Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash

I’ve never been particularly domestic. I don’t like to cook. A station wagon full of kids never sounded like fun to me. I didn’t even care to be married (says the woman on marriage #3).

My goal in life, from an early age, has always been to live in a stone cottage, where I could write the great American novel; or at least read as many novels as I could. I pictured wisteria and ivy hugging forming a fortress around my cozy home and maybe even a tiny herb garden in the backyard. Maybe I would even learn to produce an assortment of roses: red Mr. Lincolns, yellow Julia Childs, dainty primroses, and an assortment of American Beauties.

I would tend to my roses wearing a flouncy garden hat whilst swatting away the singing blue birds vying for my attention.


Never mind.

I have to remind myself that I’m NOT Cinderella.

Imagine my excitement when I got to purchase my stone cottage. Flower beds surrounded this little dream house, and there were even two stone planters at the front door. For the first year or two living here, I pretended to be a master gardener.

Between lack of practical knowledge and the pain of trying to squat for long periods of time in order to tend to my waning passion, I finally realized that potted plants in decorative baskets and collected terra cotta were just as beautiful. And mobile. And just plain easier. Within a month of this realization, we filled the flower beds and stone planters with concrete. I now have a patio. It’s much more useful than the weedy mess I tried to nurture.


It’s a tough cookie to swallow, but there comes a time when times we need to prioritize tasks of importance. Do you really need to set the dinner table with your best china? Wouldn’t paper plates serve as well, cutting down on dishes to wash?

Bag up those leftovers for an additional meal or complementary addition to tomorrow’s supper.

Slow cookers are AWESOME for simplifying meal preparation. (My fire chief husband cautions to not leave a crock pot unattended, though.) Air Fryers also whittle away prep time while yielding a more healthful product.


Creating a plan for household chores is a good idea. Abiding by a schedule, even a loose one, helps keep us on track.

Monday has always been my cleaning day. That’s the day I change the bed sheets, do light dusting, and clean the floors. Mondays and Thursdays are laundry days.

Do not overwhelm yourself, though. Take your time. Take breaks. Everything does not need to be done in one day. Spread out the responsibilities of least importance.


I love mornings. I accomplish more by noon than I do all day. Even when I was teaching full-time, I knew I would run out of steam after 2 PM. Now, retired, I know the same to be true for household responsibilities. I take advantage of my higher energy hours before noon for meal planning and writing. At this moment, I am writing while the first load of Monday laundry tumbles in the dryer. If possible, multi-tasking is a skill worth honing.

My mind wants those jeans and tee shirts folded, but that just might not happen. Guess what? That’s okay. You can do a fluff cycle later.

Don't be so hard on yourself. If your energy spikes at 3:30 AM and you are most productive then, take advantage of it. Those waxed floors will make you smile in the morning.


I know this one is difficult for many of us, but friends and family are eager to help if only we ask. My husband is practically giddy when I ask for his help. I don’t do it often, so when I do, he knows it’s a serious request.

Living with a chronic disease labels us as helpless and forgetful of the fact family and friends are also helpless in knowing what to do for us. Let others help. It’s okay.


As we grow with the MonSter, we develop personal “hacks” for making life easier. For many years, I wore my hair long and kept it in a braid or bun. When my fingers and hands got too weak to successfully maneuver the strands of hair, I decided on a shorter cut and donated twelve inches of hair to Locks of Love. Now, with hair mousse and a few finger fluffs, I’m presentable (most of the time).

Please share the “hacks” you use for dealing with the MonSter. I would like to revisit this topic.

Lisa, Lady With the Cane



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July 1, 2001, six months after the birth of my only child, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.