“Live in the moment, enjoy the day, make the most of what you have”
Michael J Fox
During a conversation with two other women with PD a couple of days ago, we talked about the things that we are doing now just because we enjoy them. And we are doing them because we have Parkinson’s. Yes, there are some benefits to having Parkinson’s. We have had to cut some things out of our lives because of Parkinson’s. As a result, we are finding the time to enjoy doing the things we couldn’t do when we were younger, mostly because, well, we were busy living our lives. Working, raising kids, etc. So much is a blur in the past because we were so busy. The focus of our lives is different now. We are busy taking care of ourselves and finding the things that work for us.
People laugh at me when I say I am not doing as much as I used to. Yes I am busy, but in a different way. The difference is that I am doing the things that “bring me joy” – to borrow a phrase from Marie Kondo. I am playing the piano again after years of just seeing it as another piece of furniture in my living room. I started taking lessons again for the first time since I was 13 in order to improve the flexibility of my hand. It worked and I am enjoying it. Some days my hands cooperate, on others they don’t, but I continue anyway. I play tennis, go to yoga and boxing for PD classes. I have met wonderful people who just happen to have PD. We have forged new, meaningful relationships with each other, all because of this common bond.
Other people turn to painting, singing, biking, other sports and other hobbies to combat the effects of PD, and often find talents that they did not know they had. I had always been artistic. I worked as a calligrapher for many years before my tremor made it almost impossible. Last year I turned to writing, which I never enjoyed before. But now I can’t get enough of it. It has become a cathartic process for me, and very gratifying. Much of what I write does not get published, which is ok. When it works, it “brings me joy.”
We also travel a lot. As one of the other women said, we don’t know how long we will be able to travel wherever and whenever we want to, so we might as well do it now. And we are. We just spent 3 weeks in Spain and Portugal. We leave next week for a cruise out of Venice. No other trips planned for now – grandchild #3 is arriving in Chicago at the end of July, so I will be spending some time there. That is the ultimate “Joy”.
The bottom line is that Parkinson’s has not ruined my life. It doesn’t control me. Instead, it has given me the opportunity to grow and flourish in ways I didn’t think possible. I know that for some of you, you will read this and say I am crazy. But think about how your life has changed, both good and bad. Maybe you will find that slowing down a little because of Parkinson’s has also given you the opportunity to enjoy things that you didn’t have time for before. It is often the little things in life the give us joy, and they are all around us. Just take the time and you will find them.