BADD 2013: It Starts With Us

It’s Blogging Against Disabilism Day 2013! A day dedicated to speaking out against disability discrimination of any kind, life obstacles of those with disabilities, etc.

I have been absolutely devouring the amazing posts that are flowing through today; there are some great writers with great thoughts and ideas out there in the Blogosphere. I encourage you to check out Dairy of a Goldfish, where all the posts will be listed, or the BADD Facebook Page.

This is my third year participating in the day. Two years ago, I wrote about intelligence and interacting with people with disabilities. Last year, I missed the actual BADD day, but my post about the dance of Cerebral Palsy brought you into my world of living with a disability, if only for a moment.

This year? Well, buckle up. I don’t really know how the idea for this post came to me or how it’s going to work into the theme of this day, but here we go. Knowing that BADD was coming up, I’d been jogging my brain trying to figure out what I wanted to put out in the world as a person with a disability.  My one small voice.

It’s taken me the better part of 24 years to be “okay” with having a disability.   I think some of this is because I tended to live life with blinders on and not even pay attention to it.  I had great friends and family who helped make it a non-factor in my life and, while this was a blessing, it also was a little bit of a curse.  Full disclosure: I hate that cliche, but I couldn’t think of anything else to write.

But then…life hits you. People are often rude or ignorant, situations aren’t ideal, you’re forced to be independent at times when you’d been used to relying on someone by your side. You can no longer wear those blinders, because this is real life. It’s not going to stop while you adjust.

There comes a point in your life when you have to recognize your situation and your limitations.  Being an adult now (arguably anyway-my sisters will tell you I’m still the baby), that point has come hard and fast over the past few years.  Now, trust me. I’m not, in any way, at all, ever, ever, ever (got it?!) saying that you should be defined by your limitations or let them control your life.  Quite the opposite actually. Recognize and understand them so that you can live your life for you and move beyond them, if that is the path you choose.

How does this fit into BADD?! Hold your breath, because some of you might not like what you’re about to read…

If you don’t want to be discriminated against, start by not discriminating against yourself.   

Simple as that, right? No. I’m not naive. I know it’s not that simple, but it’s the initial step on a long journey. Think logically for a second, and this goes for anyone whether you have a physical disability or other obstacle in your life, if you don’t want someone else to judge you, limit you, or assume something about you, why would you do those things to yourself? You tell your best friend that they can do anything they want, but then you tell yourself that you can’t? That doesn’t sound right to me.

I’ve learned something very valuable on my journey, and even more so now being a fitness instructor of a class for people with various limitations, and that is that we as people with disabilities are the role models of how other people with disabilities should be perceived and treated.  Whether we want to be or not.

Want people to believe in you, to give you a chance?

Believe in yourself.

Want people to treat you with respect and dignity?

Respect yourself.

Want people to understand just how strong you are, that you are not to be pitied?

Show your strength, do not pity yourself. 

Want to be heard, to leave something in this world?

Speak up and don’t be afraid to be a little vulnerable. Let people in.

IT STARTS WITH US!

You Are Stronger Than You Think

It seems that many of my posts have focused on the gym and fitness as of late.  I would apologize for this, except I really can’t because it would not be remotely close to sincere. The truth is, this is me. I live fitness. I live health. I live trials and triumphs, moments of weakness and feats of strength, and everything in between. This is my new found love and life force, and I would not trade it for anything.

That said, please come with me on another journey.

Late last night, I finished reading an amazing memoir Waking by Matthew Sanford.  Matthew is a man who, at age 13, was in a car accident that left him with a T4 spinal cord injury.  Matthew writes of learning to navigate life in his now “silent” body, and how his discovery of mind-body relationship led him to physical and emotional healing and his eventual practice as an adaptive yoga instructor in Minnesota.  Fitness friends, family, and all other readers: do yourself a favor, whatever your beliefs and practices, and pick up a copy of this book.

I went to bed feeling deeply touched and satisfied, but more than anything else I felt hopeful.

My alarm went off at 7:15 this morning for Saturday morning gym session. I could have rolled over and gotten a few more hours of sleep. I could have said I’d be going Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday next week because I’m off work. I could have said it was the holidays. I had 1, 000 excuses to choose from. I chose hope.

Today’s class was a challenge from go since I have been dragging it after being sick and making a slow comeback. Interval training followed by TRX training.  For those unfamiliar with TRX, it is a Suspension Training, full body workout system that uses gravity and your bodyweight to perform a variety of exercises.  You are in complete control of the difficulty of your workout simply by changing your body position. This is a confusing explanation, so check out this quick video. 

The class was instructed to do one specific move, that started out holding on to the ropes to do a low row (think pulling your chest up to an imaginary bar from a slightly slanted standing position…or don’t imagine it, I’m doing a horrible job explaining things in this post….just take my word for it!), then drop down into a squat, and pull themselves back up.  I did not have the balance to be able to drop myself into a squat without falling and potentially cracking my head open, so it was time to modify! Yay!

I started the exercise by sitting on the floor slightly leaned back and performed my row. From there I was to lift my body off the ground as dead weight with only my heels as the anchor point. Failed attempt after failed attempt began to leave me more than a little bit frustrated.  At this point, Janice came over and foot blocked me so I wouldn’t completely go sliding and I tried again.

Note: Everything from this point on might sound utterly ridiculous to some, but this is what I believe can happen and this was my experience. I closed my eyes and tried to connect my mind and my body in a way that I had read about only hours before. I needed to feel the energy of my heart, of my will, and somehow transfer that energy into my legs, into my core–to come together and achieve this small goal for the day. I inhaled deeply and I could feel the connection. With what seemed like unimaginable strength, I felt my arms start to strengthen and slowly lift by body. I felt my core muscles engage and noticed that the only physical point of connection I had was at my heels.  This was it. I trusted my mind and it got me through step one. Now it was time to trust my body. A 10 second hold of this position was what was being asked of all of me. Closing my eyes again, I hoped. I pleaded with my body to outlast the time. I know I beg a lot of my body on a daily basis, but I needed this one, because I knew I could.  Janice, standing above me, said “trust your body, you are stronger than you think”. And I believed before those 10 seconds disappeared.

Then I collapsed on the ground and started hysterically laughing because all I wanted to do was cry.  The tears came later on in the day, when my soul processed what occurred in the gym. Today, for the first time, even if for maybe only a total of 30 seconds, I fully trusted my mind and my body. The results were awesome.

Until next time…inhale hope, exhale strength…

Coming to a Gym Near You…

I’M AFAA CERTIFIED!!!!

I’ve been waiting and waiting…and waiting for these results for what feels like an eternity! I know that my presenter told us it would be about 4-6 weeks, but I always assume they overestimate these things and when it got to be mid-way through week four this week, I started to  doubt that I’d passed the practical portion of the exam–I was almost positive I had passed the written portion.  Then last night, I just had a feeling that it was the day.  I was in class until 7pm, so I texted my sister and asked her to please get the mail, but not to tell me if anything came. When I walked in the door after class, I noticed the envelope sitting on the table. I ran over to the table, sat down, and ripped it open to see what was inside. All I read was the “Congratulations!” on the letter and I threw it down and screamed/cried/laughed and every emotion in between! Everything I’ve been feeling for the past months and weeks came flooding out of me like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

All night I could not stop smiling and staring at my certificate. I DID IT!

What this means to me is something I’ve tried to put into words so many time, yet I fail every time.  All I know is right now I’m on top of the world and I don’t see myself coming down anytime soon. I have never wanted anything so badly, and I have achieved it.  These few months have led me to amazing new people and experiences, and deepened my passion for fitness, both for myself and for others.  I am so excited to be a part of the AFAA family–one that has already welcomed me with open arms in the past 24 hours! I am even more excited to start planning my classes and get out there to help others realize that fitness truly can be for everyone and that they can make their lives however they want.

So to everyone out there who has a dream and is not sure they have “what it takes” to make it happen.  I’m here to tell you you do. Fight for it, and when it’s yours, rejoice in that moment. There is no better feeling.

Life with no ceiling

This past week, I was talking to my PT about this whole pool concept that’s been kicking around in my head for weeks.  I have my first lesson tonight, and I had been starting to feel a little overwhelmed, like I had jumped in (no pun intended) a little too quickly. Not to mention I’ve been sticking with my MO of picking some of the most difficult things to accomplish, which is tough when “patience of a saint” doesn’t quite describe who I am.

I am still constantly on that balance beam of trying to figure out how to make CP a part of my life instead of letting it mold me, and that becomes an even more of a struggle when you are constantly choosing physical challenges and physical goals for yourself.  One of the biggest downfalls of creating physical challenges (anyone remember Nickeloden’s Double Dare?! :)) is that we constantly want to make comparisons.  I say we because we are all the same in this way, disability or not, we are human. We compare. We compete. And we try our damnedest to come out on top.  This comparison always gets tricky for me though, since it’s not quite fair to me to start comparing the things I do physically to “normal” able-bodied people.  However, I can’t exactly compare myself to someone with CP, because it comes in so many different forms, you’d be hard pressed to find someone exactly the same. Okay, I know some of you are probably thinking “you shouldn’t compare at all. it’s bad. blah blah”, but I’m pretty sure we can all think of at least one time we have done that, so that option is off the table. It’s not realistic.

A ways into our conversation, my PT said to me “the sky’s the limit for you” and it got me thinking…

It’s a funny thing to think about when you take the time, isn’t it? (Which is probably why you’re not really supposed to take the time, but of course I do.) The sky being the limit to everything we want to do, try to do, or will ever do in our lives? We can never actually touch the sky. The closest I’ve ever come is being in an airplane, and even then there is still such vast, amazing space above me.

In my case, I think starting to understand that the sky is the limit begins by realizing that not being having someone else to compare to is actually one of the best gifts I could receive. It gives me no ceiling, nothing to measure up to.  It allows me to see what a can do and to never stop trying. Ever.

So for now, I’m waking up each morning and asking “What can I accomplish today?” For me. Based on my standards.

Shake it off and step up

It’s ridiculously late right now. At least when I was planning to get “a good night’s sleep” and go to bed three hours ago. There was something I wanted to share here first. Look out for a new, deeply strong and honest post for me in the next day or so, but for now, I have to share this story from Jen’s blog–my cousin though not by blood, friend, and honestly, my God-given gift. The author is unknown, but the story is incredibly powerful and something that hit me in exactly the right spot in my heart this morning…

Once upon a time there was a farmer who had an old mule. The mule fell into a deep dry well and began to cry loudly. Hearing his mule cry, the farmer came over and assessed the situation. The well was deep and the mule was heavy. He knew it would be difficult, if not impossible, to lift the animal out.

Because the mule was old and the well was dry, the farmer decided to bury the animal in the well. In this way he could solve two problems: put the old mule out of his misery and have his well filled.

He called upon his neighbors to help him and they agreed to help. To work they went. Shovel full of dirt after shovel full of dirt began to fall on the mule’s back. He became hysterical. Then all of a sudden an idea came to the mule. Each time they would throw a shovel full of dirt on his back he could shake it off and step up. Shovel full after shovel full, the mule would shake it off and step up. Now exhausted and dirty, but quite alive, the mule stepped over the top of the well and walked through the crowd.

A great attitude. A great way to approach life. Shake it off and step up. Too often we hold on to what has happened to us.

We hold on to it for a week, a month, even years. We cannot shake it loose from our memory. It eats away at us and steals our joy, happiness and peace of mind. The past hurt can create feelings of bitterness, resentment, anger and revenge.

We keep allowing these emotions to be thrown on our backs and if we do nothing, we will be buried deep in the well. Walls will be built in our relationships. We will avoid each other and the cold war begins.

But, we have a choice: keep it inside and embrace the hurt or shake it off and step up. Give it a try. Shake it off and step up. Words that have been said or actions that have been done, shake it off and step up. Let it go. Whatever it is: a rude comment, a past mistake, being ignored, we can stew over it all week. It occupies us all the time.

Too often we nurse hurts, we keep them alive inside and go over them time and time again; not only stewing from them, but now chewing them over and over until it gets us sick. Too often we rehearse hurts, tell everyone what has happened to us.

The cure is to accept what has happened, try to make sense out of it, learn from it, then shake it off and step up. When you let it go you feel free and you are no longer buried in the well. Once you are on your feet again you can take some action. You decide where you want to grow in life, the direction you want your life to take. You decide whether you will allow the hurt to make you a bitter or a better person. Learn from it. Emerge stronger.

Just say it

About 6 months ago, I installed the “God Wants You to Know” app on my Facebook page. In the beginning I didn’t necessarily put much stock into them. “It’s just some random person getting paid way more than I ever will to craft inspirational messages” was the thought in my head. But then things started getting weird and, well, I’ll read my message today for yourself…

“If all you had to do was wish for something and you would have it, life would be pretty boring, wouldn’t it? God placed barriers between us and what we want, so we can enjoy interesting and satisfying lives. God hid our biggest rewards behind the highest barriers – our deepest fears. God wants us to face our fears, and hold ground in their presence, and let them go, and that’s how we get out biggest rewards. What are you most afraid of? Say it, just start by saying it.”

Yeah, that happened. Just so you know, I don’t believe in coincidences.

We Are Alive, We Are Strong: Pedal for a Purpose 2011 Recap

Here we are, three days post P4P2011. I want to start off by saying that this is my third time trying to sit down and write this recap. I haven’t been able to quite find the right words to fully capture everything I’d like to share with all of you, so let’s hope this time I can get it all down…

We all knew this year was going to be big. Not only because the even gets bigger every year (physically and emotionally), but also because the cause was going to touch many of us on a much deeper level. The event was to benefit the CT chapter of the MS Society/Team Jenifer. I talked a little bit about Pedal and about Jen, who the event honored, in a previous post, but I have to say something again, because Jen’s strength, determination, and all around awesomeness simply blew me away again on Sunday.

Leading up to the event, I was nothing short of extremely excited. I have, for the past 4 years, felt like P4P was my Christmas not on Christmas. It is the day I most look forward to on the calendar.  There is just something amazing about being able to take the one thing you are most passionate about and use it to do something good. That is exactly what P4P is for me. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous as well. Other than the Monday before, the last time I’d been spinning (due to class schedules and lack of rides) was probably in January.  I was riding three hours and wasn’t sure how my body, or my mind for that matter were going to fare.  All that fear and anxiety immediately vanished upon entering the gym though. Jen was the first instructor of the day, and the first instructor for my 3 rides. There was something so powerful in those first 50 minutes. Dare I say more powerful than any of the other 5 hours, with the exception of maybe the group ride at the end with all 5 instructors. I honestly felt like the hour went by so fast, because the only thought in my head (after the initial “OMG. Can’t breathe. So. Out. Of. Shape.”), was how I was here, spinning with someone I look up to so much. A woman who I have found so many similarities with. A women who refuses to let a diagnostic label define her.  There were a few moments when I really doubted my ability to finish out the hour, but all I had to do was catch Jen’s eye **first tears of the day** or look at the banner behind the stage and that was enough.

The banner read:

Behind every success is effort,
Behind every effort is passion,
Behind every passion is someone,
With the courage to try.

The energy in the room was on fire all day. There was nothing stopping anyone from doing their part to kick some MS butt. I had a two hour break to enjoy the environment and take LOTS of pictures! The instructors, the riders, and the music all really spoke to this amazing cause during every hour.  The second hour I rode was taught by my cousin. Which always proves to be challenging both physically and mentally (she likes to pick songs that make me cry).  I knew that I had to save some energy during this ride because I only had an hour in between to rest before my last ride, but all bets were off when it was time to sprint and the song was Pink’s F*ckin’ Perfect. Gets me every time. The sprints were on the chorus (please look the song up if you’ve never heard it) and I had no choice, but to go all out. The song means a lot to me, for a lot of different reasons that aren’t the point of this post, but it also meant a lot to combine this song with spinning–the one thing in my life that makes me feel absolutely perfect. At the end of one of the sprints, I looked over and two of the instructors were mouthing the words to me. It all comes together. **Second tears of the day**

The third hour I rode, also the final hour, is always the most moving for me. All of the instructors get up on stage together and “team teach” the final ride.  It is also, without a doubt, the hardest ride because each instructor brings their own strength and determination, as well as their desire to push each other to the absolute limit! 🙂  This year was no different, but the last ride had a little something special about it for me this year. As I looked up to each one of those women, figuratively and literally, I was reminded of what true friendship is and reminded of what it means when you care so deeply for a person, that you will be there to hold their hand through everything. **third tears of the day**

What more can I say really? Other than the day was absolutely amazing, start to finish. This was the 4th year for the event and, by all standards, our best one yet! In the end, we raised over $11,000 to FIGHT MS!!…and had countless more memories!!

It’s funny the way life works. The people you meet, the things you do, the moments that forever stay etched in your heart. I was reminded of something at P4P this year that I often forget; or at least I forget lately. I can’t let my life be defined for me. By a person, by an event, and most definitely not by a diagnosis. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. No one. So why waste precious moments letting your life be defined, instead of defining it yourself?

Live each moment. Give everything you’ve got. Feel the fire inside of your soul. Own it. Hope. Never say never. And, most importantly, let everyone know how much they mean to you…I make sure to tell these 5 women every chance I get!

And for your viewing pleasure, I’m going to step out of my comfort zone for 23 seconds and post this video (in purple):

Thanks for sticking with me! 🙂

Photo Credits: Molly Carta, Karen Butler, Ron Kochman

If it makes you happy

…it can’t be that bad. Right?

This post has been on my mind for a while, though I don’t have the slightest idea where it’s going to end up. I’ve wanted to blog for weeks, but had papers due and sleep to take advantage of whenever I could.

Last weekend, my Dad and I went to see Elton John (for the 5th time together) at the DCU center is Worcester. It was a Christmas present for him, with the added bonus that he had to take me to get the present. 😉 He put on an amazing show, playing a mix of everything from the hits, to new music with special guest Leon Russell, and two of my favorites which he never plays live–Funeral for a Friend and Candle in the Wind! Did I mention how amazing it was??

While I was at the concert, I had one of those incredible, indescribable moments where you just find yourself thinking “wow, this is my life”. It was amazing to spend the time with my dad, something we don’t get to do very often due to our busy lives, and to be able to share this experience, for the 5th time in my 22 years, of seeing a true legend take the stage and play to a sold out crowd for 3 straight hours. He even jumped on the piano at one point and did a little handstand type thing on the keys! Such classic Elton! 🙂

Then he played “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”.

This is one of my favorite song/lyric combinations of all time.  As I was listening and singing along, the same line that always touches me hit my heart full force. “But these cuts I have, oh they need love, to help them heal.”

These words have always rang true for me. Yet, in that arena, in that moment, it reached a whole new level.  I have cuts. I have many physical cuts. Many relating, in some way or another, to Cerebral Palsy.  These cuts have had various meanings: surgeries, injections, falls…life.  Each of these cuts was made under the guise of  betterment. To make me stand better, walk better, function better. Be better. Because, according to some logic, being better=being happier. Right? Wrong. These cuts, well, they led to a lot of scars. Not the kind of scars you can see. The hidden scars. The invisible scars. The scars on the inside, on your heart. I never understood this logic, but there was one thing I did understand. The physical cuts will heal on their own.  All that will be left will be thin scars.  These physical scars, however, will always serve as a reminder of the emotional ones. In order to heal those, you need to love and feel love. And sometimes that love comes by doing something you love.

For me, that’s working on walking by myself. (I don’t know where this openness is coming from, but I’m just going to go with it before my brain tells my heart to stop).

The past few weeks have felt like a giant answered prayer for me.  I’ve been working on walking a lot in PT and looking up all sorts of information that I think could help. In it’s own way, this has been, and continues to be, a healing process for me. It might one half hour every week (sometimes less), but for that short amount of time, I am as happy as I can imagine myself being.  With each step, I feel love and I feel healing.

Walking used to be about normal.

It used to be about a cure.

It used to be about forgetting CP.

It used to be about proving so many people wrong. (Okay, I can’t lie. Ir’s still a little about that.)

Today? Today it’s about that feeling on the inside.

It’s about believing in where I am and who I am and my strength and determination to be going after something that is so not easy.

It’s about making every one of those scars on the outside mean something, and making the one’s on the inside slowly start to close.

It’s about knowing I can, and knowing that when I do, someone else out there will believe they can too.

It’s about love, and happiness, and healing.

A lesson in getting out of my own way

It’s been a little bit since I wrote an exercise and PT related post about myself so, I figured, why not tonight? My love/hate relationship with anything having to do with exercise has always stemmed from the inconsistency I tend to often see in my abilities as a person with CP. Some days I’m extremely tight, some days I’m only slightly tight. There is no loose in my vocabulary lately, due to taking the better part of sophomore-senior year of college off in the PT department. Some days, the task I worked on yesterday that I accomplished with ease seems completely foreign and not possible. I know that everyone faces day to day challenges, especially in exercise settings, but when you’re working toward such a huge goal, you look for those consistences to prove you’re doing something right and they don’t always come. Until now.

Tonight I was talking a friend who’s currently studying abroad for the semester in Cork, Ireland. We were catching up on random pieces of eachother’s lives, when she said something that struck me so much I really needed to make it a part of a post. “You know what I’ve come to realize? Life’s not that hard. And it’s not that complicated.” At first I laughed. But then I thought, “you know, I think I agree with that”.

I’ve been consistently working on exercise and things at home for 3 weeks. 3 weeks and 1 day to be exact.  While it was an adjustment at first, it hasn’t really been that hard. Life isn’t that hard or that complicated. All it’s taken is a little planning (I’ve spent about 2 hours a day so far working), a little determination, and some journaling to keep myself on track.

I’m really proud of myself and, while I don’t try to think about seeing any results as a sort of denfense mechanism for not being let down, I have a PT appointment on Monday and I’d love to see if any of the things I’ve been working on are helping when I have a real session (it’s hard for me to gauge at home).

I think it’s all about knowing when to get out of your own way and just go for something. Put the effort in, call it yours, and go get it. For me, that time has come. It came a few weeks ago when I was sent that Crossfit article and video that I blogged about a few posts back. It was my “wake up call”; that somehow I got stuck on exist, rather than live when it comes to my goals, that there was so much I could do (no matter how small to start), and most importantly, that this is not a lost cause. There is hope. And there is proof, in an amazing women named Marissa, that this can happen! (Please take the time to click the link above and go watch the video if you haven’t. It might change you, too.)

I’m stepping out of my own way and knowing at the end of the day…no matter what happens, I did all I could on that day. That’s what I’m feeling 3 weeks in anyway, and this feeling seems long-lasting.

In the end, life isn’t that hard, or that complicated. Thanks Joce! 🙂

Hope [noun, verb]

1. The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

2. To look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.

The two definitions of hope, courtesy of Dictionary.com. I wanted to start out my Winter Camp Care post with these definitions just to show how broad hope can be, how there are so many ways one can have hope, and how there are so many reasons to have hope. Almost any situation, event, or object can fit into one of these two definitions. We all have different hopes. For ourselves, for our loved ones, for the world, the list could go on and on.

As I mentioned in my MM post (I hope you enjoyed those songs!), hope was the camp theme this session. Our shirts were printed with Faith. Hope. Love. on the back; hope a little more bold and upfront than the other two. We all knew this was going to be an amazing session, but we always think that.

Our morning inspiration started off with one of the therapists reading the Rich Mullins essay, 23rd at 32. It’s a moving story about fear, faith, hope, and the balance between the three. Check it out at the link above. I was playing both sides this Camp; patient in the AM, volunteer in the afternoon, but my session wasn’t until midmorning on Saturday. It ended up being nice enough outside that we took some of the kids (in coats and hats and gloves, don’t worry moms!) to play wonderball, and soccer, and whatever else they wanted. Some kids could run around on their own, some had to be pushed, and some had to be carried. Either way, everyone was having a good time! And we definitely have some future soccer stars at Camp! 🙂 

I played photographer for a bit outside and will post some of those pictures when I get them. Capturing these moments through the lens is always as exhilarating as it is to experience them first hand.

When I went in for my Bootcamp session, which started out with another mini Crossfit workout, I was less than thrilled. I’ve been feeling “stuck” and like I don’t do enough for myself outside of PT sessions. This tends to be a recurring thought every 6 months or so.  With that feeling, I wasn’t really expecting the bootcamp session to go that well. Plus, I’m still getting used to this whole “crutches only” lifestyle I’m trying to live. It’s hard to explain, but there a safety in the walker, knowing that if you let go to lift something over year head, it’s behind you if you lose your balance. With crutches, if you lift an arm over your head, you’re also lifting half of your stability. Without going into major details, it was much harder for me this time, because it was much more active.  Which also gets my brain playing the “this shouldn’t be so hard” game. I don’t recommend it. Not that fun of a game! The second hour stretching felt amazing, though! If someone could come over and decompress my spine for that long everyday I’d be a very happy girl!

My absolute favorite part of Winter Camp is the Christmas Show. It’s a performing arts showcase, but on by the Skating Club of Hartford. They sing, dance, and dress up (no skates!) to perform different Christmas Carols and love-themed songs to represent the Christmas season. The kids love seeing Santa, Rudolph, and Gingerbread men dance around for them, and I love watching the joy on their faces. In the middle of the show,I wish I could tell you what song it was, I broke down crying. I’m not ever sure what sparked it, but something got to me. 

The theme was hope. And with these children, these families, these volunteers, and these therapists–this is the place I feel most hopeful. I sat there for a minute just taking in my emotions and having one of my ever-popular silent conversations with God; wondering where this came from and what I was supposed to do about it.  I made up my mind that whatever He wanted to do about it would be done tomorrow, because all that was left of the day was indoor activities while the 3rd bootcamp session went on.

The third bootcamp session. The deeper I got into conversation, I knew He was willing me to be at the 3rd session. After the way the first session went, I didn’t know if this was such a good idea. But I’m learning it’s better not to question. 😉 Apprehensively, I drove back to Crossroads and asked my PT if the 3rd group was a specific group of kids, or if I could join again…and downstairs I went again. Since all of us in 3rd session had already been stretched in the morning, it was much more active. We worked on core strength, kneeling, crawling & patterning, and sitting. Yes, sitting. For all of us in the group, sitting on the floor unaided either cross legged or otherwise, can be really challenging and quite a workout. I hadn’t worked on sitting or really been able to, since Summer Camp. Or so I thought. It wasn’t easy, but I was able to do it for about 5-8 minutes. And everything else. All while this was happening, two moms were telling stories about their sons, both young adults ages 18 and 23, who had been told to have no hope. Doctors had written them off, therapies had been cut, nothing seemed to be going anywhere. Until they decided to take control, both by coming to Crossroads and Camp and by doing something for themselves and working toward something. The stopped using everyone else’s lack of hope for them as an excuse, and found their own.

As you can imagine, being in a room with 12 other people, all fighting as you have fought can really play with your heart. As one of these moms was speaking for her son Chris, who has very limited verbal ability, all I could do was stare into his eyes, and sit a little taller for a little longer, even though I was getting tired; to keep fighting as he does.This was my moment of awakening, my moment of finding my own hope. I don’t want to say I’d lost hope in the past few months, but it wasn’t easy to find. I was still using every excuse in the book to my advantage. I was still afraid to try. And I still had not found reason for me to hope for myself. That all changed this camp. I realized that it’s not magic fairy dust that gives me the ability to do very well in a PT session, but then not at home. It’s not environmental. And there’s no outside force to blame. Yes, therapies have been cut and doctors have expressed their lack of belief, but it’s been 2 years now. I can’t keep using that as my shield anymore.  It’s all on me. I’m the one putting in the effort or not putting in the effort. And I’m the one holding myself back or propelling myself forward.

There you go, more life lessons learned via Camp Care. Hope you enjoyed!