frontpage stats
Samsung DVD Burner

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Photo Album

I am paging through a giant photo album and looking at pictures that show my history. Some of the pictures give me goose bumps and fill me with a mix of confusing emotion. I don't know whether to smile, laugh or cry as I stare at pictures of me with my dad when I was a baby. In each photo he is giving me a look of adoration like I am the center of his world. I think I spent the better part of my childhood trying to pull that look out of him. I guess maybe it was there all along and I just had to look.

One thing that strikes me about most of the photos taken of me is my enormous grin. In every photo, you can see my teeth. My smile fills almost my entire face. I also notice that most of my photos are completely unselfconscious. I look free of all concern. I'm looking at a picture right now where I have the end of my hair wrapped between my lips and my face is plastered with an almost naughty smile. In other photos, my wild blonde wisps are wind blown and uncombed. Other photos show me with clear camera consciousness that seems to reveal a propensity to perform.

There are many photos of me in costume. Sometimes I am acting in a play and other times, I am dancing in my living room. I giggle when I look at photos of myself with my skirt or tutu pulled all the way up to my chest instead of my waist. I do not look concerned about this bizarre fashion statement in any of my photos. Frankly, I look quite pleased. My legs are long, tan and muscular. From the look of the photos, I rarely went inside or put on shoes. I am always laughing or smiling at some joke that has eluded the photographer. Now I wonder what was so funny but I can't help but smile at the girl grinning impishly out of the photos.

My photos almost always show me in action. Only the school photos have me posed. In every other picture I am in motion. I am running, I am dancing, I'm hiking, I'm on a playground, I'm in a field or a garden, I am continually on the move. My eyes are shining. My skin is glowing. I look fearless. When I look at these pictures, I remember the girl I used to be. I am without regrets. I think I have smiled more than I have ever frowned or cried. People tell me I look much younger than my 32 years, maybe that's why.

Parts of the last year have been very hard but I realize that it has been a very good life thus far. I told my husband the other day that MS has changed my life for the better. I have not felt as relaxed as I do now since the childhood captured in these photos. My whole life has come back into focus and perspective. Somehow I feel less overwhelmed, knowing I can be just who I am without pretense or apology. Today I am grateful for the life I have already lived and the one I get to continue living as I see fit.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Over the weekend, I took the time to embrace the return of spring. As I reflected on the way that spring makes me feel, I thought it would be a great time to theme my yoga classes around this beautiful season change.

Spring signifies an opportunity for rebirth. During the winter many parts of nature die or go into a state of hibernation. As the weather warms, and the rain falls, things long-dormant begin to find new life. All of nature becomes like an enormous serpent shedding its skin. There is the chance to shrug off old layers. The plants in my garden allow their old leaves to wither and fall away to make way for new growth. In the spaces where old life falls away, new shoots emerge. This cycle plays out again and again in the natural world, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, never halted by activity in the world of man.

Perhaps we have something to learn from this natural cycle. There are times when it is essential to break from old patterns. There are times when it is essential to reevaluate. There are even times when we must move away from old ways of doing things to find a new and creative approach to what lies before us. This is one of the reasons I always seem to find new inspiration in the spring. Like the plants, I am awakened by the increase in light and I find renewed vigor for things that have become stale. Today I celebrate this chance to grow in new ways.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Like the world around me, I am reawakening. There are these little whispers of life within me that weren't there before. Something is stirring in my most primal depths. Like an unsatiated hunger, there are stirrings of creation. My mind's eye is filled with images of things that must be forged. There are sparks of energy in spaces that were long-claimed by ashe. I am the firebird, born from metaphorical death, into new life.

My being hungers for new satisfactions. Details are tedium but there is a fire within me, smoldering and ready to grow things where there were none.

I am continually woken from deep sleep with the sense that I am missing something. I am startled, what is pacing in my unconscious? What desires are yet unrealized? Gone is the being who cowered. Change is around me and I can taste its new blood between my teeth. Where will I be lead? Can I make my own destiny manifest? Am I being lead or leading? What will spawn from this nest?

I am no leaf on the wind but I have this sense that I am also not in control. I cast out ripples on the pond of my existence and watch to see where and how they reverberate. I am not discontent but I am itching with anticipation. What does this new chapter have in store for me? A lone predator, I watch and wait the next opportunity.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

One Year Anniversary

Today is a day for celebration. It is the one year anniversary of my diagnosis with MS and I have much to reflect on and to feel grateful for.

I remember the day of my diagnosis both as though it was yesterday, and as though it took place in another lifetime. On the day I was diagnosed, I couldn't even walk without aide. My vertigo and double vision were so intense that I had to crawl just to get to the bathroom. I was terrified to cross the street. I wondered if my life would ever seem normal again. When I was diagnosed, I knew nothing of MS or what to expect. It was hard to even look into the future.

Today I am sitting at my desk at work and typing this and thinking about what pearls of wisdom (LOL) I might share with my yoga class. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the beauty that is my life. I am grateful that I have been able to return to the things I love to do. I see much greater value in those around me and my ability for compassion has been amplified.

There are so many things that I have learned from having MS. I have learned to be grateful for the small things and to treasure the people in my life that really matter. I have learned the value of taking space. I have even learned to be selfish at times and to say "no" to things that take away from what I value most. MS has taught me how to slow down. Most of the time, my life is no longer a race against time and deadlines. I take the time I need to get things done and skip the things that create undo stress. I am cultivating contentment.

I feel like I almost have a second chance to live my life. The part before MS had many good parts but now I can take the time to enjoy things more. It feels good to pause. It feels good to create things. It feels nice to read, do yoga and take a walk. It feels good not to be consumed by a "to do" list. It feels amazing to still have all the love and support of my husband, family and friends. It feels good to share all of this on my blog. I love taking the time to remember that this is just the beginning of a new chapter in my life.

This year has given me greater fuel for personal growth than any that has come before it. It's interesting to weigh one's life against very real mortality and to discover that many of the things that somehow seemed important are not. I am not the same woman I was a year ago. It is slowly dawning on me that there is much more to life than one's profession or accomplishments. Today it just seems important to remember that I got to practice yoga with kids in the sun. It seems important to remember that I haven awoken to this beautiful life 364 times since my diagnosis and that I am ok.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Out of the Twilight

A cacaphony of sensory stimuli
I'm trying to discover
What is real
What is just imagined.
Steroid-induced madness?
Flights of inflammation?

Navigating this labryinth of sensation
Seeking a compass within
Hoping to discover
The difference between
The real
And the unreal.

There's this sense of urgency
But for what?
To what purpose?
Is there a deadline?
Can I discover anything definitive?
Which way from limbo to light?

Guided by instinct,
I claw my way through twilight
But I am not afraid,
I am not alone,
Somehow I am guided
And in the confusion, I still trust.

To seek is not to know
To seek is to be aware
To seek is to unearth ideas
Sometimes in dark, unlikely places.
I seek on a night without stars
But I am no longer afraid.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Amongst the Layers

I have been here before but I'm not who I was then.
Lost myself,
In a flurry of false conceptions.
Got so lost I no longer knew myself.

Sunk back into memory,
Found some renewal of innocence.
Glanced at the facade I wrapped around myself--
And did not remember who or what I was.

I am peeling back the layers.
Some are thick and hardened
The skin beneath is pink and raw
There are no calluses on the skin beneath.

I am peeling back the layers.
I think there is something worth knowing inside
I think there is something unusual within
Something beautiful.

I am longing to taste the core
To find what magic may lie there
I am longing to shed
All things best forgotten

I have been here before but I am not what I was then.
Started to find myself
In the simplicity of my nature
Embraced my innocence and found joy!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Some days you write, some days you don't

Well... I had lots of blog ideas but then life came up. My exacerbation seems to be starting to wind down as I rest and let the steroids take effect so that's good. I have a lot to do this week but I plan to keep things mellow within reason and to listen to my body so I can get better quickly. I mostly laid low this weekend. I did get to go out to a yoga teacher get together and I just completed two more job applications so despite the resting, I wasn't a complete slug. I hope to get back on here before the week is out with an update or at least an interesting piece of writing.

We are nearing our newest goal for the MS Walk so thanks again to everyone who has already donated. Today I am grateful that my husband found a way for us to give back.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Day off

It's good I took the day off. I have done a lot of sleeping. I did take my streoids and ate but then I went back to bed. I had hoped to do more fun stuff but I guess rest is what is in the cards for today. My spirits are still good but I must admit that I took a break none too soon. I am feeling pretty awful but it's hard to describe. My head is really hurting and I feel kind of nauseated. My senses are feeling rather overwhelmed. It's like something is pressing on my temples and something hot is dripping down the back of my neck. I hope I have a high enough dose of steroids to make me feel better. I only have a 60mg taper of prednisone. The first time I got sick I started at 500mg and the second time I started at 75mg but until today, I have only felt a little bit sick and strange. Now I feel worse.

It's snowing and sloppy out so I figure I should just take the meds I have on hand and hope for the best. I'm still hoping to be better before Monday and to do a fun thing or two before now and then but I am also content to lay low if I must. I am keeping my fingers crossed that my discomfort will be short lived and I'll be back to creative writing before the weekend ends. I also hope the weather clears so I can go buy new watercolors. I did a cool painting last weekend but I ran out of good watercolors and now I have nothing to paint with. Luckily, I still have ideas so as soon as I have the right tools I can continue. Now I'm back to resting, reading and staying warm. Tonight I'm thankful that I can curl up and relax.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I haven't even started the steroids yet

Well, small relapse and time for a very short stint of steroids. I haven't even started them yet but I'm already finding myself lost in transcendental reality. It must be the tiredness or the long week. It could just be too much time in my own little world but I have a million random things running through my mind. What's up with facebook? Ever since I set up a profile, people have started sending me messages in places I can't find and things that I am confused by. I don't think I know the ettiquette. Do I send something back? Do I respond to things on my "wall?" There's like this whole other world out there that I just don't understand. Maybe when I finish the steroids and get some rest it will all make sense. If not, oh well.

Not a bad week. I was very busy with work. I just got home from parent/teacher conferences and I called in for tomorrow so now I have a long weekend to look forward to. There are a bunch of things I would like to do but first I will rest and care for my health.

My lastest exacerbation started on Monday with blurry vision and dizziness. Throughout the week, this has continued off and on but I only threw up once so I can't complain. I have felt far worse than this before and now I can tell when something is not right in my body. I waited four days to call my doctor but today I decided it was time to call so I could get started on some steroids before I got any sicker. He ordered me a very small dose of prednisone and I hope to be all better by Monday. He also told me that I have mild asthma and I can pick up an inhaler tomorrow. I am looking forward to trying it out to see if it helps me breathe more comfortably. I am also hoping that with more oxygen I won't get tired out so easily.

Even with these little inconveniences, I am feeling sort of excited and happy. The anniversary of my diagnosis is one week from today and I want to celebrate. I want to celebrate because of the positive ways in which MS has changed my life. It has really slowed me down. It has showed me what's important and it has made my priorities clear.

I am also happy because today I realized that I am finally learning to manage my health. I know how to listen to my body. I can tell when I need to rest or when something is not right. Now I am not so scared of a relapse because I know what to expect and what to do when one starts. I feel like if I pay attention to my body, I can keep myself from getting really sick like I did last year. If I do things right, I won't have to miss work or any of the fun activities I have planned over the next few months. This might seem like a strange reason to feel happy but these realizations are making me feel empowered. I feel like I'm in charge instead of my disease. It makes me feel like my life is going to be just fine. I feel deeply grateful for this feeling. The last time I got sick I was full of fear about my future but now I feel like I can just take things as they come. Today I am grateful to feel so empowered.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Adventures in the Magic Land

My best friend was a goddess to me. She was about four years older than me. I remember the way she looked clearly but I lost track of her over two decades ago. She was thin and plain but to me, she was the gorgeous epitome of everything I wished to become. Her eyes were liquid brown, her skin soft and creamy. She had thin, straight blond hair that framed a small face. Between her two, top, front teeth was a large gap. She was long-limbed and ungainly and in retrospect, perhaps she was cognitively deficient for her age but I saw none of this. I idolized her beauty, wit and creativity. Despite the age gulf between us, we seemed to be equals. Time plays tricks but I believe she was our leader.

We played in our imaginary world, and the Magic land was our backdrop. We imagined civilization where there was none. First, we created a hideout among the willows. They grew together in one part of the magic land, a giant mass of interwoven branches. We had to force our way into the spaces between them, huddled close to the sandy ground. We found wild berries growing near our hideout on small, flowering green plants. We plucked the berries and took them back to our lair. We had no notion of their origin but we trusted that they were edible. We ate of them greedily, sucking out their seeds and laying them inside. They stained our teeth a pinkish hue. They were sweet but they left our mouths rather parched. When we finished our little feast, we were careful to plant the seeds in the ground. We imagined that in time, more berries would take root near our hideout and we would enjoy them again. It seemed the berries grew near that spot for many years but I never knew if it was because of our careful tending.

My imagination has long lingered on spaces. Whether indoor or outdoor, these places have life in my dreams. I have lost track which were places I had really been and which I created in my mind but I know the Willow Grove was real. So was our fort between the orchard and the road.

Playing by a giant felled tree, we discovered that the bark could easily be removed. The bark made great shingles for our fort and inside the bark; we found the soft innards of the tree. We called it "soft stuff" and used it to insulate our growing hideaway.

We laid the shingles between a branch and the fence to the road. Slowly, our shelter took shape. We shoved the soft stuff between the shingles to fill the cracks and to create warmth. Our fort slowly became a cozy home. We lined the floor with soft stuff to create a nest. Even when the rain fell, we were kept relatively dry. We imagined that no one could find us in the secret shelter we had created. Hours were swallowed up in the upkeep of our outdoor haven of domesticity. We kept the area outside the hut swept clean with small branches removed from a nearby rabbit bush. There was never a cozier home than the one we created. Sometimes I still find my mind straying to this place.

I lived for so long in an imaginary world of my creation that I am uncertain when that world ceased to be a part of my daily life. When I remember, part of me is still alive in that space. I sense it as though it were both yesterday and another lifetime ago. My sensory memories are still tangible. My hands reach out to caress the soft stuff. I remember the smells inside the bark we stripped from the fallen tree. I remember my friend's laughter. Everything is somehow so simple, so innocent that all the worries of adulthood disappear. We may not be able to go back in time, or to relive our childhood, but we can remember how we felt inside. I remember the endless possibilities, the special places both real and imagined and the boundless dreams and possibilities before me. I am not trapped in one destiny, I am free to do whatever I want, to become whatever I wish to become...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Update 4/11/09

I had intended to complete some kind of blog marathon today but I ended up getting caught up in other things and therefore never wrote the brilliant piece I had planned to write (LOL). I didn't read any blogs either but there is always tomorrow...

It was a pretty good week. My revelations of the last few weeks have really helped to minimize my stress and anxiety. When I start feeling myself getting riled up over next to nothing, I just try to move on. I am doing a much better job of just accepting myself and not beating myself up over silly, little stuff. A few times this week, I caught myself looking at myself from outside again and judging, but the thought scarcely crossed my mind, before I put it away. Now I'm just trying to let myself be authentically myself without worrying about how I might appear. Sending my blog feed to my facebook account gave me some pause but then I remembered that after all, I do keep a public blog and it's not like anyone can't come on over to read my deepest, darkest thoughts (chuckle). So here I am again, putting it all out there because, hell, why not?

I have been thinking and even dreaming a lot about my childhood lately. I realize that my mind is full of snapshots of memory. Many of these shots are like the pages in my photo album, vivid and brief but interesting to me none the less. Some of my memories are wrought with sensory images that long to be strung together into a meaningful story. I find myself reaching for these strands and wondering how I might weave them together to create a coherent story of my youth. As I ravel them together in my mind, I realize that most of them appear in detailed, sensory pictures, rather than stories. Some of the memories are like little vignettes. Since I am focused merely on creativity, and not the telling of a life from start to finish, I feel that I will be compelled to write them as they come. It will be a process of unearthing, an archeological dig but perhaps in the finding of the pieces, I will be left with some kind of story.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

When I was little

I almost could have titled this post "The teacher in all things." Earlier, I was in awe thinking about the number of things I discover about myself while I'm teaching. It seems like every time I prepare to teach yoga, the passage I want to read finds me. Today I found this in Meditations from the Mat : "Before yoga each of us is like the land that longs for the return of its hero." The interesting thing is that I started this post during lunch today but didn't find this passage until just now. The passage goes on to state: "We can feel this longing in our muscles, in our bones, in the movements that were once fluid... There is a presence, a life force that is conspicuous in its absence." The passage further states, "We were once possessed of a youthful vitality, but many of us forgot we ever had such energy and vigor..." I was beginning to forget but now I want to remember.

When I was a child I believed in the magical, invisible world. The things of my imagination and the storybooks I read were real. For five years I lived in a special place that I like to call "The Magic Land."

When I was about 3 years old, I moved from Boulder to a large piece of property outside Salida, Colorado. The place I moved to was the Magic Land. I can still picture it as though I were just there but I have not been there except in dreams for over 20 years.

The Arkansas River wound around the land, caressing the sides with little inlets and beaches. In one place, there was even a small island across from a beach we called "The Goat Beach." There were several other "beaches" as well. Near the Goat Beach was a small tract of smooth white sand that we called "Miami Beach." After the Goat Beach, the river curved around and our property dead-ended by another, much larger beach. This beach was carpeted with smooth, river rocks. It was also surrounded on all sides by a large grove of trees we dubbed "The Sanctuary." This "sanctuary" was another magic place. Woodland creatures like elves, fairies and gnomes lived there. Before the river banks gave way to the beach, there was a tiny forest of asparagus.

There were not just beaches on the Magic Land. The river itself was a great source of interest. I remember jumping from rock to rock in the river itself when the water was sufficiently low. I found hours of solitary entertainment just in this activity. Some of the water from the river was also funneled into an irrigation ditch that ran through the property, narrow and small in places and as much as five feet wide and six feet deep in others. When the ditch was dry, I remember going exploring with friends along its length. One of the things that stands out to me about the land is that there was always something for an imaginative child to do there. I do not remember being bored or wondering just how to fill a day.

When I think of the Magic Land, my mind always focuses on the waterways. The river and the ditch fascinated me but my imagination was most captivated by the pond that extended from our land and onto the next property. I remember skating there in the winter for the first time. I remember seeing the unicorn I wrote about in my "Memoir Rewind." At times I would fish small snail shells and underwater grasses from the shallows. I played there often. Along the far end of the pond there was a swampy area. Right before stepping into the swamp, one could pause on a wooden outcropping that resembled a small dock. Entrenched in the boards was a large, metal steering wheel. This perch became my little brother's ship and he was given the name "Captain You Don't Know What You are Talking About" by one of our sitters.

Just writing about the Magic Land has reenamored me with that special place. I read what I have written and slowly the joy and innocence of childhood is restored in my mind.

To be continued...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Neurology Now Magazine

The following info was sent to me by one of my readers so I promised to pass it on in case the info was useful to any of my other readers.


I found your blog while doing some research for the American Academy of Neurology’s free patient-education magazine, Neurology Now. (You may have seen it in your neurologist’s office.)

I wanted to let you know the MS is covered frequently in the magazine, with features on high-profile advocates and stories of every day people coping with the disease. You can either have a complimentary subscription mailed to you, or you can access the articles free online at

Anyway, my dad has MS – so please don’t think my email is purely promotional. I am really proud of our content and I like to let people know it’s available. If you are so inclined to let your readers know about it, or add a link to our home page, I would really appreciate, but at least I hope you will check it out if you are not already a subscriber


Deb Benward

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Memoir rewind

One of the things that really struck me during my recent conversation with my dad was the notion that I should be doing creative things. I agree. That is part of why I am drawn to blogging. This of course leads to another excellent point... My father said that he noticed that I often use this blog to do battle with myself. He is absolutely right. I work out my thoughts here but I also spend a great deal of time beating myself up and feeling anxious, guilty and sad. This takes the blog from the realm of pure creativity, into personal therapy but not always the good kind. Too often, my posts perpetuate patterns I would like to change in myself and a good dose of self-loathing as well. I think in the spirit of creativity and stress-management, I need to change the direction of my writing a little. My blog does not need to be a stage for fighting with myself, but it can be a good place for finding myself. With this in mind, I find myself returning (at least in thought) to my long neglected memoir.

My father suggested that I was 14 or 15 when the foundation for the MS was laid in place. He said that at this time I lost touch with who I really was and began the long battle with myself. Whatever the case may be, I do remember losing a lot of my spontaneity, creativity and joy around this time. I became a perfectionist, a performer and a critic. I started to see myself through the eyes of an imagined, outside observer who constantly tracked both my accomplishments and failures. This was around the time I first experienced anxiety and depression. Slowly I left behind many of the activities I loved as a kid. I eventually quit both dance and gymnastics (things I had always loved). When I was little, I was an uninhibited choreographer but by the time I was about 16, I was stifled when I tried to just listen to music and dance. Sometimes I have vivid flashes in my mind of the girl I was. Now, whatever comes of this, I want to remember that girl and draw myself closer to her, not for my dad, not because of MS but because this may be the key to a brighter future for me.

I remember a story that I was once told that inspired me to great leaps of creative thought.

Once upon a time there was a little girl who journeyed with her brother into a tomato plant. They became tiny and traveled right into the veins of the plant. They did this by concentrating on the plant with their eyes until they were absorbed into the stem. Once they were inside the plant, they seemed to float along in the liquid center of the plant. They journeyed from stem to limb and then eventually into a giant, ripe tomato. There, they had fun playing until someone plucked the tomato from the vine and then they had to find a way out quickly when a giant mouth threatened to consume them.

I may have gotten the story wrong but that was the kind of tale that inspired me as a child. Like Tinkerbell from my favorite childhood play, "Peter Pan" said, "You just have to believe." I used to think that if I believed enough and looked hard enough, I would see the magical things from story books.

I would sit in the garden and stare at a plant for a long time, just waiting to be drawn inside. Sometimes, I would hide among the flowers and imagine that soon I would encounter a fairy. I would even dress up and pretend I had become one.

Once, when I was about 3, I saw a unicorn. The strange thing is that to this day, the image of the unicorn across the pond is still cemented in my mind. She glows white in the moonlight at a distance and despite what my rational mind says she is there.

Today I am grateful for this chance to remember...

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Yesterday I saw my dad for the first time in a year and he gave me his analysis regarding the MS. He said it was the "real" Nadja attacking the Nadja I had allowed myself to become. Whatever one may believe, this really made sense to me, especially in light of what I wrote on April 1st. My dad suggested that I take the time to remember what brings me joy and to remember the creative girl I used to be. We talked about many other things as well but I think it will take time for me to process it all and write up my own take on things. Today I am just beginning to reflect on the things he said and to remember what brings me joy.

The sun brings me joy. My family and friends bring me joy. My husband brings me joy and so do my awesome pets. Yoga brings me joy. Music and song bring me joy. Creating art and writing bring me joy. Connecting with other people on a deeper level brings me joy. Dancing makes me joyful and so does standing on my head and doing "tricks." Even teaching often brings me joy. I love watching kids learn and I love teaching yoga. Doing creative things or reading books that allow me to escape into fantasy makes me joyful. I think this is why I created Denver Refashionista.

Talking to my dad actually gave me a sense of relief. I felt relieved that he did not tell me that I did something wrong to cause this disease ( shows where my head was) but I felt most relieved by the idea that I should do things that I am drawn too. I even got some ideas about how to cope with the things I have to do and still remain true to myself. I suspect it is time for me to have a love affair with myself. This should be fun...

Today I am grateful for the things that bring me joy.

Stay tuned... there is much more to follow today's post.

Reflection Continued

I have found my reflections of late helpful. It feels good to own things, write them down and then move on with my life. So far I think I am doing a good job cheerleading for myself. Today I even applied for a couple of jobs outside my district that might help me get out of the classroom and into a role more suited to my current aspirations and health needs. I am not sure what will come of this process but it felt good to do something active to improve my life. One can never know the politics of getting a job but I do feel confident that I am well-qualified to do the jobs I applied for.

I had a physical the other day and that went pretty well. All of my vitals are good but I did "fail" a lung test. My doctor says that my lung x-rays look fine but I am having trouble with exhaling all my air and so that is then effecting my overall respiration. I often feel like I am gulping for air. We are unclear if this is related to the MS, anxiety or something else but I am going for more tests with a pulmonary specialist on Friday so then we will know more. I am just trying to be positive and hope that they don't find anything major. In the meantime, I must admit that all my gasping for air is wearing me out. My chest hurts and I'm rather nauseated but I imagine this too will pass.

This afternoon I am going to see my dad for the first time in a year. I am hoping we will have a nice, productive visit and that perhaps he will shed some light on treatment for my MS (he's a holistic healer). Either way, I'm sure it will be good to catch up. He has not seen me since the day after I was diagnosed and despite my discomfort today, I'm in much better condition.

Today I am thankful that the snow has stopped and the sun has appeared a time or two.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Reflection 4/01

The other day I met another young man with MS. He is the youngest person with MS who I have ever met. Anyway, in the course of our extended conversation, I remember him asking me whether it was hard for me to express my emotions. I said that for me it was not but that I imagined it must be harder for men. He asked me why and I said, "Because it is harder for men to be vulnerable."

As a society we make little room for vulnerability. I imagine that it is sometimes harder to be a man with MS for this reason. I also imagine that it can be harder for men because so many of the people with this disease are women. Not only are more sufferers women, but by nature most of us like to talk to each other and we like to talk about our feelings. The generalizations I make here are by no means to be regarded as universal truths, they are merely my own musings. This is also not my main point. My main point is that although it is often more acceptable for women to make themselves vulnerable, it is hard for human beings to make themselves vulnerable. It is hard to look deeply at ourselves and it is even harder to let even our closest friends take a deep peek. When I started this blog I resolved to write with as much as honesty as I could for both myself and the benefit of my readers. What follows is some of my own reflections of late.

It is hard to take a good honest look at oneself. I look at myself deeply and regularly but with some things, I just don't delve into them all the way to their darkest depths. I don't go there because to do so causes too much anxiety in my daily life and takes my focus off my day-to-day commitments. Now I have been on vacation for almost a week and so I am much more relaxed than usual. I have taken a portion of my time away from home and work to really look to the sources of my anxieties and discontent.

Shortly before my vacation I taught a yoga class focused on the concept of "asteya". This can be loosely translated to mean "non-stealing" but the author of Meditations from the Mat noted that it can also be about attachments. I encouraged my students to think about their own attachments and to let something go. This led me to think a bit about my own attachments. One of the things that occurred to me is that I am a bit addicted to drama. Talk about vulnerable... It disgusts me just a little to even admit this to myself. It seems there is a part of me that is addicted to suffering. At some level, I am unsure how to operate without feeling bad about something. Most of the time I choose to hate myself or to fixate on the worst of my situation. Really it is no wonder that I feel anxious.

During my vacation, I have had time to look further. I see two things at the center of most of my angst. Actually, there is really only one thing manifesting in two ways. There is fear. I have a deep fear of not doing things well or being unable to do things. I have another deep fear that somehow I am deeply flawed. My interactions with others are colored by my second fear. I always assume that I am being judged for my flaws. I find criticisms where perhaps there are none. For some reason I always think that other people will find something wrong with me. I try so hard to do everything well but I leave little room to be human. I am driven by a fear of being less than perfect. I loathe myself for my imperfections. It is as though I believe there is this giant scorecard measuring everything I do and I must constantly find ways to give myself points. I am looking at myself from the outside and making assumptions about the ways others may see me. Even as I write now, I imagine the reactions of my various readers. I am an addict. I am addicted to this way of seeing things. Change is hard but I am determined to change. I realize that this change I seek may be long and hard in coming but in the end, I will feel much better having ceased to judge myself in this manner.

If I were my own friend I would say, "You are fine the way you are. Nothing is wrong with you. You are not flawed. You are a beautiful person and nobody is judging you." I would tell my friend not be so hard on herself. I would point out to her all the things inside her that are beautiful. I would remind her of all the unselfish things she continually does to help other people and how much she really gives to other people all the time. I would remind her that it is ok to be human. It is ok to fail at times. It is ok to be sick when you are sick. It is ok to take a break. It is ok to say "no" and to focus on your own truest needs and desires sometimes.

Today I am thankful for these insights into my own patterns of operation.

To be continued...