Written by YAX’s own First Follower, Susan Scarlett

Prior to my diagnosis of Parkinson’s, I began to notice my handwriting shrinking. After my diagnosis, I learned that this phenomenon has a name – micrographia – and it is a very normal part of the Parkinson’s experience. In the years since then, my handwriting has become smaller and smaller and less and less legible, sometimes illegible even to me!

I didn’t realize until yesterday that every time I started to write something, I was commenting, either out loud or to myself, about the diminished state of my handwriting. From the first word to the next to the next, I predicted what was coming and then, even more stunning, I felt myself accepting that tiny, cramped, nearly illegible handwriting was inevitable because I had Parkinson’s. I didn’t realize that a voice in my head was doing its best to convince me that micrographia was my new reality forever. I didn’t connect that by believing this, I was making it come true.

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Yesterday, when on the phone with Doris, one of my fellow Day One heroes, I made a humorous but disparaging remark about my handwriting as I started to write down something she had just said. My comment was delivered with a twisted kind of affection, and she saw right through me. She knew what I was doing to myself and she reminded me about a critical piece of guidance we had been given in our Day One class. When I remarked how difficult it was to read my handwriting, she said, “Write with intent, Susan; write with intent!”

In that moment, I realized what I had lost, and what I had done. I wasn’t living in the moment. I had lost my objectivity and the potential for other outcomes. I had allowed a voice in my head — my own voice, with a message I created — to assume a position of authority and permanence. I was allowing myself to reach the conclusion that I was helpless in the process of losing my ability to write by hand.

The wisdom of “Write with intent”, like the wisdom of, “Walk with intent“ and “Speak with intent“ landed strongly, just like it did when Samantha Elandary taught us to “Speak with intent” in our Day One class. When I heard my friend Doris remind me to “Write with intent”, everything changed. I realized I was not a victim of micrographia, and I didn’t need to let it rule my life. I recognized that right now wasn’t forever. I slowed down, brought all of my attention to what I was doing, and I chased that voice out of my head. I myself wrote “WRITE WITH INTENT” in big block letters, and it was the most legible example of my own handwriting I’ve seen in months.

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Thank you, Doris, for holding onto that concept since you first heard it, and thank you for having the courage to give me the gift of “intent“ at just the right moment. Thank you Joseph Campbell for structuring the hero’s journey, and thank you Robert Cochrane for knowing it so well and for bringing Samantha Elandary to serve as a mentor and guide. I do not need to be a victim of my own thoughts and emotions. I have the opportunity to live right now, in the present moment, every moment of my life. It will always be up to me to manifest the wisdom of living my life with intent. No one can do it for me, and no one’s voice in my head, not even my own, has the power to take that away from me.

Originally Published on https://www.yesandexercise.org/

Robert Cochrane, PhD Yes, And...eXercise!

Dr. Robert Cochrane is a graduate of UNLV's Integrated Health Sciences department. He's researching the effect of improvisation and storytelling on Parkinson’s disease. He received grants from the Parkinson's Foundation and support from the Davis Phinney Foundation along the way. He is a popular, unique and high energy Keynote speaker, bringing joy, optimism and practical tools for people in the PD community to thrive today.

He has a background in filmmaking, with the Artisan Entertainment release, The Playaz Court, and two Stephen King-based short films among his credits. His father, Dan, was diagnosed with PD in 2001, which shifted Robert’s artistic lens to health. He made his first documentary, the award-winning Boys of Summer in 2004. There are two follow up films in the series with the fourth film coming in 2023.

He moved his family back to Walnut Creek, CA, where he grew up. He lives there with his beautiful wife, two teenagers who are, indeed, "all that" and is a proud care partner for his amazing parents.

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