Finding Daily Joy: Thanks to Steve Harvey

Mom isn’t driving anymore because of her MS and consequently spends most of her weekdays at home. I think I have a tendency to overlook how limiting that would be or how much it could mess with your attitude or outlook on life. I also haven’t given much thought to how it may be a struggle for Mom to find happiness or joy in her daily life.

While I was home for a week over Christmas, I got to take part in one of Mom’s days at home and discovered she finds the joy in her daily life and she finds it in unexpected places. Sister K, Mom and I were sitting around the kitchen table working on Christmas cards when Mom started to get excited because it was time for the Steve Harvey Show. Seeing Mom excited made me excited and I thought I would humor her and watch. But something funny happened. I discovered something I didn’t expect- the Steve Harvey Show is really funny. I ended up loving it! The show is so much more than just a standard afternoon talk show. Steve Harvey is the host of a show geared towards issues and topics women face both good and bad…but no matter what the topic or advice is, he never makes them feel bad about themselves. More importantly though he offers advice in a comical yet very real way that gets to the heart of the issue. Then along the way he has these crazy moments (see below) where he is exercising on elevated shoes that are like walking on rubber hands..and as I sat there and watched this with Mom, we were laughing hysterically. Hysterically.

Steve Harvey 12.27.12

Steve Harvey 12.27.12

After the show was over, it made me thankful for silly moments like this and silly moments on a TV show like Steve Harvey. It honestly made me thankful for Steve Harvey. Thanks to him I know Mom finds a little bit of laughter everyday mixed in with a little bit of reality. His show lets her escape for an hour everyday from the pain and frustration of her MS and puts a smile on her face. At the end of the day, you have to laugh at life, and I have to laugh at the fact that Mom and I spent one Christmas afternoon bonding over Steve Harvey and his rubber band shoes. No talk of MS for miles. Just laughter. I learned a good lesson from Mom that you can really find joy anywhere if you look hard enough no matter what cards you have been dealt. She just happened to find it from Steve Harvey.

How do you find the joy in your daily life? Do you watch any TV shows that bring humor to your life? Have you ever thought about good or bad, how much TV can impact your world and your mood? Have you ever watched the Steve Harvey Show?

The Importance of Good MOMents

It’s a big day so it deserves a big post- Sister K officially has a boyfriend! I realize some of you may think this is funny or not that eventful but in my silly family of girls, things like this are a big deal. It’s also a big deal because I actually like this guy….as opposed to Sister K’s other “ghosts of boyfriends past” who I was not the biggest fan. Husband told me last night that he thinks it’s funny guys worry about meeting the Dad because in my family they should really be more worried about meeting me. Probably not my greatest quality…ha.

But today at lunch Sister K called me and we three-way called Mom. As I walked around on my lunch break we were listening to Sister K’s story, full of excitement, telling us about her new boyfriend, how much she likes him- lots of gushing and lots of happiness. I sat down on a bench and was listening to both of them in my ear, my best friends…and I listened as we all tried to take turns chiming in and catching up. I looked out at a tree and felt the crispness of the winter day and for a moment I wanted to freeze time. I wanted to freeze it because this moment- this is my life. It was a moment where we weren’t discussing MS. Mom’s MS hadn’t affected her mood. She was joyful and happy- allowing herself to be absorbed and wrapped up in her youngest daughter’s story. I could feel the love we have for each other while I sat on that phone. I realized that is what makes us so strong and our bond so unbreakable in the really tough moments. It’s these moments of pure bliss that build us up so we are able to fight hard in the tough moments. And as I have been trying hard to do lately, I paused for a moment and allowed myself to embrace and cherish this moment. It was a good one.

Have you ever thought about the importance of the good moments in life to form the bonds that help us get through the tough ones? When was the last time you wanted to freeze time? Does your family make a big deal about silly things? What do you think of the phrase “MOMents”?

The One Person Who Understands

If you have been reading my blog the past couple of months you may have noticed I am slightly obsessed with Dancing with the Stars. Last night was the finale and I was so excited when they announced Melissa and Tony had won the mirror ball trophy. I really liked all of the remaining couples but after 14 seasons Tony had never won it once and I felt like he really deserved it! Beside the point…back to my blog post…

After the show ended I was so excited. My sister happened to call and I was telling her what happened. She was laughing at me and saying that’s great sis, now moving on..she doesn’t share in my love for the show. I got off the phone and just stood there. Husband wasn’t home yet and I was all alone in my excitement. I needed someone to share it with and I had this overwhelming urge- I need to call Mom. I know Mom will understand. I know Mom is just as excited as I am. So I called home and we yelled and shrieked over the phone together. We talked about the final dances… what we thought was going to happen… she didn’t realize Tony had never won… she also liked Shawn and Derek but was happy for Melissa and Tony…we went on and on… you would think we were personally involved. In many ways we felt like we were.

In those moments though and on that phone call Mom was just Mom. She was my Mom. We were laughing together and bonding over something that only we both love. Dancing with the Stars was our show all season. It’s these moments that I cherish right now. The moments where I have this overwhelming urge that “I have to call Mom.” The moments where I know she is the only person in the world who will react, respond or understand what I have to say. The moments where I am reminded of Mom for who she is without MS.

So last night I was very thankful. Thankful for a TV show that gave me back Mom for a moment and reminded me of why I do continue on in my fight against Mom’s MS. Because in the dark moments whether she knows it or not, I am fighting for her. Fighting for the Mom who sits on the phone with me yelling about Dancing with the Stars finale results…fighting for the Mom who many times is truly the one person in the world I know will understand my emotions.

Do you have someone in your life you call to share in silly moments of excitement? Is there a reality TV show you are hooked on and feel personally invested in the results? Do you think it’s possible that in the midst of this dark week I found a bright spot to cherish with my Mom? If you watched Dancing With the Stars, what did you think of the results?

Welcome to the 60s

Alright I am back. Not that I every left, but over the past month I’ve had a lot going on that had nothing to do with Mom’s MS. In a way Mom having MS took a backseat to everything else going on in my life. Maybe that is good from time to time. Maybe it is necessary to help me to keep things in perspective and continue to live my life. But things are resolved, I am feeling back to normal (after you read this post you may change your opinion of that comment..ha), and I am ready to share my words regularly once again.

Oct. 25 was Mom’s 60th Birthday. I posted about our plans for her birthday here. What I didn’t post about was the performance that Sister K and I conducted for her when we got home after her family birthday dinner. We ran upstairs in our house and raided our childhood bedrooms trying to find and piece together old dance recital costumes that may somewhat fit in one way or another. We were going for poodle skirts. We only found one poodle skirt and sequin jacket. Sister K took that outfit. Just as we felt we were about to fail at our mission we discovered the ultimate in past costumes:

My California Raisin Halloween costume circa 1992

Let’s just say it was amazing. Sister K and I put on the song “Welcome to the 60s” from the musical turned movie Hairspray and began just randomly dancing and serenading Mom in the kitchen. The dogs were barking at me the entire time. Mom and Grandpa sat at the kitchen table watching. Dad on a bar stool wondering where exactly he went wrong with raising us and Husband rolled his eyes continuously because nothing surprises him anymore.

But the point of all this- the costumes, the music, the dancing- this is how we survive. This is how we cope with MS. We remember to not take life seriously. We realize the importance of laughter. And we have no shame and will do whatever is necessary to bring a laugh and a smile to our family, especially Mom. We will do whatever we can to distract our family from the dark place we can easily find ourselves in because of MS.

Have you ever done something silly to get a laugh out of an otherwise tough situation? Do you think it’s important to not take life too seriously sometimes as a way to cope? Were you a fan of the California Raisins? Did you hear that I got an iPhone Friday night? Lots of tweets and more pictures to come now that I have officially entered the real world. Be on the lookout.

Best Friend Uniform

I love the color purple. It is and always has been my favorite color. I remember when I got engaged one of my friend’s responded and said “time to order my purple party dress.” Yes, I had purple bridesmaid dresses. The specific color was plum. My wedding colors were plum and sage…also known as purple and green. Mom wouldn’t let me say purple and green and it reminded me of the famous scene from Steel Magnolias when Shelby says her colors are “blush and bashful” and M’Lynn responds by saying “her colors are pink and pink.”

Sister K’s favorite color actually is pink. And this has played a big role in our entire lives. Easter egg hunting- my eggs were always purple and Sister K’s were always pink. Picking out tops- Sister K would get pink and I would get purple. Birthday gift wrapping- Sister K’s was pink and mine was purple. You get the picture. And today Sister K and I have decided to embrace the silliness involved with each having a favorite color and try to wear similar outfits for certain occasions in these colors. We call it our best friend uniform. And the fact that bright colors have been so trendy has assisted us in this. Purple shorts/pink shorts, purple pants/pink pants, purple purses/pink purses. It is silly but it is fun for us.

It also brings a little bit of laughter to some otherwise tense situations. We may be struggling to get Mom in and our of the car but we are wearing our purple and pink shorts which lightens the mood or takes the attention off Mom. Our “best friend uniforms.” Outfits and colors Mom associated with each of us and continues to associate with us everyday. The best part of them is it is something Mom began when we were little kids and now we enjoy embracing it to bring back a sense of being Mom’s little girls once again. It’s a mother/daughter thing at its simplest.

Do you have a favorite color? Are you ever drawn to certain colors over others? Did your parents use your favorite colors throughout your childhood? Did you ever wear matching outfits with your siblings?

Let Me Tell You Something About Me…

My friend Jackie at Swerving for Butterflies who I have met in this blogging world “leap frogged me” meaning what I do not know exactly. I do know she gave me this list of questions to answer and it seems like fun to let you know a little more about me. Curious based on what you have read, if you would have predicted any of these responses…

1. What song do you never tire of hearing?
That would be “Dancing Queen” by Abba. Dad and I used it as our father/daughter dance at my wedding and it was one of the greatest moments of my life. People thought we had rehearsed a performance but we just did it on the fly.

2. What things give you the chills?
It seems everything does. I am cold natured and always carrying a cardigan around. Sister K and Husband on the other hand are naturally hot natured and freezing me with the a/c in the car.

3. What event in your life has shaped you the most as a person?
Going to college. I never realized who I was capable ot becoming socially or the caliber of friends I was capable of attaining until I went to college. Middle school and high school were tough. College in a way redefined me and redefined the confidence I had in myself. Of course it also provided a great education for myself, but the impact it had on me as a person is my big take away. (It is also where I met Husband so I guess it wasn’t too bad for that reason either.)

4. What worries you the most on a day to day basis?
Definitely Mom. I worry about her MS and the future. It has given my life a big unknown that I wrestle with on a daily basis.

5. Can you keep secrets? Why or why not?
Yes and no. But if it’s serious, always yes.

6. What do you wish you could change most about yourself? (personality)
I wish I could be more “go with the flow” like Sister K. I admire that a lot in her. My ability to be a planner and have some sort of control sometimes gets the best of me. I blame being the older sister on that quality.

7. What quality do you most admire about yourself?
My loyalty. I am insanely loyal to my friends and family. I think that is why when people “hurt me” I have difficulty getting over it or blowing it off. I would never act in certain ways like that to the people I love so I don’t understand why people do it to me.

8. When you were a child, what did you wish to be when you grew up?
First I wanted to be a pediatrician. Then I wanted to be a news reporter.

9.  Do you ever get road rage?
No I am very much a rule follower on the road. I follow speed limits and drive slow. This drives Husband crazy.

10.  If you could write a book knowing the whole world would read it, what kind would it be?
Thinking of writing one someday based on this blog. It is a secret dream of mine. We’ll see if it ever becomes a reality. Not sure how I would even go about doing it, where I would begin, who would read it, what I would write but it’s sitting there in the back of my mind waiting it’s turn.

11.  If you could filter the news you see and read, what would you want to exclude?
I am a big news fan so hard to think of eliminating it. I really do think it all has a place in our lives. But, I could really care less about sports. I don’t understand them nor do I really want to understand them. This pains Husband greatly since he loves his ESPN Sportscenter and fantasy football league. I guess yet again opposites attract.

Instead of tagging people of other blogs in this post I’d invite anyone who reads this to pick a question and answer it or answer all of them if you want. I’d love to read your responses and hope you have as much fun answering them as I did. Gives me a chance to get to know you better too. Thanks Jackie!

This is Us

6.16.12 This is a visual into Father’s Day. A day of relaxing and fun and enjoying our time together at home. In a way this is a visual of how we live with MS.

Mom sitting on the patio chatting with Sister K. Next to her you can see our spoiled dachsund Lucy floating on a raft as Dad swims by.

Dad, Papa and Me devising a dinner strategy. Dad pouring drinks, Papa grilling and Me bringing out our not so homemade side dishes. 

Here is a glimpse into my family. A glimpse into our spirit. A glimpse into where it comes from and the energy it gives us. Energy that keeps us laughing and keeps things fun. Our high maintence dachsund who enjoys floating on a raft. My blue mumu dress seen on me above. Dresses that Sister K and I have recently started wearing when we are hanging out at home. They add a festive element to whatever we may be doing regardless of it being Father’s Day. Mom’s mailbox- the name I have given the basket attached to Mom’s new walker “Walkie” because it carries things around for her. 

These things may seem dumb. They may not even be funny to anyone else but they symbolize the heart of my family. They are silly but important moments that keep us laughing and prevent us from taking life too seriously at times. Because at times the topic of MS is serious. It is so serious it can become overwhelming. It can bring us down. Instead we use these small things to keep us laughing, keep things light and keep our energy up. That walker in the picture above, a walker I was nervous about entering our family at one time- it may seem odd to say this but it is right at home in the middle of our family. Something we accept and look past with a smile. But I am proud because to me these pictures show we are still the same family regardless of MS- craziness and all.

Does your family do silly things to keep the energy positive? How have you adapted to changes in lifestyle because of MS? Do your dogs float on rafts?

Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da

I like music but I don’t consider myself a connoisseur. In fact at many different parts of my life people have made fun of me for having the worst taste in music. It’s fine. I like my pop music, my oldies, my disco loving jams. I often think I should’ve been born in a different era.

Right now though I’ve been sitting here this afternoon with The Beatles in my head. Specifically the silly song Obladi Oblada because that is how I feel today. That is how I feel about life right now.

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, brah!
Lala how the life goes on
Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, brah!
Lala how the life goes on.

It’s comforting and nonsensical. It’s uplifting and silly. Life is going to go on. No matter what happens, no matter what you go through, life is going to go on. I don’t know how it will work or what will happen but life will go on. So today in the background of my mind as I sit here wondering about life today I’ve got The Beatles in my head and a silly phrase ob-la-di, ob-la-da.

Do you ever get songs stuck in your head that might in some weird way relate to your life? Do you like this silly song? Did you see it performed at the Queen’s Jubilee Concert last week?

Keepin’ It Light and Fluffy

I love The Office. Husband and I are about 2 seasons behind. Our Office viewing goes something like this: we buy a season, we hole ourselves up at home to watch it on the weekends becoming somewhat addicted, we proceed to talk about it regularly as if these characters are our friends during this period and then we finish the season depressed until a new one comes out on dvd. We never watch it live. We then give the seasons to Mom and Dad who then catch up as well.  We are actually more behind than we used to be due to the mere fact of life. I plan to work on catching everyone up. As if this is a major life impacting goal to add to my to do list:
Catch everyone up on The Office: Check.

But it does make me think of the importance of tv shows and movies in brightening up my life sometimes. It is fun to sit around and quote movies at dinner or scenes from television shows we all love. It is like a big inside family joke. It gets everyone laughing. Instantly everyone’s head is transported to another time. They are with that character in their environment. Their head is filled with laughter thinking of it. Thus my head is filled with laughter and before I know it I am smiling and happy. As if happiness pulled a sneak attack on me.

It’s important to keep things light and fluffly sometimes. Conversations full of more laughter than content. Full of more television character quotes than news related stories. You know the moments where there isn’t much to say. The moments where looming in the background are the big overarching issues you are tired of talking about. In our case it is Mom’s MS. In these moments I have literally felt the tension lifted by just quoting a line from Wedding Crashers or a silly saying from Parent Trap. Stupid quotes are the bread and butter of my family. They bring the laughter which brings the smiles which brings the happiness. As insane as it may sound, these moments keep us sane.

Do you believe in fluffy conversation? Does your family enjoy quoting any particular tv shows or movies?  Does anyone love The Office dundies episodes as much as I do?        

We’re Gonna Dance

This past Saturday provided a small but much needed “life break.” We had a wedding to attend for D, the daughter of one of Mom’s college friends. Mom’s college friends are her best friends and these get togethers are always ridiculous and full of laughter. They all have kids around the same age so needless to say there have been a lot of weddings the past few years between everyone’s kids. They are always fun and we always look forward to these occasions.

But this wedding weekend felt a bit different because of everything that had gone on the past 2 weeks. My family was tired. We were nervous. A Saturday day trip brought a lot of unknowns. I wasn’t sure how everything would work with Mom. Sister K kept telling me I shouldn’t worry about it, I just needed to let it come. She said if I worried I would work myself up before anything even happens. In hindsight she was right. I shouldn’t have been so worried about it, but I still was. 

With the rules of Mom’s rehab facility she can leave during the day after PT/OTbut has to be back by midnight. D’s wedding was taking place here, where Sister K and I live. What was going to be a fun weekend trip became a day trip. The original plan changed. With Sister K’s help, Mom planned a big lunch for everyone at a restaurant in the afternoon so we could all spend time together before the wedding. Mom is the planner of her group. That is where I get it from.

Mom and Dad arrived in town, we met everone for lunch, Mom went and rested, then we met back up with everyone at the church for the wedding and reception that evening. As usual we were late for lunch, barely on time for the wedding. I now say that with a smile on my face. A smile because we are doing the best we can and I am learning to roll with that. If we are only 30 minutes late then we have succeeded. We may be late but we do make it and that is all that matters. Mom used her wheelchair Saturday and we took turns pushing her around. Her friends were so excited to see her and you could feel the energy change when she showed up. They all took turns sitting next to her at the reception, sharing stories, gossiping and laughing. Dad loved that they kept sitting in his seat to talk to her. This night was important for Mom in more ways than we know. It revitalized her. She got dressed up. She did her hair and put on make up. She had on her nice jewelry. She looked very pretty. I was so proud. I knew she felt good. Look good, feel good. Our whole family needed it. 

There was a moment during the reception though when Maroon 5 Moves Like Jagger came on. Sister K and I were already on the dance floor. Sister K knows how much everyone in our small family loves this song (even though she does not) and proclaimed, “We gotta go get Dad!” So we ran over to the table, interrupted Dad’s conversation and made him come out on the dance floor with us. Sidenote regarding my family: This isn’t exactly an odd thing to happen. We are a dancing family. Dad and I danced to Abba’s Dancing Queen at my wedding as our Father/Daughter dance. We love to dance. In fact Sister K and I had already decided ahead of time the best way to avoid having to talk to other people about Mom was to never leave the dance floor. We had decided “We’re going to avoid everything and we’re just going to dance.”

But this moment of dancing and smiling felt different. I had an overwhelming feeling of admiration for my family.  Here were three people who have had their lives turned upside down in the past 2 weeks. And it’s not over. Things will still continue to be a rollercoaster. But in that moment we were full of smiles. Holding hands with Dad on the dance floor. Acting goofy. Full of life.  

This weekend was not without its stressful moments. We haven’t been given a magic wand to make life stress free just yet. There was the trickiness of moving Mom around in her wheelchair, getting her in and out of the car, trying to appear that everything was seamless to others, making sure Mom was feeling comfortable, etc. But even with the tiny moments of stress, the memory and the feelings associated with Dad out on the dance floor felt like a small reward for the tough moments of the past few weeks. It also reminded me that my family is tough. We are strong.

I believe only the strongest families can handle MS. I think everyone needs to remind themselves of that when things get tough. MS families each have their own qualities that bond them together. MS doesn’t break them but makes them stronger. Everyone pulls this strength from their own unique family personality. In their own ways everyday. For us, some days it is from laughter. Some days it is from random comments. But on Saturday night it was from dancing. I looked at Dad and Sister K and I said we are going to make it. We are going to get through this.

And we will.

How does your family cope with tough moments? Do you find strength in things as simple as laughter or dancing? Do you love a good wedding reception dance floor as much as I do? Have you ever caught a bouquet? Sister K actually tried instead of hiding in the back for the first time ever, and she failed miserably…