About Me

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just another 20-something stumbling through life, one mile at a time.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

gratitude and nike women's 1/2 marathon eve

with all these changes going on, i've been reflecting a lot about my life, who i am, what i want. i've come to realize how much my life has been impacted by retinitis pigmentosa, and up until recently, how much i didn't acknowledge that. in my very first post i made it clear that i didn't want my disease to define me, but i couldn't deny that it has helped shape me. it's literally been life changing, and it's also changed parts of me. like my perspective on things, my awareness of others' silent burdens, and ultimately, teaching me to be much stronger.

since it's easy to focus on how much it's progressing and the negative impact on my life i decided to write why i'm grateful to be losing my vision. yeah, sounds counter intuitive. there are perks to this whole disability thing, some shallow and some deep.

1. Preferred Parking
 i can;t drive (major bummer) but i do have a handicap placard so whenever i get rides to places i can get the premium handicap parking. going to the mall- on a super sale saturday- and i got you covered. costco? yup, we can park right next to entrance baby. disneyland? oh hell yes. no more getting lost in mega parking lots trying to figure out which boonies of  spot you're in. also, no quarters? no problem! with a placard i don't have to pay for meters, or adhere to green zone time limits (no need to rush back to the car to move it after two hours my friends. sit back, relax.)

2. No License, No Excuses
as previously stated, i don't have a driver's license. so when trying to decide who is the designated driver i never have to whine my way out of it. i don't always want to drink, but it's nice to know the option is always there.

3. Change is Good
i had my life planned out by the time i was 15. i thought i had it all figured out in high school (yes, i was precocious and a perfectionist). my original plans and dreams had to be scrapped and i learned an important life lesson: making plans is great but you have to adapt to whatever life throws at you. life isn't perfect and i can't worry about being perfect. i learned to let go and more importantly, grow outside of my comfort zone.

4. Perspective is Better
i've always been a sympathetic and compassionate person; i placed being a good friend and helping others high on my priorities list. having been diagnosed with an untreatable, incurable, degenerative disease, i've been forced to step outside of my life and realize that it is short. whatever goals and dreams you have, you may think to yourself "i can always do that later, next year, whenever. i have the rest of my life!" i had to come to terms that my physical limitations didn't promise me a tomorrow in which i can travel to see the northern lights or learn to fly a plane or surf when i'm 60. perhaps it's cliche, but i found a new appreciation for what i am able to do, for now. and hey, it's not terminal. life as i knew it may have been over, but my eyes were also opened to a new one. i would have never pushed myself to take time off from school to take art classes for fun, spend a summer in ireland, spontaneously jet off to peru to volunteer with orphans. i wouldn't have taught myself to snowboard and get back up on the board even when every muscle ached and screamed. i've made more unforgettable memories in the last nine years than i would have otherwise.

5. Different can be Special
my life story is a better one because of rp. having a rare disease automatically does that. sure, it's also more depressing at times, but you know, trade offs. not to say that i've done much of merit, but potentially i can inspire others and hopefully create change for good in my own environment. rp is different for everyone and affects people in different way at different rates. i've met a handful of people, mostly through online groups and message boards, who have rp and each story is so unique. we're diagnosed at different ages and it's interesting to see the varying paths rp took each person. there are many things that make me "special" but rp is probably the biggest one.

6. Spidey Senses
ok, so i can't legitimately prove this but i'm pretty sure my sense of smell and taste are above average. supposedly if one sense goes out (for lack of a better wy of putting it, not to compare senses to light bulbs) the other sense become keener. i was born with a hearing loss so that's never been very strong, and i'm going blind, so that leaves three. it's possible i have have a strong sense of touch since i'm super sensitive and ticklish. seriously, getting patted down by TSA tickles.and it's happened on more than one occasion that i've been able to taste subtle flavors that my friends miss, or pick up scents sooner. i had one roommate who would always have me smell her milk because she could never tell if it was starting to go bad or not. and once at work i smelled (and eventually help find) a dead mouse before anyone else. i'm pretty sure i could do a smell/taste test of different whiskeys and get it right.

7. What Doesn't Kill You...
this list wouldn't complete without a cliche. life is hard as a rule; we all have our own burdens to bear. whatever those obstacles may be, they make each of us stronger. i've learned i have to fight a little harder, push a little further. try just one. more. time. i'm more of the shy quiet time but leaving everything i knew in socal forced me to be my own advocate.

in about 12 hours i'll be at the start line for my first official race. i'm more nervous than anything, because i'll be braving crowds pre-dawn to find my start time and make my way through the course. to be honest, i'm not in top physical shape for this race due to injuries but i'm ok with mostly running a half. i know that i can run 13.1 since i have dome more than that in the past. i'm not worried about time since no matter what it is it will be my PR. tomorrow is more about redemption: i had to drop out last minute for Nike last year and it was heartbreaking. it's bout facing huge fears being within crowds and dim light. it's about making it to the finish line and getting that little blue box. so here i am, a year later, ready to do the damn thing and get my tiffany necklace. because we all know this race is about the bling ;)

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