Saturday, November 6

The moment I fell in love...Part 1

Forgive me for this long blog post, but after being away so long, I feel like I'm reloaded with words; Lots and lots of words! Haha! This is a somewhat detailed story, so I will be posting it in 2 parts. If you like this part, make sure you check out Part 2 coming Sunday.

My husband and I became acquaintances via a casual business agreement back in 1996. We hit it off right away, and I could tell this was someone I'd probably remain friends with after we'd finished the work involved...but I never suspected I'd fall head over heels in love.
This was in a time when the average layperson was just tiptoeing into the realm of conducting business over the internet, and here I was, barely knowing how to even navigate beyond the playpen walls of America Online, but agreeing to help this person edit a manuscript. For a good while, I never saw him, just heard his voice when we talked on the phone. He sounded fun, made a lot of quirky jokes that had me laughing often during our calls. I remember thinking that despite him being 33, he still sounded like a "college boy" to me. Then he asked if we could exchange photos so we'd each have a face to go with the voice. I was hesitant, having heard horror stories of internet psychos. I mean, here I was, a 29 year old single mom with a disability -- could be seen as somewhat vulnerable, but against my better logic, I went with my gut. This person seemed like the most decent and truly kind person I'd ever encountered...ever!
I emailed him my photo, and he emailed me his. I think we were both in for a little shock - and I'll tell you why:
I never mentioned I was in a wheelchair, believing it was really none of his business and on the off chance he was a psycho, I didn't want him seeing me as some easy target. But now that I was sending him my photo, I must have still been in "going with my gut" mode, and forgetting that I wanted to guard myself from any "yuckiness" I wrote a little caption that read: "Not bad for a crip chick, huh?" (Please don't be offended by my use of the word "crip" -- I only use it in regards to myself, and would never use a derogatory label with anyone unless I knew they saw it as all in fun, as I do with calling myself a "crip chick.")

On the other end, he sent me a picture of a bunch of guys on the deck of a large sailboat, most of them looking as if they'd imbibed a bit too much, and strangely, he'd labeled the wrong guy as himself. That guy looked like he'd just stepped off a Harley, having ridden cross-country with his fellow Pagan's -- he was scruffy, long-haired, and had a big, bushy beard...standing there in just swim trunks and no shirt, deeply tanned, amongst a rag-tag group much like him, the image didn't mesh with the voice. The voice was Breakfast Club preppy, college educated. His writing was eloquent and impressive. So who was the hairy guy? He assured me it was him.
Alternately, he was perplexed by the "crip chick" caption, and cautiously asked me what it meant. I was caught off guard, but I had nothing to do but just spit it out and then share the how's, why's, and when's.

We continued talking, but now much more often...and not always about his manuscript, but just talking. All the while me trying to meld together the cheerful, boyish voice with the big, hairy ruffian in the photo. Before too long, I realized I just didn't care...and it was obvious, at least based on his actions, that he wasn't the least bit phased by my wheelchair.

One day, he called and said he'd be in the Washington, DC area (where I lived) for a Super Bowl Party with a bunch of his college friends, and asked if I'd like to go with him. I surprised myself by agreeing to go. What was I thinking? I was probably going to be on the news the following week, having been another internet murder victim.
I did the best proactive thing I could think of at the time, I told my sister everything I knew about him, and asked my ex-husband to babysit our son.
Then I nervously waited for the day to come...and kept getting angry at myself for being nervous; telling myself over and over that this was nothing more than a friendship, and I DID NOT WANT a relationship anyway. I was focusing on being the best mom I could be, and my independence.

*ding dong* -- he was at my door.

As soon as I opened the door, I had a CRUSH on him...big time. Not love, but for sure a heavy duty crush. He was the face that I pictured with the voice. Long hair, yes, but clean and combed, and the shaggy beard was trimmed into a neat and tidy goatee. Very preppy glasses framed soft, caring brown eyes, and he smiled the sweetest, melt a girls heart smile, and had straight, sexy teeth (I have this weird thing about teeth, but that's another blog! Haha!) The photo I'd seen of him was taken at the end of an all-guy sailing trip to Tortolla filled with partying and merriment in the complete absence of any females to make sure they bathed.

He later told me he'd had a crush on me for quite a while already, without ever having seen me, face to face. And even more amazing, once he'd found out about my disability, he'd researched it as much as he could so he could be prepared and know what to expect. That meant more to me that any chocolates, champagne, or roses a date could bring me (which is good because our first meal together was McDonalds! Haha!)

But, in closing for this Part 1, I will say we never went to the Super Bowl Party (and no, we weren't crazy hopping into the sack or anything like that.) We just talked and talked, and went for a long drive and talked some more, late into the night. Then he went down the road and got a hotel room so we could spend more time together the next day...which is the day I fell in love with him and I'll tell you about in Part 2.

Monday, September 20

Christine Frances

That was my mom's name. Most people called her "Chris." A few called her "oops" because she was clumsy. She was pretty, and fragile, and child-like. She almost never raised her voice. She loved yellow roses and daffodils, and as a grown woman she still slept with stuffed animals on her bed...a stuffed French Poodle named "Fifi La Femme" and a bear named "Peebs."

I miss my mom.

I always miss her, but lately it's been stuck in the forefront of my mind that I'm motherless. Being without a mother can be an incredibly lonely feeling. My mom's last heartbeat occurred on September 25, 2003 -- but most of her had died long before. Despite that being the case, her absence has been much more difficult than I'd ever imagined.
Death is so final to those of us still in this mortal existence. My belief is that I will see her again in another world -- but that's such a misty unknown here in the tangible realm.
When she was here, even if it were merely in a semi-existing manner, there was always hope. Hope that "this time" she would not leave...she would not abuse drugs...she would not try to kill herself...hope that maybe tomorrow she'd have a light in her eyes instead of that painful, lost child expression.

Publius Terentius Afer (195/185–159 BC) said, "While there's life, there's hope."

Not long before my mom died, I'd forbidden her from spending unsupervised time with my son. I told her she had to make a choice between us and the drugs -- and then I added that she needed to "get busy living or get busy dying." I actually said, "If you're going to continue on this path, please just get it over with instead of committing this slow, drawn out suicide that we all have to stand by and witness."

Obviously, I have some guilt over these words. I hope she knows I'm sorry for saying that.

I hope that she's with the Lord -- and I hope she can see that I've tried to do good, and to learn from her mistakes. I hope she knows she is missed, and that we all wish things could have been different. I've spent countless hours going over what I could have said or done to "fix" her. Everything is clearer in hindsight.

While there is life, there is hope. So for now, I have hope for the life I still have here, and hope that one day I will see her again.

Monday, September 6

Ms. Understood

I used to be one of those people who wouldn't hesitate to get into a heated debate on hot topic issues such as politics and religion. Two words: Not wise.
The feelings associated with those particular subjects are incredibly personal and most often go much deeper than just the surface subject. Think about it -- how many times at the end of one of those heated debates, does the other person suddenly say, "Ah yes! I see the light and you're absolutely correct. I could not have been more wrong, and now I will forever more see things your way!" to never.

The sad thing about NOT voicing ones thoughts but merely skimming over them with a generalized statement such as, "I'm conservative" makes it all too easy for folks to lump you into a category that you more than likely don't fit into. Rarely is anything so black or white regarding how one feels about political issues, or belief in a higher being, etc...

Am I treading delicately enough here? I sure hope so.

I've been called a "right winger" by some on the left, and "too liberal" by some on the right. I believe in fiscal conservatism and abhor big government, which is unique amongst the disabled due to how many of them cannot or choose not to work, thus relying heavily on government financial support. In my opinion, the government is balancing so precariously that I would not bet my security on them alone, but that's me. Alternately, I firmly believe that gay people should be allowed to marry.
When I was a little girl, we used to make a yearly trip from the Washington, DC area down to Morehead City, NC for a family reunion on my mom's side. The first person I could not wait to see was one of my mom's cousins because she would play better than all the other grown-ups. She'd run, play ball, spin you around until you came close to throwing up, then turn you upside down pretending she was going to drop you on the head! She taught me how to shoot spitballs, which was about the most awesome thing ever! To a passerby, she looked like a guy, but she's not. She's a lesbian who is manly in appearance and mannerisms. Based on my own experience with her, I could not think of many people who would have been a better parent, but considering she was at an age to start a family in the 70's and 80's (in the south, no less) she never really had much of a chance at that going over well.
My hubby and I recently got into a debate over this, and I ended up saying how I believe marriage is between the two people and God (my belief) so that would make it a "church" thing, and there's the separation of Church & State, so the government should have no say in gay people marrying. I was quickly shot down with a bunch of details, like legal issues, insurance, etc... totally overwhelming, and reminded me why I stopped having those discussions in the first place.

Anyway, I said all of that to say this: Don't lump people into categories without knowing where they stand on issues.
All conservatives are not capitalist pigs, bigots and/or racists.
All liberals are not communist, immoral, or America-haters.

We're all so multi-faceted, and that's what makes this a beautiful country!
Have you ever seen this little picture? I love it.

Monday, August 30

Collective Sigh

My town and its inhabitants are about to heave a collective sigh of relief.

I live in North Myrtle Beach, SC, and annually, people pack their vehicles to overflowing, corral the kids (and dogs that they'll sneak past desk clerks), and make the long, traffic-jammed journey just to arrive here where hundreds of thousands just like them are bound and determined to have a relaxing week so get out of their way, dang it! *whew*

Our bustling tourist town that welcomes about 14 million visitors annually, is about to turn back into a sleepy surfside community of 16000.

It's a strange love/hate relationship, like the visit from a family member that drives you crazy. You get to a point where you actually kind of miss them, and then they show up -- and it's all smiles and fun for a short while, but quickly turns into "when the heck are they leaving?"

Soon my neighbors and I can begin to experience an abundance of food on the shelves again, rather than trying to go grocery shopping only to be confronted with shelves that look as if they've been attacked by swarms of starving refugees.

And I'll once again be able to drive to a shop 15 minutes away and actually get there in about 15 minutes. As opposed to sitting in traffic for 45 minutes, being super careful to watch out for last minute right hand turns from the left lane, because someone saw the beach souvenir store and remembered they needed a Myrtle Beach shot glass, shell necklace, alligator head, and the free hermit crab advertised on the sign out front. (People...NOTHING is free -- they try to sell you an overpriced cage for the poor little crab who will probably be dead before you get him - or her - home.) Also, despite the HUGE signs on the stores, they ARE NOT "Going Out Of Business" -- look closely -- the signs actually read "Going Out For Business" Seriously. It's got to be one of the best marketing ploys around, right up there next to their famous advertisement of "10 t-shirts for $3" I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but when you get inside thinking you're going to spend a mere $3 and have Myrtle Beach t-shirts for all of your friends back home, you'll realize you've been had! There's a rack of antiquated, misprinted, chintzy tees that no else wanted -- 10 different styles of tees to be exact -- and you can have any ONE of those ten for only $3. the tourists that keep our town afloat, even in this grim economy, I thank you! We mostly love you ♥ and we'll see you next Spring!

p.s. Hurricane Earl slipped past us, so come on down for Labor Day weekend!

Saturday, August 14


I never had one of those weddings that little girls dream about.

The first time I got married, I thought my mom would enjoy the whole wedding gown shopping experience with me, but I should have known better. A half hour at David's Bridal with my mom high as a kite and me completely mortified was enough. I literally grabbed a dress in my size and was out the door for 250 bucks. That set the course for the entire wedding. Let's just get it over with...

The dress was ugly. Not just now looking back due to style differences, but it was ugly then and I knew it, but strangely did not really care much; or at least that's what I'd convinced myself.
I was fresh from the accident that had left me a paraplegic, so looking back, I know I had not fully accepted what had happened, and I had it in my mind that I would look stupid anyway, not walking down the aisle, but rolling - so I just had a "why bother" attitude.
There was so much going on in my head at the time. I was living with my sister, trying to figure out life as a woman with a disability. Well meaning people kind of shoved my first husband and I together, and before I knew it, I was getting married.
One good thing came from that marriage, and that's my son, Nathan. He's now 19 years old and a great kid!
By the time I met my soul mate, my best-est friend in the universe, my hunny-bunny, etc... who is now my 2nd, and last husband, I was 29 and had been in a wheelchair for 10 years, so had come to terms with it. I'd even begun to thrive by then. Yay!
This time though, having gone through an ugly divorce, being financially drained, and not wanting to ask my dad to pay for a wedding for an almost 30 year old. We went to the justice of the peace.
I so wanted to express the deep love, romance, and joy I felt for him in the form of a memorable day, but it just was not to be. As I often say, "it is, what it is."

Now, pushing 43 years old, I find myself watching wedding themed shows like a hungry orphan!
I 'oooh' and 'ahhh' over David Tutera's magical wedding transformations! I shake my head at the 'Bridezillas' and wonder how they have a friend in the world left, much less a husband! I get tears in my eyes when a girl comes out in 'the perfect dress' on 'Say Yes to the Dress.'
I occasionally let myself daydream about a wedding I'll probably never be able to have. My husband and I both work for ourselves and the economy has put some serious restraints on our spendable cash. I figure maybe by the time we're in our 60's we'll be able to afford a beautiful wedding, but by then, I'm not sure whether I'll be up for one. Spinal cord injury is known to take years off of ones life expectancy, so...well... we just won't even go there right now. Right now I am happy, healthy, and still in love with my husband after 13 years together. So I will just count my lucky stars and thank the heavens. Epictetus said, "He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has."

Tuesday, August 10

Motivation Is Contagious... do your best to catch it and spread it around!

I love meeting motivated people and finding out what drives them. I know it sounds silly, but when I encounter a positive person, and realize they're excited about life too, it's like meeting a long lost friend -- a kindred spirit.
My most recent experience like this was with Chad. He is the dad of my son's fabulous girlfriend, Elizabeth; and we all met this past month when Beth and her family spent a week here at the beach. First let me say how much of a relief it was to find out her family is just as wonderfully quirky as our own. I immediately liked them. Perfect and "normal" people scare me because I know there's something funky going on when no one's looking. There were no airs being put on...they were just nice people with whom I enjoyed great conversation.

So back to the story. I quickly learned that Chad had lost about 85 pounds in the last year, as had Carol, his wife, who is teeny now- so it was hard to imagine her as anything but small.
Let me tell you why I was so motivated by Chad specifically. He's an IT guy (that translates into "computer geek" for those who are not computer geeks), so he's pretty much trapped in an office space most of the day. Many people would use that as an excuse for being inactive, but not Chad. He literally mapped out a path through what he refers to as "The Cube Farm" (through the offices and cubicles) - and began walking it every day -- 1 lap during a morning and an afternoon break, and 2 laps during lunch. It totals about 3 miles! So instead of being held back by what many would see as a stumbling block, he made stepping stones! I love this kind of thinking!
Even better is that other people, seeing him walking around every day, began to walk with him!
But wait...there's even more. The workers came together and joined a "pound for pound" challenge, losing pounds of weight and donating pounds of food to a food bank!
The story of Chad and the Cube Farm once again shows us all that we never know how far-reaching our actions can be, whether good or bad. Let's all do our best to send out waves of kindness, motivation, and positivity. Who knows what great things we can create!
***The photo at the top of this post is the actual map of The Cube Farm*** Thanks Chad!

Friday, August 6

The Same Road

While striving for success as a public speaker, I teeter on the delicate balance beam between coming off as "over-confident" and allowing my insecurities to show. Having a strong, deeply real desire to help people find their own path to self-acceptance, success in life, and true joy, I worry about exposing my personal weaknesses for fear that I'll be viewed as some sort of fraud, leaving people wondering who the heck I think I am trying to guide them to a happier place when I have so many bumps on my own path to fulfillment.

It brings to mind the time when I was a new wife; I attended the church my (now ex) husband had been attending since he was 19 years old. The pastor was incredibly charismatic, in both senses of the word. One of his tag lines was "follow me as I follow Christ" and many did. Unfortunately he walked a treacherous path that ultimately led to not only the destruction of the church, but his marriage, and several peoples spiritual walks. We must each walk our own path.

It's because of this experience that I never suggest anyone "follow my lead" but rather, I extend my hand to any and all who might choose to walk beside me for a while, and hopefully as we share what life has taught us, we part ways having learned something positive. After all, we're on this crazy ride called life together, aren't we? Being the one who stands (or in my case, sits) in front of people and talks about these things, doesn't mean I'm better at means I'm someone who feels comfortable sharing what I've learned (often the hard way) with others, in hopes that they might not fall into a hole I've gotten stuck in already, and thankfully managed to climb out of.
How far we travel in life matters far less than those we meet along the way, and unless it's God, or a Higher Power, we should never put anyone on a pedestal. Gloria Steinem once said, "A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space." I could not agree more.

Thursday, August 5

Thoughtful Thursday!

Today I'm going to try to do thoughtful things over and above what I might normally do.

The world seems to be getting a little meaner all the time, or maybe I'm just getting more sensitive in my middle-age! Haha!

Regardless, being nice is contagious. I'll often give a big, dorky smile to someone who looks like they're about to bite someone's head off, and seriously, 90% of the time their face breaks into a beautiful smile! I never stop being amazed at how different that one little act makes people look!

So here's some words from people much wiser than me...enjoy them and maybe smile, or commit some random act of kindness for a grumpy person today!

Scott Adams:
Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

James M. Barrie:
Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves.

William John Bennet:
A kind and compassionate act is often its own reward.

Henry Burton:
Have you had a kindness shown? Pass it on; 'twas not given for thee alone, pass it on; Let it travel down the years, let it wipe another's tears, till in heaven the deed appears, pass it on.

Miguel de Cervantes:
Great persons are able to do great kindnesses.

Barbara De Angelis:
Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for courtesy.

Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch:
If someone is too tired to give you a smile, leave one of your own, because no one needs a smile as much as those who have none to give.

Eric Hoffer:
Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.

Washington Irving:
A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.

Samuel Johnson:
Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross:
I have never met a person whose greatest need was anything other than real, unconditional love. You can find it in a simple act of kindness toward someone who needs help. There is no mistaking love. You feel it in your heart. It is the common fiber of life, the flame that heals our soul, energizes our spirit and supplies passion to our lives. It is our connection to God and to each other.

Harold Kushner:
When you carry out acts of kindness you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, yes, this is how I ought to feel.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
Give what you have. To some one, it may be better than you dare to think.

Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profundity.
Kindness in giving creates love.

Blaise Pascal:
Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Albert Schweitzer:
Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.

Wherever there is a human being there is an opportunity for kindness.

Mother Teresa:
Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.

William Wordsworth:
The best portion of a good man's life is his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and of love.

Tuesday, August 3

Rewriting the Rules

"The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions."
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

The other day, I heard someone quote that old rule, "Children should be seen and not heard" and it kind of surprised me that people are still using that in any way other than jokingly. In my opinion, children should be not only seen, but watched over with love, and listened to with care. We'd all be happier people if we stopped to enjoy the laughter of children more, or sat down with them and really heard what they were saying.
It's been my experience that kids often want to tell us more than they do, but they need to warm up to spilling the bigger stuff. As a mom I've learned (after much lecturing on my part) that the best conversations I've ever had with my son is when I shut my mouth, open my ears and my heart, and let him talk. Kids are so smart, and they know when you're really listening and genuinely want to hear what they have to say. When we open ourselves up to them, they'll open up to us.

So there's one "rule" I've rewritten.

Remember the "Never wear white after Labor Day" rule? Oy! I know Stacy & Clinton say to toss that rule out the window, but it's been so ingrained in me that Labor Day still finds me, year after year, packing away my whites until the first day of summer. I know! I know! I am such a dork!

What are some "rules" you think need to be broken? Or maybe you have some rules you think should NEVER be broken?
I'd love to see your input.

Saturday, July 31

Self-expectations: The Good, The Bad, and The Impossible...

Typically, having high self-expectations is seen as a positive character trait. It's admirable to set the bar high and strive to maintain a standard that reflects your aspirations in life; but sometimes we can create unwanted anxiety when we set the bar higher than we can realistically reach.

While I'm all for setting goals, it's important to keep in mind the delicate balance between not enough and too much. Most of us want to be the best we can be, myself included, and because of this I've pursued a life/career based on positivity and overcoming adversity.

Don't Just Survive...Thrive! is my motto!

But this has, from time to time, caused me to put expectations on myself to remain positive all the time.
While I enjoy being Little Miss Sunshine most days, I am no Pollyanna 24/ one is, and if they are, something's wrong. Even those in the most ideal and pleasant circumstances, with seemingly nary a trouble in the world and loads of money in the bank will get discouraged from time to time, for any variety of reasons. It's called "being human."
But because of the expectations I'd self-imposed (and perceived others had of me) I felt as if I were letting the world down if I had an off day. It was time to readjust what I was expecting from myself.

I know we've all heard the sayings like "Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars." (Les Brown) -- I've actually used that quote numerous times to try and motivate myself or others, but consistently setting unachievable expectations, only to miss the mark can lead to low self-esteem and feelings of failure. These emotions bring about nothing good. When we feel worthless, we're more likely to just give up completely before trying again.

Another perfect example was when I got it in my head that I was going to hit the gym every single day, 7 days a week. Now this may be an entirely attainable goal for some, but for many reasons it's just not something that's going to happen in my life. Week after week I "let myself down" because I only made it to the gym between 3-5 times, doing 1/2 hour of cardio and 1 hour of weight training. Did I forget that a little over 2 years ago I never went to the gym? Apparently so. Had I set a more reasonable goal, rather than set the extreme (for me) goal of 7 days a week, I'd have met and probably surpassed my expectations of myself, and felt good. Instead, I repeatedly beat myself up for missing the mark I'd set way too high in the first place.

I'm not saying we should set the bar low. Always set them high enough to challenge yourself, but recognize that delicate tipping point between high and unreasonable.
Goals are simply tools to focus your energy in positive directions; these can be changed as your priorities change, new ones added, and others dropped. As long as you're moving forward, you're going in the right direction.

Tuesday, July 27

Hello Blogger Friends!

Just wanted to send out a quick hello, since I usually don't let this many days go between posts. The non-profit organization I'm involved with has been moving forward, full steam ahead, so I've been spending my writing time courting local celebrities to come and play in an exhibition basketball game for our big kick-off event. Did I mention that I've been busy at this WHILE making sure I meet looming deadlines? week I should have more time to ramble. Haha! Hope everyone is well. Have a lovely week!

Warmest Regards!


Thursday, July 22


The reality of life is that we all start from different places, travel at different paces, and have different destinations. Despite these facts, many people constantly try to compare themselves to others in regards to where they are in their own lives.

Trying to measure ourselves up to others is like comparing the beauty of a daffodil to a daisy. Who's to say which bloom is more appealing? Better to celebrate the individual beauty of each one, and just be thankful they bloomed.

It's quite common for people to hit middle-age and begin reflecting on their lives, wishing they'd gone down roads that, at the time, seemed too bumpy to maneuver instead of opting for the shortcut. Sadly, many then feel it's too late to try again, and instead spend years being frustrated, disappointed, and resentful.
One of my favorite quotes for late bloomers is this: "There is an immeasurable distance between late and too late."

If you're breathing, it's not too late.

So what if you didn't go to college and get a fancy degree? So what if you've never worked outside the home? So what if you've had a troubled upbringing that never encouraged success?

You can bloom where you're planted.

Better to be the rogue flower bursting forth in the desert, than a tulip among a field of hundreds of thousands just alike- where it's difficult to be seen as an individual, and all the subtle nuances that create your own unique beauty get lost among the many.

Monday, July 19

A New Perspective

Recently the city I live in expanded its roadways due to the ever-growing influx of tourists. One new road includes a very grand looking bridge that ends at Main St. and Highway 17 in North Myrtle Beach - the primary entryway into the heart of town.
Prior to this, the only way in came from either North or South on 17; this bridge comes to the intersection from the West.

It rises over the Intracoastal Waterway, cresting at about 60 feet above the water, and then slopes gently back down until you're approaching the intersection at close to sea-level. Driving this way for the first time, at the descent, I looked and wondered where the heck this bridge had led me, then realized with surprise that it was the intersection I'd driven through hundreds, if not thousands of times, but because of the new perspective, it looked completely different...and oddly, so much fresher. I laughed at myself and chalked my temporary feeling of being lost up to the fact that I am well-known for having a horrible sense of direction.

It was not long at all before I found out it wasn't just me. Seems everyone I talked to about the new bridge had the same moment of "where the heck?" - only to realize where they were.

It's all about perspective.

Today I read a blog written by my amazing niece, (is that how I refer to my nephew's wife?) where she questioned some things about herself. It perplexed me because honestly, from my perspective she's one of the most together, intelligent, beautiful (physically and spiritually) people I am proud to call "family."

I think many of us need to step outside of ourselves occasionally, and try as best we can to see not only who we are, but our problems, from a fresh perspective -- a new angle. People tend to see their own problems through a magnifying glass, but if we pan out and look at the big picture, there's a good chance we'll not only see more of how we got where we are, but also the pathway out. Another benefit of looking at the big picture? You give yourself the opportunity to look past what's gone wrong, and zoom in on what's going right. Too often we focus (with that dang magnifying glass again) on the negatives, so they become bigger and bigger, until they're obstructing our vision of all the good things jumping up and down, saying, "Look at us! Look at us!"

My sister was just telling me the other day how we, as individuals, look at everything we see through a lens that has been carved by our life experiences. I found this concept fascinating, and of course it brought me back to this idea on perspective I'd been tossing around since the bridge incident. It drove home in me, even more, how important it can be to get a fresh perspective from time to time.

Also, when you see someone else struggling, offer them your "lens." Let them know the positive things that can be seen in their lives from your perspective. Sometimes a little encouragement is all someone needs.

I challenge you to look at either a problem you've been facing, or a negative feeling you have about yourself, or someone in your life, from a fresh perspective. Change angles and look again. I bet it will surprise you how much fresher it looks this way.

Click here to visit Kelly's (my niece) blog "Half Jewish, fully worried"

Wednesday, July 14

A Little Love Story... ♥

*Please forgive me for the lack of proper grammar or editing on this is just me talking as if you were in my living room here.*

A lot of people ask me about this, so I thought I'd share it here.

Back in 1997, I was a divorced mom to my then 6 year old son, and at that point, had been in a wheelchair for 10 years. I worked for a company called Atlis Publishing -- no, not Atlas, Atlis, editing medical journals. Yes, it was a thrill a minute. (Not really.)

The last thing on my mind was a relationship.

Back then, everyone was using America Online for social networking, and I don't even think the phrase "social networking" was in use. Regardless, I had the standard profile, which listed my profession as "Editor" and would receive the occasional question about writing, to which I'd reply that I edited medical journals and was probably not the kind of "Editor" they were seeking. One such inquiry came from a guy who asked if I would just look over a little of the story he'd written, and if nothing else, give him my opinion as a reader. Since I was a voracious reader, I agreed.

It was really good and left me wanting to know what had happened to the main character, "Fully Wexler." In volleying back and forth over his story, I found out he lived in Myrtle Beach, SC, a place I'd enjoyed visiting several times since I have lots of family in the Carolinas. We ended up chatting online quite a bit, and at one point he sent me a funny photo of a recent sailing trip he'd been on. It was a ragtag group of guys on a boat, one of which was him, and I got a kick out of seeing it, and returned a photo of myself and my cousin on a recent trip to Deep Creek Lake, MD. I captioned the photo "Not bad for a crip chick, huh!" Since I was sure we'd discussed my disability briefly at some point and I tend to laugh, rather than cry, at some of the more tragic things in my life.
He replied, "What's that supposed to mean?" Then I put 2+2 together (I was actually reclining in a lounge chair in the photo, so no wheelchair!) and realized I hadn't talked about being disabled! Then I wondered why it mattered, or why I should disclose something so personal to a "stranger" -- but by then, was he still a "stranger"? Anyway, so I just went ahead and told him what had happened and that I'd been in a wheelchair ever since. He expressed that he was very sorry I'd had to go through something so difficult, then we moved on to another topic, and it wasn't brought up again.
Around Super Bowl time, he said he'd be in the Washington, DC area for a Super Bowl Party Weekend with some people he'd attended college with, and asked if I would like to finally meet face to face and have lunch. I agreed, but was a little hesitant to meet someone from the was all so new to me at the time. I told my sister all I knew about him, and when/where we were going to have lunch, just in case.
Then the day arrived, and when my doorbell rang, I went to it and before opening the door, jokingly asked, "Should I let you in? You don't have a gun, do you?" He laughed, and I opened the door, and at that moment, I literally felt my face burning with redness...I was BLUSHING! I offered him a seat, and then we just kind of sat there, staring at each other. It was so weird. *I am laughing while recounting this!*
To break the awkwardness, I asked him to come look at something on my computer in the other room, he pulled up a chair to my desk, and I was next to him, and then HE KISSED ME and it was like this huge EUREKA moment. It all suddenly hit me that I'd been falling in love with him all this time, but denying it, and apparently the feelings were mutual. I will say that a kiss was all that happened that day, as he is the most perfect gentleman in all the universe, but we've been "an item" ever since. I found out he'd researched all he could about spinal cord injury right after he found out I was disabled, because even though neither of us had expressed anything romantic, he'd already had a crush on me and wanted to find out all he may be getting into, falling for someone with my condition. I found this so touching, as I had been married to a man before, who met me after my accident and yet hardly ever asked me anything about being disabled.
We lived 7 hours driving time apart, so it wasn't always easy, but he drove to see me every chance he got. Even one time, around my 30th birthday, when my washing machine broke, he drove the 7 hours to fix it for me.
When he found out I hadn't been swimming since before my accident, and that I was now deathly afraid to, he took me to the pool, and picked me up, then slowly got in, holding me the entire time. He walked around, keeping me in his arms, while I became accustomed to how it all felt. Little by little, one trip to the pool at a time, he helped me shed my fears, and finally, I was SWIMMING and he was genuinely happy for me. He'd given me so much already, and now he'd given me back something I'd missed a lot.
This has been his way from the beginning, and still to this day. One by one, he gently helps me overcome my fears, never making me feel like a loser, or a scared baby; simply like someone who's being held up by love. He makes sure I know he's there to support me, while encouraging me to find my freedoms, defeat my demons, and live life to the fullest. There's so much more, but it's late, and I'm sleepy. Suffice to say, he and I are now living our "happily ever after."

Monday, July 12

21 Days to Positivity

As is often the case with the internet, you read something, and that something leads you to another something, and so on...
Being the "information addict" that I am, this happens to me daily! Seriously, I think I'm one of the few people on the planet who absolutely adores doing research for any and every project, more than any other part of the process.

Today I was reading a blog post about being judgmental. It was on Gretchin Rubin's website, which I highly recommend to everyone. While reading, I saw a post from a woman who'd mentioned a 21 day "fast" from any negative speaking at all. I was intrigued. As anyone who's read my blog since the beginning, you know I had a childhood that was challenging, and ultimately left me with lots of insecurities to overcome and bad habits to break. One of those habits is speaking negatively about myself. I've made an effort recently to at least accept compliments graciously, instead of staring at the person as if they're out of their mind for saying something nice about me, followed by laughingly pointing out how wrong they are.

Anyway, I'm getting off course here.

I googled the pertinent words and sure enough, lots of folks have stepped up to the challenge and reported back some amazing results! This is right up my "be the best you can be" alley, so I'm taking the plunge publically, here on my blog so I have all of you wonderful people to be accountable to, and I hope some of you will come along for the ride.

The premise is simple: You cannot utter any negative language or complaints at all for 21 days. No matter what happens to you, no matter what other people say or do to you, you are not allowed to speak any negative words during those 21 days. That means self-talk, as well as what you say to others. If you catch yourself complaining or saying something negative, start over. Along the way, write down any changes you're experiencing that you feel are related to this project. Feel free to share them on my "Fake It Til You Make It" facebook wall, so we can discuss them, and compare notes. Here's a link.

If you want to join me in a 21 day fast from speaking negatively, please let me know in the comments section. I would love the company! Also, if you know of someone you think would enjoy this, or benefit from it, please send them here and we can get a big group going.
When you complete your 21 days, I will send you a beautiful, personalized "Certificate of Happiness" that can be framed and kept as a reminder to always do your best to avoid negative speaking.

Sunday, July 11

Because I know so many without jobs at the moment...

The other day I was reading about a man named Edwin C. Barnes. He was born in 1876 in Wisconsin, not to a wealthy or famous family. As a matter of fact, he was often referred to as a "tramp," (what we might call a "bum" these days) but Barnes had a big desire, and the determination to turn that desire into reality. He’d read about the things Thomas Edison was doing, and decided, uncompromisingly, that his future included working alongside the great inventor.

Instead of letting the obstacles between where he was and where he wanted to be get in his way, he went around them. He disregarded the fact that he had no money to take a train to Orange, NJ where Edison was, instead he rode on a freight car, dropping from the moving train when passing through the town. Neither did Barnes let the fact that he did not know Mr. Edison hold him back. He set his sights on what he wanted, and went forward with all intentions of attaining it. When he arrived in NJ, he went to Edison’s office, knocked on the door, and informed him he was there to be his associate, and that he was willing to start at the bottom and work his way up. His determination paid off. He got a job scrubbing floors and within 5 years had worked his way up, becoming a partner of Thomas Edison, and even a close friend over the long term. When Mr. Barnes passed away in 1952 in Bradenton, FL, he was a very wealthy man.

We can learn a few important lessons from the life of Edwin C. Barnes:

1. Think Big! Don’t hem and haw, always doubting or making excuses why you can’t do something. Decide what you want, make a plan, then set out to achieve your goal.

2. Step out in faith. Trust there will be pavement under each footfall and forge your own path.

3. Don’t let circumstances and details hold you back.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Be bold in all your endeavors.

4. No job is too small. Mr. Barnes started scrubbing floors. Instead of seeing it as “beneath” him, he saw it as a stepping stone to his ultimate goal.

So often in life we see stumbling blocks instead of stepping stones, and we tend to stay within our own self-imposed boundaries. The secret that the successful have found out, is that those amazing opportunities; those ‘once in a lifetime’ chances, are almost always found outside of our comfort zones. Can it be daunting to step out of bounds, leaving the safety of the familiar for the unknown? Absolutely. The potential rewards, however, are limitless once we stop limiting ourselves.

Friday, July 9

I'm my own what?

-You Are Your Own Business Card-

The first time I read this line, it was one of those light bulb moments! Quite often, in one way or another, most of us have to market ourselves; to clients, to bosses, to prospective employers, etc...even if we're fortunate enough to not have to actively sell our skills, we're advertising what we're about with each interaction, no matter how insignificant it may be.

It always amazes me when I witness someone screaming obscenities and flipping the bird in traffic, and then see a bumper sticker on their car advertising their Christianity. Not exactly the person I'd want teaching my kid in Sunday School.

Now, don't get me wrong, I realize we're all human and none of us are perfect. I'm the first to point out my flaws to anyone within ear shot. The occasional four letter word escapes my lips, and we won't even talk about the things I want to say sometimes, but thankfully self-control wins out and I bite my tongue.

In my opinion, we need to have absolute boundaries for how we behave in regards to common decency and politeness. Just look around on any given day and you'll see society has become sadly lax in regards to people respecting one another and practicing good manners. Philosopher Eric Hoffer said it so eloquently: "Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength."

Being a person who has to sell myself as a public speaker, a mentor, and an active member of my community, it's important to be on my best behavior every day; after all, we never know who we're interacting with, and when we may encounter them again in a more personal, or business setting. Who'd want to ask me to go encourage a person in the hospital if I went about with a scowl on my face all the time? How many invitations to give motivational talks do you think I'd get if I was overheard dropping "F" bombs while complaining about long lines in the grocery store, or seen giving the finger to tourists in traffic jams?

Shouldn't we strive to be the best we can be, even when no one is looking?
After all, there is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience, and no face more beautiful than one that wears a smile.

What does your 'business card' (your countenance, your behavior) say about you?

I'd love to read your thoughts and/or experiences, either good or bad, on this subject.

Five Question Friday Blog Hop!

Five Question Friday:

Thanks to the ladies who came up with these great questions!

1. What is one food you could eat everyday?
In a perfect world where sugar and fat caused eternal youth and beauty; cupcakes.

2. Are you working in the career you thought you would be when you were 18?
Ah, no, which is a good thing since I was working on a career in being dead at that age.

3. What is something that you wish you would have done when you were younger and you didn't?
Met my husband and had a Duggar-like brood of kids!

4. What color are your kitchen walls?
1/2 off white *yawn* and 1/2 horrifyingly hideous blue pineapple wallpaper -- yeah, we bought a "fixer-upper" house and haven't yet "fixer-upped."

5. Do you remember what your very first favorite song was?
Yes! Amazingly I do! I played it on the jukebox in the "kid's room" at the Elks Lodge on Saturday nights, while my folks were in the "lounge." It was 1976, and the song was Frankie Valli "Oh What A Night"

Thursday, July 8


I got a haircut yesterday. My hair had grown past my shoulders and since it's super baby fine, thin, and plagued by random waves that have no rhythm or flow to them, it was time to go a little shorter despite my husbands protests. It amazes me that a lot of men say they like long hair, even if that long hair looks like crap.

As an adult, I ran into a woman (on a good hair day) who'd lived next door to me when I was a little girl. She marveled at how smooth and shiny my hair was (as a child, my hair was a disaster) and then went on to remind me of the times she sat me down on our front stoop in Landover Hills and picked everything out of my hair from bubble gum and candy, to peanut butter and jelly, all while I protested loudly. I mean, what's a little food in the hair when there's roller skating to be done in the abandoned parking lot across from our duplex?

This little problem continued on after we moved from that neighborhood, and as I grew, so did the snarls. I would get a knot in the back near the neckline, and in order to avoid the pain of detangling, would smooth the top layer of my hair over it- every day. Before long, the snarl inevitably grew into a huge, matted clump that, despite my best efforts at concealing, made me look as if I had some strange tumor growing back there. Enter the detangler! My dad would sit me down in the family room with this frightening comb-like contraption that plugged into the wall and "gently" (according to the packaging) ripped worked the tangles from your hair. This was usually about a 30-45 minute procedure filled with tears from me, and yelling from my dad about how if I hadn't waited until it got so bad it wouldn't hurt so much, and he was right.

Ultimately, when the comb was unplugged and a mass of knotted snarls lay on the floor next to my dad, my hair was once again, smooth, silky, and tangle-free.

Wouldn't it just be easier if we worked out our knots in life before they grew to epic proportions, instead of waiting until they required dragging others in, and a long and painful production to get them straightened out?

One of the things I've added to my self-improvement list this year is to follow the advice of Barney Fife and be an active 'bud-nipper." If you're too young to know who or what I'm talking about, click here.

Sometimes I'm amazed at how long it took me to figure out that problems don't go away when you ignore them, quite the contrary.
Ah well - better to bloom late than never to bloom at all.


Wednesday, July 7

Breaking Cycles

As I posted before, over the past year I've been writing a book about staying positive in the face of adversity. Of course when one undertakes something like this, copious amounts of soul-searching is a part of the deal, whether we want it or not.

In light of things that happened with my parents (particularly my mom) when I was so young, I've often questioned whether she (and my Dad) loved me or not. Doesn't everyone at some point wonder this?

Are there people who've never, not even for a second, questioned the love of their mother or father?

Despite what I consider being rejected twice in my life by my mom, once at 12, and then again at 19, I must give her credit for all of the good things, too. From the time I was about 27 until she died when I was 35, she told me time and time again how sorry she was for leaving me behind as a child, and really tried to be the best mom she could. Now that I've been a mother for 19 years, I have conflicting emotions about it all. On one hand, I understand more what it is to struggle in one's own mind and make bad decisions that affect the people that love you; but on the other, I still can't grasp how she left me behind.
I had a 1st marriage that failed, but not ever for one split second did I consider leaving my son behind. I'd rather cut off my arms than do that, yet I can see where it all began because she was also abandoned as a child.

Probably until I was well into my 30's I worried about "becoming my mother." We hear that sort of stuff a lot; following in our parent's footsteps being inevitable and all that. I've even been accused of dwelling too much on the past, but my defense is:
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." ~George Santayana
What I've learned by pondering the past is to find the good things, embrace and emulate them, and recognize the bad so they don't become holes that wait to swallow you up.

I've come to the conclusion that I probably would have forgiven my mom for almost anything, because her self-loathing was evident to anyone who ever met her, and I truly believe that despite how much she hurt me, it could never measure up to how much she hurt herself. In the end, she destroyed herself from a combination of immense sadness, guilt, and desperation. I wish I'd been able to help her. God knows I tried, as did my sister and a few others, but the damage that set things in motion had been done long ago. What I could do was break the cycle. This blog, my book, my speaking; it's all a part of that process.

I hope I don't come across as being judgmental of my mom. I'd be lying if I said I've never felt angry towards her, but when all was said and done, I love/loved her deeply, and I was there with my head on her chest until her very last heartbeat.

God it's hard to type that.

I wanted her to know I was there, and for her to feel my love until the very end. I hope she knows I stayed. She was so fragile. I think I was always the strong one, and on some level she knew it, and she knew I'd be ok.

Mom, 40 years old

Mom & Grandma

Mom & her 2nd husband, whom some claim is my biological father, but that's another blog...

Monday, July 5

Things I've Learned From My Grandma

My Grandma has been on my mind a lot lately. She's always been my role model of what a strong woman should be, having made a successful life for herself with nothing more than a 3rd grade education, a lot of determination, and good old-fashioned hard work.

Born in 'nineteen and twenty three' (the way she says it) - in Morehead City, NC, we used to have a joke in our family that Grandma would outlive us all, with the way she never seemed to tire, and could run circles around people half her age (including her younger boyfriend.) But she's slowed down quite a bit in the last few years, and it's difficult to see. She turned 87 this year.

So today I want to just list a few things I've learned from her, and maybe you can share something you learned from your amazing Grandma, too.

1. You're never too old to don a teeny bikini.
About 15 years ago, Grandma went on a diet and lost some extra pounds that she'd picked up from eating her delicious Magic Cookie Bars and Baked Ziti. Excited with her new figure, she said she wanted to get herself a bathing suit, so just for fun, I brought over a couple that had been collecting dust in my dresser since pre-pregnancy days. She chose the teeniest, hot pink bikini with silver accents, went back into her bedroom, then emerged in all her 72 year old glory wearing nothing but that swimsuit and white ankle socks!

2. You can be tough on the inside and yet soft on the outside.
Grandma lived through the Depression, came from a family of 9 children with very little money, lost her first husband when my Mom was only 2 years old, and drove a school bus for 23 years; so she's no shrinking violet, but despite how strong and hard-working she is, she's always taken the time for hugs, kisses, baking cookies, or just having a talk.

Here's a photo of my Mom and my Grandma:

3. Don't leave the house without at least a little lipstick. (OK, I prefer lip gloss, but you know what I mean.)
Her favorite color is pink. That should pretty much explain it.

4. A smile makes wrinkles disappear.
Seriously, my Grandma has the prettiest blue eyes I've ever seen, and when she smiles, they light up and the lines fade away into the background.

Here's a picture of her and my son taken last summer:

Tell me something about your awesome Grandma! ♥

Thursday, July 1

Just accept Murphy's Law

While holding down the button that puts the top of my convertible up and down, I realized that the day the motor controlling it decides to give out, I'll be in the car, with the top down, in a place with no cover to drive under, in a flash-flood inducing rainstorm. It's just the way life is. I've already mentally prepared myself for it, and the best I can hope for is to be wearing waterproof mascara that day.

Murphy's Law = "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong." But you know what? I laugh at Murphy's Law because I know something that not a lot of people know. Not only was Edward A. Murphy, Jr. a real person, but despite everything apparently going wrong for him all the time, he was a successful man! Imagine that - Mr. Gloom and Doom did well for himself!

Actually, I doubt he was gloomy at all, but I would assume he was incredibly hopeful since he was an aeronautical engineer who's primary job was to create new technology, then test it out to see how well it worked (or not.) Most likely he was optimistic about his creations being successful, but realistic in the fact that he knew not all would go as planned each time.

Things will never go the way we planned 100% of the time, and if you find everything is suddenly going exactly right, all the time, I'd start looking under the bed and over my shoulder!
The important thing is not to let unexpected setbacks in life drag us down. The most resilient people are the most successful, since they never give up.
"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."
~Helen Keller

I found this great little poem about not quitting, and liked it so much that I wanted to share it with everyone - so here it is:

Don't Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won if he'd stuck it out.
Don't give up, though the pace seems slow -
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are -
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit -
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, June 30

The PROS and CONS of YOU!

I've been writing a book for the last year or so.

OK, let me be honest; I've been writing a book for several years and just never felt like it was flowing the way it should, so I kept setting it aside. Then it hit me! I was writing the wrong book! I was putting all my energy into a work of fiction when I work best with reality. I mean, c'mon, it's my tag line for life. I'm a realistic optimist - yada yada yada...(If you haven't already, you can read my personal tag line for life on the left under the "About Me" section.)

Finally sometime last summer the light bulb over my head illuminated and I tossed the fiction aside and am now happily nearing a complete non-fiction manuscript! Yay!

While talking on the phone with my sister, I was telling her about a chapter in my book where I talk about the importance of truly knowing yourself; as it's necessary in order to begin the journey of self-improvement, and how a good start in that process is to write down a list of the Pros & Cons of YOU, being completely honest in all areas. In my experience, people tend to fall under one of three categories:

1. People who are unnecessarily hard on themselves.
2. People who are more satisfied with themselves than they probably should be.
3. People who claim they don't care to be bothered with all that "pop-psychology" stuff.

The ideal, in my humble opinion, is to get to a place somewhere between 1 & 2. We won't talk about the people who fall into the 3rd category. I'll let them and their shrinks work it out.

Ask anyone who really knows me and they'll tell you I have a tendency towards being very highly critical of myself, to the point of getting on the nerves of those who love me. In very limited doses, self-criticism can be a useful tool to keep us from getting complacent. The danger is that far too easily it becomes habitual, and destructive to our self-esteem. For the most part, I've learned to stop myself when I go into 'let's pick Michele apart' mode.

Writing down my Pros and Cons has been very helpful with seeing myself in a better light. Merely saying aloud what your good and bad points are just doesn't cut it though. The visual of seeing it, and reading it, as well as saying it aloud helps us to actually absorb it more.
If you think you could benefit from any of this, try it for a few days, or even better, a few weeks.

Get a pretty journal, or stationary that you like. Pretty paper and journals make me happy, I'm dorky that way, but that's another blog post.
On the first day, write down 5 things you like about yourself (my dorkiness is actually one of the things I like about myself) and 5 things you don't like about yourself.
This next step is very important in the process, so please don't skip it.
Next to each thing you DON'T like about yourself, assess whether it's genuine. If it's something you've just gotten into the habit of picking on, like when I make fun of my nose, that's not really something to add, so cross it off.
My nose is what a few people would refer to as somewhat "ethnic" but considering I have a richly ethnic background, it's something I should embrace. It's a part of my heritage and something to be proud of. So I crossed that off of my list. I'll admit that I'm not at the point of actually adding it to my LIKE list, but hey, it's a start. Bottom line, make sure your DON'T LIKE list is valid.
Once you have your list of dislikes, look them over and decide if it's something that can be improved upon, or changed. If so, set about doing just that.

Every day after the first day, write down THREE things you like about yourself, and ONE thing you don't like. When you've finished that, look back at the previous entries and make a note of anything you've done to improve the things you don't like.
This plan can really help you to start appreciating your good points more, and stop focusing on your less than fabulous ones.

Please let me know if you plan to give this a shot, and report back how it's helped you! I look forward to hearing about your experiments! ♥

You Got a License for That Thing?

"A Little Something From My Lighter Side..."

In 23 years of wheelchair-ing (I think I just made up a new word) through life, I've heard some interesting remarks regarding me and my chair, so I thought I'd share a few with you. Exciting, huh? You get to be disabled vicariously through me! WooHoo! Lucky you!

I guess I should start with the most popular, the ones that if I had a dollar for every time I heard them, I'd be blogging right now from a villa in Greece, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea... or in some brilliant but twisted geniuses la-bor-a-tory, having deviously experimental surgery to repair my spinal cord, so that I could then be a guest star on the Benny Hinn show!

1. You got a license for that thing?
Now, you'd think after more than 2 decades of hearing that pretty much weekly, I'd have some snarky reply, or just ignore people, but I just don't have it in me to let anyone down or make them think their quip is unoriginal, so I giggle as though I've never heard it, much less heard it 6 million times, and say something like, "Nope, and I don't have insurance either so watch out!"

2. Slow down or I'm gonna give you a speeding ticket!
I think I actually hear this more than the first one. Surprisingly, I don't even have to be rolling fast for someone to say it. Maybe I should comb my hair...perhaps the constant windblown mess is giving me the look of speed!

3. Wanna race for pink slips?
This is what people who've injured a leg and are temporarily using a wheelchair often say. It's their way of exhibiting camaraderie. You have to laugh because they're usually in a hospital issue clunker chair, as opposed to the $2500 glorified bicycle I roll in. (That's not even an electric or power chair! I avoid those because they'd encourage me to be lazy and I would probably be 6000 pounds.) Anyway, the old hospital loaner wheelchair against my sparkly turquoise, lightweight chair with purple wheels (yep, really) is like a scene from a 1950's drag strip, handicapped style! Which leads me to number 4...

4. I know how you feel.
This is another that I often hear from people who are temporarily wheelchair-bound. I smile and nod my head sympathetically, biting my tongue to keep from pointing out that 3 weeks and 23 years are a teeny bit different, but eh...ok. At least they've glimpsed what those of us who're lifetime wheelers experience, and I can appreciate that. They often ask me how long I will be in the chair, and when I say "forever" they usually flinch, then ask me what happened. This is when it gets fun because depending on how much caffeine I've had that day, the stories can get good. My favorites are when I say that I can't talk about it due to the terms of my probation... or when I nervously dart my eyes about, then begin to tell them of my secret life as a spy and how while I was scaling the walls of the Kremlin... but if I tell you more I'd have to kill you.

5. How do you go to the bathroom?

I roll there. C'mon people! Really? Is it polite conversation to ask people about their potty habits? Oy Vey!

6. Can you still have sex? (I'm being serious...I've been asked this by complete strangers.)
My standard reply is, "Is that a proposition?"

7. Did you get married before your accident?
This has got to be my favorite one...(not really, my sarcastic side has come out now) and I must explain that this question is almost always asked assuming I was married before, and that my long-suffering hubby was a saint for not high-tailing it to Georgia once he realized I was going to be damaged for life. And when I answer this one, saying that 'no' we met after my accident -- number 8 is sure to follow...

8. What a great guy! (Meaning my saint of a husband who married that poor little crippled girl.) They've obviously not spent the last 13 years with him! I am kidding here. He really is the sweetest guy I've ever known. He's long-suffering, putting up with my constant neurosis, creative whims, and flights of fancy moods. We started out as friends, and unbeknownst to me he had a crush and researched all about spinal cord injuries so he could understand more about my life. When I first introduced him to my son (who was 6 at the time) my sweet little one kicked him in the shin. In response, my now-husband said, "Do that again and you'll be sorry." My precious boy reared back to kick him, flung his tiny foot out, my big guy caught his ankle and made him plop solidly on his butt...they both broke out in laughter and have been going at each other in this manner for the past 13 years now. I'm so blessed to have him in my life, and I know it. I thank God daily for this big lug by my side.

Tuesday, June 29


Although I consider myself a [non-denominational] Christian, I enjoy studying world religions, finding the many parallels they share, and gleaning bits of wisdom from all of them to apply to my own personal faith. One of my favorites is Taoism. I appreciate what I see as 'simple profundities' in their practices and meditations.
About a dozen years ago, a friend gave me a book called, "365 Tao - Daily Meditations" which despite it being meant as a year long collection of devotions, I devoured in about a week, happening upon a single paragraph that gave me an overall philosophy for my experience as a person with a lifelong disability:

'Acceptance does not mean fatalism. It does not mean capitulation to some slaughtering predestination. Those who follow Tao do not believe in being helpless. They believe in acting within the framework of circumstances.'

You see, in the movies and books, the person who cannot walk, refusing to accept the sentence of being crippled for life, almost always miraculously rises up from their wheelchair out of sheer determination and will.

Real life is rarely like the movies.

Back in the early 90's I was at a church that was nice enough for the most part, but at one point I was accosted by a group of people who wanted to lay hands on me and bring about a healing. They were actually pulling me hard, trying to get me up and out of my wheelchair, while I was doing my best to maintain politeness, and explain that I think I'd know if I'd been healed, and I'd rather not have to fall and break something to prove otherwise. When all was said and done and I wheeled back to my row in the congregation, I felt I'd let them down. I didn't wonder why God didn't heal me. I knew even back then that I was where I was for a reason that would fall under "the greater good" category. But being a people-pleaser usually knows no limits, so in my mind, I'd failed them all and should be ashamed of myself.

Society is so used to seeing unrealistic portrayals of people with disabilities thanks to the media and low-life television evangelists who stage "healings" every week. The following are actual statements people have made to me regarding my disability:

1. I would never let the disability win. I would just get right up out of that chair! ~Really? My spinal cord would like to make a $$$ bet with you.

2. If you just have enough faith, you'll stand right up and walk.
~And if I have enough faith, maybe the person saying this would have to live a week in my body...I won't hold my breath on either account.

3. You're not receiving a healing because you have unforgiven sin in your life. ~Wow. This gem came from a preacher. I guess he hadn't read the part in the Bible about Jesus dying for my sins.

Seriously, I think God's miracle in my life is bringing me through the first 30 years without me killing myself, and then going on to actually give me JOY, and to become what most people would consider a decent and contributing member of society.

He helped me to 'act within the framework of my circumstances.' I didn't just passively accept that I would live out my life unable to walk. I acted on what had happened, using it as both a lesson to myself and to others.
Remember, I always refer to myself as a 'realistic optimist' -- sure the glass is half full, but maybe not full of something you want to drink...but nonetheless, there it is. Better to act on it rather than sitting there staring at it, waiting for it to change into something sweet to drink.

I'd love to hear other peoples opinions on incorporating bits and pieces from world religions into your own walk (or roll) through life. Thanks for reading my rantings. :)

Sunday, June 27

Talk Less - Listen More

"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."

Confused? Yeah, me too!

Want to be a better parent, spouse, or friend? Talk less, listen more. That's it. Four words and you didn't have to spend any money on a book, counselor, or parenting class. Not many things say "I love you" more than giving your time and undivided attention to someone. It sounds a lot easier than it actually is.
Especially in today's high tech society, we often half-listen to people while our cell phone is chirping at us; or we nod and say "mm hmm" while we're simultaneously thinking; 'what can I make for dinner tonight?, I wonder if I turned the coffee maker off this morning...why is she wearing chartreuse, doesn't she know her complexion is too sallow for chartreuse?'

Lack of good communication can lead to a whole host of marital problems, and even more frightening, when we're too "busy" to _really, truly, deeply listen_ to our kids, we could miss some major signals that they're either consciously, or unconsciously wanting us to know about their lives. Kids will often speak in roundabout ways, waiting for parents to solve the puzzle and realize that they need our help with a situation they've found themselves in. God forbid we're too busy blogging, texting, or worrying about the house being a mess, and fail to be there when they need us. Another problem that can interfere with 'active' listening is thinking you already know where the other person is going. Sure, sometimes you do, but not always. Better to pay attention and be positive. Particularly with intimate relationships this can be problematic. We're so used to hearing that person talk, and we often think we know them, inside and out, but if that were true in all cases, I doubt the divorce rate would be as high as it is.

Just to let you know, I'm speaking to myself as much as anyone else. I'm ashamed to admit that I've been guilty of absentmindedly pretending to listen while my son was talking, only to find out later there was a problem that could have been nipped in the bud, had I been actively listening. Important to keep in mind is that listening is not just done with the ears. It's watching body language, keeping eye contact, looking for signals or unexpressed emotions. Connecting physically can really enhance your listening and tune you into what the other person wants you to hear. Take their hands in yours while they talk. This simple form of contact makes it much more difficult for your mind to wander, and at the same time it shows the person talking that you truly care what they have to say.

Repeat key points back, saying something like, "I want to make sure I'm understanding you, so what you're saying is, _________________?" Again, this shows the speaker that you care enough to want to be sure you're 'getting' what they're expressing, and if not, you've just given them an opportunity to clarify themselves.

I think the Indian Philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti says it beautifully: "So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it.

Saturday, June 26

Life is Unpredictable - Take Lots of Pictures!

I know I've mentioned this in previous blogs, but in case there are folks reading who haven't read back that far, on some subconscious level I'm pretty sure that I thought the motorcycle accident, which left me a paraplegic in 1987, filled some mysterious accident quota for my lifetime. The car accident on March 15 of this year proved otherwise. It also taught me something I should have already been actively aware of; just because I'm following the rules of traffic, does not mean everyone else sharing the road with me is. OK...another lesson learned the hard way, but at least I'm still here, right? Yay!

With just a split second one way or another, it might not have turned out this well. Thinking about what I could have left behind is overwhelming, so I've tried not to go down that path much, but in one respect it shined some light on an issue I've had for many years...

I hate having my picture taken.

I'm probably preaching to the choir here. Lots of people, especially women, feel the same for a variety of reasons. Mine are as follows; for a few years I was very overweight, but even once I lost most of it, I've still struggled with a very stubborn, clinging like a tick on my dog, last 10-13 pounds, and I've never liked my nose. I'm not wild about my arms either, because they're more muscular than what I consider feminine, but that's just a part of being an active paraplegic; my arms take over where my legs can't.

These issues have had me hiding from cameras for years. When I came close to leaving this earth recently, I realized my son would have had very few decent photographs of me, and almost no video. How very selfish I'd behaved all that time.

Seriously, if I were still very overweight, or if my nose were even bigger than it already is, it's still the "visual me" that my son and loved ones knew/know, and I'm pretty sure they like me, and would appreciate some decent photos. Who am I to take memories away from my kid, and future grandchildren and great-grandchildren who may someday want to see what that crazy old grandma they'd heard so much about looked like.

So my newest quest (because it's not like I'm getting any younger, cuter, or skinnier) is to allow pictures to be taken anytime, regardless of my hair being a mess, my tummy feeling "poochy" that day, or having missed my eyebrow waxing appointment, I will smile, genuinely, and keep in mind that I'm preserving a memory for someone who loves me.

Just to prove is a picture from yesterday, riding with the top down, no makeup, hair a mess, but SMILING!

Friday, June 25

Free Friday!

I'm one of those people who believe in the "healthy mind/healthy body" connection, so I don't eat a lot of refined sugars, etc...

BUT, everyone needs to have a little fun now and then, right? So I implemented "Free Fridays" at our home! WooHoo!

Each Friday I choose something decadent to make, and I allow myself to eat a serving (or two) of it. Today was so far beyond bordered on debauchery!

I present to you...

Coconut Cupcakes!

Here's the recipe I used:

From The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten


* 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 2 cups sugar
* 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
* 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
* 3 cups flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 cup buttermilk
* 14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:

* 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
* 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
* 1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Thursday, June 24

My Personal Commandments

Along the same lines as my "Truths" blog from yesterday, I thought I'd share a wonderful idea I got from Gretchen Rubin and her book "The Happiness Project."

I highly recommend this book. What's funny is that I almost didn't read it because as I often do before I read something, I researched it a little on amazon and checked out her website, then wondered what in the world can I, with all my past baggage, trials and tribulations, learn from a woman who seems to have had it easy most of her life. Then I realized I was being ridiculous, since we can all learn something from one another, and I read the book.

Glad I did! I enjoyed it from beginning to end, so much so that it earned a spot on my "special bookshelf" where I place books I plan to keep in my personal collection, rather than passing on (which I must do with most so books don't take over my home!)

Anyway, back to what I want this blog to be about today. One of the things to do when you begin your own Happiness Project is to make a list of personal commandments. I loved doing this! Being a compulsive list-maker, this was right up my alley, but beyond the satisfaction of simply writing things down, I found myself turning inward and really contemplating what was important enough to me to become a "commandment."

Here's what I came up with:

1. Trust God.

2. Be me.

3. Accept compliments graciously.

4. Talk less & listen more.

5. Don't assume things.

6. Always be there when my son or husband need me.

7. Prune toxic relationships and nourish healthy ones.

8. Roll with the punches.

9. Give for the right reasons.

10. Practice kindness daily.

If you decide to do your own List of Personal Commandments, consider sharing them. I'd love to see what others come up with.