Taking a gentle but firm look at the reality of where we are at can be a rewarding exercise. Weeding through the things we no longer need or may never use again can be liberating.
For an MSer like me, both these actions become lifelines to the me I knew I could be.
Getting rid of clutter, though sometimes an arduous task, refreshes and energizes both the mind and the spirit. So, having already taken a bit of personal inventory, I then turned my attention to my home and the things that were in it.
I went through everything, seeking to clear space and no longer feel bogged down with material goods. I sold or gave away quite a bit, from old textbooks I’d never read again to my ski gear that took up tons of space in my closet.
The ski gear was a tough give. I loved the adventures and the memories it represented. Funny thing though, I realized I really couldn’t stand to see it each day, knowing skiing was not likely to be a part of my new life plan.
I came to recognize that the space I was making would never take away the exciting, fun memories I had with my ski gear. I was simply making room for new and different adventures, yet to be discovered.
I can’t say this process was easy or that it felt great all the time. What I can say is that the more I cleared, the more honest and realistic I became with myself.
I liked this feeling of unbridled honesty with my true self all that surrounded me. I knew I was on to something.
Time to Change Focus
With clearing the cupboards well under way, I began to work on ways to open up to new directions and ideas in my mind. I made it a point to take little breaks whenever I could each day.
In order to rethink my situation and find some sense of purpose, I sought time for myself in nature or in simple quiet, wherever I’d find myself. I sat out in my yard or I sat in my bedroom or on the bus, taking 10 deep, deliberate breaths with the intention and purpose of simply giving myself a break.
I knew through all this, answers would not instantly appear — far from it. However, it’s a proven fact that letting go and not thinking about things can be a much faster and more authentic way to find solutions.
The more I continued with these breath breaks or tiny meditations, the more new ideas and new opportunities seemed to appear from out of the blue. This is the beauty of making space and taking some time to give oneself some kind of a break.
The Real You
Through all the big and little changes MS brings with it, we need to know that we are the same person we’ve always been.
Perhaps though, if you look deeply, your wants needs and goals may have shifted a bit. Be open and treat yourself to new experiences, perhaps try different types of music, or new kinds of foods.
The idea is to do something new and also do some of the things you always promised yourself you would get to someday, like going to a park or reading a certain book.
I bought myself a new brand of toothbrush and started folding my towels differently. Sure, these are small things, but they help break our daily routines and patterns in subtle ways.
Like little restart buttons, tiny changes recharge the soul. All these little allowances and minor but deliberate alterations will help you open to new thought patterns and interests. This is all on course with finding true purpose.
Through large and small adjustments to finding present day authenticity, we can find joy. Through joy we start to open up to new possibilities. Through possibilities we find the path to new or revised purpose that fits with our now and is more adaptable to future challenges.
Act, Don’t React
I found the next step in seeking purpose with MS was to alter my standard of expectation.
There was always this responsibility I put on myself to just continue and keep pace as I always did. Even when I knew this was impossible, I still for some reason responded and acted as though I could.
I now think before I respond. Yes, I am still impulsive, but I set realistic expectations for myself and for others.
I give myself extra time to prepare or get ready for things in most cases. I also leave myself a ‘last minute out’ when I commit to certain occasions. I can say that taking those moments to sit and breathe sure helped me get to this place.
How Do You Do It?
All the soul-searching, inventory, cleaning house and taking small moments for myself have paved the way for two final subjects: kindness and volunteering. It does not take much of either before you begin to find a solid path to a real sense of purpose and joy, living with MS.
When we put our focus on something outside of ourselves, we instantly boost our sense of self-worth and reason for being. Start by intending to uplift someone’s day, every day.