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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: simplify

A Simple Tree

Terri Reinhart

We decided to get a small Christmas tree this year, just to keep things simple. Chris would prefer to have a small tree anyway, but most years, I intervene. This year we want to focus on family and making dinner on Christmas eve and preparing for guests on Christmas day. A small tree leaves more room for guests to be comfortable in our small house. I got it. 

Off to our regular Christmas tree lot at Wardle's Feed in Wheat Ridge. They were down to 9 trees, 4 of which were large, full, and over $50; the rest were sort of Charlie Brown trees without the charm. Back in the truck and off to another lot. This one had a lot of trees. At 25 degrees and windy, we made our choice quickly. It's a small tree, about 5' tall, but nice and full.

christmas tree.jpg

Back home, we got out the tree stand only to find out it is made to hold trees which are at least 5 inches in diameter. Ours is... maybe 4 inches. Close doesn't work with tree stands. I did a quick search on google for tree stands for small trees. It came up with a few available in our area. The closest one was at a Walmart. We do not shop Walmart.

I went to Walmart. To get to the particular Walmart which had this item in stock, I had to pass two other Walmart stores... on Wadsworth Blvd, which was going at a snail's pace with bumper to bumper traffic and road work. But I got there. They had two stands, one for larger trees and one for smaller trees. Unfortunately, the one for smaller trees was made for those at least 5 inches in diameter. 

On the bright side, I didn't spend any money at Walmart. This was good because I realized I had also left my purse at home. I spent the drive home (also on Wadsworth) thinking of all the possible ways to hold the tree in place in the larger stand. In fact, I let my inner Mattheus (my soon to be 7 year old inventor grandson) imagination go and, by the time I got home, had a complicated plan involving a piece of PVC pipe, more nuts and bolts, and power tools. 

Chris looked at me and said, "That's way too complicated. How about putting some gravel in the stand to see if that helps."

Sigh. He was right, of course, and I shushed my inner inventor who was sputtering, "but, but, but...". We put gravel in. Amazing! The tree stayed upright! Right up until I put the skirt around the base. We decided to sleep on it and try Plan B in the morning. 

Next morning: Maybe we needed some larger rocks to wedge it in? We siphoned off the water. We went out into the snow and dug around where we knew we had left some larger rocks. Bennie, our chiweenie, bravely followed me all the way to the garage before whimpering and turning back. It's 7 degrees out today and we have a foot of snow.

Digging out rocks in the snow ended up being worth the effort. The tree is now standing, as straight and sturdy as we're going to get it. We'd better be careful to balance the weight of the ornaments as we decorate the tree. Chris mentioned the possibility of guy wires. 

As soon as the tree was relatively stable, it seemed to me it would look much better if we had it on a small, low table. Chris suggested this would have been a fine idea IF we had done it before putting in all the stones, gravel, and water. He's right. Moving it now would be too complicated.

And this year we're keeping it simple

Make your house fair

Terri Reinhart

...as you are able. I'm glad the song continues with this line. I'm still in the process of simplifying and clearing out everything I don't use, can't use anymore, or just simply don't need. It feels so good to do this, I will have to be careful so I don't give away things I need. Simplifying can become addicting. 

The challenging part of taking on a challenge like simplifying my life while managing a challenging health disorder is the challenge of having enough energy to do something more challenging than just simply making it through the day. Then there's the challenge of trying to pace myself so I can do challenging things without crashing and without getting totally pissed off because I can't do as many things as I used to do and everything I do is just a little more challenging than it used to be.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. I haven't even finished writing down my Thanksgiving thoughts. 

When our children were younger, I would have made an advent calendar. I would have stayed up half the night to get it all done so it was ready in the morning. We would have also made our wreath, which was only difficult because we didn't get our tree so early and had to scramble for greens. These last few years, I've forgotten about the wreath until it came time to light the candle at dinner. Tonight, I hastily found a votive candle and holder so we could celebrate the beginning of Advent. We lit the candle, but forgot to say the verse. 

Though my spiritual beliefs have gone on a wild roller coaster ride over the last ten years or so, the traditions are still important to me. The days are getting shorter. It's time to be more introspective. Time to acknowledge the cycles of the earth and what they can teach us. The first light of Advent is the light of the stones, stones that live in seashells and crystals and bones. It's time to be thankfully aware of the basics: the ground we stand on, the bones which hold up our physical bodies, the foundation and bricks that hold up our house. 

Another basic part of our foundation we can find in a classic Advent hymn, written in 1928 by Eleanor Farjeon: 

"People look east, the time is near for the crowning of the year! Make your house fair as you are able, trim the hearth and set the table. People look east and sing today, love the guest is on its way."

Part of our foundation as human beings are other human beings. Certainly our family is our real foundation, hopefully a strong one. But the song tells us to look out from our homes. Get your house ready and make sure you have food to share. Who is our guest? As a Catholic school student when I was very young, I learned the guest is Jesus, of course. As a young adult I learned the only way to see Jesus was to see his divine light in every person.

Okay, so this is enough of a challenge for the first week. Nothing too difficult. Just get my house cleaned and tidied, make sure to have enough food on hand so if any of you decide to stop by, I can fix you a cup of tea and a snack, and make sure I am centered enough to see the divine light in everyone I meet. 

Back to tidying... as a former Catholic school kid, I have a few interesting challenges when it comes to cleaning. Even after all these years, I still have prayer books, prayer cards, an old scapular, some broken rosaries and, what I think belonged to my uncle, a wooden crucifix that is broken with Jesus' metal body tied on with string. Throwing anything such as these in the trash or even recycling them makes my inner Catholic school kid shudder. We learned (really) that if we did anything to harm the Jesus statue, we would be harming Jesus. I'm thinking of putting all these things in a basket and leaving them at the church door.

I'm sure those old superstitious beliefs are not taught to Catholic children anymore, so I don't feel bad about clearing my house and my psyche of such oddments. In my house and in my beliefs, it's time to get back to basics. It's all I have energy for, anyway.

The first light of Advent is the light of the stones.

 

Drafted

Terri Reinhart

It's been difficult to find time to write lately and even more difficult to figure out what to write about. So, I looked through all the drafts of articles I've started and thought perhaps they could inspire me to do something new. Sometimes I come up with a title and nothing else.

Here goes:

Armchair Reactivist: My intentions were good, not just because I wanted to write an article, but because I wanted to be a real political activist and get involved with our city politics. I went door to door gathering signatures on petitions and later, went door to door again to deliver leaflets for our city counselor's election. 

My stamina being not so great, I decided I was better at being an armchair activist, or, when it comes to social media, an Armchair Reactivist. Being a reactivist isn't nearly as productive or useful as being an activist and it has sometimes gotten me into awkward spots. I'm sure there's a lot more I could write on this subject. If I finished, it would be deep and scholarly and point out all the ramifications for our society.

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I'll do it Tomorrow:  I decided this was the best title I've ever come up with for an article that has never been written and probably never will be, like the one above. The fact this has also been my mantra for everything over the last six months or so makes it an even more appropriate title. Catchy, isn't it!

It's Enough: This follows the other two. I can't remember exactly what I had in mind here, whether I'd had enough or whether I had to decide what I was doing was enough. It could be either, depending on the day. 

It's back there in the gray matter somewhere. We need to simplify, really simplify and not just give it lip service. This doesn't just pertain to stuff, though there's a lot of stuff needing to go, it's also how we live. My medications, over the years, have either sped me up or slowed me down. Finding a middle ground hasn't been easy, but at least I know now I don't have to try and cram as much living into my days and weeks as I possibly can.  If we go slower, do less, we experience more. And that's enough.

Labels and Identity: This was going to be one of those really important articles which would go viral on the internet and, maybe have 4 or 5 people actually read it. (For me, that's viral) This is something else I've been thinking of a lot. 

When I was in high school, we liked to talk about how we didn't want anyone to label us. Working with children who had disabilities and challenges, labels were often what helped get help for a child. Sometimes a label helped with funding. I'm also involved with our LGBTQ community. They have recently added more labels - LGBTTQQI2SA. This might look awkward and seem a little bit label heavy, but I get it. These labels are helping people understand their unique identity. I wish these labels had been around for friends in my generation.

What I remember from working with child observation is: you can have labels that help free an individual or labels that box them in. The most important label is: This is a unique and uniquely beautiful human being. Know the others, then forget them.

There's so much more on this subject, it needs to be a whole book. Someone else can write it. 

And after all this, I'd undoubtedly summarize all of my thoughts into a wise, but witty ending paragraph, bringing everything together. I'd probably connect these ideas to the experience of chronic health challenges and try to say something inspiring. Instead, I'll just copy and paste and tweet about it.

Tomorrow.