World MS Day is officially marked on the last Wednesday of May every year, though events and campaigns take place throughout the month of May.
It brings the global MS community together to share stories, raise awareness and campaign with and for everyone affected by multiple sclerosis.
In 2009, the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) and its members initiated the first World MS Day. Together we have reached hundreds of thousands of people around the world, with a campaign focusing on a different theme each year.
In 2016, the theme for World MS Day is ‘Independence’. It will explore how people with MS can be independent, acknowledging that independence can mean different things to different people.
MSIF provides a toolkit of free resources to help everyone to take part in World MS Day. Anyone can use these tools, or make their own, to create positive change in the lives of more than 2.3 million people around the world.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common neurological disorders and causes of disability in young adults.
There are 2.3 million people with MS worldwide. It is likely that hundreds of thousands more remain undiagnosed and many lives are affected indirectly, through caring for someone with MS.
Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 31, with around twice as many women diagnosed than men.
The cause of MS is not yet known and as yet there is no cure, though there are treatments available that can help some forms of MS and many things you can do to improve the symptoms.
The severity of the course of MS as well as the symptoms can vary widely among individuals.
The severity of the course of MS as well as the symptoms can vary widely among individuals. These can include blurred vision, weak limbs, tingling sensations, unsteadiness and fatigue.
For some people, MS is characterised by periods of relapse and remission (meaning it gets better for a while but then can attack from time to time), while for others it has a progressive pattern (meaning that it gets steadily worse with time). Some people may feel and seem healthy for many years following diagnosis, while others may be severely debilitated very quickly.
MS makes life unpredictable for everyone.
To find out more about MS, get in touch with an MS organisation near you or visit the MS International Federation website.
Read more at www.worldmsday.org/
“Sometimes we have control over our destiny… and other times life simply happens, and not by design. That’s what Felicity Starr, the protagonist of Carol Balawyder’s fourth book in the Getting to Mr Right series, finds out when diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Not By Design is not your typical “boy meets girl, they overcome various obstacles and live happily ever after” romance.” Ana Linden.
“The book was well researched, and the story took us through Felicity’s depression and hopelessness for future happiness to learning to lean on friends for the love and support they so willingly gave, and finally to acceptance of what her life with MS would be, and making the best of it.” Michelle James.
As writers and artists we are often asked where our ideas come from. The answer is complex and usually never just from one place. Take for example, Felicity in my latest Getting to Mr. Right series. What made me choose to have her interested in fashion rather than music, sports or photography – all interests of mine?
The answer lies in part, I think, with my mother and her love of fashion. Whenever she watched television she commented on what the women were wearing, just as after an outing she would give a critical expose on how the women were dressed. In the last years of her life I would visit her and we would watch together What Not To Wear, a show I haven’t watched since her death seven years ago.
One of her favorite movie actresses was Audrey Hepburn, especially the role she played as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I suspect what my mother loved about the movie was not the gangster/call girl plot of the film. Nor Holly’s capacity, in her femme fatale manner, to seduce the men in her life in order to get what she wants. Nor was it the script’s chick-lit style of presenting Holly as an independent woman, unafraid of thwarting feminine customs. What made my mother love Breakfast at Tiffany’s was most likely Ms. Hepburn’s wardrobe.
My mother’s own style was more of the sensible cardigan and slacks (who uses that word these days?) as she puttered around the house. But on those rare occasions when she dressed up she was meticulous about what she wore adding a string of pearls around a plain dress which, in the imagination of my memory, she might as well have been wearing the sheath black dress or double breasted orange wool coat which Ms. Hepburn wore in the movie.
In Truman Capote’s novella, Holly Golightly (don’t you just love this name?) “… was always well groomed, there was a consequential good taste in the plainness of her clothes, the blues and grays and lack of luster that made her, herself, shine so. One might have thought her a photographer’s model, perhaps a young actress.”
Along with my mother’s influence and my love for the novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s I was likely subliminally drawn to creating a character who is involved in the world of fashion.
In this scene Felicity, is with Eduardo, a gallery owner:
This is the second time in less than twenty-four hours that I have been asked if I love Marco. “Absolutely? Can we ever be absolute about our feelings?” I say aware that I’m avoiding answering his question.
“Enough about your love life,” he says almost impatiently. “Tell me about your art project. How you combine it with fashion.”
As he sits beside me, I tell Eduardo about the project with Tina and show him pictures from my cell. “They’re painted graffiti jeans. It’s a lot of fun to do.”
“These are incredible,” he says. “Do they make these jeans in my size?”
Eduardo is a hefty man and I really can’t see him in a pair of these jeans, even though many of them are made wide and loose. Still, I say, “I’ll make sure to get you a pair. Which design do you prefer?”
He chooses a dark indigo jean with designs inspired by Miro on the legs and back pocket. I feel myself beaming. It’s wonderful getting recognized for my work.
In my last post I revealed a cover for my latest novel Not By Design.
Many of you took the time to comment positively about the cover and with all my heart – THANK YOU!
In the midst of this ego boost I received an e-mail from Debby at D.G.Kaye who offered a different opinion, pointing out that my cover, although appealing, did not “go with” my brand.
I literary struggled with the decision to change the cover of my book. At first I tried to take the easy way out and just go ahead with the status quo. Also because so many of you wrote such lovely comments about the cover I didn’t want to take the risk of offending you by changing it. Besides, I too liked the cover.
I admire Debby’s work and that she has read all my previous books in my Getting To Mr. Right Series added clout to her critique. Plus, there was this annoying tiny voice nudging me to pay attention.
As these things so often happen, Jenny Nash’s weekly post was on getting advice. An interesting article worth reading, as Jenny’s articles are, but what particularly stuck with me were these words:
Debby’s advice did strike a nerve that I couldn’t ignore, especially what she said about branding.
What did I know about branding except nothing. Then, I came across a tutorial on branding which you can find here.
If I was to be honest with myself I had to admit that my current cover, as eye-catching as it was, was not the right fit for my Getting To Mr. Right series. It just didn’t go with the other covers. Something I should have thought about beforehand. But honestly, I hadn’t at all considered branding.
As hard as it was for me to let go of the “old” cover, I had to do it.
The cover I’ve ended up choosing is more faithful to the character’s spirit and, hopefully, more in tune with the other books in this series.
In a life turned upside down, Felicity finds joy is sometimes just around the corner.
Ever since she first appeared in Getting To Mr. Right, Felicity Starr has been struggling to find her own kind of contentment. Now, at thirty-five and living in Rome, Felicity is about to break into the world of fashion design, and caught in a flurry of plans for her wedding when calamity strikes.
Her father’s sudden death brings into question the whole meaning of success. Then Marco, the man she’s about to marry, leaves her when he learns of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.
Forced to return to Montreal, Felicity finds her life thrust into unexpected turns. As she confronts the on-going challenges presented by her disease, she gains the strength to let go of old beliefs and face her inner truths.
Love, friendship and rewarding work come in different forms and Felicity finds it all in ways she never imagined – in a life that’s not by design.
Buy Not By Design – A Getting To Mr. Right Series
It took a lot of searching and tries before I finally settled on a cover for my upcoming novel Not By Design.
My first idea for a cover was one that would depict Rome – where the novel is partially set. I particularly liked a certain photo that was on an Italian tour company’s website – an alleyway with huge overflowing flower boxes.
Here’s an excerpt from my novel to explain why I thought such a cover photo was appropriate. (Garbatella is a village-like community about twenty minutes from the center of Rome.)
The fifteen-minute walk to Tina’s cottage leads through a maze of courtyards, each with its own English garden. Her low-rise house, with its wrought iron gate, is at the end of a winding, cobbled street filled with overflowing flower boxes. I make my way along the curved sidewalks, soaking in the splendor of the terra cotta buildings with their clotheslines full of colorful laundry slowly drying in the late afternoon sun. I pass by a huge mural and smile to myself. Perhaps one day, Garbatella will also have one of my paintings on its walls.
Alas, my request to use the flower boxes-alleyway photo was never answered. That was a good thing. Not by Design is about more than Rome and its great places to eat. It’s about a woman’s struggle to come to terms with her road map. A short novel more about character than setting.
I haven’t completely chucked the idea of using the setting as background for a future cover of this book. Consider this quote by Tim Kreider in his The New Yorker article The Decline and Fall of The Book Cover.
I’m pleased and honored to be featured on Joanne’s blog. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.
If you haven’t yet been on Joanne’s blog I encourage you to browse through it. You’re sure to be inspired.
Welcome to my Second Acts Series!
Today, we have Canadian author Carol Balawyder musing about the two acts of her writing journey.
I am so grateful to be featured among so many (over 90!) wonderful writers in Joanne Guidoccio’s Second Acts series.
In life one has many second acts but the one which I wish to focus on here is my writing journey.
Five years ago I retired from a successful teaching career with the luck of a pension that allowed me the freedom to write without the financial burden of having a day job. My initial intention was to put my heart and soul into writing crime novels. After all, wasn’t that the purpose for my going back to school to study criminology and later teach Police Tech and Corrections so that I would have credibility as a crime writer?
But then people around me…
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Some of you might be familiar with Suzy Paradise who appeared in Getting To Mr. Right. Two years have passed and Suzy has given up online dating. Here’s a scene between Suzy and Lyse, her friend and mentor:
In Café Paradise Suzy is pursuing a lifelong dream of hers. I like the idea that on the cusp of mid-life she goes after her dream. As I went along writing the novella I was inspired by a hanging in my office:
Suzy is confronted with– as anyone with a dream is –choosing between letting go of her dream or hanging unto it.