I can’t believe it’s already my birthday again. Where did last year go? In fact, where have the past few years gone? It seems time just flies faster and faster as one gets older. I know it does for me! It seems as if I no sooner get up, have breakfast, and turn around twice, than it’s time to go to bed. Why?

I have this tiny suspicion there is a little gremlin in my brain that was born the day I turned 60 (yes, I’m older than that! But don’t tell anyone!). Just yesterday I could awaken at 5:00 in the morning, refreshed and raring to go. Now I’m lucky if I can fall asleep by 5 AM! Forget about getting up!!

Yesterday (well, a few years ago) I could shop ‘till I dropped. Today, I hear the word “shop” and I just drop and get it over with. Speaking of which…. Yesterday I was thin as a string bean. In fact, that’s what they used to call me - String Bean. I hate to even think what they call me when I walk by now!! Just because I put on around a hundred and fifty pound since high school is no reason to call me names!

Well, I did put on a hundred and fifty pounds since high school, about 100 of those pounds after I was wheelchair-bound for nearly five years! I have lost some 45 pound this year, but it has taken a lot of determination, and believing in myself along with a lot of prayer.

I did something, thank G‑d, they said I probably would not do when I landed in a wheelchair after being hit with this neuromuscular disease – I worked and exercised until I was strong enough to get out of that chair and onto arm crutches!

Of course that wasn’t the end of it. I must have used those arm crutches for around ten years. Then I began to go to the gym.. I fell off the balance ball more times than I want to remember, but I finally regained a good bit of my balance.

I began to ride a recumbent bike. I could only peddle about 10 minutes to start, but got up to 30 in a couple of months. I used weight machines to strengthen my quads so I could walk longer and stand longer without losing my legs. After a while, I began lifting hand weights – five pounds, then seven, and now 10 pounds. I lift them over my head, do shoulder presses, bicep curls, triceps rows, lots of stuff. I even sweat! Maybe not a lady-like thing to do, but I sweat!

Eventually I got strong enough that I now lift weights standing! And three months ago I was able to put my arm crutches in the corner. I still keep them around, because when I get leg cramps I use them to help stand so I can work it out. And, if my spasms get really spastic, I will use them to try and stand. For me, I find the downward direction lessens the spastisity of it all!

I am walking much better these days, although once in a while my foot drop gets in the way and I stumble all over the place. I imagine I look a bit like a drunk trying to stay upright! I do lose my balance a bit more than I’d like and then too, my daughter says I look funny. She says she doesn’t know exactly where to grab me to keep me upright - not with one leg going this direction, an arm another, bobbing first this way, then that! I guess I must look pretty amusing.

As I get older, I wonder sometimes where my determination comes from. Is it stubbornness (I’ve been told I’m hardheaded...)? Is it anger? Now that’s an interesting thought because anger motivates a lot of people, but not me. I think it comes from my deep-seeded faith that tells me the Creator of the Universe trusts me.

Trusts me? Me! Well, I guess it's plausible. Who else would take a neuromuscular disease that is supposed to keep you down and give it raspberries!? Hopefully, I can be an example of what dogged determination can do. Oh, I don’t mean that everyone with a neuromuscular disease can get better; most can’t. But everyone can learn to find humor in the bad things that happen to them. Everyone can learn to smile in the face of adversity.

It isn’t easy at first, believe me, but you can do it! When you fall, just look at someone and ask if they got the number of the truck that jumped the curb and hit you! It will get easier as the years go by. Humor has a way of making the frustrating and horrific seem tolerable.

As we age, what was bad in earlier years doesn’t seem so terrible now. So, if another year comes and goes, and I can’t remember everything I did, that’s okay. As long as I didn't say or do anything to hurt someone.

So for my birthday I give you all a wish for the coming year. I wish you peace and happiness, love and prosperity, and a willingness to try new things. May you find more reasons to laugh than cry; and understand that love can be one-sided. May you discover deep inside the strength of faith believed. Most of all, I would encourage you to begin writing down – either on paper or a computer – the events that have been both pivotal and humorous, boring and exciting in your life. I have. I hope one day to write a book.