Friday, May 27, 2011

Speaking of…

Today I spoke to about 75 third-graders at Glen Lake elementary school. During my speech, I told them my story and talked to them about staying positive no matter what. I also told them that it was okay to befriend someone with a disability and ask questions if need be. Then I shared with them about my title and me being Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota. After about a half an hour into it, I opened it up for questions. About two thirds of the kids eagerly raised their hand in curiosity. I spent another half an hour answering all sorts of questions from "how do you eat" to "can you feel or move anything" to "were you wearing your seatbelt" to "how many people were in the car."

At one point I was explaining my disability and that I'm paralyzed and that I'm just like everyone else only I do things differently. I was also talking about how there are many things that I can't do due to my disability. Usually I follow that with sharing all the things I am able to do. Before I got to that I called on a brave little girl in front of the group who asked my favorite question of the day which was "so, what can you do?" I was surprised that she got to it before I did but I was happy to answer.

This was my fourth time speaking at Glen Lake and I really enjoy doing it. I went there when I was younger from second to sixth grade. Even a few of the same teachers are still there. When I was done and waiting for my ride it was lunch time so there were many kids were passing me. Two years ago I spoke there to third-graders and a year before that I spoke to first-graders. The third-graders are now in fifth grade and the first-graders are now in fourth grade. It was very interesting because a lot of them remembered me and stopped to say hi, which I thought was really cool.

The school wants me to come back in the fall to speak again. I would also love to go to other elementary schools to talk to and educate children about people with disabilities. I get so much joy out of teaching them and it feels good to know that I am making a difference. This is something I wanted to for as long as I'm able.

If you have any place or event you know of that I could either make an appearance or speak at (as Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota) please share with me! I'm willing to go anywhere within the Twin Cities area. I look forward to your comments.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Little Bit of This and That…

School is over now for this semester. I received an A in both my stress management class and in my intercultural communications class. They were pretty good classes and I learned a lot, especially when it came to managing my stress. Soon I'm going to sign up for a class or two for the fall semester but I'm not sure what I'm going to take yet.

In the last couple days the weather here has been extremely nice. I've been going outside trying to get a tan before nationals. It feels good to get some fresh air and vitamin D. It just makes me a happier person after being out and about enjoying the sun.

Speaking of nationals, I'm trying to get all my information together so I can send in the first two packets of three by May 24. We have enough money to cover the first half of the entry fee (also due the 24th) but that still leaves us with a large amount that were trying to get donated. I need to book the tickets ASAP before the prices start raising even more. I've got a few confirmations from people and companies who can make some bigger donations, but I haven't seen too much money yet. Hopefully everything will fall together smoothly.

My sister will be in AmeriCorps until July 23, which is exactly one week before I leave for Michigan. I'm so excited that she will be able to come with me since she's missed a lot of events and activities already. Recently her group started a project on a nature reserve/Park in Bonners ferry, Idaho. I looked it up online and I saw all the stunning scenery. I'm so jealous!

Everything else is going good. I kind of feel like I should be more productive but I guess you could say I'm "taking it easy" for a couple weeks. I need some rest before all my events of the summer as my reign of Ms. wheelchair Minnesota 2011 continue.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Please Help Support

As many of you know on April 11, 2011 I was crowned Ms. wheelchair Minnesota. This is a huge honor and I am happy to be an advocate for people with disabilities. I'm very excited for this role and eager to get started with my events. This includes going to nationals and competing in the Ms. wheelchair America contest in Michigan August 1 through August 7.

I'm trying to raise money so that I can get to nationals this fall and represent the great state of Minnesota. We have estimated that it will probably cost around $8000. This would include hotel, flight, food, events etc. for me, three nurses and family. This is a big expense and the sooner we can come up with the money the better.

Please help me by donating whatever you can to my cause, no matter how big or small. If you have a company that would like to donate their name will be put on the sponsors list in the packet at nationals. Ms. wheelchair Minnesota is a nonprofit organization so all donations can be used as a tax write off. (If you wish to do so, please indicate and a letter will be sent to you).

Checks can be made out to:
Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota

Checks can be sent to:
2400 Lorien St.
Minnetonka, MN 55305
9720 Humboldt Ave S
Bloomington, MN 55431

We're also planning on holding a fundraiser mid-June. The money for this will be used not only for nationals but also for all events during my year-long reign as Ms. wheelchair Minnesota. If anyone has anything they would like to donate for a silent auction let me know. Also, if anyone has any suggestions or knows of anyone who can help with this please let me know as well.

Thanks for your support!


Monday, May 9, 2011

Happiness with a SCI

Ever wonder why some people are happier than others? Do you think to yourself how someone could live their life with content given their circumstances? Have you ever noticed someone in a worse off situation that's happier than you? It's a common misconception that the more money or power or beauty or fame you have makes you a happier person. In fact, studies have shown that there isn't a strong correlation between these things and happiness. I believe it's all in how you look at things, how you view life and the things around you, and what you value most.

People often tell me that I "look so happy" and that I am a very "positive person" given my circumstances. I usually just smile and say thank you, because I really don't know what else to say to that. Some people actually seem shocked that I even give them a smile back. Yes, my situation is challenging. I'm a C-1 C-2 quadriplegic on a ventilator paralyzed from the neck down and require 24/7 nursing to do almost everything for me. When you word it that way it does sound a little depressing. But despite all of this, I do live my life to the fullest and I'm proud to say that I am a "happy and positive person."

What kind of life would I be living if I went around being mad all the time for what happened to me? How do you think I would feel inside if I spent my days dwelling on the past instead of looking at the present and future? If I kept spinning questions around in my head like why me? What did I do to deserve this? Who would do such a thing? Why would anyone want to put this on another? Or if I were to question my own judgment by going through the scenario of that night and asking all the what if's. What if I had decided to stay home that night? What if I hadn't gotten in the car? What if I had chosen to sit in a different seat? To me, it seems so silly and pointless to ask these questions, given that it doesn't do any good and I never get any answers; the only thing it does do is make me go crazy inside.

Of course, I know that there are many people out there in similar situations who have not accepted what's happened to them and do question things constantly. They wonder why they made the choices they did or how this could happen to them. To those people I say good luck in finding the answers and let me know if you do. In my mind, it is a waste of time to be mad or question choices made in life.

I choose happiness because I want my life to be worth something; I want meaning and purpose in my life. I want to be able to live with what happened to me and not die with regret, unforgiveness, frustration, bitterness, or anger.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

45 Lessons in Life

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2.. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch..

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26.. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life..

28. Forgive everyone for everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life.. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40.. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come....

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."