Set in the slums of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, the movie The Queen of Katwe chronicles the remarkable rags-to-riches story of Phiona Mutesi who became one of the first female chess champions in Ugandan sports history, despite the odds. Her chess coach was dedicated and inspiring. Amongst all of his words of wisdom and encouragement, there were two very profound statements he made to Phiona that were relative to her situation, but I also found applicable to my life with Multiple Sclerosis.
Coping with change and loss
The first, when Phiona was reluctant to embark upon an unfamiliar new life that included leaving the familiarity of the physical and even mental place her 10 year old self was accustomed to, she was told, “Sometimes the place you’re used to is not the place you belong”. And the second, when Phiona experienced her very first defeat after going undefeated for so long, she was extremely upset. Her coach told her “Losses happen for all of us, but what changes is when we pick up the pieces”.
Was I meant to do more?
“Sometimes the place you’re used to is not the place you belong.”
I have wondered why, out of my very large family, I was the ‘chosen’ one to contract Multiple Sclerosis. I was quite content prior to… I enjoyed working, raising my children, housekeeping, dating, going here and there, etc. I certainly didn’t expect, need or want to add anything like MS to take away or alter a life I was content with and accustomed to living as I lived it. But could it be that I was meant to do more? To be more? Had a purpose?
Fulfilling a purpose
When I reflect on those questions posed to myself, I am cognizant MS has prompted and pushed me to be optimistic during difficult times, more self-reflective to promote personal growth, even more compassionate, opened my mind to have and consider different perspectives, not take life for granted, and increase my territory. (I have gained a network that spans all over that I can communicate with, directly and indirectly – my MS Community.) Sharing how I’m Enduring My Journey With LOVE (Love, Optimism, Verve, & Encouragement) can inspire others who are struggling with a chronic disease or perhaps other tribulations. Though it’s not easy, I’d like to think that I left what I was used to, to be where I belong… fulfilling a purpose.
Picking up the pieces
“Losses happen for all of us, but what changes is when we pick up the pieces.”
My fine and gross motor skills have been heavily impacted by MS. I’ve had to stop working. I am unable to ‘pick up and go’ like the days of old. I’m sedentary, wheelchair and home bound a great deal of the time. MS has robbed me of my independence. I don’t like any of it. Actually, I abhor that I’m unable to do things that I could do, but can’t anymore. I had to find a way to ‘pick up my pieces,’ and I began by identifying what MS could not – or what I refuse to let – take from me… my happiness. Focusing on what I can do, what I have, who I have, keeps me in a positive state of mind. I think that helps a great deal. Rather than to allow fallen pieces to remain, I find it personally advantageous to pick them up, dust them off and keep playing…living.
Thanks for the lessons, ‘coach’!