Trading Teacups for Buckets: Keeping Dreams Alive with SPMS

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

by Jennifer (Jenn) Powell |

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neuropathy, positivity, husband, laughter, connecting, i am fine, self-care and MS, finding myself

They say that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. While I agree with these two, a third inevitability is capitulation. Why do we have theme parks when we have lives? We have highs and lows and homeostasis in-between. Just when you think it is safe to exhale, life takes a precipitous turn.

I find it interesting that epiphanies often follow a painful experience. As you catch your breath and your pulse lowers you close your eyes. What was that? You look around as if the phenomenon is external. Your brain then catches up with the rest of you. Nice try, multiple sclerosis (MS).

This was my weekend in a nutshell.

Many of us live with fatigue. I feel fatigued all of the time, but I also experience catatonic spells that hit hard and fast and render me quasi-comatose. I had a spell of fatigue over the weekend. Finally, after two hours, I gathered the strength to make it to my mailbox. The 30-yard round trip was enough. I sat as I read my mail.

Amid the flurry of junk mail was my handicapped placard. My immediate thought was gratitude. How can this simple placard invoke such thanks? It represents freedom to a world I might otherwise miss. When my neurologist first issued me a permanent placard, I broke down. My, how times have changed. Was it time or perspective? Perhaps, a little of both. I put it aside when an email came through. It was from my sister with an attached video montage of her skydiving.


Skydiving has been on my bucket list for years. My super-sacred, secret list. The list that by now would fit into a teacup. Let me preface, I am nothing but proud of, and exhilarated for, my sister. She is fierce in her own right.

And I, in mine.

It is time to toss the teacup and get a big bucket. My dreams of hiking Machu Picchu and falling from the sky will live on as such. This does not equate to fewer aspirations; it merely presents an opportunity to create new ones.

This can be a challenge. It is often easier to sit and cry than to rise and thrive. You will never win over your sense of self through tears of pity. I speak from experience. Dare to create a new bucket list. Buy a bucket and write on it the words which most inspire you. This is your dream board.

Write each item on individual pieces of paper. As you knock them off, remove the paper. The key is to keep your bucket full. Life is best lived when we have a litany of dreams. Keep the cycle going. You will find an insatiable hunger for life.

Build your dreams and they will come true.

While you are at it, toss the teacups.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Betty avatar


Sky diving was on my bucket list and I did it. I know of someone who had no legs but the sky divers were able to provide that experience for him. Some situations I realize you can’t, but you can go and watch. I know the wish of actually doing it will still be there but who knows, maybe you will get that chance, you will never know...

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Hi Betty,

Thank you for reminding me that modification of my dreams can be equally fulfilling. Additionally, one never knows what the future holds.

You made me smile.



Dear Jennifer,
Thank you for your articles, I love to read them cause i find them so encouraging. I am a doctor myself and my life changed overnight last year when i had a bout of brainstem demyelination, I do not have a label on my disease yet but definitely have the symptoms. Almost daily tiredness (apart from the neurological symptoms) and depression are limiting my aspirations. My castle has collapsed but I am trying to build a house with the fallen stones. My aim for each day is to be of help, say a good word to someone else even if it is a stupid thing. This is what keeps me going.

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell

Hello Johann,

When life changes so suddenly we are thrown a giant curveball. I admire your desire to rebuild and be of service. I find both to be incredibly healing. That is anything but stupid. You cannot imagine how many times a smile gave me hope for the day. Keep fighting and be kind to yourself. Thank you so much for reading my columns.You certainly made my day.


Marianne Colella avatar

Marianne Colella

Johann and Jenn you’ve both made me smile and boosted my mood. Trying to change my grandsons diaper without using too much energy may be on my wish list. Helping my daughter potty train him would be on my bucket list. Ha! My younger daughter sky dived- watching her float from the sky was so awesome and calming I almost felt like it was me having jumped. I like that my two daughters and my two grandkids give me an outlet for vicarious living. Watching them brings me joy!


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