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Not Peas in a Pod, just P's in a Blog

I’ve been on a journey for the last month or so of being very purposeful in practicing patience. The interesting thing about it is that the person I’m working on having patience with is me. And it’s primarily because of the ways Parkinson’s has changed how my hands function – slower and often shaky. I fight it every day with exercise, shear will power, and learning to focus on new ways to accomplish tasks that used to be done without even thinking about them. Here are some things I’ve learned so far on my quest…

Perspective – I don’t think of myself as a patient. If I did, my self-perspective would come from a negative place. Instead, I am a person whose Parkinson’s is just one part of my life experience; in no way does it define who I am. If your perspective is holding you back, change it.

Practice – things that are helpful physically, mentally, financially, and/or spiritually are worth doing well. Many of them take time to learn (yoga, for instance) and require practice to be effective.

Persistence – It’s easy to start something new that you are doing because “it’s good for you.” It’s even easier to stop doing it than to make it a habit. Don’t go the easy route…stay the course. (We’ll talk about habits in a future post!)

Prioritize – When I have a long list of things that need to be done, my default method is to do the fun/easy/short things first. You know…to get them out of the way and (to be honest) see just “how much I’ve gotten done!” That’s counterproductive. Now I spend a few minutes each day prioritizing what’s most important and doing those things first.

Plan – Planning ahead is a time saver, whether it’s for the errands and tasks you need to get done today or the vacation you’ll take this summer. It also helps you think of things that might easily be overlooked. Planning with your spouse is even better – two heads are better than one!

Purpose – When you are faced with an obstacle, remember your purpose. What is it that you are working to accomplish? (This isn’t just life purpose I’m talking about, but also those things that motivate us to act…things like losing weight, getting a new job, looking for a relationship, battling health challenges, planning for retirement, etc). Your Why will be your reason to act on your What.

Patience – When you mess up (and we all do), give yourself some grace and another chance. Sometimes you might just need to stop for a few seconds, take a deep breath, and start again. Sometimes you may need to take a break and allow yourself to regroup. Or you may need to ask for help…

Which leads me to some of the Don’ts I’ve learned on this journey toward self-patience.

Pride – This one is a double-edge sword. Take pride in what you do and the fact that you are doing it. But don’t be so proud that you won’t ask for help when you need it (I’m talking to myself here) or let your imperfections stop you.

Perfect – It’s worth being said another way…Don’t let being less than perfect stop you. I have played the piano since I was 6 years old. I still play, but not as good. There are songs I LOVE to play, but my left hand just can’t do 8th and 16th notes the way it used to. I still play those songs and have accepted the fact that they aren’t going to be perfect. I forgive my mistakes before I make them and just enjoy making the music!

People-pleasing -- Do things for yourself or for others that are truly beneficial. Don’t do something just to please others.

Procrastination – This is an area I work on daily. Putting off things that need to be done only leads to more stress and impatience. If it’s a task that is unpleasant, not getting it done is often worse than going ahead and doing it. But take heed – practicing patience with yourself is not an “out” for the things you procrastinated doing for the last umpteen days. Your patience needs to serve you well, not enable you to stay stuck in a rut.

Pity – Regardless of your situation, don’t fall into a pit of self-pity. Everyone has a story. But I’ve learned that despite how horrible and devastating my story feels, God always reveals to me that there are others who have it worse. “There, but for the Grace of God, go I” is a phrase I tell myself often because...

We lost a son…his DNA lives in Olivia, his memories live in our hearts, and we will see him again in Heaven. We have Derek & Kate, and they’ve just moved 5 hours closer. Others have lost multiple family members under unimaginable circumstances.

I have Parkinson’s…I can walk, run, ride a bike, climb mountains, dance, play the piano, ski, cook, clean house, write, help Dean, play hide & seek or tag with Olivia, help others and so much more. Others are fighting for their life and have been told they have only weeks or months to live.

We are blessed even amidst our struggles.

Which takes me back to the first P…having the right perspective makes life a lot easier to live. I am tweaking my overall perspective just a bit…giving up on the need to perform perfectly that helps me feel proud. Here’s one example of how I’m working to accomplish that:

Personal Confession: I used to write a blog post, re-read it over & over again making tons of minute changes, trying to get it perfect. It would take me 2-3 days to finalize a post. I realized just a few weeks ago that that routine comes from growing up and always striving to get straight A’s in school, because that was expected of me. (Can you say “Pride, Perfection, People-pleasing?”) Claim: I’m writing this in one sitting. Will let it sit until later this afternoon, then I’m going to go over it once and post it. So, if there are typos or sentences that don’t read well, it’s because I’m planning to be patient with my mistakes and ask you to be gracious as you read (& see) them!

Which of the P’s would help you in ’22?

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