Living with a devastating diagnosis like ALS is exhausting mentally, emotionally and physically. People have asked how I keep going? How do I get out of bed with a smile most days?
I have many strategies to keep me calm and positive although they aren’t always 100% effective! One such strategy is spending time in nature, especially watching birds. I have always been a person that has had a love for animals starting with my first kitten at age 6 and caring for the random orphaned bunny or hurt animal.
This love of nature, animals and birds has grown deeper in me throughout my life. I love to watch, listen, feed, help, photograph and study birds. My time with my birding hobby helps me to stay in the present and allows for time when I don’t think about ALS and its challenges.
Birding gives me a peace and a calm in the midst of much that is out of my control. Watching birds is magical. It is fun to identify birds by their physical appearance as well as by their song (one bird can have multiple songs). It’s exciting to see how many birds I can attract to my yard (so far I have counted 26 different species). As I watch birds I reflect on what I know about them such as their individual characteristics, as well as, how they survive, migrate, raise young and find food. I can be transported into another realm and lose myself in my awe of these amazing feathered creatures.
I find immense comfort in the fact that despite a terminal illness, world pandemic and a challenging political environment, nests are being delicately constructed, eggs are laid, babies hatch, geese fly in a V formation and nature keeps following its instincts.
Susan Mast ALS Foundation