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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.

Filtering by Tag: New Year's Resolutions

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.

A Word or Two for the New Year

Terri Reinhart

I had just about decided not to even try making New Year's Resolutions. How many have I kept? Ever? Not many. All those good intentions of exercising daily, eating right, and accomplishing things which, never accomplished, now seem utterly ridiculous and unimportant.  There's enough to do to get through each day, why complicate matters with unrealistic goals?

Yet, it is a new year, a new beginning, and it's hard not to feel a deep urge to freshen up my life a little or give myself a kick in the butt (okay, that's actually not possible, but you get the idea) and decide to be a better person, in one way or another.

My inspiration came from Jeanne Nichols, owner of ModMood, a retro furniture store in Wheat Ridge. In her blog, Jeanne talks about how she chose single words as her resolutions. The first year, she chose one word, "Downsize", and kept it in mind in various aspects of her life throughout the year. It made me think. If I had to choose one word for a resolution, what would it be? I finally settled on this one...

SPACE

space.jpg

Make space in our home. Be aware of how much stuff is accumulating and give things away. Recycle. Most of all, be aware of what we don't need to buy. I want to only have as many things as we need or are important to us for some reason, but not more than we can care for. If something ends up in a box in a closet, it's not needed. Treasure the important things, those that can't be replaced. My treasures are old family photos and letters.

Make space in my doing. This is harder for me, especially now when I have so much to do, but I've made a start. I've decided to cut down on the number of different kinds of crafts I do. This will help with the stuff issue, too. I've gone back to knitting, my first craft, because I've done it so long, it's relaxing without having to think about it.

Make space for people. Be aware of how I listen - or don't listen to my family and friends. Oh, and get my hearing checked. Chris is going to insist, maybe because I asked him why he said he was going to vacuum the driveway (...back into... not vacuum..). Make space to spend time with people who are important to me. Write letters.

Make space in my friendships. People come and go in our lives all the time and there's so much we learn from each other. Let friends in, let them go, it's part of the natural flow of time. I value all my friends and tend to want to connect with more people more often than is practical, considering my time and energy, and I also feel guilty if someone tries to connect with me and I'm too busy to respond right away. Making space doesn't mean we don't care for each other. 

Make space in my thinking for new ideas, people, learning, and admitting when I'm wrong. I should get plenty of practice in the last one. Make sure there's plenty of space without computers and phones.

Make space to care, to be grateful, to give back. A lot of people have given us so much of their time, their resources, their loving care. 

Oh, and make time to watch a little Star Trek and Dr. Who now and then, just so I can have some perspective on SPACE. .... and time and relative dimensions ... and metal monsters.

What's your one word resolution?

 

 

Cleaning up and Clearing out - Happy New Year!

Terri Reinhart

“What's this?” asked Mo, somewhat sarcastically. She was helping me to go through my stacks of old papers and decide which were to be kept, which would go to the recycling bin, and which would go to the shredder.

Me: “It's a bill from Children's Hospital. I'm never sure how long I'm supposed to keep those things.”

Mo: “It's dated 1994. I think you can throw it out now. Can you tell me again why we are doing this?”

Me: “Sure. It's my New Year's Resolution. A cluttered house is a cluttered mind, you know. I'm getting rid of all those things that have been cluttering up our house. I'm sweeping out the spider webs. Clean 'em up, clear 'em out!

Mo: “Something you haven't done since 1994, it seems. I hate to think how cluttered YOUR mind is.”

Me: “You're supposed to be encouraging me not insulting me.”

Mo: “I'm just giving my opinion. I am an Opinion Fairy, you know.”

Me: “Okay, okay, I got it. Oh, and since you're ready to give your opinion, would you take a look at my other New Year's Resolutions and see what you think?”

Mo: “Sure, hand it over.”

I handed her my paper. She looked at it, then at me, with a slightly bewildered expression.

Mo: “There's nothing on here but a long list of names and another list of words. From this look of this, you have a whole lot more decluttering to do.

Me: “Don't you see? This year, my resolutions aren't things I want to do, they are how I want to be. These are the qualities that I want to work on next year. Those names I've written down are people who show those qualities in such a way that they remind me to work on them myself. Here, look at the first name. Lindy has been my best friend for over 30 years. No matter what is happening in her life, she sits on her front porch every day and recalls everything in her life for which she thankful. That's one of the qualities I want to work on next year, being grateful.”

Mo: “I get it. Lindy helps you to remember to be grateful for all the good things in your life and to see the blessings in your challenges, Marie helps you to remember to be generous and thoughtful, Dave - to be honest and laugh at yourself, Mike – to live in the moment, Andrea – to love without judgement, Eric – to remember those who are less fortunate that you are, Daemon – to keep working on making yourself a better person, John and Coco – to live simply and beautifully... and so on. The list is long.”

Me: “Yeah, it is, isn't it? I'm awfully lucky, aren't I? If we went through the whole list, it would take a week.”

Mo: “I can see why you want to declutter if you are going to have room for all this in your life. Declutter the house, declutter the mind. You know that if you accomplish all this, your New Year's resolution is to become a saint.”

Me: “Nah, see that towards the bottom?”

Mo: “It's your name?”

Me: “Yup. I see that and remember how easy it is to fall down and how to pick myself back up again. I know myself well enough to know that I'm not headed toward sainthood, just humanhood!”

Mo: “And what's this at the very bottom of the list?”

Me: “Oh dear, sorry about the bad handwriting. My meds must have been wearing off when I wrote it. That's Chris, my husband you know. I saved the best for last.”

Mo: “I can't make out what it says. Gotta help me here.”

Me: “It says beautiful. Chris reminds me that I'm beautiful. Can't get better than that.”

Mo: “If you want my opinion, it sounds like 2012 is going to be a good year!”

Me: “Damn right.”

I poured a tiny bit of eggnog in a thimble and added just a couple of drops of Bailey's. We hadn't gotten all the papers organized, but we'd made a good start. I handed the thimble to Mo just as the clock struck midnight.

 

Cheers!