About Me – originally posted Feb. 27, 2013
My Introduction – updated 6/20/17
A lot has happened since I last updated My Introduction (10/26/14). So, here’s what has been happening in my life.
First, thank you for visiting my blog and being curious about me, my poetry and art. So hello, and let me introduce myself. My name is Lynn McHale; I am now 66, divorced for 35 years, retired in Sept. 2012 from Sears Holdings after 41 years. I have a son and daughter in-law, and a beautiful little grandson who will be one in July. He is the most precious little boy! I have a wonderful family, friends and neighbors.
I love nature, walking, golfing, swimming, playing pool, shooting archery, watching the weather, playing bunco with my lady friends from my former neighborhood. I exercise every day in one way or another. This past Spring, I went to South Carolina and hiked in the Great Smokey Mountains to see beautiful waterfalls. I was so proud of myself and my accomplishments of physically being able to hike and climb.
Yes, I made the decision to move to an Active Senior Retirement Community in 2015. It was a lot of work downsizing. It was exhausting physically, emotionally and mentally. But I made it through, with the help of my family and friends and am now happily living in my new apartment and lovely community. I have met so many interesting people and made many new friends and have gotten involved in some activities and committees. I love to decorate, so this gave me the opportunity to make some changes to my living space. I love to see plays, a friend and I subscribe to Broadway series at the Paramount Theater in Aurora
In 2005, I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. I underwent chemo-therapy, a lumpectomy with nodes removed and radiation. I thought I had waged the toughest battle of my life; I had survived breast cancer and was now busy living my life. I am still cancer free today and very grateful for the last 9 years!
In 2011, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which absolutely devastated me. I had already fought and survived breast cancer. I couldn’t possibly have a degenerative brain disease! I didn’t deserve to have this happen to me! I was very angry, frightened and in despair. I remember telling someone that this was the “kiss of death.” I had great difficulty wrapping my head around this diagnosis, and when my coping skills were depleted, I realized I needed professional help.
I sought help from a neuro-psychologist over the course of several months. He helped me re-frame how I thought about having PD and living with a chronic illness and most importantly how I perceived myself. In the safe confines of his office, I could be brutally honest. I didn’t have to be guarded when I described how I was feeling. I didn’t have to soften the message or try to hide things to protect and shield my family and friends. It was finally OK to tell people at work. I had only told my Director and VP and select few others. It was OK to be really, really angry. It was OK to hate everybody and everything! It was OK to cry, even to laugh! Keeping it all to myself had become such a burden, which now was lifted. Most importantly, I did not have to pretend to be strong; I could sit there and be just me, all my raw emotions exposed, learning how to be Lynn, who happens to have Parkinson’s. I went back again about a year later for a few weeks, for what I call a “tune up” or “attitude adjustment”, as I feel I will always experience ups and downs, and sometimes the downs just need to be talked through. I highly recommend counseling for learning how to accept and cope with living with PD.
An update, as I thought I might need “tune ups” from time to time, I did see my neuro-psychologist in spring of 2014 for about 6 sessions. Once again, good to go! (sort of)
Update to an update – I seem to be overbooked all the time, and overwhelmed with responsibility and tasks to do. So, when I should have all the time in the world since I am retired, I am seeing a social worker at my neurologist’s office who is helping me find balance in my life!! I know, crazy! More to come on this.
6/20/17 Update – I do find that from time to time I have to see the social worker (counselor) I now work with. It’s like I say, every now and then I just need a tune up.
I should mention that I did see two separate psychologists when I was battling cancer, both of whom had very different approaches and I liked very much. That being said, coping with Parkinson’s has been more difficult. With cancer, I’d either survive or die. With Parkinson’s, the “unknown” taunts you each day. It’s coping with this “unknown” that takes you to the edge (not ledge) at times and can mess with your mind (we already know about issues there).
Support Group Programs
Within a month of diagnosis, I joined a support group and tried to get in some exercise while still working full time (you know how well that worked). Fifteen months later, I decided to retire a little earlier than planned so I could concentrate on my health and attend exercise classes. Since moving I do a lot of exercising in the pool and have started swimming laps which makes me feel great. I also take other exercise classes and belong to the Bike Club. I don’t attend the Support Group I started with, I actually don’t go to a support group any more. I found it not as helpful as it was in the beginning. However, I do facilitate a small PD Support group in my retirement community, which I enjoy doing.
I have been writing poetry for several years now. My writing comes from needing to get my feelings and emotions out of my head. This helps me frame up and clarify all the emotions and thoughts colliding and crashing into each other in my head. Initially, I started writing about my anger, frustration and fear I had about Parkinson’s. Over time, my writing transitioned, focusing on other aspects of life that I enjoy, or observe, or think about; such as a word or phrase I find interesting. Some are very personal and were written and intended just for me; but now I would like to share them. Some poems have meter and rhyme, others free style. It just depends on how I feel about the subject when I’m writing.
My support group offered art therapy classes a few years ago. I felt inspired doing art projects and sharing the interpretation with the other participants. Time seemed to stand still, not matter. I found myself immersed in concentration and creation. That inspired me to start taking art classes: beginner drawing, colored pencil and water color, mosaic classes, botanical leaf printing classes, and few others. To my delight, I discovered I was quite creative and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I never had the time prior to retiring to indulge myself in any art classes. Who knew I’d love this new discovery so much!
I initially was taking pictures of clouds, trees, flowers and leaves as subject matter to paint. I took some of my best pictures and then pictures of some of my best artwork and had notecards made. They turned out great!
It took me about 9 months into my retirement to figure out what activities I truly enjoyed, what other activities I wanted to explore, and where, how and with whom I wanted to invest my time and energy. I was learning how to achieve the balance in my life between Parkinson’s related activities and what I call the “other parts of my life”. My poetry and art reflect the balance I found that allows me to live in peace with my Parkinson’s.
My Involvement with PD
I was involved with the American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA) Midwest Chapter as Board member. An update, in Sept. 2013 I became Treasurer of the Board and May 2013 asked to Chair the Walk. requirements.
Update to an update, in January 2015 I became the President of the Chapter, and this position takes up a great deal of my time, more than I want it to. This is one of my challenges in finding the balance I need in my life. I’m working on it, don’t have an answer yet, need one soon and sometimes I am so stressed out and overwhelmed, but feel so a commitment and responsibility. It weighs heavily on me, and I don’t really share how this is affecting me in so many ways. In August 2016, I resigned as President of the Board as I needed to put myself first and concentrate on taking care of myself.
My purpose for this blog is to share my poetry, artwork and photography. I hope that by seeing how my poetry and art helps me as a means of coping with the day to day ups and downs of living with Parkinson’s, it may help or inspire you to look at life and living with PD differently
I’ve been writing for several years now, so I have many poems to share and post. My goal is to post more regularly.
I encourage you to start writing whatever and however it comes out! It does not have to be good, or rhyme or even make sense to anyone else. It only has to make sense and serve its purpose to you. Even with doing some form of art, just do it for fun and for yourself. If it gives you pleasure and makes you happy, and takes your mind off things, that is great!
Please feel free to comment. I really want to know if a poem or photo has touched you in any way, or even inspired you. I will respond to your comments.
My hope is that you will be inspired by something or someone that helps you cope with living with Parkinson’s.
My hope is that you will explore and discover some aspect of yourself, maybe for the first time, or re-discover yourself again.
My hope is that in time, you will find balance and beauty again in the world around you and live in peace with Parkinson’s.
My hope is that you will see yourself as I now see myself:I am Lynn, who happens to have Parkinson’s,
Not a Parkinson’s patient, who happens to be Lynn.
Yes, that being said, I work daily to achieve this state of mind. Some days it is much harder than others. It will always be a challenge, but at least I feel I have the tools to work with when I need to pull them out.
Thank you! This was a lot to read, thanks for hanging in there!
My hope is for you to enjoy my blog.