Personal journeys

Life is a one-way track.

Those of you who follow this place on a regular basis know that last Friday I published a post under the title of Friday Fondness. You will also know that later that same day I left this comment to that post:

Sue, and everyone else, we returned from seeing Dr. Lee, the neurologist, a little under two hours ago. Dr. Lee’s prognosis is that Jean is showing the very early signs of Parkinson’s disease, and Jean is comfortable with me mentioning this.

Everyone’s love and affection has meant more than you can imagine. I will write more about this next week once we have given the situation a few ‘coatings of thought’.

Jean sends her love to you all!

Thus, as heralded, I am going to write some more.

You would not be surprised to hear that the last few days have been an emotional roller-coaster, for both Jean and me. Including on Monday Jean hearing from our local doctor here in Grants Pass, OR, that a recent urine test has shown that Jean has levels of lead in her bones some three times greater than the recommended maximum. While our doctor is remaining open-minded it remains to be seen whether Jean is exhibiting symptoms of lead poisoning, whether the lead is a possible cause of the Parkinson’s disease (PD), see this paper, or whether it is a separate issue to be dealt with.

However, I want to offer some more from the consultation that Jean had with the neurologist Dr. Eric Lee last Friday. Shared with the full support of Jean who has read the whole of today’s post yesterday evening; as she does with every post published in this place.

But before so doing, please understand that while I was present throughout the complete examination of Jean, what you are about to read carries no more weight than that of any casual onlooker. If you are at all affected by any of the following make an appointment to see your own doctor!

Jean’s examination lasted for about an hour. It consisted of a great number of checks and tests on how her body responded to many different tests and stimulations. At the end of the examination Dr. Lee said that while he wasn’t 100% certain the balance of probability was that Jean was demonstrating the very early signs of PD. For example, showing such signs as walking and not swinging both arms in a normal, balanced manner. Or having a very slow blink rate. Then she was exhibiting some difficulty with rapid finger-to-thumb taps.

However, Dr. Lee did say that Jean was at the very early stages of PD and that we would have to wait another six months to see if the PD indicators were firming up. He also said that he had PD patients who had had the disease for twenty, even thirty years. Some of the general indicators that PD is progressing include a stooped gait, decreasing size of handwriting, and a quieter speaking tone. The NINDS website has more information on this. Here’s a little of what they explain about PD:

What is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease (PD) belongs to a group of conditions called motor system disorders, which are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. The four primary symptoms of PD are tremor, or trembling in hands, arms, legs, jaw, and face; rigidity, or stiffness of the limbs and trunk; bradykinesia, or slowness of movement; and postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination. As these symptoms become more pronounced, patients may have difficulty walking, talking, or completing other simple tasks. PD usually affects people over the age of 60.  Early symptoms of PD are subtle and occur gradually.  In some people the disease progresses more quickly than in others.  As the disease progresses, the shaking, or tremor, which affects the majority of people with PD may begin to interfere with daily activities.  Other symptoms may include depression and other emotional changes; difficulty in swallowing, chewing, and speaking; urinary problems or constipation; skin problems; and sleep disruptions.  There are currently no blood or laboratory tests that have been proven to help in diagnosing sporadic PD.  Therefore the diagnosis is based on medical history and a neurological examination.  The disease can be difficult to diagnose accurately.   Doctors may sometimes request brain scans or laboratory tests in order to rule out other diseases.

But here’s the good news regarding my darling wife – there are three things that Dr. Lee strongly recommends:

  1. Hang on to a positive mental attitude for the body actively produces dopamine when in a positive mental state.
  2. At least 30-minutes of good aerobic exercise three times a week,
  3. And physiotherapy.

In addition, Dr. Lee said to always THINK BIG! Big in voice, big in attitude, big in stature.

Finally, let me share with you what was posted on the Visible Procrastinations blog back in 2009. Reposted with the author’s permission.


My Change Journey

Some notes from My Change Journey: This workshop is designed to help you understand your emotional and psychological needs during times of change and strategies you can use to take control of your own change journey. It also focuses on creating opportunities and seeing possibilities in the new world of work.

change – an event that occurs when something passes from one state or phase to another;

transition – the act of passing from one state or place to the next

The Big Picture

You are not always seeing the bigger picture;

Experiencing Transitions

When change is implemented at any level in an organisation, people typically respond by moving through a series of phases. People will spend different times in each phase.
Bridges (1995)
William Bridges (1995) Bridges’ three-phase transition framework: The first phase, the Ending phase, is about letting go of an old identity, an old reality or an old strategy. The Neutral Zone is akin to crossing the wilderness between the old way and the new. The final phase is making a new beginning and functioning effectively in a new way.

The Process of Transition

John Fisher’s model of personal change – The Transition Curve – is an excellent analysis of how individuals deal with personal change.
J.M.Fisher’s ‘transition curve’

John Fisher’s transition curve – the stages of personal transition – and introduction to personal construct psychology.

Influencing and exploring options

“You should only worry about things that are within your sphere of influence.”

You should only worry about things that are within your sphere of influence.

From The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – you should only worry about things in your “sphere of influence.” If you have no control over certain aspects of your life, why bother worrying about them?

circle of concern

Mental Models: our way of seeing the world

Mental models are usually tacit, existing below the level of awareness – they should be tested, examined and evaluated.

Joel Barker pioneered the concept of paradigm shifts to explain profound change and the importance of vision to drive change within organizations. View The Power of Paradigms [SWF].

Take 1000
add 40 to it
Now add another 1000
Now add 30
Add another 1000
Now add 20
Now add another 1000
Now add 10
What is the total?

Did you get 5000 ? The correct answer is actually 4100 .

The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook by Peter M. Senge


Amado, G., & Ambrose A. (Eds.) (2001) The Transitional Approach to Change. London: Karnac

Amado, G., & Vansina, L. (Eds.) (2004) The Transitional Approach in Action. London: Karnac

Bridges, W. (1998) Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change London: Nicholas Brealey.

Bridges, W. & Associates (online resources to articles and assessment tools for ‘Managing Transitions’)

Bunker, K. (2008) Responses to Change: Helping People Make Transitions San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Covey, S.R. (1990) The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People Melbourne: The Business Library

Duck, J. (1993) Managing Change: the art of balancing Harvard Business Review, 71 (Nov/Dec): pp.109-118

Ethical work and life learning (Free online education for ethical work, business, career and life learning; training materials for entrepreneurs, organizations, seflf-development, business management, sales, marketing, project management, communications, leadership, time management, team building and motivation)

Fischer, P. (2008) The New Boss: How to Survive the First 100 Days. London: Kogan Page.

Johnson, S. (1999) Who Moved My Cheese? An amazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life London: Vermillion

O’Hara, S. & Sayers, E. Organizational change through individual learning. Career Development International, 1 (4): pp. 38-41

Rogers, C.R. & Roethlisberger, F.J (1991) Barriers and gateways to communication. Harvard Business Review (Nov-Dec): pp.105-111

Stuart, R (1995) Experiencing organizational change: triggers, processes and outcomes of change journeys Personnel Review, 24 (2): pp.3-88

Vansina, L. & Vansina-Cobbaert, J-M (2008) Psychodynamics for Consultants and Managers: From Understanding to Leading Meaningful Change. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons

Williams, D (1999, 2008 update) Transitions: Managing Personal and Organisational Change.



Let me close today’s post with the opening and closing paragraphs from Chapter 25 of my book: A Way into Our Own Soul.

“Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul.”

So wrote the philosopher Democritus who was born in 460 BCE (although some claim his year of birth was 490 BCE). He acquired fame with his knowledge of the natural phenomena that existed in those times and history writes that he preferred a contemplative life to an active life, spending much of his life in solitude. The fact that he lived to beyond 100 suggests his philosophy didn’t do him any harm.


In humans, that part of the brain in which self-awareness is thought to arise is called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Apparently, that just happens to be located behind the eyes. Ergo, we learn[1] to associate the identity of others with our eyes. Then as we mature, our eyes take on more importance because we develop awareness and a better understanding of the social cues that other people convey with their eyes.
Therefore, is it any surprise that dogs, being the intuitive creatures that they are, soon learn to read us humans and the feelings and emotions that we transmit from our eyes? There’s a knowing in my mind, albeit an unscientific knowing, that dogs, too, give out emotions and feelings from their own eyes.

That loving a dog and being loved back by that dog truly does offer us a way into our own souls. No better put than in the exquisite words of Anatole France,

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.

[1] Refer to Christina Starmans and Paul Bloom of the Mind and Development Lab at Yale University.


Oh, and a postscript. Having a loving contact with another person or your dog also releases dopamine within the body – so go and hug your partner or your dog! Now! 🙂



24 thoughts on “Personal journeys

    1. Many thanks, John. Both of us are holding fiercely on to the belief that Jean’s PD, assuming it is eventually confirmed as PD, is one of the more slower progressions. Your kind thoughts, as with everyone’s caring messages, are the best medicine Jean could have.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. It must be incredibly difficult for you both not to speculate at this point, though it seems you can be certain of little for another six months, other than the currently raised lead levels. That said, then if recent family experience is anything to go by, then there is much to research and become informed about, which of itself can be emotionally exhausting, I know, and pacing oneself is vital. I send you both my love and best wishes for a manageable outcome and prognosis. H ❤ ❤


  2. My heart goes out to you both. I have a close friend whose wife was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s ten years ago, and positivity of thought, plus keeping as physically active as is possible help so much, and will be such regardless of the uncertainty you both feel, and the final outcome. Lots of dog hugging and stroking should be added to the list too f course, but I know that’s something you know already! Keep those spirits raised and keep smiling, I’m sending positive thoughts and love your way by Cloud, so the next time a Cloud appears above you, give it a grin. X ❤

    – Esme upon the Cloud

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Esme, a few minutes ago I pointed out to Jean how beautiful the clouds were this morning. The rising sun was painting the underside of the broken stratus with petals of rose color. It was as if the underneath of the clouds was like the sunlit dappled surface of the ocean.

      You see how you reach out to us!

      Thank you!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Well, a way to look at it, is there are worse diseases. PD’s treatment has progressed enormously. In any case, it is wise to share this threat. I am just (apparently) coming out of more than a month of pneumonia (I was doing great just before), which severely affected my oxygen levels… Four different antibiotics prescribed. We can think and behave big all we want, we are fragile like flowers. Yet, we need to seize the day, to be big enough to blossom.


  4. And all my wishes, and comforting thoughts, of course… You are also to be commended for your transparency. For rather obscure reasons, people still believe that revealing one’s weaknesses and diseases is not to be done. That’s not wise.


    1. Patrice, I have just read your inspiring words out to Jean. The kindness you show brought tears to both our eyes. Thank you, and please look after your own health. This nation needs the transparency and truth that you consistently offer over at your place.


  5. Paul, of all things to remember I’d say maintain good mental health above all when dealing with medical issues! Such jolting news about Jean and PD. So hard to reorganize thoughts and actions around this. I do know from reading your posts that you both have the faith and fortitude to make every day meaningful. Remember what made you smile, hug one another, and hug your dogs! Good thoughts & prayers for both of you! 💛 Elizabeth

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Holy wow – Paul, sorry to hear. And there are means by which one may chelate heavy metals out of the body. A good naturopath, should you wish to go that route, could definitely assist in this process. At any rate, no matter the path of choice, am wishing for the best outcome for your dear wife. And sending you both peace. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you are right on the money. Our local doctor is a naturopathic doctor (on top of having a conventional doctor’s qualification) and Jean has been prescribed a “DMSA Oral Chelation Protocol”. Your peaceful wishes are warmly and gratefully accepted.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Paul,
    I’ve just been catching up on some posts and have seen this one about Jean. Along with everyone else I’m sending you both much love and strength to deal with this, as I know you will, together. Take good care. x


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