How I Want to Grow in 2018

Though I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, I have nevertheless felt an urgency to shift my focus upward to a place above the horizon. Not heavenward, this isn’t going to be that kind of thought piece. More like turning brainward to redirect my thinking to a different road, perhaps the one less traveled--or a brand new one I’ll carve out with my virtual machete. It’s a jungle in there.

Work and personal growth

The problem is that both my personal attitude and professional vision have been in a deep rut. This always results in self-loathing. Negative feelings color my thoughts. Take my role as an advocate. Why aren’t I willing to do such-and-such? I don’t enjoy doing “it” (whatever it is, fill in the blank) and it’s such a worthy effort. I should make myself get involved. But when I did in the past I felt awkward and inadequate and didn’t enjoy myself. What’s wrong with me? This self-flagellation quickly decays into thoughts such as I’m a failure as an advocate, why did I think I had something to offer, etc. I compared myself to my colleagues and came up wanting.

I stopped stewing about this quite recently. One of my colleagues was telling me about a conference she planned to attend, one of many she visits each year despite devastating fatigue, leg spasticity and weakness. Then she said I’ll keep going to these things as long as I think I have something to offer. And I really enjoy doing it. Those statements stuck to my brain like Velcro. Now I have two affirmation memes hanging on my fridge:

Do what you love.

Do what makes you feel valuable.

Professional mission

These simple, declarative statements still feel counter-intuitive after so many decades of struggling with my authentic self and trying to follow my bliss. But I’m making progress. For example, I’m very interested in copay assistance programs and their dearth of funds for MS drugs. Not only has it affected me personally this year, I’ve been well aware that a number of MS patients go without meds for financial reasons, partly because they don’t know assistance programs exist, and partly because Medicare patients are screwed out of using drug company programs and must rely on only four or five charities that fund MS drugs for those on government insurance. While I was grumbling about the fact that in January no such finds could be had, I thought about who funds these charities. Rich people. Philanthropists. There’s so much money out there, why are MS patients going without financial assistance? I care passionately about this. Aha moment: Find out how to ask philanthropists to donate money to these charities for MS patients. That’s what I care about and that’s what I’ll learn about this year.

Personal mission

Keep embracing my anger and rage. It’s there for a reason, so honor and respect it. Use it constructively. Find my champion.

I have found my champion and her name is Rose McGowan. She is an actress that has become a bulldog advocate against sexism, assault and harassment. She expresses her anger and rage so eloquently and I am enraptured. She validates my own rage. In her documentary CITIZEN ROSE, she acknowledges that anger is scary, and that those that find it scary, should. I don’t want to be angry, she tells the camera. Stop f$%king with us and I’ll stop.

That’s how I feel about it, too. Start giving more money to charities for sick people that can’t afford their medicines and I’ll stop calling charities that run out of MS drug money and screaming at them.

Anger can be a great motivator. Let’s see what I can accomplish this year. Wish me luck.

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