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Farewell and Thanks to Stan Lee!

Heroes come in and out of our lives, often unrecognized and frequently under appreciated. On Monday, it struck me just how important heroes are and the amazing power that comes in looking up to a higher standard. Heroes make us better people. They give us something to aspire to and to be. Heroes inspire us to be more and to achieve more than we might, without them.

I was so struck with shock and sadness to learn of the death of Marvel Comics’ founder and genius, Stan Lee. His biography is almost as amazing as the prolific cadre of characters that he brought to life. There is no repaying the numerous gifts that he has given us, as well as the hours and hours of pleasure, excitement, and joy. As a lover of anything and everything Spider-Man, I would religiously watch those cartoons every weekday at 3: 00.PM, after school.

Spider-Man didn’t ask to be given his special abilities, they were thrust upon him and he made the most of what he could do with his unique gifts. Those of us who have Parkinson’s are in a not so different place, in that having this illness makes one hone, uncover, and expand our own powers. We didn’t ask for Parkinson’s disease to come in to our world, but just like Peter Parker, we incorporate those dramatic alterations and deal with them to the best of our abilities.

I have seen Parkinson’s bring out the best in many people. This illness, as awful as it is, can reveal sides of people that you’ve never seen before. From creativity, to artistic ability, to writing or other revealing abilities, sometimes, out of hardship comes new talents and new strengths.

I didn’t know early in my life that I was going to write books and blogs on Parkinson’s disease. It was Parkinson’s disease that caused me to share my journey of over thirty years with those who may be wondering how to navigate the terrain that I have already walked on. Like, Peter Parker, I have learned and adapted.

Heroes keep us upright and moving forward. They remind us that there is still good in the world, when we need it most. Stan Lee’s iconic heroes will most likely never be duplicated, but thankfully, his gifts of brilliance will live on and on.

It was just Halloween—so let’s talk about it! WHAT SCARES YOU?

What scares you?

If you are anything like me, you probably don’t need a raging lunatic with a butcher knife and a hockey mask to get scared. Maybe a speedy roller coaster or a week or more without sunlight would fit in the category of frightening! Okay, this is pretty much a blog on Parkinson’s disease and I will admit that this illness can be very scary, but it doesn’t have to be terrifying.

Some of our fears are truly justified and are there for a reason. Fears can be mechanisms that remind us not to get too close to a fire or to avoid approaching the lion’s den, but then there are those fears that perpetuate themselves and may get away from us. Fears, like wildfires, can get fanned and grow into severe anxiety, causing more and more negative emotions. Fears of the unknown or visions of our mind that manifest from our sub-conscience may just arise.  When anxiety, frustration, and stress lead into depression or despair, we have a huge problem to resolve, quickly!

Fear is that four letter word that can motivate us or hold us back from fulfilling our destiny and our dreams. People share with me how impressed they are that I wrote a book. As much as I appreciate the praise and well wishes, I tell them that anyone and everyone can write a book. Overcoming the fear to put your story or viewpoints on paper or the web takes some gumption and willingness to be completely frank, yet vulnerable. Just like writing, public speaking is frightening, exhilarating, exhausting, and empowering, all in one.

Some fears are ours to conquer. Some fears are meant to be respected and accepted. Most of us know deep down, which ones are which, but it is when we choose the wrong fear to meddle with, that may cause problems, danger, harm, or insult.

Overcoming our fears is a step-by-step piece of our growth to becoming stronger individuals. A big part of learning and improving ourselves is to expand our knowledge base and to find the tools that may assist us in calming our fears.

Parkinson’s is Still a Mystery!

In Norman Cousins’ book, Anatomy of An Illness, Cousins mentions a placebo study where over eighty percent of the Parkinson’s patients showed improvement. Participants in the study were told that they were receiving a powerful new drug. The pill that they were taking was not a new drug, but the expectation of benefits was strong enough to show improvement. If Parkinson’s is degenerative, wouldn’t you think that the placebo effect wouldn’t work anymore? How is this possible?

Two years ago, after having Parkinson’s symptoms for over thirty years, I experienced twenty-four hours without showing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. I don’t understand, and I am not so sure that the medical community can explain such an event!

If those neurons that supposedly are dormant, dead, or erased, then someone needs to explain to me how a placebo effect and a Parkinson holiday are still possible! This is a tricky illness that manifests slowly and often very secretively. Often, the first symptoms may be constipation, loss of sense of smell, shoulder or wrist pain, or neck pain.

The latest research points to the gut as being the key culprit for the beginnings of this illness but is Parkinson’s more than one illness? By all the discussions that I have had with experts (many of those living with Parkinson’s and many working in the Parkinson’s disease field), who confirm their belief that it is very likely that we may be dealing with a variety of different illnesses.

A common saying in the Parkinson’s community is that “if you’ve met someone with Parkinson’s then you’ve met someone with Parkinson’s “, meaning that everyone with Parkinson’s is unique. The uniqueness of each and every case and how different each individual deals with a variation of symptoms keeps both patients and their neurologist guessing how to countermove.

Balancing the right diet, maintaining a challenging exercise regimen, and working closely with your neurologist for the right personalized plan are vital pieces to staying on top of my Parkinson’s. We all may respond to something completely different. The key is to discover what the something is that makes that difference for you!

Goodbye To Toys!

The World Weeps for Geoffrey—A Part of our childhood has gone!

Without trying to sound like an old man reminiscing, when I was a boy we had real toy stores, 5 and dimes, candy stores, nut stores, and many more magic shops than we have now! Sure, the web is great– and Amazon has everything, well, almost, and now, if you know what you want, they can probably just ship it to you directly.

The occasional trip to the toy store was this former kid’s highlight. Rock’em Sock’em Robots, Battle Tops, Shoots and Ladders, Monopoly, Clue, besides the creations from Atari, Wham-O, Hasbro, Mattel, and the multitude of toys that most of us grew up with. Is online fulfillment to be the only toy store chain replacement? Are the days of the toy store long gone?

March 14, 2018’s announcement is a tragic blow to those of us who learned patience, concentration, manners, etiquette, cooperation, character, and sportsmanship, all just from board games, alone. Toys teach sharing and bringing friends together to learn proper play. Toys R Us, rather than just thinning the losses of a few chosen select toy superstores, has announced to soon shutter ALL of their toy superstores as well as Babies R Us!

While this may not mean much to some, I know that in my life, the toy store inspired me to invent and look beyond what could be! It expanded my imagination of who I could be or at least dream to be. A toy is really a child’s first tool! Tools can make us better, more productive, and diverse. Toys keep us young. They keep us active, initiated, and sometimes even, enchanted!

Losing the incredible mind of Stephen Hawking, after his contributions to space and science is a huge loss to dreamers everywhere (but what a contribution to the science, disability, and humanitarian fabric of our lives) — more of my tribute to Professor Hawking, very soon.

Rock Steady Boxing–It’s so much more than just boxing!

I recently joined a Rock Steady Boxing class! The class and the instructor are wonderful! If you have Parkinson’s disease and haven’t tried the Rock Steady Boxing program, I encourage you to find the nearest program in your area. The camaraderie and encouragement amongst the participants is uplifting and inspiring.

The workout is tough, lively, active, loud, motivating, and rewarding. I hate to admit it, but I am getting older. I’m rediscovering muscles that I have not used for a good while. For an hour and a half, the boxers either move through a series of exercise stations made up of quick thinking and moving games, flexibility or core exercises, many of them borrowed from yoga focusing on balance, strength, posture, and mobility. The program is flourishing, as it should. It’s novel, fresh, and effective! This program does something amazing—it makes working out fun again, for me.

Rock Steady Boxing NOVA has been an experience that I did not expect! The whole class has bonded and become a unified group. Everyone supports the other and encourages their fellow boxers. Our coach and leader, Alec, is a charismatic and inspired young man who really strives to make improvements in our class’s lives. 

My first two classes, the workouts kicked my butt! I am happy to say that I can see an improvement in my strength, balance, and overall fitness. Rock Steady Boxing is a welcomed break in my day and week. I see the boxing as a moving meditation. It is a break that I look forward to, as well as seeing my boxing friends and putting on the gloves. I think this program builds your confidence as much as your body. Rock Steady Boxing is like a fast-paced support group that makes you sweat.

If you are looking for an opportunity to get a great workout, build some muscle, make some new friends, and pound some punching-bags, then I encourage you to try Rock Steady Boxing in your area to see if it’s right for you! 

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