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!

Life..Part One

It’s been so long since I’ve really posted. Sorry to my few loyal readers. College life has a way of getting in the way of the things I really want to do. All. The. Time. Honestly, I have so many things that I would love to, and really need to, share with you all. My last “real” blog post was in July and to say that a lot has gone on since then would pretty much be the understatement of the century. Currently I’m listening to Til I Collapse by Eminem (thanks Carlee!!-a song that I HATE to love!)and that’s a pretty good description of life since August.
For those of you who follow me either on Twitter or in real life, you’ll know that I spent a week in August volunteering at a camp called Camp Care which is run by a physical therapy center in CT. Crossroads (the PT place) isn’t like most clinics you would think of. The therapy they do there is both functional and structural. They use manual therapy. Actually, just read the website. I can’t do it justice. http://www.crossroadsphysicaltherapy.org
This was my second time volunteering, but my first experience with the week-long summer camp. The camp is for kids with various physical and mental impairments where they receive free physical therapy treatments for a week and have the opportunity to take part in a lot of activities that they may not normally get a chance to like swimming, running/playing outside, interacting with other children with impairments, etc. This is what I spent my week doing and it wad hands down the most amazing week of my life. Interacting with these kids and their families never ceased to put a smile on my face and remind me how much love can go such a long way in life. I’d be a liar if I said this week was made amazing just because of these kids though. While at camp, I had the opportunity to be treated one day. This was only my second time getting treated as well. I immediately felt differences in my body and knew, though I had been resisting it for a long time, that I needed to give this a try for myself. I also was on the receiving end of some of those fun activities I’d never gotten to do. During the week, I played soccer, my first game of kickball ever!, a fitness challenge that could have easily put be in my grave, and I got to go in the lake and be free in the water. Those of you who know me well enough know that water is one of my biggest fears, but also one of the places I would love to be all the time because I am free when I’m in it. Throughout these 4 days, there was one person..well 2 if you count God, but He’s always beside me..that was there for it all. These experiences caused me to learn how to trust again, something I haven’t done in 5 years–almost to the day. You see, I met this person at my first camp last December and we’ve been friends ever since. I don’t know how I lived my life without him to help me through most of it. (He may or may not be reading this, but if he is…Oh well. He deserves to know how awesome he is. HI DAN! :)) The things I did at Camp Care he won’t take credit for, but I know I couldn’t have done them had it not been for his ability to be there for me, to let me know I could do it (and challenge me when I said I couldn’t) and my ability–however fearful it was–to put my trust in him.
Because of that trust and that friendship, on the last day of camp, as we were walking up the beach, I was able to let go of his arm and take steps on my own. For the first time in 5 years. Coincidence that 5 years ago was the last time I truly trusted? No? I didn’t think so.
Trust is funny. It’s a five letter word. It’s very simple. Yet, it can forever change your life. In the past 4 months, trust has been at the absolute center of my life. Another blog post tomorrow will catch you up on the rest of my adventures, but this was the start of it all, so I feel as though it deserved something all its own…