You can make a difference  

YouTube video on how you can make a difference

One week from today marks the one-year anniversary of being placed on permanent disability because of my MS. The word ‘permanent’ has taken a long time to accept. My big question ~ replayed nearly every day ~ was, ‘What is my purpose in life now?’ My children are grown up, I had my license revoked for medical reasons, and had moved recently enough to make some shifts in relationships. These shifts meant I lacked some resources I thought I desperately needed.

I spent many months unable to make any significant difference, or so I thought.

Actions truly do speak louder than words. This is true for each of us. It speaks volumes to people how I respond to my situation when ‘in the firing range’. I learned some valuable lessons about what and who was important to me ~ and why. I went on disability on a Friday. The next day we moved my son onto campus at his university. Two days later my husband resumed his travel schedule. I was completely alone and in great need physically. Or so I thought.

The year progressed. I developed several more kidney stones, and my physician placed me on permanent medication to help prevent further ones. (I’m still waiting on that to occur!)

I received a diagnosis of asthma after yet another bout with pneumonia. I know less about asthma than any person ever diagnosed, and my learning curve has been poor at best! It took me down like a violent storm, and I did not know how to respond to such severe and sudden attacks, every breath feeling like I was closer to suffocation. Was this year going to end?

In June, I had a cousin develop an infection. She was slightly older than me, which means she was very young by my standards! Sparing most of the details, physicians removed life support within a short time as her situation turned worse at every stage. In a matter of weeks, she had passed away.

I could not write.

At the same time, I was making great progress physically. As much as I struggle with the conflict of living with MS, I only thrive when I lead a very sedentary life, with opportunities to rest throughout the day. I reassessed. I can make a difference.

  • The summer approached at a snail’s pace suddenly. I felt up to doing a few hours’ volunteer work, but had no idea what I was up to doing or how long I could last. I certainly didn’t have a means of transportation. I had an interest in a particular organization, and was a close friend with the director. Within weeks, I had a ride in almost every week, thanks to a staff person who ‘happens’ to live just by me. I was given a couch where I could lie down when I needed to rest. I have taken several naps on that wonderful couch!
  • I had a neighbor who provided rides to water aerobics near our home. I began doing real physical activity for the first time in several years! I knew most of my neighbors. You get to know them very well when you are all in swimsuits!!
  • I turned around one day and realized that the depth of my realm of genuine friendships. I had an amazing immediate family who has taken great care of me, and I have not gone without my morning cup of coffee yet. : )
  • One of those newer friends shared with me the conflicts of watching her dad be put removed from life support. We talked about the emotional struggle created when you have personal involvement in this decision. She called days after he passed away to thank me for the encouraging and supportive comments made during that discussion.
  • On my facebook account, I shared with many people the change in my new situation. I became deluged with requests from people who needed someone to pray for their situation. I had all day to pray! A friend’s mom going through surgery? I kept praying hours after it should have been over. The surgery became delayed, it took much longer than anticipated, and I had been praying.
  • I have had an accountability group meet at my home every week. We support each other, through the good, the bad, and the ugly! I had friends who had started out as casual friendships. We have become a very strong team, and help fight each others’ battles.
  • I have my friends from many years past. They have been precious as they provide the background knowledge of the fight for 14+ years. I had lunch with one of these dear friends today. We shared what was going on in our lives, where we were both headed, and how we can pray for each other.
  • I am able to have the time to truly listen ~ listen.
  • I write, in my own attempt to encourage others.
  • I have someone who is going to pick me up for the opportunity to volunteer a few hours a month at a local theatre, one of my great loves.

It took some time to get my ‘mojo’ back. I gave myself permission to mourn what I had lost, and discovered how much I had gained. I will likely never have the notoriety of being the President or some such position. I discovered this was what I thought was lacking ~ my title. . . not my purpose.

Wherever you are, you have the power to make a powerful difference. You might lead a large corporation. Perhaps you are out of a job entirely. Significant events such as your wedding anniversary, becoming a widow, or living a single life all have value. Someone needs the gifts that you uniquely possess. What a great opportunity ~ Seize the day!

As I was writing this, NBC Nightly News ended with a story about a young lady who make a difference with her day. She wanted to raise funds for clean water in Third World Countries. She passed away unexpectedly before her 9th birthday. The result was stunning. Rachel’s dream has produced over $1 million following her unexpected death.

What are you doing to make a difference? What dreams do you have? It is possible!

You can make a difference. . . even long after you are gone.

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6 thoughts on “You can make a difference

  1. gendjlee August 13, 2011 at 12:14 am Reply

    I think it’s really great that you’ve been able to come so far through so much difficulty. I’m doing my best right now to make a difference for the fight against MS, and to make a difference for my Mom. I know I’ve told you about her and the MS Challenge walk that she is going to walk in.
    It’s been very hard because of the economy and my own disability, among other difficulties. I created a blog here on wordpress but what we’ve recieved in “traffic” hardly deserves such a title, despite my pushing the word about it on facebook and twitter (and using the MS hashtag!). We try to get fundraisers set up at local events, but the people running most of the events either want an inordinate amount of money for our participation and/or they won’t let us sell beverages/pretzels (our biggest moneymaker!).
    I created a group and a page on FB and invited everyone. A handful of peolple took notice. Thus far, none have donated.
    Finally, I’ve committed myself to making direct contact – online mostly. I send IMs to all of my FB friends, when they’re online, explain what I’m raising money for and ask them to donate $10.
    Now we’re finally starting to see results. We’re still not even a third of the way to our fundraising goal, but contact by contact, we’re getting there. I started this three days ago and we’ve managed to get $60 that way, plus at least that amount promised in one way or another. I’m trying to get my family members to do the same.
    I was starting to give up on us every making the goal, but since I started I also found out that the National MS Society has pushed back the fundraising deadline to the beginning of October! We could just make it!
    If you keep at it, you’ll make a difference. Remember the boy that walked down the beach, picking up the washed up starfish as he came to them and flipping them back in the water. When the old man stopped him as asked him why he was doing that, he replied “They can’t get back into the water on their own. If they’re stuck out here, they’ll die.” The old man “Yes, but look at this beach – it’s full of washed up starfish. Same way every day about this time. You go up to the next beach – same thing. You can’t possibly make a difference!” At that the boy bent down, picked up another starfish and flipped in into the ocean, and said “Made a difference for that one!”


    • Overwhelmed By Joy August 13, 2011 at 4:44 am Reply

      I am glad you are starting to see some results with your efforts. We served on the committee that directs the Bike MS for several years, and my husband was also on the board. Some things that we found to be successful for raising support included writing, email, etc some personal details about how it affects you/loved one directly. The site has a great letter to get you started on some thoughts to express. If you are on Facebook, you should be able to set up a direct link so that people can contribute directly via your name. I can send you an example if you would like. We also would follow up with people we contacted about 1 – 2 weeks prior to the event. As the years progressed, we sent out an occasional email to past donors to let them know some news in the MS World, how their money was being used, etc so they could see directly the impact of their efforts. We definitely found that giving people the option to donate electronically was the most successful ~ we are wired the same way ourselves!

      We had good success with asking restaurants, vendors, etc for donations that we used at our rally the first night. We give away a lot! Some little things, some big things. A local bike shop took it upon themselves to begin donating a bike each year. That was done through the chapter staff person. Everyone networks with people they know to produce interest. It took years, but it does build if you persevere! We found that each year produced more riders, which produced more funds so that the ride generated more interest. . . and community awareness was generated by the synergy. I am happy to send you the information for our local chapter to brainstorm further with them. We have one of the most successful rides in the country. I’m not sure how much time they have to offer on the phone personally right now, as our ride is about 1 month away. Hopefully some extra suggestions, though!

      I love your analogy of the boy with the starfish! You can make a difference. . . and the positive impact it will have for your mom & others will have made it worth the effort!


  2. gendjlee August 13, 2011 at 10:22 am Reply

    Thanks for the advice. I know I can use a direct link to the MS site, but there’s no pretty way to do it. It’s a long web address with a bunk of garble at the end. People aren’t crazy about following a link like that, and people abuse those link shorteners, so that’s an issue.
    Still, I have the links up on my blog and have made it available on Facebook. I didn’t start seeing results until I offered up Paypal. We lose about 50 cents on almost every transaction (credit card fee), but it’s something.

    Somebody really needs to give the MS site a good overhaul. It can be a real puzzle to someone who has never visited the site before, and even I get a little confused each time I go there. Too many choices. That said, it could be worse.

    Last night, an old friend donated $20 without me even asking. So now we’re just shy of $80. We’re getting there.


    • Overwhelmed By Joy August 3, 2012 at 10:05 pm Reply

      It looked like the year turned out well for you. Let me know how this year is going.


  3. rtyecript August 24, 2011 at 1:34 am Reply

    I really liked the article, and the very cool blog


  4. Overwhelmed By Joy August 29, 2011 at 7:21 pm Reply

    Thank you so much!


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