Well, duh.

You know, there are days when I realize that for however smart I was in grade school, that may well be how completely clueless I am as an adult about common sense things.

smart-vs-dumb

Gorgeous, either way, though, right?

See, I’ve been living in Orland Hills, IL for a little over a year now.  The town is so small that in order to use public transportation, you actually have to call a phone number more than 24 hours in advance and set up your ride.  It’s like paratransit, but for everybody.

When we moved here, I walked over to the town hall to get all of our paperwork in order, and I was told by some of the ladies who work there that I couldn’t bring my baby on the bus because they don’t allow car seats.  Thus began my year of walking everywhere and having absolutely crushing stir-craziness in the winter, wondering how I would make it until my son turned 8.

Well, today, I had enough of it.  It’s gorgeous outside (but -5 degrees wind chill), and despite having time travel seizures yesterday, I decided I was tired of feeling like a middle schooler who was impatiently waiting for one of her friends to get a drivers license. I decided to ask the hivemind — my friends on FB and the folks in one of the local parenting groups on there.

And do you know what they suggested? A taxi service.

benny

I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me earlier, and I feel totally dumb for not thinking of it. It’s so simple and straightforward that it makes my head hurt.

For some reason, I thought that since we’re living in the suburbs, we wouldn’t have access to taxis out here… but we do! I even thought, “Hey! Uber might work!” but riding in an Uber with a baby and his car seat only works if the Uber driver is cool with it — and most of them aren’t. (Who can blame them? If my baby pukes, Uber’s not gonna clean it up for them, and if we are in an accident, the liability for them is too great.)

So, one of the ladies in the parenting group suggested a specific driver who works with her elderly mom, and I’m going to be giving him a call tomorrow.

I’m tired of feeling like less than an adult, simply because I can’t get where I want to go when I want to go. Henry deserves to go to the library, regularly. He deserves to go on playdates. He deserves a life outside of this house, and a mommy who has more self-esteem than I do right now.

Cabbing it might seem kinda costly, but I’m going to do everything I can to remind myself, when I’m feeling too cheap to give us freedom, that if I had a car, I’d be paying more for gas, maintenance, licensing, and insurance. Not to mention how much we’ll save on psychological therapy in the coming years for me and Henry. (No agoraphobia allowed!)

So, I’m now looking very forward to going to pilates or yoga classes during the day at our gym like I’ve wanted to for so long. I’m going to make friends here and be a functional member of this community. I’m going to stop using my inability to drive as a reason to feel sorry for myself. I’m taking back at least some of the freedom I’ve unconsciously given to seizure disorder.


On a completely different note, I was approached by an employee of Earnest a few weeks ago who asked me to write an entry on holiday budgeting. Over the course of our emails it appeared that they wanted me to suggest to my readers that they refinance their student loans. They didn’t offer me any compensation to promote them, so my link above exists out of nothing more than goodwill towards someone who may have read one of my entries, but who definitely has a tough job if they’re trying to get sporadic writers like me to pimp their product.

Anyway, I have a ton of tips that I would be happy to share about how I personally save money, but I also have a massive amount of respect for my small and dedicated group of readers. I don’t believe that y’all care one iota about reading about that sort of thing here.  If I’m wrong, let me know, and I’ll happily write it up for you.

Hope everyone’s feeling well, and that 2017 isn’t half the shitshow that the Great Dumpster Fire of 2016 was.

2016dumpsterfire

And today I’m fine. (So far.)

MS is so weird. One day, I’m damn near immobilized by fatigue and seizures, and the next, I’m feeling great and am having a genuine debate as to whether it’s smarter for me to blog or fold and put away ALL. THE. THINGS. (It can’t be some of the laundry. That’s just not enough. I’m adulting so hard today!)

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Happiness > Folded Laundry

Of course, since you’re reading this, you know what choice I’ve made. Surely, I’ll make a dent in the mountain of clean laundry at some point today, but I felt like writing was a better use of the short time that I have while Henry naps.  Why?  Because writing is one thing that makes me genuinely happy, even if I’m writing about tough stuff… and if I don’t do simple things that make me happy, I have no one to blame but myself.

I think that’s one of the hardest things about being a SAHP (Stay-At-Home Parent, for the uninitiated). It’s way too easy to spend the entire day focusing on your child’s needs and housekeeping and to completely neglect yourself.

If you can sing every jingle from every Daniel Tiger episode, but you haven’t listened to a new release from one of your favorite artists that was released almost a year ago (like this one for me), you just might have your priorities slightly out of whack. (And that’s ok.  Friends help each other. Yes, they do. It’s true!)

If you don’t carve out time for things that make you smile, you can become overwhelmed and sad so easily. Heck, when I first started this gig, I had to set alarms to remind myself to eat (Ok, I’ll be honest. I still use those alarms.) and take showers. (More than 1 a week! It’s important!)

After going back to therapy, this time for postpartum depression, I realized something: I’m doing a fantastic job of challenging automatic negative thoughts… but I’m doing a crap job of giving myself credit for the things I do and an even worse job of having fun.

A thought really struck me hard the other day — Henry is learning how to be a person from watching me.  If I don’t do things that make me happy, I’m teaching him (by example) how to be miserable. We can’t have that. I refuse.

domorehappy

So, I’m gonna keep doing my best to show him that you rest when you feel bad, and you do whatever you can when you’re feeling well.

On that note, I’ll be busting out the guitar this week…finally bringing it out of retirement. It’s been almost a year and a half now since I played. (Baby belly bumps get in the way!)  I’m not expecting that it’ll sound particularly good — but something is so much better than nothing. I’ve been thinking about it for weeks now, and I think he’s finally at an age where I could play it and he wouldn’t automatically try to wrestle it away from me.

Truth be told, I miss parts of my identity from before I became a mommy… from before MS made my life wonky… from before I stopped thinking that I could be and do anything I wanted to do be and do. It’s time for that thinking to end. My mindset is in my control. Self-empowerment is about owning your bullshit and choosing to powerfully move past it.  You can’t be proud of yourself and be mired in self-pity at the same time.

How do you kick self-pity’s ass?  Gratitude and credit.

The Sticker List

Y’all have heard me talk about how important Gratitude Rampages are, and how you can rewire your brain to be more positive by writing down 3 great things that happened yesterday, every day.  Well, we can add another exercise — one that I made up myself that is helping me out loads.  The Sticker List.

What’s “The Sticker List?”  It’s a simple list of everything that you believe you deserve a sticker for.  See, we give kids stickers (or other little treats) when they behave well, in an effort to give them positive feedback and attention so that they will develop good habits. Some kids gets stickers for using the potty. Others get them for brushing their teeth or doing basic chores.

Today, I believe I deserve a sticker because I’ve chosen to write… and I think I probably also deserve a sticker for:

  • changing 3 poopy diapers before noon
  • remembering to take all of my morning meds
  • eating within an hour of waking up
  • not being ashamed of sharing this. 🙂

It’s like a to-do list in reverse… a “Done” list, if you will.

poopsticker

This would be the sticker I would give myself for changing diapers. Have you ever seen such a happy crap?

And, now that I’ve shared this, I actually want to go fold clothes. (Who am I becoming?!?)

Hope you’re all having a wonderful day. ❤

 

32 Weeks & Personal Growth

Hey, party people!

Yesterday, I saw my OB.  I was hoping to have a new ultrasound to show everybody, but Henry was all balled up on my left side, so we couldn’t get any good shots.  Maybe we’ll be more lucky next week.

The breech tilt -- something I'm supposed to do 3 times a day for 20 minutes a session.  Laying upside down on an ironing board... totally natural, right?

The breech tilt — something I’m supposed to do three times a day for 20 minutes at a time. Laying upside down on an ironing board is totally natural, right?  Did I mention that I don’t own a full-size ironing board yet?

Currently, the kiddo’s transverse. He’s really taken to using my left lower rib as a pillow recently. While a part of me thinks that’s sweet, the most of me is tired of the pain and wants him to flip around and get into ready position.  I’ve been reading up on how to do that and doing some of the exercises suggested on YouTube (like this video) and sites like SpinningBabies. To be totally honest, though – this site‘s my favorite, for no other reason than it’s both helpful and hilarious.

I’m 99% sure that his breech position is entirely my fault because I spend so much time sitting, either at the computer or on the couch, and I’m almost never pelvis-forward. Time to start sitting on the floor, the balance ball, or flipping chairs around backwards.

Oh, and some things I’ve learned…

One way I didn’t expect pregnancy to change me was on a personal level. I thought I was already pretty mature, and that all the personal growth would be happening after the baby came out. But, it doesn’t work that way. Here’s what I’ve learned recently.

1.) Everybody knows at least one pregnancy horror story, and they all will tell you that story, regardless of whether or not you want to hear it. People who haven’t been pregnant don’t really care if it’s going to freak you out. There’s a real feeling that if they don’t let you know what happened to their sister’s best friend’s aunt, it could happen to you too. I’m getting really good at reminding myself that being afraid isn’t going to stop anything bad from happening, so it’s not worth it. 

2.) Most people who had babies more than 30 years ago seem to believe that the science of baby-rearing stopped progressing when they had their kids.  So, when they tell you how vitally important it is to have bumpers on your crib or that the best way to calm your baby is to put it on its belly with a fluffy stuffed animal and a blanket, they’re not actively trying to kill your kid. They just can’t fathom that the parenting advice that was given to them by doctors (and that they followed) isn’t considered safe anymore.  What’s worse is that many of them feel personally attacked if you correct them… which is why I am becoming incredibly good at just saying “thank you” for advice that I have no intention of following, and acknowledging that the bad advice is just a long-winded way for them to say that they want the best for me and my kid.

3.) Speaking of opinions — everybody has one, whether it’s an opinion on how you should be raising your kid, what you should be eating and/or doing during pregnancy, or what they consider socially acceptable… except for me, now.

I honestly don’t care if you use disposable diapers or cloth, if you formula feed or breastfeed (in public or private), if you co-sleep or strictly crib it. I could care even less if both you and your spouse work full time and have a nanny or if you are so committed to attachment parenting that you’ve decided to quit your job and spend all your time and energy homeschooling your kid from birth. Don’t believe in western medicine or giving birth in a hospital?  Mazel tov! More resources available to those of us who do. The circumcision debate? Both sides have merit! I really don’t care how you choose to parent.

I have decided to believe that everybody wants to do right by their kids (unless they’re a total sociopath or narcissist), and that if their personal decisions do not personally affect me or my family, they’re not worth my emotions or energy. 

This is as true for the mommy who has decided not to treat her kid’s ear infection with antibiotics (and instead to use essential oils) as it is for the parents who have decided that once their kid hits age 6, she’s going to boarding school.  Would I personally make either of those decisions? Oh hell no.  But you’re welcome to them.

4.) Speaking of — I remember my pre-pregnancy days. I thought my opinion mattered when it came to how my friends were raising their kids. It didn’t. It still doesn’t. I remember losing a friend because I so passionately argued against the use of leashes on children, and she was committed to using a backpack harness and leash on her daughter.  That friend didn’t need the aggravation of dealing with my unwanted opinion, and she was right to unfriend me. She was working hard to raise her kid and keep her safe, and my approval of her methods was not necessary.

Do I still think the use of child leashes is a bad thing? Most of the time, for the great majority of kids, yes. But does my opinion make a damn bit of difference? Hell no. I’ve learned that there are times when I just need to keep my mouth shut. And during times when I can’t (and yes, I acknowledge that they exist), just say what I have to say, and then back the fuck off. Arguing is not helpful in any way to either of us.

5.) I am super-grateful that I have been through the emotional bullshit and therapy that I’ve been through. I’m not ashamed of it. I feel so much more prepared to parent because I have already accepted that I’m gonna fuck up along the way and that fucking up is part of doing things right in the long run.

If I can teach Henry to not fear failure but to embrace it as a step on the way to greater success, I will have saved him from a lot of pain and anxiety.  And I’ve been feeling a lot of anxiety recently about becoming a mom.  My mantra recently has been, “We’ll figure it out.” 

Am I gonna breastfeed or formula feed? Who knows?! I want to breastfeed as long as possible, but if I have an MS relapse when Henry’s born, I won’t have much of a choice — so we’re preparing for both eventualities. We’ll figure it out.

Are we going to use disposable or cloth diapers? Well, I love the look of cloth diapers and that they save money over time… but I have no idea about what my health is gonna be like or whether or not it’ll work with our lifestyle. So, we’re registered for cloth diapers, but we’re also gonna have a beer & diaper party for Adam’s birthday. When Henry’s born, we’ll see what works best for us and figure it out.

Heck, I obsessed over everything on the registries… but at the end of the day, if anything doesn’t work for us, we’ll figure out what does.  None of these things are life and death.

 

3 Important Things I Want My Child To Do

Earlier today, I read an article that inspired me. A father-to-be wrote out 14 things that he wants his future child(ren) to know… things that he doesn’t embody right now, but that he’ll probably strive to embody as his child grows.

I’m not so arrogant as to say that I feel prepared to be a mother.  I honestly don’t know anyone who isn’t either totally narcissistic or uniformed about the complexities of parenthood that can say they feel totally ready. Hell, I don’t even know if it’s possible to be ready.  But that’s the first thing I want my kid to know.

Try new things, especially if they scare you.

As a kid, this is gonna be easy because everything’s new. You don’t really have a say in the matter. You’re going to be presented with challenges over and over again. It’s part of growing up. But… as you get older, you’ll notice there are some things that you’re great at and other things that make you feel uncomfortable because you aren’t yet proficient. You’ll get comfortable with the idea of who you are and what you can do. That’s when you need to try something out of your comfort zone.themagic

The scary things — the things you see other people doing that make you think, “WOW, they are awesome!” Those are the things I want you to do, especially if you are afraid that you will fail or that people will laugh at you. Neither of those things are a good reason to stop yourself from growing.

When you think about doing those things, part of you will be excited and giddy… but there will also be a tiny, cowardly voice inside you saying, “Are you sure you can do that?” or “They’re so much cooler than you. There’s no way you can do that.” I want you to respond to that voice in a loud and powerful thunder inside. Respond to that voice by saying, “WATCH ME KICK SOME ASS.”  And then do whatever needs to be done. Don’t shy away from the hard work. It’s the most important work you can do.
greatpoehler

Embrace the suck.

I’m gonna bet that well before you’re an inevitably foul-mouthed teenager, you will have already heard the following phrases so many times that they seem reasonable to you. I say this, not because your father and I will say them frequently, but because they’re pervasive in pop culture, and real people say and think things like this all the time.

“Life sucks.” … “Work sucks.” … “I suck.” … “The Bears suck.” (Okay, that last one might be true.)

First, I apologize for cussing through your whole childhood. I’d like to pretend that becoming pregnant with you magically improved my vocabulary, but it didn’t.

Secondly, I’m gonna let you in on a secret that most people in our day and age have forgotten: Life is supposed to be hard. It’s a feature, not a bug! Sure, there will be times that are awesome and fun and happy and easy. It is my greatest hope that those times are a much bigger part of your life than the others… but you can’t have the good without the bad.

lifeispain

I know, for a fact, there are going to be moments in your life that just, well, suck. You’re going to face loss. You’re going to face failure. You’re going to have your heart broken. You’ll lose hope. We all do, from time to time.

But, if your dad and I do our jobs well, you’re going to become resilient. You will know that nothing lasts forever – not sadness or happiness. You’re going to understand failure as a step towards success.  You’re going to accept loss as a natural progression that comes from having people and things in your life that you truly value, and you’re going to appreciate people and things while they’re around as best as you can. You’re going to learn that your heart is stronger and bigger than it ever feels like it is at any given moment. You will learn that time heals most pain, and that hope and happiness are things that you choose.

 

There are gonna be times when you’re building skill at something and you’ll get frustrated and think to yourself, “I suck at this!”  That’s a good thing, really! It means you have good taste, and that you should keep working.

sucking-at-something-adventure-time

I can’t tell you the number of times I heard classmates at Berklee College of Music say that they sucked at their instruments. It was almost mandatory to believe that you weren’t good enough. Heck, it might as well have been an entry requirement. Truthfully, nobody who attends that school sucks at their instrument. They all are just humble and know how much better they could be. Everybody there was working hard to get better every day. I would go so far as to say at least half the folks at my college were perfectionists, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  There are folks out there who say that “perfect” is the enemy of “good”… but really, the enemy of good is quitting.  This is as true for honing your skill in any art form as it is for gaining skill and technique with bodybuilding, gardening, carpentry, or any other pursuit in life.

KMBA-Ira Glass Quote

There are also folks out there who will tell you to follow your dreams. I’m one of them!  But in all the dreamy talk, people often forget that the actual act of doing what you love is still damn hard work. It really doesn’t matter what you choose, honestly. The way you’ll know that you’re on the right path is that you will not hate the hard work or yourself for doing it. Sure, it’ll still suck. Work almost always sucks. That’s why it’s called work and not “fun.”  But if you’re doing the right kind of work, you won’t mind it so much. You’ll think to yourself, “Well, at least I’m doing this and not [insert something you truly hate here].”

One of my friends in college had a gross saying that used to make me laugh pretty hard, but it’s dead on in this regard. He would say, “Being happy is all about deciding the right flavor of shit sandwich to chow down on.”

So, embrace “the suck” in all of its forms. Doing so will make your life so much more enjoyable. Resistance to pain only makes it subsist.

Love Yourself.

For some people, this is one of the hardest lessons they will ever learn in life, if they ever learn it.  The world is full of folks who exist in a state of sadness that comes from years of untreated trauma. They have low self-esteem. They believe they somehow deserved whatever bad treatment they’ve endured. They don’t believe they deserve good things. They don’t feel like they deserve unconditional love. I know this person.  I’ve been this person, and I healed because of your father (and our family)’s unwavering and unconditional love and patience, and a lot of work with several good psychologists. It took years for me to be able to say that I love myself without feeling guilty or like a fraud.  I will do everything in my power to make sure you never have that same challenge.

I want to assure you, right now, that you are unquestionably loveable.  I can say this without hesitation because I already love you like crazy, and you’re not even born yet. Heck, you were created from love. I thought this world needed more of your father in it… and he thought the same thing about me.  If you ever find yourself wondering, “Why did my parents have me?” the answer is very simple. We loved the idea of you before you were part of our world. We wanted to hug you and love you and teach you and watch you grow. We wanted to leave a legacy of goodness and love, and the best way we could think to do that was through you.  And that goes for any siblings you might have later too.

So please, treat yourself with the same compassion you would treat anyone else. Be kind to yourself. If you ever find yourself beating yourself up over anything at all, ask yourself, “What would Mom say to me?” I promise, I’d say something nice. 🙂

self-worth-card-love

Advertisements, magazines, and many TV shows exist to make you believe that you’re not enough exactly the way you are. Companies, in an effort to sell you things, will tell you that you need to be thinner, faster, sexier, richer. Don’t believe any of it. You are the only one of you that has ever existed or will ever exist. Your existence is unique event in the history of the universe.

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Right now, you are the size of a sweet potato… and I know there are many more important things that I want to teach you.  Those lessons will have to wait for another day because I desperately need a nap.

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I’m so doofy, I forgot to title this post for several hours.

Priorities.

I just finished reading a great article on “debugging” our brains. As I was reading it, I came across this gem: facebookforever

Every morning, I wake up, feed the dog, text my husband, and immediately check both my email and Facebook notifications. This sometimes leads me to forgetting to eat breakfast until nearly noon. All I could think was, “How does he know?!”  Rather quickly, I realized, “I’m not the only one.”

Fortunately, the article lead to me getting off the computer (for at least a few minutes) and eating breakfast. I quickly followed that up with starting this entry, lest I forget to blog today.

It’s a beautiful day outside today in Chicago, so if I don’t get dressed and walk around outside for a while, I know I’ll be sore with myself. For me, weather doesn’t get any better than mostly sunny and in the low 60s. Hoodie-optional weather. It’s the best.  Fortunately, I live very close to both Marshalls and a couple of decent grocery stores.  I think when I’m done with this, I’ll put up some laundry to wash, get dressed, and head out to enjoy the weather and go shopping.

Of course, it’ll be easier to finish this entry if I stop bouncing back and forth between writing this, checking a couple of message boards, and answering email… No! Right! NOW! 🙂

So, what are my priorities for today?

  1. Figure out what on earth to make for dinner, so I can get the ingredients while I’m out.
  2. Do laundry so we have clothes to wear.
  3. Maybe even fold some of it… (Ok, let’s be real. This one belongs dead last on the list.)
  4. Make an appointment for Brisco to get groomed.
  5. Unstack the dishwasher.
  6. Do as many of the dishes that are hanging out in the kitchen waiting to be cleaned as I can before I start feeling punk.
  7. Make the bed and refill the humidifier.
  8. Tidy the living room.
  9. Go to the gym or at least get Adam to go on a walk with you for a half hour at the park.

Any more than that, and I know I am setting myself up for failure… so let’s focus on the good to get my attitude moving in the right direction!

Edit – 2 or 3 hours after I initially posted: I didn’t make it out of the house before storm clouds invaded. I constantly forget that my body is in far more control of the outcome of my day than my intentions. I figured out dinner. Laundry is up, dishes are soaking, lunch is baking… and I’m calling that a win.

awesome6

3 Great Things About Yesterday

  1. Spent some quality time with the in-laws.
  2. Had brunch with some friends we haven’t seen in a long time who are always great to be around.
  3. I know it’s gonna sound cheesy as hell – but there was a moment yesterday when, out of nowhere, Adam came over to me and said, “You need snuggles.” and proceeded to cuddle with me. That was, without a doubt, the best moment of the entire day. I love that man.

What made YOUR Sunday special?
 

Daily Cute

Please ignore that this is a commercial. Without the branding, it’s adorable.

Everyday Earbug

I can’t even explain why I like this song and particular mix so much, but I really do.
 
monday

Mostly Better

It’s been a week. My last entry happened on a day when I had more than 20 seizures. I’ve learned that if I’m that incapacitated by seizures, I’m definitely having an MS relapse. I called my neurologist to follow up, and he called in a medrol dose pack on Friday afternoon. The effect was damn near instant. Thursday: 20+ seizures, Friday prior to meds: 13 seizures (I took the first day’s worth after dinner), Saturday: 0 seizures. NONE. Not one.

I wish I could say that I haven’t had any since Saturday, but that wouldn’t be true. Yesterday I had a couple, but they were simple partials (facial twitches), so I’m not worried about them. I’ve come to the point in my experience having seizure disorder where 1-2 simple partial seizures a day doesn’t feel like any big deal to me at all. Today, so far, I’m good. Maybe that means that tomorrow I can get back to the gym. I’d really like that.

Doing The Right Thing

Sometimes, I do the right thing without even realizing that I’m doing it. It always makes me smile when that happens. Take that letter that I wrote myself last week, for example. Apparently, science has proven that writing yourself compassionate letters is good for your mental health. It stops you from ruminating on the negative and allows you to take positive action. (Like taking a much-needed nap!)

Today, I’m doing my best not to ruminate on an irrational concept that a friend brought up in reference to herself. She said that she didn’t want to live a mediocre life.

A Mediocre Life? There’s No Such Thing.

For whatever reason, reading the phrase “living a mediocre life” felt like a punch in the chest. The idea that I might be living what she considered to be a mediocre life stuck in my craw. What upset me worse was the idea that I might think that I’m living a mediocre life.

I mean, I spend most of my days alone in an apartment, doing household chores and participating on social media.  It’s not exactly the stuff of legend.  Back in the day, before seizures, I used to be much more social and was very career-driven. But does a change from that way of being mean that my life is second-rate or ordinary? Since when has anything about me been ordinary?

Truth be told, I spent a significant amount of time in therapy wrestling with the question of why I’m even alive, if I’m not doing anything important. The answer to that question was remarkably simple: Because it’s better than the alternative! And, besides, how am I supposed to accurately know what is or isn’t “important” in the grand scheme of Life, The Universe, and Everything? That requires a level of objectivity that no human can possibly attain.

So, sure, I’m not living life the way that I had hoped for myself. So what? What person living with a chronic illness is? Hell, I’d go so far as to wager that no one is! We all deal with shit being thrown at us that we neither expected nor wanted, and we deal with it. Does living a life that is different from the one “of my dreams” mean that my life is inferior, insignificant, or of poor quality?  No, it doesn’t.

Just Because You’re Not Living The Life Of Your Dreams Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Living Well.

There’s so much pressure in our society to stand out and be considered important, and it’s totally unnecessary. It comes from our constant consumption of narratives: TV shows and movies and books. And most of these narratives are fictitious. In real life, we’re each the protagonist of our own story, but none of us knows the whole story because it’s constantly unfolding before us.

Hell, the US military even capitalized on this idea by asking the question, “If your life was a story, would anybody read it?” in recruitment ads. It’s such a silly way of thinking. Comparing stories from our lives with other people’s stories based on entertainment value is fruitless. It’s a directive for misery. There will always be people who have it better and those who have it worse. There will always be people achieving more and those who aspire to far less.

I mean, let’s take a step back from the question of “Is my life mediocre?” and ask an even more important question: who’s judging? Society? The media? History? Why should I care what anyone (other than me) thinks of my life? I’m the one living it, and I’m proud of who I am. That’s what studying Tao is all about: the idea that your path is unique to you, and that you can’t do life wrong.

If we must put ourselves up for judgment, I think it’s better to focus on a set of objective metrics.

  1. Do you do something to learn and grow as a person every day?
  2. Do you engage in activities that contribute positively to your community, such as philanthropy, charity, or advocacy?
  3. Do you treat yourself and others with kindness, compassion, and respect?
  4. Do you make an effort to use your unique talents when you’re able to?
  5. Do you take time to express gratitude and to appreciate the people and things in your life?
  6. Do you share your knowledge with others? Everybody knows something you don’t! It’s one of humanity’s greatest gifts!
  7. Do you make an effort to be empathetic and honor the experiences of others?

I think that if you can say “yes” to those questions, then you’re living a life you can be proud of.  And to be honest, even if you can’t answer “yes” to all of them, it doesn’t mean that your life is mediocre.
 

Shake It Off

Today’s earbug is a pop song by Taylor Swift. I usually don’t like her music, but I’ve had this song stuck in my head for a few days, and it works with the theme of today’s post. I hope it makes you want to shake your booty too.

A Letter to Myself

Hey, Rae.

You’re having a tough day today. You’ve already had so many seizures that you’ve lost count. You barely have enough energy to get up and do things, but you’re still trying your hardest. You’ve put up some laundry, made the bed, and most importantly, you called your neurologist to request medicine.

Having seizures is no fun. They mess with your memory and perception of time. They mess with your motivation. They mess with your ability to be the kind of person that you want to be. Please, don’t ever let them stop you from trying to be that person anyway.

I’m not sure, when you start having multiple seizures per day and are getting tingles on your back and feet and left side, why you don’t immediately call the doctor to ask for medication, but you don’t. Ok, that’s not entirely true. I know you cling to the hope that it’ll pass. You reason to yourself that you’re either overheated somehow or are fighting off an infection that you don’t know about. The most treacherous part of regularly having pseudoexacerbations is not that they occur, but that you can never trust your body to let you know when what you’re feeling is not a pseudoexacerbation, but a real relapse. Pseudoexacerbations rob you of your ability to trust yourself. Keep listening to your body anyway.

Today, it’s a beautiful day. It’s mostly sunny and a perfect 68 degrees outside. I know you desperately want to get up and walk the dog and then walk to and from the grocery store to make some kind of delicious dinner in the slow cooker, but your body is telling you that you really shouldn’t try to do that, for your own safety, and you’re angry about it. It sucks! Nobody wants to be trapped indoors by their body.

But remember, it’s not always like this. There will be days when you can do 45 minutes of cardio as well as weightlifting at the gym. Just not today. Today is about exercising self-compassion and resting.

I hear you, raging in the same brain that is writing this letter. I hear you crying and screaming about how this is all terribly unfair, and you’re absolutely right. It is! There is nothing fair about multiple sclerosis. And that’s okay. Life’s not fair. We all do the best we can with the life we’ve got.

Even though I know you want to get up and do a million different things – putting up the dishes, folding the laundry, cooking something for lunch, washing out the bathtub, or any of the other things you keep fixating on, like practicing yoga, playing guitar, or learning to sew… I’m telling you to take a nap. I don’t care that you only woke up 3 hours ago. You’re tired. You’re so tired you can barely keep your eyes open as you type this. Please stop pushing yourself so hard and being so mean to yourself about what you’re unable to accomplish. It’s not helpful. It doesn’t make you feel good, and it doesn’t accomplish anything productive.

Thank you for letting me write this letter. I know it’s weird and embarrassing to be publishing something like this to the public, but maybe someone else needs to hear the same things you do… so I’m saying them.

You don’t have to compare yourself to anyone else. They’re walking their path. You’re walking yours. Just do the best job of taking care of yourself that you can. That’s all anyone who loves you actually wants from you.