Saturday, December 14, 2013

It has been 10 years, but it seems like only yesterday.

 December 12 is an unusual anniversary date. An unusual anniversary because it was the 10th anniversary of the date that my mother passed away. In many ways it seems like it was only yesterday. And in 100 more ways it seems as though she is still here. She is still talked about and considered. “Mom would really like that person” or  “Mom would have loved that movie”. When I say that she was a big part of our lives, I do not mean just me. I also mean my wife, my children, my in-laws, my cousins and so many others who knew her and loved her.

 There are a lot of beliefs and theories about what happens to us after we are gone. But there is one form of “eternal life” that we can all agree on. The one way that we can live on after we are gone is to live in the hearts and minds of those who knew us best. That is certainly the case with my mother.

 Was she a little bit eccentric? Crazy? You bet and that is how and why she is so fondly remembered. We all have so many wonderful stories to tell about her. So many that it allows any negative thoughts to fade away and what we are left with are happy, joy filled memories. Who wouldn't want to be remembered that way? I don't think that while she was here with us she ever gave a thought to how she would be remembered. But her constant consideration of those that she loved and cared about most of all were certainly her hallmarks.

Maybe that is the answer. Perhaps if we want to be remembered by those who we love most of all, the best way to do that is by a constant consideration and caring for them. It certainly worked for her.

My father told me the story of having attended a funeral and afterwards he approached the woman whose father had died and said “I am sorry for your loss”. Her response was extraordinary. She said “I haven't lost anything. I have just stopped gaining.”

I can only hope to be remembered as fondly as my mother and in the same way this woman loved her father.

 ( After I wrote this I realize that I wrote a similar piece 2 years ago called “Lasagna in your trunk”. I hesitated to publish this and then thought that if I feel the same way, then I should publish it anyway. I hope that you agree.)

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

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Best New Year's Resolution Ever.

 That's a bold statement. But it is true and it will be my New Year's resolution again this year. "Resolve to do more”.  I wrote about this a few years ago and thought that it was appropriate to publish it again.

 I hope that you agree and that you will resolve to do more.  

This year, I resolve to do more.

I will love more.
I will laugh more.
I will sing more.
I will participate more and I will make more of a difference in the world around me.

Life is a journey. If we pay attention along the way, we find that it is also a great teacher. Below are some of the things I have learned on my journey:

We all have something.
I have learned that nothing holds us back except ourselves. I have learned that we either have results or excuses as to why not. I have learned that we all have the same amount of time, and that we all can participate more, and do more to make a difference in this world. Whether it is an hour a day, an hour a month or an hour a year, we can all do something to make this a better world.

We can all do more.
Doing more requires only one thing: making the decision to do more. I have decided to do more for the MS Society. I will also do more for my wife, my children and my friends. I will do more for the world around me.

Doing more means participating more. Showing up is a good start, but it is not enough. Participating means rolling your sleeves up and getting involved both figuratively and literally. It means asking questions and learning more. It means listening when a listener is needed and teaching or counseling when called for. It means helping out and contributing time and attention to someone or something. It means caring.

We can all make a difference.
We can only make a difference when we care. Whether it is family or friends, work or a cause - my favorites are the MS Society ( ) and Chelsea’s Hope ( - Please visit this website). Find something that you care about and be a participant. If we participate, we can make a difference. When we make a difference, our lives have meaning and purpose.

Resolve to do more. That is my New Year’s Resolution. I may or may not lose weight, exercise more or save any money. What I will do is MORE…more of what is needed to make this world a better place. I hope that you will make that part of your list of resolutions too.

These are my New Year’s Resolutions and I am planning to have a great year.

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

Saturday, November 23, 2013

“MS Kills Connections. Connections Kill MS.”

This was the theme of this year’s National MS Society's Annual Leadership Conference held in Denver from November 7-9 and what an extraordinary conference it was. The general sessions were attended by 700 to 1,000 participants and greater than the number of attendees was the sense of hope, optimism and outlook for the future of the treatment of this disease.

We all know that “MS kills connections”. The disease causes short-circuits that prevent the brain from sending messages to the body. But how do “connections kill MS”? Very simple.  The more researchers we connect with to study this disease, the more progress we make towards developing better treatments and a cure. The more people we engage in our lobbying efforts, both individuals and lawmakers, the more funding we can get towards research and the better treatment we get for those affected by the disease. The more people become aware and educated about MS, the more money we can raise through our walks, bike rides, dinners, bake sales and any other means used to raise money to help fund our research and advocacy efforts. In other words, our “connections kill MS”.

Inspired? You bet I am. After attending this conference it would be impossible not to feel inspired. Many of the general sessions were spent recognizing those individuals who have made the biggest difference in the past year. The top researchers, the biggest fundraisers and most effective advocates were all recognized for their contribution to the progress that has been made over the past year.

Why was I there? For the 2nd year in a row I was asked to be the co-emcee of the event with Reyna Magpale as my partner.  (She is an amazing emcee and is ready to take over doing the evening news!)  Being asked to participate in this event was truly one of the greatest honors I have ever been asked to do.

I wish that everyone could attend this event because if they did, they would return home ready to do more. They would do more fundraising. They would ask more people to participate. They would be more involved with advocacy and talking to their lawmakers. I know that they would do more because I know that I will do more.

Doing more means making more of a difference. Making a difference means living a life that matters. Living our life in a way that matters is why we are here.

I am ready to do more and hope that you will join me at walk MS 2014 on Sunday, April 6 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. To register, donate and make a difference click here.
Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Another Extraordinary Human Being

 The world is filled with amazing people and when we meet or see someone who moves us, we want to share that experience with others. I just watched the video of this young woman and what is so inspiring about her is the way that she chooses to live her life despite her challenges.

 Grab a Kleenex and enjoy this video.

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

So little time and so much to read.

 If you are like me, living with MS can take a lot of time, especially if you want to stay current on what is happening in the MS world.

 Recently I was contacted by Cathy Chester, a well-known writer in the MS world, who offered to write a guest blog. She has done a great job of writing about the many resources that we have available. I do hope that you enjoy reading this.

Guest post provided by Healthline

It was easier to keep up with news and information about Multiple Sclerosis twenty-five years ago.  There was none.  There was no Internet, no FDA approved medications and no complementary medicines being recommended by physicians.

Today there is a plethora of information about approved medications, clinical trials, therapeutic modalities, assistive technology, emotional support, employment opportunities and financial assistance.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to stay current with information that suits your needs. 

But who has time to work, take care of your family, tend to your MS needs and stay current with the latest news?

Here is how I try to keep up without having to spend a lot of time combing the Internet to find answers to my questions.

My first piece of advice is this: sign up for alerts: As a writer, health advocate and MS patient, this simple technique is one I rely on every day.  I use Google as my email program (Gmail).  In their settings, there is an area that allows you to type a phrase (or a website, blog, online magazine, etc.) and then specify how often you’d like to receive an alert (daily, weekly, monthly). 

For example, I typed in the words “Multiple Sclerosis”.  Every day I receive alerts for news or blogs appearing on the Internet that contain the words “Multiple Sclerosis”. 

If you don’t use Gmail, and are unsure how to set up your own alert, do a Google search on setting up alerts for your specific email program.

I also do alerts for news and information from reputable websites that I’ve come to trust for reliable information:

·      Healthline
·      The National Multiple Sclerosis Society
·      Multiple Sclerosis Association of America
·      Multiple Sclerosis Foundation
·      Medline
·      Health Central
·      Carnival of MS Bloggers
·      MS Views and News
·      Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers
·      CAN DO Multiple Sclerosis Center (formerly The Jimmie Heuga Center for MS)
·      Accelerated Cure Project
·      Myelin Repair Foundation
·      WebMD

I like to also keep up with complementary medicine, and how that can help me manage my MS in addition to the traditional medicine I follow.   Here are some sites I use:

·      Healthline
·      Dr. Andrew Weil
·      The Self-Healing Coach
·      Daily Yoga – My Yoga Online
·      Center for Mindfulness/Jon Kabat-Zinn
·      The Mayo Clinic
·      Psychology Today
·      Naturopathic Sleep Medicine Blog

This is a small sampling of what is available to keep you up-to-date on the news and information that matters to you.  Search for others.  Once you find something you like, set a bookmark, sign up for an alert or subscribe to them.

The Internet makes it easier for you to find answers to your MS questions, and to help you better manage your disease.  (Of course if you don’t own a computer, perhaps a visit to your local library will do the trick!)

Good luck and best of health.

About the Author: Cathy Chester is a writer for Healthline.  Diagnosed with MS in 1987, today her life is dedicated to two things: writing and paying it forward to others with MS.  Her blog, An Empowered Spirit, is dedicated to being healthy and vibrant over the age 50.  It is also to empower people with disabilities to live a joyful and healthy life.  She also writes for other health websites and is a blogger for The Huffington Post.  Her mantra is “Life is delicious, so seize each day by doing the best we can with the abilities we have.” 

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

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The most important exercise to do every day.

No one argues that exercise is important. We can debate the virtues of cardiovascular exercises and strength training. We can discuss how often a person needs to exercise (some people just have more discipline than others). We can make long lists of all the reasons why exercise is so important for the body, mind, mood and spirit and we would never finish listing all of the reasons why exercise is so important.

But I am going to suggest that there is one exercise that trumps all of the others. It may be the most important exercise that we ever do and have a greater impact on our overall well-being then weightlifting, jogging and yoga combined. In fact, not only is this exercise good for us, it has the potential to change the world!

Does that sound good? If there was one exercise that could do all of that, would you do it? Are you ready to get your workout clothes on and get started on a program today? You already have all of the equipment that you need. Most of what you need is just the recognition that you already have the tools to do it.

What I am talking about is “exercising our influence”. We all know (and sometimes learned the hard way) that there are things in life that we can control and perhaps many more things that are out of our control. But somewhere in the middle lies this vast arena that is filled with matters beyond our control and yet within our influence.

Some people don't vote because they feel that their vote won't matter. It certainly won't if they don't vote and more importantly, they give up their influence over the outcome of the election.

Some people don't exercise because they “have too much weight to lose”. Not exercising is a way of giving up the influence they have over their weight. The same can be said for diet.

It can also be said for money, fundraising, education, relationships and virtually everything that happens in our lives. We may not have control, but we have influence. The only question is are we going to exercise it?

I have multiple sclerosis. Getting multiple sclerosis was not within my control. The disease and the course of the disease is not within my control. But I do have influence over this disease. I can influence the course of the disease with medications, exercise, diet, education, spirituality, a positive attitude and so much more. Will I do all of it? Some of it? That is within my control. That is up to me.

We may not have control over every aspect of our life. But for most of the things that we do not control, we have influence. The only question we have to ask is will we exercise today?

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

Saturday, August 3, 2013

I love her more today than yesterday.

It's true. Today is our 33rd wedding anniversary and I can honestly say that I love my wife more today than I did on the day we married.

We were both 22 years old and madly in love on the day we married and like most young people, we thought that we knew everything there was to know. Today we are smarter, more experienced, more grateful and more in love.

At the risk of being redundant, repeating myself, being redundant and repeating myself, I can tell you why “I love her more today than yesterday” (I feel a song coming on). My answer is simple and it all comes down to one word: gratitude.

Ask couples who have been married a long time, or at least as long as we have, what the key to a happy marriage is and you will get a variety of answers. “Respect each other”, “Never go to bed angry”, “Always be friends”, etc., etc.. But I believe that my answer trumps all of those answers.

When you are truly grateful that your mate is in your life, you will respect each other, not go to bed angry and will always be friends. However, feeling grateful is not enough. You must also express it to that person because feeling grateful and not telling someone is like buying someone a gift and never giving it to them.

Actually, the real gift is feeling grateful. It is a tremendous feeling in your heart to experience gratitude, real true gratitude. At least it is for me and I get to feel it several times today.

The older I get and the longer we are together, the more gratitude, the more grateful I become to have this extraordinary woman to share my life with.

I could go on and on. Her days are filled with caring about me, our family and our world of friends. She is selfless, loving, considerate and so much more. She is my great companion and there is no one else that I would rather spend time with then her.

My experience of being married to her has taught me that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and in my eyes she is more beautiful today than ever before.

To me, that feeling of ever increasing gratitude is what makes me feel more and more in love with her everyday that we are together. That is why I can say that  “ love her more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow.” (Thank you for those lyrics Stevie Wonder.)

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