I once heard a television personality speaking about important messages she had learned from her mother. The phrase that sent me digging into my purse for pen and paper was, “Turn your mess into your message.”
Fast forward a dozen or so years and a decidedly different phrase came my way.“You have Parkinson’s.”Once again, I got out a pen and paper to jot down notes so I could think about them later. Then the neurologist sent me off with a handshake, and prescription number one.
I am willing to bet that everyone who hears, “you have Parkinson’s” remembers how they first reacted. I know I saw an image of my future self, bent over and shuffling. I knew my husband loved me yet I felt like damaged goods. I worried about losing the retirement we had planned and, wait, what was my employer going to say? What a mess!
That was the beginning of my Parkinson’s journey but, with gratitude, I can say that my path has grown wider and brighter five years hence. Early in my search to learn as much as possible about PD, I found encouragement in the mission of the Davis Phinney Foundation, “We help people with Parkinson’s live well today.”I knew that I wanted my mess to become THIS message and was fortunate to be invited into the foundation’s ambassador program.
I know for a fact that having Parkinson’s does not mean I am damaged goods. I like to think of myself in terms of the Japanese practice of Kintsugi in which items of value are not discarded when they are broken. They are repaired with a mixture that includes gold powder so breaks remain visible but have been made beautiful.
Parkinson’s certainly put cracks in my life plan but reaching out as an ambassador, support group facilitator, joy scatterer, and more has highlighted my search for the silver lining, er, gold filling that turns my damaged goods status to that of being restored and valued simply as me, not me with PD. I hope you turn your “broken” into “beautiful,” too. I invite you to contact me if you would like to talk. I will listen.