This is a current photo of me at 55 years old and a photo of me at 5 years old starting Kindergarten. Ohhh, the things I would like to tell that sweet, happy girl. I’ve had to learn most things in life the hard way. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that way. Over the past five years, I have worked very hard to reclaim the joy I felt as this young girl. And I move forward continuing to make the second half of my life, the best half of my life.
This is a photo of me as a pom pon girl in high school. During my high school years, I remember having tons of energy in all areas of my life. It was when I started college that I started to experience mental, emotional, and physical fatigue that simply intensified as the years passed. Fatigue is the most common Multiple Sclerosis symptom.
During my freshman year in college, I also started having significant symptoms of depression, another common MS symptom. The summer before my senior year, I also started having dizziness and vertigo, and this triggered panic attacks. I had lived with anxiety since I was a child, but this was on a whole new level.
I’d like to say that I sought help for all of my symptoms, but I did not. I shoved it all down, and forged ahead to graduate school. I set a goal for myself to get a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and to become a Licensed Psychologist. At the age of 36, I reached that goal. But I was beyond exhausted. The year was 2003.
I was eventually diagnosed with MS in August 2016 when my left arm and hand went numb. I finally had a symptom that I couldn’t ignore or push through. I went to my doctor, and she immediately sent me to the hospital to get multiple MRIs done. The results showed lesions in my brain and spine – classic Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple blood tests, to rule out other medical conditions, confirmed the diagnosis.
I am happy to report that function returned to my left arm and hand, and that I have been stable (i.e. no new MS lesions) for the past 6 years. Getting the MS diagnosis was scary as hell, but my life finally made sense to me. The diagnosis also made me determined to enjoy all areas of my life moving forward. As I indicated on my Profile, I am Reclaiming the Joy of My Youth.
To learn more about Multiple Sclerosis, go to www.nationalmssociety.org
I have a vivid recollection of not studying for AP Chemistry exams my Senior Year in high school (1984-1985). Why?! Because when I got A’s, I was teased by the popular boys in my class. I realize now that this was based on their own insecurities, but it speaks to the times – girls were supposed to be sweet, attractive, and not overly ambitious or smart. If you went to college, your main goal was to get a MRS degree.
I really didn’t embrace my intelligence until I went to graduate school in 1992. It took moving to California for me to forge a new path and identity for myself. Everyone but my mom Ulla tried to talk me out of it. Thank you, Mom – I couldn’t have done it without your support.
Trying to be what you think people want, need, expect, or like is EXHAUSTING.
Pay attention to those people that accept you for you.
They are PRICELESS.
As difficult as it was being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2016, it also Woke Me Up. It pushed me to take full ownership of my life, and to set long overdue limits and boundaries with everyone in my life. I now only allow genuine, supportive, and kind people in my inner circle. And the freedom I feel is tremendous.
Highlights for me, the Thinker…
Deep thoughts, big questions ✅
Intellectual curiosity ✅
Ability to find & create meaning ✅
Ideal collaborator, the Adventurer ✅
Inquisitive mind ✅
Sense of wonder ✅
Depth of perception ✅
“Seek out the company of the Adventurer types, who provide the perfect counterbalance to your introspective and analytical nature. The infectious energy and playful spirit of the Adventurer remind you to embrace the joys of creation, and to not be afraid to get your hands a little dirty in the process.” ✅
This is 55. When you stay young at heart, it shows. My husband has true love, peace, and happiness in his life, and for a man, that is everything. He loves his job, and his health has never been better. Most importantly, he knows how to play and not take life too seriously. I turn 55 myself next month, and try to follow his example as much as possible.
This is me the Summer of ’89 at 22 years old. I was lost and confused, but kept hearing people say, “college will be the best years of your life!” As I reached my late twenties, I heard how I was going to be “old” once I turned 30 – how ridiculous is that?!
By the time I reached 40, there was talk of being “middle aged”, and never in a flattering way. Luckily by then, I’d figured a few things out, like not caring about “they” and “them”. When I reached 50, I felt my best yet, even as people were welcoming me to the “over-the-hill” club.
It’s all just nonsense. I wouldn’t trade who I am now at 54 for myself at 22 for a million dollars. Because aging, if you let it, brings immeasurable wisdom, peace, confidence, and focus. I truly believe – life before 50 is simply research.
My husband Terry Clark just had his best sales year ever. He absolutely loves his job which draws on his natural talents and abilities. At 55 years old, he has definitely hit his stride. We are forever grateful to God for giving him this work opportunity 7 years ago, which brought him to Madison, WI where I was living at the time. We moved to Green Bay, WI 4 years ago so that he could help build an office and service area here.
“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde
This is one of my favorite quotes because it delivers a very important truth. If you want to live a peaceful, joyful, and powerful life, you must embrace your authentic self.
What is your authentic self, you ask? It is simply who you were created to be in this world.
The process of discovering your authentic self is not so simple. This is because most of us have been influenced by our families, schools, and communities since a very early age. As we grow up, there are pressures to fit in. We receive strong signals that it’s not okay to be ourselves.
So over the years, we become someone that makes others happy, while we ourselves feel empty and lost. We feel like we’re faking it all.
If you do decide to embark on a journey of self-discovery, know that it will take work. But as the saying goes, nothing worth having comes easy.
Once you discover your authentic self, you begin to see that what makes you unique in this world is where your value lies.