How Do You Measure a Year?

As with the darker days and lower light of winter, the night has now fallen on my World of Difference year. Today, Friday 15th November, is my final day working for Multiple Sclerosis Ireland. From the bright day in 2012 when I was chosen to work for the charity of my choice, MS Ireland, through to today, each one of the 365 days that passed has brought something new.

Happy Emma Park

How do you measure a year? To paraphrase a line from Rent, is it in sunrises, in sunsets, in cups of coffee? In my mind’s eye, I see the moment I stepped into a room full of Vodafone interviewers to tell them about multiple sclerosis. I was there to explain what was so important about the work of MS Ireland, for the lives of people with MS and for myself. After the adrenaline, absolute calm flowed through as I told my own story. It was authentic, it was real and I was purposeful. Whatever those people heard, I floated out of the room knowing the interview went well. I left them with booklets about life with MS and knew that at least nine more people had more information, more knowledge and could connect better with people living with multiple sclerosis. Then, I really won….

I started working as Policy and Information Officer with MS Ireland in November 2012. I’ve spent the year in learning-mode, delving into the world of health policy research, revealing the connections between policies and people, empowering people with MS and engaging change-makers, raising awareness about young people with MS in Ireland and Europe; using my personal narrative I painted a picture so people could understand and connect. Throughout, I’ve built & nurtured life-long relationships with people from different places around the globe.


From any given week this year, there are memories. In November, it started with a visit to Rome to meet & present to hundreds of young Italians with MS, presenting in the AV Room of Leinster House (The Irish Parliament), the sunny World MS Day on Grafton Street with Senator Norris who regaled us with yarns and his favourite quote from Roald Dahl’s Little Red Riding Hood (she ‘pulled a pistol from her knickers!’); taking part in European Month of the Brain at the European Patients Forum Conference, speaking at the NAI Wellness Day in Limerick, welcoming people to the Young Peoples’ Event in Dublin, producing videos with the Vodafone Film Crew, talking with friends from across the world at the MS Patient Summit in Dublin, running the Brussels Half-Marathon with the EMSP Team and working with my colleagues in MS Ireland.

525, 900 Minutes

We measure our lives in years so we can remember, so we can quantify what we have done with our short time on earth. It isn’t the cups of coffee that we recall, it is the people we shared the time with as we sat there sipping. It isn’t just the presentations I made, it is the people who listened and who later shared their ideas with me. Call it connection, call it love, call it what you want. I feel it, I live it, I hear it and I see it in those people I share my life with. And it’s this ‘IT’ that makes the World of Difference.

I’m looking ahead to my next adventure. When the sun rises in the morning, the day dawns on tomorrow, I’ll be going to the next stage of my life. By embodying the riches of friendship, love and the blessings of my World of Difference year I am looking forward to the next 365 days, all 525,900 glorious minutes!

Wishing you all peace & health to the tune of Seasons of Love!


3 thoughts on “How Do You Measure a Year?

  1. zack says:

    Emma ! you such a unique spirit, kind person,wish you all the best, for next not only years but for your whole bright wealthy healthy life, first time i met you at gathering day MS, i recognize one important value on you , never give up, never ever give up, MS is minor am the major , MS is makes me taste the days different than before even with some days down , but it will sunshine again , MS not the end its the start to makes me evaluate my life again , good luck :-)……thank you


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