RAWR (Dinosaurically Speaking)

dinosaurSince tomorrow is Veteran’s Day, and I am a veteran, I decided to publish today, and enjoy the day tomorrow that has been set aside to recognize those who have served, and continue to serve today. Thank you to my brothers and sisters out there for your service. My blog this week is a little different, and I know I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks, but for those of you who read and do not know, I lost my mom on October 27th at the age of 68. She has been battling a terminal lung disease for a while, along with the painful effects of osteoporosis and kyphosis. The picture I picked for my blog today was one I posted on my mom’s Facebook one day when she was having a really tough week. I had the simple post of “Hey mom, I drew this just for you today. I love you.” Even though she knew darn well I didn’t draw it, she truly loved the post, telling me later how much it made her smile that day, making her think of me when I was a little boy.

If my mom would have one word to describe me, she would use “aggravating”. When we would go and visit, her favorite saying was “you have been here 10 minutes, and I am about to send you home.” Now we both knew she wasn’t going to make me drive that 9.5 hours back home, but she was feisty like that. Honestly, it was all in good fun. My mom and I shared the same sneaky sense of humor, pranking others, scaring others, and really just trying to stay on the positive side of things by laughing heartily. She was a lot of fun, even during her sickest of times, and I could always crawl up next to her, and share some laughs over some of the dumbest things.

When she felt good, we would play board games every now and then, and her favorite was Yahtzee. She was highly competitive, something that is ingrained in my genes. She was always playing her “last round”, unless of course I won, then we had to play just one more. She had a beautiful heart, and a love that was incredible. She was a tiny little woman who made a big splash in the lives of those around her, sharing a huge smile, a strong faith, and a needed correction when you had it coming. She was an incredible fighter, and fiercely loyal to her family. I still think of my son’s post on Facebook after he learned of her passing: “Sweet and sour, mixed like a hurricane; she had it all.” I believe he wasn’t way off of the mark on that one.

I had the blessing of performing her service, something she asked me to do a few months back. As I prepared the words, Proverbs 31:10-31 came to mind, “The Wife of Noble Character”, which I shared as part of the message. I also shared “The Journey of a Mother” which I found on the internet. I have no idea who wrote it, but I want to share it with you, as I shared it at her service as well.

“A mother is more than a memory. She is a living presence. Your mother is always with you. She is the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street, the smell of certain foods you remember, and the perfume that she wore. She’s the cool hand on your brow when you’re not feeling well, and she’s your breath in the air on a cold winter’s day. She is the sound of the rain that lulls you to sleep, the colors of a rainbow, and she is Christmas morning. Your mother lives inside your laughter and she is crystallized in every teardrop. A mother shows every emotion… happiness, sadness, fear, jealousy, love, hate, anger, helplessness, excitement, joy, sorrow… and all the while, hoping you will only know the good feelings in life. She’s the place you came from, your first home, and she’s the map you follow with every step you take. She’s your first love, your first friend, even your first enemy, but nothing on earth can separate you; not time, not space….. not even death.”

If your mom is still alive, love her more, hug her more, and take time with her more; those moments are precious. If your mom is with my mom, remember that she is a living presence. You are never separated from her, so the moments you have with her, just as I have with my mom now, are especially precious. Listen to the whisper of the leaves, and smile, because mom is ALWAYS love.

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

https://justbejcarmichael.wordpress.com/

Shoe Tying Power

da89ba86166d500c3b0c13f1e2e45969One of the greatest challenges that I think an individual can face during a struggle is a loss of independence, a sudden need to rely on someone else, or to have to ask for help, especially when you have felt you were in control of your life prior to that point. I know that rings true with me as I journey through life with PD. As my handwriting has grown smaller and my voice patterns have changed and my movements have slowed, by far, tying my shoes and buttoning my shirts, all own my own and like a big boy, are two of the things I miss the most. Now this is not an everyday occurrence, but when it does happen, and I need help, I might as well be attempting to pilot a space shuttle or something. Like the picture, I feel like that T-rex trying to tie his shoes because the obstacle is so great; that one simple activity that I have performed tens of thousands of times in my life suddenly becomes impossible, and is horribly out of reach of my capabilities at that time.

Believe me, anger and frustration aren’t the only emotions you feel. Often, the feelings grow into sadness or helplessness or even a state of wondering if you are actually useful. Yep, those are generally kind of rough starts to my day. It breaks your heart inside, and you just feel like there is a giant foot stepping on your very soul like a bug. It is during those times I do draw on my faith, and one of my favorite verses from when my dad passed was Psalm 34:1, “The Lord draws near to those who are brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” I know I have family and friends who support me in many ways during the rough times, but I also realize that my soul, the warrior spirit inside of me, is never alone. I realize that a broken clock is right twice a day and that broken crayons still color. I realize that my hands may be full with handling PD, but my heart is much more full of encouragement and love and the desire to positively impact someone else’s life.

Each of us, if we truly take the time to realize it, have a huge power within us to first fight through a struggle that we may be facing, but an ever greater power to come along side someone and help them with their struggle. There is a Jewish proverb that says “I ask not for a lighter burden, but broader shoulders.” Any struggle you face today simply develops the strength you will need for tomorrow, and one of the greatest gifts you can offer is to use that strength to help with another’s burden. To me, that is what truly being our best is about: the ability to care enough for another, placing our own struggle aside, and helping them through their struggle. The personal growth we experience and the strength we gain from that will help our own struggles become lighter, and will develop a tremendous power to overcome what we face.

I read a short poem once that said, “Some days are better, some days are worse. Look for the blessing, instead of the curse. Be positive, stay strong, and get enough rest; you can’t do it all, but you can do your best.” No matter the struggle, there will be good days and bad days, but they will all contain blessings. Your best may not be much on some of those bad days, but as long as it is your best, it will always be enough. And always during the sad parts of the struggle look for the positive. You have great power inside of you, so remember the old Confucius saying “With great power comes great electric bill.” He really didn’t say that, but even though a part of you may be broken, broken crayons still really do color, and leave behind beautiful and lasting images.

https://justbejcarmichael.wordpress.com/

Hot Dog Wisdom

32d03f510ce4bf32d8f81750988e013aMan the memories of hot dogs on a Saturday, and eating them on sandwich bread as a kid. I still do sometimes because it’s not really a struggle for me. Neither is turning 50. You may have guessed, today is my birthday. I have made the half century mark, the big “five ohhhhh my goodness.” It’s pretty cool that the same year I started a blog, I actually get to publish one on my birthday. What else is 50 this year? That amazing game changing invention: AstroTurf! Please note that Batman is also 50 this year, and it is no coincidence that you never see the two of us in the same room. One of my favorites, Doritos, is also 50 years old, and I celebrate them by dredging them through sour cream, just prior to munching down on them (probably why I have a statin prescription). And finally, for all of you really cool hip teenage kids who enjoy skateboarding and the like, Vans shoes are also celebrating 50 years this year. So contrary to your opinion, us old guys were cool on skateboards long before you were.

As I turn 50, and move forward through fighting PD, I do try daily to stay focused on the positive things in my life, and even the positive things of living long enough to be as old as Doritos. This week, I read a list of good things about turning fifty, and it included some references to appreciating life more and not worrying about the small stuff and being able to laugh at ourselves and of course, several references about learning and wisdom. You can wear funny sweaters in public, wearing your hair gray is perfectly acceptable (only true in my beard since I am bald), and suddenly, just as if you found childhood again, nap time is fun all over again, and actually needed to root out the grumpiness of being sleepy.

As for appreciating life and being able to laugh at myself (and others), and nap time; I have to say I am 100% on board there. Wisdom? Well, let’s just say that I learned so much from my mistakes in the first 50 years that I am most likely going to make some more, you know, just so I can get a little smarter. I also know that sometimes, as we get older, we wonder how useful our lives have been. I do know for certain that there were points in my life that could have been used as bad examples, and while it was some tough learning for me, I don’t necessarily regret it as it has helped shape me into who I am. I also have some points where my life can be used as a good example, and I hope that my hard earned wisdom is letting me leave more of that legacy each day I wake up.

At the point I decided to take charge of my life with PD, I made a decision to make my life one that is marked by encouragement for others, a life of drive and achievement and motivation, a life that doesn’t quit, that swims upstream, and that stands out when others just need a smile. I work hard each day, trying not to wrap myself up in what can hold me back, but instead trying to point out what someone else has in them to move them forward, to pick them up, and to help them realize the strength within them, and to certainly encourage them to do that with someone else. What a great world we would share in if we each made it a point to leave a positive “hashtag” in someone’s life daily. I read a quote that said “Success consists of doing the common things of life uncommonly well.” Be extraordinary daily, and impact someone else’s life positively today. And try the Doritos thing with the sour cream. And be different; eat your hot dog on sandwich bread as well; it really isn’t a struggle at all.

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

https://justbejcarmichael.wordpress.com/

Tater Head Dreams

72188852I have a niece who, at least most of the time, is sweet like a Cinnabon, but when you stir her up, she is as mean as a bag of rattlesnakes. She is the reason for the Mrs. Potato Head picture. She had an aggressive brain tumor removed in 2015 at the age of 13. She is the inspiration for the Mrs. Potato Head image because, as her crazy uncle, I had the responsibility of making sure she received the gift of one of these (I mean after all, she now had a part removed from her head) and also some of those refrigerator clip style magnets for the plate that replaced the piece of her skull that they had to remove. Now before you think that is awful, I promise that she would do no less for me if the roles were reversed. However, unlike the picture in this blog, I don’t believe she ever had that awkward moment where she was wearing Nike’s and couldn’t “Just Do It.” This young lady has never missed a beat and is indeed a huge blessing and testament as to why adversity should never steal our dreams. She continues to live life fully and be a typical teenager, driving her parents, and teenage boys, crazy.

I remember when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and the fear I felt as I reexamined my dreams, and really my future. I started verbalizing and talking and planning and doing all sorts of other things that seriously stalemate and stagnate dreams. I went from living to thinking; from doing to talking about doing, and all because of the fear and uncertainty of what my future may look like. I remember mulling over being careful and what I would have to give up and the dangers of falling and issues of getting dressed and feeding myself and possibly even seeing myself as a burden one day. That is when I ran across the “Nike” saying. Why was I having this awkward moment of not being able to “do it”, with “it” being anything that I had already dreamed of, and many new things that I would dream of?

It’s like that funny little saying “I saw a Frisbee coming towards me; then it hit me.” I really realized, and quickly, that PD was not going to steal my dreams. The only real risk, the only real challenge I faced, was doing nothing. I needed to stop wishing that I didn’t have Parkinson’s and do something about it. Of course I found great medical care and started a treatment regimen. I started exercising, riding a bike and going to the gym. I even started writing a blog, and plan to go back to school in the spring and pursue my RN degree.  But that wasn’t all. A motivational speaker and life coach named Tony Gaskins once said “If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to build theirs.”

 

There is a 100 mile bike ride in my area for children’s cancer called “Peddlin for a Cure” out of Monroeville, AL. My goal, as I exercise and ride, is to keep me moving, control my PD symptoms, and possibly see some improvement. However, I hope to ride in the 100 mile ride in 2018 in an effort to help raise money for children’s cancer research (the dream side of bike riding). A lot of people say that 100 miles is a really a long distance, but I read a statistic that said that Americans will spend more on coffee in 3 days than the government spends in a year on childhood cancer research. So for me, because of my potato head niece, it is not really that far, and this ride has now become a dream for me, a dream that I am building. So to my Cinnabon sweet, rattlesnake mean niece, thank you for helping me see that adversity should not steal our dreams, and that we should never have awkward moments of not being able to “do” anything while wearing Nike’s. And also, if possible, I need to borrow one of your clip magnets that I gave you for that plate in your head for my bag of chips.

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

https://justbejcarmichael.wordpress.com/

 

Be a Peach

you-can-be-omokdj

I saw an image recently that listed 5 lessons in life from Dr. Seuss.

  1. “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than you.
  2. “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
  3. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
  4. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
  5. “Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered.”

As I read through these statements, I was reminded of how unique each of us really are. I know that we all have probably had times where we fantasized about being a sports star or singer or some other notable person. We may have actually even wanted to be like our neighbor down the street or even someone in our family. There was a certain amount of discontent with the person we saw in the mirror, and we may still be discontent, or even unhappy with that same individual in that mirror today.

Well before I write a long blog on the steps of change and self-improvement and self-help, I want to ask you to first look at the You that is truer than true. Take a look at the person that was perfectly crafted by God to be an encouragement and blessing to others on this earth. Don’t focus on the negatives or who or what someone else may be, or even what another may tell you that you are. Focus on the You that is you. Realize that you were meant to stand out, to swim upstream in a downstream world. Be the odd one; be the different one, but whatever you do, stand out in the most outstanding and positive way you can. You were born an original, so don’t die a copy.

What’s stopping you? You have a brain, you have feet. Choose your path. Albert Einstein said “strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”The only limit you truly face is the one you face in the mirror each day you get up. You say people are holding you back; people are keeping you from making a positive impact, but those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. Fill your life and surround yourself with individuals who encourage and lift you up, those who do not discourage and tear you down. Keep in mind I am not saying people who will tell you what you want to hear, but instead people who truly care enough to tell you what you need to hear, but still care regardless.

Finally, behave each day like it is the day you will be remembered. What do you want to be remembered for? Jackie Robinson said “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” Remember that you have the power to impact people either positively or negatively; how you attempt to impact them is your choice. Additionally, how you choose to be impacted by others is something you also own. So back to the picture. If you are doing the best you can and making a positive impact, being that ripe and juicy peach, someone is not going to like you. It is ok; I promise. Life’s measure is not about pleasing everyone, but instead saying that you gave it all you had, pleasing the One who created you. One last quote from Erma Bombeck: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me.” Stay true to your faith, those you care about, and definitely stay true to yourself.

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

https://just.jcarmichael.wordpress.com/

 

Butterfly Feet

image6Did you know? On average, 100 people choke to death on ballpoint pens every year. On average people fear spiders more than they do death. It’s possible to lead a cow upstairs…but not downstairs. A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out. Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing. A snail can sleep for three years. No word in the English language rhymes with “MONTH”. The house fly hums in the middle octave key of F. Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur. You know something else, facts are facts, but sometimes the value of those facts can seriously come into question depending on your perspective. Sometimes, facts can even be as useless as the last four letters in the word ‘queue’. Wait for it, wait for it. Ok, now that it sunk in and you have laughed, facts, randomly assembled, can actually be quite pointless.

Take for instance the fact above about being able to lead a cow upstairs, but not downstairs. First of all, I live in a single level home, and second, I don’t have cows inside of it. So yep, as you guessed it, that is a pointless fact for me, even though the image of it is quite funny. On the other hand, I definitely fear spiders more than death, and have done some pretty amazing footwork upon discovering a spider; highlight and underline that fact as important. Now someone with a totally different perspective than my own may have the exact opposite importance placed on the same two facts. So now, as you have read through me discussing random and pointless facts, you have probably asked yourself as a reader, “What is the point to all of this?”

Well my point is not actually random and pointless facts, but instead perspective. I know we recognize some people who are quick to point out useless facts about others, quick to point out their flaws or differences, and quick to assert that their own personal perspective is the correct one to have. I bet that sometimes, even though we hate to admit it, we are the person who is actually doing this to someone else. I have found myself at times measuring another’s circumstances or problems from the perspective of my own. Truth is, these times usually occur on those days when I am being selfish and having pity parties and just having bad days with my PD. That’s not to give an excuse or to justify it; it is simply the trend I recognize.

Truth is, my perspective should never keep me from having compassion or love or a heart of service for others. Yes, I face Parkinson’s every day I wake up, and my perspective, my facts are awfully important to me, but may be pointless to someone else because they may face cancer or divorce or loss of a loved one, or heck, their life may be clicking along at a wonderful pace with very few problems at all. However, I honestly should never deem my perspective more important, or make their facts and perspectives seem minimal, or point out their flaws in a way to make my perspective greater. In fact, perhaps I should be thankful that I am coming from a different perspective, and am able to encourage and love that person differently because of it. Maybe my perspective could be improved simply by genuinely caring enough for an individual with a totally different perspective so that their life is made better. And honestly, maybe if I openly share my facts, and use them in a way to lift others up, maybe my facts and perspective will have a positive impact in someone else’s life.

So today, before you speak or act or think in a certain way about someone else, remember “your” facts could be as pointless to them as you may think “their’ facts are to you. Impact someone else’s life in a truly positive way by setting aside your facts and perspective, and understanding and serving theirs. Oh yeah, and remember that butterflies actually taste things with their feet. That’s probably why they don’t wear shoes.

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

https://just.jcarmichael.wordpress.com/

The Oxymoron of Change

1e8f1b4399bed92fab1bb81aab5a8763A wise man once said “Change… A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless of course, you fail to make the turn.” Another wise man also said “Change is inevitable, except, of course, from a vending machine.” Well, one thing is for sure, change is definitely coming, and all we have to do is wake up to realize it. In reality, the fact that change is going to occur actually makes it and oxymoron of consistency.

Now, given the fact that change is going to consistently happen, let’s take a look at what we can do to actually manage it. I have read several takes on the parable of the carrot, the egg, and the coffee bean, and since I like to cook, it has been totally relatable to my diagnosis of Parkinson’s, and the changes I have already experienced, and will face in the future. Truthfully, to me, it applies to our response to any adversity, so here goes.

If you place a carrot, an egg, and a coffee bean into three separate pots of water, and leave them to boil, you will notice several things about adversity and change. The carrot goes in strong and firm, but after fighting the boiling water, it becomes soft and weak. The egg, with it’s fairly tough outside and liquid soft inside, changes into something with a fragile outside that is easily broken, and a hard inside. Finally, the coffee bean actually blends with the water, uniting itself, and taking the water on as part of its own self, and making something new and better.

Being diagnosed with PD, being a carrot was never an option for me. As you have read in my blogs before, you know my intention is to fight it as long as I can, using every method or tool I can, and to go out strong and tough. I have fought other adversities in life, and continue to gratefully and thankfully wake up each day, at least talking to my crazy brain, hand, and foot to get them all together so I can get on out of bed. I do not plan to let the adversity of PD soften me and make me weak, to take me to a point where there is no fight left and I am easily pulled apart. On the other hand, being an egg would have been an easy option for me because I have used the response of hardening myself, closing others out of my adversity, and not getting help, or offering anything at all to others for other tough times in my life. An egg has a fluid and changeable center in its original state, but when introduced to the boiling water, it s center becomes hardened and stiff. The outside looks the same, but is more fragile than before, and the inside is no longer able to exist freely. It is merely a false representation of what it once was.

Instead, I think I’ll be a coffee bean. When the water gets to its hottest, boiling violently and tossing the bean all around, the bean releases its best, and changes the water into something better, something more aromatic and desirable, and yet amazingly a part and creation  of the bean itself. I often times try to spend my time encouraging others, not just those with adversity, but each person I come across. I don’t always get it right, but I do realize everyone, and I mean everyone, needs and encouraging word or smile or thought occasionally. As PD progresses more inside my body, I find that more of my spirit actually progresses into PD, and I find greater cause and purpose to live positively through adversity and impact others with a sense of hope and encouragement. So be the coffee bean, and remember the last aspect of change, that one when you mumbled something to your mom and she said “What?” It wasn’t because she didn’t hear you; she was simply giving you an opportunity to CHANGE your response before she changed your world.

 

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

https://just.jcarmichael.wordpress.com/