Friday, December 26, 2014

A Magical Evening

Imagine yourself on the fourth night of Hanukah in a large room with lots of Menorahs (or Hanukiot) on long tables. The candle holders are different shapes, sizes, colors and ages. Some have been around for years and passed down from generations and others are brand new and were just bought this year.  What I just described to you, was my first experience celebrating Hanukah at Oak Park Temple but they have been celebrating this way for 150 years . This year there were about 150 Menorahs brought by families and scattered throughout the sanctuary. The lights went out and the sight was magical!    When the lights in the room were on, all the menorahs looked different but when the lights went out, all we could see was the flickering lights on each of the 150 menorahs and we all chanted the blessings in unison. The lights were illuminated and we were all together as a community, celebrating the miracle of Hanukah. At the service the Rabbi talked about two universal messages. The first one is that everyone has a light in them and they might just need help finding it or letting it shine. It is our job as a community to help one another do so. The second one is that several times in our history, people were tempted to give up on each other but when they didn't, miracles would happen. 

When you think about light this holiday season, remember our ancestors and how they didn't give up. They always had a glimmer of hope. Finally, don't forget that you have an inner light to shine and share with the world. So as the lights of my menorah go out on the 8th night of Hanukah while celebrating with family and friends, I wish you a year of peace, love and happiness.
Write to you in 2015,

PS. I can't wait to participate in this tradition next year!  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Welcome to Walgreens and Welcome to My Life

I decided to wait a month to write again because I kept thinking of different ways to write about my experiences, but wasn’t happy with it. I was thankful for these opportunities but didn’t know how to say it. About a month or so ago, I was at my Walgreens job that I’ve had for almost 11 years now. Frankly, I felt like I was bored with it. You see, at my other jobs, I feel like I can make an impact on other people’s lives, but this one felt monotonous, until one day, when I said my usual greeting, “Welcome to Walgreens,” and the man replied, “Thank you, it feels good to be welcomed somewhere.” From that day forward, I have looked at my job differently. Though it is simple, I now believe that I am making a difference in people’s lives even if it’s just a little bit. 

Now, you’re probably wondering, why did I say “welcome to my life” as part of the tile of this post? I said this because I was at yoga class, and I had a breakthrough with my body. Something that I’ve been trying to do for years in dance finally clicked. This was a good lesson for me in not giving up on my body, because I believed I kind of did. I just thought that due to my disability, it’s something I could never train my body to do the proper way. So now, I feel like I am truly a part of me.

Something like this is a perfect example of how you’re never too old for a breakthrough, disability or not. I am proud to say that, because of this breakthrough, I can finally do a high release properly. How do I know that it’s right now? Number 1, my yoga teacher said that it was. Number 2 and more importantly, before he had even said it, I knew it was right because it felt right. Whenever you aren’t sure about something, just go with it because it might lead to a breakthrough, or to something that makes others happy. 

Your dedicated dancer and employee,


Monday, October 13, 2014

Beyond Today

Hi Readers,
I know this is very rair for me to write two post in the month, but I came across two circumstances that I  thought were totally blog worthy, and they relate to each other. 
So here they are.
One day last week, Micheal's family who was my coach and friend for the first two years of me living on my own, brought some of his books to the lobby because they wanted to help keep his memory and legacy alive and most importantly his mission to help others with disabilities. 
To learn more about Michael, and his book go to my post and title Unforgotton Hero. 
It all started when my assistant went down for a break and said there were a bunch of books in the lobby in memory of Micheal. I decided to grab one for myself because mine was torn up. I was so happy it was like a gift was given to me. Once again and I felt like he was still apart of the building. Then a few days later, I got in a disagreement with someone at the purple pad. I was having a very difficult and stressful day, but then I thought of the books. What do I want to be remembered for?
Do I want to be remembered  as person who cannot express her needs?
Or do I want to be remembered as a eloquent speaker, who helps others?
Do I want to be remembered as someone who always complains about her day to day struggles?
Or do I want to be remembered as someone that shacks it off and keeps dancing?
What do I want my legacy to be?
Just these simple positive thoughts, made the whole rest of my week a lot better, and that got me thinking again, even Michael's spirit is talking to me and telling me, the appropriate direction to turn. 
This pass weekend, an example of legacy came up again. 
My brother and I were in a corn maze at an apple orchard. He was very helpful to me, and with him you never know whether he's going to be helpful or not. But it was very cool. It was like he didn't have a disability. He helped me through the narrow spots, without being frustrated or complaining to much. He took the leaves out of my chair when he noticed that they were getting stuck.When I told him Brian we need to slow down because my chair is stuck, he pushed me out right away without any hesitation. 
When my chair malfunctioned at the very end of the corn maze, he waited patiently for me to fix it before going on any further. The only time, he went ahead of me, during the maze was if there was an easier way for my chair to get through. 
He did this a couple of times, but each time, he returned with a smile and said okay I got this. The experience of the corn maze was something we will never forget. 
This is what I believe, my brother wants to be remembered for a kind, compassionate, person who likes a challenge and a bit of adventure. 
I hope that more people will get to see these sides of him because they are what make him very special to me.
This is what I believe he wants to be remembered for. 
So my question to you is: What do you want to be remembered for? What is your legacy?
Happy to be out of the corn maze, safe and sound at the purple pad.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Fresh Start

I took a month off writing because I've had alot of thoughts going on in my head, and I wanted to take a break to reflect on them before writing about them. 
In this post I will discuss different philosophy's that I have developed over the past year. As a result of me living on my own for six years .
The first one is "Never Break Tradition. 
For years and years, my friend Paula has been visiting me every summer and I have been going to her place every New Years. But this year, the week that she was suppose to come in, was the week after Tori moved out and things were just crazy. So I told her to come two weeks later, which was Labor Day weekend. I had everything planned out and things finally calmed down here, so I thought it would be perfect. But the Wednesday before, she was suppose to arrive the thing that locked me in the car, broke down and therefor that means I had to use the straps that normally lock her in when she is visiting. We were both devastated, but one day I had an idea. I was going to tell her, that she had a package coming on Saturday and she had to be home at a certain time to receive it. Then Saturday came along, and my car broke down. Shoot another conflict in my plans, but luckily we were able to fix it and I have a gullible enough friend, and she believes that packages come on Sunday, so when I told her that it would be a day late, she didn't even question it. Hour by hour, that day I was telling her from the car, how far away the package was and even though, my visit was not even for 24 hours, we were so thrilled to see each other and not break tradition. It was something we will never forget and a great way to end my year. 
I say My Year because when you are Jewish, you have two New Years, but the Jewish one is really not about partying it is about reflecting on the year as a whole and how you can make your life as well as other people's lives around you better. We talk alot about improving ourselves. And that is what made me come up with these philosophy's. 
My second philosophy, fits right into religion.
I'm not telling you what religion to be, or how to believe I'm just telling you that at the end of last year meaning December, I was really struggling to find meaning in my life. Everything felt scattered, like a bunch of puzzle pieces. I believe, I even wrote about them in another post and  realized that maybe going back to Synagogue would not necessarily give me the answers I needed, but give me strength. 
Since last December, even though this has been a difficult year for me, I notice that on the weeks that I go to Temple wether it is my new ethics class, or just plain services, I feel stronger and more together. I feel like it's easier to take on the week. 
My advise to you is to Find Something That Gives You Strength and Stick To It. 
My third philosophy is the hardest one yet and one that I would be working on all year to overcome. But with the spiritual strength, my love of dance, supportive Family and Friends I'm determined to make this one happen because it will make my whole life alot easier.
I am very grateful for what I have in my life, but when there is something going on, that I really don't agree with, it is hard for me to be grateful for what I have in my life while excepting what is. Each day I will examine the day and try to find away to make myself happy, to that I can except what is.
I know this won't happen overnight and that is why I'm giving myself a whole year to work on what right now seems like a overwhelming goal. 
If you have an overwhelming goal that you would like help with, I would be more than happy to help you as well because I know you will help me with mine. It is one of the hardest things that I have ever done, but I think now that I am 28 I am ready to take on this challenge. I also feel like I can take on this challenge because I was given the birthday of October 2nd, which is around the Jewish New Year which makes me feel like I have a double New Year. 
As Helen Keeler say's "Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much."
Much Love, Jessi 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Keep Going

My life has been nothing but crazy lately but the breaths in between have been amazing. Imagine yourself on a train or spinning around in a circle. Your eyes are closed and you feel so overwhelmed. You think, oh this is just temporary I hope. But day after day the same thing happens again, and more things keep testing you to see if you  can handle them. That is how my life has been lately. A little over two weeks ago, Tori my roommate found out that she is moving to Wisconsin. I am very happy for her that she is now following her dreams but she is not a room away from me, and I keep thinking she is going on a vacation and she is coming back in few days. I also have had a lot of assistance changes at the Purple Pad. At the very last minute, people have been having to fill in with not much training or notice, which has been very stressful for me. Also, each of them has different personalities, which is another reason why it has been so difficult. But it has taught me a lot about how you can’t always plan for everything in life. I have had assistants living on my own for almost six years now. But the abundance of people in personalities has just gotten to me this month. On top of it all, my little Teddy has had to go to my Mom’s house because of behavioral issues. So I hope one day, he can return to the Purple Pad. I think that is one of the reasons my life has been crazy. I’ve almost always had a dog to comfort me during difficult time and I don’t have it right now.

So it’s been nuts but in between all this craziness, I have enjoyed creating dances with my dance partner. We have created memories that I will never forget. Our relationship was just recently mentioned in the Oak Park newspaper. We are helping to teach the world that everyone can dance.

This has been a perfect month of really realizing the important things in life, like family because I had a lot of disagreements whether or not I should move to Oak Park because of my love for that community but then I have finally realized that I will be so far away from my family, and family is important. It is what keeps you strong and keeps you grounded.

Another breath or special memory I will never forget about this summer is reconnecting with my friend Annie. We met at the Dunkin workshop last summer and for whatever reason, I thought I would never see her again because she lives in Virginia, and I thought we would just be facebook friends until the end of time. But surprisingly or not, I saw that she had returned to the Humphrey workshop as well, and it was such a lovely surprise. So even though this month has been very difficult for me, I will always cherish the memories that have been created.  I know all of my readers have my back.  So my message to you is simply this, "no matter what obstacles you face, keep going" there is always a pot at the end of the rainbow. even if that pot is really far away. Thank you very much you are a big part of why I keep going.  To read the article I mentioned and another reason why I keep going please go to and type in intergrated dance. love you all 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Making Memories

As all of you know, on the Fourth of July, our Independence Day occurred. Part of discovering my independence was adapting to having assistants. I knew I needed assistants to live a successful life, but  I like to spend the Fourth of July with my family each year. This year, I went on a bike ride with my dad and then we met up with my brother and we went kayaking for the first time. My brother and I thought the experience was miraculous and then we had dinner with my mom and saw fireworks. It was a perfect way to celebrate the day. There are only a few  things  my brother really likes  so when he said I really liked kayaking, it was so relaxing. I was so happy to hear this.

Over the past few months, I have been struggling to find good assistants which unfortunately is nothing new. The good ones have helped, stepped up and have gone above and beyond what I could ask for. One of them is Tori, who you all know is my roommate. Tori will be leaving at the end of the month. Her playfulness is what makes her so good as an assistant and friend, along with her sense of commitment. I will miss her as being my roommate we have so many funny stories over the past two years that I couldn't count them if i tried.  the good news is that she will remain in my life. She will continue to be one of my assistants until further notice. I am grateful for this because we can continue to allow our friendship to grow.

Another thing I have discovered about my independence is that like any other twenty-seven year old, I have dreams, but sometimes these dreams do not come true immediately. I want to move to Oak Park because my dance and spiritual communities are there. As you grow up, you realize that what you want to happen does not always happen as fast as you want. But, when it does, I will be extremely thrilled because I will feel even that much more independent. Also, a few months ago in a previous post I talked about having some free time for myself and some time away from my assistant's. Ever since that entry, the time away from my assistants has been wonderful and made me feel that much more independent. I hope you all had a nice Fourth of July and remember, everyone has their own form of independence. 


P.S. -  For those of you who are wondering, when I move to Oak Park my room will still be purple. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Follow Your Heart

In life, you are faced with choices, and when you are an adult sometimes it can be hard because your parents are not always there to help you decide what the right choice would be. They say when you are confused to follow your heart. This might sound cliché, but it was absolutely true for this month for me.

I was faced with two choices: 1. To go to camp 2. To dance. It might seem like a simple answer, but both of these things bring me comfort and enjoyment. After several days of contemplating the issue, and being concerned about what the right decision would be. I decided by the advice of one of my friends to give myself a day to think about it. I did, and I truly believe I gave myself a day to think about it. I not only did that, but I said to myself, “Do what your heart is telling you to do”.

And in this circumstance, my heart was telling me to dance. Even though I am not going to camp this summer, I will still be going to Fall Weekend, which is a weekened where I can spend time with some camp friends. You might say, “Jess, but you only get a chance to go to camp once a year, and you dance every week”. That was something I considered, too, but then I thought about how as a sit-down/wheelchair dancer, I do not get as many opportunities to perform as the stand-up dancers do. I knew my dance partner would be leaving for college in a few years and I didn’t know how many more opportunities we would have to spread the message of freedom of dance for all people with all abilities. 

So, that is why I believe my heart took over and told me to dance, because when I finally made my decision to perform this summer it was no longer coming from my head. My body just had an instinct telling me “You need to do this. This is an opportunity that you do not want to miss”.

I will be performing on July 19th at the Disability Pride Parade downtown and at my dance studio in Oak Park, the Academy of Movement and Music on July 26th and 27th.

I don’t know how many other times I will get this strong feeling of urgency in my life, but my advice to you is…When and if you ever get a it, follow your heart, because if you don’t you may be missing out on experiences you wish you hadn’t!


P.S. - My friend Chava had her baby today! Mazel tov to her and her family and I know she will teach her daughter to follow her heart!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Food For Thought

As most of you know, I usually write this blog to appeal to all types of people: my friends, my family, and people who have disabilities and have questions about living on their own despite having disabilities. But this month’s post is mainly for people with disabilities.

Even though I have been living on my own for 5 years with assistants and have been writing about the adventures both good and bad, there are some weeks that I still struggle with the very basic part of living on my own, and that is having an assistant.

Sometimes, it has nothing to do with them, but I just need my own space and time to chill out. Other times, one thing gets me upset about the fact that I need them generally and my whole day turns into a bad one. I thought this would go away after several years of having assistants, but if just goes to show you that we are all human and we all struggle with some of the basic things in our life, relationships. Relationships are very difficult. Even though I cannot get rid of my assistants because I need them on a day-to-day basis for physical help and sometimes advice, we figured out that I can have 45 minutes alone by myself if needed and eventually maybe longer and two hours alone if I am with a friend or family member. This is another part of living on my own that I did not realize would be so important to emphasize in this blog.

To the average person, it may not seem like a big deal, but everyone needs their time and space. When I had my time and space for the first time since we figured out this new arrangement, I thought about something we talked about in my writing class. We talked about the quote, “Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”. Though the author is unknown, it is a very powerful quote. It reminded me that even when I am going through a difficult time with an assistant, that there are always solutions to problems even though it may not seem that way at first. And I have a lot to grateful for.

I am grateful that they are there to help me. I am going back once again to the Spring to Dance Festival in St. Louis, and to visit family with one of my assistants. I am hoping that I will have less times when I get angry with my assistants if I implement these break times in my life. I plan to continue with the new system even when I am on vacation because my assistant and I figured out we will be together for almost 100 hours over the period of time we are on vacation. After I have had these breaks for a month or so, I will tell you how it is going because maybe when and if you are living on your own it might be something good for you as well to think about. I am by no means trying to tell you what to do, I am just giving you a helpful tip that might be beneficial to you.

In addition to the Spring to Dance Festival, I will be going back to Horizon Camp this summer. I will be a part of the Disability Pride Parade, both walking in it and dancing with Momenta, the dance company I am a part of. I will also be taking part in a summer intensive with Momenta, based upon the Humphrey technique. Doris Humphrey was a dancer and choreographer of the early 20th century who focused on the concepts of fall and recovery.

Finally, Paula will once again be coming to spend a long weekend with me. I can hardly wait! And oh yes, the best news ever! I will be spending a whole week with Paula because she is coming to Horizon Camp with me this summer! It is still hard to believe.

If that isn’t enough, just a few short days ago I received the best package ever. It was from a school that I spoke at recently. I was so confused. The package was really big and I already received my paycheck. Did I forget something there? I said to myself “I think I had everything with me that day. What could this be?” I opened the package to find thirty something letters from 4th, 5th, and 6th graders expressing their appreciation to me on how much they liked my presentation and that they learned a lot. I was having a bad day with an assistant, and this turned my whole day around. It is little things like that that can change a person’s whole day and reminded me why I am creating this business of public speaking. My new business is officially called “Good Life Designer”. It incorporates my public speaking, my passion for helping people plan for their futures, and my ability and passion for choreographing integrated dances.

So, as you can see, I have a lot to be grateful for this month, and I am grateful for all of you!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dancing Through Life

There has not been much going on in my life that is new since I last wrote, so I decided to steer this month’s post in a different direction. At the end of the summer, Larry Ippel will be retiring after close to 40 years of working at the Academy of Movement and Music, and Momenta. He was one of my very first dance teachers at Momenta when I started there 7 years ago.

So, I wanted to share with you the thoughts I wrote for him to say “Thank you” before he retired. Now that the weather is finally becoming beautiful once again, I want to encourage all of you to grow in whatever capacity that may mean. Whether it be learning something new for yourself or for the benefit of others. And THANK YOU Larry for helping me to learn and become a better dancer! I will miss you! Here is the note I wrote to him:

It’s a beautiful thing when we dance through life, the people we come across. One man, who has made a big influence in my life when it comes to music and dance, as a whole is Larry Ippel. He was the first person who choreographed for me when I started dancing at Momenta.

He made a special truck for me, so my wheelchair could fit in it while I was on stage. Larry also admired the fact that my wheelchair sat up in an upright position, so he created a cathead and it looked like I was a yawning cat as I slowly went up and down in an upright position. He has always seen the beauty in every dancer in the academy for that matter. He helped me from the start become musically aware of the counts, though I found it very difficult from the beginning to find my space on stage; he was always very patient with me because I think he knew I would eventually get it.

I am happy that I was able to improve my timing and ability as a dancer because in the beginning I didn’t know if I could and became frustrated at this, over the years he has helped me with choreographing ideas to make my dances even better along with dancing in and out of my wheelchair. For I am extremely blessed because I came to find that in dancing in and out of my wheelchair has its own gifts and experiences, because of this I have been able to elaborate on this when I knew this was the case.

When dancing to the right music I feel free and at peace. Unfortunately there are not many teachers that see the gifts that people with disabilities have, Larry is one of them and he will be missed by a lot of people.

Thank you Larry for encouraging me never to give up!


P.S. - Tomorrow I am doing my first professional speaking gig at Hoover Math and Science Academy! I am so excited! I cannot believe it is already here!

Monday, March 31, 2014

True Example of Life

Since I last wrote, a lot has happened. So much in fact that I can’t believe it has only been a little over a month. In every part of my life I have had something either change for the better or for worse; but I guess that’s a true example of what life is. So I’m going to break it down into different categories. The categories will be as follows. Update on my funding to live on my own and assistance, family life and new business.

  Having help from the agency is becoming a little easier as time goes on. They have been more flexible to my needs and accommodating to my ever-changing schedule. The best part of all of it is, if I have a problem with an assistant and if they aren’t able to show up my assistant will contact the agency and it is their responsibility to make sure that there is someone to help me out so that my parents and I won’t have to worry about it. I still find once in a while that I have to stick up for my needs. Especially when it comes to the interview process, they are not use to having someone that is interested in being apart of the interview with them. Just the other night I had to remind the person in charge of the scheduling that I wanted to be apart of the interview but then again what independent disable person doesn’t have to stick up for their rights so I’m kind of use to it. It was just temporarily frustrating but I think she learned something and that to me is all that matters. When I say that she is in charge of the scheduling I mean she does not decide what or when I do things. She is just the person that makes sure that people will show up when they are suppose to and don’t go over their hours and let me tell you she was put to the test this month because I lost one assistant and temporarily another one so I want to thank her for all of her hard work that she has done to make sure my life is still running smoothly even though she will say “ That’s okay it is my job”.  I also want to thank my assistants and Tori for stepping in at the last minute to work extra hours so my life can be more efficient.

When it comes to my Family life we were thrown two curve balls this month. My great uncle Sidney past away, which is my moms last uncle he was 91 years old. I didn’t get to spend a tremendous amount of time with him but I will always remember him for his courageous smile and eyes that seemed to sparkle in mostly every picture. I don’t know why but I will always remember that he loved the gummy chews, the kind that are hard to find and come in a box. I think I will remember that because not many people except my brother and I like them. When I met him for the first time and found out that he loved them I was really happy. No one likes a memorial service but at his memorial service they had a soldier service before the actual service and let me tell you even though there were no words during the service it was extremely fascinating and powerful something I will never forget. Along with my great uncle Sidney my family lost our white furry member of the family. Junior Bryan martin at exactly three months before his thirteenth birthday, I will always remember the times we had together including bike rides, times by the fire, and just simply sitting outside together and enjoying the beautiful sunlight. He brought so much joy to our family and friends that is irreplaceable It is amazing how such a small animal can make such a impact on your life. He was their for me in difficult times in high school and often with us for many celebrations just wanting to get scraps from the table. Thank you dad for taking such good care of him in his last year of life, I know it wasn’t easy and thank you teddy for being there when I found out that Junior had past. I don’t know what I would’ve done without you. You are really maturing into a wonderful dog. I’m so happy that you are now sleeping in bed with me. I will miss Junior forever and he has definitely left a paw print in my heart. On a happier note my grandparents also known as “ NANA” and “ PAPA” will be coming home after almost two years of being in Arizona. I’m extremely excited because I haven’t seen them since then. It will be a wonderful summer. Also even though she is not a family member my friend Pearl Gannon feels like a family member so I decided to talk about her In this section. Unfortunately she has not received the necessary money to get an accessible van like I mention in an earlier post but a few days ago she was crowned ms wheelchair Illinois. I am very proud of her achievement and if you look up ms. Wheelchair Illinois on Facebook she would love your support. I will be sending invites to her page later this week to show my support for her. She has been through a lot and I am so happy she was able to receive something good and turn her life around for the better.” You Go girl”

Bam! My new career as a public speaker has really taken off. I feel as though I am a horse running out of a gate and taking off extremely fast. For something that I was waiting and waiting to happen, that seemed like it would never happen, I am shocked at how fast it all has come about. Let me start from the beginning. On February 26th, I started my day earlier than normal because I had a presentation at my cousin’s school, and of course I wore a purple dress for good luck, put my make up on, put my board in front of me, and I was ready to go. I knew that I was not doing this as a paid position, but I was thrilled to have the experience and get my name out there. Cleo once told me, “In the beginning, it is not about the pay. It is about the experience and getting your name out there.” This was a true example of that. For some reason, I never would have thought that my name would travel as fast as it did. People at that speech liked me so much and the messages I had to share that one of the people that wasn’t even there heard about my speech and wanted me to come and speak at their school. This was a perfect example of how patience and perseverance really can pay off. The funny thing was that the presentation itself was on perseverance.

Thank you to my cousin, Jordan, and the Lincoln Prairie School for listening to my message, carrying it out, and letting me share my story with your community so my career as a public speaker could take off. It is because of that speech that now I am able to say that for the month of April, I am not only getting paid to speak at the Arc Conference, but I am getting to speak at Hoover Math and Science Academy as well. That’s what I mean when I say that it is really taking off. As for Cleo and I, we have decided that we are better just as friends, but I am extremely grateful for all of the help and support she has given me up until this point, because without her help I do not believe I could be as successful as I am today when it comes to being a public speaker.

In the future, I am open to speaking to colleges, high schools, junior highs, elementary schools, people with learning challenges, and medical students. If anyone has an idea of where I could speak, or has a referral for me, that would be great! Thank you very much.

Your new public speaker,

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Thank You

Another reason why I write this blog is to share things that have gone well with my assistants to inspire and hopefully help those who want to live on their own with a challenge. So, this entry is a story about something that worked well for me and I understand if it does not work well for you. I just thought it might be helpful. 

As I said in my previous entry, I just lost two assistants and for the most part my time with them went well. So, I decided I would write thank you notes to show my appreciation for what they had done, things I will never forget about them, and things that I would like to leave them to hopefully motivate them to become an even better person as they both go on to higher positions in their life. 

I used to think thank you notes were a waste of paper since my family has always been environmental, thanks to my brother's beliefs and business. But I realized how important just a few words can change a person's outlook on life, inspire them to be better and continue to follow their dreams. I think that the idea of writing thank you notes to your good assistants is a good way to help them feel good about themselves. Everyone needs validation in life and this is the perfect way to do so. It is amazing how just those two words, "Thank you", can make a difference in a person's life. You might not even know what that difference will be, but at least you made an impact in their journey of life. 

I would like to leave you with a quote that perfectly summarizes February for me. 
"My life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next". --Gilda Radner

With much appreciation,

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pieces of Life

Do you remember when you were a kid and you wanted so badly to get that 500 piece puzzle from the store, then it took forever to convince your parents to buy it for you, but then when you got it home you were like, “What did I get myself into!?” That is how I feel when I am about to hire a new assistant and the interview goes well, I think the training process will also be a breeze, but unfortunately that is not always the case. In the same way, I believe that my assistants may think the same about me that working with me will be a breeze. Even though this person may have good qualities and credentials to fit my life, it might take them longer to learn how exactly to fit my needs. In a way this makes me like a puzzle because I sometimes have needs you cannot see on the surface. So from the very start, we have to work together to make the pieces all fit together.

That is why I get so excited when I go to my friend Paula’s house for New Years. Because aside from the party time, it is a time to get together with friends who are older than me with disabilities to discuss my concerns, so that the year starts out right. We talk about health concerns and share experiences. It’s an informal, open-ended discussion among friends where I can ask questions and be mentored. This conversation helps the year start smoothly. This year was no different. I got to go to one of my friend’s houses that is totally accessible, and by that I mean the kitchen included. Everything is adapted so that she can reach all the utensils and appliances. Even something as simple as this helps me get inspired for the rest of the year.

I believe I have two puzzle pieces to deal with at all times, if not more, due to my disabilities. One is the assistant piece, which I just had to deal with recently because I am losing two assistants that I’ve had since March. The second piece is that even though Cerebral Palsy doesn’t get worse, the symptoms might be aggravated due to weather or difficult situations in my life, which are happening right now. This time around I am experiencing tightness and spasms, but sometimes it can mean uncontrolled movement. So it is always a puzzle to figure out how to be comfortable with the new problems that arise due to my puzzle pieces and I am working to put them all together, but I know it will take time, I want to thank all of my readers for supporting me in this difficult time of putting the pieces back together.