In 2000, Marshall Bruce Mathers III, aka Eminem, recorded the song “The Real Slim Shady” which included the lyrics “won’t the real Slim Shady please stand up.” Now I am gonna just set that right there in your bran and let that marinate a bit as that song gets recalled and stuck in repeat mode and you start moving your head rhythmically. I know; I have not written since June, It has been one busy summer with school and work, and of course being that superhero known as PD Super Fighter Hero Guy. Ok, that was ridiculous, but I thought it was funny. I did have some classes to finish up, and the summer semester in our community college was a busy time for me as a student advisor. I managed to do some bike riding and finished a 37-mile ride for a local charity, and have since fixed my training focus to running the Delta Dash in September, a small local mud run, and of course the Warrior Dash in October, a huge OCR/mud run for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Google it sometime; I think PD has stolen my sanity. A friend of mine asked me if was aiming to win; I simply said that I was hoping to not use my health insurance card that day. But enough about that craziness.
I have had the opportunity since writing in June to be featured in a web based interview series with Karl Sterling of Parkinson’s Regeneration Training. Karl did a great job of letting me tell my story and publishing it to the web, and I received a ton of positive feedback and encouragement; Karl is definitely a new friend. I was able to connect with some amazing people like Cindey and Pat Donahoo of the Davis Phinney Foundation, John Humphreys who is affiliated with Emory University and the MJ Fox Foundation, Omotola Thomas of the #parkinstand movement, and Jimmy Choi of the American Ninja Warrior competition. I certainly met a whole bunch of other special people out there fighting just like me. I thought wow, what can I do with this push of positive people and energy? I had huge thoughts and crazy goals running through my mind, but one of my best buds out there in the PD world, Christian Banda, encouraged me to focus on others, to stay true to what my blog was about, helping others and encouraging others through their struggles, and to most importantly stay true to my values. See, the cool part about Christian is he is a PD fighter, but this guy fights on the beast level, like Godzilla or King Kong style or something. He runs Spartan Trifectas and is running in the Spartan World Championship race in Lake Tahoe this year and has an incredible PD fighter story. But when you ask him why does what he does, it is really a pretty humble reply; to fight PD and to be a voice so others can be helped. You ask any of the other people I mentioned, you will get a similar answer. They are all “standing up” in the fight against PD, and when I have those days where I am unmotivated, I just go out and find one of them on the internet, and I get inspired; you should too.
Following Christian’s direction, and my values, I decided to impact my world, my community, by starting a PD support group called Shaking Up LA (Lower Alabama). I have found great support from the Parkinson’s Association of Alabama, and we will have our first meeting next month. And that brings me back to the song by Eminem that has been going through your head since you recalled those lyrics. I was in the gym and actually heard that song, and of course, having a jiggidy brain, I started laughing and said “I am the Real Slim Shaky, and I am standing up as a voice for Parkinson’s.” Now naturally, I couldn’t just stop there, so I had a really cool guy named Denny Giles (shalloWit design) worked me up some t-shirts for a fundraiser, and guess what, we are selling Slim Shaky t-shirts as a fundraiser for the PAA (yeah, you need one, go check it out on Facebook). But you know, my point in all of this is not to tell you about a bunch of really cool people, although I do think you would be inspired by them if you checked them out on Facebook. My point is not to tell you about our super awesome superhero PD fighting group like the one we started in lower Alabama or selling the coolest t-shirts you will ever own. Nope, my point is to encourage you by sharing how one guy from a small town in Alabama fighting a degenerative disorder is “standing up” and being a voice, being a fighter for others, and being an encouragement in a world faced with so much of the opposite. We have heard stories like this many times in history, and we are all amazed by them, but how many times do we think that we can do that very same thing?
Regardless of the challenges you may face, the one simple act of “standing up” to make a difference or make an impact in someone else’s struggle will leave you amazed at what you are able to accomplish in spite of your challenges. I used a phrase in another blog way back that I have sort of coined, and it goes like this: I don’t want to live in a world where I am shaken by Parkinson’s, but instead I want to shake up the world where I live in spite of Parkinson’s. Stand up and be amazed, even shocked. Not shocked like when you found out spoons don’t really make airplane noises, and not amazed like when you realize Wal Mart really is a one stop shop where you can eat at a fast food restaurant, get your haircut, open a checking account, get your glasses, get new tires and a car service, do your grocery and back to school shopping, get your prescriptions, and most importantly, get some serious training on what not to wear in public places. No, I mean amazed and shocked at how suddenly a huge world full of different people struggling every day suddenly is not so big and different, and the problems and struggles that we overwhelmingly face become more manageable by the simple act of standing up and being a voice and supporting someone else in their struggle. So, sort of in the words of Eminem, will the Real Slim Shaky please stand up, do more than get the remote or go to the bathroom, be a voice, and make a difference today?
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