Having Only Positive Expectations!

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Having Only Positive Expectations!

Last month, I took this picture on the shores-of  Prince Edward Island Canada while walking on the sand dunes during low tide with my two sisters, who are also my two best friends. Although we are now missing our mother in this physical world, I am almost convinced that out of the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of my mother sitting under a beach umbrella watching over us. 

The last time we walked these shores together was thirty years ago when my parents took us on an adventurous holiday where we first discovered the magnificence of the ocean and strange sea creatures served up on a platter with slices of lemon.

My seven year old self captured in snapshots hugging my sister while our legs were buried knee deep in the sand could not then know, the struggles that lay ahead.

I could never have predicted that in my thriving twenties, while being a young  mother myself, that multiple sclerosis would rear it’s ugly head and threaten to steal away my eyesight along with my very independence. 

I make this observation to point out as children, we do have positive expectations of what life will bring. Life has a cruel way of chipping away at this innocent belief we are born with. Where all things are possible and happily ever after awaits us as it does in the fairy tales we were read as children. 

I admit, while in the throes of my initial diagnosis,followed by a series of relapses, I was lost in the fear of what lay ahead 

We cannot foresee the future, nor do I think we would want to.

I think one of the biggest obstacles that come with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis is learning how to stop worrying about what might happen. Surrender, believe that all will be okay no matter what. Worrying definitely won’t help one bit and will only keep your body and mind in a constant state of stress and agitation. This will not give your body a calm environment in which it can try to heal. 

I know it is not easy to do this, especially during an MS flare up which can leave you feeling out of control and helpless. 

Try to think back to a time when you did only have positive  expectations. Remember how it felt to be free of worries and filled with excitement of what was to come. 

My place I go to is back to those shores of Prince Edward Island where my sisters and I once ran along the sea shores holding hands, stopping to collect sea shells while the ocean breeze blew our blond hair into make shift wings. 

Last month while standing again in these sand dunes with my two sisters I was filled with gratitude.  Although I have suffered the tragic sudden loss of my parents wile multiple sclerosis was giving me a fight for my life, I have become stronger and more confident in who I am.

This time, I did not bring back a suitcase filled with assorted seashells but something even more cherished. While strolling the harbor front shops on a beautiful sunny day, I found the perfect memento. I purchased  a necklace with a beautiful heart pendant made out of sea shells. I wore it while swimming in the ocean on my last day of my vacation, so I could always carry this memory close to my heart as a reminder to always be grateful. 

After all, all any of us is guaranteed is today.

Are you going to wast it worrying about tomorrow?

Cindy Lee Lothian 

September 21, 2013.

 

 

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“Sorry”, For What?

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“Sorry”, For What?

When did the word “sorry” start being the easiest word in your vocabulary rather than the hardest one? 

 Was it shortly after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis? 

According to Dan Hill, sorry seems to be the hardest word or so I thought.

Do you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have no control over? I just realized that I find myself doing this a lot when I am needing help. I now find myself  wondering when and why I started to feel the need to say “sorry” every time I need someone to help me see something clearly. 

Not being able to see something that is written in small print is not something I chose. Not being able to drive myself to a doctor’s appointment or to the grocery store is not something I want.

So why do I find myself apologizing for asking for help from the ones who are supposed to love me the most? 

I think this comes from a feeling of the loss of  independence. This makes us feel guilty for having to rely on others for things we once used to do for ourselves. There is no shame in needing help and certainly no need to apologize. 

You did not ask for a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis which can bring daily challenges to your physical abilities as well as your emotional strength. 

A child does not feel the need to apologize when they need help. They are free from any feelings of inadequacies and simply trust that help will be freely given when needed. As an adult why do we get hung up on appearances and worries of what others might think of us? 

Stop apologizing for being you. Do not feel shamed by needing to ask for help. It does not make you any less worthy but rather shows your courage for not allowing your struggles to get in the way of you living your best life. 

Instead of saying “sorry” which may imply that you have something to feel guilty about, just show your appreciation by saying “thank you” along with a smile 

By simply showing gratitude instead of weakness you are reclaiming your own sense of value. 

Let’s start using the word “sorry” for when we have really done something we truly regret. Never apologize for being who you are, no matter what the circumstances.

After all, if you could help someone you love, would you really want to hear them say they are “sorry” for needing your help?

I think that would break my heart. 

Cindy Lee Lothian

September 8, 2013

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I Hope Your Dancing!

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I Hope Your Dancing!

On a Sunday afternoon and it also being the !st day of September, I unexpectedly found myself where I least expected.  It started out as a quick trip to the store to get some wrapping paper to wrap the sock monkey which I had purchased for my grandson’s first birthday present. After buying spiderman wrapping paper and a multi pack of scotch tape, I did not feel I was ready to return  home.

I felt compelled to drive to the cemetery to see my parents which I had not been to see for almost a year. It was unusual for a summer to pass without my sister and I going out there to leave flowers and a solar light as a symbol of our love.

Driving through the familiar wrought iron gates, I suddenly found myself in a state of awe as I slowly drove the narrow paths  past thousands of hundred year old graves. I started thinking about all the lives that had been lived  and were now all brought together in one final resting place. Each of these tombstones marked a life that had been filled with laughter, kisses, hopes and dreams of the future.

My life with all of it’s highs and lows was no different than the lives that had once been lived and now all that remained was a granite stone to mark that they had once been here. With each passing grave, my problems seemed even more insignificant. What made me think I was so different? That my problems seemed more important than they really were?

I suddenly had a vision of the lost souls rising up and watching me as I passed by. They watched me not with malevolence, but with compassion and understanding. I did not feel like this was a morbid scene from a horror movie, but rather a split second glimpse into an alternate reality. 

Yes, you might be thinking I am sounding like I had temporarily been living in a la la land but I assure you, I am usually very practical and fully  grounded.

As I approached the last road which bordered the dense, northern pines, I caught sight of my parents tombstone. I pulled my car over to park along the grassy forest line and I caught sight of my first Fairy Ring.

A perfect circle of mushrooms sat magically in the middle of a grassy field , alone on a stretch of grass. I have heard about these fairy circles but had never before seen one. They say it is where the fairies dance and celebrate. I wondered, are the fairies dancing among the thousands of souls that have left their physical bodies in this final resting place? 

i took out my camera and took a few pictures of what seemed almost surreal.

I walked carefully through the three rows it took to reach my parents grave side and I stood quietly sending them my love through my thoughts and my heart. “I am okay” I said aloud, “you don’t have to worry about me anymore.”

I knelt to find almost hidden in the grass a tiny, perfectly formed little daisy growing atop of my father’s grave. I had left a daisy with him at his burial and I felt that this was symbolic to now find a tiny, perfect daisy on what had turned into a magical day. 

I picked the daisy to take with me as I said my goodbyes and left my familiar longings of wishing I could still hug them behind me.  

I drove slowly out of the quiet cemetery, I seeming to be the only visitor on this overcast fall day.  I felt humbled as I drove by the endless tombstones. 

I was privileged to be alive. I was reminded that my problems needed to be kept in perspective. Life was a gift and not to be wasted. Of course,  I already knew this, but driving through a cemetery, finding a fairy circle, and a tiny perfect daisy sure has a way of putting things into perspective.

Are you letting things get in the way of making the most of this life you were given? 

I know my mother is enjoying her dance with the fairies.

cindy Lee Lothian

September 2, 2013

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Are You Talking About Me?

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Are You Talking About Me?

 There I found myself, once again lying on an operating table anxiously awaiting the doctor’s masked face and slippered feet to enter the sterile, unforgiving room. My thoughts drifted to wondering how many other souls have laid there before me with their own worries of immortality  and fears of what the doctor might have to say, his words muffled behind his mask as if coming  not from him, but a detached, third party interloper. 

I was there for another test, another medical procedure, to help determine what was going on inside my body. The small, soft spoken doctor entered the room inconspicuously. The nurses were quietly bustling about readying the instruments needed for the probing exploration of my hidden parts. 

I did not at first realize he was there as I lay staring up at the bright silver spotlight that hovered expectantly over me like a huge eye waiting to aid the doctor in his journey of discovery. He appeared suddenly from my left side, his words softly muffled behind his sterile mask. He asked me when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. His East Indian accent made this question seem even more foreign to me to what now should seem “normal.” Multiple sclerosis, could he really be talking about me?

It is strange how even now, each time I hear those words, multiple sclerosis,  I feel like they must be referring to someone other than me.

When I give him the answer, my mind instantly starts to run through dates and years marking each of them off on a check mark next to every relapse since being first diagnosed. 

I wonder how my life had become entangled with an almost phantom alter self. There is me and then there is the me with MS.

Milestones in life which are usually marked by graduations, marriages, birth of children, are now also marked by years of exacerbations, relapses and lengths of recovery.

A nurse in this almost unreal experience in the operating room, turns out to be a distant relative, related by marriage. We chat about strangely inconsequential things such as our summer holiday plans, new grandchildren, and of course about how I am doing.  She asks me if I am okay that she is in the room with me and I say of course even though I find it overly awkward that she is there to see me in this vulnerable, intimate state.

I tell her that I am doing fine as I try to  carry on this casual conversation while feeling extremely uncomfortable and in pain during the procedure the doctor is undergoing as he searches for clues to my bodies mysteries.

She tells me of someone she knows with ms who is having a lot of problems. This proves to me once again that firstly, people say the most insensitive things and secondly, she will probably gossip about me as soon as I leave these weird thirty minutes behind. 

I am home now feeling battered, bruised and somewhat bewildered.

Away from the stark environment of the operating room, away from the masked doctor with his probing questions and instruments, I am once again strongly whole.

Yes, I am a woman with MS but that does not define me. My milestones are still mine to cherish and have not been replaced by a list of dates on a medical report indicating relapses and their frequencies.

My body may still be sore but I will heal. My dignity may have been bruised but it does not matter, for I do not care what people may think of me. I know who I am and do not let others judgements change the way I see myself

If the words multiple sclerosis at times still seem surreal, that is okay with me, for that means I have not given the phantom my soul. 

Cindy Lee Lothian

August 24,  2013

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Things i Wish People Understood About MS!

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Things I Wish People Understood About MS!

You can never really know what someone else is thinking, feeling, wishing or mourning for unless you had a magic potion which allows you to step into their body for a day.

I cannot begin to describe the fear and devastation I felt when I first heard the doctors words “I think you have multiple sclerosis.” Everything I thought I knew, everything I thought I was vanished in a five seconds it took for him to utter those unwanted six words. It is like this for many people whether it be a medical diagnosis, the news of the death of a loved one, or any other life altering events which forever changes the course of your life. 

I could never really explain the utter fear I felt when my vision started to blur and then progressed to complete blackness. I was terrified of being left alone in the world which was dimming to nothingness. I was afraid of being trapped inside my own body not being able to see the faces of my children. The feeling of isolation and claustrophobia threatened to swallow me whole.

I would like people to understand that living with MS is a constant test of faith and courage. The courage to believe that tomorrow things will get better. The faith that no matter what, I will be okay with whatever might come to be. MS is an unpredictable illness and it takes great fortitude to stay strong and fight whatever each new days challenges might be.

I would like people to understand that I do not want them to look at me with pity, amusement or bewilderment if I am not walking with a graceful stride. When I am shopping and have to hold an item three inches from my face to read the label, I wish people would not stare but instead offer to read it for me. 

If I am too tired to go to a preplanned event, I do not want to have to make up excuses or  try to explain how I am just too tired today to even take a shower never-mind going out and have to socialize for a five hour dinner and drinks. 

If I have to take medications for pain, muscle spasms, daily injections to ward off an exacerbation, I do not want to feel guilty for needing pharmaceutical help in my daily fight against MS. Eating healthy, juicing, vitamin supplementation, exercise and meditations some days just may not be enough. It does not mean I am weak of mind or in spirit if I choose to incorporate any means necessary in my life with MS. 

Just because I have MS it doesn’t mean I am no longer a woman who wants to love and be loved. 

I want everyone to know that because of my MS, I have become a strong, positive woman who knows what she wants in life and has learned to appreciate what really matters.

My wish is for everyone living with MS to believe that they are strong enough to quell the MS monster, worthy of being loved unconditionally and to feel gratitude for all the beauty of life  that we are blessed to experience each day we are given. 

MS does not have to mean your life is over, it just means your life is now different than it was yesterday. 

You will adapt.

You will grow.

You will be okay 

When you see me walking down the street, know that I am perfectly me!

Cindy Lee Lothian

August 18, 2013

 

 

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When Words Are Arrows!

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When Words Are Arrows 

It is not easy living with an illness that tries to chip away at your self esteem every hour of every day. It can be a challenge to try to stay positive and to remain confident in who you are and to love yourself wholly.

Having your loved ones for support and reassurance when you are feeling doubtful or slightly insecure is a great comfort and a strong foundation  from which you feel safe.

But what about when someone you thought loved and understood you, says something that is insensitive and leaves you temporarily blindsided? 

Of course, this can hurt when caustic remarks are made by strangers but when they come from your loved one, it can cut deep.

If that person truly loves you and was sorry for what they said, then you might forgive and move on for no one is perfect. If the comments are a steady stream of negative criticisms which attack your self worth, then it is time to really examine why you are allowing that person into your life.

You have the choice of who you want to have in your life and by surrounding yourself with people who build you up and inspire you to be the best you can be, will help you to stay strong.

Sadly too many of us stay in caustic relationships whether they be marriages, siblings or friendships that no longer serve us in a positive way. 

A divorce that comes shortly after a diagnosis of MS can leave you spiraling in insecurities and self doubt. You might be left wonder “what is wrong with me?” The answer is nothing is wrong with you! The first step to rebuilding your life is to accept that  you are worthy of having someone in your life that loves you completely. Sometimes when relationships end it leaves the door open for someone wonderful to enter.  

If someone says something that you think is hurtful, express how you feel about what they said and ask them why they said it.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful living in a time of chivalry where knights served to protect the honor and safety of those in need?  Or is a society filled with decency and compassion all just a fantasy? 

Living with a chronic illness can be tough enough without having  shots fired at you from what you thought was your safe haven.

After all, shouldn’t the ones that love you take the arrow for you rather than be the one shooting it? 

cindy Lee Lothian

August 1, 2013

After thought! Before posting this, I just went outside to drag out the heavy garbage can to the road. A man walking by stopped to ask if I needed help. Chivalry does still exist!!!!

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MS Prayer!

MS Prayer!

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Firefly!

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Firefly!

My Scars may not always show

My Screams are not often heard

My Strength is put to the test

My Stride is all a akimbo

My Search for a cure will not waiver

My Smile is mine to keep

My Soul is my well of courage.

My Self a beautiful thing.

M. S. will not steal My Light!

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Panic Room!

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Panic Room

What do you do when your outer walls of defense are breached and a silent war is being raged within your inner sanctum?  When MS has declared war inside your own body and you are left feeling helpless, what do you do?

You go to your own inner panic room!!! A place where you are untouchable.

In order to try to gain control over what feels like an uncontrollable situation, the best thing you can do for yourself and your MS, is to stay calm.  You need to find that place inside of yourself, where your will resides, where your courage to fight awaits. 

How can you combat the silent war that is reeking havoc inside your body when your emotions are running at high speed in every direction?  Stress can be the number one enemy and by living in a stressful state, it is like giving extra ammunition to the MS soldiers. 

I know it is not easy to stay calm and to keep the fear and panic from rising up and sending you into an emotional tailspin.  But what is this going to gain you except probably more debilitating symptoms and  a flood of tears which never seem to end.

I can say this now as one who has been in the eye of the tornado, the heart of an exacerbation where all seemed hopeless.  But it is not! Better days will come, life will go on and you will be happy again.

When I lost complete vision in my one eye, i wanted to run. Run to anywhere that would make things okay again, but there was no such place for me then.  I was not able to find the inner sanctuary I so needed to help me stay strong and to keep believing that things would be oka 

Create your own inner panic room, a place inside where you go to quiet your mind, still your thoughts and listen only to the sound of your breathing.  You might think this sounds hokey but try it for just a few minutes and you will see what a great sense of peace and a feeling of well being that envelops you.  It is from this place of calmness you are untouchable. You are strong. You are remembering who you really are. 

You are not your illness, and you are so much more than your physical body.

If you are a non-believer, try this and let me know if this doesn’t become your own secret weapon against the threat of panic MS can cause. 

When an MS flare up starts to threaten to send you running scared, go to your place of stillness and put up your best defense.  A calm mind, a strong will and a courage that is unbeatable.  

cindy Lee Lothian

July 13, 2013

 

 

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What Will I Be?

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What Will I Be? 

When I was a little girl and I would ask my mother, “What will I be when I grow up?” I was innocent in my belief that only glorious things lay ahead. 

I could never have grasped the concept that life would give me an incurable illness which would be my daily foe, not always visible but always lurking somewhere deep in my DNA. 

She did not tell me that my marriage that I always thought would be like the storybook ones “happily ever after”,  would one day end with nothing to show but a piece of paper entitled “Divorce Decree.” 

If I had known then that I was too lose her tragically and suddenly when I needed her the most, I would have held her close and told her every day how much I loved her.

Nevertheless, life is always unpredictable and what matters is how we deal with what we are given.

If I had not been diagnosed with MS, I don’t think I would have such a deep understanding and appreciation of myself and all that I am capable of overcoming.  I would not have the gratitude that each new day should be welcomed with. 

Each new day is not a given, but a gift.  

If it wasn’t for my marriage, I would not have my two wonderful sons which fill me with love and pride.  If I was never divorced, I would never have met my new man which always encourages me to be the best I can be.

Losing my mother unexpectedly was my biggest test and at the same time the catapult which taught me just how to stand on my own, showed me just how far I can go and how much I am capable of. 

Before my MS, I was living a life on auto pilot.  Going to work everyday, raising my sons, being a wife, while never really seeing beyond my own nose.  Trivial things would seem catastrophic and the fact that tomorrow the sun would rise again, never in doubt. 

Why does it seem to take an illness or tragic loss of a loved one, to awaken us to see what really makes our lives worth living.

What has your MS taught you when you were least expecting it?

Do not let your MS be your ending, but the beginning of your self discovery.  

Cindy Lee Lothian

July 6, 2013

 

 

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