To kick off MS Awareness Month, MSAA released the new video Changing Lives Monday to Sunday to show the impact the organization has on the MS community, and to showcase our commitment to our mission of Improving Lives Today.
Now, meet Cathy, Sara, and Simone – the three MSAA clients featured in the videos:
Hear from Cathy whose MS was causing heat sensitivity that drained her energy and kept her indoors in the air conditioning. Cathy decided to reach out to MSAA about our Cooling Program and received a cooling vest that allows her to get outside and feel re-energized.
Sara talks about how her diagnosis and subsequent disease progression left her feeling overwhelmed and uncertain. In order to get the MRI to prove that her disease was progressing and her symptoms were a result of her MS, Sara applied for MSAA’s MRI Access Fund which helped to pay for her necessary test.
After her diagnosis in 2015, Simone wanted to find a way to take care of her whole self, but she also wanted to help others with the same diagnosis. In her search for volunteer opportunities, Simone came across Swim for MS and dove right in, not only raising money for the MS community, but also finding support for herself and the freedom swimming gives her.
To learn more about any of these programs, please visit mymsaa.org
As MS Awareness Month came to a close at the end of last week, MSAA held its fourth annual Improving Lives Benefit on March 30th in Philadelphia, PA. This event allowed all of us at MSAA to celebrate MSAA champions who embody our mission of Improving Lives Today in the multiple sclerosis community throughout the United States.
This year, we were extremely proud to honor Shana Stern (an MSAA Art Showcase Artist), her son, Walker Reynolds (a Swim for MS volunteer), and William Saunders (MSAA Board of Directors’ Treasurer).
Attendees got to hear from Walker about his desire to raise money for a cause that would directly benefit and support people like his mother Shana, who was diagnosed with MS in 1999. We also had an opportunity to hear from Shana about her process of expressing her creativity and love of music and performance through her newfound passion of painting with her knuckles. Finally, William Saunders spoke about his time serving as a member of the MSAA Board of Directors and as a representative of the MS community as a true gift.
In addition to celebrating the work of our MSAA champions, we were also able to raise more than $120,000, which will make a tremendous difference in the lives of numerous individuals and families with MS.
This year’s event would not have been successful without the support of our attendees, supporters, and our sponsors. Thank you to everyone who contributed and we look forward to another beautiful evening next year!
Ahhh Spring…a time when flowers are in bloom, daylight lasts a bit longer, and everyone tries to come out of hibernation from the cold winter months. Spring cleaning is known to be synonymous with this time as well; to rid households or offices of stale, closed up winter residue and open up to the fresher and rejuvenating seasons ahead. But this period of spring cleaning does not have to begin and end with just cleaning out closets or drawers, but rather a purging of all things unwanted, unnecessary or negative that’s affecting your life.
Now I know this can be easier said than done—things happen that you can’t control or predict sometimes or can even change, but for the situations where you do have control or a say in it, rid yourself of negativity and toxicity. If you have the opportunity to shed things that don’t add or contribute positively to your life, do it. Life is unpredictable as it is and there’s so much that we don’t have control over, so if there are moments where you can actively take charge and remove the unwanted, jump on it.
The act of purging can be cathartic; it can help you discard pessimistic thoughts and even people, which can be so very draining to deal with, especially on a regular basis. This practice may be a lengthy and emotional one because it can take time to evaluate these aspects of your life and day-to-day. To realize what should stay and what should go is an inner learning process and one that only you yourself should decide. It’s not easy breaking ties or cutting things out, but in the end you have to consider what’s ultimately going to be best for you, and finding comfort with the decisions you’ve made and to be able to move forward. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be defined by just clearing out closets; it can be a clearing of the mind as well.
So, in talking about different aspects of wellness this month I wanted to shine light on one wellness factor that I think is very important, and probably one of the most difficult to measure—emotional wellness. Because the concept of wellness carries with it so many different implications, the emotional piece of it comes loaded with many questions and wonderings in itself. What does it look or feel like to be ‘emotionally’ well?
In a world that’s wracked with chaos and havoc a lot of the time, how many people can say that on a day to day basis that they are emotionally feeling well? Sometimes it’s impossible to keep up this façade, and rightfully so; no matter how much you try to control in your world, life decides to get in the way at times and carry out its own agenda. Obstacles, illness, accidents, frustration, and stress are all elements that can impact one’s emotions and try to change how you react and cope with things. But this is where you get to step in and shake things up; though life does sometimes enjoy giving us a plethora of lemons, we have the choice to make lemonade. It won’t always be easy, and I guarantee there are times that it’ll be even more difficult, but if you consciously choose to stay still with yourself and use the resources you have at hand, you can make the most delicious of lemonade concoctions ever tasted as a result.
One of the main components to emotional wellness is a positive attitude, and I think this is a piece that can be especially hard to maintain at times. But again, while we may not have control over the things that happen to us, we can control how we react to them, and trying to stay positive and optimistic in this may be one of the strongest weapons we have. Being able to seek support from others is another measure of this wellness puzzle piece. Now this can be challenging for many, as asking for help can be misconstrued and thought of negatively at times, but rather than see it in this light, think of it as a strength – reaching out to others in times of need shows that you are aware of and considerate of your needs and what you need to move forward. And if that means it’s a helping hand reaching out to you, then grab hold of it. You know yourself best, so if you find that you don’t have all the pieces to help you feel emotionally well, pin down what you think is missing and allow yourself to look for it.
It’s (finally) officially spring in the Northern Hemisphere. While temperatures in the spring-like arena appeared earlier than expected in many areas, today marks the official start of the Spring Equinox, and with it the end of another winter.
Spring, like many of the other seasons, helps us to mark the passage of time. One month ends as another begins while we watch as one season gives way to the next. The passage of time can be something that renews us, but for some it can also be decidedly daunting. Preparing for a change or coming to the end of a journey. When we think of our wellness we tend to parse it out into differing categories and label each with action steps to move it along. Time is one of the few things that inches its way into all aspects of our wellness. The time we take to devote to our physical wellness. Setting aside time to recharge and center for mental wellness. Or the time we give ourselves to work thru emotional times to attend to our emotional wellness. Time and for many of us the lack of it in reserve is another aspect we have to consider when we talk about our wellness. Being deliberate about taking time to ourselves when we need it most and even when we don’t think we do. Taking an intentional (as much as is possible) look at the time we spend and what that says about the things that matter to us. It’s been said that “time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters”. Where and what and who we spend our time on has the ability to shape the way we view not only ourselves, but also our wellness.
As spring arrives and we are in the mode of thinking of change, take stock of your personal wellness on all levels. See what aspects of your wellness that you may be spending not enough time, too much time or no time at all on and consider making an adjustment to see how thinking about the devotion of your time will impact your overall wellness.
March 17 is the day we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. What began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland has become an international celebration of Irish culture. Many people and towns across the nation celebrate with parades, dancing, special foods and a whole lot of green.
Today you don’t need to be from Ireland to have the luck of Irish on your side! Here are a few simple ways you can simply enjoy some St. Patrick’s Day fun.
Grab Some Cinnamon Sticks
Some believe that putting a stick of cinnamon in your wallet will lead to wealth and prosperity. Who doesn’t need a few extra bucks these days?
Find Yourself a Four-Leaf Clover
The four-leaf clover is said to bring good luck to those who stumble upon it. Check in a patch you may have growing in your yard.
Visit Your Garden
Lavender comes from the Latin word “lavare,” which means to wash. Lavender is said to ward off evil spirits.
Sage is another plant that is said to help ward off evil spirits and is said to fight off negative energy that could be lurking on this Irish holiday.
Lucky Rabbit Foot
Some cultures believe that carrying around the foot of a rabbit will bring good luck. Could be worth a try!
There are several other good luck myths, too. These are just a few to help you feel lucky!
Do you have questions about multiple sclerosis that you’ve been meaning to ask? Here’s your chance!
Join the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America on March 29, 2017 at 6:00 PM for an Ask Me Anything session with MS Expert, Dr. Barry Singer, on My MSAA Community. For one hour, Dr. Singer will answer your questions about MS posted in a designated conversation thread on the Community.
WHAT: MS Awareness Month “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) WHO: MSAA and Dr. Barry Singer, Director of The MS Center for Innovations in Care in St. Louis, MO WHEN: Wednesday, March 29th, 6:00 – 7:00 PM EST WHERE: My MSAA Community on HealthUnlocked
If you would like to ask a question during the Ask Me Anything session, you will need to have or create a profile on My MSAA Community, our peer-to-peer online community in which you can share your MS journey, connect with others, and contribute to ongoing conversations – all from your phone, tablet, or computer.
Join us on My MSAA Community for this special “Ask Me Anything” session during MS Awareness Month to get answers to your questions!
This month’s recipe comes from MSAA Staffer, Emily O.
Growing up, I spent most of my time after school at my grandparents’ house until one of my parents would be done with work. One of my favorite traditions from this time of year was helping my grandmother make her own homemade Irish Potato Candy as a St. Patrick’s Day treat. My mother loved Irish Potato Candy and, though we made the candy every year, my grandmother and I loved making it as a surprise for my mother. Years later, I still make the candy as a way of honoring both my mother and grandmother. Enjoy!
4 oz. regular cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter, softened
16 oz. confectioners’ sugar
2 cups flaked coconut
1 tsp. vanilla extract
In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter.
Add in the vanilla.
Add in confectioners’ sugar a bit at a time until the mixture forms a ball.
Stir in the coconut flakes with a (sturdy!) spoon.
Spread ground cinnamon in a shallow dish or on a plate. You may need to repeat this process a few times depending on how coated you like your potatoes.
Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper or wax paper.
Grab a small piece of the cream cheese and coconut mixture and roll in your hands to form a small ball (I usually make mine about the size of a quarter) and roll the ball in the ground cinnamon until the ball is coated.
Place the balls on the cookie sheet and let them chill for about an hour or so, until they are firmer.
*We hope you enjoy our Recipe of the Month selections on MS Conversations. Just remember: these entries may not necessarily be a part of an MS-specific diet; these are simply recipes compiled from MSAA staff and friends either from their own family recipe collection or based on recipes we think you might enjoy. As always, make sure to consult your doctor about any food or nutrition questions as they relate to your MS.
Exercise is a great way to help maintain strength and endurance in order to better take care of your physical well-being. There are countless varieties of exercise trends and routines, but traditional exercise isn’t always the best fit for everyone, especially individuals with MS, due to the increased physical demand and rising body temperature. Research conducted over the years has suggested that aquatic exercise is an effective way for individuals with MS to improve their flexibility, fatigue levels, and (most importantly) their quality of life and psychological well-being.
Take, for example, the way aquatic exercise has affected Mandy Iris. “I can swim as angry as I want. I can be as sad as I want, but it all just seems to melt away every time I jump out of the pool. I feel better. It’s invigorating, it makes you feel alive,” says Mandy. Spending time in the pool and swimming a few laps, or just walking around in the pool can not only help strengthen your muscles, but allows you the time and space to clear your mind.
If you are looking to try aquatic exercise for yourself, and you’ve discussed this with you doctor or physical therapist, here are a few of tips for finding the right facility for you:
Location – Find a facility within a reasonable driving distance or that you can get to using public transportation.
Safety and Accessibility – Make sure that you are able to easily move about the facility and pool deck. Also, be sure that you will be able to get in and out of the pool with ease.
Classes – If it interests you, see if the facility offers any aquatic exercise classes you can attend.
Schedule – Find a facility or a program that works with your schedule, including work, child care, and personal preferences.
This month on the MS Conversations blog we’ll be talking about different aspects of wellness and its importance and impact on various parts of one’s life. With it being MS Awareness Month, it’s good to be aware of and shine light on your own well-being and state of wellness, because this can encapsulate many diverse pieces. One aspect of wellness I wanted to discuss is occupational wellness. Now usually when we hear the term ‘wellness’ we think of our bodies and the physical side of this concept, and while this is a significant part, it’s not the only piece of the puzzle.
In talking about occupational wellness I realize that everyone’s situation is unique and the workforce may or may not be a current part of one’s day to day. This is not to say that the elements of occupational wellness can’t be relevant and applied to different situations or encounters experienced by all. Some of the factors related to this piece of wellness are important to consider for any facet of life, again because it circles back to your overall state of wellness. Some basic principles of occupational wellness include satisfaction, motivation, leisure, balance, inspiration and accomplishment. No matter if you’re currently a part of the workforce or engaged in other types of activities and routines, these components are an integral part of daily life to try to acquire to help achieve wellness.
Within the workforce it’s important to try to find work that you enjoy doing—that you’re passionate about and that keeps you interested and continuously learning. Being able to work well independently and with colleagues, and communicate often are essential pieces to this, in addition to being inspired by the work you do and wanting to constantly challenge yourself in it. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but if you find something, whether it be in work, or another kind of activity or endeavor, make sure it’s something that means something to you. When you engage in a pursuit that has purpose for you and that you can get behind, that makes all the difference.
So again, occupational wellness is just one piece of the puzzle, but it has multiple factors that are easily transferable to other aspects of life and overall well-being. Whatever it is you do – stay engaged, focused, and most of all, inspired.