What is it that makes us think that everything we do must be big? Is bigger better, really? What’s wrong with little? If someone asked if you wanted a piece of cake, would you ask for a big or a little piece? Wouldn’t they both taste the same? The little piece would be better for us. We’d have less calories and fat and still get to eat cake. Little wins there!
Generally, it seems we feel like we need to do everything big in life. We have big parties with a big fun time in big houses with big yards. We drive to the parties in our big cars.
I think we do this with our lives, too. We get so focused on the big things happening that it can be easy to miss the little ones. Yet it is the little things that make up our days. I have a friend who always says it’s the little things that add up, (love you, Lulu ) and she lives her life following that philosophy. It works out pretty well for her.
Focusing on the little things doesn’t mean that life is going to be any easier, but I think it makes it easier to get through the tough times. Think about it. It seems like the big things cause the most chaos and turn the world askew, even if the big things aren’t bad things. The little things are life’s glue.
My multiple sclerosis is that way. It has big events — medical disasters that send me to the hospital for days. It also has every day pain that’s much less of a big deal, but they still add up and make MS a pain in the butt.
If you look at me you aren’t going to see that I have problems walking or standing too long. You won’t see that it can be hard and extremely painful for me to eat. MS has messed up the way I chew and swallow. You aren’t going to see that my hair has completely changed in volume and texture since my diagnosis. These things aren’t visible because they aren’t big. They happened over time. Slowly, quietly and little.
If you follow my friend’s philosophy, it’s the little things that mean the most. They add up to big things. Even if these little things aren’t that positive, it’s how we deal with them that matters. We are in charge of what’s big and what’s little.
We can let disease be a big thing. We can let the big events of it and the little everything day struggles of it wear us down and break us, or we can let everything, regardless of size, be little. Little things have power. They are what make us strong
1. If the store has a cart, use it. Forget any other assistive device if you can and just go with the buggy. It provides excellent support. Seriously, always use the cart, even if you are only getting what you think you can carry.
2. Plan ahead. Don’t go willy nilly shopping. Know where you are going before you leave. Know your rest stops and bathroom locations and pack a snack if you get hangry like me. Know what you are buying beforehand if you can. You can’t over-plan this.
3. Go at the least busy time possible – like Target at 8 a.m. on a Monday. It has been shockingly calm, even at this time of year.
4. If you have a parking permit, use it. You have it because you qualify for it. If you need it, use it.
5. Have an escape plan. If you’re done, you’re done. It’s OK if you can’t take it any longer. It’s OK even if you aren’t finished shopping. Sensory overload is a very real thing with MS. Do what you can to avoid it.
6. Let someone else be in charge of transportation if you can. No sense in adding that stress to the mix.
7. Let people help if they offer, in any way – carrying your bags to the car, bringing them inside, anything that’s offered.
8. Shop online. You don’t even have to leave home – you can shop in your pajamas. Of course, there’s no law that says you can’t go to the mall in your jammies either… but there are some amazing online deals this time of year.
Let me know your tips for shopping with chronic illness. We’re all in this together. Enjoy your holiday season!