Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Meeting New People

When I first meet people I'm not shy at all. I like to ask questions and answer them as well. One of the things that interests me the most is actually meeting new people and getting to know them. I am a very outgoing person whose not afraid to try new things. Although, when people meet me for the first time sometimes they may be curious, intrigued, amazed or even fearful.

I often explain to them my situation and what happened to make them more comfortable, even if they don't ask. I try to embrace new chances at life. It seems that sometimes people don't know how to act or react to someone like me. This makes me even more want to get out and show others who I am and what I'm capable of doing, despite my disability.

It can be hard to meet new people in my situation. That's one of the reasons why I like doing motivational speaking to children, adults and at events. To show others that despite my disability I have abilities as well. You never know, a simple hello could lead to a million things. I believe there's always a reason why you meet people. Either you need them to change your life or your the one that will change theirs.


"You must be the change you wish to see in the world"
- Gandhi

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Getting Stuck in a Confined Area

Have you ever been stranded in a place where you feel a sudden urge to panic? Has there been a time where you’re trapped and you have no way of getting out without the help of others? Well I know I can say yes to both of these questions, and I’ll tell you the story that led me to this answer!

The other day I was at a doctor’s appointment. I took transportation so I had a driver who dropped me off and then one who picked me up. When the one got there to pick me up, my nurse, him and I got into the elevator to go up one floor in order to leave. After hitting the button to go up, the door closed about three fourths of the way and then suddenly… It stopped!

Luckily we were still on the same level, and the door was ajar just enough for someone to fit in and out. The driver got out and went to get help letting them know the situation. After a few minutes a bunch of servicemen came to try to get the door open. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to do it by themselves so they had to call the elevator electrical technicians who were at a different location. They had to drive over to fix the problem.

Meanwhile, I was still stuck! By the time they got there I had been in the elevator for 35 minutes already. It took them about 10 minutes to actually get the door open before I could get back out on the same level. Unfortunately, the elevator was broken after that so I wasn’t able to use it. One of the security guards had to take us to the opposite end of the building, which took about 10 minutes, to the only other elevator.

At the time I was a little freaked out, especially not knowing how long I was going to be in the elevator. Although now it's almost laughable and I've been telling the story to just about everyone I see. So much so that I started telling it to one of my nurses and when I got to the part about me getting into the elevator with the nurse, I realized I was actually telling it to the nurse that was with me! She got a good laugh out of that and was going to wait until the end to ask me what nurse I was with!

This is me in the elevator. You can see the door slightly ajar, just enough space for someone to get through!
This was the first time in all my years that I’ve been stuck in an elevator. I actually have an elevator in my house. My room is in the basement. The elevator starts in my room and goes up to the main level were my dining room is, then to the 2nd level into our loft area. I use it to get upstairs in the winter or when it’s raining outside. Otherwise I use one of the other three doors on the basement level to go around up the side of the house to the front driveway.


Friday, February 9, 2018

Experiences Throughout Life

"We are the sum of experiences that we encounter as we go through life. Day to day struggles and triumphs are experienced by all of the world's creatures. As human beings, when we encounter a challenge, we have freedom to choose how to react. Every decision that we make leads us down a different road. We will never come to exactly the same crossroads. Every decision that we make has significance. The tiniest choice that we make reverberates throughout the entire universe."

This quote fits directly in with the way my life has unfolded because after my accident I had to choose how to react. How was I going to live the rest my life? Was I going to live with regret, sadness and pain? Or was I going to choose happiness and allow myself to get through this challenge? While recovering, I chose the latter because I wanted my life to mean something, never knowing what it would be like on the other side.

I now know that I chose the right path, although there are many more roads yet to be traveled. Each day comes with new thoughts and strengths that allow me to move forward. I have realized that by overcoming the obstacles I thought I couldn’t do, comes each new experience in my life. Even when it feels like things aren’t going the way I planned.

People often tell me that I’ve made an impact on them or that I’ve inspired them in some way. I feel like I’m just being me. Maybe it’s because of the decisions I chose, the path that I took or the positive way I react to my situation. I have given motivational speeches to many students, events and crowds sharing my story. By trying to show others that life can go on despite the experiences we go through in life.


Friday, January 26, 2018

Registering Brody

This is his photo ID that I have to carry around with wherever we go.
It's a picture of Brody when I first got him.

I got my dog Brody September 2012 when he was about 9 months old through a breeder. On December 20 Brody turned 6 years old. He actually comes from a family of show dogs but didn’t meet the cut. Although I got him at a slightly older age, he still adapted well and was all ready set up for a home environment.

Since I got him, he’s always been my side, a companion who’s helped me through some tough times. Over the years, Brody has adapted to my disability. He knows when something’s wrong with me and also provides comfort if I am in need of a little TLC. He’s also been great for helping me with independence and getting out of the house more. I love taking him for walks outside around the neighborhood, no matter what the temperature is.

Even though I didn’t initially get him for this purpose, I recently certified him as a companion dog. Now I can take him anywhere with me as long as I have his vest on and card with me. There is a difference between a companion and therapy dog. Companion dogs usually don’t work. Instead the principal service that companion dogs provide is simply companionship as a pet, rather than usefulness by doing specific tasks. While service dogs are trained to behave flawlessly in public, companion dogs may or may not be as well-behaved.

Companion dogs don’t need to have special training, although Brody has some behavioral issues. In order to better help him with some of his anxiety along with coach me with training methods, I recently hired a private trainer to come to my house. My hopes are to get him comfortable with other people and dogs. She is going to work with me to get us ready for him to go out in the public. I’ve already learned some things about him that I didn’t realize before.

For example, I always thought he had aggression towards other people and dogs because he was protecting me. He barks at other dogs, strangers and people walking in the woods. Although she told me that he actually has "fear aggression" which means that he is afraid so he goes into a mode of needing protection by barking, nipping, and even hiding next to my wheelchair. Instead of trying to protect me he was looking for protection from me.

The trainer gave me some tools to work with him in order to listen to me better so that I have more control over situations that occur. Hopefully over time I will be ready to bring him places outside my home without hesitation or having him fearful. I’ll update everyone throughout on how the progress is going.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Minnesota Weather

The last couple weeks I’ve been hibernating in my house. The weather here has been frigid and cold, with most temperatures below 5°F. I used to go out no matter what the weather was outside, although my body has a hard time adapting to temperature. Having a spinal cord injury at my level I get cold fairly easily. Unless I use the thermometer to check my temperature I don’t know how cold I actually am, which could lead to hypothermia if not watched frequently.

Even while indoors, I usually have a blanket on throughout the day and sit by an electric fireplace that I flip on if my body or the room gets too cold. At night I sleep with a heated electric blanket that has the ability to change temperatures from 1-High. Depending on what I put it at, it helps regulate my body temperature better than any other sort of heating system. I also have a small heater in my room alongside the indoor heat.

We do have central air and heating, although it’s difficult for it to register in specific areas. This is especially true if I have the fireplace on. When my house was being remodeled, we put in floor heating which also helps (and keeps people’s feet warm). Although it does nothing for me as only my wheels hit the floor!

Other than it being cold, we also get a lot of snow here. That is also one reason that stops me from getting out, especially from taking Brody for walks. In the neighborhood where I live there are a lot of back roads and they don’t get plowed during the winter unless it snows above 2 inches. Sometimes they just use salt before if they know it’s going to snow and then they don’t even plow. This just makes the roads slushy although most of the time there pretty icy and slippery.

I have written blog posts in the past about temperature and weather. The last one I wrote was similar although I stated that despite temperatures being low outside I tend to venture out. It’s different this year, as my body has changed and the temperature affects it even more. My body also used to be able to regulate its temperature better, although for some reason over the years it’s changed. I wish things were different because it’s difficult spending my days indoors all the time.


Monday, January 1, 2018

A Way to Live

To me, being paralyzed does not mean the end. It can be difficult and challenging at times but I'm able to handle whatever comes my way. I believe my accident happened for a reason. Throughout this journey so far I've met some amazing people and learned new things. My paralysis hasn't limited me or stopped me from pursuing my dreams. There are many things I can do, I just do them differently. I'm not in a stage of depression and don't in any way feel sorry for myself.

I know that there are people in my situation out there who do not have the same feelings. I realize that everybody handles and deals with things in different ways. What may be easy for some may be extremely difficult for another. I'm writing this for those who feel their life is not worth living because of their situation or experiences. I'd like to offer my help in any way possible. My goal is to inspire others to live on through change in their life.

Let this New Year bring joy and fulfillment in life. I want to go on more adventures, be around good energy, connect with more people, learn new things and grow.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Time

It’s that time of year again. Since Christmas is here with all of its joys, I want to take the time to ask a more serious question. What is the real meaning of Christmas? Is it the lights in the windows, gifts under the trees, stockings hanging down, receiving cards in the mail, dinner with family and friends, snow all around, saying "Merry Christmas" to those passing by? Is this really what it is all about?

I don’t believe it’s about Santa Claus and his reindeer landing on the top of the house, him coming down the chimney in the middle of the night, eating the cookies left out, and leaving loads of presents behind. I know it is fun to receive and give and decorate and wrap and believe in magic. But it's about the real meaning of Christmas.

Many people don’t have the money to buy gifts for others or have the resources to put together big family get-togethers. It may be a time of sorrow because of it, some sense of misery in a deep knowing that they might not be able to give all they want. There are some that are saddened when thinking of loved ones with which they might not be able to see.

I’ve learned over the years what Christmas is and isn’t about. Christmas can be a season of great joy. It can be a time of healing and renewed strength. It's about the love, passion and the praise that we give and receive on this one day. It has a special meaning to everyone and I think more people need to find their meaning. For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope this year you all can find the true meaning of Christmas in your hearts.


"Wherever you go, whatever you do, may the joy of the season always be with you."

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Letting Go and Moving on

Life is all about change, no matter how much we want things to stay the same. I learned this throughout my experiences after my accident. However, as much as I didn’t want things to be different, I had to realize that sometimes change is okay and in order to accept it I had move on. I found there is an important difference between giving up and letting go.

Some of us, if not all of us has their own painful experiences throughout life. Many of us like to hang onto these things, often bringing them up in ways that are hard to handle. What we don’t know is that by hanging onto those things or experiences can destroy your life in ways you’re not even aware of. It’s best that you let go of them and move on, even though it may be hard to let go of someone you love or something you value. It might even be a situation that dramatically changed your life.

One way on how is to stop worrying about what you have to lose and start focusing on what you have to gain. Decide that no matter what is happening in your life to be happy; not because everything is perfect but because you deserve it. It’s not always about trying to fix something that’s broken but maybe it’s about starting something over and creating something better.

 “Moving on doesn’t mean you forget about things. It just means you had to accept what happened and continue living…” -Anonymous

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Post Accident Reunion

Nick, Myself and Chris


Many of you know that I was in a car accident, but you may not know how the accident happened. I don't remember anything about it; only what I've heard from others. I guess we were going 60 mph and trying to make an exit. We were in a mini SUV and it rolled. The top of the car hit some sort of sign or pole in midair, crushing the roof in, and then landed back on all four wheels. It was a single car accident.

There were five of us in the car and I was behind the driver's seat. Although I did break my neck and injure my spinal cord, it could've been a lot worse. I did have my seatbelt on, which probably saved my life. The other four people in the car sustained mostly minor injuries except for Nick who was sitting next to me; he also broke his neck but didn’t injure his spinal cord. Everyone has recovered and they are doing well.

On December 9, 2017 I hung out with Nick and Chris Somers. Chris was one of the firefighters who cut the roof off the car using the Jaws of Life; it was his first extrication. Engine 3 was the first truck that arrived and he was on it. Both Minnetonka and Eden Prairie fire departments were involved. This is the second time all three of us have been together; the first was August 2016. Although throughout the years Nick and I have kept in touch multiple times since the accident.

I’m glad that we are still in touch after all the years. It amazes me how things and relationships can come out after something like this happens. I’m grateful for everything and appreciate the positive friendships that continue to grow. There are so many more opportunities out there, whether it’s hanging out with friends, creating new ones, or inspiring others. This is also why I continue to stay positive and continue to move forward.


"… Forgiveness has given us the gift of peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding. We were chosen to receive our particular experiences. We were chosen so that we could then show others how even the unspeakable could be survived. Surviving ultimately means thriving." -Insert from the book: 52 Ways to Live the Course in Miracles by Karen Casey

Friday, December 1, 2017

Having Strength

This sign hangs above my doorway. It just proves how strong I am just by the biblical meaning of my name!

I always thought of myself as being a strong person, especially after I had my accident. The strength that came about wasn’t just from physical or mental, but from others encouragement towards my recovery beyond. It gave me peace of mind knowing that there were people helping me to get through the tough processes that got me down. These are some of the reasons why it’s easier for me to help others in need get through theirs as well.

This is one of the main components to why I try my hardest to get out and do public speaking. To encourage others that no matter what happens, life can go on. That despite your current situation there may be other solutions to a problem. It brings me to my conclusion that things happen for a reason. I’ve always tried to maintain this positive outlook and share my presence in life.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve done public speaking events or spoken to others. My favorite is talking to kids; they have so many questions and are very curious. Plus I get to teach them at an early age that even though someone has a disability, it doesn’t mean they don’t have abilities as well. I have even gone back to my elementary, junior high and high school to speak.

My motto is to believe in the ability to figure things out. There will be a better tomorrow, even if it’s a struggle, be okay with it, and over time things will work out. By bringing the fun into the situation proactively, even if I have those feelings of doubt, I’m patient and allow myself to be persistent in my action as well as move past my struggles. While loving others in similar situations, I amplify and respect them; accept them for who they are and appreciate the differences.