Hope in the Presence of Parkinson’s

“Never lose faith in yourself, and never lose hope; remember, even when this world throws its worst and then turns its back, there is still always hope.” Pittacus Lore

“Hope is a function of struggle.” Brené Brown

Beginning of the story: Tuesday, I drove from Chapel Hill, North Carolina to Blacksburg, Virginia (~3 1/2 hours, mainly driving on Interstate roads covered with blowing snow)  to present a workshop on Wednesday at the “8th Annual Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy.”  Crossing into Virginia and stopping at the rest area, I realized the whole right side of my neck was stiff; I began to wonder.  Was the stiffness due to the stress of Interstate driving in less-than-ideal weather? Was the stiffness due to playing golf with my golf buddy Nigel last Sunday [we played and walked 18 holes in <4 hours in 40°F  weather that was  cloudy, windy, and cold]? Or was this some new manifestation of my Parkinson’s? This was different than my daily early morning physical inventory; this was reminiscent of my pre-Parkinson’s (before beginning therapy) stiffness.  I turned to hope, determination and logical reasoning to answer my problem.

“While the heart beats, hope lingers.” Alison Croggon

To have perseverance is to be hopeful: We go through many up-and-down periods in our life, work, love, and health. A part of the lesson of our life’s tale is how we respond to these challenges; you can either take the high road or take the low road but you must pick a path.  Having a disorder like Parkinson’s clearly presents a living-challenge that you must decide how to navigate these obstacles as they occur. You can choose to ignore the slowly progressing but annoying symptoms; however, they never take a break regardless of your reaction to them. Therefore, it really helps to remain persistent, stay positive, be focused, and use hope to keep your reservoir filled to the brim.

“Hope is a verb with its shirtsleeves rolled up.” David Orr

Hope is the beacon you use when you’re surrounded by foggy darkness:  To me, hope is a source of clarity. If you remain hopeful, there’s a strong likelihood that you will succeed in your endeavors. If you abandon hope, a cloud could cover your thoughts and your reaction may be less balanced. In managing a chronic progressive illness, you’re sometimes making decisions almost hourly about what to do next, how best to respond, thinking what is going to happen next?  Reminding yourself there is hope allows you to more easily plan the response and follow the appropriate path.  In managing life activities, it really helps to follow pathways that bring you lasting support while remaining hopeful.

We dream to give ourselves hope. To stop dreaming – well, that’s like saying you can never change your fate.” Amy Tan

Life difficulties and struggles with the backdrop of residual hope:  There is no doubt we all have different obstacles in life; to paraphrase the thought that many years ago we set sail on the open waters instead of being securely anchored in the harbor. Nelson Mandela  said “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”   And one of my opening quotes was from Brené Brown, “Hope is a function of struggle.”   What these words tell me is simply that with or without a disorder like Parkinson’s, we are much alike in life.  And it is how we respond to these difficult moments and troublesome situations that will help to define our life.  And I am convinced our responses to these life-challenges is better wherever there is hope.  Below is a Brené Brown video on the profound nature, meaning and impact of hope (if the video doesn’t play for you, go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJo4qXbz4G4&feature=youtu.be&t=35):

“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” G.K. Chesterton

Hope in the presence of Parkinson’s: Our life-lease begins anew each morning we awake, and it extends throughout the day-evening; the renewal begins with the reward of sleep.  Surrounding our bed cover is Parkinson’s, waiting for us to surrender to its ever present grasp.  Instead, we resist with all our might. We set goals to achieve in its presence. We follow a path that favors happiness in the background of certain/uncertain Parkinson’s progression.  We stay positive, we remain determined, and always with perseverance we stand firm. Finally, combined together with hope, we continue, we live, we continue to live, and we continue to live well and strong in the presence of Parkinson’s.

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.” Robert Fulghum from “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”

Cover photo credit: http://newtopwallpapers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Beautiful-Scenery-of-Winter-Season.jpg

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