Sunshine and Chaos’s Sunday Quotes – Acceptance

Today’s quotes,, are about acceptance.  The one that rang true for me was by J.K. Rowling: “Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” 

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Sunshine and Chaos’s Sunday Quotes – Forgiveness

e7dd2-215387_119053764842023_119052811508785_156532_6489654_nToday’s quotes,, are about forgiveness.  One phrase that really rang true was you have made peace with the pain, and are ready to let it go.

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Snap Out of It!

I’ve been following a thread in the National Ataxia Foundation’s facebook page.  I’m finding it very upsetting.  Lots of people are joining in and listing all the things that Ataxia has “taken away from them”!  Oh give me a break! What is the benefit in doing this?  This image was my response:


but it didn’t to make an impression.  People still continued to mourn what they could no longer do the way they used to be able to.

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“Thank you for changing my life”

10550092_905498666134389_2806223816839819327_oIn response to a daily prompt from WordPress, I looked at page 82 of the nearest book, “What the Dog Saw” by Malcolm Gladwell.  I was told to read the third sentence, hmmm… “Thank you for changing my life,”… Ya, Ataxia has changed my life.  Am I thankful? As I sat in my favorite chair exhausted and panting after just folding one load of laundry, I thought about it.  OK, if I didn’t have Ataxia and took breaks after every little chore, I might be considered a lazy bum.  But I’m allowed down-time without the fear of being judged.  For that, I’m thankful.
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I Worry Too Much about What Others Think

drseussI have found myself worrying too much about what others think.  When my kids were little maybe that philosophy was somewhat justified.  I did not want my children to have to deal with the repercussions of having an “odd” mother.  One example comes to mind.  I can remember one time when my daughter was little (maybe 1st grade or so) and her classmates were playing ball in the schoolyard when it got away from them and started rolling down the street.  Being nearby, one of the children yelled to me, “Mrs. Gorzela, can you stop that for us?”  I didn’t know what to do.  I obviously couldn’t run down the street after it.  But I was concerned how it would look for my daughter, if I just flat out refused.  So I cooly threw my backpack at the ball and lo’n behold, it actually landed in front of the ball, stopping it!  Then I could just walk over to it and pick it up.  The kids cheered.

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chickadee(This is recycled from an article I wrote for my newsletter in the spring of 2011.)

I have always liked birds.  A bird is free. To me, they symbolize a life with no inhibitions; without being restricted by Ataxia.  The chickadee, especially, is cheerful and always optimistic.  These are qualities I admire.  Like the bird feeder: I can forget to fill it, but when I do, they’re always forgiving and swarm to it singing the whole time.  They live in the moment, cheerfully eating not worrying where tomorrow’s supply will come from.

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I Need to Hold On (Sometimes just a Little Bit)

IMG_1173With the new year just around the corner, I got to thinking about how we need to hold on, at least a little bit, to the past.  (Well, at least I do.) Even though I may look forward to new experiences, I still cling to the “old standby-s”.  I need to hold onto that optimism that what happened in the past can and will happen again.  Unfortunately, sometimes this will not hold true in all cases when dealing with my Ataxia, which is progressive.  However, my philosophy is to expect the best and then just go with what I get. (One reason I can go sky-diving is because I know  the ground will still be there as it has been in the past and I know my instructor has done this several times already.)  Just knowing the constants seems to help the situation.

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I Consider Myself Lucky

8cbb9e85ac1a465b6671b3998b508e94Several years ago I wrote an article for “Generations” about looking on the “bright side” of my disability. I had recently read the book Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox.  This book inspired me to give serious thought to the many “blessings” life with ataxia has given me.  It has made me realize that I too, really am lucky.  Nothing is gained by dwelling on the negatives.  I have to admit that I took the diagnosis of ataxia as a tragic life sentence but as they say, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

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Donna Gorzela

Hi, my name is Donna Gorzela.  I grew up as Donna Bibeau in the city of Lawrence, Mass.  I graduated from St. Mary High School in 1981 and then attended the University of Lowell where I received a BS(1985) and MS(1986) in Math.  I then went to work for the MITRE Corp. and Dynamics Research.  In the spring of 2000, I went out on disability.

I have been married to Rich Gorzela since 1986.  We have two children, Elise age 18  and Raymond age 16 and currently live in Andover, Mass.1480702_10201702141782541_5854104169300296568_n

In 1998, at the age of 35, I was diagnosed with Ataxia.  I then went 13 years being of “unknown” type but now I know I have ARCA – 1.

I am very involved with my church and volunteer a lot of time there.  I also spend time working on the Ataxia Group.   Additionally, I volunteer at the farm in Ipswich where my service dog, Denim, is from.  I am also a member of the Andover Commission on Disability.  In my free time,  I like to read, cook, take piano lessons and attend a66233_1410041098279_7150894_n pottery class.  I love hand-building with clay as  it is so forgiving when your can’t pull off “smooth”.  I like going for walks around the neighborhood, hiking and riding my recumbent trike.  I’ve also been known to participate in some more “adventurous”  activities such as sky diving and zip-lining.  I’ve also tinkered in watercolor and origami.

Why blog?

I want this to be a place where we can write about our experiences with Ataxia.  I want people to know they are not alone. So I try to give my life with Ataxia a positive spin and hopefully those that read it will come away with a feeling of peace, acceptance and hope.  Sometimes I feel that this Ataxia can be so depressing but by writing about my feelings, in public, I force myself to look at the positives.  I know I don’t enjoy reading about depressing thoughts and listening to people whine (which is so easy to fall into with this condition) so I wanted to write about something different.

My hope for this blog is that it brings further awareness about what Ataxia is and provides support for those that are dealing with Ataxia.