Sustainable living not only helped me improve my health with multiple sclerosis, it also brought community and a sense of purpose.
After 20 years of living with multiple sclerosis (MS), I retired early from a stressful job in college admissions in May 2017. At 49, I was determined to reclaim my life.
A long commute and relentless deadlines had taken a toll on my body and mind. J.P., my fiancé, encouraged me to move to the country.
As much as I loved the invigorating air of the forest, the city girl in me feared missing the conveniences of urban life with its trendy grocery stores, fine restaurants, and chic department stores. And living so far away from entertainment — plays, movies, and concerts — I worried I would be bored, especially with the financial limits of my small pension.
At the same time, I longed for something more fulfilling.
I ended up relocating to rural North Carolina, not far from the rolling hills of the ancient Uwharrie Mountains. A couple of months after moving, J.P. and I married in a small ceremony on the deck of our unfinished house.
As we held hands, I looked out over sweeping views of pine, cedar, and oak trees with equal parts fear and excitement. I knew that my life was about to change.
One morning, I woke up early and watched a small deer amble through the woods. Just one hoof at a time, she moved like she appreciated the earth, bending her head gently as if giving thanks for the beautiful summer day.
I found myself wondering if maybe this little deer knew a better way to live, beyond the constant race to achieve and consume.
Sure enough, as the months passed, I found the rewards of my move on my well-being, were far greater than I ever could’ve imagined.
Sustainable living not only helped me reduce my carbon footprint, improve my health with MS, and save money, it also brought community and a sense of purpose.
After so many years spent inside an office with my body cramped over a computer, I ached to spend more time outdoors and plunge my fingers into the warm soil.
While I walk without aid, my legs tire easily and I suffer from chronic fatigue. I couldn’t tend a long traditional garden because of the exertion required, but one day J.P. surprised me with a truckload of pine timbers to build a smaller, raised garden bed.
“Remember that bridge replacement project over the Betty McGee Creek? These are from the old bridge. They were headed for the landfill,” he said, the construction foreman let him carry away as many as he wanted.
We planted raspberries and blackberries first, favorites of mine because they may reduce inflammation associated with MS, and their tart sweetness adds a delicious zing to my salads and pies.