Category Archives: Personal Strengths

64 Quotes on Persistence to Help Your Journey With Parkinson’s Disease

“Kites rise highest against the wind – not with it!” Winston Churchill

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Benjamin Franklin

Introduction: On January 1, LinkedIn announced that I had a work anniversary of 32 years at The University North Carolina at Chapel Hill ( if you include my postdoc at UNC-CH, this is a grand total of 36 years). My dear friend Lisa Cox (she is a graduate of The University North Carolina at Chapel Hill) wrote to congratulate me and said the following: “Grateful for your commitment to the University and to your students. Your steadfast determination is to be commended.”  Her use of the words ‘steadfast determination’  got me thinking about the word persistent  (steadfast is a synonym for persistent) and this thinking led to the current blog post.

Persistence in the backdrop of staying hopeful:  I truly admire and enjoy reading works by Dr. Brené Brown. Her insight, research/writing and her thoughtful commentary on many different topics are truly remarkable.  She has studied hope and when you have Parkinson’s hope is a very important word to embrace.  One of her stories on hope, mixed with persistence, deals with the work of C. R. Snyder, at the University of Kansas, Lawrence.  Embracing and expanding upon this work, “hope is a thought process; hope happens when (1) We have the ability to set realistic goals (I know where I want to go); (2) We are able to figure out how to achieve those goals, including the ability to stay flexible and develop alternative routes (I know how to get there, I’m persistent, and I can tolerate disappointment and try again); and (3) We believe in ourselves (I can do this!).” To read in-depth this presentation entitled “Learning to Hope–Brené Brown”, click here. And again the word ‘persistent’ stood out while reading this document.

Persistence and Parkinson’s:Persistence (per·sist·ence /pərˈsistəns/ noun) is defined as (1) firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition, and (2) the continued or prolonged existence of something.  If you’re going to thrive in the presence of Parkinson’s, you will definitely need persistence because you will be locked in a lifelong battle to resist its presence every minute of every day.  Besides being hopeful and positive, having persistence will help enable your daily journey with Parkinson’s.  In other words, persistence is not giving up without trying,  searching out and exploring new pathways for your life, and it certainly demands steadfast determination.

64* Quotes on Persistence to Help You Stay Positive and Hopeful, and to Keep You Exercising: (*Why 64? Because I’m 64 years old) I started with >100 quotes and ended up with this list; they are arranged alphabetically by the author’s first name. [This is the third time I’ve written about persistence in the presence of Parkinson’s; to read the first blog post “Persistence and Parkinson’s” click here, and to read the most recent blog post “Chapter 7: A Parkinson’s Reading Companion on Persistenceclick here.]  May these quotes about persistence bolster your daily dealing with this dastardly disorder named Parkinson’s.

  1. “I do the very best I know how, the very best I can and I mean to keep doing so until the end.” Abraham Lincoln
  2. “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Albert Einstein
  3. “The best view comes after the hardest climb.” Anonymous/Unknown
  4.  “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide n.ot to surrender, that is strength.” Arnold Schwarzenegger
  5. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle
  6. “Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.” Art Linkletter
  7. “Better is possible. It does not take genius. It takes diligence. It takes moral clarity. It takes ingenuity. And above all, it takes a willingness to try.” Atul Gawande
  8. “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” Babe Ruth
  9. “History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeat.” C. Forbes
  10. “As long as there’s breath in You–Persist!” Bernard Kelvin Clive
  11. “No great achievement is possible without persistent work.” Bertrand Russell
  12. “My greatest point is my persistence. I never give up in a match. However down I am, I fight until the last ball. My list of matches shows that I have turned a great many so-called irretrievable defeats into victories.” Bjorn Borg
  13. “In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins – not through strength, but through persistence.” Buddha
  14. “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” Calvin Coolidge
  15. “Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” Colin Powell
  16. “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” Confucius
  17.  “Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” Earl Nightingale
  18. “A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.”Elbert Hubbard
  19. “If you are doing all you can to the fullest of your ability as well as you can, there is nothing else that is asked of a soul.” Gary Zukav
  20. ”Morale is the state of mind. It is steadfastness and courage and hope. It is confidence and zeal and loyalty. It is elan, esprit de corps and determination.” George C. Marshall
  21. “You go on. You set one foot in front of the other, and if a thin voice cries out, somewhere behind you, you pretend not to hear, and keep going.” Geraldine Brooks
  22. “Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.” Hal Borland
  23. “Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  24. “The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is, that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.” Henry Ward Beecher
  25. “When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, suddenly the work will finish itself.” Isak Dinesen
  26. “Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.” Jacob A. Riis
  27. “The most essential factor is persistence–the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come.” James Whitcomb Riley
  28. ”We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” Jesse Owens
  29. “This is the highest wisdom that I own; freedom and life are earned by those alone who conquer them each day anew.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  30. “Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.” John Quincy Adams
  31. “Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” Julie Andrews
  32. “If you wish to be out front, then act as if you were behind.” Lao Tzu
  33. “You aren’t going to find anybody that’s going to be successful without making a sacrifice and without perseverance.“ Lou Holtz
  34. “Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.” Louis Pasteur
  35. “Full effort is full victory.” Mahatma Gandhi
  36. “You’re not obligated to win. You’re obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day.” Marina Wright Edelman
  37. “If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
  38. “Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering I will try again tomorrow.” Mary Anne Radmacher
  39. “Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” Maya Angelou
  40. “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” Maya Angelou
  41. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan
  42. “Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway.” Mother Theresa
  43. “Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” Napoleon Hill
  44. “It always seems impossible until it is done.” Nelson Mandela
  45. “I will persist until I succeed. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult. I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking.” Og Mandino
  46. “Enter every activity without giving mental recognition to the possibility of defeat. Concentrate on your strengths, instead of your weaknesses… on your powers, instead of your problems.” Paul J. Meyer
  47. “He conquers who endures.” Persius
  48. “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
  49. “We are human. We are not perfect. We are alive. We try things. We make mistakes. We stumble. We fall. We get hurt. We rise again. We try again. We keep learning. We keep growing. And we are thankful for this priceless opportunity called life.” Ritu Ghatourey
  50.  “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” Robert Collier
  51. “The best way out is always through.” Robert Frost
  52. “Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.” Roy Bennett
  53. “There are two ways of attaining an important end, force and perseverance; the silent power of the latter grows irresistible with time.” Sophie Swetchine
  54. “To succeed, you must have tremendous perseverance, tremendous will. “I will drink the ocean,” says the persevering soul; “at my will mountains will crumble up.” Have that sort of energy, that sort of will; work hard, and you will reach the goal.” Swami Vivekananda
  55. “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to always try just one more time.” Thomas Edison
  56. “Permanence, perseverance, and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragement, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” Thomas Carlyle
  57. “With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.” Thomas Foxwell Buxton
  58. “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Thomas Jefferson
  59. “We are made to persist. That’s how we find out who we are.” Tobias Wolff
  60. “I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed: and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I fail and keep trying.” Tom Hopkins
  61. “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”  Vince Lombardi
  62. “Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.” William James
  63. “Continuous effort–not strength or intelligence–is the key to unlocking our potential.” Winston Churchill
  64. “If you’re going through hell, keep going. Winston Churchill
Motivation using quotes on persistence and pictures/diagrams/ideas related to Parkinson’s:  I am a very visual person and I also need motivation as the new year begins with winter cold in North Carolina  (yes, we got some snow/freezing rain/ice, and yes Chapel Hill was mostly brought to a standstill; so we move on and hope for an early spring).  Therefore, to help me stay motivated to exercise every day,  and to remind me of all the benefits that exercise provides me against Parkinson’s progression I made the following images.
 Also displayed below are 12 additional quotes mounted on some colorful artful backgrounds.   Hopefully, this will provide you a template to make your own favorite motivational group of persistence quotes.

Please stay focused on taking the best care of you by working well with your family and support team, be honest with your movement disorder Neurologist, get plenty of exercise and try to sleep well.  You hold the key to unlock the plan to manage your Parkinson’s.

“Strength is found in each of us.  For those of us with Parkinson’s, we use our personal strengths of character to bolster our hope, courage, mindfulness/contentment/gratitude, determination, and the will to survive. Stay strong. Stay hopeful. Stay educated. Stay determined. Stay persistent. Stay courageous. Stay positive. Stay wholehearted. Stay mindful. Stay happy. Stay you.”  Frank C. Church

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10 “P-Words” That Will Help Your Career Even in the Presence of Parkinson’s

“Enjoy the journey, enjoy every moment, and quit worrying about Winning and losing.” Matt Biondi

“Enjoy the journey as much as the destination.”  Marshall Sylver

Introduction:  It has been a month since my last blog post.  Trips to Arizona, California, Alabama, and Florida consumed much of the month.  I spent time with relatives, dear old friends, and played many rounds of golf.  The spring semester was most enjoyable but also it was quite consumptive.  Life-changes.  And I just needed a short break.

10 “P-Words” That Will Help Your Career:  I found a piece of paper recently that had a bunch of hand-written words that started with the letter “P”.  These words were all focused in the mindset of how to achieve/sustain success in the world of medical academics/research in a university setting.  Use these P-words while you advance/survive/navigate/succeed through your career.

At various times during your career, some words may take precedence depending on the situation.  However, if you consider the words in the form of a melody, they will all significantly contribute to the symphony of your work-life.  There is no doubt there are many other words we could cite that help you navigate work, that allow you to succeed in your career.  My list is just a start or an attempt to help you focus your energies with the goal of advancement and happiness in your work world. May this list help you focus and achieve further in your professional career.

  1. Passionate (Capable of, having, or dominated by powerful emotions):
    “There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions – in a way that serves the world and you.” Richard Branson
  2. Patient (Tolerant; understanding):
    “Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.”  Robert H. Schuller
  3. Perseverance (Continued steady belief or efforts, withstanding discouragement or difficulty):
    “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”  Thomas A. Edison
  4. Persistent (Continuance of an effect after the cause is removed):
    “You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” Babe Ruth
  5. Positivity (Characterized by or displaying certainty, acceptance, or affirmation):
    “There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.”  W. Clement Stone
  6. Power (The ability or capacity to act or do something effectively):
    “You must try to make the most of all that comes but also don’t forget to learn a lot of all that goes.” William C. Brown
  7. Prepared (To make ready beforehand for a specific purpose):
    “The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.” Elbert Hubbard
  8. Principled(s) (Based on, marked by, or manifesting principle):
    “I wish I had been wiser. I wish I had been more effective, I wish I’d been more unifying, I wish I’d been more principled.” Bill Ayers
  9. Productive (Effective in achieving specified results):
    “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”  Francis of Assisi
  10. Purposeful (Determined; resolute):
    “All life is a purposeful struggle, and your only choice is the choice of a goal.”  Ayn Rand

The 10 “P-Words” Could Assist the Journey (definitions from the Free Dictionary): You may have a different definition for these words and you may know of better quotes given for each word. Good!  The balance, guidance and focus of each word as they are applied to work is what matters.

I remember reading in 1989 “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey, and found it useful.  But in hindsight, my mind functions in a simpler more scientific manner, words work better to focus my mind than did chapters and detailed stories.  Covey has sold more than 25 million copies of his book; clearly his description his ability to provide a powerful narrative was most successful – I did learn a lot from his book.  However, this list of words simply spells out a way to help coordinate the complexity of a career.

The 10 “P-Words” Work in the Presence of Parkinson’s:  I have had Parkinson’s for the past 5-6 years, and I am still working full-time.  No doubt Parkinson’s affects each person differently; it allows some to continue to work and others must stop.   Some of the effects of Parkinson’s on my work: I type slower than I used to, stiffness takes over if I sit too long, and at times I lose my focus.  I remain hopeful that even under the influence of Parkinson’s I can stay focused on education and science until its time.  There are many great things influencing my life and work.   I want to be in the driver’s seat to get to that point when I can say “I’ve done enough!”. Simply put, I refuse to surrender to Parkinson’s. If you are still working, I’m happy for you.  Probably for those of us with Parkinson’s, the key P-words are to stay positive, remain patient, always persevere, and never lose your passion.

“When you are a young person, you are like a young creek, and you meet many rocks, many obstacles and difficulties on your way. You hurry to get past these obstacles and get to the ocean. But as the creek moves down through the fields, it becomes larges and calmer and it can enjoy the reflection of the sky. It’s wonderful. You will arrive at the sea anyway so enjoy the journey. Enjoy the sunshine, the sunset, the moon, the birds, the trees, and the many beauties along the way. Taste every moment of your daily life.”  Nhat Hanh


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Chapter 5: A Parkinson’s Reading Companion on Positivity

”Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

“You can not have a positive life and a negative mind.” Joyce Meyer

Introduction: In 2015, I  posted a blog entitled “Words Worth Living” (to read it click here). The theme of the post revolved around quotes of inspiration. One of the exercises in my undergraduate course, “Biology of Blood Diseases”, is something called “Thought-filled Responses”  (the class also expressed their thoughts about cancer and HIV/AIDS). For this thought, the 62 students were asked to submit one quote on five (or more) of the following: hope, courage, journey, persistence, positivity, strength, adversity, mindfulness, and life. What to do with >300 quotes?  My original idea was to re-visit the above blog and post several quotes on the meaning of each word as chosen by the class. However, a great suggestion from a student was to  somehow include all of their quotes. If you have been reading along, this is Chapter 5 (of 9) of “A Parkinson’s Reading Companion”. This current post is Chapter 5 including all of their quotes about ‘positivity’ [click here to read Chapter 1 (hope); click here to read Chapter 2 (life); click here to read Chapter 3 (strength); click here to read Chapter 4 (adversity)].

Positivity and Parkinson’s: Your life is altered when given the news that you have a progressive neurodegenerative disorder like Parkinson’s. An important and constant theme of this blog  is remaining positive throughout the ups and down of this disorder.  There will be moments when you’re having a difficult time that your mindset turns negative; however,  I believe that’s when you need to be most positive in dealing with Parkinson’s. Our lives are  different now than they were before Parkinson’s and using positivity will allow us to creatively handle many obstacles ahead. May these quotes on positivity reinforce your attitude to stay positive against this unremorseful disorder.


Positivity:  I am pleased to present Chapter 5 about positivity with my co-authors: Angle, Hannah; Arthur, Kallie; Artov, Michael; Bagley, Kendall; Batista, Kayla; Blaylock, Allison; Byrd, Emory; Cabell, Grant; Catalano, Michael; Clark, Kendall; Cossaart, Kristen; Culpepper, Houston; Das, Snigdha; Davis, Eric; Defazio, Stephanie; Doudnikoff, Alex; Dua, Shawn; Evans, Jessica; Evick, Andrew; Farooque, Tazeen; Ford, Kelsey; German, Zachary; Gouveia, Katie; Hall, Nikita; Isler, Victoria; Kirkley, Joel; Koutleva, Elitza; Laudun, Katie; Le, Kevin; Little, Sarah; Mackey, Josselyn; Macon, Briana; Maddox, Kaity; Marquino, Grace; Mattox, Daniel; Mcknight, Kyle; Mcmanus, Brenna; Mcshane, Sarah; Monkiewicz, Caroline; Nguyen, Michelle; Nguyen, Teresa; Olinger, Emily; Patel, Darshan; Patel, Dilesh; Patel, Jenny; Perez, Abby; Peters, Daniel; Quirin, Julia; Rawlins, Shelby; Raynor, Nathan; Renn, Matt; Scott, Alicia; Sherry, Alex; Shin, Christine; Stanton, Kate; Story, Charlotte; Swango, Summer; Szyperski, Caroline; Windley, Taylor; Wooley, Caleb; Xu, Alice; Yang, Michelle.

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” -Winnie the Pooh

“And I know I can do this because I went to London on my own, and because I solved the mystery …and I was brave and I wrote a book and that means I can do anything” -Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” Lyndon B. Johnson

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” Helen Keller

“Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys” Rita Schiano

“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” Roald Dahl

“The important thing is not how long you live. It’s what you accomplish with you life. While I live, I want to shine. I want to prove that I exist. If I could do something really important…that would definitely carry on into the future…And so, if I were to disappear…I think all that I have accomplished will go on. That is…That would mean…that it’s living, right?” Grovyle, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Explorers of Sky

Success isn’t about what you accomplish in your life, it’s about what you inspire others to do.”

“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Albert Einstein

“Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created.” Esther 4:14

“Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.” Elisabeth Elliot

“This old world we’re livin’ in is might hard to beat. We get a thorn with every rose but ain’t the roses sweet.” Stanton

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” Joseph Campbell

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” Elbert Hubbard

“If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.” Groucho Marx

“The art of living does not consist in preserving and clinging to a particular mode of happiness, but in allowing happiness to change its form without being disappointed by the change; happiness, like a child, must be allowed to grow up.” Charles L. Morgan

“I think if you just look at life in a positive way, positive things will happen” Jake Owen

“So far from forgetting this blessed place, I think my picture of it grows clearer every year: It was as close to magic as I’ve ever been.” Thomas Wolfe, UNC alum

“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.” Alice Morse Earle

“In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.” Dalai Lama

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” from the Harry Potter books

“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” Dr. Seuss 

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their own dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchhill

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” Dr. Seuss 

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.” Michael Jordan

“I believe in the person I want to become.” Lana Del Rey

“Whatever comes today, look it in the eye, take a deep breath, and say to yourself “I got this”. Don’t let anything get the better of you until you’ve given it the best of you.” (from a dear friend, Randy Mullis)

“I am and always will be the optimist, the hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of improbable dreams.” The Doctor (11th Doctor) from “Doctor Who”

“So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.” Carl Spackler, Caddyshack (1980)

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” Willie Nelson

“If you want to be happy, be.” Leo Tolstoy

“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy. “Anne Frank

“The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed.” Maya Angelou

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Positive-Negative Sign credit: and–Stock-Photo.jpg

11 Tips And Character Traits For Living Better With Parkinson’s

“In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship but never in want.” Irish Toast

“As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning.” Criss Jami

Happy New Year!

Thanks for all of your support, feedback, responses and suggestions in 2015; they were most appreciated.

2016 begins with something old and something new; advice (and quotes) for living better with Parkinson’s. Listed alphabetically, the topics include: Believe; Courage And Strength; Exercise Is Your Best Friend; Gratitude And Contentment; Hope; Journey On; Mindfulness; Persistence; Sleep,Sleep Some More; Stay You; and Understand Nutritional Needs.  It is presented in the Table below (for a full-page image click here: 11_Tips.Traits_Living_Parkinsons.160101).


Best wishes to you; may you have a wonderful, happy, productive, successful, loving, fulfilling, and most healthy 2016.

“Above all, don’t fear difficult moments. The best comes from them.” Rita Levi-Montalcini [Dr. Levi-Montalcini was a neurobiologist. She was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Dr. Stanley Cohen for the discovery of nerve growth factor.]

6 Personal Strengths for Living Decisively with Parkinson’s

“How are they going to see me — as the colleague as I have always been, or as the patient I always will be? That was the beginning of my transition.” Alice Lazzarini (a Parkinson’s researcher who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s)

Précis: After successfully hitting a golf ball out of a sand trap and onto the putting green, I was recently asked to compare living with Parkinson’s to the obstacles presented by a sand trap on a golf course.

Strength is within each of us: We use various personal strengths to optimize our lives.  However, I believe certain personal strengths can provide a template to help you continue to live a valued life in the presence of Parkinson’s (with or without golf’s sand traps). Some of these personal strengths were beautifully summarized by Barbara Seelig, “The Heart of a Warrior: Persistence in the face of adversity; courage to face the unknown; purposeful intent to live wholeheartedly; courageous exploration of one’s weaknesses and strengths within the context of personal integration and consistent evolution toward personal growth.”  Let me describe some personal strengths of character that are important for living with Parkinson’s and also for hitting golf balls from sand traps.

“We aren’t victims, we are strong, amazing people who just happen to have a crummy disease, and we want a cure to that disease”  Kate Matheson

“It took me seventeen years to get three thousand hits in baseball. It took one afternoon on the golf course.” Hank Aaron

Personal strengths for Parkinson’s and golf’s sand traps:
Getting the diagnosis of Parkinson’s reminded me of the time I was a young boy playing organized football and had the wind knocked out of me. Hearing my Neurologist say the words “you have Parkinson’s Disease” left me gasping for a breath; I wanted to repeat the words to acknowledge my new life challenge but there was no air to form the words.

Since hearing those words, life and living have substantially changed; in reality, the majority of changes have been positive.  Some of these life-changes are centered around mindfulness and wholeheartedness; other changes revolve around Parkinson’s education/outreach.

Simply acknowledging the existence of the disorder mandates a new life inventory and re-organizing your personal priorities. Maintaining comparable quality life-experiences with the ever-present and progressive burden of Parkinson’s takes perseverance, courage, positivity, curiosity, resilience, and hope.

Golf is a wonderful sport for many reasons.  Playing and practicing golf is especially beneficial for someone with Parkinson’s (as described here previously).  Physical activity (most sports) is good for many aspects of this disorder.  Golf begins when you hit the ball off the tee aiming for the green; however simple that sounds there are usually obstacles ahead before reaching the green and putting the ball to finish. Thus, navigating these golf obstacles is similar to adapting to the daily annoyances of Parkinson’s.

There are usually 3 types of golf hazards: rough (the thick grass around/adjacent to the fairway); water (lakes, ponds, creeks) and sand traps. Sand traps exist for you to avoid them. Likewise, sand traps  are designed to capture your golf ball. Thus, occasionally, we find ourselves in a sand trap.   Getting out of the sand trap takes perseverance, positivity, resilience, and hope.

“We may each have our own individual Parkinson’s, but we all share one thing in common. Hope” Michael J. Fox

“If there is one thing I have learned during my years as a professional, it is that the only thing constant about golf is its inconstancy.” Jack Nicklaus

Living decisively with Parkinson’s and managing golf’s sand traps: Living with Parkinson’s is somewhat analogous to the challenges of hitting your golf ball out of the sand trap.  Sometimes you blast the ball out of the sand trap toward the golf green and the hole/flag.  At other times, you sacrifice a stroke to hit the ball laterally just to escape a daunting and deep sand trap.

Likewise, each minute of each hour living with Parkinson’s can present one a changing landscape; moving from physically feeling close to normal to challenges with even the most routine tasks/events (like buckling your car seat belt, getting a credit card out of your wallet, a smile being confused for a frown, a soft statement just not being heard in a noisy room,  etc.).  The goal of living decisively with Parkinson’s is to successfully accomplish all the day-to-day tasks that were once a seamless part of our lives.  Living daily with Parkinson’s is like walking into that sand trap, subtle resistance between feet and sand, with a slightly unsteady balance.

Living with Parkinson’s requires several personal strengths to bolster our daily dealing with its subtle but substantial life-changes:
•Perseverance- you need steadfastness in everything you do to counter the challenges of the disorder;
•Courage- your own strength provides the fulcrum where resistance resides to confront the effects of the disorder;
•Positivity- staying positive provides the fuel that starts each life-day with Parkinson’s;
Curiosity- learn all you can about Parkinson’s and you gain clarity on you, especially as your life moves forward;
•Resilience (with acceptance of your disorder)- you need the capacity to both adapt to and recover from difficulties;  and it starts by accepting your disorder. And please remember, Parkinson’s is neither a weakness nor a failure on your part;
•Hope- we must remain hopeful as it provides the foundation that you with your loved-ones, family, friends, colleagues and healthcare team are making a difference dealing with your Parkinson’s.

Our new journey began the moment we heard the words “you have Parkinson’s Disease”; however, your journey can still be fully lived with your sustained effort. Your core values and personal strengths of character are the framework for your new life’s journey. Live decisively with Parkinson’s:  “Stay strong. Stay hopeful. Stay educated. Stay determined. Stay persistent. Stay courageous. Stay positive. Stay wholehearted. Stay mindful. Stay happy. Stay you.”

“Sometimes the best journeys are those, that start when we do not plan, continue how we do not expect and are taking us places we do not know.” Aisha Mirza

“As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.”  Ben Hogan

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Hope, Courage, Persistence, Positivity, Mindfulness, And The Journey

“I often say now I don’t have any choice whether or not I have Parkinson’s, but surrounding that non-choice is a million other choices that I can make.”  Michael J. Fox

“I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” Brené Brown

Précis: The “Journey with Parkinson’s” blog started 4 months ago (March 9, 2015), and this is the 40th posting.  Living with Parkinson’s requires you to stay positive and be persistent; it also demands courage, commitment, hope, and a strong will to succeed.  Living with Parkinson’s implies overcoming the little but troubling nuances of symptoms, accepting and growing through these changes; life’s still happening.

On Being Hopeful With Parkinson’s: Every morning we awake renews our lease on life and our battle against Parkinson’s. Stay hopeful because new understanding, treatments and knowledge are being unveiled almost weekly.  Stay hopeful that your knowledge of the disorder will create a best-deal situation of stalling progression.  We each have daily goals to achieve and obstacles to surpass. We require hope to handle the routine-life adversities from Parkinson’s. There is time, stay hopeful.
“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.” Robert H. Schuller

“It’s the possibility that keeps me going, not the guarantee.” Nicholas Sparks

On Having Courage (Also Strength) With Parkinson’s:  We may take vacation but the symptoms of Parkinson’s slowly evolve and will never rest. Your courage and strengths, both physical and character, will be needed and used every day forward.  Brené Brown says that “Courage is to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart”; to me that says our courage and strength will shine through as our heart confronts our misfortune named Parkinson’s.
“Courage is the first of human qualities, because it is the quality that guarantees all the others.” Winston Churchill

“Do not confuse my bad days as a sign of weakness. Those are actually the days I’m fighting my hardest.” Unknown

On Being Persistent With Parkinson’s: Our most difficult life-challenges could create the greatest time of our lives.  As President Coolidge remarked “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence”; says to me we must always keep going in dealing with our disorder.  No doubt this is a tough situation having Parkinson’s, but being persistent is not giving up without trying.  Staying persistent is creating new options, and it continually requires the courage of one’s convictions.

“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” Thomas Carlyle

“The best way out is always through.” Robert Frost

On Staying Positive With Parkinson’s: Each day we wear a cape on our back labeled with the letters PD (Parkinson’s Disease).  Each day we bring a positive reaction to handle our symptoms, I am convinced we begin to fade those letters; we begin to gain control of our symptoms. While it is not easy to remain positive with such a somber disorder, staying positive can help you cope. Thus, we should strive to live positively as we try to shed our cape named Parkinson’s.
“Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.” William James

“When things go wrong, don’t go with them.” Elvis Presley

On Using Mindfulness (Also Gratitude And Contentment) With Parkinson’s: Being mindful brings us to dwell only on the immediate time, the current moment.  Being content says not to worry about what we don’t have, life is already good.  And being grateful, we remind ourselves now that we have much to be thankful for. Practicing mindfulness, gratitude and contentment will relieve stress, bolster our hearts, and fortify our brains; thus, enriching our response to Parkinson’s.
“Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.” Thich Nhat Hanh

“Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.” Randy Pausch

“Contentment is the only real wealth.” Alfred Nobel

The Journey With Parkinson’s: The song of the journey ahead for us is about living authentically in the presence of Parkinson’s.  The stumbling blocks of Parkinson’s are ever present and our journey will be up and down.  Include all of the people capable of assisting your journey.  Assemble a team able to reinforce your spirit, and enabling your best response.  Your team will follow the path of your journey, they matter in your life; and your maximum effort in this journey matters a lot.
“The journey itself is going to change you, so you don’t have to worry about memorizing the route we took to accomplish that change.”Daniel Quin

“When there is no turning back, we should concern ourselves only with the best way of going forward.” Paulo Coelho

Hope, Courage, Persistence, Positivity, Mindfulness, And The Journey: Stay hopeful. Choose courage and use compassion. Remain strong. Be persistent. Live positively. Practice mindfulness/gratitude/contentment.  Follow the journey’s path. Not directly mentioned but woven into the fabric described here: love passionately and stay informed (educated). Continue to live your life of significance. Focus on what matters the most: we’re still here. 

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Personal Strengths of Character

“Perhaps I am stronger than I think.” Thomas Merton

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”  Bruce Lee

See yourself with strength: Life comes with varying conditions, such as easy/hard, simple/complicated, happy/sad, successful/unsuccessful, short/long and healthy/sick.  Being prepared is always good; especially if the equation becomes troubling or difficult, because your strength will be tested. Strength is not just how physically fit you are, it also refers to how fit you are emotionally or psychologically.  Being challenged to show your strength may be necessary at times during your life, and you learn and grow from these demonstrations of strength.
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” Arnold Schwarzenegger

See yourself with strength and Parkinson’s: Receiving life-altering news that you have Parkinson’s takes your breath away and buckles your knees. Your whole life and surroundings are changed forever; you, your loved-ones, family, friends, and colleagues all are now different.  Your strength will surely be challenged.  Your whole world will change little-by-little, subtly for sure, but definitely evolving in complexity.  Living with Parkinson’s is like trying to see with having only one of your contact lenses in your eyes or trying to walk wearing shoes with one broken heel; both are manageable but they each present obstacles to overcome.
“One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity.” Albert Schweitzer

Personal strengths/traits of character: The 24 personal strengths of character, grouped in 6 categories of virtues, are given below and are described in :
Strengths of Wisdom and Knowledge are CreativityCuriosityOpen-mindedness, Love of learning, and Perspective;
Strengths of Courage
are Bravery, Persistence, Integrity, and Vitality;
Strengths of Humanity are Love, Kindness, and Social intelligence;
Strengths of Justice are Citizenship, Fairness, and Leadership;
Strengths of Temperance are Forgiveness and mercy, Humility/Modesty, Prudence, and Self-regulation;
Strengths of Transcendence are Appreciation of beauty and excellence, Gratitude, Hope, Humor, and Spirituality.

Personal strengths of character for someone with Parkinson’s:  I begin this section with two qualifying comments: choosing specific personal strengths seemed similar to the kind of insight gained from taking the Myers-Briggs Type personality inventory; and some of these strengths were self-identified after studying the list.  Thus, I feel that having some of these personal strengths of character would bolster a person’s effort to manage their Parkinson’s (again using the description in ):

Strengths of Wisdom and Knowledge: Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge-
Curiosity [interest, novelty-seeking, openness to experience]: Taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake; exploring and discovering.
Love of learning: Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally.

Strengths of Courage: Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition, external and internal-
Bravery [valor]: Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; acting on convictions even if unpopular.
Persistence [perseverance, industriousness]: Finishing what one starts; persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles.

Strengths of Humanity: interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others-
Love: Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated.

Strengths of Temperance: strengths that protect against excess:
Self-regulation [self-control]: Regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one’s appetites and emotions.

Strengths of Transcendence: strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning-
Gratitude: Being aware of and thankful of the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks.
Hope [optimism, future-mindedness, future orientation]: Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it.

There is no doubt that by studying the list of 24 personal strengths of character, we will each align ourselves with several strengths, and say, “These strengths describe me.”  Having some physical strength (gained/maintained by regular exercise) clearly will bolster your life.  Furthermore, some combination of these personal strengths could hopefully enable you to better handle the physiological changes due to Parkinson’s as they occur.

The heart of a warrior: You may possess several of the mentioned strengths of character (especially hope, gratitude, curiosity, persistence, and bravery) and you could have the heart of a warrior. Someone with the heart of a warrior (described below) would be poised to challenge the slowly evolving neurodegenerative impact of Parkinson’s. Our lives are lived with a collection of physical and personal strengths of character.  Our ‘pool’ of personal strengths will vary from person-to-person.  However, I am convinced that by embracing your own personal strengths, you can successfully manage the adversity (physical and emotional consequences) of Parkinson’s for many years to come.
“The Heart of a Warrior: Persistence in the face of adversity; courage to face the unknown; purposeful intent to live wholeheartedly; courageous exploration of one’s weaknesses and strengths within the context of personal integration and consistent evolution toward personal growth.” Barbara Seelig

Where does strength live? Strength is found in each of us.  For those of us with Parkinson’s, we use our personal strengths of character to bolster our hope, courage, mindfulness/contentment/gratitude, determination, and the will to survive. Stay strong. Stay hopeful. Stay educated. Stay determined. Stay persistent. Stay courageous. Stay positive. Stay wholehearted. Stay mindful. Stay happy. Stay you.

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Albert Camus