Wednesday, April 29, 2020

My Priorities

Two weeks ago, I rode my recumbent trike for the first time in over a year. Infections, reactions from my medications, kept me off the road for Bike MS last year. For the sake of safety, I cannot be out on the road by myself — my training and conditioning is usually focused at the gym. Effective March 14th, COVID-19 but a temporary halt to my training program, just one of countless interruptions in this strange new world. Walks around the neighborhood were not meeting my needs.

In a few weeks, I had my trike set up on a fluid bike trainer in the garage. With a few modifications and some creative jerry-rigging, I was set up for some intense workouts. If I stop pedaling at the highest pace I can reach, my trike will “coast” for approximately two tire rotations!

Saturday was my first true training ride in preparation for the 2020 Bike MS. 50 miles. Uphill training – all the way – all the time. Sunday was 25 miles. My goal for May is at least one century ride.

I started thinking about Bike MS. Late April or early May is usually around the time I share my first message about the upcoming season, laying the groundwork for several months of fundraising outreach messages. The funny part is that usually around this time at least two or three of my sponsors will reach out and ask me how my prep is going - when they will get the donation links! It is comforting to know my supporters, family, and friends share concern for my priorities.

I started thinking. Will my supporters be concerned about my fundraising this year? Should they? For that matter, what is my concern about my fundraising for 2020? What is my priority?

Never Stop
Never Quit

I made the decision not to directly solicit donations for my 2020 Bike MS campaign. My donors have supported our fight for the past 17 years. Family, friends, and incredible communities supported me personally for the past 21 years. In this period of turmoil and crisis for so many, the last thing I want to do is ask you to prioritize my fight again. This is my chance to show you what your donations have bought, your love has nourished, and what has been built atop the pillars of your support.

[When the fight is over, will you stop?]
[If the fight ends, will you quit?]
[Prove it.]

To steal a phrase from a not-so-famous-yet author – while we wait “in abeyance” for life to resume, I am going to take the opportunity and share with you the life I will lead when there is no more fear. My stories will be those of success, victories, and perseverance. I don’t quite know what my limitations have become, but they are just a fraction of what they were in the past. I want to boast about my energy and capabilities. I want to celebrate the life we all helped reenergize. I want to paint the picture of a man happily frustrated, even as he moves faster and faster, doing more and more because he wants even more…to go even faster. My Inside Voice will mock me for the failures I experience, not because I have multiple sclerosis, but because I am a 48-year-old man who thinks he just became a teenager again.

Instead of asking for more money, I want to spend this year showing you what your money has already paid for: my treatments, my care, my comfort, and my motivation.
[But you will not turn down donations.]
But I will not turn down donations. My fundraising links are always active. Donations to the National MS Society in support of Eleanor’s 2020 Bike MS campaign or to the NEVER STOP NEVER QUIT private charitable foundation are still very much needed and lovingly appreciated.

We are not there yet. The fight is not over, and it won’t be over until a cure is found. Much like life in this pandemic, my mind has grown tired of fear.

This is not about what my life will be like when the fight is over.
I will never stop
I will never quit
This is my story

100% of the royalties earned from my books go to the National MS Society, to support our fight:

Never Stop… Never Quit…®
Kevin Byrne
Portland, OR

Never Stop… Never Quit… Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Act IV, Scene I

Everyone: I cannot wait for this pandemic to end so I can return to the life I had before this mess!
Me: I cannot wait for this pandemic to end!

Can’t work
Can’t move on
Can’t move forward
Unable to go back
Trying to stay healthy
Actually, trying to not get sick
Every day becomes a painful recycle of the one before
Anger and frustration over what I’m told I cannot do
A shortage of resources; ineffective treatments; no cure
Wondering what our “new normal” will look like
Waiting to get sick
Hoping my preparations will be sufficient to fight the inevitable
Tracking the news, the damage, the hope, the loss
Going to sleep afraid — waking up to do it all again

What I described to you is my life before the coronavirus outbreak. I merely traded one Groundhog Day for another. When this ends, there is no cessation. On April 17th, I experienced the horrible realization that a medical setback in either scenario was my only foreseeable change. Beyond illness, they would be little difference between yesterday, tomorrow, and today…

…unless I change today.

For the fourth time, I will define myself. Much like before, there is no clear image of who I will become – I just know it can’t be the man I was yesterday. Unlike before, I will not destroy the foundation already set – my efforts to thrive cannot abandon life I love and cherish.

What does all this mean for me? I don’t know. I spent the better part of two days trying to write my next paragraph. Despite my efforts, all I can definitively come up with is, “I will redefine my value.”

Hopefully, it will mean correcting or abandoning toxic habits/relationships/patterns. This is my opportunity to forge new connections, set and strive towards new goals, and thriving within new experiences — all the while I will nurture and care for those loved ones I hold dear, the values which truly matter.
[Where does that leave me?]
You’re still here, my friend.

Some changes will be dramatic; others, barely perceptible. On April 17, I came to realization, “I can’t live like this.” It will take some time, but I invite you to follow my story.
“This Is How I Want to Live”
to be continued…

I will never stop
I will never quit
This is my story

100% of the royalties earned from my books go to the National MS Society, to support our fight:

Never Stop… Never Quit…®
Kevin Byrne
Portland, OR

Never Stop… Never Quit… Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off.