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Being Normal

Buddhism has helped me cope with MS.

“It’s human nature to wonder if we’d be happier with more. Perhaps the key is to work with that instinct and realize we can have joyful experiences if we’re willing to cling to less.” ~Lori Deschene

My close friends and family know that I was raised and still am Catholic but hold a deep appreciation for Buddhism. You may or may not realize that I write about and try to uphold several Buddhist principles alongside Christianity. I wholeheartedly believe and respect the teachings of both sects and find that particular passages inspire me. It brings me a certain amount of comfort and safety.

The other day I came across a great Buddhist quote.

“Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities.” ~Dalai Lama

After reading the quote, I immediately begin to wonder if I’m too attached to how things use to be. Honestly, I thought every physical faculty I’ve lost was an enduring entity. Then I realized that the quality of my life is being changed not only because of MS. My life is being changed because I allow MS to center my thoughts on my able-bodied past instead of what is happening in the present. Maybe that’s why I still cry over my declining physical aptitude. I began losing my abilities years ago but I am still obsessed with the idea of being able-bodied. I still want to do things on my own terms. It’s the dependency MS begets that I hate. It’s my sense of independence and control that I miss. I wish I could just move past this but I stumble every time.

Has my life truly been so bad because of the things MS has taken from me?

The obvious answer is no, but boy do I miss being “normal”. I think I should concentrate on the present moment as it is. Perhaps that may be the first step in defeating MS in this battle for control of my life.

36 thoughts on “Being Normal”
  1. life well lived 31 October, 2012on8:45 AM Reply

    I have great respect for Buddhism, the little I have been able to study.

    On every anniversary, I write to my wife, “Stay with me. The best is yet to be. This I believe.”

    Even when I feel horrid, I try to live to these words. This belief is what lets me get past any tiffs, any frustrations, and any physical issues either of us may have at the moment. It’s what I try to pass to my kids. It’s what I think when I read about the life expectancies of my kids.

    Today is great. Tomorrow can be better. Stay the course. Joy can be found along the way.

    • Nicole Lemelle 31 October, 2012on11:10 AM Reply

      well lived, What a gift to share with both your wife and children.

  2. Dennis Cronin 31 October, 2012on2:36 AM Reply

    Thank you Nicole.

  3. Olivia 30 October, 2012on7:09 PM Reply

    I am a Christian but I also meditate, practice yoga and love zen ideas. Without some of these things, I do not think I would be able to accept or deal with my bodies brokenness as well. The hardest part has been for me to accept that I have limitations now and there will most likely be more to come….however, there is no time like the present. I am thankful for every day. Love and light your way

    • Nicole Lemelle 31 October, 2012on11:14 AM Reply

      Olivia, I didn’t realize How many could relate.
      Thanks for reading.

  4. Olivia 30 October, 2012on4:47 PM Reply

    I love zen stuff and I am 100% Christian. I actually got nervous when I sent my blog link to a Christian friend and children’s director. There’s a lot of zen floating around my blog. Yet, if I did not meditate and do yoga I might be in a certified nutt the idea that i couldnt fix this is what initially made me flip out when my

    • Nicole Lemelle 30 October, 2012on5:30 PM Reply

      I felt the same way.

      • Laurie 31 October, 2012on12:10 PM Reply

        You are definitely NOT alone. I believe in God. However, I too see that Buddhism seems to make so much sense to me as well. I…and I’m guessing many others struggle to have 100% faith, especially as we MS’ers see “normal” things become “taken away”. I practice Yoga but pray to one God. I find for myself that MS has taught me, or rather ” forced me”, to live in the moment more and without “perfect expectations”. Living with an attitude of gratitude is difficult enough for “healthy people”, let alone a person or family with a chronic condition. But if we can count our blessings instead, our happiness can shine through.

  5. Lisa H 30 October, 2012on12:55 PM Reply

    I try to live in the “Be here now” attitude. I heard Babba Ram Das speak when I was a teenager and this attitude has stuck with me for years. It helped me thru cancer too. What we have is today. To live our best life we can in the moment. Tomorrow holds no guarantees. The future scares me so I try my best not to think about it.

  6. Laurie Hanan 30 October, 2012on11:18 AM Reply

    Your words always give me cheer and remind me I am not as unusual as I sometimes believe I am. You say exactly what I feel. I’m a Jew-bu, which is so common there’s even a term for it. A Buddhist monk once told me if you see a white person meditating with Buddhists, you can almost be certain he’s Jewish. Even with these two traditions of wisdom to guide me, I wrestle with wishing things were different. Another quote you may like:

    When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ~Lao Tzu

    • Nicole Lemelle 30 October, 2012on11:32 AM Reply

      Laurie, Man that quote is a tall order to reach. When are we not lacking something? That’s deep.
      Thanks for reading and sharing.

  7. Jessica 30 October, 2012on11:12 AM Reply

    Hi, I wish I could learn to be ok the way I am. I miss out on field trips and just talking him to school. I can’t even walk while holding my 10 month old. It hurts so bad

    • Nicole Lemelle 30 October, 2012on11:35 AM Reply

      Jessica, I know. I don’t have any little ones, so I can’t even imagine the hurt.

  8. Linda Grace Cox 30 October, 2012on9:43 AM Reply

    Thank you for sharing! I’m with you, I appreciate the Buddhist principles. This is beautiful, to find joy while clinging to less. I am Christian to the core yet eternal truth is eternal truth wherever it is found.

  9. Muff 30 October, 2012on9:36 AM Reply

    Nicole, I knew a priest who practiced Zen — he even advocated for its use of meditation, and he taught us to Zen walk! I, too, while not a total believer, find value in many quotes.
    For me, also, it’s the lack of control (I was/probably still am a control freak!) and my independence that I miss most. I continue to try living in the present, but it’s not always easy!

    • Nicole Lemelle 30 October, 2012on10:34 AM Reply

      Muff, how interesting a priest Zen walking. I agree its not easy but the more I fight it the more frustrated and hurt mentally and physically I find myself. But you’re right it is very hard and also humbling.

    • Kshanski 30 October, 2012on10:59 AM Reply

      I second that!

  10. Kit Minden 30 October, 2012on9:31 AM Reply

    It’s hard to choose to let go. It involves changing hopes. Major work!

    • Nicole Lemelle 30 October, 2012on10:36 AM Reply

      Thanks for sharing that. I never thought about it like that. Hopes and goals, you think?

  11. Deb 30 October, 2012on9:22 AM Reply

    Thanks for the post, Nicole. I am Catholic, have NOT explored Buddhism, but I admit that I DO get Angry with God, I feel the Best years of my life were in the past as I cannot do the same things anymore. I ask God why he allowed this to happen to me and what is my purpose now…still waiting for an answer. I promise that if I was cured, as least my walking and handwriting restored, I would volunteer at the Church and visit there to pray more often. I am only 59yrs. have had MS for 35 yrs. and saw my handwriting coome back and my walking improve after my first CCSVI treatment 2 years ago. But this only last a few weeks. So I know I do NOT have Permanent damage, just cannot find someone to fix me again…

    • Nicole Lemelle 30 October, 2012on10:39 AM Reply

      Deb, thanks for sharing. It’s always hard when we have to look outside ourselves to try to find something to fix ourselves. I know because I try that too!

  12. April 30 October, 2012on8:06 AM Reply

    Nicole, are you in my head??? I am going through the same thing. I know I need to move past it, but it is so hard. Thank-you for your blog. Even though my husband is very understanding, he doesn’t understand how frustrating it is to do simple things. Just to shuffle a deck of cards, which is second hand to me, is becoming a tiring task. I have to fight the urge to quit doing things cause they are more of a challenge than they use to be or I’m slower at doing them. Keep your blog coming. I look forward to reading them.

    • Nicole Lemelle 30 October, 2012on10:44 AM Reply

      April, It makes me smile to think that you look forward to my blog! My husband get into little tiffs all the time about me trying to do something he deems is risky. Yet its something a child could do. I’m learning my limits or shall I say my new normals constantly.

  13. Arletha 30 October, 2012on7:48 AM Reply

    Hi Nicole,
    I can relate to what you’re saying. I miss be able to move around like I used to. In my dreams at night I am walking and sometimes running until I remember that I really can’t anymore. Then I wake up. I am now trying to keep my thoughts on the present.

    “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly”. —-Buddha

    I wish you well and take good care!

    • Nicole Lemelle 30 October, 2012on10:46 AM Reply

      Arletha, Thanks for reading. I love that quote, especially ‘ wisely and earnestly’

  14. Rachael K. 30 October, 2012on7:29 AM Reply

    I always liked the coinage (by disabled activists) of TAB, for “temporarily able-bodied.” None of us can claim more than that – and it’s useful for offering language that acknowledges our commonality as human beings, rather than our deviation from an imaginary norm.

    In every part of my life, I’ve always hated the idea of normality. It serves only a way to rank people according to an imagined standard that is useful only for expressing, and judging, our differences.

    It is the opposite of acceptance, of starting from life as we experience it.

    I’m happy to be deviant & always have been. Which doesn’t mean that the progression of my MS is not a focus of frustration & terror … just that the longing to be “normal” is not helpful — never was & never will be.

    My two cents. Would love to hear from others …

    • Nicole Lemelle 30 October, 2012on5:41 PM Reply

      Rachael, I love that concept! As I always tell people I use to be able to walk.
      My sister first noticed it, I knew something was wrong with it. But I just haven’t been able to stop. But I’d if I can subscribe to a view like yours I’d be a bit more content. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Trish Robichaud 30 October, 2012on4:58 AM Reply

    Wow Nicole, is that being gut-wrenching honest with yourself. I’m honoured by your sharing this new insight with us. If often tell clients that God put our eyes in the front of our heads as opposed to the back because He wants us to look forward, not back.

    If we insist on looking back, we end up moving forward in life while looking over our shoulders, missing so many valuable sights and opportunities that He’s put directly in front of us.

    In order to turn around and take a more active role in our present and future, we have to give ourselves permission to let go of the past.

    Does that make sense?


  16. Angela 30 October, 2012on12:26 AM Reply

    I think ur blog is fab!
    I have a BA hoours degree in theology, post graduate teaching in religious education, constantly looking to the enlightened to remind me that freedom, peace, enlightenment is in surrender to the present and just be. I find this the most challenging, but thank goodness for their reminders, that’s if I care to draw myself from my attachments of how great It was when I had all abilities. But was I, was it, great title ” My new norms”.


    • Nicole Lemelle 30 October, 2012on5:47 PM Reply

      Angela, thanks for reading. And I’m truly flattered you find this blog “fab”

  17. Kshanski 29 October, 2012on11:49 PM Reply

    My life story. I so enjoy reading your blogs.

    • Nicole Lemelle 30 October, 2012on10:48 AM Reply

      Kshanski, Thanks, I hope you end up coming riding with me!

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