Obviously Obvious

captain-obvious3Well, I guess sometimes, things are just ‘obviously obvious’. Makes sense, right? The urban dictionary says that this term is “Used when someone asks a question and they already know what the answer will be; mostly asked by people who ask questions just to hear their own voice.” Now I must admit, that this is sometimes true, even in my own case. But this week, I read some really funny “obvious” jokes, and I wanted to share a few before moving on to my blog point.

  • Guess who I saw yesterday. Who? Everyone I looked at. (my favorite)
  • What did Batman say to Robin before they got into the Batmobile? Robin, get in the car.
  • What did the farmer say when he lost his tractor? Anybody seen my tractor?
  • What do you call an alligator in a vest? An investigator.

I have to tell you that I have not only laughed at these, but have told them several times to anyone who would listen, and laughed every time I told them. I am not ashamed either. Now, back to some things being ‘obviously obvious’. I have been observed on several occasions by well intentioned folks who inform me that I must be nervous because my hand or my leg is shaking, or that my back must be really hurting because I am stooped over, or that I must be really mad or upset because of the look on my face. They tell me that I must have a lot on my mind because I am really forgetful, and often stop right in my tracks like I am frozen and can’t seem to make up my mind where I want to go. I have been asked why I seem more emotional or distant, or why it is they don’t really see me out and about like I used to be, or why I seem to avoid crowds and events with a lot going on. When I have had the opportunity to share that I have Parkinson’s, and that this is just part of the disease process, most folks generally didn’t know about the disease process, or, that I in fact had it.

As a matter of fact, a lot of those same people will even tell me that I seemed normal the day before, and that I don’t really look like I have Parkinson’s. I laugh sometimes at the word normal because I feel normal almost every day, just challenged more some days. But my definition of normal and your definition of normal may not be the same, so yeah, normal is kind of a funny word to me. As for looking like I have Parkinson’s, I am not sure about that one. It is ‘obviously obvious’ that I do not need a hair brush, and it is probably ‘obviously obvious’ that I do not spend 6 hours a day in a gym. But for a disease that seems to be ‘consistently inconsistent’ (nice play on the words there), I am not sure if it can be ‘obviously obvious’ that I have Parkinson’s most days just by looking at me.

So, what is the ‘obviously obvious’ point in all of this? Yes, my body is moving crazily sometimes and my emotions and responses are way different than what you may have experienced in the past. I may not go to functions and go on trips and go to houses like I used to, and I may not participate in things like I used to. I may have to make things smaller and simpler and more routine, and that may not be the me from before. But hopefully, what remains ‘obviously obvious’ is that I am still me on the inside, and I still laugh and care and love and celebrate and live life, it just is scaled down quite a bit because honestly, that’s all my mind can engage on most days. And, by the way, what is blue and smells like red paint? Blue paint. I will be taking next week off from writing to enjoy the holiday. Have a safe and happy Labor Day!

#noquit #justbe #bike2live #litwithin #move4PD #teamfox #parkinsons

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I ‘Knead’ Some Bread

Bread (2)I ‘knead’ some bread. Don’t try to deny it; you chuckled at the thought of that little quip about one of my favorite friends. I love bread. Biscuits, crescent rolls, French loaves, buttered bagels, Italian slices, and plain old white; I love it all. Just for a matter of record though, I also consider donuts, cake, and Little Debbie snack cakes part of the bread family. I actually have a deep crush on Little Debbie; she is my special secret girlfriend. I really do love bread for real. If I had been one of the scientists voting on the food pyramid, I would have given bread a bigger part of the pyramid. To me, some baked bread with honey butter, or even regular butter, is a special gift. And my favorite pastime with bread? You guessed it; ‘sopping’, a truly Southern activity for cleaning every last bit of gravy and sauce from a plate. I am the equivalent of an Olympic gold medalist in that category.

Now bread is an amazing thing. It takes carefully proportioned and measured ingredients to make it turn out right. You have to add those ingredients into a mixing bowl, and carefully work them together, mixing them and kneading them into the right consistency, and then setting it aside for a time to rise and get ready to be baked into a wonderful finished product. You can’t add the wrong ingredients or some bad yeast, and expect the dough to turn out right, and you certainly can’t bake it at the wrong temperature or for the wrong amount of time and expect it to turn out right. But once it has mixed and baked correctly, you have to do something with it (this is where eating and ‘sopping’ comes in.) If all you do is let the bread sit there, it will become stale. If you let it sit long enough, it will start to grow mold. And if you let it continue to sit and decay, it will attract many unwanted creatures to it.

As humans, our lives are like bread. We need to have the right ingredients added to the mixing bowl of our lives. These have to be added in the right proportions, and mixed together thoroughly so that the ingredients cover all of our being. Then, as it comes together, life will knead the ‘dough’ and we will need to experience times of resting (rising) in order to be ready to be baked in the ‘fire’ of everyday trials and struggles. If the wrong ingredients have been added, we may never ‘rise’ correctly, so we will not be ready to be ‘baked’. With that, as we start to ‘bake’, if we become afraid of the trials and struggles in the fire of life and get out too early, we will simply be a doughy mess that is not fit for the sweet honey butter of joy that we could soak up. On the flipside, if we stay in the fire too long, fighting struggles that are not really all that important, we become a hard, crusty, and cynical burnt loaf that nobody will appreciate. And finally, if we do bake just right in that fire, we can’t just sit back and do nothing. We have to be useful, or we become stale, or even worse, moldy. And as we continue getting moldy, the unwanted creatures like bad attitudes and selfishness and unhappiness and indifference come in to consume us.

So yes, today, as you eat some warm, fresh baked bread, take a moment to enjoy the beauty, and the tremendous work put into that beautiful purveyor of joyous living. And if you see my girlfriend Little Debbie out there, tell her I ‘knead’ her to come on back to the house. We have a date.

 

#noquit #justbe #bike2live #litwithin #move4PD #teamfox #parkinsons

Brother, It’s Raining

Third MonkeyBack when I was in basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., about a hundred years ago I think, I nearly left this earth. I had a duodenal ulcer that perforated while we were out on the firing range, and I literally bled to death. The paramedic who worked on me on the way to the hospital said my breathing and heartbeat stopped three times on the way in, and he performed CPR on me and got me back each time. He actually came up to ICU to tell me he was amazed I made it because it took him several hours to clean the blood from the ambulance. I spent 21 days in ICU, and a little over 30 days in the hospital. I literally fought to stay alive those days, and was blessed that I did.

Now I know that this is probably a little more story than you wanted to hear, but I wanted to share a point about the importance of not giving up. I remember waking up in the trauma room during some of that, and wouldn’t you know it, I had a military chaplain next to my bed praying over me. It wasn’t father Mulcahy from MASH, but I knew he was Catholic. Nothing against him, but I was a Southern Baptist kind of guy, so I told him thanks, but I didn’t need any last rites because I wasn’t going anywhere just yet. I knew that deep inside of me, I knew at that point, that I was awake, and I was going to fight with everything I had left. I had a young daughter, a young family, and I just wasn’t ready to go. Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor from 161 to 180 said “Death smiles at us all; all a man can do is smile back.” I must have smile big enough to make him mad and leave because obviously, I made it.

That’s why the monkey picture grabbed my attention. I was that third monkey and it was pouring rain that day. I was seriously in a fight for my life.  Funny thing is, I fast forward to this year, and the third monkey applies again. When my neurologist told me, after many months of testing, that he was diagnosing me with Parkinson’s, and we needed to develop a strategy for treatment, I felt the raindrops starting to fall. Brother, it was starting to rain again. As the days went on and the symptoms were worsening at specific times and the medicine didn’t always work and I started having a little fall here and there and I was struggling mentally and emotionally and socially, the bottom fell out. As I found myself working really hard to perform what used to be automatic tasks and hopped on an emotional roller coaster and struggled to just stay ‘normal’, it was raining harder. Actually, not harder; it was a deluge. I had to fight at least one of the monkeys and get on the ark, or I was going to drown in the flood of this disease.

Now I didn’t literally put on a suit and get a gun like the monkey in the picture, but I did put on a whole lot of knowledge about PD and I did arm myself with exercise and activity. I started taking the steps necessary to fight that monkey. My fight isn’t necessarily life and death, but maybe more so about what kind of life I want to live before I have to have that smiling contest again with death. You see, to me, fighting for living a life that positively impacts my world and the people I encounter each day is very important to me. Fighting to remain independent for as long as I can is also very important to me. And if somewhere along the way someone else who is struggling can be encouraged my little fight, then that is definitely the most important reason to me.  So as you face struggles, determine early on the quality of the life you want to have before you have to enter the smiling contest. And if it starts to rain in your life, be the third monkey for sure and fight like a crazy one!

#noquit #justbe  #bike2live  #litwithin  #move4PD #teamfox #parkinsons

“Cooookkkkiiieeeess”

Cookie_monsterOne or two of you reading this may know a little something about Sesame Street, a great television show that taught us the alphabet and numbers and many other lessons when we were growing up. My favorite character, by a long shot, was Cookie Monster. He had a great way of making everything importantly “cookie-ish”. He was once heard to have said “Today, me will live in the moment, unless it’s unpleasant, in which case, me will eat a cookie.” What a truly profound statement to be made by a blue, googly- eyed puppet monster that devoured cookies.

How many times have you gotten up in the morning, telling yourself that you plan to live in the moment, only to find the unpleasantness that is waiting on you, and you run to the comfort of your “cookies”.  For some of us, it may be the safe comfort of the bed, or someone’s arms, or even just in memories of times past, but we give up our exciting moments for the safety of our cookies. As a ‘parkie’, a little nickname for those of us diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I find that I do not want to spend the rest of my life hoping or wishing or looking for good days. The unpleasant ones are already there with meds and stiffness and pain and lack of controlled movement and anxiety and sadness and the list goes on and on. As a parkie, I face the ‘unpleasant’ simply because I have a diagnosis. I can’t fix it. I can’t ‘un-diagnose’ it. I can’t leave it for another day. So how do I live in the moment without having to go back to the safety of my cookies?

I adapt my ‘in the moments’ to how I can best live them regardless. Someone once said that if you can’t repair the brakes on your car, simply make your horn louder. I can’t repair being a parkie, so I will just make my ‘in the moments’ louder. But how? For me, most days, actually saying “Ok, it is what it is. How do I live in the moment today?” is my start. I look at the symptoms I wake up with, and adapt. I see how my meds are working in a little while, and I adapt. I see how my day affects my meds, and I adapt. I am constantly sounding the motivation horn in my head. But my horn is one of those two sound horns, sort of like the old foghorns around port areas. The other sound my horn makes is encouragement. I have found that my best days, even though they may be my toughest days, occur when I encourage others. Everyone has struggles. I try to make it a point to share a smile, a laugh, an encouraging word, and a listening ear whenever possible. When people see me coming, I don’t want them to run away because I drag them down; I want them to see me as a source of energy and encouragement. I want my horn to sound loudly, announcing that the brakes are off, and a whole host of motivation and encouragement is around the corner.

So today, and every day, when you are ready to live in each moment of the day but face unpleasantness, don’t give up living and find the comfort of your cookies. Pack the cookies up and take them with you to feed your energy. After all, your car has no brakes, and you’re going to have to sound that loud horn all day as you enjoy careening positively and energetically throughout your moments. Better get some milk too.

 

#noquit #justbe  #bike2live  #litwithin  #move4PD #teamfox #parkinsons