A Challenge

My dog-walking buddy told me yesterday that her son, who is taking flying lessons, will soon take his first solo flight. My first reaction was “Yikes!” My second was, “Wow, good for him.”

And my third reaction? Wondering why I have never tried anything like flying a plane. I am perhaps the most risk-averse person on earth. That translates to my having led a nice, safe life (knock on wood!). But I sure haven’t done much that’s exciting or challenged my boundaries in any major way.

So I’ve been thinking about what I might do to change that. No, I’m not signing up for flying lessons, or going bungee jumping or skydiving. But maybe I could go to the Empire State Building and stay out on the viewing platform for more than three seconds. The only time I tried that, my fear of heights took over, and I retreated indoors without having enjoyed the spectacular view.

Maybe I’ll ride a rollercoaster. I haven’t done so in years, and the last time I did I was so overwhelmed with fear that I didn’t have one bit of fun. I envy people who get a thrill from thrill rides. So, maybe it’s time to try again.

I understand that these are quite modest goals to set. But maybe if I can achieve them, I’ll feel confident enough to tackle something bigger. Maybe I’ll even indulge my life-long desire to go up in a hot-air balloon.

I am writing about this in public because I really need to stick to my promise to myself. I’m 53 and not getting any younger. And as a person with multiple sclerosis, I can’t assume that my body will cooperate with me indefinitely.

So, when I visit New York City in a few weeks, I’ll plan to head to the top of the town and look down. I promise to take pictures!

How about you? Care to join me in setting a challenge or two?

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Jennifer LaRue Huget, Blogger

Jennifer LaRue Huget was diagnosed with MS in 2001. A freelance writer and children's book author, she lives in Connecticut with her husband, two teenage kids, and two brown dogs. Her website is www.jenniferlaruehuget.com.

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  • Laura   Apr 4, 2014 1:36 PM
    I set myself a challenge to run 5 k by May for charity run, I'm up to 2.5 miles now without stopping so only 0.5 mile to go..! You go for it, setting challenges and stepping out of our comfort zone occasionally does us good.!
  • Karen   Apr 4, 2014 1:55 PM
    WOW! You took the time to write exactly what I have been thinking for the past few months. I am 51 and also have MS. I have an extreme fear of hieghts, loved roller coasters as a kid, fear would now stop me. And, i actually just looked into a hot air balloon ride as i have always wanted to do that. Again though i just looked. No reservations made. I want to make some type of "bucket" list and do some things that are out of my safe comfort zone. My MS has given me more fears with doing anything that does not require i have two feet firmly planted on the ground! Thank you fir writing this and giving me an extra push to do something different. :)
  • Jean   Apr 4, 2014 2:08 PM
    I have a fear of heights too! I wonder if fear of heights and MS has any link, hahaha! Forget the roller coasters, hot air balloons etc., too scary, but, I'm now thinking about training for a 5 K. Why not. I always admired people who run, and a part of me, or my fear, is that maybe one day my legs won't allow me to even think about running, so why waste the opportunity now! I'm 53 in decent shape, I have now mobility issues, how hard can it be. Tomorrow I'm ramping up my treadmill time!!! Thanks for the inspiration.
  • Jen   Apr 4, 2014 2:45 PM
    I became a Registered Nurse at 39 and found out 2 months later that I have MS. My last two kids both graduate next month, so my husband and I are packing up and I'll be doing travel nursing until I don't like it anymore or my body stops cooperating. We're really excited to go to all the places we want to see at home and abroad!!
  • Cindy   Apr 4, 2014 3:08 PM
    I felt the same as you! Especially after being diagnosed with MS. We were in Key West a few years back and on a whim I decided I was going to go parasailing! Something I would normally never do! I was just so thrilled with myself - until they reeled us back in and you have to stand up on the boat deck when you land. I didn't have the strength in my legs to stand, let alone on a moving boat! My husband and I are still laughing about that adventure as I crawled on all fours across that boat deck! Best thing I ever did!
    I used to ride bicycles all the time with my husband. No longer have the energy or strength. He bought me a Vespa scooter so I can keep up with him again! My new mode of transportation is so much fun and gives me such a feeling of freedom.
    Now on the watch for a new adventure!
  • Brenda Steinbach   Apr 4, 2014 3:38 PM
    I was diagnosed with MS in 1985. I am now 61 years old and have become an ACE Personal trainer and senior fitness specialist. Tomorrow I am going to participate in a Health Fair in a nearby village which has the theme or You Own It! Your health, nutrition and fitness! How appropriate is THAT?
    Please feel free to like my facebook page at facebook.com/fitnesswithbrenda! Be positive, well and happy.
  • Marcus.   Apr 4, 2014 4:02 PM
    As far as flying try Sport Pilot...
    It's not the Private Pilot License.
    Its one level lower but you are restricted to one passenger and the plane limited with a 115 not speed. But today's sport plane's are very similar to to the Cessna's being used by private pilots.
    The good thing with this Lic. Is no medical test.
    All you need is a drivers license. Plus it's 20 less hours you need for the private pilots license.
    Now the sport planes are just as safe or slightly safer then a plane flown by a private pilot.
    The sport planes some of them even come with evergency parachute. Look for a instructor who teaches SPORT PILOT LIC. solely. This way it will cost less to learn.
  • Bindol61  Apr 4, 2014 4:43 PM
    I highly recommend the hot air balloon ride. I am desperately afraid of heights, but was surprised to find that balloon rides are not scary (except for the landing) if you have a competent pilot. Because the balloon is floating in the air, it is a smooth and peaceful ride. Do it in the fall, somewhere that has a lot of trees to look at.
  • Kathy   Apr 4, 2014 6:52 PM
    I am very inspired by this reading. I have been dx'd since 96. Slowly starting to go down hill. I am going to look for a challenge ,other then get threw this winter!
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    mitzy8401  Apr 4, 2014 9:01 PM
    I was talking about this same issue with my friend. I am 50. I was diagnosed in 2011. I also want to run a 5k, but I am not as close as you. Think I will walk this year. I don't want to wait until we retire to do things. I want to do all I can, while I can. Thank you for keeping my ember glowing to do all and be all I can. Good luck with your run! You are ready to go! Peace to you. Thank you!
  • aileenchoate  Apr 4, 2014 10:42 PM
    My husband and I are doing the MS walk for a cure on April 12, 2014 at Conejo park, Thousand Oaks, CA. I have MS and my husband, Wally, is the captain of our walking team, "Wally Walkers". We have been blessed by wonderful supporters who walk with us or who donate to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It is scary for me but, I believe there is hope for a cure! Won't you walk with us or make a donation to the National Multiple Sclerosis, please?
  • Becky   Apr 5, 2014 9:21 AM
    I loved your article. I was diagnosed on January 25th, 2012. It just so happened that there was an awesome 5k the "Run and Dye" 5k on that same day the next year. I decided it would be the perfect way to challenge myself, having never been much of a runner. So I signed up my daughter and I for it. We had an unbelievable blast!! I can honestly say that my entire family (my husband, son, daughter and myself) will never miss the opportunity to participate in this run every year. It was the most fun I've ever had running and I laughed my head off. I've also never been so covered in dusty wonderful colors in my life! Definitely recommend it. People walked it, took kids in strollers, wheelchairs, basically anyway you can get get around you can participate. So we've been looking for more ways and runs to challenge our family as a whole. The wonderful thing is having them at my side doing it with me!!
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    A_J_  May 3, 2014 10:12 AM
    I have started horse back riding at a therapy riding stable...it has been 10 years, as long as I have had progressive ms. That horse looked really big, but with knowledgeable people helping, it was,an amazing ride. Only 30 minutes, but the smell of the barn and the experience, made me realize I have msn, but ms doesn't have me!
  • Nancy DuchesneSadulski   Jul 10, 2016 3:41 AM
    I can honestly tell you that between my ms and severe neck injuries my life has been filled with pain and the feeling that every one else is having fun while life is passing me by.