A Season of Convergence 

By Stacie Prada

The holiday season for me is one of convergence. A convergence of work demands, holiday tasks, gatherings, gifts and merriment. It feels like everything needs to get done, and there’s not enough time in the day or energy in my body to do everything. It affects my routines, eating habits, cash flow and health. Yet I love it and look forward to it every year.

Decorations brighten the landscape, workplaces and homes. Stress abounds, but so does good cheer. Frenzy and serenity coexist.

I rush and rest, plan and adjust. Priorities get met, yet they can change. Checking in with myself helps ensure I’m clear on what’s reasonable for me to do or needs to be let go. My aspirations exceed my ability, and ruthlessness for what stays on the priority list is essential.

There’s no possible way to do it all. Picking and choosing matters.

Convergence of deadlines and expectations organically occurs each year. Intentionally merging needs with wants can help lessen the amount of precious energy and time needed for them. It can help make things less stressful and more fulfilling. My goals for the season are:

· Know what I need and want, what’s good for me, and what aligns with my goals.

· Batch things I need to do with things I want to do.

· Look for ways to merge my needs and wants with things that are good for me, align with my goals and bring me happiness.

· Be clear in each moment what’s important and let everything else fade away.

· Have fun!

I often schedule walks with friends and colleagues to connect and be active. These outings are filled with updates, planning, problem solving, advice, encouragement, reminiscing, merriment and belly laughs. With these walks, my goals for movement, connection and fresh air for the day are met: check, check, and check. They do more than that though. They motivate, encourage and recharge me mentally and

physically. Afterward, I feel both productive and indulgent – a perfect convergence of seemingly opposing mindsets.

With creativity, competing wants and needs can be fulfilled as complementary aspects of a single activity. For example, I enjoy writing, photography and art, and I want to spend time and energy pursuing them. They add to my quality of life, yet they don’t pay my bills or qualify as absolute needs. Managing my health and addressing my Multiple Sclerosis symptoms are definite needs for me. In order to live as well as I can with MS, I need to listen to my body and learn what it needs. I need to rest and manage stress, fatigue and other MS symptoms as best as possible. Monitoring and reflecting on how my body works and researching MS related topics takes time, energy and focus. If I think of my health and writing as separate and competing, I wouldn’t feel like I would have enough time or energy to spend on both. Instead, I unite my need to tend to my health and my want to explore creative endeavors by writing about MS challenges and what helps me live well with MS. Writing helps me work through what I myself need, be clear about what helps me and create reference materials that are useful to me later. Writing ultimately helps me manage my health AND express myself creatively.

This year, our office party changed from our usual dinner out to a wreath making event at a cidery and farm. We each learned something new, and we admired each other’s creativity. We shared stories and laughter while enjoying the ambiance of the venue and sipping delicious cider. Each of us left with a beautiful wreath as we marveled at the star-filled night sky and pointed out constellations. The pragmatist in me can say we checked the boxes for holiday gathering, connecting, learning, and creativity. The idealist in me knows it was a magical way to celebrate the season and my colleagues.

In the midst of the holiday season with extra tasks, deadlines and desires, I seek ways to meet my needs and wants that are fulfilling and feasible. I make time to reflect, write and tend to my health. I prioritize walks and friendship, and I aim to add merriment wherever possible.

My wish for each and every one of us this holiday season is that our needs and wants converge for maximum fulfillment and joy. Cheers to you and yours!

*Stacie Prada was diagnosed with RRMS in 2008 just shy of 38 years old. Her blog, “Keep Doing What You’re Doing” is a compilation of inspiration, exploration, and practical tips for living with Multiple Sclerosis while living a full, productive, and healthy life with a positive perspective. It includes musings on things that help her adapt, cope and rejoice in this adventure on earth. Please visit her at http://stacieprada.blogspot.com/

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The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) is a national nonprofit organization and leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free programs and services, such as: a Helpline with trained specialists; award-winning publications, including, The Motivator; MSAA’s nationally recognized website, featuring educational videos, webinars, and research updates; a mobile phone app, My MS Manager™; safety and mobility equipment products; cooling accessories for heat-sensitive individuals; MRI funding; My MSAA Community, a peer-to-peer online support forum; MS Conversations blog; a clinical trial search tool; podcasts; and more. For additional information, please visit www.mymsaa.org or call (800) 532-7667.

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