We can’t do it alone,
whether it’s changing things at work
or living through personal challenges.
I have often written about the need to find allies at work to accomplish change and stay positive.
While I know this to be true, I have been guilty in trying to go it alone. I am the fire-starter, the organizer, the person who gets things done. My husband has a similar mindset. So when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease two years ago, we found one of the most renown Parkinson’s neurologists, got the medication, read the books, and decided that we wouldn’t let Parkinson’s define our lives.
It was with great apprehension that we went to a five-day a “wellness retreat” with 57 other people with Parkinson’s and their care partners last week at Kripalu, the yoga and spiritual center in the hills of Western Massachusetts. Since the program was sponsored by the National Parkinson’s Foundation, we thought that we would learn a great deal from medical experts about research, symptoms, medications, resources, and what to be aware of as the condition progresses. And we did.
But what I really came away with is less anxiety and more confidence that I can do this, no matter how wonky the disease may affect my husband. The wisdom, practical know-how, and generosity of those 57 people in the retreat was a stark reminder that it’s better not to try to take on difficult situations alone. There’s always much to learn from people who know more and have experienced worse. One self-less act really brought home this message.
Selfishly I wanted my husband to participate in a noontime event called Yoga Dance, open to everyone at Kripalu not just the PD folks. It’s like a wild-ass dance party with great music and free form dancing. Makes me feel like 19 again. I asked each man in our PD wellness workshop if he would go to yoga dance, explaining that if a bunch of guys went my husband would too. They all agreed, including Ray who was having a particularly tough day with his PD.
Ray and his partner Richard went into the big dance room, music blaring, lots of athletic yoga people dancing like joyful fools. Feeling very uncomfortable Ray told Richard he needed to leave, his body just couldn’t move to the music. They left the room for a few minutes and came back, where Ray tried again. He and Richard soon left a second time, and then they came back in for a third try.
Ray was upset that he couldn’t move. Richard was upset that Ray was upset. It was a horrible, unsettling incident that reminded them both of the realities of Parkinson’s.
While they struggled my husband and I danced like young lovers. Ray and Richard didn’t know, but it was our 30th wedding anniversary.
Genuine collaboration is what Ray did coming to that lunchtime yoga dance. He came from a deep well of thoughtfulness and wanting to help me. Even though it was so, so hard for him.
As I reenter the “real” world on Monday, I keep with me a new question:
What would Ray do?