Five Promises I Made to Myself after My Parkinson’s Diagnosis

Peggy is an author, humorist and hat connoisseur who lives with Parkinson's disease. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her physicist husband and two literary and bird-friendly cats. She blogs at Heart, Healing & Humor: My Life with Parkinson's Disease.

The first time my mortality called, I refused to answer. When the old crone rang me up again, I told her to buzz off; she had the wrong number.

The third time she called she did away with the niceties. Her message was brutally clear: "You have Parkinson's disease."

I responded, "There's been a mistake. I know nothing about a disease called Parkinson's. Leave me alone or I'll report you to the local authorities!" (I had no idea what that meant, but it sounded menacing.)

But I couldn't ignore the scary seeds she had planted in my mind. Surreptitiously, I visited three neurologists, assuming that they would tell me to ignore this hoax.

The most disconcerting thing is that the old biddy turned out to be right. I did indeed have PD! Was she one of Santa Fe's many clairvoyants? Is it possible I had misjudged this situation?

After months of her nagging, I had an epiphany. Ms. Mortality was not the enemy, but actually a friend! Her diagnosis of Parkinson's was a wake-up call. Her mantra of "Don't postpone joy" resonated down to my core.

I am happy to report that I am taking my own advice. I had always wanted to have a Nancy Drew party, but felt I was too old. When I got PD, I thought "Who cares?" So last week my favorite chums donned their best frocks and we all played girl detective while enjoying a delicious '50s style dinner from The Nancy Drew Cookbook. It was my best party ever.

More from the "Time is Short" list:

Don't wait for Christmas to give presents.

I bestow gifts all year round, but during the holidays I am proactive and work for the cure. There are many excellent PD research groups. I have an affinity for The Michael J Fox Foundation, as Michael is short and funny, and so am I.

Be discreet about accepting invitations. Use the word NO frequently. Spend your time doing what you love.

I savor writing, quality time with my witty husband and having quiet lunches with dear friends. Easy traveling. Books.

Remember that little things mean a lot.

A couple of decades ago, my husband and I rescued two tiny kittens who had been dumped by the side of the road the day after Christmas. I hadn't planned to keep them. But I did, and wrote three of my favorite books about them. Never has there been so much love and devotion in such small packages; for 18 years they were devoted friends who purred us through the ups and downs.

Maintain your creativity.

On those days when it is hard to get out of bed, don't! Instead, picture yourself as Colette, who did most of her writing in bed. Whether you're penning Gigi or writing cards, turn the experience on its head. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, think of your day in bed as a step toward more originality.

Carpe Diem – Seize the Day.

Don't dwell on the past and how wonderful you were — you are still spectacular. Don't leap into the future:Treat the present as a present. It's a call to cultivate your garden, gather your roses and your friends, hug your cat, turn off the TV and turn on Vivaldi, write a poem, learn French, read Auntie Mame and embrace its message to "live, live, live."

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