By Tim Hague Sr.
I have always loved spring. Especially as a boy back in KC (Kansas City). The thunderstorms were to die for!
I loved the heat and the humidity that would roll in to create mighty clashes with the cool air setting off tremendous thunderstorms and, often enough, tornados.The pungent aromas of fresh mown grass, lilacs and various flowering plants. The birds, squirrels, possums, raccoons and various other wildlife that would reappear. And, the rain. I never cared much for the rain but was always amazed by the fact you could almost see the new buds form on the trees and the grass grow as the rain fell.
Once the rain would finally stop a bright sun would come out to set off a stifling humidity that you all but needed a ventilator to survive in. It was a study in contrasts. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Great beauty was being created beneath threatening skies that would pour rain and hurl down lightening.
This would be an apt analogy for the last number of months of my life. There has been new growth occurring underneath skies that are often as not, cloudy and full of rain. It has been the best of times and it has been the worst of times.
In December of 2015 I took a leave of absence from my nursing career that has turned into my taking a permanent leave due to my Parkinson’s. Most of us have had dreams of what it might be like to take early retirement, hit the beach and live the high life. Well, my reality is not quite that. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that it’s been so bad, it’s just that it’s not been that great.
In this long season of ‘spring’ I have been learning new things. I’m learning how to start a charity for Parkinson’s. I continue to learn as I pursue the challenge of writing a book. I’m learning how a 51-year-old can fill his days, feel productive and look after himself.
A new word has crept into my learning of recent as well; contentment.
Contentment is a mental or emotional state of satisfaction maybe drawn from being at ease in one’s situation, body and mind. Colloquially speaking, contentment could be a state of having accepted one’s situation and is a milder and more tentative form of happiness.
I find it to be a difficult word. When placed alongside the word Parkinson’s, I find I have little love for either. How am I to attain an emotional state of satisfaction while being at ease with Parkinson’s? Trust me, there are many days that I want to respond to that question with a ‘hrmmph…whatever!’
But I am learning contentment and in the most surprising of ways. I attended a PWR! Retreat in Phoenix, AZ and had a wonderful, eye opening experience. PWR or Parkinson’s Wellness Recover is an exercise program specifically designed for people living with Parkinson’s disease. I had been invited to provide the opening key note address and then to stay for the retreat.
We rose at 6:30 every morning to go for an hours walk using nordic poles. This was followed by several, yes, several more hours of Parkinson’s specific activities throughout the day. In truth by day two I was not sure I was going to make it to the end of the week. Funny thing happened though…I did. And, I did quite well!
You see, I realized by the end of the week that I had become content but not in a good way. I realized that I had mentally settled into a place where I was ok with what I thought I could do. I had become very comfortable with what I thought I could not do. Rarely was I challenging myself anymore.
There is probably some rule somewhere that says it’s not cool to quote yourself but here goes. I have often said, ‘You can do more than you think you can. You just have to be willing to try.’ I had stopped trying.
The PWR! Retreat reinvigorated both my mind and my body. It showed me that I can do more than I thought I could. It encouraged me that I had not slipped physically as far as I thought I had. It gave me hope.
And in giving me hope it has allowed me to be just a little bit more at ease in my situation. I find that fascinating. It makes me smile.
I think that I have turned a corner in my long ‘spring’. There are now more May flowers and less April showers (I know it’s June already!). I am not always content with my situation regarding Parkinson’s but I am more so than I was.
Live Your Best!
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