As a Multiple Sclerosis patient, it has become necessary for me to reinvent myself. I have ... and continue to ... refuse to lie down and die, or in this case, follow the normally prescribed drugs and treatments that do nothing to defeat my disease. I am not only surviving by pursuing alternatives, I am thriving. I do the things specialists told me I would never be able to do. I walk and hope to one day even run regularly. I retain my cognitive and creative abilities for the pleasure of my readers. Although you may never see me on my daily walk, you are welcome to read my novel(s) and in doing so, come to ask yourself, "How can the 'out of the box' protocol she has followed, help my loved one with an autoimmune disease like Multiple Sclerosis?"

I remember… Paper dolls.

I remember the Paper dolls my sister made for me.
Happy Birthday Sis
By Shaunna Gonzales
Winter breaks from school over the Christmas Holiday and snow days meant paper dolls, especially when it was too cold to play outside. And definitely too cold to go horseback riding as we were wont to do.
I'm not talking about the professionally inked and cut paper dolls or the ones we could cut out of a magazine. I'm talking hand drawn, originals by one of my favorite artists, my oldest sister. I need to explain that I am the youngest of six sisters, in this story my brothers don't count.
My older sisters held a beauty pageant with their dolls and the one rule was the 3 inch height of the doll which they carefully drew and cut on the cardboard type papers from Mom's nylons. That and she must wear a white, one piece bathing suit which was drawn onto her body with pencil.
This was great until the doll my sister gave me had a vibrant green swimsuit. I won't tell you how much time I spent crying and begging for my doll -- I don't recall her name, to be in the pageant or the hours I begged my sister to draw me a second doll. The good news was that my doll was the most petite and looked the best in almost every dress the team of dressmakers (my sisters) could and did design. It also meant that out of guilt, at least I think it was guilt, my sister made my doll some of the most beautiful paper clothes. Clothes worthy of the Red Carpet. Clothes that the other dolls couldn't wear due to their size around the middle (think size 6 versus size 10 or 12. Yeah, even in dolls it mattered.)
Of course my doll had another feature the other dolls didn't, her swimsuit was strapless. A very big deal when Mother randomly burned dolls that were not modest, even in their swimwear.
When your paper doll is roughly 3 inches tall, you quickly learn that she is only for in the house, and at our house-- as no one else had the artistic skill to create these ladies to the necessary specifications. No matter, I did, years later, glean one of the few men my sister created, a paper version of Barbies' Ken doll.
These 'Ken's' were not big on wardrobe as the ladies were. They 'owned' one suit, generally along the lines of a tuxedo and well, you guessed it, the white swimwear. Their sole purpose was to make the ladies look good. Sorry guys, now you know why my brothers don't count in this story.
Despite the cajoling engaged in, I must admit to many happy hours of solo play with these dolls. They traveled far and wide in my mind's world, Western garb designed and fitted but the doll, being two dimensional could never straddle a horse. She did however, time-travel to the regality of the Victorian romance or Medieval Times where, as always, she looked gorgeous and yes, always got the guy. Romance was simpler then, I was in grade school

 I'll forever cherish my paper dolls, whether or not my sisters kept theirs all these years I don't know. I did safely tuck mine where I can't find them. I still treasure the simpler time and a wise use of a childish imagination, even if my heroine couldn't ride horses.
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