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Back to School, Back to Work or Sitting on the Sidelines?

 I went grocery shopping yesterday. It wasn't a fly-by visit. It was an absolute necessity. Usually I can get in and get out in a timely fashion, but yesterday was very different. The students are back in town.

I live in a college town. I should have realized that this is the season. New room-mates are bonding and housemates are setting up "camp". I am truly excited for them and intensely nostalgic. Those were the good ol' years. Wish I knew then what I...

Not only are the college folks back, public school teachers are honing their lesson plans and preparing their classrooms. Several West Virginia counties have already started. My son is happy that Marion County doesn't open until next week, meaning that Marion County teachers are grasping at their last days of freedom.

As a retired teacher, I loved those days. By now I would have an entire corner of my bedroom pilled high with a collection of un-sharpened Ticonderoga's, discount composition books, a semester's worth of tissues, my new lesson plan book ('cause even in this computer age, I loved my hard copy), newly acquired YA novels, age-appropriate affirmation stickers, paper grading red ink pens, peppermint candy, and bottled water.

I really do miss those days.

I really loved my job.

But do not miss the humiliation of taking the MonSter to school with me every day. I had to face the fact that MS had no business in my work place. I had become for my students and co-workers. Mentally I had several more good years in me. Physically I needed to be put out to pasture.

Talk about an extremely difficult situation. I was NOT ready for retirement, but it was definitely time. If I could control my bladder, take charge of my legs, stop the inconvenient tremors, exorcise the cog-fog, and caste away the afternoon fatigue, I would still be there. But I'm not. I'm here. At my computer. Talking to you.

And sense it is not my nature to seek pity, I am actively looking for ways to fill the void that retirement has left me. These are supposed to be my golden years, right? It is difficult to explain to anyone not living with MS that early retirement is NOT the idyllic life that we work long and hard toward.

Stay busy, fellow MS friends. Find a hobby. Write a blog. Join a club, on-line if necessary. Read a book. Hell, write a book! Learn to knit. Learn yoga and practice it in your living room. Clean out your closet and every orifice in your home.  

Just move!

That pasture that MS dropped me in is many miles in the distance. Even though I do not pack up for work every morning, I try to keep myself on a schedule. I learned long ago that a life without purpose is meaningless.

Fortunately I have two major goals ahead of me. On September 1, 2016, Marion County will gain a new self-help group. On the first Thursday of every month, I hope to greet other folks with MS. You do not have to be from this county to come. This is not exclusive to the geographic location. This past spring I spent several weeks training to be a self-help group facilitator and it is actually happening.

Even though this group is not affiliated with religion, Life United Methodist Church (my church) has agreed to put us on their small group agenda. I get butterflies just  thinking about it. I'm a, a lot...nervous about this. Even with the official National Multiple Sclerosis Society training, I do not really feel prepared.

I think uncertainty is good, though. It keeps us alert.

My second goal is to publish a new book. The story is ready. The reviews are in place. An award has already been given and my groupies are anxious to get their hands on it. The problem right now is the book cover. My mind is totally blank. Two covers have been designed, but neither is it. Of course, me being me, I feel extremely guilty for taking the illustrator and my publisher's time to find that perfect cover. we need to get this thing rolling.

But, patience is supposedly a virtue, so I will be patient. 

People look at me oddly when I confess to being retired. Some get angry when they realize that retirement for me is not all chocolate and roses. I assure them that retirement was not forced on me by the "system". It wasn't. This was my decision even though I swear I could hear that huge sigh of relief when I announced my decision.

Am I a little paranoid? Probably, but that's okay.

Life is far too short to regret our decisions. It is what it is. That may sound, take charge and make sure the "it" is what you want it to be.

Have a great day.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a powerful and progressive civil rights law that prohibits discrimination in employment, public transportation, public accommodations and public services operated by private entities and telecommunications. Many people remain active and continue to work despite the challenges of living day-to-day with MS. It is important to know that the ADA prohibits discrimination by covered employers on the basis of disability in all employment practices. This includes job application procedures, hiring, firing, promotion, compensation, training, and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment.
In the last few years, there have been many court cases focusing on whether a person has a "disability" as defined by the ADA. This is an important question, because the ADA's protections only apply to "qualified individuals with a disability."
An individual with a disability is a person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, (2) has a record of such impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. What do the parts of this definition mean in the real world?
Although in most cases, it is agreed that MS is a disability under the ADA, you might be surprised to learn that MS does not automatically qualify as a disability.
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