Walker

About 3 weeks ago I finally ordered a new walker. I’d had my old one for almost 10 years, but had to get rid of it when one of the back wheels got sliced by a rock and the other literally stopped turning. (Another reference to the blog title…)It was getting really squeaky and annoying and I just wanted to be rid of it, but when the new one arrived I couldn’t help but feel almost a little bit nostalgic, as ridiculous as that may sound. I just started thinking about all the “memories” i had with this walker and I’ll the things I’ve gone through with it. Okay, so I’ve had walkers since I was two years old, you wouldn’t think it would really matter that much when I got a new one, but this time it did. I’d recently named him Texas Ranger, get it? WALKER, Texas Ranger. And this was a tough goodbye.
My old walker has been a part of my life since around about 8th grade. Big changing years for any kid. The decisions of where to go to high school, countless friend trials and tribulations, unbelievably disgusting crushes on boys who would grow up to be…well, they’d never grow up. This walker was with me as I went to public high school with all my close friends, while my best friend made the decision to go to private high school, our first time apart since we were born. It was there as I found my way through my teenage years, both gaining and losing along the way. It was there to hold me up, literally and figuratively, as I lost both of my grandmothers. It was there crossing the graduation stage with me and as I stepped into a whole new world of college life and it has been there through three amazing, and at times crazy heartbreaking, college years.
For me, looking back, there was only one decision and moment in life that is most difficult to realize this walker was there for, and that all decision completely centered around my walker itself. Toward the end of my 8th grade year, I started realizing that this walker was a real pain in the ass. It was heavy, and metal, and even though at times it was a great buffer, the fact that I couldn’t get closer than a foot to something at any given time made thing difficult. I decided that I didn’t want the walker anymore, that I was going to teach myself (with the help of PT, of course) not to need it. At first I thought it was going to be easy, I mean babies do it at like a year old, so how hard could it be right? As time when on though, I knew there was no way I could handle this on my own padding my bedroom floor incase I fell.
Funny the bit of a memory that stick with you. I remember the first person, or people actually that I told, were my family friends Jenny & Erin. (I’ve always refered to them as my cousins, but really, we’re friends. And good ones! :)) I remember running into them at the mall and telling Jenny that I had a talk to her about something and I’d call her when I got home. I remember sitting in my living room, the farthest room from where my parents were, and telling her how badly I wanted to do this. I didn’t care what it would take. And I remember her telling me that she believed I could. She was the first person to tell me that. For years, and I really mean years, they were the only two people that knew. In fact, up until last year. The walker was there for that moment; that life-changing moment that has shaped the past eight or nine years of my life.
This walker has been there as a tried, quit, tried again, had people tell me I was attempting the impossible, and changed Physical Therapist many times. Most importantly, it was there when that moment finally arrived on July 21 2005, almost 4 years ago to the day. I took at least 10 steps on my own that day and I thank God that I happened to have my camera with me that day, otherwise I wouldn’t have believed it.
I have not taken steps by myself since that day, for reasons I don’t fully understand, but that walker was there as I’ve continued to try over the past 4 years–never willing to give up. So, as I sat in my kitchen staring at the old walker ready to be recycled, and the new one ready to embark on another journey through the years, it was tough. I felt like I was letting go of the part of my life I’ve been trying to get rid of for so long, only to see a new bright shiny replacement. But most of all I felt like I was letting go of the last remaining physical reminder of that amazing day that replays in my head everytime I drift off to sleep. I can only hope that this new walker can hold up through just as much and provide me with another opportunity to feel as though I don’t need it.

Always Looking Up

I just (quite literally) finished Michael J. Fox’s new book, Always Looking Up: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but, given my life situation, I’m always drawn to books about people and thier stories of hope, survival, and overcoming adversity. I found his story particularly intersting because of both the way he described the intricacies of a life with Parkinson’s and the research he backs, but also the frankness and simplicity with which he spoke of his personal life. While I was reading, there were some statements that Fox made about his daily life that particularly struck a chord in me. Even though I do not have a dabiliating disease like Parkinson’s, in fact I could never imagine how difficult that must be, there are struggles along the way. Some of these quotes made me feel at peace. They made me realize that, though you may feel like you are the only person in the world facing these trials, you’re only alone if you allow yourself to be. Whether you can relate to this situation through yourself, a friend or family member, or you don’t think you can at all…I hope you can find something to hold onto in these words.

“For everything this disease has taken, something with greater value has been given–sometimes just a marker that points me in a new direction that I might not otherwise have traveled.” Pg. 6

“Sometimes, when you’re alone, minutes pass before you even realize you’re crying.” Pg. 45

“One way to appreciate the difference between what happened to Chris [Reeve] and what was uncoiling in my life would be to analogize the sudden impact of a locomotive with the incremental awareness of being tied to the tracks , and feeling the vibration from the approaching train, with no way to gauge its proximity.” -Pg. 86

“Before a catastrophe, we can’t imagine coping with the burdens that might confront us in a dire moment. Then when that moment arrives, we suddenly find that we have resources inside us that we knew nothing about.” Pg. 86, Christopher Reeve

“You suffer the blow, but you capitalize on the opportunity left open in its wake.” Pg. 151

“No single one of us knoes which pebbles causes the wave to crest, but each of us, quite rightly, believes that it might be ours; an act of faith.” Pg. 153

“The purpose you wish to find in life, like a cure you seek, is not going to fall from the sky…It requires the faith to take risks and a rejection of the bonds of fear.” Pg. 178

“I didn’t choose to have Parkinson’s. I agree that if I took on the condition and everything that comes with it just to be an advocate on behalf of others so afflicted, well then yeah, that would be historically heroic. But in a way, I’m just rolling with the punches.” Pg. 180

“I think one of the keys to my happiness is that I try to catch my mistakes and transgressions as quickly as possible after the fact and minimize the period of reflection” Pg. 199

“Each new moment gives you a sufficient load to carry, and I’ve learned, especially as my arms have grown shakier, that there are times when the wisest thing to do is to let go.” Pg 233

“To say that my attitude toward the disease itself was far less evolved than it is today would be a gross understatement. I still didn’t fully own it and was still wrestling with how wholly it owned me.” Pg. 260

“…My doctors warned me of a common side effect: exaggerated, intensely vivid dreams. To be honest, I’ve never really noticed the difference. I’ve always dreamt big.” Pg. 276

One Thought

Because I can’t seem to fall asleep yet…
Something is bothering me about this blog. I feel as though I started writing under a little bit of a false pretense. I do enjoy optimism. I think it’s key in this crazy world. However, sometimes I tend to talk a big talk about how great everything should be/is, when there are times when I don’t know up from down or left from right. So, basically, I’m just asking my readers (well, all 4 of you) to bear with me–because there are some days when being “Optimistic Oprah” as we call it in our lovely group of friends, just becomes a little too ridiculous and you want to allow yourself to have some “Negative Nancy” moments and admit things are rough. If only to keep you sane. No one can be 100%, 100% of the time, and you can’t always be the strong one.
That’s all for now. Night.

Change

Lately, The Fray (both of thier albums) has been the soundtrack of my life. Summer is a little more than halfway over and I’ve definitely dubbed it the summer of change. I hate change. Well, hate may be a strong word…nope, it’s not. After high school graduation, I could have been a millionaire if I had a dollar for everytime someone told me “Enjoy these years, because they’ll fly by.” I never believed them. Now, I’m staring down the barrel of my final year of undergrad, and I have no idea where the past 3 years went! I pretty much know (well, for now anyway) what I want to do with my life so, I know I’m not quite done with school yet, but still change is change. Families change, friends change, places change, plans change. And, I’m starting to realize, that I too must change.
Do you ever have that one person/place/thing in your life that you just can’t let go of? Because that may actually mean you’re accepting change? Yeah. That. It’s a crazy and scary moment when you realize that you’ve finally reached the point where if you don’t let go, you’re just going to go backward.
I may hate change, but I’m starting to realize that without change, you’re just selling yourself short.

Dreams

I just got back from a weekend in Westport with the family and as I was laying on a beach way more beautiful than any Connecticut beach I’ve ever been to, this is what I was pondering.
I have this bookmark that my mom got me and on it, it says, “Believe in your dreams and anything is possible.” We all know that those ideations we have and those things we aspire to, we call them dreams and talk about them as fantasies, but I got to thinking: what exactly ARE dreams? Don’t get me wrong, I like a mystery of belief as much as the next person, but there are just so many possibilities here.
Let me precursor this whole topic by saying I’m a psychology major, so dreams and the mind are my “thing” through and through, but I’m also a Catholic who believes very strongly in my faith. It gets a bit dicey.
I know of two main explanations for what dreams really are. They come from the diciplines of science and faith; the two areas in which we all almost alway find ourselves spilt between.
In the world of science, dreams are easily explained. We all have an unconscious mind that we control, or at least keep at bay, when we are awake and alert. When we sleep and go into REM cycles, neurons starts firing like crazy and the unconscious becomes the context of our thoughts as we sleep, as we dream. Ramble, ramble, there’s much more psychobabble, but that’s most of it.
Now, in the world of faith and religion (or at least my own. I can’t speak for anyone else’s), the stuff of dreams is summed up in one sentence. They are messages from God that guide you through life. Be warned, just because this is a shorter explanation, doesn’t mean it’s any easier.
The question remains, where do I fall on this topic? How do I view dreams? The answer: I have no idea. I’m extremely torn in the world of dreams. I love them. I love the optimism of them, no matter which realm you view them from. I just don’t know quite where I stand.
What I do know is this. If you don’t have dreams, however you define them, it’s a scary world…and an even scarier sleep. Obviously, we dream hundreds of times a night, but the mornings I wake up and can’t remember any of them are some of my most annoying mornings. I view dreams as more pieces to fit in the puzzle of life. That includes the aspriations, hopes, and fantasties. They are the way to give me some answers that I just can’t come across when I am awake and going about my day. If I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t have anything.
What do dreams mean to you? How do you define them?

Spinning

The title of this blog is a reference to many different areas of my life. One of those, is my love of Spinning classes. I started spinning almost 2 years ago, at my gym & physical therapy clinic. It started out as just something to try to waste 20 minutes at the end of a PT session because my brain had checked out. I really had no desire to be conquered by yet another “able-bodied, normal person’s” exercise class and would much rather have been sitting outside waiting for my ride home.
From the minute I got on the bike that night, I knew something was different. First of all, there was no balance needed–the bike was stationary, but upright like real bike. First point goes for me. Second, the pedals came equipped with these rubber foot covers called cages so that your foot would be strapped into the pedal and not slide off while you were riding. (This was always the biggest problem for me when I tried to ride a bike as a kid.) Second point to me. Within those few minutes, I fell in love. It wasn’t until I got off the bike that I realized it had scored one point against me. I had huge cuts on both of my thighs/inner knee areas. Because of the tightness of some of my leg muscles and the circular motion of pedalling sometimes my legs would not be able to stay far enough from the bar the seat rested on and I ended up repeatedly scraping myself.
“Oh well” was honestly my first thought. Not oh well that I would just have to forget about my new found love because of my bodies limitations, but oh well that my body was just going to have to forget about its limitations because of my new found love. There was no way I was going to give this one up. Over several months I worked hard to build up my endurance in these classes, slowly adding on 5 minutes every week or so until I eventually completed a whole class 3 weeks later.
The best part about Spinning for me at the time was the environment. Our spin room, like most, is black lit. This allows riders to get in their own “zone” while they’re riding. A true Godsend for me. For once I was not worried about other eyes being on me, as they had been so many times in my life, or keeping up with everyone else. It was just me, the bike, a stereo, and the long roads of whatever journey I was on stretching out before me.
Over the past 2 years, I have become an integral part of the Spinning community at the gym. I ride 3-4 classes per week most weeks and I have participated in, and helped organize annual Pedal for A Purpose 5 hour charity spinning rides. This past March I rode for 3 hours to benefit United Cerebral Palsy and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Sure, I ended up with a stress fracture/tendinitis/a hip that now hurts whenever the weather changes, but I would do it all again if I could.
This is just something I wrote last year about what Spinning means to me, though some people still may never understand it fully:
Some say it’s just a bike.
It’s one class at one gym.
It’s something her peers conquer everyday—and have for years before her.
She sees something more.

It’s not about the number of calories burned.
It’s not about the ready-for-summer legs.
It’s not even about any aspect of exercise or fitness.
Sure, those are some really great outcomes but to this girl they’re simply added bonuses.
Because, she sees something more.

So, you ask—puzzled, if none of that is what’s important, what is the point?
The answer to this question is simple. However, some may never understand it.
It’s about that feeling deep inside her heart.
The feeling locked far away where it can’t be seen by any mere passerby.
It’s about the athlete.
Not the softball star that has a crowd of admirers following her around wherever she goes.
Not the flawless dancer whose graceful movements across a stage bring her viewers to tears.
This athlete will never get her fame on ESPN or the local news, or in a competition.
In fact, you won’t even notice her, because it’s not about that.
You see, she sees something more.

This athleticism and this emotion come from deep within.
So deep that, at times, she struggles find it.
Why did I think I could make it? Why did I think that I could be the same as those around me?
As the inner demon starts to control her, as she tries to find her strength, these questions surface.
But she fights. She pushes. And just when she is ready to give up, the feeling appears again.
She feels free. She feels strong. She feels alive.
As alive as a newborn baby breathing in her world for the very first time.
For just one hour, most times just once a week, she feels at peace.
It’s not just something to do for fun, or to make her feel included in this world.
In this room, she sees something more.

She does not see the Cerebral Palsy, the walker, or the unsteady gait
She sees a young woman broken down by the hands of time.
But a woman who is growing and putting herself back together with each pedal stroke.
She sees something more.

She does not see an ugly inner being, a shattered mirror broken from the weight of the pain just looking into it causes, or a tear stained pillow she lays her head on each night
She sees an equal.
An equal who is fighting along with the women beside her to make it through that extra sprint, that last climb.
She sees something more.

So no, it’s not just a bike, or a class, or a gym, or a group of strangers who ride together.
It’s her release, it’s her freedom, it’s all her dreams rolled into one, and it’s her friends. No, her family.
And because of all of it,
In herself, she sees something more.

For me, Spinning is my outlet. It’s my time away from my daily struggles and the pain they sometimes cause even if I try not to think about that. It’s a time to reflect and a time to really be proud of the accomplishments I’ve made–both on and off the bike. Most importantly though, it’s a time to be the person I truly am on the inside. A time to let my inner Lance Armstrong shine through. I hope you all can, and will, go out and find that in your own lives if you haven’t already. You deserve to.

Pardon The…Introduction

So, almost exactly 7 months after making my New Year’s Resolution to start a blog, I’m finally getting around to it. I’m not really sure what’s going to come of it, or if I’ll even have any readers, but it’s worth a try. There’s no real set topic, or point, to my blogging, I guess. Just wanting to get some random thoughts on the page and maybe entertain and inspire someone along the way…so prepare yourselves.
I suppose I should start out with an introduction of sorts. I’m Molly, I’m a senior in college, and I may or my not have a disability. That’s up to you to decide as you read along in my future posts. Okay, yeah, I have Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy, or CP. I was diagnosed when I was a year old, and haven’t had a day off since. That’s a lot of days, you can do the math if you really care. The reason I pose it to you as a question, if there is anyone even reading this, is because it would be almost impossible to realize if you didn’t know me or see e walking past you down the street. At the risk of sounding confident, I am a very bright person. I get around almost entirely on my own, I take classes, live at school during the year…you get the point. I may have Cerebral Palsy, but I try my damnedest to let people see that the tarnished exterior doesn’t hold a candle to the person I really am.
Oh, and that’s another thing. I don’t believe in the characteristic of cockiness. It’s confidence. A person is not cocky, they are confident. They live their life as if they deserve everything they work for and as if they can do whatever they want to do in life. Happy reading…