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My Parkinson's Journey

In which Terri shares a humorous look at her journey with Parkinson's disease and Dystonia:

For me, illness and health are not opposites but exist together. Everyone has something that is challenging to them. Mine just simply has a recognizable name. My life will take a different path because of this but that's okay. Everyone has changes in their lives that create their path.  I'm learning how to enjoy whatever path I'm on.

Look Both Ways

Terri Reinhart

All good things come to those who wait, except when time and tide wait for no one. The best things in life are free, but there is no such thing as a free lunch. Silence is golden, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease. You are never too old to learn, but you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

 I've been looking through wise old sayings for some inspiration for my New Year's resolutions. They aren't much help. Neither are the motivational quotes I see on Facebook every day. They are just way too clever... and contradictory. No matter what you believe, there's a motivational quote to back you up. 

We moms are good at contradictions and oxymorons. We come up with some really creative things to say, especially when we're functioning on less than 3 hours of sleep. It was one of those days when I saw a student spewing bread crumbs as he was talking to a friend, and I hollered, "DON'T EAT WITH FOOD IN YOUR MOUTH!" I know it was a profound thing to say because 20 years later, he still remembers it. 

New Year's is a good time to look back as well as look forward. It's important. Especially as parents, grandparents, and caregivers of all sorts, we are often so busy living in our day to day moments, putting out brush fires and making sure everyone is fed, we don't take the time to actually deal with stuff that happens. If we blithely say we're letting go of the past and living in the present, without figuring out what the past stuff was teaching us, we're not really letting go of anything. We're just pretending it's not there, but it's still attached by an elastic band that gets tighter and tighter until we either address it or it snaps and hits us on the side of the head. 

So, looking back, my last year has been filled with contradictions. I have, by necessity, turned inward toward family, taking care of our grandchildren regularly and my parents. At the same time, my trips to Washington DC for PCORI meant that I went farther out in the world and really stretched my intellectual abilities. Whether I'm asked to go again or not, I'm glad I had this opportunity.

Our lives have been incredibly busy at times and then, there will be days when I don't really have enough to do. Planning is impossible because one phone call inevitably means a free day is no longer free. I've had time for quiet, time for reflection, time for reading. I haven't had the energy for crafts, so what did get done was all bonus. 

I've been forced to slow down this year, except when I'm running all over town and making phone calls all day.  I have trouble slowing down willingly, so this has been so good for me. I've been able to be more present to all the people in my family and I've been forced to prioritize and decide what is most important in my life. Being Grandma is the best!

Going forward, I will still be watching our grandkids and caring for my parents. I will still be forced to go slow. I'm okay with this, it feels right. So much has happened in the last 9 whirlwind years since I was diagnosed with Parkinson's. Now, I feel I've finally had a chance to really process all those changes:  we're grandparents now, we're both retired, we're starting to downsize our stuff and our schedule. Friends have come and gone in our lives and we've had to say our final goodbyes to so many friends and family members. This has been difficult and painful, but I've also realized how lucky we are to have known so many beautiful people and how privileged we are to witness the start of their next journey - wherever and however their journey continues.

My new year's resolution? To keep putting one foot in front of the other, continue learning, laughing, caring, believing in what is good in the world, and forgiving - myself and others - after all, we're all struggling and doing the best we can, and I'll do my best to be mindful of everyone who comes into my life. 

Oh yeah, and I'll also continue dancing.  The world needs more dancing.