it). So…where does normal come into this equation?

As I have aged and managed my life with MS, I have never strived to be “normal” – because that definition is elusive, as far as I am concerned. I have always strived to be “normal for me”. And what is normal for me? How can I figure that out if the parameters keep changing on me, as is the wont of MS and its symptoms?

Normal for me means dealing with change and adapting on a monthly, daily, and even hourly basis. It means pulling back when I need to, and pushing forward hard when I can. It means heeding the advice of those around me when I can, and knowing when to ignore it, listening to only my own advice to myself. Normal for me means pushing the boundaries; seeing where the edge is and if I can push past it. It means facing my fears and doing it anyway. It means breaking stigmas against MS, seizure disorders, and chronic illness as a whole.

My normal from 30 years ago differs from my normal of 15 years ago, and from my normal of 5 years ago, or even 1 year ago. What was the overlying common denominator in all of that? It was my resilience and ability to deal with change. THAT is my normal.

I re-discover my normal on a regular basis. Right now – my temporary normal is figuring out what my new normal is with my new activities such as swimming and trying to be back in the office more often than before. Is it hard work? Yep- Very hard work. Is it worth the frustration, confusion, and sometime even pain? Yep. For me – that is just a normal part of the process.

What is your normal?

Normal is not something to aspire to, it’s something to get away from. ~ Jodie Foster

Namaste

Carolyne

Menopause and More MS Mayhem

“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”   ― George Bernard Shaw

swimming_cat

What a wacky couple of months it has been! From  flu angst through to menopause and MS mayhem, the waters have been a bit rough at times.

Why, you ask? Well, lemme tell ya!

Back in early April, I came down with a bad flu, running fevers for a week straight recurrently. Being the  over-achieving driven person that I am, I figured that as long as I was not comatose, I could continue to work since I work primarily from home…but I would concede that swimming should be taken off my plate for a short while until my lungs came back. You see, one of the down sides of working from home is that even when you are really sick, you just don’t rest enough!!! So I proceeded to try to keep up, when I should have been shutting down and letting my body heal. I proceeded instead to get sicker, develop lung infections along with sinus infections and the fevers. Then this apparently triggered what they called an estrogen crisis. (I seem to have a penchant for learning the hard way.)

I had never heard of this estrogen crisis thing before. What it meant for me was that I had all of a sudden gone into “hot flash hyperdrive”…literally dripping and crying and weeping and dripping, with hot flashes every 3-5 minutes round the clock. Seriously, folks…I thought I was going absolutely MS nuts!! I even wore this funky necklace I found online (Hot girl pearls) for when I needed to be cool the most…and I looked like I had borrowed Wilma Flinstone’s necklace!! But continual dripping in a board meeting or during presentations was just not appealing.

See that cat in the pic above? That is how I felt and looked the past number of weeks. Sad. Wet. Out of her element.

When by June my hot flashes got even worse, keeping me from sleeping, keeping me on the weepy side, and threatening my seizure control, …I saw the doc on the advice of friends who assured me that what I was experiencing was far from normal. He prescribed Gabapentin to stop the “heat”, as he put it. Within 2 days, the difference was noticeable to me and all those around me. I was sleeping, my hotflashes reduced from 15 per hour to 2-3…and I felt like “me” again. Not only did it help the hot flashes, but it helped the restless legs and pain, so that I actually got quality sleep for the first time in months.

Whew. My mental marbles were still intact!

Fast forward 2 weeks…and my body went in full rejection mode on the gabapentin. I ended up in emergency with my legs swollen twice their usual size, and being tested for blood clots or cardiac issues!!! Now, only 2% of people usually have such side effects to that med according to medical stats – but as we know, when it comes to the medical side effect lottery…I always seem to “win”. So I started off my summer vacation in the emergency room, then spent the next 3 days in full “withdrawal” from the med because they wanted me off cold turkey. (Thankfully my  seizure meds “covered” for me in the chance of such a withdrawal triggering a seizure.)

On the plus side, the hot flashes are not back…and I am still sleeping well. So a switch may have been flipped “back” to the “normal” position! Is that typical? I dunno. Is that due to MS? My doc says “I dunno”. Yay for happy mysteries! As my doc says: “You are a very complex woman!” He doesn’t know the half of it.

In the meantime, I did manage to get back in the water, and even perform my first synchronized swimming duet for the spring season year-end close. (I would show you that…but my hubby’s technical difficulties with the camera ky-boshed that option. Not to fear! There will be more performing and competing to come however, and we will overcome our technical troubles!)

I am starting to look into how and/or if MS and menopause interact in women. I always have been my own case-study, eh?

As we head into summer…I offer this: Stay hydrated, stay cool. Swim. Walk. Have fun. Find your passion. And go with the flow when you can!

“Keeping up the appearance of having all your marbles is hard work, but important.”
― Sara Gruen

Namaste.

Carolyne

MS Whammy: The Raw Emotional Impact

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

Well, I have been “off-line” for a few weeks, you may have noticed. Why? A bunch of things…but suffice it to say the bottom line was because of an MS back-handed WHAMMY!

In recent weeks I have been trying somewhat unsuccessfully to juggle my health management needs, family needs, and work-related needs. As is my wont, I pushed myself much to hard to meet a deadline at work for a high-profile opportunity (which was successful, by the way). At the same time I was dealing with a teenager’s confused and volatile life-searching angst which had direct repercussions on how I manage my household, and dealing with a new “complication” related to my MS. All this combined to bring me down to a state of total disengagement and “cocooning”. I was bone tired. I was at a level of raw emotional pain that literally had me keening in the fetal position in my shower almost daily. Basically – I needed to check out for a bit – from work, from tech, from everything…and simply rest. Rest, rest, rest.

Have I ever mentioned that it is hard for me to “slow down” and actually rest, despite a chronic illness that requires it?

With all the stuff going on, my self-identity took a direct hit, leaving me wondering what my life would be like without MS & seizures. Would major decisions have been different had I never had that seizure that forced my car accident all those years ago? Would my family have been better cared for if I had died in the accident? Did I do enough for them despite my MS? What is my life purpose? Why can’t I stop crying? Who am I? I felt angry as hell at my health situation – angry that maybe it was a main reason behind the teenage angst I was seeing.

What was all this? Grief.

You see, grief that is associated with living with a chronic illness can back-hand you at the most surprising times, and in any of its various stages. The past month I was feeling deep grief and anger and depression – triggered by a decision made by a family member. That in turn made me more ill with a flare of MS symptoms and more despondent, especially since I was already at a low ebb due to giving everything I had to teaching a professional workshop.

I am crawling out from under my rock now. But these past few weeks have served as a strong reminder to me that the grief of living with a chronic illness such as MS sometimes lies much closer to the surface than I am willing to admit.

But it also shows me that there is always a light shining somewhere when that rock is moved away.

“Life is a song – sing it. Life is a game – play it. Life is a challenge – meet it. Life is a dream – realize it. Life is a sacrifice – offer it. Life is love – enjoy it.” ~ Sai Baba

Be gentle with yourself. Namaste.

Carolyne

A Type-A Personality Trapped in a Type-MS body?

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” ~ Marilyn Monroe

Have you ever felt…well, trapped…trapped in your own body?

I recently was talking to a friend of mine who was experiencing just those feeling, and was down emotionally. She has an injured foot, and it is a permanent injury thanks to the incorrect efforts of a doctor who initially treated her. As an athlete, she can no longer participate in her sport. Walking for her has become a painful experience – and sometimes she needs a cane. Running – well, just forget it. But the loss of her usual mobility has left her feeling trapped – trapped in a body that won’t function like she wants it to do. Her identity is impacted – who is she now, in her own mind, “excluded” from her sport of gymnastics? Depression is a resulting possibility.

As a person with MS and Seizures (or any person with a chronic illness, such as multiple sclerosis), I fully understand that feeling of being “trapped”.

Sometimes, I want to rant and rail at the world too, asking the heavens “Why? Why am I trapped in this body that won’t keep up with my mind?? Why me? Why now?”

Lately, I feel like I have been dealing with an inner simmer of emotions, tears often close to the surface. (Well, that may be due to menopause or just that fact that I am a soft-hearted sappy and sentimental person…but that’s for another story! :) )  I have been dealing with an MS exacerbation for a number of weeks now, and it has weakened & fatigued my muscles to the point of significantly affecting my back injury from my seizure/car accident years ago. I have had to pull out the old cane, and I am on restricted activity as a result. I feel trapped by my own body’s limitations. I am wondering if I am dealing with a new “normal”.

Being an active person, and always “into things”, the idea of having to slow down, or even stop, can really impact my own identity – even though I know that slowing down is necessary as a management strategy for my health. I have SO many things I want to do – go out with friends; be more active with my family; participate in my hobbies; be able to work full-time and with full cognition at all times. Personally, I can get alternately weepy or cranky as the intensity of the feelings of “trapped-ness” vary. Right now – with my exacerbation lasting so very long, this trapped feeling is too real. Having to slow down and really rest is too constraining, irritating, frustrating…and down-right annoying.

So – how does one deal with those feelings? Well – that is very individual. Personally, I deal with it with sheer stubbornness. Is this always good? Sometimes yes, sometimes no – depends on the situation (and how ornery I am being). For example – my back injuries have been so painful of late that only being in the water gives me any real relief. So I went to synchronized swim practice as per usual, despite fatigue, seeking the bliss the water provides me. Well, early into the practice, I had a wave of virtigo hit me so hard that up was down, down was up…and my coach had to steady me on the side of the pool. She asked if I needed the lifeguard, and I said no – determined that this too shall pass. It idid – after about 10 minutes of resting on the side. I then got back into the water and continued the practice but at a reduced level of activity. (Note: I do not recommend this level of stubbornness to everyone. Safety first!!! I am just sharing my stubborn levels and its craziness!) 

I got through the swim practice fine thereafter, and found the bliss of the soothing water once again. But, whew – am I nuts? I just refused to be “trapped” by my body’s limitations that night, dammit! I am a type-A personality “trapped” (at times) in a type-MS body.

So – if this IS my new “normal”, then I have to re-discover myself a bit. I have to re-jig my health management routines and strategies to accomodate that new “normal”. Living with MS, that is simply a fact of my life. Change is a fact of Life – no matter who we are.

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.” ― Tao Te Ching

Oh – and my friend? She took up a new sport as a way to “un-trap” herself: synchronized swimming! It accommodates her foot injury just fine! See? There is always another option, a way to manage and accept what you are dealing with in life. One just has to be open to looking for it – and seeing it! (But maybe keep an eye on the level of stubbornness in your choices! :) )

Namaste

Carolyne

Allowing for Personal Renewal in 2013!

“I can hardly wait for tomorrow, it means a new life for me each and every day.” ~ Stanley Kunitz

Image Source: http://breastcancerpartner.com/blog/uncategorized/renewal-spring-is-here/

Image Source: breastcancerpartner.com/blog/

As 2012 came to an end, some sighed in relief that the world did not come to the prophetic end. Some did not have any clue that 2012 was supposedly an “end” to anything. Most of the world simply went on living life as usual.

Everyone has their own individual experience with the past year (2012) so I am not going to do any kind of run-down of 2012 events. We all can do that on a deeply personal level. Look back at 2012 and recognize the blessings there. Recognize the challenges and subsequent learning opportunities. Recognize the achievements and appreciate the moments of joy. Be grateful for what 2012 brought to your life, big or small. Then, let go of 2012 and move on to a sparkly shiny new 2013.

The year 2013 for me will be another year of change and goal setting. Here are a couple of my personal goals for 2013:

  1. Get into optimum training form. To do so, I will kick up my synchronized swimming training efforts a notch to make my goal of competing by  my 50th birthday in spring of 2014 a reality. (I have already begun this one by joining a local gym with my hubby and beginning a training regimen tailored to my injuries and medical adjustments and my goal of competing. This should complement my weekly synchro swim training sessions well! ) 
  2. Keep on top of my health management by ensuring I maintain a healthy diet and manage my fatigue properly. To do so, I will follow a healthy diet with as much raw foods as possible. I will not over-extend my energy limits to the point of exhaustion. I will schedule in more relaxation yoga and meditation.

The greatest mistake a man can make is to be afraid of making one. -Elbert Hubbard

The training goal is the tough one physically. While there is definitely excitement to be back in the water and training competitively in synchronized swimming, I battle frequently with a little niggling fear in the back of my mind that maybe, just maybe, I have bitten of more than I can chew this time. Little ghosts of thoughts cross my mind, such as: Will my body be able to handle this? Am I crazy? Am I too old? Am I too “disabled”? Does it stop me? Heck no. But it does keep me on my toes and AWARE of myself and my own qualms.

The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are. -J. Pierpont Morgan

The health management goal is the toughest one. That’s the one where I have to really fight myself to keep…because I can so easily slide into bad eating habits or push myself to  work too much when I am over-tired. When I am fatigued is also when my brain does not seem to function at its best, and I have been known to make really weird decisions in terms of best choices at the times. (I believe my sister often uses the phrase “OMG – Do you need a brick to hit you in the head every time to get you to finally rest???” ) Trying to get a Type-A person to recognize when she is in full Type-A throttle and to scale back can be quite a challenge at the best of times!

So – do I expect to be perfect this year in reaching my goals and resolutions? Heck no. But I will have fun on the path!

OUR GREATEST GLORY IS NOT IN NEVER FAILING, BUT IN RISING EVERY TIME WE FALL. -CONFUCIUS

Have fun on your own 2013 journey!

Namaste.

Carolyne

Health Management still applies during the Festive Season

Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship. ~ Buddha

We are in the midst of the holiday season festivities. This is a happy, busy and tiring time for many. It can also be a lonely time for some. Both ends require efforts to management of health.

When dealing with a chronic illness, there a more challenges afoot: trying to maximize your ability to meet social and family commitments while minimizing the drain on your energy and any impact to your health. Impacts that come not just from the demands on time and energy, but also the changes in diet and drink consumption. (Those mince meat tarts of auntie’s are to die for…oh and the cookies, cakes, hor d’ouevres, tourtieres,…oh my! What do you mean this is not the way to eat every day? Oh…my head…how many glasses of wine did you say?)  We eat differently, don’t sleep the way we normally do, and push our bodies to meet social and family functions. While all this can be fun…we need to pace ourselves and keep our health management need very clearly in mind. Because pay back is a Bi**h!

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it ‘Christmas’ and went to church; the Jews called it ‘Hanukka’ and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘Happy Hanukka!’ or (to the atheists) ‘Look out for the wall!’ ~ Dave Barry, Christmas Shopping

So, from me and mine to you and yours: Happy Holidays! Happy Hannuka! Happy whatever! (And look out for the wall…)

Oh – and congrats on surviving the end of the world prophecies! ;)

Namaste

Carolyne