That Tug

Have you ever had an experience which causes you to reflect on life? I had one this week.  I was delivering fliers about our Parkinson’s group to a local medical office. Someone had suggested that I also drop some off at ‘His Hands’, a local free medical clinic. I had never been there, so I looked up the website on my phone and hit GPS directions.

The clinic was only a block or so away from where I was. I pulled in front of the small building and walked in. The office had a slight odd odor of dirty clothes. There was one patient sitting in the small waiting room.  I looked at the older man in his well worn clothes and immediately thought he might be homeless. I smiled at him and he smiled back with an almost toothless grin. Something tugged at my heart.

The receptionist was talking on the phone, but she smiled to acknowledge me. As I stood waiting, I heard her side of the conversation. I heard her verify with the person on the other end that they had health insurance but had a very high deductible. Yes, the clinic could help. I looked around at the small, simple, but clean office. Something tugged at my heart again.

A pleasant woman came through a door behind the front desk and asked if I needed help. I explained who I was and about the free programs for people with PD in the area as I handed her the fliers. She thanked me, said she would put some out in the waiting room and give some to the doctors to hand out. I thanked her and walked out to my car.

As I got back in the car, I looked again at the small building. It was a simple white building, nothing like the previous medical facility that I just came from with its large glass windows, spacious offices, and beautiful art on the walls.  I felt that same tug at my heart. This time tears came to my eyes. As I drove away, it hit me. “If not for the grace of God”.

Whatever your spiritual beliefs are or aren’t, we are one tragedy or bad decision away from needing services such as those provided by His Hands. I could be the homeless person in the waiting room if I had become addicted to drugs or alcohol, or had a mental illness that controlled my decisions. I could be there after being diagnosed with a disease or a became the victim of an accident that left me with medical bills that bankrupted me. I could be there if my child had been born with a condition that required expensive medical treatments.

We don’t like to think about the “what ifs”, but perhaps sometimes we should. It might give us a little more compassion towards those who are struggling. Maybe we wouldn’t see the man or woman on the street corner as a “bum”, but as someone who fell on hard times due to a drug or alcohol problem, or a mental illness. Maybe we wouldn’t stereotype the single mom who relies on Medicaid and Food Stamps to care for her family. Maybe we could empathize with the immigrant family who are just trying to find a better life for their children than what they fled. Maybe we could imagine what it would be like to be a veteran coming home to a different world that he or she is having trouble adjusting to.

Maybe, just maybe, we could all feel that tug in our hearts. That tug is called compassion. We all need to feel it.

Republican Congressmen Steve Scalise Shot by Left-Wing Activist.

Source: Republican Congressmen Steve Scalise Shot by Left-Wing Activist.

Very well written blog. Please understand, it’s not because this guy hated Donald Trump, or Republicans, or because he was a Bernie Sanders supporter. This guy had a history of domestic abuse and very likely mental illness. I don’t agree with Trump, I’m angry at what the Iowa GOP did this legislative session, but I would never try to harm someone, much less shoot who I disagree with!

Uncontrolled anger and mental illness are the spark that sets the fire to an action like this. If you look at the history of the majority of violent people, whether a mass shooter, a gang member, or even a terrorist, you will find a history of violence on some level. That’s a proven fact. “Normal functioning” people don’t pick up a gun and shoot someone, they don’t stab someone, they don’t run them over with a vehicle, and they don’t strap a bomb to their bodies and blow up innocents. Uncontrolled anger and mental illness start this. Hate, idealism, racism, sexism, xenophobia feed it.

The fact that mental illness is still stigmatized in this country is an issue that must continue to be addressed. Many insurance companies don’t pay for mental heealthcare. Often when they do, individuals are left with a large out of pocket expenses. Sadly, our government made it legal this year for the diagnosed mentally ill to own a gun. Therefore, it is easier to buy a gun than it is to get mental healthcare. What’s wrong with that picture?

We live in a messed up world. Many people are angry politically. We’re worried about not having affordable healthcare for ourselves or loved ones, especially if they have a condition that requires medical care. We are afraid for our country. We’re concerned about rights being taken away. We’re concerned about our environment and ending up with water like that in Flint, Michigan. We’re angry that the wealth gap continues to grow. We have lost what the truth is and maybe can’t talk to our friends or even family without hostility and anger. It’s never a reason to be violent. We can speak up and speak out. We contact our lawmakers. We get out and vote in every election. We participate in the process instead of sitting at home and feeling helpless. Helplessness breeds hopelessness which breeds anger. Add in mental illness and a tool that can kill, and you have a disaster waiting to happen.

Radical self-care for activists in the time of Trump

I’m guilty! Lately, I have found myself spending hours online, reading, posting, tweeting. One night this week, I started working on actions for my activist group at 6:00pm. At 11:30pm (after I told myself I would go do some yoga stretches and go to bed at 10:00), I was still clicking between Facebook and Twitter, looking to see what fresh hell I had missed.

I’m concerned about the future of healthcare, for myself and my clients with chronic conditions. I’m concerned about the future of science and the research to find a cure for Parkinson’s and other diseases. I’m concerned about the future of education for my 10 month old granddaughter and others. I’m concerned about how trade barriers will affect my daughter and son-in-law and his parents who are farmers. I’m concerned about justice for my black and brown friends. I’m concerned about the lack of prosecution of sexual assault cases, especially with a self-admitted sexual-assaulter-in-chief. I’m concerned about families, like the ones I knew growing up in New Mexico and Texas, facing deportation when they are just trying to provide for their family. I’m concerned about my friends who are Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian who will be targeted for harassment and worse. I feel there is so much out of my control.

As I’m writing this, I know I need to finish and get onto my treadmill before I head out to work to take care of others. It’s hard. I have so much to say. I also know I’ve been experiencing more neck and shoulder pain, which is helped by exercise, yoga, and deep breathing. I have been experiencing more anxiety which is helped by the same methods. So I’m logging off. I can work on changing the things I can change. I can continue to help others. However, I have to take my own advice about caring for yourself so you can better take care of others.

I hope the blog below helps. Peace and hope to you all. ❤

Valerie Aurora's blog

[Content notes: disordered eating, exercise]

Like many of you, I’m struggling to take care of myself in the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. election. My friends and I are having stomach pain, trouble sleeping, difficulty staying focused on work, and many more signs of fear and stress. To add to it, as activists many of us feel a sense of urgency and obligation to act now, to push ourselves to our limits in an attempt to avert the coming disaster. I find myself thinking irrational thoughts, like “Maybe I should start sleeping less so I can write more. Do I really need to keep doing my physical therapy? Why bother keeping tax records when I’m worried about mass deportations?” Then my rational mind points out that it’s hard to write if I’m tired, or in pain, or having my tax returns audited.

This post is a collection of tips and…

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Are Body Positivity and Fitness Compatible? — BEAUTY REDEFINED

If you want to improve your body image, but you have trouble prioritizing regular exercise … join the club! Lexie and I (BR co-directors) decided this week to renew our dedication to fitness. Not the “getting a bikini body” or “get your body back” kind of fitness, but the improving strength and capability and “using our bodies as…

via Are Body Positivity and Fitness Compatible? — BEAUTY REDEFINED

We Can’t Unsee Your Ugliness Dani Mathers…Here’s Why

Although I’ve been ranting about this woman, Dani Mathers, and her actions, which hopefully will result in charges, on my personal Facebook page, I have to share my thoughts here as well.

This is NEVER ok. I don’t care if she claims she meant to just send it to a friend. Mean girls like Dani don’t understand how difficult it is for some people to have the courage to exercise in public, especially at a gym filled with women like Dani. This woman may be going through health issues such as cancer and exercise has been prescribed to her. She may be an exhausted working mom taking an hour to re-energize herself before she heads home after a full day of work. She may be struggling with depression and anxiety. She could be an unappreciated caregiver of a spouse or parent with Alzheimers. I could think of a endless list of reasons why she’s there. The bottom line is SHE’S THERE TAKING CARE OF HERSELF. She doesn’t deserve, nor does anyone else, this bullying. 

Women like Dani are why I hated junior high gym class, really junior high in general!  Women like this are also why I dedicated my Fitness career to helping those NOT like Dani. This article made me think about a woman that I consoled years ago when I worked at the YMCA. She was in her late 40s, overweight, and struggling with severe depression along with other chronic conditions. She had contacted me about personal training. 

As I was talking to her in my office, she kept looking nervously around the fitness room behind us. I asked her if she was OK and she began to cry. She told me how afraid she was to exercise in front of these people who were so fit. I told her that because it was 3:30 on a weekday afternoon, they gym was occupied with mostly high school kids. She commented how fit they were, which I replied, “They’re 16/17 years old girls. They don’t have full time jobs yet, they haven’t been pregnant and given birth to a child, they haven’t gone through menopause, or struggled with health issues. Please don’t compare yourself to them or any other woman in the gym. You’re here for you.” She smiled and we went on to discuss days and times for her to come where she wouldn’t initially feel intimidated. She left my office with a hug and a smile.

I think about her often, especially when I meet with other women who may have the same feelings she had that day. I think about her when I see rude, obnoxious behavior in a gym. I think about her and all of the women and men like her when I read a story like this. This model, Dani doesn’t have compassion for others.  She and women like her either can’t empathize, or they cover their own insecurities by making fun of others. They’re the typical bully, the mean girls, the ones I still don’t have time for even today. Unfortunately, they’re everywhere. They’re at your upscale gym or at the local rec center. They’re at your kids soccer game or dance class or at the PTA meeting. 

Don’t let these mean girls and bullies win. Be body proud, take care of yourself, go for a jog, a bike ride, or take a yoga class. These people will smother in their own ugliness. Let your beauty, the real beauty, shine through.

Medications for PD- the good & the bad : by Dr. De Leon

Thank you defeatParkinsons for this great post!


as we are in the beginning of Parkinson’s awareness month, I want to talk about the importance of self advocacy. However, this needs to be always done in conjunction with a team of medical professionals including ancillary profesionals like PT, OT,  ST, social workers, exercise team, dietitians, and counselors to get the best results.

This is never more important to now as we approach middle and enstages of PD…particularly when we begin to have dyskinesias…the biggest problem I see as a doctor is that patients often self medicate which usually leads to more dyskenesias, side effects, and increase risk for falls and hospitalization from a multitude of problems. Sometimes it may seem contra-intuitive to decrease medications when we feel Poorly…thus we need an expert to guide us. The challenge of maintaining  a well balance life with a balanced amount of medications is increasing in complexity thanks to so many new…

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