Today we publish a Guest Blog article from Mary Ellen Ziliak about how she coped with the challenge of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
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No one has the luxury of living without the occasional life challenge. Challenges are diverse and rising above them demanding. But to live well and expand our territory beyond the challenge, reveals our character and can lead to unexpected joy.
1998 delivered my biggest life challenge, multiple sclerosis (MS). Being an RN did not spare me feeling my world had been turned upside down. Frequent relapses and treatment side effects made the early years difficult. Depression intertwined with losses of job, paycheck, and self-identity. A decade of asking, “What now?” was black with the overbearing shadow of MS.
Gradually, knowledge, discernment and the passage of time allowed light and hope to return. Along my stumbling journey I discovered MS could be a presence in my life but need not claim its center. A newfound philosophy emerged and I dubbed it “Open your Red Door!”
“The Red Door” is a painting I did of a large, weathered, door on a centuries old church in southwestern Indiana. Age has faded the red paint and splintered the wood. Over-sized black wrought iron hinges and placement on a corner turret lend a sense of mystery and intrigue. At first sight, the door beckoned me to take a closer look and to capture it’s essence on canvas.
The painting grew to be symbolic of my life challenge with multiple sclerosis. Like the Red Door, MS is mysterious, powerful, splintered, heavy, and no one knows what lies beyond. Opening the door may elicit angst, fear, sweat, and tears. Walking through it musters courage and guarantees adventure. Behind the door one might find a pot of gold or a pit of snakes. No one knows.
What I do know is to live life well with MS, I must choose the daunting entry. I must have courage to push the Red Door wide open, to cross the threshold of acceptance, to face my challenge head-on, to allow myself to find good on the other side of bad.
I am strong enough. I can cross bloodied and bandaged, groping my way through the doorway, as I believe healing awaits me on the other side.
Challenges are a part of living. What we do with them defines us. Opening my Red Door has empowered me to embrace change and try new things: becoming a published author, international speaker, half marathon runner, and an MS Certified Specialist. Not everyone will find my methods palatable, but I share my simple thoughts hoping they might resonate with one reader. So, whatever your life challenge, I cordially invite you to, “Open your Red Door and live life well!”
Find out more about Mary on her website at www.openyourreddoor.com.