Posted by: sistermom1 | July 5, 2015

Our problems have a purpose

I have been doing more thinking and more reading about many things — the nature of life – and why we have the experiences we do have. Why do I have a loving marriage while many of my friends do not? Why do we have two children who are both safe and doing well in this environment where so many African American children are not? Why am I a member of SGI-USA while so many other people practice different religions? Why do I have MS?

According to my Buddhist practice, in the long-distant past, we each agreed to tackle the particular set of circumstances we have encountered in this lifetime in order to demonstrate the power of chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. I often joke that I must have been either sleeping or partying when the challenges were distributed and I was left to select from a limited list of options. My mentor, Daisaku Ikeda, often encourages us about handling difficulties. In one writing he shares, “Reality is harsh. It can be cruel and ugly. Yet no matter how much we grieve over our environment and circumstances nothing will change. What is important is not to be defeated, to forge ahead bravely. If we do this, a path will open before us.”

In a past blog entry, I shared my father’s advice about difficulties – “Defeat only occurs when you accept it as a reality and stop trying.” I am very fortunate to have both him and Daisaku Ikeda in my life to inspire me when things get tough. When I am in a good space, my experience of MS has kept me focused on moving forward, and working to encourage others. Lately, the input from my new functional medicine doctor continues to be positive, and my nutrition journey continues (3 months and counting!).

Recently I have had a major realization about my challenges/problems. Like a bolt of lightening, it occurred to me that my problems are the door through which I must walk to have the experiences/lessons that I need to learn/have in this life. My challenges DO have a purpose, and I am determined to face everything with hope-filled courage, and to remember that challenging MS (one of my problems in this lifetime!) is one way that I can encourage and inspire myself and others too.

Posted by: sistermom1 | June 29, 2015

The Book of Mormon

Last night, my husband, daughter and I went to the Kennedy Center for a show.  We all really enjoyed it – laughed a lot and enjoyed the amazingly  talented, diverse cast.  What made it fun for me (besides the hilarious production!) is how the Kennedy Center handled handicapped patrons.  The seating was incredible — orchestra seats in the middle of the row of very comfortable chairs that could easily be moved to accommodate my wheelchair.  We also saw “Wicked” in this theatre last year, and it was very comfortable then too.

Another stand-out was the attention of the usher in our section.  During intermission she approached us to see if we needed a bathroom.  I did, and it was conveniently located — a private, easily accessible family restroom that was separate from the larger public bathroom.  (A woman who was not obviously physically handicapped was using the bathroom, and we had to wait for her to leave — she apologized profusely when she exited….My daughter swallowed her response, but mentioned it later…)  The usher also was prepared to help guide us out at the end of the performance, which we did not need, but was much appreciated.

It was a wonderful experience.  It was great having the caring attention of an experienced usher.  We thoroughly enjoyed the show — and I felt very welcome and comfortable, which is unusual for me. Thanks to the Kennedy Center for their thoughtfulness and for being such a welcoming place.  My experience as a differently-abled patron was one of the best I have had in 10 years of being in a wheelchair.  Riding through town with my family reminded me of what I used to do BW (Before Wheelchair), and was very enjoyable.  After having such a great experience, I started researching ways to get back in town to see the monuments and the museums. It has been awhile, and I have realized how limited my activities have become.

Keep you posted!!!!

Posted by: sistermom1 | June 19, 2015

Feeling Handicapped

There was a terrible act of terrorism yesterday at a church in Charleston, SC.  My heart is heavy and my soul is deeply aching for the 9 people who were killed, their families, and even for the suffering man who pulled the trigger, whose life has been changed forever.  Some would say that at least he is still living and breathing – something that his act denied to 9 other people.

What can any of us do now?  How to create value from such a crazy, hateful, ignorant act?  How to not allow myself to be filled with hatred for this young man, for his father who bought him a gun for his birthday, for the people leading the meetings he participated in that portrayed African Americans as a threat — even for those who would rather make this an issue of mental health rather than the terrorist act that I believe it is.

I am praying for everyone involved in this — for their peace and happiness, and for them to fulfill their missions in this life and the next.  When I think about what has happened, I truly feel the definition of “handicapped”.  I feel powerless and weak in the face of this horrible act, and really don’t know what to do, but I am determined to help bring us through this to another way of being — a way that respects difference, values all lives, and encourages dialogue — even from my wheelchair….

Posted by: sistermom1 | June 14, 2015

Our children continue to be exquisite beings

Not because of what they have accomplished in their lives (they have done so much already and there is more to come!) but because of who they are.  It is a great realization for me as we go through this life together.  This weekend has been a bit stressful – Our daughter mistakenly ate something with nuts in it and had a major allergic reaction.  She and my husband rushed to the hospital where they spent about 9 hours getting her treatment.  At the same time, I got  a call from my brother that my 86-year young mother had fallen in the mall, took herself to the doctor (after purchasing her shoes !) and has been diagnosed with a fractured wrist.

Not being able to get there to be with either of them is a constant in my life. I am learning the immense power of prayer to surround those I care about with loving energy – especially when I can be there to do it in person. That however is not what this post is about!

After all of this news, our college sophomore son made it home after kayaking with a group of friends (which I am glad I didn’t know about while he was doing it! Otherwise I would have been beside myself with worry — these dramatic events tend to come in threes!) I told him what was happening — His eyes got so wide that I almost couldn’t see the rest of his face.  The total empathy and concern that he showed for both of them truly amazed me.

I heard him later talking to a friend about what happened to his Grandmother, and he laughingly shared how tough his grandmother and his sister are, how they both were doing and about how concerned he is about both of them.  He also talked mentioned how calm I was during the whole thing (he didn’t see me being emotional, chanting and crying before he got home!)

I woke up this morning to see that my daughter is happy, smiling and feeling much better. She is very tough, and is focused on resting today and doing what she needs to do as we move forward (taking time to read ingredient labels, if something looks suspicious, just don’t eat it regardless of what your friends recommend, keep an epipen on you at all times…). My mother is good – has an appointment for a hard cast tomorrow, and is already trying to manage our next steps with Lindsey (no matter how old I get, and even in a wheelchair, my mother really believes that she is in charge…) As for our son, his first words when he came downstairs were “How are Gummie and Lindsey doing?” Of course once he got the answer, he became completely self-involved….

And as for that thing about happening in threes?….well a friend had something dramatic happen in her family tonight — sending her prayers of love and support, while appreciating that our drama was not more severe….

Posted by: sistermom1 | June 4, 2015

10 Years and Still Moving Forward…

For the first time since I was diagnosed with MS, I left a doctor’s office with a hopeful attitude.  This is a functional medicine doctor (yes, he has a M.D.!) who has recently joined my healthcare team.  His approach looks beyond my diagnosis of MS, and examines what else is going on in my body.  For the last 3 months I have had everything analyzed – my poop, saliva, blood and urine.  All of the testing has revealed a lot about what’s going on in my body in addition to the MS.  I have a major yeast problem and my digestive system is really affecting how my internal systems interact.  I have to clean it out, which means an entirely new eating program. I did go gluten-free 2 months ago in an effort to clear out my digestive tract, but I have to go further….which to be honest is freaking me out.  No fruit of any kind except berries — along with no bread, pasta, rice, beans, or sugar.  Also lots of vitamins, and essential oils.  This is because yeast loves these things and thrives and grows on them.  Since our goal is to kill the yeast, which negatively affects the rest of my body, that is what I can’t consume.  So what’s left to eat?  I can have many vegetables, and many nuts (except peanuts and cashews), and lots of water.

So why am I encouraged?  Because at the end of our appointment, the doctor looked at me and said, “We are going to get you out of that wheelchair.  Do this for 6 months and we will at least get you on a walker!”  This was the first time in the last 10 years that a medical professional has ever painted such a positive and hopeful picture for me.

I am still learning what I can eat, and will keep you posted as we go along — any advice is much appreciated!!!!!

So here’s to a new leg of the detour….

Posted by: sistermom1 | March 15, 2015

My Book is Coming!!!!

I am excited to share that my new book is slated to be released this Spring!  Title: Diva on a Detour: Ten Years Along my Journey Through Marriage, Motherhood and MS.  I will keep you posted!!!!!

Posted by: sistermom1 | February 24, 2015

It’s Been Awhile…

I have not been blogging for some time, and I have really missed it.  I completed a book project and have submitted it to Balboa Press for publishing!  The title is “Diva on a Detour: Ten Years along my Journey through Marriage, Motherhood and MS”, and I am feeling quite proud of it!  More details to come, and now I begin the next 10 years of this journey (not a detour!) — Blogging begins again!

Posted by: sistermom1 | March 23, 2014

MS — by my Numbers…

This month marks the 9th anniversary of my MS diagnosis. How to commemorate this auspicious, life-changing event – and is the word “anniversary” even appropriate?

First number – I am now 57 years old – an age that I always felt I would reach and go beyond. Getting here with a full life and an open heart is more of an accomplishment than I ever considered, as there are several friends and colleagues (Older and younger) who are no longer on this plain with me. I miss them and take a moment now to thank them for coming into my life for even a brief moment to teach me so many lessons.

So what are some of my other important numbers?

19 – the years I have been married
17 – the years I have been a mother
30 – the years I have been a SGI member (www.sgi-usa.org)
8 – months until travel to FNCC (a spiritual spa in Florida)
5 – the years I have been blogging
2 – the months before I will complete my book for publishing!

With so many numbers running through my mind, I have been examining my own life and relationships. One big realization that is overarching everything else:

Our problems do have a purpose — they are the door through which we must walk to have the experiences/lessons we need to learn in this life. Here’s some of what’s happening right now.

– With weekly in-home nursing and disciplined exercise, my physical improvements continue – and have been slow but steady.
– Our family continues to move forward towards their own goals/accomplishments – Our son was accepted into his first choice college! Our daughter continues to enjoy her freshman year in high school, my husband continues to work at a major new assignment, which is challenging and exciting for him.
– I have a stronger relationship with each of my docs – thanks to my exposure to and learning from Mind over Medicine by Lissa Rankin
– I have come to appreciate this journey to stillness and what my MS experience has opened in my life. This has exposed me to much that has quieted my mind and helped me live more whole heartedly, like any book by Brene Brown, Martha Beck, Cheryl Richardson or Louise Hay. In addition to regularly chanting and studying Buddhist writings, I began a daily meditation practice, and started tapping, which has helped me disconnect from the limiting beliefs that have been running rampant in my life.
– Through applying much of my reading, I have become more mindful of what I am doing, how I am feeling, and as a result the effect that I am having in the world — regardless of my wheelchair. I find myself being open, confident and less judgmental of others as I progress along my pathway — not limited by anyone else’s idea about who and what I am supposed to be.

These are some of the numbers that come to mind. Happy Anniversary to me — and to my entire family. As we move forward, I start 2014 with my goal of walking again intact, but I am not waiting for that to accomplish the other goals I have set for myself. I remain determined, energized and ready to face this year!

Posted by: sistermom1 | February 19, 2014

Ten Things I Learned During the College Application Process

Our son is a high school senior who just completed the college application process. Our daughter is a freshman in high school, so we will apply this learning again soon. In this blog entry, I share some of what we learned about maintaining our perspective and sanity while helping our oldest child apply to college. I have come up with 10 simple rules (there are a few more, but I narrowed it down to 10!) that were very helpful to me and my family during the process. (By the way, our son was accepted into several colleges, including his first choice!)

1. You start when you start – There is never a “right” time – some start when the kids are infants, others begin in middle school. Bottom line, at the very least, it is important to begin thinking/planning for the college application process once your child is a freshman in high school.

2. Breathe – Not those short, nervous breaths, but those deep wonderful breaths that the body really savors. According to the website http://www.onepowerfulword.com, there are at least 18 benefits of deep, purposeful breathing, including relieving tension, and relaxing the mind and body. Both of these will definitely come in handy throughout this process.

3. Remember the child in front of you. You are looking for the best place for your child — not the child you would like to have or wish you had. Not the child that will accomplish what you were unable to do for whatever reason. This has nothing to do with you/your legacy, wherever you did or did not attend college, or whether the school is considered acceptable by others in your social/family/peer group. YOU ARE LOOKING FOR THE BEST COLLEGE FOR YOUR CHILD! Besides the standard college directories, I read 2 great books by Loren Pope: Colleges that Change Lives, and Looking Beyond the Ivy League.

4. Gear up — competitive parenting is a full-contact sport. Especially where I live, you will be subject to lots of people sharing their opinions (well-informed or not!) about what you are doing, (whether you want to hear it or not!) and how it compares to what they did/are doing, or think you should be doing. When they do…

5. Remember #2

6. This is so not about you (except you will probably have to pay for it!) This is your child’s experience. Keep that firmly in your mind. Your child needs to write the essays, not a consultant. According to several college admissions directors, the committee can tell when the applicant has not written the essay themselves. Your child needs to manage the deadlines (with your help whenever needed!), and the relationships with the people who will write their recommendations, not you.

Also – your child may be eligible for many scholarships/grants. College is expensive, and whatever help you can get will be invaluable. Please complete the FAFSA, regardless of your financial income. It will make it easier once your child is accepted into a college. You never know where the support will come from, and completing the FAFSA really helps. In fact, many of the private resources for funding require that you complete the FAFSA form to be eligible for consideration. Please don’t overwhelm you child with extra essays – it is not worth it – to you or them.

7. Realize that you don’t know anything about the world that they will need to navigate/be successful in…Fifteen years ago, had you ever heard of blogging? Cybersecurity? Website design? Life coaching? None of these legitimate careers existed 15 years ago. Even if you are determined that your child is heading in a very specific direction (doctor, lawyer, accountant, scientist…), please breathe deeply and release it to the universe. Your child may find something else that really inspires them in college – maybe in a completely different direction than you expect, and that should really be ok…

8. The basics are still important and need to be addressed. It is really important to come to grips with the application schedule. Encourage your child to apply early if you can, (not necessarily early decision, but early application – there is a difference!) Be ready to help your child successfully manage deadlines, because there is no wiggle room. Not just for the applications, but for the supporting transcript requests from the school.

Consider this – If you are writing your child’s essay, will you write your child’s homework for the next four years? What is this teaching your child about your opinion of his/her writing skills? About honesty? When they do write their essays, encourage them to be honest – do not add extra activities to “look good” that they really do not do.

Being polite/appreciative of whatever help you receive from teachers and/or family members along the way is a huge part of this, as well as communicating well in writing and via email. In addition to this point, please consider and…

9. Remember #3


10. This too shall pass. Remember when your child was learning to walk? How about toilet training? Hopefully, your high school senior is able to walk and use the bathroom correctly without your help. How did you get here? Patience, other helpful people, an open mind combined to get them and you through it. They were successful then, and so will you be now!

Posted by: sistermom1 | January 27, 2014

The Death of the Big Envelope

OK – Do you remember completing all of those college applications? Printing out the forms, writing those essays (typing them and maybe even making copies on a Xerox machine!) Getting them mailed on time, and waiting with fingers crossed for the decisions? Forty years ago (yes, 40!) I remember watching the mailbox for college decisions and hoping to receive several large envelopes in the mail. The large envelope meant “Congratulations, you have been accepted.” A regular business-size envelope meant “Thanks for your application, but no”.

Having recently completed the college applications process with my son, I had a rude awakening today. Although he has already received 2 large envelopes (yay!! and whew!), there are a few decisions we are waiting to hear. Here is my rude awakening — many of the institutions will not use regular mail, but will let him know their admission decision via email.

I was indignant: “VIA EMAIL? What about the envelopes? So you mean he’s going to have to log into your website and click on the information he uploaded a month ago, and see a screen that delivers your decision? How impersonal! How awful! What about a letter? After all of his work, THIS is how he is going to find out? Oh my God!…” My sister-in-law, who is a college admissions director, looked at me sympathetically and said “Yes, he would be lucky to get a letter — we just don’t do it that way anymore..”

Now, my son has no problem with this. As a young adult, most of his world communicates in this way. Even in high schools, turning in written work is dramatically different than my “old-school” experience. (Have you heard of turnitin.com?) The lack of connection notwithstanding, my son absolutely does not mind that this is the way that many institutions operate, and he is anticipating the deadline to check his email for the upcoming decisions with no attitude at all. I am beginning to think this may be yet another issue of my ego, but more on THAT at another time….

As I continue considering this state of things, I received an email that really helped me understand what my approach should be at this point. None of this is about me — this is definitely our son’s journey, and my role is to support him positively, personally and emotionally (financially!?). For me to do that well, I have really been forced to let go of my experience and expectations based on the way things used to be, and what I think. The universe responded to my discomfort, and I received an email with the following information that I desperately needed to remember:

If we look at life with the eyes of Faith, we can see that we are protected, guarded and guided to better and better outcomes. It takes seeing life this way to be able to ride this wave. We have to be willing to look at death, letting go, heartbreak and chaos with the eyes of celebration, for all these things are a part of the dance of creation that keeps Life moving.


I am committed to riding the wave, enjoying this process, and helping my son move through it smoothly and with his soul intact. Wish us luck, and I will keep you posted….

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