What A Man Struggling With Parkinson’s Disease Taught Me About Life

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The one thing I think I need in life in order to survive is love. If I don’t love myself, I will never be able to survive on my own or love anyone else. It will lead me to develop instability, dependency, insecurity and emotional turmoil.

Parkinson’s disease — any kind of disease, for that matter — works the same way. We need something or another human for us to survive.

Parkinson’s disease is an insidious and very stealthy condition, which sneaks into your body and mind and manifests itself inside of you. The one thing those who have Parkinson’s need is dopamine, a neurotransmitter that assists with motor functions.

The brain’s inability to produce dopamine causes those diagnosed to develop tremors, difficulty with speech, loss of balance, trouble swallowing and emotional trauma.

I want to share a story of a man diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and what he taught me about life.


His eyes were half-closed and his arms stiff. He lay on the bed, breathless in the quietness, mulling on how to straighten out his arm and uncurl his toes. His hands tremble as he is unable to move.

His hands condensate as he slowly tries to reach out to pour some water in a glass, but quivers from the uncontrollable impulses taking over his body. I run out and call the nurse to give him his medication. With time, he slowly begins to unravel, but is now in control of his body again.

Welcome to the world of Nathan, a patient and now a friend, who I had the privilege to watch, get to know and take care of.

Every time I interned at the hospital, I spent my day with this incredible man. It’s very rare to find such an optimistic and determined man find the strength to endure such a cruel disease over which he holds no control.

I continuously watched him fight his battle with such comfort and ease that it almost frightened me. I slowly found relief when I became accustomed to the lessons this man taught me about life, while combating his condition.

He found some kind of humor in his condition. He once told me how when he had his first tremor, he had an intimate moment with “Parkie” (his nickname for Parkinson’s disease) on the floor and ended up finding his wife’s favorite missing earring.

He taught me there’s always a way to find something to laugh about and appreciate the little things life has to offer.

It’s the way I’ve seen him lose his balance and stumble. He taught me that it’s important to keep balance in your life, regardless of the falls or stumbles.

It’s the way I’ve seen him become stiff and unable to move. He taught me to be flexible and move on through life, knowing that every person has his or her own set of battles and challenges to face.

It’s the way I’ve seen him try to talk and have difficulties with his speech. He taught me to speak up and learn to communicate with others.

It’s the way I’ve seen him rely on medication to control his symptoms. He taught me it is okay to rely on people and ask for help if you are going through a difficult time.

It’s the way I’ve seen him in physical pain when his muscles start to contract. He taught me pain is temporary, and it won’t last forever.

It’s the way I’ve seen him feel emotionally stressed and disturbed at times. He taught me tomorrow is a new day, and we are capable of taking challenges that initially make us weak to eventually make us strong.

It’s the way he advised me that the passing of time holds a new meaning of value and importance. He taught me you never know what tomorrow holds, so always try to push for today.

Anyone can be diagnosed with any type of illness. Anyone can go through any type of problem, but even though you may have certain obstacles and setbacks, or your life isn’t turning out the way you planned, life can be pretty amazing if you choose to adapt to a situation you believe is negative and solely focus on the positives.

You can decide to change your reality by changing your mentality.

After my experience with Nathan, my answer to my initial question changed. What I — no, what WE all — need in life to survive are experiences like these.

We all need experiences to change, to learn, to love ourselves and others, to shape us into who we become and most importantly, to make us realize that to be happy in life, we must learn the difference between what we want and what we need.

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Published on EliteDaily: http://elitedaily.com/life/man-diagnosed-parkinsons-disease-taught-life/887427/

 

I Love College – Freshman Year Vs. Senior Year

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I look back at my four years of college, and I wish I could just relive every single moment of it. The college experience is unique for everyone, but the one thing that we all have in common, is that we are experiencing new things – new people, new friendships, new relationships, and a new environment. I remember as I entered college, I felt nervous yet excited because for the first time in my life, I was free from the restraints of my parents; I could do whatever I wanted. I gained independence, but more than that, I gained responsibility. I learned my limits when it came to people, friendships, relationships, drinking, studying, etc. From meeting new people, to pulling pranks on one another, to late night fast food runs, to partying till the morning, to pulling all-nighters, to studying for a midterm the next day, to building lasting relationships, to all the giggles, tears, and everything in between…you go and grow through it all.   It’s the time where it’s okay to mess up, it’s okay to be immature, and it’s okay to be however you want to be because it’s what makes it all part of the overall “I love College” experience. It’s something you look back on and wouldn’t want to change even if your life depended on it.  Sure, there are times when I’m like, “If only I didn’t go out so much my Freshman year…my GPA would have been better, and I could have gotten the job I wanted or gotten into the school I’m applying to.” It’s better to not even think about “if I didn’t do this or that” because making those mistakes in college is what helps you become wiser and learn to never repeat those same mistakes again. College is over and now we are stepping into the real adult world, but with each and every path we take, we take that “I love college” experience with us. Let’s take a look at how everything changed from my freshman year to my senior year.

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Freshman year:

“OMG…I’m late for class!”

Senior year:

ZzZzzZz…*snore*

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Freshman year:

“I need to get an A on this midterm!”

Senior year:

“I need to get a job!”

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Freshman Year:

“I want to be a….”

Senior Year:

“I don’t know what I’m doing with my life!”

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Freshman Year:

“I need to make friends!”

Senior Year:

“I hope I don’t bump into anyone I know.”

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Freshman Year:

“Oh yes party! I need a fake ID!”

Senior Year:

“I’m over it.”

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Freshman Year:

“I need to use all my meal swipes.”

Senior Year:

“I’ll just have a Freshie swipe me in.”

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Freshman Year:

“I got into the bar using my fake ID…I’m a boss”

Senior Year:

“18 and up tonight? No.”

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Freshman Year:

“I just met this girl/guy…I’m going to add her on Facebook immediately!”

Senior Year:

“Find me on Linkedin.”

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Freshman Year:

“Dress to impress…I’m going to find someone perfect for me.”

Senior Year:

“You know what’s better than finding someone? Everything.”

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Freshman Year:

“Look good, feel good, do good….owning this midterm!”

Senior Year:

“I guess I’ll be wearing these pair of sweats for the third day in a row…oh well.”

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Freshman Year:

“Midterms are this week…but YOLO!”

Senior Year:

“Let’s stay in tonight…maybe play some video games, order pizza, and watch the game?”

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Freshman Year:

“I am such a grown up!”

Senior Year:

“I don’t want to be a grownup!”

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And the one thing you had in common Freshman Year all the way through Senior Year, is that you made it through the best four years of your life.

 

51 Things We Forget To Thank Our Mom’s For

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  1. Thank you for giving birth to me.
  2. Thank you for changing my diapers.
  3. Thank you for changing my clothes.
  4. Thank you for finding the things I have lost.
  5. Thank you for helping me regain my lost dreams and helping me believe in them again.
  6. Thank you for wiping my nose, bottom, and tears.
  7. Thank you for tying my shoe laces, tying my hair, and tying up loose ends.
  8. Thank you for washing my clothes, washing the dishes, and washing away my mistakes.
  9. Thank you for reminding me that it’s okay to be human.
  10. Thank you for killing all the spiders for me.
  11. Thank you for driving me to school everyday until I got my license.
  12. Thank you for being the superstar mom who brought food for my friends and me during all my games.
  13. Thank you for sitting at my dance recitals, game tournaments, and school plays.
  14. Thank you for taking care of me every single day.
  15. Thank you for helping me with my homework.
  16. Thank you for giving me advice and listening to me vent.
  17. Thank you for providing me with boundaries and rules to follow.
  18. Thank you for saying no to me, even if it may seem hard and you might have to hear the end of it.
  19. Thank you for dealing with my tantrums and all the times I’ve talked back.
  20. Thank you for catching me in white lies and teaching me how to be honest.
  21. Thank you for rubbing my head and telling me things will be okay.
  22. Thank you for giving me a sense of worth by just being there for me.
  23. Thank you for never giving up on me, even when you feel absolutely drained out.
  24. Thank you for being protective.
  25. Thank you for understanding me without me having to say a word.
  26. Thank you for always being right and knowing what is best for me.
  27. Thank you for giving me space to grow into who I need to be.
  28. Thank you for scolding me when I’ve done something wrong.
  29. Thank you for encouraging me when I’ve done something right.
  30. Thank you for putting up with me.
  31. Thank you for inspiring me.
  32. Thank you for forgiving me and teaching me how to forgive.
  33. Thank you for teaching me how to respect others.
  34. Thank you for instilling family value in me.
  35. Thank you for teaching me that beauty is a state of mind, not a state of body.
  36. Thank you for teaching me how to give and share.
  37. Thank you for showering me with your hugs and kisses
  38. Thank you for challenging me.
  39. Thank you for playing every role: my mother, my best friend, my sister, my mentor, etc.
  40. Thank you for all the sacrifices you have made.
  41. Thank you for all the home-cooked meals.
  42. Thank you for being and doing your best to make me happy.
  43. Thank you for putting me in different activities as a kid to help me find out what I love doing.
  44. Thank you for not telling Dad about some of the things I’ve done.
  45. Thank you for loving me more than you love yourself.
  46. Thank you for the way you embody grace, love, humility, kindness, and selflessness.
  47. Thank you for teaching me how to be an independent and selfless woman.
  48. Thank you for your time, effort, and unconditional love.
  49. Thank you for working around the clock.
  50. Thank you for all the things you do, day in and day out that you don’t even think of the things you do for me on a daily basis as even deserving a thank you.
  51. Thank you for being you and for being the kind of parent that I hope to be for my own children.

 

Photography: Rima Amin

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Meet my cousin, Rima Amin.

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I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to spend time with her, as it’s been more than a decade since I’ve last seen her. Even though we live on opposite ends of the world, we are very much similar. The reason I wanted her to be the first person that I photograph is because she is effortlessly beautiful in every way possible. She has an innocent grace to her that is well portrayed through her thoughts, actions, and tremendous heart. Check out more of her work at: sliceofsimplicity.com.

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My Imperfect Perspective: HELLO 2015!

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GOODBYE 2014. HELLO 2015!

I have never made any New Year’s resolutions before this year. If I feel like I need to change to become a better person or do something to improve myself, I wouldn’t wait for a specific day of the year. Instead, I just try to spend everyday trying to make myself better than I was the day before. This is my resolution every single morning.

I decided to actually start blogging today, and coincidentally, it happened to be on the first day of a new year – January 1, 2015.

Every morning, I remind myself that I have the power to make myself happy or unhappy. I can choose which it will be. Yesterday is dead; tomorrow hasn’t even arrived yet. I have just one day, which is today, and I’m going to be happy in it.

Ironically, this was the first year I decided to make a New Year’s resolution, however it didn’t pertain to what I need to do to improve myself. It more so pertained to others (the homeless) and what I can gain from them. My New Year’s resolution was to go out and ask homeless people about their New Year’s resolutions.

People ask me all the time why I devote so much of my time towards the homeless. It’s sad – we often hear and read people making comments about the homeless as if they’re another species. Every so often, there’s an assumption that a homeless person is a criminal/drug addict or that they deserve to be homeless because they are too lazy to work. No one ever stops to look at it from a different perspective.

I’m not going to tell you what to think or try to subvert whatever judgments you may have. The only thing that I do ask is to actually have the intellectual courage to re-examine the things you believe or to actually look at things from a different perspective. Have the backbone to re-think homelessness…or to re-think any situation for that matter.

Last year in particular, I had witnessed many homeless people among the streets. Whenever I stumble across a homeless person, a part of me feels uncomfortable and the other part of me feels empathic. When I think about homelessness- the thoughts of fear, abandonment, loneliness, and escape are what come to mind. It may be due to personal, emotional, or physical struggles, but generally there is always a reason we feel homeless.

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Granted, I am not homeless because I have an actual home, but at times, we have all felt homeless, or better yet – frightened, lonely, and unprotected. There is some sort of connection there, even if it isn’t distinct. I guess my heart feels connected to them in some sort of way, which is part of the reason I decided to collaborate on the #HELLO2015 project with my cousin, Rima Amin. As you’d expect, a lot of homeless people have New Year’s resolutions of finding a home, but what we wanted to capture from this video was that there are a lot of other things that homeless people want to go out and achieve, just like us. We made it our New Year’s resolution to make their New Year’s resolutions known and give others and ourselves a different perspective outside of our own.

One can become homeless in a blink of an eye, but what I find the most fascinating are homeless people who are actually optimistic and see a way out of their homelessness.

Whilst working on our project, we ran across many homeless people. There were quite a few that touched me.  There was a little bubbly and charismatic girl. We had given her cookies that we had baked, and that simple gesture made her so happy despite the fact that she didn’t have a home. It’s the simple things that should make us happy. We should be grateful for what we have (life) regardless of our current situation.

Another man by the name of Stanley really touched my heart. In this short clip of our project below, Stanley delivers his message to the world.

 

It is granted that I wasn’t able to provide a home for these people, but I was able to gain perspective from them. This is the vision I have for my blog: imperfect perspective. We all have different points of view, but imperfection is perfection to a beautiful perspective.

Check out our #HELLO2015 New Year’s Resolution project below.

 

Check out Stanley’s special shout-out to his family below.

 

Because the homeless read too…Check out the clip below.