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What do you do to stay sharp?

 This is what a NaNoWriMo winner looks like near the end of her challenge. Eyes nearly closed, forced smile, listless posture...but look at those two books in front of her. These are results of past NaNoWriMo events. It's worth it. Wish I could keep it up all year round!

Last month in my MS Support Group meeting, one member posed the question "What do you do to stay sharp?" Yep, my group actually has homework!

I didn't need to think about it too awfully long, seeing as how I was in the thick of National Novel Writing Month, an event I look forward to all year. NaNoWriMo is  self-inflicted challenge that many writers commit too every November. I love it. I hate it. I live for it. It keeps me relatively sharp in times of MS cog fog.

Now that NaNoWriMo 2016 has concluded I am in search of a new challenge to keep those brain waves dancing.

This is what I brought to the table during yesterday's meeting:
Knitting is my go-to challenge because it requires concentration (of sorts), counting, and eye-hand coordination. I also love words games. Words With Friends is a great online scrabble game that I play on my Kindle. The comradery of the game is amazing. When a faceless competitor messaged me a few weeks ago, I actually got giddy to know that I had a friend somewhere out there in Cyber World. My nieces, brother, and mom have a Sunday Game Day a couple of times a month and that requires a LOT of mental aptitude, so I counted this activity as well.

Another lady shred her adult coloring pages and they are BEAUTIFUL. When she is not filling the pages of this 21st century rage, L also works word puzzles. She also introduced us to something new. (Isn't that what groups are all about? Sharing the goods and the not so goods?) L taught us about Zentangle.

Upon googling zentangle, this is what I found:

The Zentangle Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns.
Almost anyone can use it to create beautiful images. It increases focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction along with an increased sense of personal well being. The Zentangle Method is enjoyed all over this world across a wide range of skills, interests and ages.

Benefits and Uses of the Zentangle Method

It is fascinating to learn how other people are using the Zentangle method. Here's a list of benefits others enjoy from practicing the Zentangle Method. This list continues to grow as people apply the Zentangle Method in ways we never considered.
  • Relaxation
  • Simple and quick access to mindfulness
  • Non-verbal journalling
  • Insomnia (Improved sleep by creating Zentangle art before bedtime)
  • Self-esteem
  • Inspiration
  • Panic attacks (For fear of flying, creating Zentangle art during takeoff and landing)
  • Modify behavior
  • Being part of a supportive and fun community
  • Create beautiful works of art
  • Nurture and develop creative abilities
  • Relieve stress
  • Improve eye/hand coordination
  • Develop/rehabilitate fine motor skills
  • Team building and group focus
  • Therapy
  • Anger management
  • Addiction therapy tool
  • Diet aide
  • Early artist development and appreciation
  • Increase attention span and ability to concentrate
  • Home schooling
  • Brainstorming
  • Problem Solving
  • Design inspiration
  • Stretching and warm-up for artists
 Read more at this link.

At the mention of the word BENEFITS, my interest spiked and I decided I  might give this a try. Sounds like fun. It is obviously a big thing. It is on Pinterest!

After our cog fog discussion, we turned rather serious. Valuable information was shared regarding self-catharization.   One of our member does this. She shared the name of a very reputable physician in the tri-county area who she highly recommends. Her honesty about life with a cath was inspiring and really took away some of the fear that those of us who are considering it really appreciate.

In my group we share med news nearly every month. After years on Copaxone, B has just begun her Tecfidera journey. Now we have two members on Tec and I really, really wish them well. My experience with that drug was horrible, but after listening to the testimony of my fellow group mates, OI really believe that a lot of my problem was my own fault. I am anxious to hear an update next month on B's experience after progressing to the higher prescribed dose. Maybe I will try again.

I really enjoy my MS Group. I was excited this summer as I trained to be a group facilitator, but as the time came closer to actually be in that position  I became anxious. Memories of my initial experience with an MS group after my diagnosis kept haunting me. It was not good. But these ladies are wonderful. Some faithfully attend and we have those who wander in and out. That's okay.

We may be small, but we are intimate. And we are a safe place for anyone with MS. 

So, back to the purpose of this post: 
What do you do to stay sharp?

Hope to hear from you soon!
Have a great weekend!
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