Acceptance and Gratitude
By: Mike Murray
Former Chapter President
Before we get into discussions about our maladies, there are two words that will play an important part in your wellness battle: Acceptance and Gratitude.
First, there has to be acceptance. Michael J. Fox explains it this way: “Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation. It means understanding that something is what it is and there’s got to be a way through it.” Not so long ago, I was vocally bemoaning the fact that I have Parkinson’s disease (PD) [sic]. “I can’t believe this is happening to me,” I moaned. My son Aaron, who happened to be within earshot, said very sternly, “Well, it is!” The unspoken subtext was “… so deal with it!” In a word, accept it.
I certainly have two smart sons. That’s when I realized that my three or so years of self- pity had wasted a lot of my time and held me back from simply accepting my disease and allowing myself to think more positively. Acceptance allows you move on to the business of feeling better. But how was I able to turn the corner and begin thinking positively? That’s where Gratitude comes in.
Gratitude means being in the moment, refocusing your thoughts on the people and things that are all around you. The things that count most. Life. With all the joys and the tribulations. The complete package.
It means becoming aware of the roses that people are always telling you to stop and smell. The roses were always there; your hectic lifestyle simply didn’t allow you to see them or even be aware of them. PD forced me to retire early. It suddenly took me out of face-to-face contact with hundreds of friends; took away the strength in my legs, which required that I turn in my driver’s license; changed my voice so that I could no longer pursue my beloved “second career” of sports announcing; and left me lying in bed wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life.
Overnight, I went from having too many irons in the fire to having not only no irons, but no fire.
After finally accepting that “it is what it is,” I’ve begun focusing on all the things I am grateful for. My way of maintaining that focus is to create a page-a-day calendar that I’m calling “365 Beautiful Days of Parkinson’s.” Here is what two of those pages will say:
“So, what do I want to do with the rest of my life? Now that I have the gift of time on my side, I’m free to consider my legacy. What do I want people to remember about me?”
“This is another day when I don’t have to participate in the rat race, a huge source of stress.”
Regardless of your malady, practicing Acceptance and Gratitude will add immeasurably to your mental and physical recovery.
It may be what it is, but by applying these two words, you can be what you have always been … and what you still are.