Friday, December 20, 2013


People don’t get happy or get healthy or heal all on their own.We need other people to do that. We need other people to call us out on our behavior. We need other people to pick us up when we’ve fallen. We need other people to take a bottle out of our hands, and we need other people to help put hope back inside our heads and our hearts when we’re hurting. No matter what life looks like, we all need support. It’s why we get married and have families and stay in touch with friends. A good story requires more than one character. And a good life requires more than a singular existence.

We all want --need-- to be connected. It’s why everyone in line at Starbucks is head down on their iPhone because we want to tap into the familiar and forgiving space of an old friend, family member or someone we love. We’re continually longing for that sense of connection and meaning. Yet sometimes, when it comes to pain, we have a strange relationship with community and being connected to others.

It’s easy to live in community at birthday parties or at Thanksgiving or Christmas. When we need help, however, it suddenly seems pretty easy to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. The word “community” starts to look a lot more like the word “accountability.” And the last thing anyone who’s depressed or addicted or hurting wants is someone who knows and loves them well enough to look them in to the eye and say “You’re not doing so well. And you need help.”

The last thing we want is someone to keep us accountable. We’re scared of that. And maybe we’re scared of it because deep down we know we need it the most. I’ve lived in those moments of isolation. Often they become more than moments... they become days, and days become weeks, and weeks become months, and suddenly you’re so disconnected from everyone else, you realize that you’ve become completely disconnected from yourself.

There is a form of philosophy called Ubuntu. It can be described as this.   “A person is a person through other people. I can’t be all I can be, unless you are all you can be. I am, because we are.”

Beneath the poetry of those lines, there’s also a heavy truth. We find our meaning in other people. We find our love in other people. We find joy in other people. So why, when it comes to recovery and healing a hurt soul, do we look to ourselves for all the answers? To me, accountability via other people is the most often neglected approach to healing and hope. Perhaps because it’s easier to tell someone to see a doctor or start taking a pill. Maybe we undervalue the role we can play in someone else’s recovery. Maybe we’re just scared to step into that role. I just know that people need each other. And they need each other the most when life looks heavy and painful.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

You are not alone.

You can’t make it through on your own. None of us can. That’s why, thank goodness, you are never as alone as you sometimes feel. So many of us are fighting the same exact battle alongside you. You may feel alone sometimes, but you are not alone in being alone.

To lose sleep worrying about a loved one. To have trouble picking yourself up after someone lets you down. To feel rejected because someone didn't care about you enough to stay. To be afraid to try something new for fear you may fail. None of this means you’re weird or dysfunctional. It just means you’re human, and that you need a little time to regroup and recalibrate yourself.

No matter how embarrassed or pathetic you feel about your own situation, there are others out there experiencing the same emotions. When you hear yourself say, “I am all alone,” it’s just your mind trying to sell you a lie. There’s always someone who can relate to you. Perhaps you can’t immediately talk to them, but they are out there, and that’s all you need to know right now.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Life lessons rant

Some life lessons I learned and advice to other people.

If you try to control everything, and then worry about the things you can’t control, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of frustration and misery. Some forces are out of your control, but you can control how you react to things. Everyone’s life has positive and negative aspects whether you’re happy or not depends greatly on which aspects you focus on. The best thing you can do is to let go of what you can’t control, and invest your energy in the things you can,  like your attitude.

When it comes to damage control for other people, leave it alone!! Don't try and solve the problems that others have made for themselves. Don't even give them a chance to talk their way out of what they've acted themselves into. Allow them to learn the lesson of the consequences of their choices. Don't throw hard earned money away trying to bail someone out of a situation that they created. Muster up the courage to say "no". The best thing you can do for them is to let them take responsibility for their own actions. Make up your mind not to be a rescuer or an enabler. Let them figure it out and handle it. The sooner you do this, the sooner they will learn their lessons. They have their own journey. Keep your money in your pocket and keep the drama and stress out of your life. Resist the guilt trip!! Don't give it any more energy and protect your peace of mind. You deserve to be happy!

When it comes to self doubt, you might think you’re not good enough, but you’ll surprise yourself if you keep trying. Your past does not determine who you are. Your past prepares you for who you are capable of becoming. What ultimately defines you is how well you rise after falling. Don’t ever be afraid to give yourself a chance to be everything you are capable of being. Forget the haters. Never undervalue who you are and what you’re capable of. Excellence is the result of loving more than others think is necessary, dreaming more than others think is practical, risking more than others think is safe, and doing more than others think is possible. It’s time to believe in yourself and in your dreams. It’s time to take the risk of living your true life. It’s time to hold your head up, and decide to never let anything turn you around. It's time to recognize that you have more in you than you've been expressing.

You have the power to live a bigger life. Challenge yourself. Take the risk! Become daring. There are things in your life that are no longer you and you know it in your heart. There is no law that says you have to carry the whole world on your shoulders. And the emptiness and lack of fulfillment inside is becoming too much to bear. It’s time to take care of you. Live your dream. Take off the cape. Do what you know and not what you feel. You deserve to live too! You have needs too! Give yourself a mental break and take time to get centered, grounded and reconnected with your spirit. Allowing your time to be wasted with people who are not serious is not fruitful and it’s stressful. Staying in a job where you are not appreciated or valued or validated is draining and toxic. You will survive. You always have! Life is on your side. You’re more powerful and stronger than you give yourself credit for being. No guts, no glory. You have one life to live, live the life you love and love the life you live. Family and friends may attempt to discourage you. Tell them thank you, I got that, and move on. At the end of the day, it’s your life. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to make your life a daring adventure and to manifest your GREATNESS. Keep in mind, it’s lonely at the top, but you eat better.

Never let anyone crush your dreams. Do just once what they say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their negativity again. Don’t walk away from these negative people… RUN! Good things happen when you distance yourself from negativity and those who create it. Truth be told, no one has the right to judge you. People may have heard your stories, but they can’t feel what you are going through; they aren't living YOUR life. So forget what they say about you. Focus on how you feel about yourself, and do what you know in your heart is right. 

It sounds harsh, but you cannot keep every friend you've ever made. People and priorities change. As some relationships fade others will grow. Appreciate the possibility of new relationships as you naturally let go of old ones that no longer work. Trust your judgement. Embrace new relationships, knowing that you are entering into unfamiliar territory. Be ready to learn, be ready for a challenge, and be ready to meet someone that might just change your life forever. 

Be patient — even if you don't have a dime in the bank, lost your job, or your money. Be patient. You have the power in you to pull this out. Don't judge yourself based on what you don't have. What you have is enough. Hold the vision. You have the power in you to resurrect your dreams, and make them become a reality. Work on yourself. Believe in yourself, and in a power greater than yourself. Be patient and keep moving forward. Things will work out for you. 

Life will keep moving. Some people will be there with you for some time. Some people will go away. But those who find you special will always find ways to be with you.

Sometimes it’s impossible to know exactly how another person is feeling or what kind of emotional battles they’re fighting. Sometimes the widest smiles hide the thinnest strands of self-confidence and hope. Sometimes the ‘rich’ have everything but happiness. Realize this as you interact with others, long before you pass judgement. Every smile or sign of strength hides an inner struggle every bit as complex and extraordinary as your own.

It’s a sage fact of life, really, that every one of us encompasses a profound and unique set of secrets and mysteries that are absolutely undetectable to everyone else. So smile at people who look like they are having a rough day today. Be kind to them. Kindness is the only investment that never fails.

Forget all the reasons why it won’t work, and believe the one reason why it will.

You are stronger than you think you are. It doesn't matter what you are facing...a lost relationship, job, bankruptcy, foreclosure, health challenge, or financial situation. You have the power in you to recreate it all over again from scratch. It does not matter how old you are. Don't beat yourself up. It's natural to feel sorry for yourself, or feel frightened and want to give up. It doesn't even matter if the people that you thought would have your back have deserted you. You are still breathing. You're still here, and you have the power to win.

You are more powerful than you think you are. Remind yourself of this. Stand up within yourself. Gather your mental, emotional, and spiritual strength, and speak from deep within your spirit and your soul. Take back your power Say..."I will survive. I will thrive. I am coming back. Giving up is not who I am. I will stay the course, and persist until I succeed." You might have to do this while down on your knees, praying, crying, and screaming at the top of your lungs. Resist the feeling of being overwhelmed, powerless, or being a victim. You will survive and thrive again!!!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Public Misconceptions

When you have had MS for a long time, it's easy to forget what it was like to not have this disease. It's also easy to not think about what it's like from the outside looking in. Recently, I overheard a discussion from a group of people at work talking about the reality show, Dancing With The Stars. I never watch it, mostly due to the fact the entire show can be summed up in the title. They were talking about Jack Osbourne, son of Ozzy Osbourne, who was diagnosed with MS this year. One person in the group said "I don't understand why he has MS if he can dance, he must be faking it to get attention." It made me realize that a large population of people still do not know what Multiple Sclerosis is. This makes me want to be a patient advocate speaker so bad.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

From a wheelchair to running shoes

I'd like to share my journey from disability to what I am today, a happy and energetic person who runs every other day.

My journey started when I was about 13 or 14 years old. I started noticing my body going through changes (other than puberty). I noticed I started getting tired at random times, anywhere from after I woke up to the middle of the day at school. I also noticed my speech was slurred, random body parts feeling numb, and being very forgetful. Every day was a different experience.

Most of the symptoms went away for several years until I was 19. I started having vision problems and experienced the all familiar fatigue again. After the trips to the optometrist, the ophthalmologist, and the neurologist, I learned that I had Multiple Sclerosis

Two years later, I lost feeling from my waist to my feet. I was in a wheelchair for two weeks. I really didn't think I would be able to walk again. Luckily, I was prescribed a high dosage of an aggressive steroid every day for a week and got feeling back in my legs. After that, I was off and on a cane until 2009. I haven't had an issue with my mobility since then.

I started running in the warm winter of December of 2012. I needed a hobby that got me out of the house and wasn't too expensive, running was perfect for me. I would run half a mile twice a week until it got colder in January. My legs started to feel stronger and I felt like I could breath easier and had more energy. When it got warmer outside I started running again. I'm proud to say since March of 2013 I've been consistently running 3-4 times a week with a distance of 1.5 to 5 miles each run. I am grateful to be as healthy as I am, for being an MS patient who has had the disease for almost 17 years. My motivation for running is to run while I still can, and for those who cannot run, or even walk, themselves.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Just checking in.

It's been a while since I last wrote. Life has been crazy these last 5 months. Since then I got a job, had my heat go out, had car problems, had a fire in my home, and got fired from my job. On a good note, my wife graduated from nursing school and is now working at a hospital.

My health has been okay, I've actually never felt better. I took up running as a hobby, I like it. It's one of those hobbies that is cheap since all you really need is a good pair of shoes. I've been consistently running 3-4 times a week. I have a favorite spot I run at in downtown Memphis that is beside the river. Other than the sheer beauty of the Sun setting over the Mississippi River, this park has a lot of other runners that run there too. It also has mothers pushing their children in strollers, people walking their dogs, exercise & yoga groups, as well as the occasional kite flying. I'm actually thinking of running a 5K there next month if I have enough money to attend.

One thing that sucks the most is my air conditioning going out. It has been hot lately in my house, sometimes in the mid 80s. I have a box fan and portable a/c to help cool me and my wife off temporarily until we get our cooling fixed. My face has been becoming numb because of the heat, but other than that I feel okay. As long as my legs don't become numb again I'll be happy.

The job I had was being a copier technician. I learned how copiers worked and also I learned how to put them together and troubleshoot problems. I met some nice people there. The main purpose for working that job was to support my wife long enough until she graduated nursing school, but the more and more I learned how to do my job the more I liked it up until the day I got fired. I was not very dependable due to my car breaking down so much and having to miss work. Every so often it would shut down and not start back up for hours or even days. Each time me and my father worked on that vehicle and replaced parts it would eventually die on me again. I really had no other vehicle I could drive since my wife drove my SUV to school, sometimes she had to drop me off work and pick me up after I was done which used a lot of gas that we didn't have much money for.

Although I truly understood why I was fired, I was not prepared for it. But at least at that time my wife finished school and I was able to attend her graduation. Now that she is working, I can find an easier and less stressful job to do. I won't have to slave away to work a backbreaking, dirty job in order to live the bare minimum for bills, food, and gas only. But I guess I could say that I'm lucky enough to be able bodied to be in the work force compared to most MS patients.

I haven't seen a neurologist in a long time, not that I'm relapsing or anything. My current one is just a doctor to have in my back pocket in case I have a really bad exacerbation. He's one of those doctors that will rush you out if he can unless you have something serious going on. Once my wife gets health insurance from her job, shes going to add me onto it. When that happens I'm going to see a MS specialist I found that practices right here in Memphis. It will be good to have a doctor again that understands or actually gives a crap about me.

Life looks like its going to get better now that the hard parts are over. I think my next goal is to make life happier and easier. I may just find a part time job, so that I have more time to take care of the house and pets, and also have more time to do my favorite hobbies. More free time for being outdoors, going to concerts, and exercise. I may even join a running group to make new friends. The possibilities are endless.