The day I woke up with double vision, my entire life changed. On Valentine’s Day 2005, I received the diagnosis that would change my life in ways I could have never imagined: “You have Multiple Sclerosis.” The journey that I have traveled since that fateful day has been wrought with pain, tears, strength and lessons. I am happy to share some of those hard learned lessons with you so that your health can benefit without having to take my painful journey.
Take stress checks
Each day take a stress inventory and reduce your stress levels. This will help you take control of the issues or problems that may be increasing your blood pressure and gray hairs. Throughout my life, I watched my dad keep a daily log on his desk of tasks stressful or not, phone numbers, notes, and product ideas. This becomes particularly useful in keeping stress levels in check because it outlines everything that can add up in our minds at 3am. While I find that I can place notes in my smart phone, it is much more therapeutic for me to write it with a pen and journal. That also allows me to doodle all over my notes (the adult coloring craze is happening for a reason). It’s the best feeling when I can look back and see all that I’ve accomplished and it reduces my stress.
Throughout my MS journey, no matter what healer, doctor or friend I discuss my MS symptoms with, it all goes back to food. If you had told me I’d become a strict vegan, I would not have believed it. However, it is a way for me to eat simpler. I’ve learned that food can either help me or hurt me. Take inventory of what you put into your mouth. Are there tons of ingredients that you can’t pronounce? Is it full of pesticides, sugar, salt, and artificial dyes?
We have more control over our health than we think. Eating simple and clean, will help with energy and conquering your everyday tasks. I notice when I eat my simple fruits and vegetables, I feel so much better. However, when I munch on a slice of pizza, I’m sick for days.
Many people I encounter mention that it is too expensive to eat organic and to eat a lot of the expensive boutique snacks that are gluten free, dairy free, and air free. However if its planned out well, its not as expensive as you think. Have staples like bags of organic apples, bananas and berries on hand. Furthermore, being sick is a lot more expensive. In fact, it’s a fortune.
Throughout my life, I was always one of those people who could do it all on my own. Then MS happened. I was forced to ask for help whether I liked it or not. It has been humbling and eye opening to live in a space where I could not function daily without the help of others. It really does take a village. My son is only two and while I do whatever I can to remain as independent as possible with his care, I find that receiving help makes a lot more sense. His teachers will help me take him from the classroom and load him into the car seat. I get a chance to spend a few moments with the people that help care for my child and my son is learning about community and gratitude. Sometimes it feels easier to try and do everything yourself. However, life becomes a nicer place when we let others help us. It helps our sanity too. If someone offers help accept it, with gratitude…let them join your village.
Build your team
When I received my MS diagnosis, I had to reevaluate how to run my company. I knew that I would need to build a team that could keep the business running in case I became too ill. It took a lot of time to find the right people and it took time to build the finances to afford it, but it took an awful diagnosis for me to realize something very important. I needed to build a strong team to run my company. Build your team. Many entrepreneurs try to wear too many hats and the business, and your health, suffers in the process. Take time to evaluate your business plan and make sure to add a team to the planning process.
Gratitude fixes attitude (and everything else)
There are days where it seems like everything is going wrong. Shipments are late, traffic is awful, and my son got peanut butter all over his shirt right before leaving for his nut free zone school. These are the moments I stop, breath and think about each problem and remind myself what I have to be grateful for and that puts me in a healthier place. I remind myself traffic is more time I get to spend with my son. There is almost always something to be grateful for in the midst of any conundrum.
Yes, you do have time for it. If not, make time for it. I was one of those people that could not sit still long enough to even fathom doing yoga. But as I got sicker and sicker, I learned that taking a moment to stretch, meditate, anything to help me function through my day had a huge impact on my life and stress levels. Now when I’m overwhelmed, I put on some Tibetian Monk music and relax for ten or twenty minutes. It really does go a long way in increasing energy.
Multiple sclerosis did not happen at the most opportune time. It never does. I was young, healthy and in the beginning of my career running a business I love. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is, do not neglect your health. You have little without it. Make time to take care of you and your life and business will thrive.
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