Stress and my “clutter threshold”

“Accept the limitations of the space you have, and declutter enough that your stuff fits comfortably in that space.”
–Dana White, Decluttering At The Speed Of Life
I imagine most people have already figured this out by adulthood. And I wouldn’t consider myself slow. But as a kid, I never paid attention to how things stayed clean.
I adjust too easily to an imperfect situation: “…grabbing a coffee cup from the top rack of the dishwasher or a pair of socks from the pile on the couch doesn’t feel the least bit awkward, so the visible pile doesn’t register as a problem.”
Where did all this stuff come from
I figured out laundry in college as I needed clean clothes and bedding, for example. And I learned to keep the floor clean because, like Dana White points out, “if your floors are clean, everyone thinks your house is clean.
I pretty much always lived alone and kept my home clean enough for visitors. But when I got married suddenly we had two households of stuff in one house. And I never realized how to be disciplined about decluttering. Everything seemed useful!
Now that we both have mobility issues, it’s become obvious that we can’t move freely around this much stuff anymore. The aforementioned Dana White has written extensively about this. Luckily, she speaks to me.
Clutter threshold<
Dana talks about how we all have our own “clutter threshold,” the point at which all the stuff we own has become overwhelming. That if we live above it, our space is out of control and hard to keep clean, but if we can declutter down below it, our space at least stays manageable.
That’s where I’m aiming now. Decluttering is getting rid of things we don’t need. But the point of decluttering is to keep stuff. It isn’t to get rid of things we want to keep; it’s to identify those things and then to make space to enjoy those things.
Clutter is one of my triggers 
It’s also about the stress I feel living in an out-of-control environment.
A 2013 study showed that while both positive (like a wedding or the birth of a new child) and negative (like living over my clutter threshold) stress can impact the course of our MS, the negative stress can actually trigger disease activity.
So I’m working on changing my mind-set, my ultimate goal for my home. I aim to have less stress by having less stuff.
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Lorna’s briefest history of the ADA

Curb Cut At Night (Luke Keller ©2019)
Curb Cut At Night (Luke Keller ©2019)
As an MSer, I feel like I’m kinda late to the party with regards to understanding how important the ADA is. I was diagnosed in 1991 but didn’t really experience physical disability until later in my life.
Why I care
The NMSS says “The ADA covers almost everyone with MS — not only people who use wheelchairs. It covers every person with an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”
How lucky am I to be living in this era? I take my electric wheelchair for coffee, I do all my banking online, I am able to work from home as a reasonable accommodation, and I write my blog with voice-to-text dictation.
Mini-Lift (Luke Keller ©2019)
In fact, in his book, Enabling Acts (see full site below), Lennard Davis says “Today we routinely see kneeling buses and buses with wheelchair lifts as a part of the urban landscape. It is an aspect of the success of the ADA that many of its accomplishments are now invisible to us since they are so much a part of our lives.” (Emphasis mine)
How it came about
For example, one city might mandate a reserved parking space close to the entrance of stores. But it wasn’t a federally mandated law, no comprehensive legislation. It was a catch-as-catch-can basically wherever needed.
Pool Lift (Luke Keller ©2019)
Pool Lift (Luke Keller ©2019)
Before the ADA, lawmakers were passing little laws here and there to correct disparate problems that suddenly (to them) popped up.
Then in the 1960s, civil rights for disenfranchised groups seemed to culminate in the Civil  Rights Act of 1964. And while in the immediate aftermath, the feeling among lawmakers was that trying for disability civil rights then was way over-reaching, the seed was planted.
Then in the 1960s, civil rights for disenfranchised groups seemed to culminate in the Civil  Rights Act of 1964. And while in the immediate aftermath, the feeling among lawmakers was that trying for disability civil rights then was way over-reaching, the seed was planted.
According to Davis, the initial idea behind the ADA was sparked by language slipped into what would become the Rehabilitation Act of 1972 for soldiers who were wounded in Vietnam. It said “No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States, as defined in Section 7(6), shall, solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” After many pushes, it was (reluctantly) signed by Nixon in 1973.
Bus driver lowering ramp (Luke Keller ©2019)
Bus driver lowering ramp (Luke Keller ©2019)
Next, after 20 years, and presumably once we had become used to the idea (sigh), the non-partisan National Council on Disability drafted the first version of the Americans with Disabilities Act. There was more political back and forth, but finally it was signed into law by Pres. George H.W. Bush in 1990. Then further amended and signed by Pres. (Bill) Clinton in 2009. Phew!
We made this
Some people are convinced that programs as monumental as the ADA will never again pass in our divided and hostile government. I hope that is not the case. As a collective, we Americans have shown the we can come up with all manner of clever solutions. 
Reading about the ADA made me realize how impactful it can be when the two parties of Congress work together to produce something for our common good. And it’s not perfect, but it makes space to let the creativity of society continue to reinvent how things could be made easier and more useful. 
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How you think matters

I’ve been reading the book Talk is Not Cheap!: Saving the High Costs of Misunderstandings at Work and Home. The author explains, “Thoughts are not idle.  Make yours work for, not against, you.”
What has intrigued me is the discussion of the two halves of the brain and how we can use them. 
The Logical Side
She explains that when it is awake and alert, the left part of my brain tries to protect me by reminding me of messages I got while growing up and outcomes of previous experiences, for example.  
But when the logical part of my brain shuts down at night, the right side, the creative part, is always on. And, as it turns out, is very gullible. 
So when the right brain is unrestrained by the left, I can dream.  But also I can trick it!  
The Creative Side
Since the left-brain is slow to re-engage after turning off–say right before you fall asleep and as you wake up–you can consider this prime time to influence your thinking.
It also turns out that the right part of our brains can’t tell the difference between actually performing an action and just imaging it.
Put Into Practice
Using this information, for example, as part of their training athletes will enter a relaxed state (which turns off the left half) and just imagine that they are playing their sport.
And when one of my MS callers admitted that she often wakes up in a panic, I suggested she try repeating affirmations or practice visualizations right before bed and again when she first wakes up.
In fact I now consider the 30-minutes before I go to sleep and the 30-minutes after I wake up, to be fragile, sacred, potent!
Editor’s note: Originally posted on 08.25.10. Updated re-post. 
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Another MS diet

I’ve been trying to find a helpful food plan for me, without much success. So far. 🙂
My thinking on diets is that whatever works for you (and is not illegal), do it.   And I suppose if it is illegal but you don’t think it should be (I’m thinking about medical marijuana here), fight to get that changed.  Like I have said before, no one cares about you as much as you do.
As I was going through some of my older blog posts, I found this one, which led me to what is now known as The Wahls Protocol. Seems time to try another plan. 
I’m just going to start by upping my vegetable intake for a few weeks. Start each morning with a smoothie, for example.
So I present to you
The Basic Wahls Smoothie
Makes 2 servings
  • 3 c. tightly packed kale or any other dark, leafy greens (or a mix, even)
  • 1-14oz. can full-fat coconut milk (not lite or fat-free–need the fat!)
  • water added to reach 2 c. liquid (about 1 cup)
  • Any herbs or spices you like (of course no added sweetener, and no fruit–to keep carbs low–other than a maximum of 1 T. fresh citrus juice which will help with the bitterness)
  • opt. Additional fat like 1 T. nut butter or 1 T. avocado to help reduce bitterness even more
Blend all until smooth-ish. Best if consumed immediately, but can be refrigerated for up to 6 hours.
According to Dr. Terry Wahls, “Experiment to determine how much fat and citrus juice you like best (you can also add citrus essential oils or fruit extracts to add a fruit flavor)…”
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