“Michael J. Fox is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He’s moving all around and shaking and it’s purely an act…This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn’t take his medication or he’s acting.”These were Rush Limbaugh’s remarks – which he said as he flapped his arms and wiggled his fingers, rocked his body, rolled his shoulders, and bobbed his head in imitation of Fox – back in 2006 in response to a political advertisement Fox did in support of a pro-stem cell candidate.


As we make our through Always Looking Up, Fox talks about the eye-opening transition from acting to Parkinson’s advocacy and politics – he went from being the #4 most trusted public personality to receiving biting criticims like the one above. 

“This was new for me,” Fox writes, “and suddenly I realized how much I had always liked being liked.”

At this point, many of us would’ve retaliated with a few choice words of our own. Though he was tempted, Fox’s optimism prevailed and he used the extra attention to educate a wider audience about the ravages of PD and the need for stem cell research.  In other words, he turned a major load of lemons into a big fat vat of lemonade. 

“Let’s face it,” he said in retrospect, “the whole episode, unpleasant though it may have been, was a gift in the same way that I have described Parkinson’s as a gift. You suffer the blow, but you capitalize on the opportunity left in its wake.”

I love that line: “You suffer the blow, but you capitalize on the opportunity left in its wake.”

We all suffer blows in our journeys toward our dreams, but it’s recognizing and capitalizing on the resulting opportunities that we need to concern ourselves with. And the recognizing piece is key, because who among us hasn’t had the desire to hide under a rock or simply give up after something hasn’t gone in our favor?

When it comes to my writing dreams, one of the biggest blows I suffered was when my first novel was rejected by every last one of the dozens of agents I sent it to. It certainly wasn’t the ending I’d imagined for my nearly 3 year endeavor. Yes, I was sad, dejected, frustrated and hopeless. But when I came out of my gloom, I was able to see all the opportunities before me, opportunties to take writing classes, attend industry conferences, learn more about the business, write articles, start a blog, become a contributor to other blogs…and so on. Rejection, it turned out, was an invitation to learn…and grow.

So the next time you suffer a major blow, think of Fox’s advice and be on the look out.

Conversation starter: What blows have you suffered and what opportunties appeared in their wake?

Read along! This month we’re reading Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist by Michael J. Fox.