“For everything this disease has taken, something with greater value has been given–sometimes just a marker that points me in a new direction that I might not otherwise have traveled. So, sure, it may be one step forward and two steps back, but after a time with Parkinson’s, I’ve learned that what is important is making that one step count; always looking up.” Michael J. Fox
Life-lesson plans and a living-syllabus: As a long-time educator, I feel that my daily lesson plans are partly derived from my life-experiences and that my syllabus is the sum of my life’s journey. One view of how we live our syllabus is to see your glass either as half-full or as half-empty. Someone with a neurodegenerative disorder like Parkinson’s might see life through a half-empty glass; however, anchoring life on a positive and hopeful tone, maybe you’d still see the glass as half-full. When you think of Michael J. Fox and Parkinson’s, he’d definitely be a glass half-full person. Let me give some examples through his past comments.
Michael J. Fox: “We may each have our own individual Parkinson’s, but we all share one thing in common. Hope.”
Michael J. Fox and Parkinson’s: Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 29. He has lived with his Parkinson’s for over 20 years. He waited seven years to share the news about his diagnosis with the public. He also quickly committed to increasing awareness of Parkinson’s research; in 2007 he founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. He is widely admired for his tireless work with the Foundation and as a patient advocate for Parkinson’s.
Michael J. Fox: “In fact, Parkinson’s has made me a better person. A better husband, father and overall human being.”
Stay focused on the positive aspects of life: My own personal path to Parkinson’s (likely) started about 5-6 years ago with a firm diagnosis 2 years ago at the age of 60. My keys as I navigate life with Parkinson’s are to be positive, persistent, active (both physically and mentally), and to remain hopeful. I am a huge fan of Michael J. Fox. He remains focused on living positive with Parkinson’s, being honest about all the ups and downs associated with the disorder, and he truly believes some kind of cure is on the way.
Michael J. Fox: “My life is so filled with positives and blessings, and so filled with things I wouldn’t trade for the world.”
Practice mindfulness, take life moment by moment: Taking life as it comes, mindful to remain in the present moment is so vital to thriving (and living) with Parkinson’s. Feeling your breath moving in and out of your lungs will help you to focus in the current time. Wake each morning and take your daily-personal-inventory. From that time on, be cognizant that you may have up-and-down interludes during the day. Try not to worry about a future event; strive to live in the present moment.
Michael J. Fox: “Don’t imagine the worst… If you imagine the worst and it happens, you’ve lived it twice.”
Accept the diagnosis, absorb the details, live your life fully: Accepting the diagnosis is critical because there are so many treatment strategies available; there are many potential life-style changes possible. Please do not resign yourself to the no-zone of care and treatment; your heart is still beating strong. It take courage and conviction to resist the subtle changes from your disorder; you gain life-dividends from this effort.
Michael J. Fox: “Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.”
Volunteer, serve, understand what progress is being made, own your Parkinson’s without retreating: Do what you can with what time you have. I am trying to stay upfront with research trends in Parkinson’s; I want to understand and translate the science here in this blog. My newest task is a big reach for me because I am now part of the World Parkinson Coalition Communications Committee. As I get to know this amazing and talented team of communications experts, I will learn so much. And I truly admire their fierce devotion to all-things-Parkinson’s.
“Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitude”, assemble a good supporting team because your life-world is changing: You can move onward without any assistance; however, bring your loved ones, family, and friends along for the journey. Have good people around you. They provide love, stability, encouragement and fuel your resilience. Maybe with time, you might need their assistance; but for now, enjoy your life to its fullest. Manage your life and disorder, forge through it.
Michael J. Fox: “So what I say about Tracy is this: Tracy’s big challenge is not having a Parkinson’s patient for a husband. It’s having me for a husband. I happen to be a Parkinson’s patient.”
Be able to laugh and smile, even in the presence of Parkinson’s: Having Parkinson’s is a serious life-event. However, humor can be found despite its seriousness. The 2 video clips are from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and use humor at the expense of Michael J. Fox’s tremor and other difficulties from Parkinson’s (be prepared for ‘colorful profanity’ in their dialog).
Parkinson’s and the positivity of Michael J. Fox: For many years, Michael J. Fox has spoken honestly and openly about his Parkinson’s. His Foundation is at the forefront of funding research to help cure and/or slow the progression of this disorder. Throughout it all, he has remained positive and hopeful during his journey.
“If you see the world and yourself through a lens smudged by negativity then you’ll find much misery. If you look outwards and inwards through lens brightened by positivity you’ll find much to be happy and appreciative about.” Henrik Edberg
“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.” Muhammad Ali (The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey)
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