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.
Making Sense of My MS
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
Grief and Loss
There is nothing harder than losing a loved one. Only God can give you the strength, peace, and comfort necessary to handle the unbearable sadness and suffering you feel. I experienced this myself 11 years ago when I sat next to my dad’s hospice bed in his final days at home. In just 3 weeks time, my dad was hospitalized, diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer (as a nonsmoker), brought home with hospice care, and then passed away. It was a complete shock to me and my family. As my mom said at the time, it was a nightmare.
My dad and I were alone in his room on this Saturday, June 11th when he said to me, “I am ready to go, Lisa.” He passed away 4 days later on June 15, 2011. By that time, I had learned to cling to God. Not lean on, cling. And in the month that followed, my Faith was renewed, as I experienced incredible strength, peace, and comfort despite incredible pain. All By The Grace Of God 🙏🏻
Always Speak Your Truth
No More Playing Dumb
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.
A Prayer on My Birthday
Dear God, Thank You so much for guiding, supporting, protecting, and loving me for another year. I couldn’t do Life without You.
Thank You so much for my wonderful husband Terry, who sang to me moments after waking, and my dear 88 year old mother Ulla, who called and sang me a Swedish birthday song. My heart is so full.
In the midst of my blessings, God, I think about all those suffering in the world right now. I pray that You give strength, support, and healing to all those in need. AMEN.
💜 My Daily Bible Reading: Psalms 23:1-6 💜
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”
“He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.”
“He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.”
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”
“You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.”
“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” AMEN.
Laughter is the Best Medicine
Whenever I’m having a difficult day, he goes out of his way to be silly and make me feel better.
I captured one of these moments last fall. On this particular day, I was feeling very scared about an upcoming doctor’s appointment. He threw on his silly hat, dropped to the ground to play with my feet, and started singing the Rocky Theme Song.
And it worked. I felt instantly better.
Humor is so important in a marriage. You never know what life is going to throw at you, and being able to laugh together, even during the serious moments, is a beautiful thing.
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.” ✅
“You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.“
It was 5 years ago that I started having a strange numbness in my left arm and hand. I had just started swimming laps at my gym, and I knew something was really wrong. By the first week of August, I couldn’t do anything with that arm and hand. After multiple doctor visits, blood tests, X-rays, and MRIs, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis on August 26th. It was the biggest shock of my life.
Looking back now, I realize that I started having MS symptoms in college, such as vertigo, fatigue, and depression. But I didn’t know it was MS at the time. It took paralysis of my arm and hand in 2016 to get my attention and into an MRI machine that showed lesions in my brain and spine. Thankfully, by the Grace of God, function has returned to my arm and hand, and I have been stable on medication since that time.
But I never know what tomorrow brings. And that is where the strength comes in. It is terrifying having Multiple Sclerosis. So I lean on God for all my strength, joy, hope, and peace. And because of that, I THRIVE. This photo is me at 17 years old when I was vacationing in Pompano Beach, Florida in 1984. For me it captures the determination I feel to face all the challenges in my life going forward.
“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.
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