A New Year Ahead

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’m having a hard time believing that we’ll be in a new year soon. Regardless, 2022 is rapidly approaching with each passing day. It feels like time has gone by more quickly, even during a pandemic, and that we’ve just flown through this past year at lightning speed. Luckily 2021 brought with it more hope and opportunity than the previous year. With its vaccine availability we were able to start doing more and seeing people again. The virus has not gone away but there is more protection now than before and with it more hope and high spirits heading into this New Year.

Spending time with others

Hopefully this upcoming year we will see people getting together more often. Of course, all the while still abiding by safety measures and precautions, when possible. But gathering again with friends and loved ones will be a welcome, continued change we hope to see.

Continued research and education

We continue to learn more daily when it comes to the COVID-19 virus and its variants, and hopefully this will continue in 2022. But not only that, MS research and education remain vital for the MS community as well. Treatment investigations, clinical studies, and education programs have increased over the past year and offered avenues of hope for those in the MS space. Education remains key to staying apprised of what’s impacting those touched by MS.

Support and encouragement

It’s been a trying time we’ve found ourselves in for nearly two years now. Things have weighed heavy on people’s emotions and well-being, but support in the MS community has remained strong and resilient. We’ve seen people still connecting with one another through various means to stay linked and provide encouragement to others. Be it online, by phone, or other avenues of communication, members of the MS community tried their best to stay in touch. MS organizations and groups continued to provide vital services as well, letting individuals know they’re not alone.

As we embark upon this New Year, let’s try to stay hopeful for refreshing changes and opportunities that may come. We can continue to hope for better times ahead.

Wishing everyone a hopeful and bright New Year!

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Simplifying the Holidays

It’s hard to believe, but the holiday season is upon us once again. We’ve entered November and have already had some cooler temps across the country these days, helping to signify that special time of year. The holidays mean something different to everyone. And for some it means a period of stress and tension trying to plan and prepare for the festivities to come. But the holidays don’t have to encompass just tension and hard work. We can make things a little easier with some planning and prep ahead of time.

Make Lists

I am a huge proponent of making lists. They help keep us organized and help us to recall things that need to be done. Having lists written out gives you a better idea of what your tasks are and allows you to put things in order of priority. It’s also a great feeling being able to throw the list away once you’re done with it.

Keep it Simple

Sometimes less is more. During the holidays there’s already a lot going on, so why not simplify things where you can. Cooking for the holiday? Maybe focus on less side dishes or the abundance of dessert varieties. If gathering with others, go potluck for the meal. Have others prepare their favorite dish to bring to the occasion. And maybe even swap recipes with one another to make it more fun. If you’re able to, why not have a holiday meal or party catered? Or perhaps order your favorite takeout and gather with friends and family. Keeping it simple helps free up time to do other things you enjoy during the season.

Ask for Help

There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help, and at the holidays is no exception. Asking others to help plan and prepare meals, purchase goods, or clean and organize, can help you conserve energy and helps to maintain sanity during what can be a hectic time of year. Others may be very willing and eager to help, especially if they don’t have their own share of endless tasks to conquer. You can also pick and choose who you ask for support. You don’t have to take on everything alone.

This time of year can be truly wonderful and magical. It doesn’t have to look a certain way or cost lots of money. It’s about enjoying the spirit of the season, the joy, the lights, the hope. Be sure to carve out time to appreciate the special moments of the season. Nothing is or must be perfect. It can just be whatever it means to you.

Wishing everyone a safe and joyous holiday season!

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Add A Little Humor

Throughout life there are moments that call for certain emotions and behaviors as a way to react and cope with things. There are times that call for seriousness and focus, sadness, or frustration. But there are also times that call for humor and lightheartedness. These elements can help keep you going sometimes, especially through challenging periods. Seeking out humor is a task everyone should try daily.

Some of us are fortunate to have naturally funny and humorous characters as part of our day to day lives. My husband is one of these people and can make me laugh-especially in times where I don’t want to be amused, haha. He has a knack for it, a talent that comes so easy to find humor in almost any situation. I’m grateful for the humor he adds to my life each day, even when it’s not wanted. He knows in those moments where I become too serious or overly stressed, I can probably use a good laugh to break through nerves and tensions. And he’s usually right.

I know we can’t have humor and laughter 24/7, but I think it’s important to make room for it whenever possible. There are too many obstacles, traumas and tragedies that plague the world. Be it illness, loss, or some other type of devastation—we don’t know what the next moment will bring. But amidst this we can find light, hope, and humor to manage our feelings about what we can’t control. If humor can be a way to help cope with the unimaginable, then bring on the laughs. Because at the end of the day if we can control our reactions and emotions, why not add humor into the mix.

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Don’t Give Up Hope

Hope

Hope is defined by the Oxford Dictionary, as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Another definition of hope is to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment. Hope can be a helpful and beneficial tool to have in this New Year. It will leave you with an expectation and desire for the fulfillment of the very thing you want to happen. Don’t Give Up Hope.

When circumstances come your way, you can use hope as a tool until the outcome you desire comes to pass. It’s simple and easy to do. In high school I played soccer, and my coach would always say to us “don’t give up hope”. There were times when our team would be down 2 points with very little time left on the clock but the resounding noise from the sideline, would be our coach yelling “Don’t give up hope!”

“Don’t give up hope!”

I understand now that he was teaching us a principle that we could use every day. He was showing us that no matter what life throws at us, we will always have the ability to desire and expect an outcome that we desire. As we hoped and unified as a team on a singular outcome, we would somehow find a way to change the outcome of the game. We would win!

Let’s break down hope a little more, shall we? When you think of hope, also think of conception and imagination. When you hope for something, you are imagining your desire until what you hope for is manifested. As you imagine the outcome, you will find that your imagination is accompanied by a positive emotion or feeling.

The benefits of hope gives you confident ammunition to combat stress, anxiety, fear, depression, or any unfavorable circumstance that may occur. Hope will help you kick those negative feelings to the curb.

So as you hope for things in this New Year, remember hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

Like my high school soccer coach would say “Don’t give up hope.”

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Learning About Hope

By Stacie Prada

Learning about hope gives me hope. Hope, faith, endurance, resilience, conviction and belief, they all contribute to my level of hopefulness.  They help me feel like I can make it through hard times.  The conditions I’m enduring will subside, or I’ll figure out a way for it not to hurt as much.

Hope

I’m learning that people with hope do better physically.  I’m realizing that it’s not a feel-good thing or coincidence that at my neurologist appointment, the questionnaire asks me how many times in the last month I’ve felt hopeless. You may be familiar with this question. It reads: “During the last 30 days, about how often did you feel hopeless?  Choose among the answers: All of the time, Most of the time, Some of the time, A little of the time or None of the time.”

Some internet research has shown me that this question is from the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale.  It is a measure of exactly that, distress.  People who are hopeful live with less distress.  It doesn’t mean their lives are less challenging or easier.  Actually, they’ve learned that life conditions don’t have a correlation to how hopeful a person is.  People with similar challenges can have vastly different levels of hope, and even the same person can have different levels of hope at different times in their life.  I’ve learned it takes effort to be hopeful, but our circumstances don’t dictate our well-being.

There are things we can do if we’re feeling hopeless.  Hope and motivation do well with ongoing support and inspiration, and often they involve other people. Tell someone you trust, talk to a counselor, reach out, and lose any guilt or shame for needing help.  Answer the question honestly when the doctor’s questionnaire asks you.

We’re all going to have different things touch our souls and give us hope. Just looking for things that make me hopeful leads me to find reasons to be hopeful.  Being clear about what is possible and what is probable narrows my focus for where to direct my attention productively.

I’m excessively aware that I can’t control most of things in life.  I can‘t control what others do, I can’t control the pace of scientific advancements, and I can’t control my body’s multiple sclerosis advancement.

I can’t unilaterally fix the world’s injustices, but I can contribute a little in every interaction I have.

I can’t prevent MS progression and disability in my body, but I can live in a way that gives me the best odds of doing as well as possible.

I can’t speed up medical advancements, but I can stay informed, participate in studies and contribute to causes that are doing that work.

Acknowledging the many areas where I lack control and the few where I can contribute eases my stress level.  It lessens the degree of responsibility to a manageable level where I feel like I can do something that matters. That gives me hope.

*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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A Hopeful 2021

When the countdown to New Year was upon us and the clock finally struck midnight on January 1st, I felt hopeful and optimistic about the new year ahead. Seriously, after a year like 2020 you could do nothing but believe that 2021 must be better, right? Well, we can certainly hope so!

We haven’t rid ourselves of the pandemic, but with the distribution and development of several vaccines hopefully Continue reading

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We’re In This Together

It’s quite the understatement when I say that things across the country and around the world are very distressed right now. With the COVID-19 pandemic still impacting lives and dominating most news headlines, the virus has left most feeling anxious and concerned. We’re left with questions and fears. And to top it off, have mostly been confined indoors to socially isolate ourselves for safety. With many things unsettled and unknown, I find comfort in knowing we’re all in this together. Continue reading

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Hope in the New Year

Hello, 2019! You got here fast! And I hope you brought some good and positivity with you for the year ahead. Right before the New Year rang in my cell phone died for a period of time in the final hours of 2018. Because I tend to be a bit of a pessimist at times, my first thought was, “Oh great, is this a sign of what 2019 has in store? Because if it is I’m sleeping through it!” My husband, who is definitely a glass half-full type of personality, completely changed my way of thinking. Since I’ve been Continue reading

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Holiday Hope and Faith in Humanity

"Seeing isn't believing, believing is seeing." Holiday Hope and Faith in HumanityThis is a quote from one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies, The Santa Clause. When I heard the quote again this week watching the movie for the millionth time, it got me thinking. What does this really mean? For purposes of the movie plot they’re talking about it in terms of jolly old St. Nicholas and the happenings at the North Pole. But I started to think Continue reading

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Finding Holiday Spirit

I don’t think anyone would argue the fact that 2017 has been a pretty difficult year, to say the least. National tragedies, devastating natural disasters, political and social mayhem, and endless controversy have plagued the year and we’re not yet at its end. So it’s completely understandable if you ask yourself the question, how do I get into the holiday spirit surrounded by this mayhem? Where does one find the incentive “to be jolly” in a season that’s bookended by discord on one side, and potential hope and mystery on the other that comes with the arrival of the New Year? The answer to this can actually be found in those who surround you and the spirit that others project this time of year, you only need look for the light that cuts through the darkness.

If you want to find holiday spirit, look to children this time of year, as they carry so much light and happiness and excitement for what the holiday will bring, that it’s hard not to share in this joy with them. If religion is something of interest or that you already practice, hope can oftentimes be found through faith, especially during this season. Sometimes people just want to believe in something that’s greater than them and elicits peace. Seeing how people volunteer and donate to various causes year round but especially at the holidays also spurs feelings of joy and creates that sought after holiday spirit. It’s not always easy – life can be messy and chaotic and awful at times, but it’s looking and searching for those small signs of hope and peace that keep people moving forward and keeps holiday spirit alive. Without darkness we wouldn’t know light and how powerful it can be, so be sure to embrace it when it shines through, and let your spirit be bright.

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