Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Today is Purple Day

Today is Purple Day. It is a day dedicated to increasing epilepsy awareness worldwide. My daughter Taylor has epilepsy, but it is something that I never really gave much thought to until a few years ago. Taylor was diagnosed at 9 months old but her seizures were pretty much under control for several years. She’d have one or two seizures a year. Taylor had several other health issues that we were dealing with at the time so epilepsy was the furthest thing on our minds. That has changed in the past 2 years. Taylor’s seizures have become more frequent and more severe.

Today Taylor woke up in a fog, still feeling the effects of a heavy seizure day yesterday. The after effects of a seizure can take quite a toll on the body; exhaustion, headache, even temporary paralysis. The effects of several seizures in one day beat the body down. Imagine a boxer, picking himself off the mat after a hard punch, only to receive yet another that knocks him back down, then another, then another, until finally he’s on the mat, TKO, unable to stand. That’s Taylor after a heavy day of seizures.

Today is the third day of school this week that Taylor has missed because of seizures.

Today we are digesting a possible diagnosis of a serious form of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. We feel like the boxer too, after having received a punch in the gut. But, like the boxer, we’re standing right back up to take our punches. Just like all of the families who struggle with epilepsy. We’re a tough bunch. We fight back. We fight for our children, we fight for new medicines, we fight for awareness.

 Today, I wear purple. I wear purple to show my support for my friends and family members who struggle with seizures. I wear purple in honor of the wonderful friends I have met in my journey. I wear purple so that kids like Taylor, her friend Livy and so many others don’t have to wake up in a fog, don’t have to miss school, don’t have to have seizures.

Today, I saw the support of so many friends and family who wore purple. I love them all and I am so touched by their support.

Today, I felt blessed.

Today, I feel that I am not alone.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Charity - It does a body good!

Volunteering your time to charity is a lot like exercise. We want to do it, we know we should do it, but we seem to keep coming up with excuses for why we don’t do it. I’m too busy, I’m too tired when I get home from work, and I have to get the kids ready in the morning. Those are just a few excuses I’ve used to put off exercising.  And I’ve used some of those same excuses when it comes to volunteer opportunities.

 Another similarity between exercise and volunteering is that as much as you put off doing them, you feel really good when you’re done. Have you ever come home from work so tired that you just wanted to plop yourself down on the couch, but instead you went for a walk? After the walk, you feel refreshed, energized, and really glad that you got out and got active.

 Giving your time to serve others has the same impact. Exercise is good for the body, volunteering is good for the soul. And just like exercise, even small steps make a big impact. And there is now an app called Charity Miles where small steps literally do make an impact.

I just learned about Charity Miles from my daughter Lauren. Charity Miles is an app that tracks your miles as you walk or run and donates money to various charities. It’s like your own personal walk-a-thon for a charity of your choosing.

So I thought I would give it a try. I’ve been promising myself that I would start going for walks during lunch. My office complex has a beautiful walking path around a lake and the weather here has been spectacular. Plus I need the exercise. I chose Feeding America as my charity. I have volunteered for them in the past working in their warehouse sorting food donations for their food pantries. It’s a great organization, plus March is National Nutrition Month.

In two days, I walked 3.25 miles and provided 6.52 meals to hungry families. And it only took 45 minutes to do so! Talk about an impact….to both me and Feeding America. I now have motivation to get out and exercise each day and I’m helping a charity as I do so. (I'm envisioning a future blog post with before and after photos!)

 If you haven’t tried this app yet, you should. It is free to download and very easy to set up an account. There are a good variety of different charities to choose from – Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, Stand up 2 Cancer, ASPCA, Autism Speaks and many more. When you’re ready to go out for a walk, you simply open the app, select your charity and go. At the end of your workout you get to see how many miles you walked and the impact of your workout. You can choose a different charity each time if you like. I think I'm going to pick one a month.

You no longer have an excuse to not exercise or to give to charity. In fact you now have motivation to do both. I mean, how can you honestly skip a workout knowing that hungry families, abandoned animals, cancer patients, and many others are depending on you? Go on, just do it!

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson