Moments of Victory® – Debbie Flamini Chooses Joy (and Yoga) to Live Well with Parkinson’s

Debbie Flamini and her husband do yoga to live well with Parkinson's

What has your life been like since your diagnosis?

It was a cold, gray day in January 2010 when I finally heard the words I knew were coming, "You have Parkinson's."

With this diagnosis came a lot of soul searching and personal growth. Who was I now? I was always strong, healthy and athletic. Was I still that person?

I suddenly felt vulnerable, fragile and weak. My confidence was shattered. I felt like damaged goods. How could I ever feel proud of anything ever again? I was always an optimistic person, so it was hard to share these dark thoughts. Writing poetry helped me sort out my feelings and vent my anger. Then one day, about a year later, I had an epiphany. I could live a joyous life with Parkinson's or be miserable. Either way, I would still have Parkinson's. I chose joy, and I truly do live that way nearly every day! "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain”, said Vivian Greene. So, let me tell you about my dance!

How do you live well each day?

Debbie Flamini Yoga Davis Phinney FoundationThere is a great gift that comes from a diagnosis like Parkinson's. It's called gratitude. I have an abundant appreciation for things that I would have otherwise taken for granted. When I go hiking, I may not hike as far or as high, but when I reach my destination, I literally cry with joy that I’m still able to see this beautiful world of ours and share these moments with my husband.

I make sure to plan lunch dates with friends, and I often have the family over for no particular reason, just to enjoy their company.

I live well because I have a family I love so very much. I don't want this disease to become who we are so I do everything I can to still be a "whole" person. That means I get out, I exercise, I keep learning and I set goals. Six months ago I set a goal to become a yoga instructor because yoga has been so helpful to me. Soon I hope to start teaching a Parkinson's yoga class and inspire my students with my strength and optimism. And the truth is I AM proud of myself, probably more often now than before I was diagnosed. And my husband? He thinks I'm the strongest person he knows!

What do you wish you would have known when you were diagnosed that you know now about living with Parkinson’s?

I wish I had known that life goes on and that happiness is still achievable. I was worried I would become stagnant and boring, when in fact I have grown in ways I would never have without the diagnosis. Several fundraisers (I have raised over $80,000 in seven years) have put me in the spotlight, and I have learned to speak in public, even in front of a TV camera! Originally I felt my self-esteem plummet. Today I know that Parkinson’s has given me the chance to be an inspiring role model, and I feel really good about that!

Debbie Flamini's Philosophy

What do you wish everyone living with Parkinson’s knew about living well? 

I wish every person with Parkinson’s knew that if they truly embrace joy, their life will be filled with it. You can live well with Parkinson's, but you need to allow it in!

Share Your Victory

Each month, we spotlight someone from our Parkinson’s community who embodies living well today – what we call Moments of Victory®.

Your story, like Debbie's, could be featured on our blog and Facebook page so others can learn from your experiences and victories.

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Comments (2)

I truly enjoyed reading Debbie Flamini’s, Moments of Victory. Thank You
Itcame at at the perfect time for me. I hope to soon write of my own journey with Parkinson’s since my diagnosis in 1991 at 34 years of age.

Alex Reinhardt

Thank you for commenting, Sandra! We hope you submit your own Moments of Victory and share your personal story of living well with Parkinson’s

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