No Matter What

The women of the 1800s who went West
in covered wagons and settled the frontier
faced great hardship.
Back-breaking, numbing work,
hunger, thirst, Indian attacks,
violence, extremes of weather.

Perhaps most enervating of all
were the summers when, day after day,
the hot wind came whirling across the Plains
blasting dust in their faces, their clothes, their homesteads.

In summer, many women sickened and died.
Others fled back East.
The women who survived were the ones
who picked up their brooms every morning
and swept out the dust again.

No matter what.
(Author Unknown)

My Ancestors

Lots of thoughts were swirling around me right after I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2014.  However, I kept coming back to the No Matter What poem that has been displayed in my office for over 35 years. I am blessed to have strong ancestral women in my line. Their roads were long. They inspire me to keep walking  through the Parkinson’s storm each day.

My Challenge

My hardships are different than my ancestors. I am not fighting for food. I live in a home with central heat and air. I have high quality medical care, enjoyable work, and creative interests.

However, I do have a physical and mental challenge on my hands, and it is relentless, chronic and degenerative. I am thankful for each day. I do what I have to do to take care of myself. I share my life with Parkinson’s, but I do not allow it to define or overshadow me.

My Toughness

An insightful card and note from my brother Larry conveyed: “Mom had the pioneer spirit in her and she passed that toughness and perseverance down to each one of us. You’ll be fine. Keep your chin up.”

Yes, I am tough. I pick my broom up every morning and sweep out the dust again. No matter what.

Blessings!
Linda

Orange Tabby Cat Inspired Haiku

Snow Boots

Snow blanket magic

Tabby cat exploration

Surprising sink holes

Photo and Poem by Linda A. Mohr
Originally Published in Winter laJoie 2017

Blessings!

Linda

Tips To Drinking More Water

My mother sipped water all day. She always kept a plastic glass of ice cold water by her chair when she was in the living room and on the counter when she was in the kitchen. She insisted on cold water and made a face when the water turned “soupy” as she described! I can drink hot, tepid, or cold water—it does not matter. What mattered for my mother is she found a way to drink water, and I have as well.

Benefits of Drinking More Water

Although health experts do not agree on exactly how much water I should drink a day, they do agree on its important nutrients. Henry David Thoreau believed that water is the only drink for a wise man. Benefits include more energy, younger looking skin, better digestion, lubricated joints, normal temperature, and zero calories. By maintaining hydration, I may be less likely to have unclear thinking, mood changes, constipation, and kidney stones.

Getting Started

I start my day drinking eight ounces of water while swallowing two carbidopa/levodopa tabs and one Azilect tab. I have not always been diligent drinking lots of water. However, with Parkinson’s I got serious about my water intake after being advised to drink one cup of water with each round of meds. I decided on sixty-four ounces a day which equates to half my weight in ounces and also reflects the eight glasses a day philosophy.

Since I am a visual person, I created a system to help me remember to drink water. Each morning I fill a pitcher with thirty-two ounces of water and set it on the kitchen counter. I pour from that pitcher and refill as needed. After I take morning meds, I refill the glass and sip on it before breakfast. By the end of breakfast, I have had one-quarter of required water.

Tips To Drinking More Water

Go Funky or Formal—Select a drink container that is fun. Orange plastic, elegant crystal, a lid, or crazy straw, or not—whatever motivates you to use

Jazz It Up—Add a splash of lemon,  orange, grape, or cranberry juice or a wedge of lemon, lime or orange, a sprig of mint, chunk of watermelon,  or slice of cucumber

Keep It Cold—Add ice to water or toss in a few frozen berries

Set Goal—Decide on amount of water you want to drink and ease into it if necessary

Measure Drink Containers—Know how many ounces the containers hold, keeping in mind a one cup measuring cup holds eight ounces

Monitor Goal—Record your water intake and time until drinking the right amount is habitual or use an app such as waterlogged

Remind Self—Set alert on smartphone throughout the day to remind to drink if you tend to forget

Fill It Up—Fill your errand running, exercise, go to work bottle, never leave home without it

Order Water—Forget about ordering soda, fizzy drinks, or fruit juice when eating out

Drink Last Drop—Finish glass of water before leaving restaurant

After lunch, I review my water intake. If I had lunch out and drank water, I pour that amount from the pitcher on a plant. Am I on track to reach the goal? Since I work from home, I keep a glass of water at arm’s length and eye level at all times. If there is a lull in the afternoon, drinking a glass of cold water perks me up. The Mayo Clinic recommends having water at different milestones of the day such as when you get up, after you arrive to work, right before lunch, after you brush your teeth and so on. I am proof that approach works as some of my milestones are four pill popping opportunities scheduled four hours apart!

Question: What tips help you drink more water?

Blessings!

Linda

 

Too Many Medical Appointments

Where Did My Day Go?

I knew I spent lots of time going to medical appointments. All I had to do was ask the question, “Where did the day go?” However, this year I decided to maintain a monthly medical time log and record the exact hours.

Medical Appointments Time Log

My medical log includes time for driving to the professional’s office, checking in, paperwork, waiting, consulting with the professional, checking out, and driving home.

Time is recorded for refilling prescriptions, calling doctor for new prescription, making appointments, going to pharmacy, and dealing with mail order meds. Once I have the pills in hand, I note the time required for counting, cutting, and organizing pills in a day-of-the-week dispenser.

Decision Time

The log also includes the time for deciding what to wear and getting dressed. These steps are included because it takes extra time to think about whom I am seeing and what is appropriate for the neurology office versus the massage therapist’s office.  An outside appointment requires more “getting ready” time than working in my home office all day (where you are apt to see me in fashionable pajama wear!)

Thinking about and deciding on the timing of my meds are also included. Although I generally take my pills at approximately the same time each day, I do allow for some flexibility to insure I am properly medicated when I go public. A 15 to 30 minute change in either direction can make a huge difference between being on with my meds or off (meaning I will move very slowly). So I think about various scenarios. If I take this pill at 7 a.m., I need the next dose no later than 11 a.m. But the appointment is not until 10:30. I better take the pill no earlier than 7:30 a.m. or 8:00 a.m.

The Results

In January, I spent a total of 21.25 hours on medical appointments and related medical activities and decisions. I saw three different doctors, had four doctors’ appointments, had five medical tests/screenings, and had four massage therapy appointments.

Yikes!!

My medical time log does not include exercise, support group meeting, tai chi class, blogging, research, interacting with readers, Facebook postings, or teachable moments. What about eating, sleeping, shopping, and socializing?

Three decades ago I taught time management seminars and encouraged students to keep a 24-hour time log for a couple of weeks. Many were often shocked to analyze the results. I may need to revisit that tool!

Blessings!

Linda

Happy Valentine’s Day

 

I collect vintage valentines. This die-cut mechanical valentine was made in Germany.  A back lever moves the cat’s big green eyes and pink tongue. This whimsical valentine is from the 1930s.

This sweet gray cat is a die-cut stand up valentine. The incredible blue eyes are captivating. The stand up legs fold out with the sentiment: THE SAME OLD “YOWL”  BE MY VALENTINE

Blessings!

Linda

 

 

Silhouette Antics

 

A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know. ~ Diane Arbus

Cats on a hot tin roof! Not exactly. This photo was an unexpected shot that I tried while standing in the back of the garage at the farm. Two of the cats had jumped from the hood of the truck to the roof as they often did. I was watching them play and enjoying my visit on a sunny December day.

Reflections and silhouettes intrigue me. The angle of light reflects the cats’ feet on the truck’s roof as well as the trees and a patch of snow on the side windows. The tree branches frame the  photo and give the illusion they are nearby. The contrast of sleek black cats with the background of bare brown vista adds textural interest. The landscape is realistic, but neither cat is black!

Blessings!

Linda

Photo Credit:  Linda A. Mohr

Great Courses Help Manage Parkinson’s

For thousands of years, tai chi and qigong have been studied together as the ultimate workout for body, mind, and soul. Quote and Photo Credit: The Great Courses

The Great Courses…World’s Greatest Professors at Your Fingertips is currently offering significant sales including up to 90% off some offerings.  Only the top 1 in 5000 college professors is chosen to be on the faculty. If the benefit of hundreds of lifelong learning courses  with no homework, no tests, and no grades plus a variety of delivery formats appeals to you, I recommend you take a peek at https://www.thegreatcourses.com/

Every January I receive their catalog mailing for February sales. This year I acted on making some selections that interest me from a Parkinson’s perspective. The courses do not mention PD, but the topics are relevant. They also reflect my 2019 theme—Simplicity of Self-Care. So here’s what I put in my shopping cart.

Photo Credit: The Great Courses

Essentials of Tai Chi and Qigong……master the art of moving meditation and improve your physical fitness and mental well-being.

Taught by David-Dorian Ross, International Master Tai Chi Instructor and includes 24 lectures, 30 minutes/lecture. Cost $25

I have had personal experience with tai chi improving my balance.  I am fortunate to have a weekly tai chi class less than 5 minutes from my house. It is an important part of my exercise program to manage PD.

Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation……explore the practices and benefits of meditation.

Photo Credit: The Great Courses

Taught by Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Asian Studies Program Mark Muesse, Rhodes College and includes 24 lectures, 30 minutes/lecture. Cost $25

I have also had personal experience with meditation in my yoga class contributing to my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Meditation is an important part of my tool box for managing Parkinson’s.

These courses along with manuals stream to my computer or apps. I also purchased a couple of other courses that relate to my creative side, but more about those another time.

I am eager to get started and will let you know the outcome.

Blessings!

Linda

Live Life Each Day With Parkinson’s

 

Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand…and melting like a snowflake. Let us use it before it is too late. ~Marie Beynon Ray

Students in a sewing class, a woman with a cane, and a glittering Christmas tree brooch help prepare me for living life with Parkinson’s.

Live Life Each Day

In the late 1970s, I taught adult education sewing classes in the club house of retirement communities. Most of my students were at least 60-years-old. I learned more from them than they probably learned from me. I adored them. One of their lessons has resonated with me throughout my life. Over and over, they encouraged me to live life each day. They advised to avoid putting things off to someday I will (fill in the blank). Someday may never come. Or when it does, it is not how you envisioned. Unfortunately, they were living examples of shattered dreams. Some of the women lost their husbands soon after retiring to Florida. Others cared for their husbands or struggled with their own health issues. For many, the dream vacations and retirement adventures evaporated.

Angels All Around

Always a Conversation Piece

In December of 2012, a friendly lady around 75-years-old started a conversation with me at a local restaurant. Our tables were about an arm length apart. I was wearing a vintage Christmas tree brooch which she admired.  That led to a long discussion about my brooch collection. When she stood up to leave, she paused, looked at me and said, “do what you want while you can.” She walked out with the aid of a cane. I could not get the woman and her goose bump advice off my mind for days. I’d wake up in the middle of the night thinking about her and asking myself “have I been doing what I want?”  My former students’ advice from the sewing classes replayed over and over. “Live life each day.” Did I follow the advice of my adult students?

The Heavenly Message

I believed the friendly lady was an angel bringing me a life changing message. The comforting answer came a few nights later. You are given all the time to do what God intended.

In June of 2013, I semi-retired, taught online classes from home, and started an eBay business. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s eleven months later. Today I still believe I have been given all the time to do what God intended:

  • to educate,
  • to inspire
  • to give hope

through Parkinson’s My Way….Creativity in Motion website and blog.

Blessings!

Linda

Photo Credit:  Linda A. Mohr

 

 

 

 

 

2018 Reflection Leads to 2019 Intention

“It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

I celebrate my birthday for a month. However, I do not set New Year’s resolutions. Since my birthday is in January, I use the month to reflect on the previous year’s highlights. What gifts, blessings, and accomplishments came my way? What went well month by month? I also consider the lowlights. What didn’t turn out the way I hoped or did not go well? What was hard? Where did I struggle? What was  unaccomplished?

Poetry Highlights 2018

First, the highlights and the word is poetry. Last year I attended the Palm Beach Poetry Festival and studied with Mississippi State poet laureate, Beth Ann Fennelly during my birthday week. I had poetry published in two anthologies and one newsletter. Two poems won awards. I submitted two poems to Chicken Soup books, but winners will be announced later in 2019. I wrote a poem Tea Time with Grandma and gave as a table favor at a DAR holiday tea. The poem was also read at the tea.

Travel Highlights 2018

The second word is travel. The trip with Joe to Yellowstone National Park and the stay at Lake Yellowstone Hotel were awesome. Two visits back to the Missouri farm where I grew up and to the country I love were rejuvenating. My 50-year high school class reunion was incredible. I visited Mrs. Kice, my 7th/8th grade Ashton country school teacher whom I adored and had a lovely lunch.  During the Christmas visit, my brother Steve surprised me with a VIP tour to James Hoffman’s incredible mansion in Hamilton, Illinois, led by Mr. Hoffman.

Parkinson’s Highlights 2018

The third word is Parkinson’s. I found a talented WordPress and internet consultant to help build my PD website and blog: Parkinson’s My Way—Creativity in Motion which launched in the summer. An anthology published My Parkinson’s Muse essay. A gigantic highlight was getting an appointment with world renowned movement disorder specialist, Dr. Michael S. Okun at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He is now an integral part of my care team.

DAR Highlights 2018

The fourth word is DAR—Daughters of the American Revolution. I was appointed Director on the Seminole Chapter Executive Board and Chairman of DAR School Committee. My 10-year membership anniversary was celebrated in October. I created the Healing Power of Animals and Art Collection Drive to provide hope and help to Crossnore School and Children’s Home in Crossnore, North Carolina. My chapter collected over 200 animal and art items including dog toys, treats, grooming tools, sketch pads, acrylic and watercolor paints, washable markers, glue and Sharpies.

Parkinson’s Lowlights 2018

Now, the lowlights and the word is Parkinson’s. Since Parkinson’s has been my constant companion for over 4 ½ years, it has proven to be both a highlight and lowlight. Stiffness and rigidity are two of my main symptoms which leads to skeletal and muscular challenges. Shoulder pain and a rib out of place kept me in physical therapy. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) disorder caused violent dreams, but a pill at night took care of that demon. Sleep eluded me, but got better when I started the REM pill and added melatonin.

House Lowlights 2018

The next word is house. Several major outdoor projects  such as pressure cleaning, fence repair, landscape update, and outdoor step railing did not happen.

Intention 2019

Through my reflection every January, I move forward  with clarity. I see what unfinished business there is as well as what is not serving me well. I understand what I need to let go to make room for new highlights. The process leads me to setting a theme or intention every year. Simplicity of Self-Care is my 2019 intention. It is unrealistic for me to accomplish all that I did last year again in 2019 without being in the best physical, emotional,  and spiritual health that I can be. I must be my advocate for my care and do so in a simple way.

First Intention Challenge of 2019

In December, I scheduled a deep tissue massage for January 2 at 9:10 a.m. During holiday break, the office notified that the therapist would not be in that day and suggested I reschedule. Ok, no problem. I planned to call when the office reopened.

I found out on January 2 the therapist had another schedule change and was now available if I still wanted the original appointment. My first thought was “yes”, but then I heard my intention reminding me of Simplicity of Self-Care. At 7:45 a.m., I crawled out of bed. I was scheduled to take meds in 15 minutes and to eat 45 minutes later. During this wait time, I read, meditate, and do some stretches. I do not rush to shower and dress. I find it unsafe, complicated, and slow until my meds kick in.

Oh, I could probably have made it work since the office is five minutes away. I chuckled how quickly I was challenged. But I stayed true to my mantra and scheduled for Monday, January 7!

Blessings!

Linda

Photo Credit:  Patrick Szylar

 

 

Creature Comforts

Snoozin’ Time

Chauncey’s favorite spot…..sleeping on a cheetah throw on a black leather chair. Well, the truth is he has several favorite spots! However, when the weather gets cooler in Florida like it has been this week, he goes for the soft and fuzzy throw.  I  wear my hooded puffy parka–sometimes even in the house! Now before you cancel your travel plans to sunny Florida, by cooler, I mean 50s at night and 60s to mid  70s during the day. So, I will know where you are from when I see you in shorts and tee shirt!

This is one of my favorite sleeping photographs of Chauncey because it is so life like. I expect the fur to be soft, the toe pads to be smooth and the whiskers to be stiff when I touch the photo. The photograph that appears more like a painting fools me! That is my Chauncey Boy–always keeps me guessing!

Blessings!

Linda

Photo Credit:  Linda A. Mohr