playing the hand you were dealt

“You can’t control the cards you’re dealt, just how you play the hand.”  Randy Pausch

It is Day 21 of the Health Activist Writer’s Challenge and I am deviating from the plan again. …. Not in the mood to write poetry today.  Instead I am offering a re-post of a book review I wrote last year. It is still pertinent and is a great reminder about accepting and living “what is.

My husband and I were in Door County, Wis last year.  We usually go there each Spring around our anniversary.  We wandered into a bookstore, as we often do and I picked up The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Randy is the Carnegie Mellon professor who died last year of pancreatic cancer.  His “last lecture” has been circulating the web since that time and before he died he wrote a book sharing his lessons learned.

I found the book, a quick read, to be very inspiring.  Today I watched the lecture that is available via the website and was reminded that indeed we can’t control the cards we are dealt, but we are always in charge of how we play them.  This book and its author, speak to me on so many levels as I face my own health challenges. In 2003 I was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis.  Currently there are no medications to treat the symptoms of this type of MS – only hope that by choosing wellness, one can slow its debilitating progression.    As Randy shared… that is the reality of it.

So, the question becomes, how do I play this hand? I haven’t a clue. I just know that most days I feel like I am riding a wave.  Some days I am on top, maneuvering my wakeboard with great skill… after all, I am an occupational therapist and I have been trained to assist other’s in adapting to being “differently abled.” (I prefer that term over “disabled”).  It is so much easier to tell others what to do than to personally live it.  On other days, like today, I feel as though I been washed ashore… beached.   Perhaps what makes the most sense is to allow myself to be carried back and forth, accepting where I am at each moment… acknowledging the high’s and the low’s.  Byron Katie calls this “loving what is” and invites me to consider that water doesn’t change when it becomes a wave.  In my mind, I get it…. my intention is to accept the reality of it and to recognize that I am more than the MS that is raising havoc in my body.

In the past, I have been reluctant to focus on what is happening to my physical body, not wanting to draw attention to it or solicit sympathy. I am re-thinking this strategy.  It is my intention to send a positive message of hope for others who are facing similar personal challenges.  I am not seeking pity… in fact, it makes me feel small and worthless.  Instead, I want others to know that I am more than…. and they are too!  It feels like the work of my soul. Stay tuned.

Shining the light, holding the flashlight….and riding the wave!

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