Fighting Parkinson’s, and reducing holiday stress

I know, you are thinking, “What do Fighting Parkinson’s and reducing holiday stress have in common?” Being perfect. If we can give up the notion that everything has to be perfect, including ourselves, then we can be healing our Parkinson’s and reducing our holiday stress at the same time. We have to give up the requirement that everything has to be perfect, including ourselves. Imagine that, we are not perfect.

We find ourselves, our Adrenaline-driven-over-thinking-perfectionist selves, wanting everything to be perfect. We have the correct answers, we can solve all of the problems facing us, and others, on a daily basis, and we have a sense that if we think about things long enough, we will figure out all of the answers. I say “we” because I include myself in this behavior previously, and part of my recovery was letting go of my attachment to being perfect and wanting perfection in all things in life. It was liberating, and necessary, in my recovery.

Since the holidays are filled with stress, let’s take a look at it and see if we can’t reduce some of the stress and have more enjoyable holidays (of course, my not-so-hidden-agenda is helping you recover):

1. My house is not clean enough. You think to yourself, “Susie’s house is so clean you could eat off the floor. Why can’t I ever get my house that clean.” I will venture a guess that Susie never has asked you to eat a meal off of her floor. Do your best and let it go.
2. My children’s behavior is not perfect. All I can say to this is “Thank God.” This decreases their chances of getting Parkinson’s, something I am certain you never would wish upon them.
3. The food is not perfect.
4. The lawn is not perfect.
5. The gifts I bought others may not be perfect.
6. This is a long list of what is not perfect. Feel free to fill in the blank ________.

Every one of these “is not perfect” examples is another stress addition to our lives. And, the stress leads to anger and frustration, and the Adrenaline drives the anger and frustration to fear and worry and anxiety. Are you having fun, yet? I did not think so.

What I had to learn in my recovery on this issue is that it is okay to not be perfect. I had to look at myself and say, “I am not perfect.” There, I said it. Can you? I came to realize that what was missing from my list of holiday stress perfections was the people. I was spending so much time wanting every”thing” to be perfect, I completely forgot about the most important “thing”…the people. How sad is that!

For me, Parkinson’s was an awakening. I learned that it is okay to not be perfect or expect perfection in myself. I learned that my family was not expecting perfection from me. I learned that my obsession with my long list of “holiday stress” perfections probably caused stress for Sally and the children each time we prepared for a holiday gathering, so I need to say I am sorry to Sally and Steven and Genevieve and Victoria for what I would imagine were some stressful times being around me at holiday time over the years as we would be preparing for our guests to arrive. There is much less stress now at holiday time in our home.

During my recovery, and after my recovery, this awakening has remained a strong force. It is a very important point and I can’t stop writing until I cover it one more time: Expecting perfection in ourselves leads to the kind of stress and anger and frustration and fear and worry that helped us get Parkinson’s in the first place and will prevent you from recovering. Why? I have heard from quite a few people that what prevented them from initially starting the Recipe for Recovery was that they lacked the confidence in their ability to do each Qigong exercise “perfectly” (their word, not mine).

By having to do everything perfectly, we often find ourselves doing nothing…we become paralyzed by our Adrenaline-driven-over-thinking-perfectionism. We become paralyzed in our Parkinson’s. If we can let go of the attachment to perfectionism, it will go a long way to releasing the paralysis that stops us from “doing” and recovering.

So, be kind to yourself this holiday season. Instead of worrying about yourself and things being perfect, how about accepting things as they are and enjoy yourself and the people around you. I can tell you from experience, my family and friends prefer me to be recovered than to be perfect. I think your families and friends feel the same way about you.

Aren’t you worth it?

All my best,



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8 Responses to Fighting Parkinson’s, and reducing holiday stress

  1. Nancy Shockey says:

    So now that I’m not having to worry about my floor – I’ll just tell the guests to sit down and begin the buffett???? O.K. low blow! Reading this to Alan just now I had to say that your letter addresses MY personality and not his. Perhaps MY perfectionism drove HIM to PD. Anyways – while he does the Recipie – we banter back and forth with foolishness – might as well laugh as cry!!! BTW – he IS very faithful with it and has the greatest confidence in total healing by this time next year. Like most of you, his faith is in God’s healing of him and that may come through the recipie, Yoga, or whatever means HE deems necessary.

    Thank you for your encouragement Howard. I’m sure, in so many ways, you just want to walk away from all this now that you are well. Yet, you faithfully share almost daily with the rest of us.

    Merry Christmas

  2. Thomas Cutchin says:

    I had this single thought come to me in contemplation yesterday. Thought I would share. It really uplifted me.

    ” We are now in too deep, we are much too involved with the Recipe for Recovery to turn back now. The only choice now is forward. The only possible outcome is perfect health! “

    • Howard says:

      Hi Tom,
      Your words uplifted me, and I am certain they have uplifted many others. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us.

  3. leontina says:

    buna Howard,buna bucur din suflet de fiecare lectie pentru viata noastra pe care o primim de la medicul,psihologul si prietenul nostru drag.Anul viitor vom culege roadele acestei retete si vom declara cu bucurie ca am invins incurabilul.SABATORI FERRICITE VA UREAZA LEO

    Good Howard, good friends. I’m glad the heart of each lesson for our lives that we receive from medical, psychological, and our dear friend. Next year we will reap the benefits of this recipe and we will declare with joy that we beat the incurable. HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND BEST WISHES. LEO

    • Howard says:

      Hi Leo,
      Your words are beautiful: “Next year we will reap the benefits of this recipe and we will declare with joy that we beat the incurable.” How wonderful that will be. Happy Holidays to you as well.

  4. Dear Howard

    How wise your words on perfectionism! I am so grateful to let the idea of being perfect go…. to be attending to life with your support and the support of my fellow travelers on this journey to recovery. When I focus on being perfect, I lose life…. when I focus on living life – to attending to its beauty with all its wondrous imperfections, I gain my soul.

    Warmest wishes to all throughout the holiday season…let’s fully celebrate life together as we journey into 2012….


    • Howard says:

      Hi Penny,

      Your words paint a beautiful picture of self-realization and healing. Thank you for sharing your personal journey as we all journey together.

      And, yes, “let’s fully celebrate life together as we journey into 2012….”

      With gratitude and love,

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