“Fear prevents people from living a productive life”

Interviews

Author: Roisin McCormackPublished: 12 December 2018

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Parkinson's productive

In the twelfth in our series profiling the bloggers supporting the World Parkinson Congress 2019, we talk to Allison Toepperwein. The American Ninja Warrior and “badass single mum” talks about “sprinkling positivity”, not dwelling on the “what ifs” – and why her fight with Parkinson’s is all in the attitude


Describe yourself in a sentence.

A badass single mum who’s trying to sprinkle positivity around the world whilst defying Parkinson’s disease.

Do you have a particular audience in mind when you’re writing?

I write for women aged 30-60, who may or may not have the disease, and generally for anyone looking for inspiration.

Is there an aspect of Parkinson’s that you’re most passionate about? 

I try to promote the idea that your attitude determines your outcome.

How widely read is your blog and in which countries?

It was very popular but unfortunately it was hacked last year. I’m in the middle of relaunching it at the moment.

Have you been surprised by the level of interest you’ve attracted? 

When I began writing for the HuffPost, my audience began picking up steam. However, it wasn’t until I competed on ‘American Ninja Warrior’, as the first person with Parkinson’s, that I really saw a spike in recognition.

Which of your posts has attracted the most interest from your readers?

My piece called ‘Dating with Disease’.

Essentially, everyone has a disease. I have an apparent, physical red flag to potential suitors. However, there are alcoholics, cheaters, and egomaniacs that are more detrimental to a relationship than my disease. You just have to decide what disease you’re willing to overlook.

Which has been the most controversial?

None of my pieces have been incredibly controversial. I recently wrote a post for the World Parkinson Congress about eradicating fear from our lives. There were a couple of commenters who played devil’s advocate and tried to say that fear protects us from injury.

My argument to that is, fear is way too prevalent in society and prevents people from living a full, productive life.

Talk us through your routine: when do you find time to blog?

I’m a single mum with a full-time job. When do I have time to do anything?! I try to set deadlines so that I’m better able to squeeze it in, rather than wasting time scrolling on my phone.

What physical challenges do you face in writing and do you use any technology to support you? 

I believe because of my faith, exercise and attitude that I’m able to function really well. With medication, my writing is unaffected. I do sometimes use Siri to type things, but more often than not I just use my fingers.

What do you hope people will take away from reading your blog?

I hope people realise that what we believe, will become our reality. I don’t dwell on the ‘what ifs’. I don’t focus on what my disease has taken from me. Instead, I focus on getting better; which I believe I am. I want to be a testimony to others by my actions, not just what they read on their screen.

How did you get involved with the World Parkinson Congress?

I was invited to attend and moderate a book panel at WPC 2016 in Portland, US. I had a blast and was able to meet so many friends who I only knew digitally. The World Parkinson Congress really allowed me to feel like I was a treasured part of the Parkinson’s community worldwide.

Can you share any memorable moments from the last one you attended?

I met amazing people like Christian Banda, John Humphries, and Jasmine Sturr, all of whom were social media friends – but they instantly became family with a hug.

What are you most looking forward to at the World Parkinson Congress 2019?

I am hoping to take my daughter and expose her to a completely new culture and food in Japan. She’ll also be more aware of Parkinson’s and what it exactly means. It will be interesting to hear the questions that come out of the event.

Parkinson's productive

Allison competed on ‘American Ninja Warrior’ in 2016.


Read More:

“Since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, my world has expanded”

“Life can still be fun if you have Parkinson’s”

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