Monday, March 24, 2014

Want to Wish Me a Very Happy Birthday?

In honor of my upcoming 55th birthday
(Thursday), please consider making a donation to my Multiple Sclerosis fundraising efforts.  For the fifth year in a row, the Wheeler's Wobblers MS Walk Team will participate in the Wilmington, DE, MS Walk (April 12th) to raise money for research and programs.  Our team's fundraising goal is $5,000.  Ah, the power of five.  I wonder if we can get 5 people to donate $55?

To make a tax-deductible contribution via credit card, go to MY WALK PAGE and select "Donate to Joan."  Let me know if you prefer to donate by check, and I'll send you a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Any donation of any amount will be greatly appreciated. Even small donations make a difference.

Thank you and Wobble on!


Wheeler's Wobble but we don't fall down thanks to YOUR support!
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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Why I Walk

Recently, the MS Society asked me about my motivation for participation in the yearly MS Walk fundraisers.  They asked for a quote about “Why I Walk.”

At first, I struggled to answer because it was a high-fatigue day and I was barely able to get around the house and I wanted to be left alone.  I didn't have the energy to think about forming a team, doing fundraising, or recruiting walkers.  So really, why DO I organize a team and participate in the MS Walk, especially when every year in post-walk exhaustion I mutter "I'm not doing this again"?

Then I looked at the Wheeler’s Wobblers T-shirt, and the long list of sponsors
on the back.  I remembered how much fun it was when businesses asked me how they can help.  I looked at the pictures of our past teams, and remembered how people still speak about the fun they had at the last walk.  I remembered that these walks gave me the opportunity to meet my local Congressman (Earl Jaques (D-Glasgow) who is now on my team) and people from all over northern Delaware, people I would not have met otherwise.

So I wrote this:
"As a person with MS, it is easy to feel isolated.  Participating in the MS Walks gives me an opportunity to connect with others while doing something fun, and create lasting relationships in the process."  
I thought it sounded good at the time and would satisfy the request for a quote, then I’d go back to hibernating.

But this week, I realized how very, very, very true that statement is.  For a recent MS Awareness Week fundraiser for my walk team, I reserved a table at Ruby Tuesday, then put out the word that I would be there so come join me.  I was thrilled that eight people took me up on that offer.  As people from various parts of my life (church, book group, MS society, physical therapy) were talking to each other, I looked around and noticed that everyone was getting along and engaging in interesting conversations.  We might not have raised a huge bucket of money that night, but we had fun while creating lasting relationships. 

And that is why I walk.

If you want to join Wheeler’s Wobblers MS Walk team in Wilmington, Delaware, on April 12th, OR if you would like to support us with a tax-deductible donation, just click here:


 Our team motto is 
“Wheelers wobble but we don’t fall down thanks to YOUR support!”

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Happy MS Awareness Week




Just in case you didn't know, this is MS Awareness Week.  There, now you are aware!

The Delaware Chapter has a week of fundraisers at local restaurants, and today is Ruby Tuesday's day.  If you go anytime today, to any of the Delaware Ruby Tuesday restaurants, and give your server this coupon, RT will donate 20% of your check to the MS cause.  And the Wheeler's Wobblers MS Walk Team gets the credit.

I reserved a table at the Bear, Delaware, Ruby Tuesday for 6:00 pm, and you are welcome to join me.  Hope to see you soon. Wobble On!

http://www.nationalmssociety.org/NationalMSSociety/media/Delaware/ruby-tues-flyer.pdf


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service: MSAA Shares Ways to Show Support This Monday




Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service - January 20th, 2014
Ways to Give Visit mymsaa.org Tweet This Donate
What are your plans for this Monday?Join us for MLK Day of Service this 1/20/14
In 1994, Congress declared the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a day of service.  Twenty years later, Americans all across the country still honor King's memory by engaging in acts of service that benefit their fellow community members. 
Rather than taking the day off this Monday, January 20th, we're encouraging others to use this day to help improve lives for the multiple sclerosis community in the spirit of service.
Learn more about how you can help improve lives
Short on time or money?Join us
You'll find many different ways to help, and not all of them require a big budget or even a flexible schedule. In fact, even with minimal time or money, you can truly make a difference and help improve someone's life.
Ways to volunteer or serve:
5. Consciously send positive, healing thoughts to someone
6. Perform random acts of kindness - this can be as simple as brightening the day for an elderly person you know

Join us for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

In what ways, big or small, do you plan to serve or volunteer this Monday?
Tell us on Facebook or learn more about ways you can help. 


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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Not Exactly a Book Review: "Americashire: A Field Guide to Marriage"

Dear Jennifer Richardson,
I finished your book, "Americashire: A Field Guide to a Marriage," and thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  However, I've been having a heck of a time writing a book review.

It's a wonderful travel story of an American experiencing the beauty and charm of the English Cotswold culture by living as a local.  The descriptions of the people, customs, and countryside were poetic, especially in your description of the changing seasons:  "The Cotswolds of Matisse will slip into the diffused light of the Cotswolds of Monet." Ah! Such artistry with words. I found myself craving a cup of tea as I savored each chapter.

But it's also an interesting story of a married couple, from two different countries and backgrounds, who have to cope with each other's individual needs and the conflicts that can arise.  And it's also a story of an independent woman trying to discover what's really important to her (to have children or not, something I wrestled with many years ago).  And then there's a potential future diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis after one attack (maybe you'll develop it, maybe you won't), which caused me to study up on the Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS) of MS. [Note to readers: she was positively diagnosed a little over a year ago, and is now on Tecfidera.]

Although MS is not center stage in your story, you've done an amazing, humorous job of showing how the potential diagnosis gave you an opportunity to clarify your priorities and that you came to grips with "living with the not knowing." 

So how to write a book review of a book that spans so many genres?  How to write a review of a book that is a light travel gem and also a deep relationship koan?  And if I could write a review, is it something that my 34 blog followers would find interesting?  

Well, I guess we'll see.


Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share your story, and I'm looking forward to more from you.
Joan

Thursday, December 19, 2013

And So I Choose... Sad

Oh, Christmastime. So full of merriment.  Parties with lots of people, houses dripping with decorations, wrapped presents under trees and in stockings.  Gatherings, caroling, late nights.  What’s not to love?

Well, let me tell you…

Christmas involves activities that I find exhausting, like shopping for presents. When I simply go grocery shopping, I have to put my list in order by aisle to conserve my energy.  God forbid if the store moves any products around or if labels change (“same product, different look”), then I'll be so worn out that I can do nothing else the rest of the day.  So you won’t find me wandering around a shopping mall unless I’m already at the mall and forgot why I’m there. I get confused and cranky and invent creative cuss words. Then my head pops off.

Then there’s decorating the house.  Decorating usually involves some degree of rearranging furniture which then requires cleaning or at least dusting.  Oh, and what goes up, must come down in January.  Where’s the fun in that? Decorating just turns me into a mercurial super-villain, the likes of which would intimidate Godzilla. 

Now let’s talk parties.  I love my friends, but not all at once. All the noise and stimulation, no matter how much fun, produces an unpleasant physical reaction that sort of feels like porcupines running up and down my body, and bones turning to rubber.  Then I turn into the Hulk.
 
So at this time of year, I have some choices.  I can go to the parties and be around lots of people and then feel like I’ve been blindsided by a sumo wrestler.  I can decorate the house and then implode.  I can shop for presents and then have my body turn to rubber.  I can do these things and turn into a monster from fighting exhaustion and collapse in tears of self-pity.  Or I can limit my holiday activities and feel left out of all the fun, which makes me a little sad.

So I have to choose between turning into a fatigue-induced monster or being a little sad from missing out. 

So I choose sad.  It’s safer.  You’re welcome. 



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Short in the Cord - The Whole Story

In 2005, I began writing about my experiences with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis to help me understand what was happening to me. I decided that I wanted to share that retrospective in hopes of helping others to understand, so it became a "book" and this blog.  

I recently added some more information to bring the dusty story up-to-date.  I have posted it to Google Drive in hopes of making the book available as an MS Word document, and maybe easier to read. This post is a test to see if it works.

Many of you long time followers have already read this story as partial posts to this blog, but now here is the whole story in one place.

Let's hope this works...  Click on the link below.

A Short in the Cord: A Retrospective

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Book Review: Shadow Summit - One Man, His Diagnosis, and the Road to a Vibrant Life


I have had multiple sclerosis for 27 years and confess that I'm a little cynical when someone publishes a new book. Too many books about multiple sclerosis claim to have a cure. But Jon's story is so much more realistic about approaching life in a balanced way that I was truly inspired.  In a very heartfelt way he discusses coming to terms with multiple sclerosis. This is not giving up or giving in, but rather a deep acceptance of his reality, which then enabled him to thrive and now has a truly vibrant life with MS.

As an athletic, energetic 27-year-old man finishing his Masters degree at MIT, Jon was given a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.  The story captures the heart wrenching unpredictability of the disease and the corresponding fear for the future. This book takes the reader on a thrill ride as he describes his mountain climbing, biking, and marathon experiences in an attempt to outrun his MS diagnosis.  

Unfortunately, MS eventually catches up with him, and he experiences some very severe symptoms.  He then explored ways to improve his condition and manage his symptoms through a raw diet, detox, and emotional healing through the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego, an organization devoted to holistic healing of the body, mind, and spirit.   

What makes this book different from other MS stories is that Jon has chosen a balanced approach to optimum health. He does not claim that there is one solution that will cure MS. Rather he has achieved overall wellness through a holistic regimen focusing on mind, body, spirit, emotion, diet, exercise, detox, and meditation, in addition to mainstream MS medication (Copaxone).

This is a shining example of the healing that comes from making peace with multiple sclerosis. Instead of fighting against it, Jon chose to acknowledge his situation, and therefore was able to move forward and create a vibrant life in spite of MS.  I find that inspiring.





Thursday, September 5, 2013

Disability is an Insurance Payout, Not a Handout

I want to correct a misconception about disability payments.  I continue to encounter folks who think that people on disability are scamming, defrauding, cheating, or getting a free ride.

If you own a car, you most likely have car insurance and you pay for that insurance.  If something happens to your car, you get some money from your insurance company depending on the type of insurance you purchased to cover the damage or loss.

The same is true for homeowners or renters insurance.  If you pay the premiums (money out of your pocket) and suffer some type of loss, your insurance company will pay you some amount of money depending on your coverage.

The same is true for disability insurance.  If you pay out-of-pocket for short-term or long-term disability insurance through your company or an insurance company like Hartford or AFLAC, and for some reason become unable to work, your insurance company will pay you some amount of money for lost wages depending on your coverage.  The amount of the payout is usually a small percentage of what you got in your paycheck.

If you work for a company and get a pay stub, you've probably noticed that money is taken out of your paycheck for taxes and "FICA."  If you become unable to work, you may be eligible for Social Security disability (a national disability insurance policy established in the 1930s), which will pay you about 33% of your salary (rough estimate).

People who are drawing disability payments are not receiving free handouts.  They are receiving insurance benefits for which they've paid premiums.  The amount of money they receive is a much smaller percentage of the salary they used to receive when working. Insurance companies don't want to pay out if they can avoid it, so the process for drawing benefits is rigorous and can take a lot of time.  

People can qualify for disability payments even if their medical condition is invisible to you and they appear to be healthy when you see them.  There are many disabling invisible illnesses, but that's another story. 

Please keep an open mind if you catch yourself believing the common misconception that all people on disability are freeloaders.  We're not.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Update on Gilenya Patient with PML: Novartis sez "unlikely to be attributable to Gilenya"

Source: MedPage Today, Published 29 Aug 2013, 
written by
By John Gever, Deputy Managing Editor, MedPage Today

SILVER SPRING, Md. -- A patient being treated for multiple sclerosis and who had no history of using natalizumab (Tysabri) developed progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) while taking fingolimod (Gilenya), the FDA said.
"This is the first case of this disease ... reported following the administration of Gilenya to a patient who had not previously received Tysabri," the agency said in a statement posted on its website.
The patient, living somewhere in Europe, had been on fingolimod for "nearly 8 months" when PML was diagnosed, according to the FDA. The agency stopped short of saying fingolimod caused the condition, however.
"We are working with Gilenya's manufacturer, Novartis, to obtain and review all available information about this occurrence," the agency said. "We will communicate our final conclusions and recommendations after our evaluation is complete."
For its part, Novartis issued a statement indicating that the firm does not believe fingolimod was responsible for PML in this case, which it had reported publicly in late July.
"Having reviewed all available information, Novartis considers that several features of this case of PML make it unlikely to be attributable to Gilenya," the company asserted.
Fingolimod was not the only drug the patient had been taking, both Novartis and the FDA noted.
"The patient had been treated with interferon beta-1a and azathioprine for 1 month before initiating Gilenya treatment; those medications were stopped when Gilenya was started. The patient also received multiple courses of intravenous corticosteroids for several months before and during Gilenya treatment," according to the FDA.
Novartis said "MRI reviewers" had examined brain scans taken before the patient started on fingolimod and determined that the patient might already have had PML, because lesions seen in the scans were "atypical" in MS.
PML results from reactivation of latent infection with the JC virus, usually in patients with acute or chronic immunosuppression. The death rate has recently been about 20%.
It was first noted in patients receiving cancer chemotherapy and later in those infected with HIV. A series of PML cases seen with natalizumab after the drug was first approved in 2004 led to its temporary removal from the market.
In the current case, the patient showed JC virus DNA in cerebrospinal fluid as well as clinical symptoms, and fingolimod was stopped, the FDA said. The agency's statement indicated the patient is still alive.
The FDA advised clinicians to report side effects involving fingolimod to its adverse-event reporting system. It also told patients currently taking the drug not to stop it without talking first with their physicians.

Friday, August 30, 2013

FDA is investigating a possible PML case in patient taking Gilenya

I will continue to monitor the chatter, but wanted you to know that I received this FDA Alert dated 29 Aug 2013:

ISSUE: FDA is alerting the public that a patient in Europe diagnosed with possible multiple sclerosis (MS) has developed a rare and serious brain infection after taking the drug Gilenya (fingolimod). This is the first case of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), reported following the administration of Gilenya to a patient who had not previously received Tysabri (natalizumab), an MS drug associated with a higher risk of PML.
BACKGROUND: PML is a rare and serious brain infection caused by the John Cunningham (JC) virus that damages the fatty covering of the brain called myelin. PML usually causes death or severe disability. Gilenya is used to treat relapsing forms of MS, a nervous system disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. Novartis reports that approximately 71,000 patients worldwide have been treated with Gilenya.
RECOMMENDATION: Patients should not stop taking Gilenya without first discussing any questions or concerns with their health care professionals. FDA is providing this alert while continuing to investigate the PML case, and is working with Gilenya’s manufacturer, Novartis, to obtain and review all available information about this occurrence. FDA will communicate its final conclusions and recommendations after the evaluation is complete.
Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of this product to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:
·        Complete and submit the report Online: www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm
·        Download form or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178

#multiple #sclerosis #multiple sclerosis

Sunday, August 25, 2013

It's Like Being Switched Off, by Allison Potts


I want to share this great post about fatigue in Multiple Sclerosis.  MS fatigue is impossible to explain, and it's the most common reason for disability in people with MS.  We need people to understand us, yet we can't explain it or understand it ourselves.

The article is called 

'It's like being switched off'

by Allison Potts, posted on BBC News.  Check it out at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18207490

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Absolute #1 Best Travel Advice EVER

Yes, the Absolute #1 BEST Travel Advice for me, and probably many people with MS (spoiler alert): ask for a wheelchair to get you through the airport.


While preparing for my recent trip to France, I was advised by some of you to request a wheelchair at the Philadelphia airport (my departure point) to get me from check-in to the gate because Philly is such a large, sprawling airport.  

"Do I really need that?" I wondered as I pondered how uncomfortable I would feel.  After all, I don't look like I need a wheelchair (I "look so good").  I can walk alright (for short distances), and people would think I was lazy or faking it (where have you heard that before?!), and I had a cane (the purple one) so I'd be okay, right? Besides, I wanted to prove to myself how independent I can be (stupid ego speaking).


My Airport Wheelchair
I reluctantly swallowed my pride and called the airline, and timidly asked for assistance in Philly.  Glad I did because not only did it save me lots of walking, but also lots of standing in lines through security and customs. There's no way I would have been able to do all that walking and standing by myself.  
"The decision to go with the flow can take courage because you are surrendering the notion that you need to do everything by yourself."  Enjoying the Ride, Daily Om

My itinerary took me from Philly to Munich, then on to my final destination in Marseilles, France.  I arrived in Munich wishing that I had requested a wheelchair there, too, as my connecting flight gate was at the other end of the airport and I was exhausted.

Returning back home, though, I learned that the airline had flagged me as "needing assistance" and already arranged for a wheelchair for me in every airport (including Munich).  Eureka!  Airline assistants brought a wheelchair or a cart, called me by name, and helped me through all the tough lines. It appears that most airports are set up to assist people, and have a dedicated staff of courteous people who seem to enjoy helping.

This was neither humiliating nor embarrassing. It was not a sign of weakness, but rather of sign of resourcefulness and good judgement in being receptive to help.  I’m so glad I took this energy-conservation advice.  Thanks to all of you who badgered me, and sorry for not believing you.  Lesson learned: It takes courage to ask for help, but it is a sign of strength.

Feel free to say, "I told you so."

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Thank you Healthline

Thank you, Healthline, for listing A Short in the Cord as one of the Best MS Blogs of 2013.  I appreciate the kind words Elea Carey wrote about my writing (see below).  I appreciate the recognition, and now feel bad that I don't write as much as I have in the past.  

I'm trying to be more physically active, so writing at my PC is taking a lower priority.  Sometimes I just want to ignore MS (find my MS-free zone) or at least minimize the amount of attention I pay to it, so now I write only when something inspires me.  Thank you for continuing to read my blog, anyway!

Healthline is a good aggregate website for multiple sclerosis information.  Be sure to check it out at http://www.healthline.com/health/multiple-sclerosis

A Short in the Cord

Joan Wheeler has been inspiring MS patients since 2007 with her beautifully written and deeply reflective blog A Short in the Cord. Wheeler bravely addresses MS challenges such as the trials of fatigue, traveling with chronic illness, and social issues facing MS patients.
Wheeler’s commitment to finding beauty and hope every day will keep you inspired.

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#multiplesclerosis

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Just This Moment - A Trip Report from Provence

It has been over two months since I returned from my trip (aka my “heroic journey”) to Provence in southern France.  

I continue to process my feelings and experiences from that great adventure, but think it's time to share some things with you because people keep bugging me asking me, "was it a good trip?" :-)

Okay, so I brought back some things: postcards from the Chez Christine café in Saignon, bookmarks from an art gallery in Bonnieux, jams from a cherry festival in Casenuve, tapenades and placemats from a souvenir shop in  Fountain de Vaucluse.

I ate tender and tasty lamb wrapped in eggplant in St. Pantaleon les Vignes, and rabbit in Apt.  I tried goat cheese, sheep's cheese, French coffees and wines.  I marveled at the amazing geology of the mountains, explored the trees and plants, and tried to identify birds.  I hiked, I drank, and I sat by the pool having deep conversations with deep people.  I said "wow" and "yum" a lot!  It was exotic and exciting.

But I was exhausted for almost the entire trip.  I'm not complaining.  Really.

I'm reminded of the song "My Body" by Young the Giant, which goes "…my body tells me, 'no,' but I won't quit 'cause I want more." And I wanted more of the experience of France.

I had physically prepared for this trip by working out and increasing my time and distance on the treadmill.  But I also studied meditation and practiced awareness, and worked on living in each moment. 

I had no problem with the walking, the climbing, the carrying luggage.  But I did have a problem with fatigue from over- stimulation, communicating in another language, dealing with disruptions in routine.  By the third day, I wrote in my journal that I was scared, didn't think I could make it to the end of the week because I was just so tired, so overwhelmed.  

But then my zen training took over and I told myself to live in the moment.  Just this moment.  Right now.  Only right now.  Don't worry about the rest of the week, worry about just this moment.  And I can get through this one moment.

So I savored each moment.  Then another.  Then another.

As I mentioned earlier, I brought back a few souvenirs (and pictures).  But they really don’t matter.  What matters is that I brought back a desire to continue to have fresh experiences, a willingness to try new foods, and a renewed confidence that I can go out in the world again with multiple sclerosis and debilitating fatigue.  Even if it's just for one moment.  

So, YES, it was a good trip!

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PS - In case you missed it, here are links to my Heroic Journey:
Part 1 - The Call
Part 2 - After the Call Is Answered
Part 3 - What to Take on a Heroic Journey

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

You Can Come Along for the Ride, But I Won't Let You Drive

You can come along for the ride, but I won’t let you drive.




Tell me your story, talk about your adventures, show me your paths, share your journeys.

But don’t tell me to follow the same road.  

Tell me how you felt when the bottom fell out, how you recovered from loss or pain, how you got through the terribly dark night that wouldn’t end.

But don’t tell me not to grieve, or how to avoid pain.

Tell me what makes you happy, how you share your joy, what gives you laughter and pleasure.

But don’t tell me how to make myself smile.

Tell me how you came here, where you are going, how you plan to get there.

But don’t tell me where to go.

Tell me your questions, talk about your unsolved mysteries.

But don’t expect my questions to be the same as yours.

Tell me about your life.

But don’t tell me about mine.  

Reprint from 2003
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Sunday, May 26, 2013

What to Take on a Heroic Journey? (Provence Saga Continues)

In the mythology of a heroic quest, the hero will have to undergo many trials and tests.  Usually before the journey begins, the hero is provided with special tools that will aid him or her in completing the trials.  

For example, when Perseus went out to slay Medusa, Hermes gave him winged sandals to provide stealth, Hades gave him a cape of invisibility, and Athena gave him her highly polished shield which acted like a mirror to protect him from the deadly gaze of Medusa.

So what godly gifts am I taking on my quest next week?



Well, I've got a Kindle, a cell phone, and a credit card.  

Just like Perseus, I will be invincible!

Preparing for Provence - After the Call is Answered

Dragon Quest
Yes, I have let go of my fear of travel, and will go to France for one week in June.  This will be less like a summer vacation and more like a heroic journey (Joseph Campbell, anyone?). 

Joseph Dispenza, "The Way of the Traveler," asks “what if this [the trip] were happening in a dream?" How would you interpret it?

If this were a dream (and it is!!!), I would interpret it as a manifestation of my need to run away from my current life. An escape from the house I find overwhelming to maintain; from the rut of the day-to-day.  A mid-life crisis trip because I'm too young to be “retired” so am feeling older than my years.  Caution about health problems has kept me locked in the house, yearning to break out. Too concerned about the future, I won't live, laugh, have fun; I won't live in the present.

Picture Credit:
sfgirl-thealiennextdoor.blogspot
Why was I called to make this journey? I think it's because I have lost adventurousness, childlike whimsy and fun, laughter that reaches my eyes.

The primary goal of my journey will be to bring something back. I need to find and recover that which has been lost. The goal of my wandering is to bring back a higher and richer knowledge of myself. I will be searching to understand (or remember) what makes me whole.


And all you will get is a lousy T-shirt.

Next: Part 3: What to Take on a Heroic Journey

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Preparing for Provence - Answering the Call

"All travel is inner travel... our trip is very much a journey of self discovery and personal transformation."  Joseph Dispenza, from "The Way of the Traveler."


I am interested in the global community. I am interested in other countries, cultures, languages, and customs. I like to know what's going on in other places. Growing up, I dreamed of travel and exploration. After high school, I joined the Air Force for four years, and years later was managing an international team allowing me to travel widely.

Now, I like to experience life from the comfort of my chair. HDTV can bring the wonders of all places right to me, via Nat Geo, Science, Discovery, and History channels. This is been a perfect fit for my aging and less-abled body.

But a few years ago, I started feeling a sensation of yearning. Yearning for the sidewalk cafés of Paris. Yearning for the neighborhood markets of Germany where I used to shop using a wicker basket instead of paper or plastic. Yearning to lunch in the shadow of a fortress in Austria.

My yearning turned to despair as my body began to lose functionality, especially my right leg. My chronic illness was progressing and I was never without a cane or walker, making the idea of going to a place that might not be handicapped-accessible a nightmare. Driving became troublesome, and even being driven caused me to experience dizziness and fatigue.

Oh yes, the fatigue. The ever present chronic, debilitating fatigue. “Of course I can't travel,” I would tell myself.

I did attempt a few short trips, all enjoyable yet all exhausting. “Of course I can't travel," I would tell myself.

Yet I continued to yearn for an adventure.

On 30 December 2012, I presented a New Year's Eve meditation service at church, with the title of "Letting Go."  I presented a little ritual encouraging the congregation to let go of something in their lives to make room for good things that the new year has to offer.  After the service I was feeling good and saw a woman who, for the past few years, has been offering meditation retreats in France during the summer. She rents a house, and acts as a tour guide, driver and teacher.

I asked her, "If I go to France with you, what's the worst that could happen if I have a fatigue attack?" She replied, “The worst that could happen is that you’ll sit by a pool with a glass of wine and look at beautiful scenery and be surrounded by beautiful people."

At that moment, the sermon that I had just preached sunk in. I let go of my fear of travel, released the attachment to my fatigue and disability as controller of my destiny, and said “I can do this.” The next day I gave her a deposit to hold my room. 

The day after that, I woke up happy.


Thus began my journey to Provence, a journey that really started six months ago and is more than just a trip oversees for a week.
"We go out to find and recover that which has been lost, or that has been missing in our lives." - Joseph Dispenza

Next: Part 2: After the Call is Answered