Family (noun)
a group of one or more parents and their children living together as a unit

To some, the true meaning of family means a group of people related by blood or ancestry. To others, it has nothing to do with genes and everything to do with love, compassion, and support. The definition of the word family can mean many things.

Three weeks ago today we lost the matriarch of my family, my grandmother Sylvia, at 104-years old. And by family I do mean both by ancestry and not.

I think people were confused that I wasn’t sad. How can you be sad about 104 years, weird yes, sad no? And, to be honest, she ceased being the grandmother I knew 10 years ago after her heart surgery. Though we had a few good years after that, as anticipated, she was never the same again.

May 1940

She lived life on her own terms until the very end. She once told our family that she was coming out of the apartment she’d lived in for 60 years feet first, and she was correct. She danced like no one was watching and ate the cake (A LOT of cake!). And she died peacefully in her own bedroom, with my parents by her side.

Born in 1916 in New Jersey, she faced unimaginable heartache and tragedy throughout her life, but also loads of love and happy times. Following are some of the many, many historical milestones she saw / experienced during her 104 years. Though I’ve never created that timeline for my own life, I can’t imagine it’s as much as she saw.

1914 U.S. entered WW1, which went on until 1918.
1917 All purpose zipper invented
1918 at two years old she very likely lost her mom to the pandemic. (20m people died world-wide, including 500k in the U.S.)
1919 Prohibition 18th amendment to the constitution is ratified, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and transportation of liquor (later repealed by the 21st amendment in 1933); 19th amendment is ratified, granting women the right to vote (sort of); patent for pop-up toaster filed; first rotary phones
1920 NFL is started; device known as a radio used for the first time on a Navy plane; 1920s first model 2A hearing aid
1923 Walt Disney started; Schick razors patented; self-winding watch patented; first electric shaver; traffic signal patented
1924 first fax; first self operated residential elevator installed
1926 semi-automatic rifle patented; as fridge patented
1927 Charles Lindbergh makes the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight; first electronic TV was invented
1928 Mickey Mouse created; sliced bread invented; scotch tape first marketed
1929 stock market crash starts the Great Depression; foam rubber
1930 Masking tape invented; flashbulb
1931 Al Capone convicted; Empire State Building opened
1932 Amelia Earhart completes the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight by a woman
1935 social security act passed; Nylon discovered
1938 Fair Labor Standards Act is passed, setting the first minimum wage in the U.S. at 25 cents per hour; Superman created; first color TV
1939 to 1945 WWII U.S. declares neutrality in European conflict; U.S. enters WWII in 1941; Gone With the Wind; Wizard of Oz
1939 First air continued car
1940 Marries
1944 GI Bill of Rights
1945 United Nations is established
1946 Dad born
1947 Beginning of Xerox copier
1948 McDonald’s first hamburger stand
1948 to 1949 Berlin airlift; first Polaroid camera
1949 Nato established
1950 to 1953 Korean War
1950 to 1975 Vietnam War; 1950 Charlie Brown created
1951 Julius & Ethel Rosenberg trial
1952 Puerto Rico becomes a commonwealth; first hydrogen bomb is detonated by the U.S. in the Marshall Islands
1954 Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas declares that racial segregation in schools is unconstitutional
1955 Rosa Parks refuses to give up bus seat
1956 Interstate highway system started
1957 Hoover produced its best selling model
1958 NASA formed; Explorer I first American satellite is launched; DARPA formed; Super Glue
1959 Barbie created
1960 Sit-ins for civil rights began
1961 U.S. severs diplomatic ties with Cuba
1962 first astronaut orbits earth (John Glenn)
1963 MLK Jr. delivers his ‘I Have a Dream” speech; President Kennedy assassinated
1964 President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act; Beatles visit the U.S.
1965 Voting Rights Act signed; Watts Riot; Pampers patented
1966 Miranda Rights established; HP introduced its first computer; TI first hand-held calculator
1967 First air conditioned NYC subway
1968 MLK Jr. & RFK assassinated; first 911 emergency system; Double Helix
1969 Armstrong & Aldrin lands on the moon; Woodstock; first Internet & email messages
1970 Kent State riot
1970 to 1979 CAT scan technology developed
1972 Nixon & Watergate; compact disc introduced
1973 Roe v Wade legalizes first trimester abortion; first cell phone
1974 Nixon impeached, resigns, receives pardon by Ford; first UPC scanner created; grandpa dies when they are both 58
1976 PET scan commercially available
1981 MTV started
1982 deadline for ratifying ERA passes without necessary votes
1984 First Apple computer; TED conference founded
1986 Space shuttle Challenger explodes after liftoff
1988 Patent filed for genetically engineered mouse
1990 to 2005 Human Genome project
1991 Break-up of the USSR; Iraq War I
1993 Bomb explodes in basement garage of World Trade Center
1995 Bombing of federal office building in Oklahoma
1996 Google created
1996 to 1999 Whitewater scandal
2000 Bush v Gore hanging chads; Y2K
2001 9/11 in NYC & DC; Apple introduced the iPod
2002 Department of Homeland Security created; “war” begins in the middle east
2005 YouTube created; Hurricane Katrina
2007 Nancy Pelosi becomes the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives
2008 Barack Obama becomes the first Black president of the U.S.; Facebook created
2009 H1N1 outbreak
2012 Pentagon announces that women will now be permanently assigned to battalions. Many women already serve making the assignments official, but still can’t serve in combat; Hurricane Sandy
2015 Paris Agreement (climate change)
2016 SCOTUS rules in favor of equality and declares same-sex marriages legal in the U.S.
2017 #MeToo movement

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Community (noun)
the people of a district or country considered collectively, especially in the context of social values and responsibilities; society

I live in NYC, formerly known as the epicenter of COVID19 in the United States, though other states look like they might overtake New York. Whether it’s because they didn’t believe it or have poor leaders, either way the tsunami is firmly entrenched in Arizona, Florida, and Texas, among other places.

And I’m writing about community, because as someone living with multiple sclerosis, I’ve watched my online friends across the U.S. and UK go from panicking about the impact of COVID19 on them and their loved ones, to sarcasm (we stay home a lot so this is nothing new), to anger (why couldn’t companies make these adjustments to employ people with disabilities), and everything in between.

For me, the MS is actually the least of the things I worry about. I have allergy-induced asthma, so if I avoid allergens, I’m largely fine. But I know that if I catch COVID19, or any other severe respiratory illness, all bets are off and I might as well engage the old swan dive, since I never want to be hooked up to a ventilator.

Taking all of the above into account, I just can’t get past why people think face coverings are political. If you knew that a face covering could potentially keep you from getting cancer (and in some professional industries this is actually true) or diabetes, or a host of other life threatening diseases, wouldn’t you wear one? We knew condoms largely reduced cases of HIV/AIDs if you wear them correctly, and that’s considered an “invisible” disease. Though the death is horrid, so not sure how invisible it really is in the end. COVID19 is no different.

I wear a face covering while I’m outside and can’t distance. And in NYC distancing when outside, is nearly impossible. The only time I pull my mask down outside is if I am truly on a street by myself. And as soon I have a glimmer of another human being, I put it back up, and OVER my nose. Not on my chin, not over my eyes, covering my nose and mouth. Not covering your mouth and nose is like wearing a “condom on your balls” it does absolutely no good. (credit for this goes to a guy friend that said it quite matter of factly recently)

My biggest MS symptom is heat intolerance. And I don’t mean, “oy it’s hot out.” I mean over 80 with no humidity and over 70 with it, my brain starts to go pear shaped. So I don’t spend much time outdoors in the hot months, and now wearing a mask means I’m inside even more. BUT I still wear one when I go out. If I need to take it off owing to the heat, I will steel myself on a side street and make sure no one else is around.

I say all of this because I live in a community. I may not know any of the people outside of my immediate community in my building, but NYC is absolutely a community. There aren’t many other places in the world that live in such close proximity, and yet we seem to be able to manage it because (historically) we alter our behavior for the times.

Today I went for a long walk and stopped to pick up groceries and I saw people in line either without any face covering at all or standing on top of one another with them around their chin or not covering their nose. Covering your face when it’s hot sucks, I agree, but think about if you or a loved one has ever had surgery. Would you want the doctor, nurse, and other OR staff not wearing a mask or wearing it around their chin?

I wear a face covering when I’m out, regardless of the activity, because I am part of a community, and for the foreseeable future, it’s the right thing to do. And if you’re not, and there isn’t a REALLY good reason for it, you’re not a good member of the community.

Some images below that can be used on social media posts.

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Decade (noun)
a period of 10 years

My gram once told me that I was the least sentimental person she’d ever met because I was throwing out an envelope that a card came in. In reality I am a very sentimental person, but once thing I’ve never really done is looked back. Is there a difference between second guessing decisions / choices and looking back longly / wistfully? Yes.

For me this decade brought illness and pain I couldn’t have dreamt up. It brought the things that everyone goes through in 10 years, but what it gave was much more. It gave me improved health, spending more time with family and close friends, a new path professionally, and more ability to give back to others.

So while it’s a new decade for everyone, and for me personally (turning 50), Jan 1 is no different from any other new day and the ability to experience life and opportunities to help others.

I know the troubles the planet is going through seems insurmountable right now, but never underestimate the ability of one person or a small group of people, to change the world.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful new year!

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Three (noun)
the third in a set or series

Three years ago I woke up overnight having a really bad flare-up. And what I’d learned by that point is that IV steroids are really just like throwing lighter fluid on a flame, more harm that good. Plus I’d never been able to tolerate the oral taper. It was also during that flare-up that I had a through the looking glass experience, and just kept following the March Hare down, down, down. Fortunately I have a great doctor that helped me through it. Combine that with the not being able to treat the flare-up hard, life was like crawling through quick quicksand for three long months.

Fast forward, three years, and I am flare-up free. Not only that, but the symptoms I do have are usually mild as long as I avoid heat and humidity, as if that’s possible four months a year in NYC.

I can’t help but wonder what the algorithm is to keep from having the flare-ups. What’s changed in that time is starting a business, working from home, friends, family, Pilates, boxing, THC/CBD, and treating depression. I’m so happy to have me back, so I guess it’s a good idea to keep doing all of the above. This has been another great year, and looking forward to the future more than ever.

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