Has anyone else looked at their electronic diary, or scrolled back on Facebook to see what they were doing a few weeks ago? I did it yesterday and it was like reminiscing on a different era.
Just a quick intro as to who we are. We’re Rae and Dave Jackman from beautiful Falkland in Scotland. Dave is the one with MS (PPMS) and I’m Rae, his wife and number one supporter on this journey.
If you want to see us in person and hear our story we’re one of the many Stories of Hope on the OMS website - filmed in 2012.
We were lucky enough to attend the first OMS retreat in the UK at Launde Abbey in 2011 and to this day still keep in touch with a lot of the people who attended that week – a week which was life-changing for us.
The original retreat group has grown over the years with other fabulous OMSers joining . We’ve had six annual reunion weekends (organised amongst ourselves) and we all keep up and support each other via visits, attending workshops and other events, social media, etc.
Now, Dave and I are, in 2020, in lockdown, supporting each other again, plus our family, our community and beyond during these totally unbelievable times.
The parallels between the OMS support from that original retreat and the support we’re experiencing now is quite extraordinary.
We’re currently starting day 8 of our lockdown (we got ahead of the game) and what a week it has been. Each day we have ‘raised our game’ and are now getting used to our new ‘normal’.
It’s been an interesting wee while. Some days we (well me) have been beside ourselves with stress and other days we felt calm and in ‘reasonable’ control.
The one thing that has really helped is the ‘Step 4’ of the OMS program (Meditation and Mindfulness). Thing is, this is the part we struggled with most over the years, but in a way I think our continued exposure and practice has built up our reserves, in a way. We decided yesterday it was a bit like a soldier going through training for battle. We’re now in that battle and our various de-stressing techniques, and mindfulness for me mindfulness has got us through. I am more mindful now than I have ever been in my life and that has significantly reduced my stress.
I know I need to do that because Dave (the one with MS), who rarely gets stressed, does stress out when I do!!! And, of course, I don’t want him to stress as it does impact his MS (a vicious cycle).
The other night we joined in with our village and the rest of the country in the national clap for our NHS, which was emotional but really uplifting.
So today is a good day. We’re up, I’ve written this blog - wasn’t entirely sure what a blog was until yesterday. And we’re busy.
I must go now, check the fridge for tonight’s dinner and switch off for a mindful walk with the dog in the beautiful countryside, just a minute from our house, which we’re eternally grateful for.
Our most exciting event today comes at 3pm GMT when we connect via the wonder that is Zoom with about 15 of our OMS friends across the globe, and we’re SO looking forward to it. Not enough hours in the day!
I’ve realised that after dipping my toe in the water with my first blog that I quite like it. It feels therapeutic – a thing that is very much needed at this time. I’m going to keep this blog going just for me. It might be a short novel by the end of this!
I have a lot to write (and time to do it). I also realise that many of the positives we’re getting out of this unbelievable situation are due in many ways to OMS.
I’ve decided that the best plan is to bullet point them for you and I’ll continue in the coming weeks (months!) to write about them in more depth.
Here goes –
The sense of community and the importance of working together and supporting each other at times of difficulty.
We got this at the start from our experiences at the OMS retreat but it’s grown so much from there and we have met so many other lovely people following OMS at workshops / reunions (with lots of others joining who weren’t at the original retreat).
Each new person who came along became part of our community very quickly.
The parallel is the experience Dave and I are finding just now in our village community. Everyone has got together to support each other – particularly the more vulnerable. It’s also heartwarming to see this attitude being replicated in so many communities worldwide.
The feeling of responsibility and control over our own health – both mental and physical.
I strongly feel that after this is all over our health care systems are going to be seriously stretched so it’s more important than ever that people take personal responsibility for their own health to reduce that strain. With OMS we already know that!The OMS lifestyle is super healthy regardless of having MS. Those of us following OMS are ahead of the game, BUT you have to take that responsibility and go for it.
Passing on information to others.
Through learning from many fantastic people at retreats / reunions / workshops etc. we’ve learned SO many techniques and strategies around things like positive thinking, gratitude, relaxation, mindfulness – oh I could go on.
In the last week we have passed on so many of these ideas to friends, relatives and the community to support them through this difficult time. Last week, I was chatting with some WhatsApp friends who were feeling despondent. I suggested finding a positive of the day – sun shining / great family chat via Zoom / cooking dinner using all the leftovers in the fridge (our personal achievement – and it was good).
We’ve decided that when this is over and we emerge we’re going to come out more positive. Our house will be super clean and tidy, our garden will look fab and we’ll have connected with so many people that we never would have before if the coronavirus hadn’t happened. Our cooking skills will be better - we’ll waste less food.
The main thing is we fully intend to keep this going. All the benefits we’ve strangely gotten from this worldwide pandemic are too precious to lose.
If you too want to share your own experiences, like Rae has, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.