“Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.“ ~Grandma Moses
After being diagnosed with MS I realized how blessed I was how I looked at life - through rose-colored glasses. It may sound silly, but I credit a good deal of my positive outlook to (during my formative years) being part of the “TV generation” (Americans born between 1946 – 1964). Back then, there were six channels with three networks and no remote. My brothers and I spent hours together, watching Saturday morning and afternoon TV shows (we had one television). We watched cartoon shows like Bugs Bunny, Tennessee Tuxedo and Mighty Mouse or reruns of The Bowery Boys, Abbott and Costello or The Three Stooges.
I think that - subliminally - I drew from TV programs and learned to look at life with the glass half full. At times this provoked people to comment on my “naïve” view of life. Somehow people felt it necessary to clue me in that we lived in a cold, cruel world and there weren’t always happy endings. I knew that. I chose to hold onto my positive way of thinking and being.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show was about a woman moving to the big city hoping to create her life as a single working woman - heady stuff for the early 1970s. She had friends and coworkers that were interesting, devoted and hysterically funny. Bob Hartley (played by Bob Newhart) was the deadpan psychiatrist who, along with his beautiful and devoted wife, surrounded themselves with close friends and coworkers who were zany, kooky and fun loving on The Bob Newhart Show. I wanted to jump into my TV screen to join them. Short of that, I “decided” I’d create my life to mirror theirs, one filled with family, friends and coworkers who shared a wonderful life with me - isn’t that what everyone wants?
Obviously life cannot possibly mirror what a bunch of writers dream up for our viewing pleasure. But I know in my heart of hearts that my positive attitude was born when I spent hours in front of the television watching my favorite shows. I am forever grateful for that, in ways that I’d never imagined.
We all want to live the life we envisioned for ourselves. But like John Lennon sang in his song “Beautiful Boy,” life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Our life with MS simply happens. It manifests itself in ways that reduce our physical, financial, emotional and spiritual ability of living life the way we want to. Parents bring children into the world and envision a life for their child filled with hope, dreams and joy. No one ever imagines that a life may be rudely and boldly interrupted, without warning, by a chronic illness. The diagnosis changes everything on a dime. Our lives are just beginning, with new careers, growing families, social connections and financial planning for the future. Some dwell on the obvious question of, “Why did this happen to me?” Others drown in sorrow, depression or social isolation. Life handed us a whole new set of cards and we have to learn how to deal with them.
I decided long ago how to deal with that hand. In my experience, if we can cultivate positive spirituality within our minds, and practice these positive thoughts on a daily basis, it will eventually become a natural way of thinking and of being, as in cognitive behavioral therapy. This has helped me “de-stress” during times of crisis. I’ve also learned to take five minutes a day to meditate. If meditation is not for you, try some guided imagery. Perhaps you could take walks in your favorite park and notice the beauty of nature, or take some time to play with your pets. Try a new hobby that you’ve always wanted to try, such as knitting or gardening. You can make a difference in your own life, with baby steps forward toward a better way of thinking, and being.
You may think I have a Pollyanna outlook on life. Well, perhaps I do. But it works for me, so I’ll continue on with it as I have all of my life. Today is a long day for me. Tonight, after I meditate, I will put my feet up, throw a Mary Tyler Moore DVD into my DVD player and knit another blanket for charity. What will you do?
Published On: March 19, 2012