Wednesday, February 27, 2013

One Special Place

Imagine yourself walking into a room where the walls are covered in purple. At the crack of the door you see something interesting and you don’t know exactly what it is, but you get an inkling that you are immediately blessed. As you continue to walk in the room you see a wall covered in photos of dogs and a sign that reads, “you had me at woof.” Just that sign makes you more intrigued so you continue to walk in. Then you see a blue couch and above the blue couch you see hand-made art work. Around the hand-made art work you see a stick-on quote that grabs your attention; it’s so real it pops out at you. As you continue towards the middle of the room, you see a white, framed, luscious bed that you feel like you could hop into at any moment even though you’ve never been in this room before, so you do just that. You decide to act on your impulse and hop in the bed. Your covers are wrapped around you in baby blue, white, and purple. You’re wearing the pajamas that your good friend gave you and above there are white butterflies flying in formation. On one side of you there are pictures of you dancing and on the other side there is a picture of one of your role models; Martha Graham. On the wall above your computer, the dancing doesn’t stop. There are calendar photos of expressive dance movement and quotes related to dance. You don’t know how the pajamas got on you or how your favorite decorations got around you, but you feel so special. It doesn’t stop there. On the shelf by your computer, there are pictures of everyone you possibly love in your life and you see the same thing on your bookshelf; you’re like “how did this happen? Is it a dream?” You close your eyes and open them again and realize no, it isn’t a dream; it is your room.
What I’ve just described to you is my bedroom. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I decided to talk about my room. Every time I look around my room, I smile and I know that when I wake up from one of those bad dreams I talked about in a previous post, that I am ok because I just look around at those pictures and at that moment I feel like everyone in those pictures are hugging me at once. It is an amazing feeling. I loved my room at the other purple pad, but I love this one even more because I was able to add almost everyone’s photograph that I love and care about in my room and that is just a great feeling when you walk into a room. When I first moved into this apartment, I was always adding photos for that reason. I thought to myself, “Oh, I didn’t add a photo of so-and-so because I didn’t get a hug from them yet. Oh, I need to include this person because they are important to me.” When I sleep at my parents’ house, it is totally different because I have that mindset now. Even though it is where I grew up it is just a room because it doesn’t have those vibrant colors that I have always wanted in my room. Whenever I tried to convince my mom to convert my room into purple, she always said, “It doesn’t match the rest of the house.” That was one of the things I was very excited about even though I was nervous about living on my own.
That, my readers, is actually where the name of this blog came about. I knew I wanted to share my trials and turbulations of having a disability and living on my own so I could inspire people to do the same and I knew that I wanted purple in the title. For me, purple also represents royalty, beauty, and motivates me to get to a higher standard of living, meaning improve myself as an individual in all the activities I am a part of; whether it be in my personal life, as a dancer, or my newest goal setting opportunity; toastmasters. That is why I also included chandeliers in my room to represent the royalty part of purple. The more I look at my room, the more I am realizing that this room has symbolism for me. At the beginning of this post, I talked about the thing in the doorway that made me feel blessed. What I meant by this is my mezuzah. All Jewish people know that if you have one of these, the room is automatically blessed. Even though they all look different on the outside, they are all the same on the inside which is also another symbolism for me within itself. You see, as human beings, we are all different on the outside,  but are all the same on the inside. For many years now, I have wanted to tell you the meaning behind the purple pad, but it wasn’t until I started decorating this room that it all came full circle for me.
Another way I experienced love this month was when my Uncle Eddie and Aunt Sherri came in from St. Louis. It was so much fun to see them. As many of you know, they are avid readers of this blog and it is people like them who encourage me to stick with my goals and dreams even if they don’t come out and say it because of their personality. For example, they were only with me for a few hours, but they were set on trying to figure out a way for me to get an accessible sink. Once my mom or one of them has a goal in their head, they do not give up and I have them to thank for my positive mindset. When I’m not having a positive day, I just think to myself, “Ok, how can I get this done? How should I think outside the box like Uncle Ed, Aunt Sherri, and my mom would?” And most likely, when I think like that, I can get a lot of things done in a productive manner. The sink isn’t installed quite yet, but we have all of the materials to do so and it will be installed very soon. 

With lots of love and a trace of purple,

P.S.- Thank you Uncle Eddie and Aunt Sheri for adding the last touch to the new Purple Pad, my purple mezuzah! 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Traveling Roommates

Hello Everyone,

Let me start by telling you I am writing the date January 31st because I am not able to post the actual blog until February, but I am still considering this my January post.
So here it goes....

I have amazing assistants right now, but I also have an amazing roommate that I feel so grateful to have met. She is another one of those people that I felt from the beginning that I can just be myself around her. Not that I try to be two separate people, but usually it takes me a while to feel comfortable and be my full, total self with somebody. But she is totally different. I am very happy to say that she is another one of those people who disbite my challenges wants to help me live a full life.    The new year has started out amazing.

We have traveled to Champaign Urbana to visit my friend, Paula, which I've talked about in other posts and I truely believe that in that visit, she became Tori's friend too. We also went to see the Martha Graham Company just two weekends ago. But let me start with the trip to see Paula. There is nothing like waking up to one of your best friends wanting to throw a pillow or her Charlie Brown christmas tree in your face when we had been up all night; since it was New Years Eve. Normally, I would have been angry, but I was just surprised that she had so much energy for the little amount of sleep we had the next morning. I guess she is just an early bird. But waking up the first day of the year next to one of your best friends just made me feel amazing. It gave me this vibe saying in my head that, "the new year was going to be great." And that's only where it started.

We also created memories in Wal-mart that only Paula, Tori, and I will understand. It was already late that night, but Paula said, "Why don't we go to Wal-mart, it's your last night here, I want to live it up." I was already tired because we had been staying up all the other nights late, but I said, "Ok. I agree. It's our last night here." And I'm so glad we went to Wal-mart and I did not become a party pooper.  We stayed up late and made rice crispy treats after the Wal-mart escapade. The night before, we also chased each other in the mall and acted like fools and it didn't even bother us.

Another thing that I enjoyed about the weekend is talking to Paula's friends. You see, she is 10 years older than me. And getting some insight from her friends on how to deal with CP issues is very beneficial since I don't get to ask questions like these at home. Having a mentor group makes me feel good and more comfortable about my situation. It reminds me that if they did it so can I! Sometimes I'm concerned if I'm having a new issue related to my CP that comes up out of nowhere, but then I talk to them and it makes it all better. Having those kinds of peer groups reminds me that I can, in the words of Mike and Tim, "keep on keeping on." 

We did not want the weekend to end! I had those feelings of bittersweet running through my head the whole way home. But then I had to remind myself this is not the end, just another weekend I will never forget.

Those were just some examples of the memories we created that weekend. It is what I like to call "A Huge Hug of Memories." And every single time I think of that weekend, I just want to smile. 

However, our travels did not end there. Last weekend,Tori and I took a less-than-24-hour trip to see the Martha Graham Dance Company in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Martha Graham is a very influential dancer when it comes to modern dance. I have been taking classes in her technique since October and have totally fallen in love with this technique! Therefore, I was itching to see her company. My teacher and director of MOMENTA always expressed how fabulous the company was, but until I saw it for my very own eyes, I didn't fully understand what they meant despite the fact that I was falling in love with the technique as it was. And let me just tell you, this company is breath-taking, and it was the best $20 I have spent in a long time! I always talk about how things happen for a reason, and I really do believe they did because we got there just 5 minutes before it started. In this case, I want to believe that G-d was looking out for me! 

Tori and I love to travel together! Who knows, please look out for the team of Jessica Martin and Tori Sluis because we might end up traveling to a city near you in the near future. 

I can't end this post without telling you some sad but happy news. My pet frog, after almost 4 years, named McDreamy died. I couldn't see McSteamy living by himself, so I got a new one and named it Little Dude. But on a brighter note, yesterday was Tori's birthday, so I surprised her with a cake, and of course we did what we love to do...stay up late!  

In celebration of this month, I'd like to end with this quote from Martha Graham that is on my bedroom wall. It reads, "Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their PASSION." 

Happy New Year to you all. I hope this new year has started out well for you just like it has for me. And Happy Birthday, Tori. You are amazing!