Preparing to Grow

We often hear about people making resolutions on New Year’s Eve.  So you’re probably wondering why I’m thinking about it in October.  My balance and other motors skill are affected by my cerebral palsy.  A few years ago a friend suggested I make an appointment with her acupuncturist.  I was thrilled how much my improved after my first treatment and decided to see her on a consistent basis.  

Although Anna immigrated from the Ukraine thirty years ago, she still speaks English with a heavy accent. At a recent appointment she surprised me when she said, “I think I’m going to take some speech classes, so I can learn to speak  better English.”  Curious about her decision to try to improve her communication skills, I asked her why.  “Maybe I could get more clients and friends if I was easier to understand.”

But with her next breath she started to talk herself out of her new goal.  After telling me she didn’t have time to take classes she finally admitted she didn’t like school when she was a kid. She said “I can get better by myself.”

 “If that were true” I argued, “you would have done it already.  We don’t hear ourselves the way others do. For instance, my speech is affected by my cerebral palsy.  Unless I hear a recording of myself talking, I forget how I sound to other people. I hear myself the way I hear others. 

She was surprised when I asked her, “ Do you hear yourself roll your R’s?

Puzzled, she asked, “So what do.”  “I think either taking a class or having A mentor would be helpful.  They can point out speech patterns you need to change and give you moral support when you get discouraged.     
 Instead of increasing the number of people she can talk to by learning to speak clearer,she told me she really didn’t need to talk to strangers. She communicated just fine with her clients.  I didn’t tell her but I cringed when I thought about how restrictive that would be.  

As my treatment continued, she explained the pain I have in my arm when I straighten it.  Last year, when I started to have trouble with it, I stopped doing things that involved stretching.  For example; brushing the back of my hair and putting on my tee shirts . Unfortunately, my decisions about how to avoid pain caused my muscles to get shorter.  

There aren’t any painless answers. If I want to regain some mobility and keep my independence I need to follow her instructions.

Personal growth takes a lot of  work and dedication.  In order to achieve your goal it’s helpful to:

  • 1. Know your reason for working for it,
  • 2. What happens if you don’t try to improve your situation?
  • 3. Who are to be your cheerleaders?  

Please share your why and what keeps you going during the long haul.

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More Than What Meets The Eye

This week the Canadian Parliament is finalizing their assisted-death law. Unlike the five states in the US that have legalized assisted-suicide for terminally ill people, the Canadian law extends doctor-assisted death to people with disabilities who find their condition unbearable.  My first thought was, “WHO THE HECK DOESN’T!!!!!!!”  

What makes a person’s life unbearable? It doesn’t take a disability to make a life miserable, but it does make it challenging.  I think that many people with disabilities struggle when their limitations keep them from achieving dreams.   I just got a call about a young handicapped woman who is very discouraged.  I can remember when I felt like a victim of my limitations.  However I learned how to surrender my dreams to God and now I understand what God’s purpose is for my life regardless of my condition.  

My friend Mark, was a healthy teenager until he had a skiing accident when he was 16.  He’s been paralyzed ever since and survives with the help of a ventilator.  In January he developed a sore on his leg that has forced him to be bedridden for several months.

Knowing he represents others who will be affected by the legislation, I asked him why he has wanted to keep living.   His answer was clear, “His passion for encouraging others makes his life worth fighting for.”

God values people so much differently than people often do.  When we understand how much God loves us we can gain hope and courage from His promises.  

 Zech. 9:12 Come to the place of safety, all you prisoners, for there is yet hope! I promise right now, I will repay you two mercies for each of your woes.

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A Second Look

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Yesterday, I met my caseworker for the first time after talking with her for months on the phone. She came over for a home visit and one of the first things she saw was a book on my table by Joyce Meyers called ‘Never Give Up.’ She commented, “Oh, I read her stuff all of the time!” There was an instant connection between us after she said that. This small statement opened the lines of communication and we had a delightful chat.

I’ve had appointments with caseworkers for years, but this one stood out because she really wanted to give me all of the help she could. It made me realize that when we make those small connections and learn to find something in common with other people, the desire to help them grows.

A few months ago, I saw a post on Facebook about a person who was raising money to go to a Joni and Friends camp, something I am really passionate about because of my own physical disability, so I re-posted it on my Facebook page. A few hours later, I got a response from another friend of mine saying, “That girl is my niece!” This just added to my desire to help her raise the funds she needed to go to camp. A lot of times, connecting with a person is not that easy; I have to decide whether to try or to just let the opportunity go by.

My friend Joanne is an RN, CHPN and a hospice nurse who has also developed curriculum to educate other hospice care workers on end-of-life care. She is now raising funds to finish her documentary called, ‘Honored to the End,’ a powerful film to help caregivers and family members of veterans everywhere be able to provide more intelligent, compassionate care to this very deserving special group of people. I have an increased interest in this project because I know both Joanne and her father, whose story is told in this film, and is a World War II veteran himself. Through this project, I found out that veterans often need specialized care when they are at this stage of life. As we approach Memorial Day in a few weeks, I think this incredibly important project is a way that we can honor the veterans that have served our country so selflessly.

It is interesting to think about the reasons we connect with some people on a deeper level than others. It always seems easier to just pass by instead of taking a second look and digging deeper into relationships, but if we take the time to connect, we can discover that each relationship brings a unique richness into our lives.