Light Bulb Moment

by Maria Theresa Maggi on July 15, 2013

front porch light

I didn’t know how to know this for most of my life, but it turns out that finding myself doing something automatically is a sure and dependable measure of healing. This is something I learned in manual therapy, and it was strange to me.  I learned there to recognize that “ability” has to do with effortlessness—when you have an ability to move a muscle a certain way, it just “happens.” You don’t have to think to try to do it—this was news to me, as life with CP, even mild CP, is about compensation, which is not automatic and effortless. Neither is compensating for the damaging effects of MS.

The effects of being born with a mild hemiplegia (the particular expression of cerebral palsy my body has) meant I had always needed to make extra effort, to compensate, and to concentrate. It took me three years to finally succeed at balancing on a two wheel bike, and three summers of failed swim lessons before I finally “got” how to kick my feet and move my arms at the same time. I plowed through everything I wanted to do, approximating as best I could, falling, bumping and bruising myself  on a regular basis along the way. My doggendness earned me the title of “most accident prone” in my 8th grade year book.

So it really was literally “sensational” news to me when my manual therapy practitioner told me that healing means you can “just do something.” What?! Moving and thinking about moving were one and the same to me. That was normal for me. How could this be? The manual therapy helped me to feel this sensation long enough to recognize it, but I wasn’t able to sustain such improvements for very long until I started eating very low fat, whole, plant-based food exclusively. That turned out to be the foundation I needed, not only to feel and recognize that ease, but to discover I am able to sustain it.

Although this happened more than three years ago now, and I have since come to enjoy such regular ease with many kinds of openings, this account from my journal remains a favorite for me.

Two Little Victories in One (or maybe 3):

Summer of 2010: Light Bulb Moment (literally)

A few nights ago the porch light sputtered or popped and went out. This was odd, and surprised me, since Linda had recently changed it for me. She is on a camping trip this week and not coming to help clean and do errands, so, I thought, well, I will be on my own with this until she gets back, or I think to ask someone else. I’ve waited it out before. No big deal.

Yesterday when I was getting the mail, I looked up again at the light bulb inside the lamp, which is open at the bottom, and turned the light switch on inside the door to make sure it was still not working. I noticed while doing this that standing on the door jam, the light bulb seemed close, almost within reach. This morning I resolved to find out if it was. It was! I could reach up and turn it from the door jam, no straining, and no vertigo because of needing to tilt my head back against my neck at an angle. Nothing. Easy schmeasy. (I mean there is a mild sensation of weirdness doing that still, which I respect after the fall last summer, but it was not aggravated by doing this. Also, it’s not hot this morning.)

Still, this blows my mind. I can remember last summer asking the kids across the street to do it for me, since I could not look up without spinning afterward. I can remember doing it years ago on a step ladder at great peril. And then Mike always doing it, or waiting for Mike or someone to do it, and having that feeling of letting go and just not being able to and hoping I would not have to walk on ice in the dark. Those kinds of things. I still am stunned. What has happened? Am I now taller? Able to stretch more easily? My hand did not jerk, or even put the bulb in at a crooked angle that makes it screw in half functional, something I am famous for, with all lids and or things that have to be turned. . .

Which brings me to the two in one. . .the replacement light bulb is called an “energy saver soft white mini twister .” Anyway, everything these days comes in unforgiving sharp hermetically sealed plastic laminate. With the neurological issues in my hands and eye-hand coordination, this stuff is just impossible for me to negotiate—it’s the beezlebub of packaging. I usually paw at it like a dog, my hands searching for some way to “get” how to open it, since my brain is blank. Even with scissors, I am often left scratching at it, or scratching myself with it, unable to get the necessary doodad hermetically sealed within it out of it. But today, oh today. . .

Something (in my brain! ) said, there is an opening, feel for it. . .and I did. . and there was. . .I had to try two times, but on the second time—open sesame! No  scissors, no swearing, no despairing, no shaky exhaustion, no blind stabbing at it without a feel for how to succeed—man oh man, it just opened, and I did not scratch myself ONCE on the plastic!

And then I walked back to the front door, opened the storm door (another little victory, the weight of the storm door was not too much for me to hold open with my body or right arm while doing this.)

It screwed in on the first try! and lit! I was so incredulous, I checked again, not believing I could have screwed it in right, but it was fine, not even loose. I tightened it a millimeter of a second, just in case.

I am still in pleasant shock about how I just “did” this. A mild day, sure enough, perfect temperature, no wind or ice at the door, or blasting heat, or rain, all that helps. But it doesn’t account for the familiar ease of this in my body.


If you are one of my readers who has MS (or any other debilitating illness that messes with your functional abilites), and are just starting out on your journey to eat low fat and plant based, this post is for you. Stick with it. Your own light-bulb moments are on the way, if they haven’t arrived already,  and even if they have nothing to do with an actual light bulb. This one occurred in my second summer of eating this way, 4 summers ago. And if you are one of my readers who has been doing this for a long while, think back to when you first noticed an improvement, and how thrilling it was. It’s still a thrill, isn’t it? And one to be deeply grateful for. It sure is for me.


Maria (moonwatcher)



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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 kally July 15, 2013 at 8:49 am

seems like suddenly, out of the blue, the spasticity in my foot disappeared. i guess it is not sudden, but 18 months of following Swank diet, 40 minutes of meditation a day and reasonable exercise is paying off. At least I hope so.

I don’t have to think about every step I take or judge how many steps it is across the parking lot. My gait isn’t perfect, it is like I am relearning the walk, but it is vastly improved. I will never give up.


2 moonwatcher July 15, 2013 at 9:08 am

Hi Kally, I am so happy to hear of your own “light bulb moments”!! That’s just wonderful! And it may seem like it’s out of the blue, but it IS that 18 months of following Swank diet, meditation and reasonable exercise kicking in and showing you how it’s working. What a stunning example of “better than it was”!! Bravo! xoxo


3 Pam Woods July 15, 2013 at 10:31 am

Thanks for the reminder to “stick with it.” I’m now 3 months into this way of eating, and I’m seeing some small improvements in energy level and heat intolerance. Hurray!


4 moonwatcher July 15, 2013 at 10:38 am

That’s wonderful to hear, Pam–Hurray indeed! And yes, stick with it. When we eat this way, anonther “best” is always yet to come!! 🙂


5 Nicole O'Shea July 16, 2013 at 5:48 pm

So cool. And so true. I am only two years into eating this way and the list of things I can do without thinking that I could not before just keeps growing. Kind of snowballing,even.




6 moonwatcher July 16, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Thanks, Nicole. “Snowbaliing” is an excellent way to put it. Love that. xoxo


7 angela July 19, 2013 at 3:22 am

Oh Maria I’m sooo happy for you : ) This is wonderful progress.

As an aside…has the changed eating helped much with the fibromyalgia pain and sleep (or lack of it)?

Angela X


8 moonwatcher July 19, 2013 at 8:11 am

Hi angela–thanks for your question. Yes, it has, but I had to tweak and be more strict with things like sugar and flour of any kind. I am trying to come up with a post about my relationship to fibromyalgia I’m satisfied with, but it’s still on the drawing board. Thanks for the reminder!


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