"We learn the inner secret of happiness when we learn to direct our inner drives, our interest and our attention to something besides ourselves." - Ethel Percy Andrus
Some days I am slower than usual. I guess that comes with the diagnosis. Maybe I should take advantage of this opportunity to relax but taking it easy was never my strong point. I was the one that was always active. I was always on the go. I remember as a little girl, adults telling me to slow down. Well now that I have no other choice but to move at a slower pace I am finally realizing what they meant.
I use to spend more time at work with co-workers than I did with family and friends. I believed I needed to work more than 40 hours so I could have more money to buy more stuff. But because I was working so much I could never enjoy the stuff I had worked so hard to get.
Since MS forced me to quit my job, instead of working all the time and wishing to have more vacations and holidays, I am constantly searching for constructive ways to fill my free time. It took me a while to get use to this method of living but I think I may be getting the hang of it.
The key is to have a schedule. Every Sunday I sit down and create an itinerary for the upcoming week. Whenever I tell my husband that I am bored he always asks, “What do you have scheduled for today?” If I have nothing planned he helps me think of activities to fill my time.
The cool thing is, while most people’s schedules are dominated by 8 hours of work, my schedule is comprised of pastimes like swimming, going to the park and horseback riding. When I say it out loud it sounds like a permanent vacation but these pursuits have truly become a huge part of my life and a major asset in my constant rehabilitation.
Usually such activities are used to relax and get away from job responsibilities. But for me, I’m trying to get away from MS. I know MS goes with me everywhere I go but largely it’s the daily routines that keep MS prominent in my life. I need to break up my every day habits. My extra curricular activities give me a chance to have moments when I can actually forget I have MS. Most days I am so busy that I don’t have time to think about the negative aspects on the disease. It’s almost as if I’m MS free for at least a couple of hours.
I also like the fact that these activities are not centered on multiple sclerosis. It allows me to focus on something else besides the monster.
My new goal is to find a happy medium and I think I have. As an able-bodied person I was always moving so fast that I missed the simple things in life. Then after my second relapse I just sat around and pretty much did nothing but watch TV. Nowadays, I am enjoying life by moving slower but still being active. I respect my limitations and I listen to my body. As matter of fact my body is telling me to stop typing now because my hand is starting to act up. But I will not let that stop me. Instead, I think I’ll go to the park..well after the sun goes down!
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