Tag

Healthy Life

I Quit

The time has come; I just have to quit.

Drinking has become a chore. Finding the alcohol in every situation…

quit mimosas

There’s no drink service on this plane/in this comedy club/at this tapas joint? How can I possibly deal?
Will I be able to sneak a bottle into that festival/concert/cruise ship?
How will I function without alcohol at this holiday party/high school reunion/completely random social gathering?

 

Perhaps there is a comfort in knowing exactly where to go (the bar!) and what to do (get a drink!) when entering a potentially awkward situation, but hopefully this is something that a mature (kinda) adult can deal with.

I’m not a person who has some amazing blackout-rode-a-llama-home-from-the-bar-and-there-are-3-people-who-I-don’t-know-sleeping-on-my-kitchen-floor-and-how-did-I-end-up-with-MORE-money-in-my-wallet-than-I-started-out-with-? story, but I’ve definitely had periods in my life during which I imbibed a little more than I should: when I was dealing with my diagnosis, coming to terms with my separation, that time(s) that my kids just would NOT STOP (okay, so that’s daily).

And my interest has just not been where it used to be. I truly feel that sometimes I’ll have a cocktail out of habit, not enjoyment.

quit alcohol

And health!
Of course it’s better for your body to stay away from alcohol. As per WebMD, drinking, even moderately, boosts one’s risk for several types of cancer (but, let’s be honest, that site is infamous for diagnosing everyone, even someone with the slightest swollen glands, with the big C).

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism discusses the horrific effects of drinking on most of one’s anatomy, including the brain (shocker: it’s harder to think clearly when you’ve been consuming alcohol), the heart (stroke, among other issues), the liver (I think we were all aware of this one), the pancreas (dangerous inflammation and swelling), and the immune system (maybe get 2 flu shots this year?).

Further research discusses how the chronic abuse of ethanol (alcohol) can have permanent effects of brain function.

And of course my health in particular, which has taken a turn for the worse as of late. I know drinking alcohol is disproved of among the medical community in regards to autoimmune diseases, so this is precisely directed toward my goal of taking MS down!

I’m not talking about the dude that has a couple of beers on Saturday night with his buddies then calls it a night, and I’m not implicating that woman who meets her co-worker for a drink after work.

I’m also not talking about that guy who needs a couple of shots of vodka in his orange juice in order to function for the rest of the day or the lady who carries around a flask of rum to work to pour into her coffee. The chemically-dependent individual is on a whole different level.

I’m talking about ME. I am not a binge drinker. I wouldn’t even consider myself an abuser, but I do drink.

I’m just a girl, standing in front of a bordeaux, saying “No thank you.”

I just don’t need another “thing.”

I remember quitting smoking. How it seemed completely impossible in the beginning. I couldn’t even wrap my brain around the concept of going to a bar and NOT smoking.

  • Being in my car and NOT smoking.
  • Eating a meal and afterward NOT smoking.
  • Taking a smoke-break at work and NOT smoking.

Now, however, I feel so completely free of the burden of cigarettes: of buying them, of having them in supply at all times, of smelling like them (in retrospect, eww!), and of having to go outside in the middle of January to have one.

Will I feel more unburdened without having alcohol in my life?

Let’s find out.

Paint Your Way to Health

My new book has arrived! I’m super-excited to present “Paint Your Way to Health: Using Art as Therapy for Patients Living with Neurological Illness.”

Please check it out on Amazon– it’s free for Prime members, 99 cents if you’re not.

If you don’t use an e-reader, you can easily take a gander using your computer; it’s really short. Please leave feedback for me on Amazon. I’d love to hear your thoughts, as I am working on the second publication in the series right now.

I’m really excited to see my name in print  🙂

Love to all! xoxo

 

Art Therapy
It’s here!

Rain Before Rainbows

Maybe if I try…

Maybe if I try: Rain before rainbows
Rain, rain, go away…

 

Part of becoming a grown up is accepting the fact that you can no longer accomplish “anything you want to do.”

No, I’ll never explore Mars.

No, I’ll never discover that I’m actually a princess, mixed at birth.

No, I probably won’t even inherit millions of dollars from a dear uncle who I don’t recall ever meeting.

And apparently I won’t be able to work outside the home either.

I had argued this fact on two occasions without an actual trial:

  • After my daughter’s birth, I stayed home, with the intent to return back to teaching after the kids were in school full time. Just after my son was born, I was diagnosed with MS. After much deliberation, it was decided (with nearly no input from me) that my career, for which I’d gone to undergraduate and graduate school, as well as countless workshops, seminars, and symposiums, blah, blah, blah was no longer an option. I would be unable to return. I mourned, but still upheld hope: maybe if I tried…
  • During my divorce deliberations it was decided (with, once again, nearly no input from yours truly) that I COULD work; that I was just being lazy by saying otherwise. I rejoiced: maybe if I tried…

And try I did… I uploaded my resume to one of those online-job-recruitment-site-thingies on a Wednesday night, and my first call came in on Thursday morning. With no preparation at all, I started interviewing. I was not quite as nervous as I normally would be, because I wasn’t actually planning on going back until the following year, when my little one was in kindergarten. This was just practice, I told myself. I hadn’t even updated my certifications!

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Hot Mess

**Disclaimer: Poor language choices to follow. Perhaps it shows the extremities of my messiness**

 

I am a hot fucking mess.

There is sand stuck to my exposed skin, laced between my toes, and caught in my windblown hair from yoga class this morning, held on the beach on this cold and damp and EARLY morning.

A freshly penned speeding ticket sits in the passenger side of my Prius. I mean, come on, isn’t the trooper aware that my car is unable to maintain speeds past 65 mph without beginning to tremble? I’m not exactly a threat on the road.

I had no time to put on makeup before, so my blonde eyelashes look like the white falsies that a drag-queen might wear to a diva competition and my brows, almost the same overly-milked-oatmealish color as my skin, look nonexistent. I must’ve scratched the side of my face while I slept, because I noticed a red gash stretching across my cheek. I squeeze my eyes tightly, trying to recall the dream from the night before that caused my abrasiveness. No memories though.

My finger nail polish is chipped: noticeably so. My toes too. Crap. I look like a hot fucking mess.

I focus on myself internally. That’s what really matters, right?

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“Vacationing”

Lemtrada treatments don’t make for the best trips…

Mom and I walked along Main Street in Nyack, desperately trying to find the little Italian bistro that served the gluten-free penne where we had eaten the year before. The biggest challenge was that we didn’t even remember the name, just that it had outdoor dining tables and a loud fountain that made me have to pee when I sat too close to it.

After a few blocks, my mom asked the stranger, who I could hear softly padding behind us, if he was from around here and knew of the restaurant.

“No, sorry, I’m just visiting.” He must have seen the hunger-induced desperation in my eyes when I turned around to look at him, though, because he went on. “But why don’t you try me?” Our horrible explanation and lack of name or address wasn’t very helpful. “I’m really sorry, wish I could help.”

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Misconceptions

Life is a series of misconceptions.

When we are kids, this is more direct: the belief in a magical fairy who creeps into our bedrooms as we sleep to take our old canines and slip a couple dollars under our pillow; a 6-foot tall rabbA misconceptionit, who hops around laying chocolate eggs and leaving baskets of candy and fake plastic grass, wrapped in cellophane and a giant pink bow; an elf who flies from the family room curtain rod to the bookcase in the den at nighttime, surveying our behavior in December in order to report it to the big guy.

Okay, perhaps these are less misconceptions, more like lies.

 

But, as kids, we also have misconceptions about the people we are surrounded by. That our parents are always perfect. That everything will always turn out okay in the end. As a parent now, I have first-hand knowledge that the former is not true. Not even a little bit true. I am admittedly flawed, yet I try to live up to the conceptions that my children have of me.

And, perhaps it’s a little naïve of me to think so, but hopefully everything will turn out okay in the end, or, at least, how it’s supposed to.

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A Letter to One I Love

Hey you,

We have to talk (you hate clichéd phrases, I know, but in this case it just seems like the right thing to say). Simply put, I’m hurt. Irrevocable harm has been done; you seem to have turned your back on me completely. These flaws showed up about four and a half years ago, and, call it intuition: I knew, yet I was still dumbfounded.

I mean, how could you?

And, believe me, I know I’m no saint. I’ve made some poor choices in my life too: I smoked for a time (which, unfortunately did nothing to increase my coolness), I consume alcoholic beverages (my fair share, as well as the fair share of several others), I had a diet coke addiction for a while there (mmm… aspartame), but this, THIS is unforgivable!

I’ve changed, but unfortunately so have you. Some can blame time, blame age. I don’t know. It’s been nearly 37 years now, and you decided to revolt. I loved you… I love you. Please, PLEASE return to your normal, healthy state, and stop attacking yourself.

I promise to be good to you from here on in. You’re my one and only body, and I truly want you to be healthy.

Love always,
me

Christmas Past, Christmas Future **three**

The Conclusion

“Happy Thoughts”

**one**

**two**

The memory faded and my brain returned to the present, being crushed on both sides by my aggressive seatmates, both determined to be the emperor of the arm rest.

The seat in front of me reclined, making my space even smaller. Row 22, mine, didn’t move back. I suddenly felt as though the oxygen on the plane was getting more sparse, and I half-expected the masks to fall from the ceiling. I slowly filled my lungs with air and blew it out, realizing that I looked like a lunatic to the people seated next to me. Just a couple more hours…

Thinking happy thoughts

I picked up my magazine again, but it was mere moments before my eyes glazed over, and my thoughts began wandering yet again. Once more, it was Christmastime, but this memory was from a few years earlier.

Avery was in her infant swing, giggling as she stared at the colorful lights that adorned the tree. I looked around at the decorations that I had just put up, and silently congratulated myself. Now, to finish ironing the Christmas linens and put the meatloaf in the oven.

I was one housedress away from becoming my grandmother.

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Hike

hike

 

Butterflies the color of frothy milk bubbles glided close to my nose and tall grass tickled my ankles.I breathed in the sweet smell of honeysuckle, peering through the tree trunks, so long and slender, like the necks of a hundred giraffes.

On foot, I raced the strong river currents. The sound of the rushing water spilling over abounding rocks competed with the raucous chirping of the blue heron.

A wall of dirt loomed to the left, the gnarled roots of trees jutting out toward me, desperately searching for nutrients. The path became more narrow and I looked down at the rocks and sticks and uneven ground that tried to prevent my endurance on the trail.

Looking back up to the mountains in the distance was all at once exhilarating and calming. My breath felt like it had been cut short, to blame: the enchanting scene before me, the thin mountain air, the strenuous hike. I took a large gulp of oxygen and continued to put one foot in front of the other. I allowed my mind to meander through the cavernous enclaves of thought that paralleled the twisting path.

I shouldn’t be doing this. It’s a fact that those with multiple sclerosis cannot hike on dirt paths through the mountains. But I put that thought out of my mind and concentrated on planting my feet on the ground in a meditative rhythm. A little over an hour had passed and I started to notice that it was becoming harder to lift my feet over the debris on the trail. I was beginning to move at a much slower pace than my mom and my sister, whose bodies became smaller and smaller as they got further away. Don’t look back… don’t look back and see me stumbling.View from our hike

My new soundtrack became the more frequent tapping of my walking stick as it hit the earth, and my breath as it augmented when I tried to speed up. The last few paces of the hiking trail were a struggle. Although I didn’t feel tired, my legs and feet just wouldn’t obey the directives so clearly laid out to them by my brain. I looked up the dirt path, assessing whether I’d be able to make it, or if I’d be spending my remaining years sitting on a rock, only a few feet from the paved road. From around the corner, I saw the dog, pulling my sister down toward where I was standing. She put out her arm without a word and I gratefully grabbed hold, allowing her to be my support up the rocky hill.

I’ve never been more appreciative to see the blacktop of a parking area, and I welcomed the sight of the silver Mazda that my mom had thankfully pulled around closer to where I had emerged. With a huff and a grunt, I fell into the backseat of the vehicle, the dog seated comfortably next to me. I caught my breath and absorbed the coolness of the air conditioning. My mom twisted around to look at me. “So, what did you think?”cloud and sun

I looked over to the magnificence of the mountains, the clear lake below. I thought about the butterflies and the birds. I remembered the trees and the colors so vivid that I actually felt them. “I can’t wait to go again.”

 

Identification

What Is Your “Identity”?

I remember in a graduate class the professor posing the question.

She told us not to answer right away, but rather to consider the question carefully over the course of a few days. The next time we met, each of us were to think of all the words that identified us as individuals— teacher, spouse, parent, student, patient, former whatever-the-case-may-be, athlete, friend, etc.

Oh, good. Any easy day, I thought. Time to give my brain a break.

Turns out, I was wrong. This happened to be a defining moment for me, though at the time, I was unaware. So, I considered the ways that I saw my life, and how others perceived me. I thought about how I wanted to be identified. I also thought about how I didn’t want to be identified. This is an exercise that I find helpful to return to often, in order to make sure that I’m doing everything in my power to display the qualities that I want to be synonymous with as a person.

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