Wake up full of hope

You can do many things if you would stop the negative self-talk and start. You could make videos, buy a boat and sail around the world or write a best-selling novel. Whatever it is, you have to start. It is all about the journey through life. 

Well, they say to wake up with a smile and a positive attitude, and I agree that would probably be an excellent way to start your day. But for me, it was not as easy as I thought. I am a planner, and when I wake up, I have negative things on my mind. For example, this morning, I woke up with my legs hurting, I had trouble walking, the alarm on my ventilator was going off, I had difficulty breathing, and I thought about the biopsy scheduled. It is kind of hard to be optimistic with all this going on. But I kept thinking about the cause of my pessimistic worldview. I determined that I seem to be dwelling on the past, what is it that I forgot to do, and what is it that I should have done. Then I dwell on all that I have to do today. But the more I thought about this, the more I realized that the first step is simply acceptance. Figure out how to accept what my world is like. I have muscular dystrophy, which is causing leg pain and breathing issues. This is progressing. I already know that. But have I accepted that? I can’t change it, so I may as well accept it. It seems like a small step that changes your point of view when you wake up and your legs hurt. The biopsy is in the future.  What if I woke up thinking that something wonderful will happen?  

To accept, I must have some idea of what’s going on. Well, I have that since I’ve got specialists focused on me all saying the same thing, so I know what’s going on. If I can get to acceptance, I can eliminate many questions. For example, it doesn’t make sense to wake up and say I have no idea what is happening. I may not like it, but I know what is going on. Acceptance removes a whole bunch of wasted time and stuff like that, but you got to get there. I got there with the help of a therapist for about a year, which was good. I had a partner that supported me. That was good, and I learned mindfulness meditation.

This may be a confusing thought, but acceptance does not define all that you are. I am not just a person with muscular dystrophy.  In the support groups I have been part of, I met many people focused on their illnesses.  That is easy to do because it is always in your face.  But if that is all you are, your life quickly becomes focused on the negative. I believe you can accept what is and still believe that you are so much more. Who I am changed over time, and this is who I am today.

I am an 80-year-old man who has overcome more than most. I have had triple bypass heart surgery, knee replacement, and spine surgery. I am one lucky dude.  I met and formed a relationship that completes me. I have a family that cares about me. I like the sea, boating, and nature. I have my challenges trying to walk without falling, I am overweight, and I have this head drop going on. I still have a life better than many. We are all connected.

What about being focused on potential future problems that never happen? What if I run out of money, the biopsy was no fun, or the car won’t start?  None of these has happened yet. I am all for being prepared, but what if this will be a great day?

Most people don’t go through this until they have a significant event in their life. Of course, mine was the diagnosis of muscular dystrophy. The interesting point is that I had triple heart bypass surgery, which didn’t cause this shift to happen. It made me focus on life and slow down a little, but it didn’t have what they call an awakening effect. Muscular dystrophy is slow-moving and is in your face every day, and I think that’s why it became my major event. So, my awakening, as they call it, was not overnight. It was about four years of meditating, therapy, going to doctors, and getting second and third opinions. So now I’m kind of at acceptance. What’s the next step? The next step, in my view, is embracing life. What the heck does that mean? To me, embracing life involves figuring out what you want to do or why you’re here. However you want to express that.

Embracing life is not as easy as it may seem like anything else. First of all, it involves a change in most cases. Definitely, in my case, it requires change. The way I see it, I have a couple of ways I can go. I could wake up in the morning and be miserable and don’t know what to do. The next option is I am unhappy, but I’m afraid to make a change. In the third option, I’m not sure I’m doing what I want to do, so I will make a change.

I’ve always wanted to write, which I never did because I told myself I couldn’t write. While, of course, that’s not true. I could write, maybe not good. So I joined a group of new writers, and no big surprise, their number one item was to start writing. It does not make a difference whether it’s good or bad or anything else; start writing something. Once you start writing, you gradually improve. So my first writing was not so great, but I learned, and I redid it. It took me a few tries to get to the point where I was willing to show anybody what I wrote. What was the big problem? I was afraid of the feedback I might get. So I didn’t write publicly because I was worried people would read what I wrote, but the purpose of my writing was for people to read what I wrote. It took a while to get enough confidence to write my first blog. All that happened about a year ago: then I started getting better because I was getting feedback and I was noticing my own mistakes. Things went from there. So, the advice of the day is to do something. To make any difference, you have to start.