Saturday, September 10

Beauty Hiding in the Mundane...

Johann Pachelbel's "Canon in D"

By the time we're 25 years old, we've heard it at so many weddings it's tempting to think we never want to hear that particular piece of music again, but maybe you'll see (and hear) it from a new perspective after reading my little ramble.

I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood, hearing my Dad listening to mostly country music. I remember being in the Elks lodge around the summer of my 10th year, the parents would all be in the bar partying it up and those who weren't fortunate enough to find babysitters corralled us into a spare party room that had a jukebox. They'd stuff our pockets full of coins and tell us to behave, so we'd play dare games, sneak to smoke cigarettes we'd swiped from our folks, and dance around to the jukebox music. In a years time, I probably spent $50 of my Dad's whiskey sour money on 1 song -- Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)"

Listening to that song and others like it was so refreshing from the country music I heard at home all the time. Especially once my mom had run off, my Dad seemed to wallow more and more in some of those depressing country music lyrics -- which, ironically, just like a country song, my Mom really did run off with my Dad's best friend, and eventually the man who had, at one time, been named my Godfather, became my Stepfather...and to make it worse, then became the "maybe he's actually the biological father" which to this day, we don't know. My Dad and I joke about doing a DNA test one day, but it's better keeping it this way. My Stepfather has long since passed away, as has my Mom. It would break my heart to find out I belong to no one.

Back to became an escape for me from my 10 year old summer on. Mostly rock, funk, old school hip hop and R&B. I was the DJ for our 6th grade school radio station and my favorite record to spin was the Sugar Hill Gang "Rapper's Delight." I can still recite that song from front to back, verbatim. I went to my first real concert at the age of 12, with my sister who's 8 years older, to see Styx at what used to be the Capital Centre Arena in the Washington, DC area. It was AWESOME! I couldn't count how many concerts I've been to since...even got to go backstage at a Rod Stewart concert, a ZZ Top concert, and an Aerosmith concert. Oh my...the things I saw... but that's a whole different story!

Then when I was 19 I bought my first really nice component stereo, and sat for hours listening to all the intricacies I could hear in different songs with better equipment, and one day my sister came over and had a cassette from her new boyfriend. It was full of classical music, since he was trying to get her interested in the finer things in life. We put it on, and the first song was Pachebel's Canon in D. I turned it up loud, then laid back on my couch, and almost instantly was completely lost in the beauty of the music. I'd always been touched by music, moved by music, but never completely carried away, feeling the music deep inside of me, caressing my very soul, all while somehow feeling connected to and wondering what the person was thinking when he was creating it...
Did you know that when "Canon in D" was a new piece, introduced by Johann Pachelbel, it was not popular at all? As a matter of fact, though it's now his most famous piece, like most other works by Pachelbel and other pre-1700 composers, the Canon remained forgotten for centuries and was rediscovered only in the 20th century. Then several decades after it was first re-published in 1919, the piece became extremely popular, and today it is frequently played at weddings and included on classical music compilations, along with other famous Baroque pieces such as Air on the G String by Johann Sebastian Bach.
The circumstances of the piece's composition are wholly unknown. One writer hypothesized that the Canon may have been composed for Johann Christoph Bach's wedding, on October 23, 1694, which Pachelbel attended.
Whatever the case, maybe Pachelbel was just really ahead of his time.

The song that you hear at 90% of weddings still, to this day, moves me, because it was my first love in the world of classical music, and as we all know, we never forget our first love.

When I was 23 and pregnant with my son, I put headphones with classical music on my tummy every day -- and now he's 20, and still a fan. It used to surprise people when he was barely 4 and would tell them how much he loved Vivaldi! Hahaha! He would ask me to put on Vivaldi's "Four Seasons", and then he'd tell me his favorite piece was "Spring" in his little voice as he danced around the living room.
He went on to play the violin and become an artist...I think beautiful music inspires us to want to create even more beauty.

So I challenge you to listen to Pachelbel's Canon in D with fresh ears and an open heart...I mean *really* listen, from the first note to the last, and let if flow through you. I bet you'll appreciate it in a whole new way rather than just filing it away as "The Wedding Song."

This is one of my favorite versions:
Canon in D

Tuesday, August 2

It's ALL About Perspective!

Life is so weird.

I was talking to my husband the other night, trying to explain to him why there were so many searches for "Lifestyle Lift" and other "facial rejuvenation" procedures on my computer. It went a little something like this:

Him: "Why the heck are you looking at that crap?"
Me: "Duh! Look at me! I'm getting O-L-D!"
Him: "Why do you say such things? You look great to me!"
Me: "It's weird, I remember back when I was in my early 20's and my mom had these thingies, like really skinny elastic strips with squares of surgical tape at each end. She would tape one end behind her ear, stretch the elastic around behind her head, hiding it under her hair, and then tape the other end behind her other ear, creating an instant "face lift" -- and I thought she was absolutely insane, and I told her so! Now I just wish I could remember where she got the darn things!"

See? It's all about perspective.

I'm not really that shallow, vapid, or stupid of a person, I realize that being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect -- it just means you've decided to look beyond the imperfections.
And I remind myself often of the words from the great Norman Vincent Peale, "The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have."

Still...I'll be bee-boppin' through a day, feeling pretty good about myself and suddenly catch a glimpse in a big window or a mirror and think to myself, "Aw...that lady would be almost cute if she didn't have such a poochy tummy and she were young like me!" Then it hits me... Oh_ My_ Goodness! That's ME!
This is usually followed by a small anxiety attack and then taking half an hour or so assuring myself that the mirror or window is surely defective or probably being recycled from a funhouse.

*sigh* My 90 year old grandmother thinks I'm beautiful and young, though...see? Perspective...

Last night I was at the gym with my husband and my son. My son is one of the sweetest kids ever...really. I mean, of course a mom is going to say that about her son, but I have people from his work that approach me quite often to tell me how sweet he is, and his managers have told him it's rare they get phone calls about employees that aren't negative, but a little old lady recently called in with praise about him and how helpful he is.
Well, as I watched my son lifting weights last night, I had sadness in my heart because just the other day his facebook status was about his loneliness. He was recently dumped by his first love, and he's incredibly shy so it's difficult for him to make new friends.
Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of the regular weight room guys, but this time he was guiding a young teenage boy over to a chair at the smoothie bar. As he walked him to the seat, the boy never looked anywhere but the floor. He sat him down, and went to work out...and then I saw that the young man appeared to be locked in his own world, probably autistic... it gave me a whole new perspective on my worries of my own son.

I'm thankful for all of these daily little reminders to put things in perspective. It's so easy to get sucked into our own little world of insecurities, problems, and frustrations...but often simply taking a step back to reevaluate things can give us a fresh new sense of hope.

For now, I've promised my hubby I won't get anything on my body or face lifted, plumped, siphoned, injected, or touched up...not that we have that sort of disposable income anyway - haha! Besides, as the incredible Kahlil Gibran said, "Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart."

I plan to keep that light turned on until the day the Lord turns it off.

Sunday, May 22

Prolific No More...?

I feel like such a bad someone should call Blog Protective Services on me and report me as a neglectful blog mom!
Before you shake a finger at me for leaving my blog in the proverbial hot car with the windows rolled up, give me a chance to explain!
It's a busy time of year here in North Myrtle Beach, SC, and our family is supported by the tourism industry, which is in full swing right now, so we're being good little squirrels and ferrying away our nuts while we can.

Anyway, I figured I could keep my blog relatively current without really having to work my already weary brain by telling you a little story:

Back in early 1991, I'd been married about a year and had no plans of having children anytime soon. I was about to turn 23 and thought I had plenty of time; besides, I was still so new to being a person with a disability, I didn't think it would be wise to try to take on one more challenge so soon into it. But then I woke up in the morning and tossed my cookies, 5 days in a row. Uh oh...looks like wheelchairs aren't effective birth control after all!
I took one of those EPT tests, which back in 1991 were still similar to performing some sort of miraculous science experiment involving a beaker and a petri dish. The results said, "You're preggo, girly!" I was petrified and calmed myself with the thought that I'd never been good in science, so surely I'd screwed up the test. I made an appointment with my family doctor, a sober man named, Dr. Syed Sadiq. He also seemed surprised at the possibility that the wheelchair hadn't been effective birth control, but gave me a blood test anyway and said he'd call me with the results. He called the next day and sounded like Harold Camping probably sounds right about now, (like it's the end of the world, but not really.) He said, "Mee-shell, you are pleg-nant." Seriously, he sounded so upset over the results that before I knew it, I heard myself consoling him on the phone; "It's ok, Dr. Sadiq. I'll figure this all out and make it work." Inside though, I was in full panic mode! I called my husband at work and told him what he'd done to me.
I realize what a blessing it is to conceive, but back then to google something meant to haul your cookies to the library and start flipping through the card catalog in order to find an outdated book with, if you were lucky, a sentence or two on the subject you were researching. I found absolutely nothing on pregnant paraplegics, but I realized it was time to put on my big girl panties and just deal with this.
I put my fears aside and decided that I'd, with Gods help, just take it one day at a time and pray He kept this growing baby and me safe in the palm of His hand.
I was sure it was a girl, so my husband and I began referring to the baby as "Kayla" -- yes, son...if you're reading this blog post, your dad and I really did call you "Kayla" in utero for 5 months until an ultrasound turned you into "Nathan."
Aaaannnnyway, that ultrasound not only told us we were having a boy, but also that I had something called "placenta previa" (about now you're probably thinking to yourself, 'hmmm, maybe Michele is a hypochondriac') Yeah, I'd think it too...but I can assure you I'm not a hypochondriac, I just have really crappy luck sometimes.
Long story a little less long, I ended up having my son at 31 weeks because of the placenta previa. He was this grumpy looking little 3 pound baby with eyes/expressions that from the word go were shouting "Hey, I've got a lot going on in this mind!" For such a little guy, I was so thankful to the Lord that his first APGAR score was 8, which is pretty good even for a full-term baby. They let me see him for a minute, and he looked at me with his little brow so furrowed...a German nurse in the delivery room said in her thick accent, "Look at zat brow! All ze worries of ze world!" He's still like that a lot!
In 1st grade, his PE teachers mom passed away and he explained to his class that he'd be away for a week or so because of it. My son made a card for him with the rest of the class but instead of the typical 1st grader remarks, he wrote (yes, he could read and write in 1st grade and even earlier) "Sorry about your mom, did she's have a hard attack or did she's brain get weird?" Then he kept asking me when his teacher would write back to let him know what had happened to her.
Back to the birth, etc... he was whisked away to the NICU, but pronounced healthy and basically it was a matter of wait until he's 4.5 pounds, see if he latches onto the breast, then he can go home...and that's pretty much how it went to the letter.
Here he is on that day, August 3, 1991 (no comments about my mega-eyebrows, please...but feel free to make fun of me for looking absolutely out of it on whatever pain medication they'd pumped me full of! Hahaha!)

Here he is a little more smiley and a lot more hairy!

This summer my little preemie turns 20. He's an awesome kid (man) and I love him beyond measure!
Thank God for my "uh oh" blessing. I was also an unplanned child, and I once asked my mom if I was a mistake. Her reply never left me. She said, "No peanut, you were a surprise, and everyone loves surprises!"

Monday, May 9

Storytime, Y'all

So I was outside shooting the breeze with my favorite neighbor today, and she proceeded to tell me this story that I'm about to share with you:

"Tim called, and you know he just purchased his first house and he's just clueless...well, he was having a sewer problem, so I told him I'd be right over. I got there and told him to follow me down into the crawlspace, which is about "this much space" (she shows me with her hands that the space they're crawling through is about a foot and a half high) but I'm making him follow me so he'll see how to troubleshoot these sorts of problems in the future. I get down there and see the line running straight and flat until a small area where the ground underneath has sunken down, so the pipe was curving down as well, letting things accumulate and slow down the works. I had Tim go and grab some boards so I could level up the ground and get that pipe to where it was laying straight again. That fixed the problem. When I came back home, Curtis (her husband) said, "What if you'd run into a snake down there?!" I laughed, because I didn't even stop to think about snakes! I just knew my boy needed my help."

Not a very exciting story, huh? Hahaha! :) BUT...what makes it awesome to me is that "Tim" is the 40 year old youngest son of my 78 year old neighbor who was telling me this story. Her name is Mildred and she can usually be found gardening, or up on a ladder cleaning her gutters...she's such an inspiration to me. She proves that age is just a number.

How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were? ~Satchel Paige

Friday, May 6

It never fails...

Wednesday I had a laser procedure done on my right eye to correct a problem called "narrow angle" -- nothing visible, it's all on the inside and has something to do with the way the fluid in our eyes circulates, etc... anyway, so Thursday, I cleared my schedule and decided to take it easy while my eye healed up.
I rarely skip a day of bathing...I'm kind of a clean freak and I feel yucky and sluggish if I don't take a daily morning shower, but "just this once" I said to myself, " day without a shower won't kill ya!" This meant I also did not do anything to my hair except a messy bun, and did not put on any makeup --not that I wear a lot anyway, but I do always do a little to enhance what God gave me. ;)
Not Thursday, though...and on top of it all, the closest I came to "getting dressed" was throwing on a pair of yoga pants and one of my hubby's big, roomy tee-shirts, and a pair of Sanuks. Not a pretty picture. LOL No biggie...I was staying home, relaxing, healing.
But Louie, my littlest dog, has to be taken out for potty on his own because he barks too much when we let him out to run with the big dogs in the back yard. So I leashed him up, and went out the side door into the carport, and as I was heading over to the grass to let him tinkle, here comes my neighbor WITH THE NEW NEIGHBORS to introduce them to me...while here I was looking like a homeless, bedraggled bag lady! Hahahahaha!
Sure enough, I could find no hole to crawl into and I smiled and did my best to pretend I looked like a million bucks, and welcomed them to the neighborhood.
Murphy's Law I guess? Hahaha!

Tuesday, April 26

Me...Through the years!

Junior High, as a cheerleader:

Me, right after I left rehab after becoming a paraplegic, 19 years old:

In my backyard in Maryland when my son was a toddler...he took this pic! LOL

About age 25, laying in a tanning bed like a dork! LOL

Growing the short hair out, but still bleaching it to within an inch of its life!

Hair growing out AND color growing out! Almost back to natural! Also, this is when Nate was about 13, and I look more like his sister here, than his mom! LOL

Me on a side by side comparison...worrying about getting old! LOL

A pic I sent my sister in DC when it was a really cold day in South Carolina...I cannot believe I'm sharing this zombie faced pic! Hahaha!

Me in 2008, when I decided I was tired of being fat, so I started hitting the gym! One of the best decisions I've ever made.

One of my favorite pics because it reminds me of how happy I am after a hard workout...all sweaty & gross but loaded with endorphins!

Me with a great friend, Julie at an MMA fight:

Me & My sister, Diane:

Me last Halloween, as a bunny rabbit (NO, NOT that kind of "bunny" - fully clothed in a pink tee and jeans!)

Most recent...Taking one of those dorky, "hold the camera at arms length" pics! Haha!

Wednesday, April 20

Just a thought...

We all have crosses to carry in this lifetime...some are more visible than others...most of them are heavier than we let on...
While I was feeling myself bending under the weight of things recently, I realized that the Lord has already done this whole 'cross carrying' thing, so who better to ask for help with lightening my load, than the One who's already experienced, and overcome it?

Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.

~Matthew 11: 28-30 KJV

Tuesday, April 19

Random & Nonsensical Favorites

Drink: Diet Coke (I know, it's bad for me...but at least I was honest! LOL)

Appetizer: Stuffed Mushrooms, or Hummus

Web browser: Firefox!

Mascara: Maybelline Lash Discovery Waterproof

Book: The Bible (for overall favorite) and probably The "Count of Monte Cristo", or "To Kill a Mockingbird" for a classic, then for more modern writing, I'd say "A Confederacy of Dunces" -- this is always difficult for me because I'm a voracious how can I pick just a few?

Favorite old movie: "Brigadoon"...followed by "Singing in the Rain"...I was in love with Gene Kelly as a young girl. ♥

City attraction: Like, in my own city I guess...the beach...the water.

Cheese: White cheddar, and seriously, cheese should not be cold -- but room temp to truly enjoy it. :)

80s movie: Princess Bride -- hands down!!

Time waster: Sitting on the beach just "chill-laxing" '

Moment of the day: When my hubby gives me one-on-one undivided attention time. :)

Solution to depression: More gym.

Family member: It's a tie between my son and my hubby, followed closely by my sissy!!

Emergency meal: When I'm super tired and not in the mood for much chaos in the kitchen, bacon and eggs.

Favorite restaurant: Anywhere with good buffalo wings...nothing fancy.

Hoodie: It's pink...nothing special, but super comfy.

Bottled water: Water is water as long as it's clean (but I have tasted some well water that made me gag.)

Chore: Laundry...crazy, huh? LOL But I like making sure it's all washed, folded, and put away...and I love pulling down a fresh towel and smelling that fresh, clean smell.

Friday, April 8

You've Got Pen On Your Face...

If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that, I'd have enough for my new wheelchair right now! Hahahaha! :)
I have a scar that looks like a pen mark right by my nasolabial fold (those parenthesis lines around your mouth) -- it happened in the accident back in 1987. My face got well acquainted with the road and then a briar patch and ended up with lots of cuts, a few of which created some weird scars that look like ink marks. The doctor said it was where teeny tiny bits of gravel got into the cuts and became imbedded there. They said I could get dermabrasion and be left with a reddish scar, or just live with the faint blue lines. I chose the blue lines.

I also have one across the bridge of my nose and one on my right eyelid, but the one by my mouth is the most prominent, and the one people often point to and inform me that I have pen on my face. LOL
The funniest thing to me is when someone I've known for a long time says it. I ask them if they're just noticing it or if they think I just haven't washed my face since we've met! :)
It's been a source of many laughs...especially when the occasional well-meaning elderly lady reaches out with a licked finger to wipe it off!! Ack! Seriously, this happens!! It's cute, but I'm a total germaphobe!

Funny, but I really don't usually notice my scars until someone asks about one of them. The worst ones are my left knee, right femur, and my back...but to be honest, I lost count of how many there are in total.
Anyway, with all the scars my body has, I've really come to love this saying:
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out and proclaiming. "Wow, what a ride!"

I couldn't agree more!

Thursday, April 7

I'm in LOVE with Chuck!

Chuck Taylor, that is! ♥

I've had this love affair going on since I was a teenager of 13 and got my first pair of white high top Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers, then proceeded to write all over them with markers, making them truly my own.
Over the years Chuck has never left my side...he's always in my closet, although now that I'm older and a little more conservative, I prefer he keep a lower profile, so I stick with low-rise. ;)
Back when I was 13 and donning my first pair so proudly, I never thought I'd still be wearing Converse at the ripe old age of 43, but here I favorites are my light pink ones,

but I have the standard white, and my feet have proudly worn so many colors and patterns of Converse over the years, from purple, to plaid, and all things in between.
Believe it or not, they can be a great conversation starter! Haha! Seriously I couldn't tell you how many times someone has said, "I love your shoes!" and we get to chatting... maybe people don't expect to see a 40-something paraplegic donning bright chucks...but I do, not always, but LOTS. :)

Oops - I've rambled so much I almost forgot the reason I decided to blog about this in the first place...I'm helping my son pick out his tux to wear to his girlfriends senior prom, and I told him I thought it would be awesome if he wore some high top Chuck Taylors with his tux, and I directed him to the Converse website which has an ENTIRE PROM COLLECTION! Is that not the most cool thing ever?!
Anyway, I've fawned enough over my guy Chuck...don't want to get my hubby jealous!

Monday, April 4

I Broke the Law for Love!

Back in 1997 I met the greatest guy in the world, and then on April 10, 2001 I married him...which is funny because I was technically still married to my first husband. Yes, that's right, I was a bigamist...but I was a bigamist unawares! Seriously! OK your Honor, here's how it all happened:

When I was 29, my dear love and I met, and fell in love pretty much from the word 'go', but I had married at the age of 22, and although we'd separated a year earlier, we had not yet gone forward with the divorce for different reasons. I couldn't afford the expenses involved and he was not willing to officially end it. So there we were, living apart, but still married. This 'limbo' was set on the back burner as we both pursued new lives, and my (now) husband (whom I'll refer to from here on as "Doug" because that's his name) pretty much made it known to me that he wanted to be married.
FINALLY at the age of 33, I was tired of wasting time, and I found the right lawyer at the right price who got down to business and before I knew it, he called me and said, "Michele, the hearing is next week and I've gotten permission to represent you so you don't have to travel back to Maryland." Yay!! I was about to have a fresh start and I didn't even have to set my wheels in the courtroom! The day of the hearing came (April 10th, 2001), and my attorney called me to announce that my divorce had been granted...I giddily told Doug, who said, "Let's go get married!"


Wait a minute, mister...this is all a bit sudden! :) But my protest fell on deaf ears, and before I knew it, I was in the magistrates office saying, "I do."

Little did I know that once a judge had granted you a divorce, the paperwork still had to be approved, stamped, and filed with the clerk of the my divorce is dated May 30, 2001, at which time I'd been married to Doug for 50 days! Whoops!

Anyway, we're about to celebrate 10 years of illegal bliss! ♥

Wednesday, March 30

Hey Blog-Fam!

Just a quick update to say I'm still alive! I've been a sick puppy for the last week. Ugh...I'm one of those people who's almost never sick. I rarely get colds or the flu, but this "sick" season I've had the flu, and now am just getting over a nasty case of bronchitis. Other than when I had femur surgery and had to take prophylactic antibiotics, I had not had to take any in a DECADE!! I'm totally against the over-prescribing of them, as they destroy all the good flora in your digestive system, but I was sick enough that when he handed me a Z-Pack, I took it without argument. I'm taking pro-biotics and eating yogurt to try and counteract the negative effects. Chobani Greek yogurt is good, and I bought it because it was on sale, but seriously, I like my homemade "greek" yogurt SO MUCH better, and it's like HALF the price! I take a big tub of "El Cheapo" brand plain yogurt and dump it into a fine sieve lined with 3 or 4 paper towels, and put the sieve over a pot it just fits into.

Place a piece of plastic wrap right on the surface of the yogurt, and then stick it in the fridge overnight. In the morning the pot under the sieve will be filled with whey (the liquid from the yogurt.) Don't toss this, it's pure protein and fabulous for replacing liquid in smoothies. The yogurt you'll be left with in the sieve will be thick and custard-like...much more so than Greek yogurt.

It's AMAZING, and ready to be flavored however you like. My favorite is just a little cinnamon and a pack of Splenda. Yum!

Anyway, once I'm fully recovered I'll get back in the swing of blogging. Hope you are all doing fabulously!


Wednesday, March 23

Mama Says...

As some of you know, I work for a student vacation rental company here in North Myrtle Beach. We're one of a very few companies that rent beach houses and condo's to college spring breakers, and even high school students, with no chaperones...every week during high school graduation season, our company houses between 1500-2000 graduating high school seniors. Can you say insanity?

It's an incredible blessing to have a job in this economy, and even more so considering I work with some awesome people, and get to interact with our future leaders (be afraid... JUST KIDDING!)
Anyway, working in an environment such as this makes for LOADS of "What the heck?" moments and stories so out there you know you'll be sharing them for the rest of your life.
Here's an example -- totally true: During the warm months, turnaround in beach houses is quick. Those housekeepers go in after the kids check out at 10am, and get down & dirty cleaning...then at 3pm, the next group arrives to check in.
So like every other time, the housekeepers enter one of the most popular beachfront houses the company has, and are stunned to see every wall and available space covered in graffiti done with Sharpie markers. I'm not talking about "Bobby & Sue 2-gether, 4-ever" But really GRAPHIC, jaw-dropping stuff. So the housekeepers, who've pretty much seen it all, got some KILZ and did a quickie paint job (but not before snapping photos for evidence of the dirty deed) and the next group checked in to a house with damp paint still on the walls. When the parents of the little angels received the bill for damages, they called our offices, indignant, informing us that their fine, upstanding offspring would never do such a thing...and then we sent them the photographs, many of which had specific names of their kids stating what they'd done to whom while at the beach...(use your imagination! LOL) -- They paid the bill without any further argument.

And here's another: We check in a group of kids, and within a few minutes they're back in the office, looking upset. "It reeks in there" one of them says. They all nod their heads in agreement. That's strange...the housekeepers have it checked off as having been cleaned right after the last check-out...but hmmm...that was a few days ago, this group is just here for a partial week. We send someone over to check it out, and sure enough, it reeks! So thankfully there's another appropriately sized house to move the kids into. Then the housekeepers head over to re-clean. They really go at that house, and with plenty of bleach. They freshen every drain and scrub everything they can think of, and by the time they leave, all they can smell is bleach, so they close up the house and check it off as "clean." We don't give it another thought until the next week of check-ins, and this time the group comes back telling us it smells like a dead body is in the place! Uh-oh...
So somethings obviously going on, and we have to get to the bottom of it, so a crew of employees go over and enter the house. Thank the Lord I was not there, because apparently it was like being hit in the face with a sledgehammer full of stink. (According to my husband.) They began sniffing, trying to locate the source...not an easy task when you're nauseous and about to be sick from the smell...but finally one guy says, "Hey! It's coming from this picture!" It was a framed print, hanging on the wall. They peeked behind it and lo & behold, there was a hole in the wall! I'll cut to the chase; after much ripping away of walls, beams, etc... they found the carcass of a store-bought chicken. The last actual inhabitants had thought it would be hysterical to buy a raw chicken and hide it in the house. --Can you tell I'm not laughing? OK, actually, I am since it's ancient history...funny how things can get funnier the farther in the past they are. :)

Finally, there's this...and I've saved one of the very best for last! :) This happened several years ago, but has become a part of our company to the extent that it's posted on our website to this day. A kid left a wallet behind that the housekeepers turned in, and as per usual, one of the employees looks for identification in it so it can hopefully be returned to its owner. Inside was something so much better than an ID - it was a laminated card with the following printed on it:

Tuesday, March 22

Where I Live...

I'm busy working and on top of it I have a sore throat and body aches, so I went and sunned myself on the beach today for about 45 minutes hoping it would make me feel better. It did a little, but I still feel kinda yuck and don't feel like writing I thought I'd share some photos of where I live -- North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina:

Here's a marsh view at sunset:

A very common site around town, sometimes seems there are as many golf carts as there are cars:

This is our Main St. in North Myrtle:

I love our wide, beautiful beaches here:

The beautiful and well-traveled Intracoastal Waterway:

The North Myrtle Beach Marina:

Some of the gorgeous houses on Ocean Blvd. -- I could probably fit my house into one of these 4 times! haha!

Hope you enjoyed looking at my little beach town! ♥

Monday, March 21

~Day 9 of Challenge~

Day 09 - A picture of the person who has gotten you through the most.

Of course it's God, but I'm fresh out of recent photos of Him. Then there's this guy:

I took this picture while sitting on my handcycle on an unfinished wooded path Saturday...looking up at him being funny. He's awesome, but I've blogged so much about him that you probably already know that!
We broke out the bikes for our first real ride of the season this past weekend. It was fabulous! The temps were in the low 80's with lots of sunshine. The wind was pretty harsh at times, but that just makes it all the more challenging and fulfilling when you're finished.

We had such a great time! We go riding usually at the marina by a hotel called the Grand Dunes. They've installed miles of gorgeous bike trails with a perfect mixture of sand, sun, trees, and water all along the way. Before we left I packed a lunch for us consisting of fresh D'Anjou pears, raw almonds (which I ADORE and could probably live on!) and a little bit of mozzarella cheese. We did about 5 miles and then saw a new road being carved through the woods, so we went "off-road" and found a sun-dappled spot to eat. Whenever we picnic outdoors, I get a kick out of knowing that if I leave a few nuts and my fruit core behind, it's a meal for some cute critter. I'm just a dork that way. haha! After we ate, we rode about 3 miles more. We would have done more, but the wind seemed to always be in front of us...except for once, which was an amazing stretch that felt like FLYING!
But for our first ride of Spring, 8 miles felt pretty good. I'm so thankful for my handcycle. It was a Christmas gift about 4 years ago from my Dad. He knew that I was trying to get healthy and bought it for me, and now he gets a kick out of how often I use it...and of course knowing that I'm 50 pounds smaller than I was when he bought it for me. He says it was one of his greatest investments to see the smile on my face! I ♥ my Dad...we have LOTS of history - with him having had to struggle through trying to raise me by himself, but it seems people really do mellow with time, because he now says "Love you" at the end of our phone calls, and I actually believe he means it. ♥
Here's a pic of me and my Dad from last Thanksgiving:

So, this post began with God - He's number 1. Then onto my husband, who has been my rock, my wings, my best friend... and of course I don't want to leave my son out of this, because he has been the reason I've kept on keeping on for so long.

Here are a couple of pictures of my son, Nathan (or NayNay as I have called him since he was little):

Saturday, March 19

Dangerous Curves Ahead!

"Imperfection is beauty; madness is genius; and it is better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring."
~Marilyn Monroe

According to Size USA, the "average" measurements for American women today are 40 inches in the bust, 34 inches in the waist and 43 inches in the hips.
Also, the National Center for Health Statistics puts the average height for an adult female in the United States at 5'3.8"

Since I'm in my mid-40's, have had a child, and have been sitting in a wheelchair for 24 years, I bless the Lord above that my numbers are a little lower than the "average" as far as measurements are concerned, but then again, I'm shorter than "average" too, at a whopping 5'1" tall! haha!
Disability aside, I struggle with keeping a positive body image just like so many other women, but I daily try to accept myself and focus on the things I like about my looks and figure, while maintaining a healthy and active way of life and striving for better (in all areas of my life.)
Unfortunately there will always be someone [or something] that comes along and holds up a magnifying mirror to your flaws. What I'm wondering [aloud] here is why some people point out perceived flaws in others without seeming to feel bad in the least about it? I mean, I feel guilty if I even think a bad thought about someone's appearance.
I'm going to use a recent example of this, more than anything as a springboard for trying to understand this sort of thing. If you're the person I'm referring to, I'm not angry at you, just wondering what motivates some to say things without thinking of the way it makes others feel.
Maybe I'm being naive, but I think most women like to build up their friends, and point out the good they see in them, right?
I was talking with someone the other day who I met way back when I was 19 years old. We didn't stay in touch, but in the last 2 years, thanks to Facebook, we've reconnected. One of the things she seems to bring up over and over and over now, 25 years later, is how skinny I was back then, and how she cannot believe that I'm no longer skinny.


I had put up a photo on facebook of my mangled thigh right after surgery, and the comment she made had nothing to do with the injury or surgery, but instead was that she could not believe how big my thighs were now! What the heck? I'm a healthy W-O-M-A-N -- not a drug addicted 19 year old. Why is the latter considered somehow better than being a healthy adult with, pardon my bluntness, boobs and hips? Other than the fact that my body happens to have a spinal cord injury, I kinda like it and I think it's pretty decent, all things considering. Do I want to lose a few pounds? Sure...but just a few (less than 20, more than 10 haha!) But in the meantime, I'll be darned if I'll put my life on hold. What matters to me more than unsolicited opinions are the numbers presented to me at the doctors office. Perfect blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol levels, glucose readings, etc... I'm so thankful that I've reached this place considering that in 2006 my weight had ballooned up to almost 200 pounds and I had high EVERYTHING at the doctors office.

Anyway, I guess if there's a message here in my rambling, it's 'think' before speaking. Put yourself on the receiving end of your words, and proceed with caution.
"Being considerate of others will take you further in life than a college degree."

Thursday, March 17

Back In The Saddle

As of March 15th it's been a full year since my femur injury, and I was just released from my surgeon to "go wild" -- him having declared of my once shattered thigh bone, "that's solid." I ♥ my surgeon...he did an amazing job and really gave his all despite me being "one of those" patients that he probably made little, if any, profit from. Now if we can just get me sitting straight in a better suited wheelchair, I'll be rip-roaring ready to go, but because (as anyone who knows me IRL will vouch to) I'm slightly hyperactive, while I hope and pray for my new chair, rather than letting too much time pass by, I'm going to go ahead and jump back into life with both wheels (or I guess that would be 4 wheels?) This means that April 14th - 16th I'll be competing in the bench press competition at the 2011 Southeastern Regional Wheelchair Games, and then on April 17th I'll be handcycling 11 miles in the 19th Annual Coastal Carolina University Triathlon. It's a team triathlon, where one of my friends will do a 300 yard swim, then I do 11 miles of cycling, and finally, another friend does the 5k run.
I adore the warm weather and all the fun opportunities it brings. I always say I'd rather have sweat pouring off of me than feel the slightest chill... my son is the complete opposite and dreams of one day escaping the Deep South for somewhere with snow and hats and mittens. Crazy kid!
So it's been back to the gym full force. I must admit, I was a wimp and was doing good if I made it to the gym twice a week in January and February -- did I say how much I dislike the cold...even if it's South Carolina "cold"...? I only teetered up about 4 pounds though, over the entire holiday/winter season, so I guess it could have been worse, no?
Good news is that I'm already back up to 3 sets of 7 with 150 pounds on the bench press machine. Sounds impressive, but 150 pounds is a lot easier to bench press on a machine than it is with a free weight me!! Especially when you have balance issues, like most people with spinal cord injuries do...although most of my friends would testify that I'd be "unbalanced" even if I were able-bodied...but only "good" crazy, right? RIGHT? *looks around suspiciously*
Anyway, wish me luck as I jump back into sports & athletics, femur healed, *hopefully* a new wheelchair in the near future to help me sit right, and a fresh new outlook that the spring breeze blew into my soul. :)

Tuesday, March 15

~Day 8 of Challenge~

Day 08 - A picture that makes you laugh.

So yeah, it's a terrible quality picture, but it still makes me laugh every time I see it. It's of two of my very best friends in the world...Kat, and my dear husband, Doug (or Dougy-Poo, Chesty, et. al.) -- This was at the end of last summer, before Kat's belly-button timer popped and 10-pound Braden entered the world... Kat and her other 3 kids had stopped by my house, and my husband and Kat decided to compare "pregnant" tummy's. Who's do you think looked bigger? Shhh...don't tell anyone, but I think my husband's may have actually been a food baby!
Obviously the belly comparison makes me laugh, but I also always end up laughing at this picture because in Kat's hand is her dog's collar (he was visiting, too!) but the way she's holding it up to be out of the way of her tummy, it looks like a tambourine, and since her eyes are half-closed in the pic, she comes across as a hippie chick shaking her tambourine and really digging the grooviness of the moment! Hahaha! You know I ♥ you, Kat! And seriously folks, she is GORGEOUS...this is a bad I want to share one where her (outer as well as inner) beauty is captured, too!

Anyway, Kat is such a great friend! For my birthday this past February 12th (which is also HER birthday) she gave me a handmade (by her) purse and matching kindle cover (the kindle was a gift from my dear sister (Hi Diane!).
Here they are:

You can check out more of her awesome stuff on facebook here: "Kat's Out o'the Bag"