Be Positive, or Don't.

December 21, 2014

"Be positive," "think positive and positive things will happen," "see the positive in everything." These days, anywhere you look you can find motivational quotes promoting positive thinking. While nothing beats good ol' positivity, the constant bombardment of positive thinking completely disregards the very real pain we all experience on a regular basis. It seems feeling down is becoming less and less acceptable and no one talks about it anymore. I mean, 'cause why should you feel sad? Feeling sad is a choice right? Let's be real, positive thinking might help with dealing with negative feelings but why classify anything other than "happy" as negative. Sometimes we feel sad, why make it taboo to talk about? It's just part of the human experience. Pretending it doesn't exist doesn't make it disappear and in the long run makes things harder as your unresolved "negative" feelings begin to build up. Nothing beats being happy, but people get sad. So is life. 

In the spirit of accepting the negative along with the positive, here's how I was feeling a few days ago; I waited to share this so as to avoid posting belligerent rantings of, what felt like, an unsatisfactory life at the time.

 

I'm tired of being paralyzed.

I'm tired of not being able to do things without asking for someone's help.

I'm tired of not being able to close the window when I'm cold.

I'm tired of not being able to have a drink when I'm thirsty or eat when I'm hungry.

I'm tired of being so vulnerable.

I'm tired of being strong.

I'm tired of being weak.

I'm tired of being brave.

I'm tired of trying.

I'm tired of believing in myself.

I'm tired of feeling inadequate.

I'm tired of feeling like I'm a burden on others.

I'm tired of waiting.

I'm tired of of my lack of confidence.

I'm tired of feeling angry.

I'm tired of feeling sad.

I'm tired... Of being tired.

 

As most things, these feelings subside, but to deny they exist taints the pure joy we feel when the pain subsides as it lurks in the shadows. Without this pain there is no joy. We live in a society where we must hide our suffering, but suffering is what makes us utterly human.  I'm not saying you should let the bad things keep you down, but to acknowledge them so you can let them go.

So don't be so hard on yourself. Let yourself be sad sometimes. It'll all be ok; even though that's the last thing you want to hear when you feel like everything around you is crumbling away into the abyss.

 

New Year Reflection

January 1, 2014



So the New Year begins, 2014.  The end of one year and the start of the next gives people the sense of fresh start, a reason to make changes in their life.  The reality, though, is that time is a socially constructed idea created to keep track of things.  Somewhere along the line value was given to anniversaries, new years, birthdays, and so on.  Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with celebrating these milestones, I’m more concerned with the notion of New Year’s resolutions.  I just feel like its society’s way of saying you’ve got a clean slate when really you have all year to put your foot down and create change if you really want to.  Shouldn't we be bettering ourselves all year round?  Do we really need a special day to remind us to be better people, achieve goals that have been on your mind, or to live a healthier lifestyle?  That being said, if the New Year is going to give you that push of motivation that you’ve been needing to make change, good on you.  As for me, I plan to continue just as I have been: be true to myself and do my very best to reach my goal of a full recovery. 

I wish everyone blessings followed by blessings and the strength to take life by reigns always and see every day as an opportunity for change.

 

 

Positivity Canon

December 28, 2013

The human experience- it is something so individual that there is no way of truly knowing anyone else’s experience, but your own.  Sure, they can tell you their experience, but those are just the parts that they want you to know.  What about the things they’re too scared to admit? 

For me, being in a wheelchair took a long time to get used to, more than two years.  How can anyone expect you to get used to paralysis in a time other than the one the individual experiencing this life-altering event is comfortable with?  But people like to interfere, they like to suggest explanations of why you feel the way you feel, and tell you how you should be feeling or acting. 

My entire life and everything I knew to be true was shattered and challenged.  It has been a process of relearning my body, relearning myself, losing friends, discovering new friends, and rediscovering old ones.  It took me two years to be comfortable going out in public.  I felt judged, I felt like everyone was looking at me like, “whoa, look at that super disabled girl” or “what’s wrong with her?”  I also couldn't help but think that everything I was doing would be so much more fun if I could use my body the way I used to.  I didn't want to be doing anything other than things that were helping me reach my goal of a full recovery.  I was angry and obsessed.  I constantly had to redirect my negative thoughts into positive ones.  I sought solitude.  But people like to interfere. 

There is absolutely no way for anyone to understand MY human experience.  I had to learn to become more accepting to this reality.  “Everything happens for a reason,” “At least you’re still alive,” “God is looking over you and knows you’re strong enough to handle this,” “You need to be grateful for the things you DO have,” ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?! WHY DON'T WE SWITCH PLACES AND YOUUU BE THE PARALYZED ONE, THEN?? HMMM? Well, that’s how I felt about the positivity, interference canons that were being fired my way from every direction at the time.  This accident has been an extremely personal struggle within myself.  I knew all these things were true and still struggled to really feel like they were true.  So when the ways I “should” feel were catapulted at me by people have no clue about what was going on inside of me, I couldn't help but feel angry.  Anger subsided and I settled in at apathy for a while, but no matter where my emotions are at my goal, my focus, has never changed. 

I’ve reached a point in my recovery where my goal is still the same, but I can fully appreciate the moments in between.  I’m no longer easily affected by outside interferences.  After all, it is MY human experience and no one else’s.

 

 

The Power of an Inch

December 19, 2013


“Your life can change in the blink of an eye.”  This phrase gets thrown around a lot- well, it’s probably because there’s a lot of truth to it.  But it’s not just this increment of time that holds great power for change.  Every moment, every movement, every inch can make or break a circumstance.

A difference of an inch would have led my car into a tree instead of a house.  A break one inch higher on my spine would have left me stuck on a ventilator for the rest of my life.  A shoe placed one inch too far into the doorway means I can’t go into the next room.  My toothbrush moved one inch means I can’t brush my teeth on my own. 

Enough about what I can’t do.  When you turn it around, this single inch has the ability to empower me.  Adjusting my surroundings by an inch can allow me to brush my own teeth or to wash my own face!  Regaining the ability to move my elbow in one inch closer to my body allows me to roll over in bed on my own (gaining this inch has taken me 4 and a half years)!

With every inch, I am one inch closer to being able to do another thing on my own.  This accumulation of inches has brought me here today and will carry me through to my goal.  

 

overdue

December 13, 2013
An update is long overdue, but after my fundraising event, Thanksgiving, and finals, I am so happy to say I am enjoying doing nothing other than my usual workouts.  So bear with me please:)
 

Comedy for a Spinal Cause

November 22, 2013


What a night!!!! Family, old friends, and new friends!  The amount of organization and love that went into making last night happen is truly incredible.  I cannot even begin to adequately express my gratitude for the efforts put in last night and the days beforehand to prepare.  It all came together in beautiful, harmonious festivities.  It was really nothing short of perfection.  We had a completely filled venue, amazing comedians (SO FUNNY!!), and a cozy atmosphere filled with love.  Since the beginning of this campaign we’ve raised close to $22,000!!!!  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, to everyone who contributed and shown their support for this journey of mine!

Comedy for a Spinal Cause (http://comedyforaspinalcause.org/) has taken an admirable commitment in supporting those with spinal cord injuries and strives to raise awareness for those who live with the daily struggle of paralysis.  I am so lucky to have had this event organized for me and David Nihill, of Comedy for a Spinal Cause, is a phenomenally caring individual who shows true passion for his cause. With the support of Stephanie Behrendt and Dave Ryan, they pulled of an unforgettable night!

 

No more hiding.

October 24, 2013
 

As I launch this fundraiser I am overcome with gratitude. So many people have stepped up in support of my cause. At the same time I was a bit weary and nervous about the whole campaign.

For four years I’ve stayed hidden, avoiding social media and pushing people away; I was comfortable in this little bubble that I had created for myself. I didn't like the idea of asking people for help or having to keep people updated on my progress. I’m not trying to say I’ve gained some sort of fame through this campaign, but in my own way have exposed myself. I’m lucky to be pleasantly surprised by the outreach and support. I’m also surprised to realize that I had created such an impenetrable bubble that there were people who did not even know what had happened to me.

I think that, until now, I had a reservation for sharing my life, almost ashamed that I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I hated people asking me, “How’s therapy going? Any progress?” because I hated not being able to say, “YA, I can walk now!” or “YA! I can use my hands now.” But I am here now, exposed in my own way, proud of where I am and how far I’ve come, confident that there’s more progress to come. Thank you to everyone rooting me on.

 

24.

October 15, 2013


My mom just happened to be visiting me from Japan when my accident happened.  She left her old life behind, never looking back, to care for me.  My dad and brother stayed in japan and my incredible mother has been my rock.  Now, my brother is in Boston for college and my dad’s been transferred to Hong Kong.  I see my dad every 2-3 months, but it is extra special when we get to spend our birthday together on October 10th.

My parents continue to live apart so that my dad can have a job that provides me with the very best care available to me.  In unfortunate circumstances, such as mine, I could not feel more fortunate.  I could not have been blessed with a better family.  I am forever grateful.  

 

Confidence?

October 2, 2013

Where do I start… I’m in transition between caregivers and feeling completely overwhelmed.  Training a new caregiver to care for you really bring the reality of dependency to the forefront.  You literally have to instruct their every movement for it to work.  It is extremely frustrating and the feeling of helplessness overcomes me.  no matter how frustrating, my life depends on this other human being who has no incentive of working for me other than being paid to do it. 

Where does confidence come from?  Where does a feeling of self worth come from when you are not even capable of keeping yourself alive?  Sadly, I don’t have the answers to those questions.  It’s just something that happens.  Do I have it?  I can’t say that I completely do.  I have confidence in my actions, but true confidence in self… I think I lack it.  When you are so physically limited, how can you expect someone to love you (in terms of relationships)?  What do I have to offer?  Sure, love is not all physical, I know the lesser of it is.  But realistically, if someone I deeply care about needed me, I could do nothing.  If someone has fallen and needs a hand up, I’ve got nothing.  I could only sit there and ask if they are all right.  Where does confidence come from?  When so many people, more than you can count, have stared at you with your legs spread, practicing how to a catheter on you, how do you hold on to your dignity?   

 

Truckin' along

September 29, 2013


Today I got to take a look at some old videos of when I first started training at SCI-FIT.  I could barely hold myself in a sitting position and it was a struggle to just hold my head up; when being lifted up I needed someone to hold my head up for me. 

This week my walking was not as good as the week before.  It was a little disappointing, but you have off days with an injury like this.  However, my walking today picked up back where I left it last week.  They key is to keep your chin up.  Some days just don't go the way you want, but leave those days behind and prepare for the next- that’s all there is to it.  

With an injury like this the progress is slow moving.  I’ve found that celebrating the little victories as it is those little victories that have brought me this far.  I looked back on these old videos and saw how far I’ve come and there were definitely off days to get here.  What matters is the end product, you've just gotta keep truckin’ along.  

 

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