Somewhere over the rainbow, brain bulbs fly… bulbs fly over the rainbow, why then oh why can’t I… And yet I can! And you can too! If you’ve seen my latest post on social media, you’ll see how I did fly up, up and away in the MS MindShift brain bulb balloon this past October in Atlanta.
I live alone, yet I’m not alone. I traveled alone, yet I wasn’t alone. I was diagnosed with Relapsing MS in 2001. Nearly twenty years later my diagnosis has shifted from RMS to Secondary Progressive SPMS (SPMS). My brain has shifted too. Although I’ve worked quite hard at strengthening my brain by using various exercises related to “neuroplasticity,” I’ve found there’s much more to do based on brain health and life skills relating to self-care.
The MS MindShift is something I thought I knew about, but not as clearly as I thought. Let’s think about these areas:
- What am I doing now vs. the lifestyle choices I can make to do better?
- What are my other chronic conditions?
- How can I tie my other conditions into my MS lifestyle choices to help do a better job?
- Lifestyle, lifestyle, LIFESTYLE!
Ohhhh, it was early in the morning after an evening of fried green tomatoes and other yummies related to southern style. We all met and were driven to the football field filled with balloons testing out their flames.
In a way, the whole thing made sense to me as to the flame and the brain. If you don’t give it the power it needs, it can’t fly. Let’s chat about the brain for a brief moment. The brain is made up of both white and grey matter. Lesions can occur in both areas, yet until we understand what this means, we can’t understand the experiences we may experience. Based on my latest neurological tests and conversations with doctors, there are many more things I can do to help improve my brain health. Here are a few simple ways:
- Sleep Hygiene
- Staying Social
This is only a sample of what I myself need to address… the rest is up to you and choices in your lifestyle. The MS MindShift is an initiative which focuses on the BRAIN and the critical role it plays in multiple sclerosis (MS). When it comes to the brain, there are lifestyle choices you can make every day to help keep that brain of yours as healthy as possible and for as long as possible for days to come. For more information please refer to the website: www. MsMindShift.com.
ABOUT MARY ~
Mary is a patient advocate for MS, chronic illness & disabilities. She is a freelance writer from Texas who enjoys exploring a variety of different styles & genres, however her deep passion for creative writing (poetry, essay, narrative interview & non-fiction) remains unwavering & purposeful. Mary's personal & professional background is an eclectic compilation consisting of the fine arts, civil rights advocacy, fundraising with 15 years in sales/marketing & event planning in the private club industry. Mary is a 1990 graduate from The University of North Texas with a B.S. in Hotel/Restaurant Management. In 2001, Mary was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Within a few years, health issues forced her to resign from the career she loved. As her marriage began to crumble, Mary was keenly aware of the emotional & mental crisis firmly taking hold. Eventually, she sought the help of a professional therapist which helped her learn the important coping skills needed to tame/calm mood disorders & to encourage healthy ways in which to purge the noisy chaos inside the brain. This loss of reality, normalcy, & PURPOSE needed to be reinvented, renewed & rewritten...NOW! The divorce & all related proceedings lasted an unfathomable six years, yet it was the therapy, communities & her writing which kept her most grounded. Each poem a cathartic purge, each word a therapeutic tool meant for healing & to inspire resilience. Blindsided by this newfound purpose & passion, Mary continues writing & exploring a plethora of multimedia outlets to this day. Her writing, networking & advocacy projects target the MS, chronic illness & disability communities. Her interactive presence can be seen throughout social media. Although MS is the primary community in which she advocates, Mary enjoys playing an active role in other patient communities (bloggers, writers, music, live chats, special events, & many more. One of the key messages Mary continues to emphasize is how chronic illness can affect everyone differently. MS is a prime example in that we are not a "one size fits all." This disease called MS is a conundrum in every which way. To this day, research continues, yet we still don't know the root cause for MS, yet current findings now show "risk factors" for the disease. MS can morph as it sees fit to do so. Unpredictably, silently, sometimes relentlessly this MS becomes an uninvited, unwanted "internal room-mate." Mary's overall background & her desire to discover herself & new creative outlets was a plus. A renewed student for life, Mary continues to explore the unknown - Once you switch off your "auto pilot" it's amazing what you can see & do. Place focus on learning, consume new information & participate in activities uncharted or foreign (The science of Neuroplasticity). All of this is most DEFINITELY a work in progress, but remember to focus most on the important things in life. Laugh out loud & live selflessly with compassion, purpose & unbridled passion.
Connect with Mary at:
🔸Twitter: @pettigrew66, @MSpals
Acknowledgments and Press ~ UPDATES TO COME
* Creator & Co-founder of MSpals: A Global Organization (2014 - present)
* Administrator & contributing author of content, posts, & interviews: MSpals blog:
~ The Summer of Sport: Forward Poetry 2012
~ Poetry Rivals Collection 2013
~ Something On Our Minds Vol.III
~ Something On Our Minds Vol IV.
Interviews: National Multiple Sclerosis Society's "Momentum Magazine"
~ 2013 = Art Therapy & MS
~ 2015 = Connecting Via Social Media
Other works also featured on a variety of blogs, websites, videos, as well as other multimedia platforms including:
iConquerMS/The Accelerated Cure Project
WEGO Health - Patient Leader
HealtheVoices - Patient Leader
MS Focus - Monthly contributor
View all posts by Mary