10 Lessons I’ve Learned in 2014

New Year’s resolutions are about looking forward to 2015, but I want to stand still for a few minutes to look back at 2014. Many positive things happened on the writing front, but sadly, as Isaac Newton’s third law of motion goes, I ended up with a four-month relapse. Action and reaction played out in perfect unison, so.

After a very relaxed Irish Christmas and New Year’s holiday, 2015 is off to a great start. Determined not to let 2014 end in utter silence, the following 10 lessons can perhaps be a guide for this year also.

If people can’t handle you at your worst…
‘Normal’ life without a chronic, neurodegenerative illness can be hectic enough. However, if you have an illness that causes a progressive loss of neurological functions, life becomes truly demanding and gargantuan. So stand up for yourself, and quote Marilyn Monroe if need be, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best.”  I’ve come to live by that maxim, and it’s empowering once you know you deserve better people in your life.

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It’s OK not to be OK
Where Marilyn Monroe’s quote above is about others questioning you, saying “It’s OK not to be OK” is something you can tell yourself. This means that every so often, you have to admit that, “Hey, you know what, I am ill, and I am totally fine with that.” You don’t always have to keep your Superwoman outfit at the ready.

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You can’t please everyone
It’s even OK to be selfish every so often, and recant on things you set out to do if you don’t feel well enough. You are you, warts and all, and if people find faults in that, they perhaps you are right in leaving them be for a while. Never try to convince someone of your worth, there are many others who do value for who you are.

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Believe in yourself
Gaining self-confidence can be so rewarding, especially when you least expect it. Little did I know that, this time last year, I’d be invited to write for two certified names in the MS community, and that I’d end up being a finalist in the Ireland Blog Awards 2014, in three categories with my own blog, and twice as part of the Irish MS society’s blog. Suddenly I realised that perhaps my writing was better than first imagined. So believe in yourself, you are worth more than you think!

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Don’t settle for ordinary. Dare to be extraordinary.
Dare to go even further if/when you feel or experience you have more to offer. Sometimes it’s all about taking that bull by its horns, and making a jump into the unknown. Retiring from work in my case was what I needed to do in order to give my own health a chance. It meant a more ordinary life, but sometimes… life’s too short to just be ordinary. So take that chance when it presents itself.

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Just. Be. Yourself.
Alternative dress sense, awfully tenacious, candid-when-required, in desperate need of silence and very independent, I’ve tried being “part of the rest” but that felt weird and fabricated. I realised that to be happy, in tune with myself and others, I simply needed to stay true to who I was. Don’t change because others tell you to, just be that limited edition that you know you truly are. Don’t be afraid to break the mould.

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Sometimes opposites just don’t attract… at all.
Seek out people who complete you, who are that 10% of yourself you couldn’t find anywhere. In a life where chronic illness plays a big part, you don’t always feel like having to explain yourself AGAIN. Sometimes opposites are just that for a reason… totally the opposite of who you are and/or what you were looking for, and therefore to be avoided at all cost.

gray-swirl-mdLetting go = moving on
If something or someone causes more pain than happiness, it’s time to let go. It’s never easy, even for a strong person like yourself. The hidden meaning of ‘letting go’ however is ‘moving on’, even when you don’t see this straightaway. And never forget, moving on = a new chance of happiness.

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Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened
Opposite of the letting go and moving on bit above when something negative happened, don’t cry but smile when a good thing’s over. Sit back and laugh, reminisce and be happy it happened. Every so often, you just have to smile and say, “Whatever that was, that was brilliant!”

gray-swirl-mdThe Golden Rule, or Karma?
The Golden Rule translates as, “We must treat others as we wish others to treat us.” Some use it in religious terms, others in inspirational or psychological ones. I just call it ‘karma’. I do believe there is such a thing as karma, but I don’t expect good things to happen just because I treat those less well off to some of my time and a few good words. No religious afterthought, no thinking of hippie-esque karma flowing my way. Just do good, nothing more, nothing less.

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About Willeke

Neurologically challenged by MS and personally by her will to succeed, Willeke is a disability awareness advocate seeking to improve neurological services in Ireland. By highlighting difficult issues that come with a MS diagnosis, she hopes her words and tenacity can bring justice to people most in need of a modern, inclusive healthcare system that looks after every aspect of life.

©WVE and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

3 thoughts on “10 Lessons I’ve Learned in 2014

  1. How wonderfully insightful. #3 is something that resonates deep within me, but all of these are so important to keep in mind. I will incorporate a lot of your ideas into my daily life.

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