This summer, I feel like I got to really explore myself in two main areas, myself as a person, and myself as a dancer. I got to support my friend while visiting my family. I feel that during this time that my bonds with my family became that much stronger. This was especially exhilarating for me, because it was my first time going to see my family without my parents. Not that I don’t like to go as a whole family on vacation because I do, but getting this opportunity to go see family on my own gave me renewed confidence that I can explore and see my family on my own and this made me feel like a true adult.
It was weird but all the same empowering. At times I felt as though I had to pinch myself because I was like “Am I truly here alone without my parents?” During this trip, I got to see different forms of dance every single night. There are not many places and times in your life that you can see a ballet piece and then five minutes later see a modern or a dance with a Spanish flare to it. Seeing all of these different types of dance over three days was an amazing feeling. I kept thinking, “Wow, wow, wow!” I felt like a little kid who just opened a bunch of birthday presents, and one was even better than the next. But my dancing exploration did not stop there.
In June, I went to a summer intensive that was put together by the Dancing Wheels Company and School. They are based out of Cleveland, Ohio and during this week we studied the principles of Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and the integrated dance movement of the Dancing Wheels Company themselves. I believe during that week I grew as a dancer because of what I was taught. My teacher there was brilliant. He saw the good in every human being and there needs to be more people like that in the world. He said something that will always stick in my head. He said, “The most important part of dance for every single dancer is their face”. And I believe that is 100% true. I think that helped me to understand dance on a whole new level.
My summer isn’t over, but my most recent experience I had was going to camp. This camp was most made for adults with physical disabilities. It was for 18 and older, but most of us were 21 years or older. We all had some sort of physical limitation in our day to day life, which didn’t matter to any one in that camp. That is why I think I like camp as a whole. Meaning my camp in Colorado, or this camp. For one week we can just enjoy ourselves, ask questions about what each other is going through, feel like kids, and basically do whatever we want without having to worry about judgment, or if it will take us too long to complete the tasks.
For example, you might think that this is a childish activity, but I wanted to color one of those felt and marker poster boards that they had in the arts and crafts room. My assistant asked me if I wanted to go on a different activity several times. And I specifically said no. Now you may be wondering, why would I say no when there are so many things to do at camp. And my answer is this, I just wanted to sit down, color, and didn’t want to worry about where I would be going next or what I would be doing next. Or we have to hurry up, can I finish this for you? At times, this was even an adjustment for me to relax because I would even ask my assistant “Do we have enough time for this? Do we have enough time for that?” And just hearing “Yes” was an amazing feeling. Having the freedom to take as long as I needed to complete something was a great gift in itself.
Another wonderful gift that I got to experience, was that I got to put my feet in the lake for the first time. Yes, I am 26 years old and have not had the opportunity to put my feet in the lake. When I told my dad this, he was surprised and I could tell that he kind of felt bad that I had never had that opportunity before. I do not want him to feel bad because at least I got the opportunity. It was nice to experience something out of my wheelchair that was a part of mother nature, that is given to all of us human beings on the earth. It is the little things in life that I enjoy exploring. And that sometimes when there is no time limit on the activities that I want to do, it makes my whole life a lot easier.
In my day to day life, I often feel as if I am being rushed from one place to another, especially since it takes me longer to do things. But for this one week, I did not feel rushed. I could sit by the lake for as long as I wanted to, sit by the campfire for as long as I wanted to, and not have to worry about a single thing in the world. This was a very hard adjustment for me when I came back home and I wish I could have shared it with my Colorado friends, but that is what makes life exciting. It makes you look forward to those precious times again where you can once again do what you want to do.
If they happen all the time, you would have nothing to look forward to. I also was very happy because my friend, Paula, surprised me and came to Visitor’s Day at camp. I was trying to get a hold of her all week to see if she was coming. She did not answer my phone calls or anything so the day of Visitor’s Day, I kept thinking, I hope she is okay, maybe it is bad reception in the woods. But then her mom came running in around dinner time and said “Paula’s here!” My face lit up with excitement, and that is when I realized she wanted to surprise me.
But the fun doesn’t stop there, she is coming in just a few weeks to come and spend a weekend with me and I absolutely cannot wait! I hope that all of you have been able to explore during this rest and relaxation for the summer and hope that you have had a chance to be out in the sunshine to explore in your own way. Tori and I have been exploring together for a year on Thursday! I can’t believe we have been living together for a year! It has been amazing and I would never change it for the world.So go explore and I hope that you have a good compass!