Think / Able - and Check out My Parkinson's Facebook Page

Think / Able - and Check out My Parkinson's Facebook Page
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Monday, November 14, 2016

Nearly Lost You - 200 things I am thankful for.... (REVISED)

             There are times in life where we forget all of the things that once mattered to us, and this slight of our interests and joys leaves us caught up with all of the oppressive feelings that stem from things that we have to do. When every day is just wake up, shower, go to work, come home, unwind, and sleep with time for meals and bathroom breaks, life feels routine and repetitive, and that's never a good thing, especially when you feel yourself saying, "Wasn't I just doing this same thing yesterday?" 
             I think about this conundrum that is adulting / getting older and realize how much the combination of work, have to accomplish, and Parkinson's concerns eat into my life, and like the Chipmunks movie that my sister told me was actually enjoyable when she watched it with her kids, I'd like some time back in my life to do the kind of things that I want to do instead of the things that I was stuck doing. 
             So here we are, and it was July 9th before my wife and I were finally finding time to get out in the yard to open up our Siesta and Fiesta Zones. Mind you, the pond with waterfalls (directly in front of it) still isn't up and running, but at least we got to sit in the backyard for a relaxing night with a roaring fire and some lightning bugs popping on and off in the darkness. While I'm not a marshmallow guy, my wife likes them, so she got that in. 
             Reflecting on that now, it's easy to say that hings like that make me happy, and I need more relaxing times like that. It also helps to have a fire poker!

             This is the same way that I feel when I'm contemplating going out hiking. There is the rusty way that I get when I'm trying to get myself moving (and the object at rest doesn't move), and then there's the conundrum of whether to drive somewhere interesting, which inevitably is at least an hour to Duncannon or Port Clinton to hit the Appalachian Trail for views, or to decide if I'd just rather walk the paved rails to trails close to home (also, the only option if I need to be somewhere at a certain time). Then I can just walk out my front door and put 6 miles in over about 2 hours. However, if I want the really good views, that's a 2-3 hour drive. then I have to think about how I'm going to feel driving home, but since this is calling me sooner than later, I'm already getting myself jazzed to go for another walk in the woods. I guess I'll just need some serious metal / rawk music for the way home!

             When I think about those views at the good places, I realize I live in the wrong town since all the scenic vistas in Pennsylvania tend to be north, northeast, or northwest from me. 

             We do have some beautiful farm fields and country in Amish Paradise, Pennsylvania, but we aren't up in Mountain Amish Land. Now that's some big sweeping views (which is why it's called Big Valley!).

              There's a lot of really great places up there. One of them is my favorite view in all of Pennsylvania, which is called the Throne Room. I definitely want to go up there before summer's end. There's something about that mostly untouched vision that makes me truly feel at peace in the world. That's why I announced my Parkinson's on video from there. 

              Another place that I want to go that it's been a while since I walked out on is Spruce Knob, which is an amazing view on the Mid-State Trail (just past Huntingdon, Pennsylvania). There's a little bird watch rock sitting area that kind of camouflages people who sit up there from the elements. Oh, to be back in the cat bird's seat, if I do remember to remind myself how much I missed it.

              There's still a feeling in being able to push up mountains, however slowly, and through the trees to arrive at something spectacular, which makes me feel just as alive as I was before my diagnosis (September 27th 2016 was the 90% certain day, and November 1st was 100% certain, barring different autopsy results) and my wife's ACL tear (which started on the other side of those rocks, which was a serious climb and descent before re-stabilizing the makeshift splint). 

               Those days were a few years ago (her accident was April 11th 2015 - a day after her birthday), but they're not that far away that I don't remember them. Even now, with all of the time that is "scheduled," there is still ability and opportunities to get out and to do and to be, but I just have to make sure I do that. In the days where it all seems so "today is a repeat of yesterday," it feels like it's a million years ago, and we (I, you, us, our friends, our families, our neighbors, our associates, the kid who works in the drive thru window at McDonald's, and my local weather person) can't let it set in or we lose the part of us that is us. 
              Because when we let it feel like this, it's like we forget to do the things we like because we're so caught up in the "get through it" that we forget to "enjoy the ride." From what the experts in the Happiness Reader that we use for my writing class say, that's the key to happiness. I'll let you know for sure when I figure it out, but I believe it's true, and you can confirm if it is.
              Simply put, it's never a bad day to get between the trees somewhere. Sitting here now, waiting for the first few weeks of August to take advantage of this when I have more unlimited "me" time... that's a lot of what keeps me going. They always say that if you know what you want out of it, you can work to achieve things, and I believe that's true of life in general. And it's for the good things and people that I push forward. Whether it's goofing with my godson Dylan (AKA Big D) or having fun weekend getaways with my wife, it's all good. In a forest or a city, all things are possible with the right mindset. 
Choose to live life.

         I think about this today because I found out that one of my friends, an older guy who just had surgery, is having problems with the healing process, particularly with regard to sleep and medications. It makes me sad because nobody should have to suffer, and I see how much it's cramping his style and making him serious about the complications (older men don't emote their problems enough, so when they do, you know it's something for realsies).
         I often hear people talk about health problems and issues with getting used to medicines (isn't that a lot of what we PD people do as well when we support and inform one another), and I can relate because I do, too, but I want to not do that for a second. Instead I'll say something else:
You're awesome and I appreciate you for both
 the fact that you're a great person and you're
taking the time to read my story
           With this, for whatever we don't have going for us, we do have a fair bit of good things that  we should be thankful for. To illustrate that, I list what I am thankful for.
           A note on this, I give this assignment to adult students to spur writing out ideas. I find that it's a very positive experience, if nothing else, for the fact people who do it comment favorably regarding the exercise and they don't groan about it like the larger 6-10 page essays (a walk in the park - my MED thesis was 61!). I don't have any problems getting it in on time either, so that's something.
So if I were to list all of the things I am thankful for, this would be it. What's your top 100?

1.      The chance to overcome the obstacles / disabilities in my life and to be a role model / activist for others.
2.      People who are genuinely concerned about my health and well-being
3.      My faith / philosophy in the universe / God
4.      My faith / philosophy in myself
5.      My marriage to Heather
6.      A warm, safe, comfortable and homey house with Heather
7.      True love and all the good things it brings
8.      My health (mental / physical)
9.      The pre-existing conditions clause in our healthcare laws
10.  Hearing (being able to)
11.  Seeing (being able to)
12.  Smelling (being able to)
13.  Touching (being able to)
14.  Tasting (being able to)
15.   Nature to breathe in and rejoice for life in
16.  My parents
17.  My nephew / godson Big D
18.  My sister
19.  My extended family to include Heather’s family
20.  Long-term friends like Will and Heidi + Pete + Dale + Alina + Steph+Ken+Rhett+Abel
21.  Everyday friends
22.  Workplace colleagues
23.  Bosses that work with me and that I can work with
24.  My students who work hard to teach me how to be a better teacher
25.  Sharing my learning with students
26.  Being literate
27.  Being proud to be a geeky learner
28.  Being able to write letters of references.
29.  Being the author of multiple books
31.  Creativity in general
32.  Discipline and drive to finish my autobiography Eureka, Nevada, which is too personal to publish
33.  Real life inspiration chronicled in said book that convinced me to be a teacher
34.  Discipline and drive to write the rest of Intersections (in multiple books) and the bravery to print it and the other books I’m currently working on when the time comes
35.  Inspiration to write my first non-ghost story for publishing during this year
36.  Photography – both pictures I’ve taken and had shared with me.
37.  Hiking experiences that I’ve had
38.  Bears that I’ve seen – even if only for 10 seconds.
39.  Getting rid of my fear of heights long enough to climb over rocks or to descend down over rock piles
40.  Having friends who know that phony tough or pushing too hard to do something on the trail could equal real dead.
41.  Being intelligent enough to teach others how to be researchers who can better understand things.
42.  A job to pay the bills and do the things I want to do.
43.  Teaching opportunities, wherever they may be
44.  Being able to donate $ to charities like Make a Wish, United Way, Ronald McDonald House, Michael J. Fox Foundation, and Water Street Ministries
45.  The people of the various trail groups who keep paths open
46.  Being able to volunteer for organizations like the Standing Stone Trail and Keystone Trails Association
47.  Having my aunt Toot in my life, who thinks about me enough to do the church raffle ticket and to bake cookies for me
48.  Winning the church raffle and being able to help Heather with her bills
49.  Food to eat.
50.  Clothes to wear.
51.  A calm mind that allows me to “purr like a cat” – most of the time
52.  My time in the Air Force (with organization and people) because it made me who I am.
53.  Being made chowrunner in basic training to learn to speak confidently in front of other people without fear of their reaction
54.  Time spent in England for the experiences and travels it allowed me to participate in
55.  All of my road trips across America
56.  The national parks of America
57.  Watching videos about the canyon descents of Squamish, British Columbia. I may never be able to do that, but I like the vicarious experience, too.
58.  The opportunity to be forgiven and to forgive others
59.  Christmas get togethers
60.  Thanksgiving get togethers
61.  The music of Neutral Milk Hotel
62.  The music of Polyphonic Spree
63.  Other songs to inspire me, mellow me out, or let me rock out
64.  Star Wars in all of its many forms
65.  Bull Durham… best movie ever
66.  Movies in IMAX 3D
67.  The Macho Dude (my Yaris)
68.  Letchworth State Park
69.  Ludlowville Falls and the icicles / hoarfrost that are suspended from the roof of its cave
70.  Millions of stars and the Milky Way up in the sky with no light pollution
71.  The thought that someday I will go to Bora Bora with Heather
72.  The thought that someday I will go to the Native American sites of the Colorado Plateau with Heather – the Great American Petroglyph tour (esp. the Holy Ghost Panel, 9 Mile Canyon, and Chaco Canyon, as well as back to Mesa Verde)
73.  The thought that someday I will go to the Pacific Coast with Heather
74.  Waterfalls that I’ve seen and experienced.
75.  Waterfalls that I dream of experiencing
76.  Frozen waterfalls
77.  Being able to safely hike through the water at Sullivan Run to see waterfalls via the stream trail that requires climbing waterfalls
78.  The taste and smell of cinnamon
79.  The smell of pine forests
80.  Warm showers
81.  Hot tubs
82.  Back massages
83.  Historical places being preserved all over the world.
84.  People who stand up to historical artifact destruction
85.  Art is a good thing – if people put their heart and soul into it.
86.  Adventures in slot canyons that I have taken and watched
87.  0° sleeping bags and getting to camp outdoors over Halloween weekend as an annual event.
88.  My PSA 8 Roger Maris rookie card.
89.  My cool prescription sunglasses
90.  The Internet
91.  Microsoft Office
92.  Facebook to keep in touch with people
93.  MLBTV
94.  Pepperoni pizza
95.  Chicken
96.  Chocolate iced donuts
97.  Brownies
98.  Lasagna
99.  Cheesecake factory dessert time
100.                      The elusive chocolate iced donuts with brownie batter inside of them.
101.                      Jackie Robinson
102.                      Baseball
103.                      Sabrmetrics
104.                      Ghost, cryptid, and alien shows.
105.                      Raspberry iced tea
106.                      Red lobster cheddar bay biscuits
107.                      Great blue herons
108.                      Mark McGwire’s 55th home run in 1998.
109.                      Pedro Martinez
110.                      Ken Burns baseball
111.                      The Goldbergs
112.                      The fact that I can make a shirt and tie look good (just like Will Smith) – or at least I believe I can
113.                      A sense of humor and funny television shows to make me laugh.
114.                      Classic rock music to feel a sense of summer even when it’s still cold out
115.                      Autumn leaves
116.                      Spring leaves
117.                      Humongous mushrooms in weird shapes appearing out of nowhere in the forest
118.                      Warm summer days that aren’t too hot.
119.                      Autumn days that are nice and warm enough for wearing a t-shirt.
120.                      Concerts to feel the musical vibe in person
121.                      The dental work I’ve recently had done
122.                      Neurologists who get it right and who give us the tools to move on.
123.                      The Stockdale Paradox
124.                      Logotherapy and Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning
125.                      Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
126.                      Vince Vaughn
127.                      South Park
128.                      Squirrels playing in the yard except when they’re taking out cushions
129.                      The Siesta Zone
130.                      Decorating for Christmas
131.                      Being able to do math in my head
132.                      A sense of wonder
133.                      The ability to daydream
134.                      Sam and the opportunity to have “another dad.”
135.                      Being able to play with dogs at the mall
136.                      Being able to look at a map and dream of vacations I’ll probably never take.
137.                      Youtube to watch and share
138.                      Scott Brown’s waterfall books.
139.                      Michael Kelsey’s slot canyon books.
140.                      The town of Ithaca and all its waterfalls.
141.                      Being able to marvel at the amazing ability of athletes
142.                      The motivation of people with obstacles telling us to THINK / ABLE
143.                      Maturity to deal with real life.
144.                      A sense of hope and understanding when things get tough.
145.                      Cheeseburgers with and without bacon
146.                      The Standing Stone Trail and all its sights and sites
147.                      Credit cards (for what they were intended)
148.                      The miracle of airplanes
149.                      Microwave ovens
150.                      Refrigeration / cold water / ice
151.                      My Kindle and the joy of digital readers
152.                      People who are willing to protect us (cops + military + family + friends)
153.                      Firemen + Medical + Red Cross type people to save us from disaster
154.                      Teachers
155.                      People who work hard to make a difference for others in little ways
156.                      People who tell us what we need to hear – not just what we want to hear.
157.                      Whales that jump out of the water at Cape May
158.                      Our 2012 vacation to Sandals in Jamaica
159.                      Dreams of a vacation to the Dominican Treehouse Place
160.                      Sleeping in.
161.                      Simple freedoms
162.                      The chance to make a difference for other people
163.                      Hot dogs
164.                      My grilled pork chops
165.                      Warm sweaters
166.                      My wife’s DIY talents
167.                      People who believe in me
168.                      Wifi / 4g for cellphones
169.                      Indoor plumbing
170.                      Old school Corvettes
171.                      Real Jeeps (Wranglers)
172.                      The movie Contact and the ideas of Carl Sagan
173.                      The Grateful Dead’s “Box of Rain”
174.                      Sugar’s “The Act We Act”
175.                      Tim Delaughter letting me use the Polyphonic Spree’s lyrics in my book
176.                      Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”
177.                      Prince’s “Purple Rain (live)”
178.                      Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird (live)”
179.                      Cheese Steaks from V+S
180.                      The interstate transportation system
181.                      Being able to get up and do whatever today.
182.                      The chance to help other people
183.                      The goofy and joyful laughter of kids
184.                      The choice to live life
185.                      Outback’s Alice Springs’ Chicken
186.                      Aron Ralston’s story
187.                      Laurence Gonzales’ Deep Survival and Surviving Survival Books
188.                      My wife’s giant tulip painting
189.                      Stargazer lilies
190.                      Peonies
191.                      Water lilies
192.                      Bald eagles in flight at places like Conowingo Dam
193.                      Migrating snow geese at Middle Creek
194.                      Movies and books about the triumph of the human soul
196.                      The writings of Thomas Friedman
197.                      The writings of Malcolm Gladwell
198.                      The writings and work of Paul Offit
199.                      The chance to be a part of history
200.                      The view from the Throne Room

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