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Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patricks Day

Ah!  St. Patrick's Day!

This is a holiday I look forward to every year.  I know it is not considered one of the major holidays, but it is so much fun and definitely worth celebrating.  We all need to recognize and celebrate special days every now and then.  It just makes life fun! (Like having pie on Pi day)

I have been wearing green all week in anticipation (and my shamrock earrings).  Well, the day is finally here.  :)  My kiddos are not, so we had to celebrate with our Irish dinner early.  This year we actually had corned beef and Irish potatoes.  We will never have cabbage or sauerkraut at this house.  (Much to Eric's chagrin)  Usually our Irish dinner consists of potato soup--I think at least Eric was excited by the change this year.  Of course, we had to have green punch (lime sherbet and lemon-lime soda).  We have it at all celebrations, but it was necessary at our St. Patrick's Day dinner because it is green.  :)  Our Jell-O salad wasn't quite ready for Thursday night dinner, so we had it for snack yesterday just before the kiddos left.

Of course, we all made sure we had green picked out to wear today and even wore green to bed last night.  It would be awful for someone to catch you without green and get to give you a pinch early in the morning.  :)  Our daughter remembered her green pajamas, but forgot to pack her green shirt for today.  Grandma to the rescue!!!  She is all decked out in green and safe from pinches.

 I wish I could say the same for all the people I met today.  There were several not wearing green everywhere I went.  I wanted to pinch them, but realized that is not appropriate for an adult to do to strangers.  At what age does celebrating St. Patrick's Day not become important?  I noticed the kids I saw today were almost all wearing green.  At what age does it become inappropriate to go around reminding others of St. Patrick's day with a friendly pinch when they forget to wear green?  Of course, I wouldn't let my children pinch strangers (on this or any other day).  So, maybe it's not about age at all, but more about familiarity.  Because, I would still pinch family members and close friends if they didn't wear green.  I don't think I'll ever outgrow that.

How did you celebrate St. Patrick's Day this year?  Did you add any new traditions?  Did you miss any old ones?  I miss getting to see Irish step dancers, but don't know where to find them in Western Kansas.  Are you wearing green?

P.S.  If you wear a shirt with a NCAA team on it--like "Rock, Shock, Shamrock" (Go KU!!!)--be prepared to talk to random strangers about the NCAA Tournament.  It is March Madness after all!!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Always an Adventure

I know our sesquicentennial adventure is over.  I know we did over 150 things in our great state of Kansas last year.  I know not every adventure created great excitement in our kiddos.  I also know they (our daughter at least) were happy when it was finished and did not express interest in adventuring anymore.

Imagine my surprise, then, when she requested we revisit an adventure we had done last year.  Now, I know it was ice cream, and ice cream is exciting for anyone.  But, the whole idea of having an adventure re-requested was pretty exciting.  Then, to shock us even more, when we passed the exit for her least favorite adventure, her dad jokingly said we were pulling off and going there.  AND, she agreed, because she wanted some of the good bologna from that town.  We were shocked!!!

Some adventures we will naturally revisit because they were a normal part of our lives anyway.  Some we may revisit because we loved them.  I hope we occasionally get to do new adventures we didn't get fit into our travels last year.  On our way home from Topeka, we found ourselves not always travelling the Interstate.  I hope we always do that as we travel.  There are some great adventures out there on the back roads.

Maybe it is just food adventures she wants to revisit.  :)  Of course, she did ask if we can go back to Lindsborg sometime when her friend moves there.  And, I overheard her telling about all the cool Dala horses in that town.

Let me know what is out there that we should see (or revisit).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Daylight Savings

Who out there loves Daylight Savings Time?  I mean looks forwards to it OR at least doesn't notice a difference?  NOT THIS HOUSEHOLD!!!

We were all exhausted getting up an hour earlier and still are.  Doesn't help that we've been going to bed an hour earlier so, in effect, getting the same amount of sleep.  You would think equal amount of sleep would be equal amount of rest.  RIGHT?  WRONG!!  It doesn't feel that way anyway.

It doesn't help that I've been sick since Monday so I didn't know if my exhaustion was illness or time change.  However, the kiddos have been tired and my daughter didn't even want to go to school Tuesday because she was so tired.  So, I'm thinking it's the time change.

I was hating the time change as we stepped out of church tonight and it was still light outside.  Doesn't help get kiddos to bed when the "sun is still shining."  Everyone did get to bed, but to sleep is a different matter.

Why can't we just get rid of the time change and leave things well enough alone?  What are we "saving" daylight for anyway?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Giver Trilogy by Lois Lowry: Book Review

A friend of mine recommended The Giver by Lois Lowry to get my opinion.  I'm still not really sure if she liked it or not.  However, I liked it so much I finished the library loan quickly and then bought myself a copy on my Kindle.  Then, I found out it was first in a Triology that our library had, so I quickly found myself checking out the other two books and devouring them.

None of the reviews I read talked about the impact of this trilogy on the disability community.  It actually reminded me of my reaction to Dophin Tale.  The impact of the story lines to the disability community really impacted me, but not the reviewers so much.  I guess it's true that our life experience colors everything around us.  I see the amazing strength and abilities of those considered "broken" because that is an area that impacts my life right now.  I find it so important that those considered "broken" by society are valued and recognized for their contribution.  No matter how we look on the outside, no matter what it appears we cannot do; what matters is who we are and what we can accomplish on the inside.

A quote from Gathering Blue really spoke to me.  “Take pride in your pain, you are stronger than those who have none.”  I find it is often because of my disability and struggle in life that I have found inner strength and joy.  God has definitely picked me up from  the ashes and uses me in ways that surprise even me.

The trilogy shows the importance of a positive community and focusing on using our gifts to help others.  There is no way anyone in this trilogy could safely and successfully get through life on their own.  We truly are dependent on our interconnectedness.  It is important to surround ourselves with positive people that can help us through life, not suck the life right out of us.

I devoured this triology and was saddened to see it come to an end.  However, I was thrilled to hear a fourth book is on its way.  I can't wait until it gets here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Disability vs. Capability

Here is the keynote speech I wrote for the Ms Wheelchair Kansas Crowning Ceremony 2012.

We all have a moment in time when disability became a part of our life.  For some it was at birth. For others, there was an accident or illness.    For many of us here today, it is a wheelchair that entered our lives.  But, our disability does not define who we are.

My life began wheelchair free.  I grew up in a small town in Kansas and led what many would call a “normal” life.  After high school, I left for college, got married, and had my daughter and was expecting my son.  Then, my life changed dramatically.  June 7, 2004, my husband and I were in a car accident on our way to Lamaze class. Instead of heading to Lamaze, we ended up in the ER with the emergency cesarean of my son 10 ½ weeks early, and myself with several injuries and in a medicated coma for about 6 weeks.   I came home 3 months later with a traumatic brain injury, nerve damage on my right side, and with a wheelchair.

To say my life changed is an understatement.  I had to relearn to do everything--even sit up.  My premature baby and I were learning milestones together, but he passed me by.  J  I was suddenly thrown into the disability world and searching to find what was out there to help me find my way.  I am so thankful I was led to the Ms. Wheelchair program and the wonderful girls I have met here.  They helped me to see that my goals were all still attainable--maybe only needing a few adjustments.

I was fortunate to find myself surrounded by loving and supportive family and friends who were willing to help me reach my goals.  I know not everyone has that support.  The most help I got during my transition, was my faith in God.  And, everyone does have that support available to them.  I cried, yelled, and asked a million “why” questions, but God is compassionate and was there with me through my grief.  He not only saw me through the transition, He has enriched my life in ways I could not even imagine.  Without this chair, I would not have met all of you and whether you know it or not, you have enriched my life.

Do not stay stuck in your grief.  Don’t get stuck focusing on what you cannot do.  Focus on what you can accomplish!!!   Don’t focus on yourself and what is missing from your life.   Do what you can to focus on others and what you can do to help them get through their difficult times.  Everyone we meet will go through difficult times in life.  Some disabilities are just more visible than others.   Their disabilities may not have wheels.

There will be well meaning people in your life that will focus on what they perceive is “broken” about you and will try to fix it.  They are not necessarily bad people.  They are just  looking at the world the only way they know how and trying to prevent pain in your life.  I have been reading The Giver Trilogy  by Lois Lowry and there is a quote in one of the books that perfectly sums up my feelings on this.  “Take pride in your pain, you are stronger than those who have none.” There is also a quote in Thriving Family magazine by Ty Sexton that says. “I have learned to view what others may see as obstacles as my opportunities.  This mindset, instilled in me by my parents, is the foundation for my confidence.  Through their support and God’s grace, what were once stumbling blocks have become stepping stones.”    These well meaning people just need to spend time with us and see what fabulous people we are in spite of (or because of) our disabilities.

We need to focus on  our  capabilities, not our disabilities.  We need to find ways to make our goals happen, not spend time moping and whining about what we can no longer do or how much harder things are for us.   I want all of you to hold me accountable.  I have decided to rejoice in all circumstances, not whine.  So, if you hear me whining, I want you to let me know.   We have even set up “no whining zones” in our home.

We need to spend our lives finding true joy for ourselves and helping those around us find that joy too.  Happiness is temporary and dependent on circumstances.  It can also be selfish and self-serving.  True joy is not dependent on circumstances   Lisa Sexton says in Thriving Family magazine: “Our circumstances don’t define our attitude.“  Joy is trusting in the future and holding onto the promises of the One who holds the future and sees the possibilities in all circumstances.  No matter how bad things may look, joy knows this does not define you or your future.

 Find your passion and purpose in life. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do--find a way to make it happen.  Technology today is mind-boggling and more and more is being created daily.   I find myself frequently looking for an adaptation to help me accomplish my goal and more often than not there is one out there or one can be made for you.  A front loading washing machine is one example of an adaptation.  I never thought I would get so excited about being able to do laundry for myself, but I am.  Now, if I could only pass that excitement onto my children.   I find myself constantly calling things my arm, my legs, my brain because that is their function in my daily life.

Surround yourself with positive people who will help you reach your goal.  The friends you have met this weekend can be that positive influence in your life.  They are one of the reasons I keep coming back.  This weekend fills me with power and positive energy to take home and work toward my own personal goals.  For one weekend, I feel like people see me and not necessarily my wheelchair.  I am thankful for this chair and how it helps me get around and accomplish my goals, but it does not define who I am.  I hope the positive energy from this weekend will go with you into life (whether you leave here with a crown or not) and help you change your world and reach your goals.  I often say walking is overrated.  J  There is a way to do any dream you have--get out there and find it.