Staying in Focus: Accentuate the Positive

One of my Facebook friends posted the following quote today:

If you cannot be positive,

then at least be quiet. – Joel Osteen

No truer words can be spoken  with so much negative news in the world today. What, I wonder, would it be like to call a moratorium on negativity for just  one day. I’m not talking scenes from Bambi, with the bunnies hopping and the birds singing, although if the negative voices were silenced, we could actually hear the birds singing.  Imagine waking up to news about only positive things, people helping people rather than shooting them.  People facing their challenges with an “I can beat this ” attitude. A government working for the people rather than holding them hostage to overblown egos and petty rivalries. You know the news has gone way over on the negativity meter when you find yourself looking forward to the “Tech Byte” section.

My non – negativity day would begin with a news report about the weather (sunny, temps around 70) traffic (no problems), stories on researchers working to cure disease, interviews with people who enjoy their jobs and do them well – teachers, nurses, UPS delivery persons, that nice woman who greets you as you enter a store or restaurant, you know, the rank and file that keep this country moving despite the inanity in Washington, which of course would not be in the news unless it was to report a government now fully operational and back in control of its senses. But let’s not lose our grip on reality completely.

On this day I would call my mom to see how she is doing, a 90-year-old woman fighting cancer for a second time, happy for each day she is given . People really like my mom because she likes people. She always greets people with a smile or a hug.  The doctors are amazed by her tenacity and good spirits, the people at the grocery store greet her by name, as do the ladies at the hair salon  which we know she will return to soon, as her hair is growing back! Surely  a positive thing. I would and will today check on my friend, Debbi, who is almost halfway through her chemo treatments for breast cancer. Debbi is another light in the positive realm, knowing she just has to do what she has to do and refusing to let it dim her bright spirit and sense of humor. Keep that light shining, Deb! And my little bro, beginning his treatments this week for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is facing it, I know, with his irrepressible humor. These people in my life inspire me in my journey with Parkinson’s disease, refusing to let a negative experience  rob them of their positive views on life and living.

I would take the time on this day of positives to note the bright sunlight streaming through my study window. We haven’t seen the sun in almost a week, but now the sunbeams are filling my room with morning light. I’ll take time to  sit in my chair and think positive thoughts, enjoying my quiet home and perhaps some oatmeal for breakfast.  I will positively do my exercises (2 mile walk, yoga ), work on my book, and publish this post. Then it will be time to welcome home my husband, Bill, the most positive time of the day.  Life is such a gift, we ought not to let the negativity weigh us down and rob us of its delights. We need to make an effort to accentuate the positives and  ignore or eliminate the negatives. And if we can’t do that, then we at least can be quiet.


Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: My English Fantasy

Daily Prompt: On the Road

If you could pause real life and spend some time living with a family anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I have always wanted to live in a small hamlet in rural England. Somewhere with one of those insanely delicious British names like Biggleswade, or Grange-over-Sands or Newbiggen-by-the-Sea, or perhaps Royal Wootten Bassett.  I’d live in a small village with quaint cottages separated by hedgerows. The cottage is a bit drafty in the winter, so the family and I must huddle around the Aga, an old relic that is the pride of the household. In the summer, the scent of herbs in the backyard garden adds a fragrance to the air coming in through the open window.  In the front yard a riot of summer blossoms spill over the fence and out of the window boxes with careless abandon.

Every morning I walk to the village center, greeting neighbors as I pass by. I carry a basket as it is market day and the local farmers have set up shop in the village square. I stop by the chemist for a few items and spend a good while selecting an ancient tome from the village library.  This is the highlight of my week. I find a nice spot on the green and munch on some berries as I read my book.

We have tea every day with biscuits, not cookies, and often hike miles with the dogs running free. We hike over hillocks and along the rocky shore, occasionally passing ancient stone markers as weathered as time itself in this island of ancient kings and fairy lore.

I don’t know if there are still villages of this sort in England. I suspect there probably are. And the people living in them probably can’t wait to move on to the big cities, such is how it usually works out. But I have my fantasy and my favorite novel of all things British, Winter Solstice by Rosamund Pilcher (sorry Willy. I did buy a book of your sonnets at a bookseller while in London), which I read when I want to visit the friends I made when I first “visited” Dibton -in-Hampshire.

After visiting England this summer, I am even more enchanted with the land and its people. The richness of their heritage, their ascorbic wit and humorous take on just about everything is a delight. We had a gentleman pick us up at our hotel to take us to the bus station and his comments as we drove through London had us in hysterics. Now I know where the Monty Python Troupe found its inspiration. British humor is as much a part of the people as is the land itself. I believe it is in the very air they breathe.

Or maybe it’s in the tea!

My Village

a new neighborhood

houses with stone and brick accents


the builders had aspirations, I think

to make it seem like an English village

American style

there’s a little village green

across from my house

I can see the gazebo from my window

we actually gather there, once or twice a year

there is a winding path which leads

to the picturesque stone bridge itself

a pond which caters to Canada geese

and within walking distance

of our own little “Stonebridge Village”

grocery, hair  salon, doc-in-a-box, yogurt shop

gas station and aren’t we lucky

our own Dunkin Donuts

although I’ve been to England

we were mostly just in London

and I imagine something

quite different in a village over there

pretty cottages, moss covered roofs

yards full of herbs and flowers and hedgerows

lining the pathways, people on bicycles

waving to neighbors, rather than

running them down with their cars

the grocer knows I like pears

the doctor was there at my birth

the book lady knows I like poetry

and the chemist greets me by name

oh, and fairy lights are strung all year long

not just at Christmas

what about my village would an English lady envy?

Probably the Dunkin Donuts

pc 2012

Staying in Focus with Michael J. Fox

Thursday night, Michae J. Fox returned to television with a new show.  Over 2,000 people hosted premier parties to welcome Michael back, and I was one of them.

Diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s at the age of 29, Michael has lived with this disease for two decades. He has been not only an inspiration to those of us living with Parkinson’s, but he has provided a beacon of hope for us as well with the launching of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.  On the website‎, you can Join Team Fox and  host  or take part in fundraisers, sign up to volunteer for clinical trials (many of which fail to be conducted due to lack of volunteers) apply for a grant, have your questions about Parkinson’s answered and learn about the Foundation’s purpose and how they are helping the research teams to find  a cure.

Michael inspires me with his can do attitude and the pragmatic way he has handled the challenges of life with Parkinson’s.  One of my favorite Fox quotes is: Whatever big dream is driving you, you only can’t if you don’t.  Michael is right. You can do anything, if you just give it  a try, but you’ll never know if you don’t.

I also like the response Michael gives his kids if they have some minor thing to complain about. Michael had learned that  a lady, trapped in a tree during  one of  those tsunamis that have occurred in recent years, actually gave birth to her baby in the tree and waited there until help arrived. So when the kids come in with their minor complaints, Michael says, “A lady had a baby in a tree. What’ve you got?”

We can always look around and find people struggling with something far worse than we are. So instead of whining and complaining, celebrate the positives, look for the silver lining (or at least the humor) and don’t forget to follow your dreams. The premier party was all about optimism and  Michael J. Fox is the poster boy for that!

The new show is  a magical mix  of humor and poignancy. It deals with the challenges of living with Parkinson’s with a heartfelt humor, and there were moments in the show when  the message touched my soul. In one scene,  Mike’s wife questions his apparent attraction to a woman who moved into their building and Mike answers that it wasn’t so much that he was attracted to her, but that she was attracted to him, that after all he had been through, he could still be attractive to someone despite the Parkinson’s. That is one of the fears all of us with chronic diseases have – that people will see  only the disease, and miss all the other wonderful things about us. Scenes like these make the show so much more than a typical sitcom. and I applaud those who write for the show and  those who assembled the excellent cast. Well done!

I had  a small gathering of friends and  family for my premier party, but we had a good time. The laughs were fun to share, as was the food and conversation. We all agreed that the show was entertaining and spot on, and I think everyone left with their spirits lifted.

I look forward to the next episode. In the meantime i will focus on the can do an d the big dream and put my pesky disease in its place right at the back of the line.

After all, a lady had  a baby in a tree… what’ve I got?


Here are  a few pictures from our party:

We had agreat time and shared some laughs!

We had agreat time and shared some laughs!IMG_2236IMG_2233 prizes and folders filled with info for my guestsIMG_2238

Yum! Goobers and rasinets!

popcorn ready and waiting for the show to begin.
popcorn ready and waiting for the show to begin.


Daily Prompt: Great Teachers/Staying in Focus: Passion Plays a Part

Daily Prompt: What Makes a Teacher Great?

Having been in the field of education for most of my life, either as a teacher myself or as a student, I believe that what makes a teacher great is a passion for her craft.  If I am not excited by the subject I am teaching, I will fail to ignite that spark in my students.  If I am not excited by the act of teaching itself, I will fail to spark a quest for knowledge within them, a spark which helps them to become active seekers of knowledge and not passive recipients. This is the key that can unlock their potential, open them up to new ideas and insights and place them on a path toward finding their own passion.

This is how we develop a generation of thinkers, of active minds capable of problem solving. This is how we develop our future leaders, founders of future corporations, scientists, medical researchers, musicians, and writers, those who will lead our country into a positive future. We need then now more than ever.

How does a great teacher make this connection with her students?  She grabs their attention with enthusiasm, communicated by her voice and actions.  She fills the air with expectation. She often begins a lesson or a new topic by asking questions and not by supplying all the answers, guiding her students into discovering the answers for themselves. She keeps them on their feet, never knowing what to expect next. She engages them, draws them into discussion, and lets them anticipate what will happen next. More often than not, she uses humor, too, which is  an invaluable tool. Let’s face it, if we look back and name a great teacher, those with a sense of humor stand out.

When was in high school, I took a social studies class. Rather than drone on and on about culture, economy and government, the teacher divided us into countries. We named our country, chose a form of government, developed a culture and then, given a budget to start things up, off we went. We quickly gained insights into the difficulty involved, especially as aggressive, militant states could declare war on us at any time. How much to budget the military? Do we do less for our schools? How about medical research, jobs for the people? Keep an eye out for inflation, overspending. Send money to areas devastated by flood. How much foreign help should we provide? That I can remember this class so clearly some 44 years later is a testament to its impact on me. I can now say, “Thank you, Mr. Courter, you were a great teacher!

I think it would behoove our universities and teacher colleges to pay more attention to developing this ability to communicate with enthusiasm, with curriculum materials that challenge and excite as well as convey knowledge, to approach teaching in an active, not passive, way.

Is it more important that I know Columbus discovered America in 1492 or that we risk civil unrest if we wage constant war without provocation?

A classroom screening of the musical 1776 can teach far more about the angst of nation building than all the textbooks combined. After that viewing, have students act out key scenes, rewrite key scenes  or write an essay on how one change in the Declaration of Independence could have changed history. Would it have been for better or worse? Students, tell me.

Children come to school naturally hungry for knowledge, a hunger which will diminish without being fed. It is a great teacher that recognizes this and answers the call with passion

Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: Tell Us a Joke

Daily prompt: Ha Ha Ha

A little laugh to start off your weekend.

Cucumber and Carrot were walking down the street on a nice sunny afternoon, when a car careened off the road and hit Carrot.  Cucumber called 911 and Carrot was rushed off to the hospital. Cucumber waited for hours at the hospital, and finally the doctor emerged from the operating room.

“Well. I have good news and bad news,” the doctor said. “First of all, Carrot is going to make it. That’s the good news.”

“And the bad news?” asked a worried Cucumber

“The bad news is he is going to be a vegetable for the rest of his life.” 🙂

Staying in Focus: Ground-Hogs, Holidays, and Colonoscopies?

Happy Groundhog Day!!!

Now don’t worry – it’s not Ground Hog day again, it’s just that I am late in getting to this post. But at least the ground-hog had some good news for us. He did not see his shadow, so that means an early spring.  Although the way the weather has been, it’s hard enough for the weatherman to predict the weather, let alone a ground-hog.

As is our tradition, Bill and I watched Ground Hog Day last night. I attribute this movie with helping the ground-hog break into the line up of holiday icons, like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. But unfortunately for the ground-hog,  predicting the weather doesn’t create the same excitement as a sleigh full of toys, or even a basket full of Easter joy, so he has a long way to go to reach A – list status. Right now, Ground Hog day is listed under Observances, so his first job is to get his day leveled up to Holiday status

He will have to work really hard if he wants to unseat Santa.. After all, that rotund fellow in the red suit has been in the catbird seat a long time.  And it hasn’t all been a bed of roses for the jolly elf either, at least according  to Hollywood,. After all, he has had his reputation besmirched by evil capitalists in big box stores, finding himself in a mental hospital and then on trial, not to mention having his own son turn up on the naughty list, his workshop nearly destroyed by a toy clone and lost to another group of evil toy makers who almost absorb Santa’s enterprise with the unwitting help of is brother, Fred Claus. And let’s not forget how he almost used up all of his special magic in searching  for a wife to turn to for advice and give the brownies all their spice.  But in the eleventh hour, he succeeded, and Christmas was saved, at least for this year. It’s not easy being number one.

Halloween, although  listed as an Observance Day, has achieved holiday status. and while lacking a central icon, has chosen instead to rule by committee – ghosts, vampires, witches, zombies all rule the night, wandering in search of treats with the threat of tricks if not satisfied.  Halloween is the edgiest of the holidays, it’s allure lying in things not of this world, in the slightly scary act of wandering in the dark, under the light of a full moon, begging for handouts. And it appeals as well to grown-ups, giving them the chance to recapture lost youth as they dress up in costume and play pretend once again.

Thanksgiving, purportedly about giving thanks for all we have, is mostly about parades, food, and football and anyway, what can one say about a holiday whose icon is a turkey?

New Year’s Day is mostly a non event, as people are busy recovering from too much alcohol consumption and resolving not to do it next year. Good luck with that!

The Easter Bunny also has one up on the ground-hog. Baskets full of joy, not to mention Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs,  has far more universal appeal than the weather predicting of the prognosticator of prognosticators. But Ground-hog Day does give people, at least in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, a reason to party the day away singing and dancing, sculpting in ice and auctioning off single men for charity

.I find it interesting how we pepper the year with celebrations, large and small, to mark the passing of time. In addition to the big holidays, we have others like the Fourth of July, when we celebrate our nation’s birthday with picnics and loud explosions..

And, let us not forget the more simple Observances like Valentines day, a celebration of love and Hallmark cards and, St. Patrick’s Day, a celebration of parades, shamrocks and the wearing of the green.

And we like to celebrate the lives of people who dedicated theirs to the betterment of all. People like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, who actually once had their own day, but now must share it generically with other presidents, in the interest of economy and  three-day weekends, Martin Luther King, Jr., a man of peace and whose vision led our nation toward equality and justice for all, Veteran’s Day, to honor our brave men and women who have served their country with honor and selflessness, Memorial Day, to honor those who have given their lives in service to our country and Labor Day, to honor those who work on all days except Labor Day, when everyone takes off and has a picnic.

And let us not forget the days we honor mothers and fathers and all the spin-off days for which Hallmark has a card:  Grandparents Day (9/8) Administrative Professional’s Day (4/24) National Nurses Day (5/6) and Boss’s Day (10/16).

Now, I have often wondered what was wrong with August.  Every other month has a holiday or at least a major Observance Day.  But August, nada.  Aside from some family and friend’s birthdays,  I personally fail to see a reason for the month of August, except that without it, our year would be lacking,( let’s see, 30 days has September..,)  31 days.  August is just another hot month, following the hot months of June  and July.  It was superfluous in my opinion, until I looked up holidays and observances for this post, and guess what?  I found  a reason for August, after all. I found out that August 21st  is , wait for it, Senior CItizen’s Day!  Now that’s a day with holiday written all over it.  How to celebrate?  Toasting one another with glasses of Ensure?  A competition to see who can insert their hearing aid the fastest?  Or trying to guess who has had the most colonoscopies?

Honestly,I tried to get through his post without that referent, but it’s on my mind  because I’ll be having my seventh colonoscopy tomorrow, and I do think I have the chance to win that contest, but I’m also leaning toward establishing a National Colonoscopy Day, so look out ground-hog, you’ve got some competition coming your way!

I may actually have one up (or maybe even 7) on Santa in this area.. I’m sure I have that ground-hog beat! Oh, well, time for some chicken broth, and  jello!

Be back when this colonoscopy is behind me:)

Staying in Focus: Calm Amid Chaos

I had the CT scan on Monday. I’d like to know why, if they can make the contrast you have to drink for a CT scan palatable, can’t they do the same for the colonoscopy prep?  I challenge any enterprising student of medicine or research to come up with such a product. and you will be the hero of millions.  In fact, you may even save lives as more people might be willing to take the test if that prep didn’t send your taste buds running for the hills. Anyhow, I don’t have to have a colonoscopy until January, unless this CT scan shows something we’d rather not think about.  Either way, I assume the same old prep mix will be on the menu.  Along with chicken broth, popsicles, and God save me from jello So now it’s back to waiting.  Meanwhile…

I feel in the mood for a little humor, so I will share with you some creative exercises we did in poetry class this week.  They are basically putting together random words or phrases in a variety of ways from different source.

 calm within chaos

can one find calm within chaos?
I am open to the possibility
the situation is similar
to twisting out tension

perhaps it takes
a whack on the head
some begging and bribing
to get one to sit in a white plastic lawn chair
and gaze with sightless eyes
at the saintly bird-feeder

be consistent and compassionate
for failure is the name of  a song
imagine your thoughts 
are orphaned popsicle sticks
scattered like fractured bones
and let go

when the images
of a mustachioed mouse.
or balloon animal bookends
rise in your mind,  there is
calm within chaos
satisfaction guaranteed.

An Ascorbic Acid Wit

though your achievements may be
astronomical, what I associate most with you
is your ascorbic acid wit 
when accentuated, a wit capable of causing
pandemonium, which cannot be halted
the last time, it took hours to pacify
the students and  a phalanx of counselors

to  treat the amnesia you induced.
I would be deemed an idler if I failed
 to accost you, and get to the root of this matter. 
while you are free to glorify your behavior. I
 must be illiberal with my words and paint a
picture you will understand:
 Take  a pestle to that wit.
you are walking on glassine here, young man.
and  furthermore:
no more hokey pokeys in the corridors.
no more paintball in the gym.
Stop acting like  a hoodlum.
My advice: take up the accordion i

it’s all in the name

the names 
given to paints
are irresistible
to one who paints
with words,
just look at the
damage a thesaurus
can do:
hello, yellow
(salude, sunshine)

open sky
(yawning yonder)

sweet tangerine
(sentimental orange)

mystic wisdom
(preternatural perspicuity))

sweet 13
(pure in pink)

(a bucket of bark)

(aquanaut in aquamarine)

ready to paint?

 Hope you got a little chuckle out of those. I get lost in the words and imagery of poetry and it helps me to find calm within chaos. Hope it gave you something to smile about.

Focus On: Heaven on Earth

I am a collector of many things, but one of my favorites is my quote collection.  I like to illustrate the quotes with stickers, drawings, etc and I use small journals and notebooks to record them in.  Often, when I need a lift, I’ll sit down and page through them.  Ultimately I come away feeling uplifted and back on course.

The other day, while searching for some quotes to put on a board in Pinterest, I came across one I really liked:

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ve never been hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.
–William W. Purkey.

Let’s examine this quote line by line because there is a lot of information here on how we see ourselves, who were are as a people and how we ultimately want to live our lives.

“You gotta dance like there’s nobody looking”.  Okay, I get this one.  It’s pretty simple.  If I dance like nobody’s watching, I can let go and really dance how I feel, expressing joy or pent-up emotions – anger, grief, happiness, ecstasy. We’ll get to me in a moment, but what immediately came to mind as I read this line was Tom Cruise in Risky Business and Hugh Grant in Love Actually.   These two danced as if nobody was watching in front of countless movie audiences, but they gave it their all.  Hugh at least had the good sense to keep his pants on. After all, he was the Prime Minister of Great Britain at the time.! But they embody the spirit of this quote. Don’t censure yourself. If you feel like dancing your shoes off go for it, audience or not.  I’ll have to try this sometime.  Never very coordinated in the dancing milieu to start with, now with Parkinson’s, it’s even more of a challenge.  But, if they bring back some of the dances from the 1960s like the “Hippy, Hippy Shake”, I may fit right in! All kidding aside, I do dance with the grandkids. They’re still at an age where we are about equally coordinated, although my granddaughter is moving to the music quite well lately, not surprising as her parents are both musically inclined. The bottom line on this one: Do not be afraid to express yourself, or deny yourself some fun, but unless you are at home with the drapes drawn, keep your pants on!

“Love like you’ve never been hurt.” Ah, tough one here.  Who among us has reached adulthood without suffering the angst of unrequited love, a broken or failed relationship, or even the loss of a beloved partner to death?  So for most of us, this one is a given, and what is required is a leap of faith – in love, in the inherent goodness in most people, in the belief that one bad experience should not mark us for life, and relegate us to living a lonely life.  It takes a lot of plain old guts to try again, to put ourselves out there where disappointment, heartache and failure lurk in the shadows.  Our work on this one is to  dispel those shadows by embracing the light, enhancing the positive and moving forward with a joyful song in our hearts.  If we project these attributes, we’ll be more likely to draw around us people of a similar mind, thereby increasing our chances of success in our next relationship. As I recently watched a brilliant sunrise take place, the slowly  rising sun pushed back the shadows of night, replacing blues and purples with bright pinks and orange, pushing back the shadows and spreading the light.  So that’s the ticket. Be the sunrise, carry the light and “love like you’ve never been hurt.”

“Sing like there’s nobody listening.”  Easy one here.  Start with singing in the two places we feel safest, the car and the shower. Then move on to karaoke. There is one of these insidious machines in every club, bar and cruise ship on the planet. And from what I hear, we do not seem to have  a problem with singing like no one is listening.  Singing skills rank about equal to dancing skills in my repertoire, and as I no longer drive a car,  I think I have to take many more frequent showers before I reach the karaoke stage.  If you ever see a very shriveled, but exceptionally clean karaoke performer someday, it might be me.  But not likely.

And live like it’s heaven on earth.   This one is my favorite.  It tells me to celebrate each day of my life  and carry the feelings of peace and joy in my heart everywhere I go.  To hold sacred the moment, the here and now, and not to let worry and fear cloud the beauty I see all around me in this beautiful world.  My recent trip to Alaska had a profound effect on me as we approached those majestic mountains and viewed the glaciers, the unbelievable color of the water, the blue icebergs, the waterfalls, the humpback whales, , the bald eagles and the sun rising over the sea, painting that path of gold from it to me.   What wonders we have here on Earth.  I’m ready to pack my bags and go out and discover some more.

Heaven is usually envisioned as a place of beauty and peace,  a place where love rules above all.  Well, here on earth we have the beauty, but our challenge in living like it is heaven on earth requires that we work on the peace and love aspects between peoples.. I recently read an article by Sakyong Mipham in a  Buddhist magazine, and he explained that an enlightened society is an awake society – awake to the basic goodness inherent in people. We are basically good, but many have allowed feelings of fear and selfishness to drive our world. As people accept their basic goodness, kindness  wisdom and strength reverberate and society enters the enlightened state  Meditation can be the vehicle that drives us from being “asleep” to being “awake.  I’ll talk about this more in my next post.  In the meantime, the more we focus on our basic goodness, the more we fill our hearts with positive emotions, the easier it will be to achieve an enlightened society ..A beautiful world filled with peace and love and basic goodness.  Sounds like heaven on earth to me.

South Sawyer Glacier
A small piece of our beautiful world

a path of gold from the sun to me

Focus on the Big E – Exercise

(something on the lighter 🙂  side for weekend reading)

Okay.  Enough already.  I can hear the moans and groans echoing through the Internet.  But there is no getting away from it – exercise is vital for everyone who wants to reach the “Golden Years” with enough agility and energy to at least get out of bed.  It is especially important for anyone suffering from a movement disorder like Parkinson’s Disease.  Without challenging those arms and legs and hands and feet,and even facial muscles, the rigidity will set in big time.  Now, being as I am not a medical professional, I will not give advice to anyone other than to urge you to consult your physician and together develop an exercise program that is right for you.  What I will share with you is my own experience with exercise.

It has been a love/hate relationship, for the most part..  I’m not one of those people who love to run or jog for the sheer joy in it.  But I’ve always recognized the need for it, especially as I love to eat!  But I tend to get bored quickly with any one routine.

And so, yes, I sweated to the oldies with Richard Simmons.  We toned Downtown together, and Uptown together, We stretched, worked on abs and even toned to the sound of Broadway .But boredom eventually set in and I decided to shake things up and join a class.  Maybe working out with other people was the ticket.  So my sister-in-law, Pat , and I joined Elaine Powers, but unfortunately it was located above a Friendly’s Restaurant, so we would work up a good appetite upstairs and stop for lunch at Friendly’s on the way home.  You don’t know how good a Friendly’s hot fudge sundae tastes until you’ve eaten one after an hour of exercise! I guess we didn’t quite have the commitment  we needed.

Several years later, I tried an exercise class again, this time with my friend Denise.  We went about twice, and then Denise found out she was pregnant, and that ended that.  We moved then, from New York to North Carolina and there I met Lisa.  Always coming up with new ideas, Lisa convinced me to give an exercise class one more try. So we set out to Jazzercise.  First of all the drill, I mean dance, instructor must have just returned from washing a company of marine recruits out of the service.  I feared for my life every time I went left when everybody else was going right, which was almost always.So, if you ignore the fact that I was going left when everyone else was going right and that the grapevine step literally entwined my feet together(and I didn’t even have Parkinson’s to blame for that back then) not to mention that two days later, every muscle in my body was crying out in pain,  I guess you could say I had a terrible time.  Never looked back. Never went back.

Then there was the summer Lisa decided we would take a walk every day, only not along a tree-lined  path, but back and forth across the widest part of our Racket and Swim Club swimming pool. Two thirty something ladies, plowing through the water, back and forth.  You get the picture,  Lisa called it water walking but it was more along the lines of dork walking., especially to anyone sitting poolside and trying not to laugh.

But then I discovered a sport I was really semi proficient at  – tennis.  Once again the indefatigable Lisa talked a group of us into taking lessons with the club tennis pro.  He must have been the most patient man on the planet, and he taught us well enough that we were even able to play against our husbands.

Watching tennis players is a sport in itself.  Early on, each of us developed our own style…Lisa would scamper across the court and try for any shot possible, Kathryn would stand at the back of the court and with a mighty swing lob those returns with as little movement as possible. If the ball didn’t fall into her zone,  it wasn’t worth pursuing.  I just  ran around the court  trying not to look too much like a dork and keeping my eye out for that Jazzercise instructor. We were so dedicated to our sport that one time we played as  a hurricane was approaching.  We laughed so hard as the ball, would make sharp right and left turns in its journey across the net.  We continued to play tennis until the Parkinson’s symptoms interfered with my ability to run and after a nasty fall while on vacation,  I decided to hang up my racket.  To everything there is a season…

Next up, I found out that my friend, Kathryn, was walking early every morning around our neighborhood.  Sounded like  a good idea at the time, and so I joined her. For FIVE years we walked diligently, in the dark of winter and the humidity of summer.  We solved not only all of our own problems, but those of the rest of the world as well because we could talk as fast as we walked, but we never lost a pound.  We had read that if you walked three miles a day for five years you would lose 20 pounds.  We decided it must be waiting for the last day to melt away all at once and our svelte, toned bodies would emerge, – but nothing. Nothing lost  (and nothing gained!)  Not even a pat on the back  from the President or the Nobel Peace Prize for solving the world’s problems!

Anyway,during all this time there were two forms of exercise I came across that I actually liked.  One was (in those olden times) a video cassette of a walk at home program  designed by Leslie Sansone.  Now this I could handle.  Walk in place with  a few variations — kicks, knee lifts, side steps and kick backs. I still do them today.  I really like one of her recent ones, now on dvd, in which she adds intervals of an easy jog to the walk.  The music helps you keep the pace and as long as you’re moving, you’re doing okay. Sounds easy, but you do build up a sweat.  I’ve written her to ask if she has ever considered adapting her program for people with movement disorders because I envision a time when I will not be able to keep up with the regular programs.  I hope they do.

The second one was yoga.  I had practiced it for years, and attribute the degree of flexibility I have to it.  Despite the Parkinson’s I am able to bend at the waist and place my hands on the floor next to my feet without bending my knees.   I may not be able to twist myself into  a noodle but I can do downward facing dog and the warrior II poses and my balance, so far,is okay.

Lately I’ve been exploring Tai Chi, and can do simple routines but the more complex ones are beyond my ken.   I also have trouble moving slow enough (odd thing for a Parkie to say) but it’s true. In Tai Chi you move real s-l-o-w.

I round out my exercise routine with cycling and weight lifting.  There is a study being conducted to determine if forced cycling (90 RPMS +) helps Parkinson’s patients with their mobility.  Many claim it’s true so I decided to give it a try, I feel like my gait is smoother, and its great exercise, nevertheless.  I join my husband and son three times a week for weight lifting to keep my muscles strong.

It’s a lot for someone who prefers reading on a chaise lounge or writing this blog,  to getting all sweaty and hot and bothered but, for me, at least, it’s part of my arsenal, helping me to stay focused on taking control and standing firm, and so:

…I prepare for the fight, the battle’s begun
like it or not, there’s nowhere to run
for there is a precious life on the line
though it’s hard to believe… that life is mine
but with bat in hand, I step up to the plate
and I take a good swing, before it;s too late
I hit a home run, it’s out of the park
I consider this,  a very good start
I’m in control and, it’s easy to see
I’ll never let it get the best of me!

Now guess what? Time to exercise.  Hold on Leslie, I’ll be right there.