Sunday, November 9, 2008


“Use it or lose it.” This statement applies to me in a lot of different ways.

Living with a disease (multiple sclerosis, for those of you who don’t know) affects almost everything I do, every minute of everyday. What it has also done is make me appreciate all that I do enjoy and take nothing for granted.

My health. I used to be a jogger. I jogged a 5K almost daily for years. Then I got busier and busier at work, took less and less time to jog, until I had taken jogging completely out of my schedule. Now I don’t walk so good. Would I walk better today if I had kept up the jogging? Maybe. Who knows? What I do know is that what walking ability I do have, won’t be taken for granted. I exercise my legs almost daily to insure that I preserve what ability I have for as long and as well as I can. In other words, I use it, so I won’t lose it.

My relationships. I have been married to the sweetest and kindest women on the planet for over 28 years. From the moment I was diagnosed with MS, I have been grateful that I have her to accompany me on this journey. I know that my life is easier, better and fuller because I have her by my side. For the most part, we have always had a good relationship. Yet it was easy for me to take her sweetness and kindness for granted. I spent a lot of years not fully acknowledging, or acknowledging her for the difference she makes in my life. Now I let her know it everyday and even with the challenges we face, our relationship is better than it ever has been.

My money. For many years I made a good living. Today I am not able to work. I now get federal disability and have a private disability income policy. I earn less than I used to. But, I sure am grateful for the income we do have coming in. For many of us who were in the mortgage industry, it was easy to take for granted the kind of income we enjoyed. Now with our current financial crisis, we realize just how good we had it for those many years. Now that I do not have the ability to earn income at all, I am extremely grateful for the income I do have.

Gratitude is the flip side of taking things for granted. “Use it or lose it” means ‘don’t take anything for granted’ and reminds us that the gifts we enjoy (Health, people, money, etc.) may not always be there. By not taking them for granted, we may be able to keep or preserve those gifts for many years to come. It also allows us to be grateful for those gifts while we have them and not postpone our gratitude until they are gone.

I have learned that my happiness is directly related to my ability to experience gratitude. The gratitude I experience seems to be directly related to how much or little I take for granted. My disability has helped me learn not to take things for granted. It has also provided me with the opportunity to be grateful for so much more than before and in ways that I never could have imagined.

“Use it or lose it.” Knowing that helps me to wake up happy everyday.

Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.

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