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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Supercalifragilisticexpealidotious!

Gold stars to anyone who can define today's title. Or at least tell me where I got that word from.

Moving on,I had an amazing day full of excitement. Started off, somewhat standard. Tuesdays I have a meeting with my rehab psychologist bright n' early at 830. The ride service I use, took full advantage of their 'we can be 20 minutes early, and you need to beady', policy which left me dumping intriguing foods like yogurt , granola bars, and bananas into my purse, and picnicking on the lawn outside the psychology office. So classy. At least it was a beautiful morning, to sit outside and enjoy my piece-meal breakfast on the lawn...

After an intriguing hour of me apparently not wanting to solve my personal conflicts,I went to the track to run away, literally! I was extremely pleased with myself for doing my 3 miles in 50 minutes. I concede, that is very slow by normal standards, but if I'm under an hour, that is HUGE for me. This accomplishment left me just enough time to put on more suitable attire for my next venture, meeting the incredible woman, who was responsible for me being moved to the top of the housing waiting list, back when I moved from S. Burlington. She works under the auspice of Bernie Sanders name.

While I was waiting for the woman at the front desk to get off the phone, to assist me, a handsome man strolled out and asked what I needed help with. As I turned, and began to speak, he says, "Oh, you're Courtney, how was you're trip?". Talk about a great way to confuse me. I explained, I was there to meet Gail, and could he let her know, we were there. But, in the middle, I stopped, and asked , "wait, how do you know my name? He then returned a moment later, to offer tea or water. Meanwhile, I'm trying to place him, as he seemed familiar. Eventually, my 'fail-safe' memory placed him as Burlington's Mayor. Go Burlington! He'd approached me, last month about the marathon, and, I didn't know, for sure, if it was for sure the mayor, I was extremely impressed by his and Gail's manner with me. I'm no longer accustomed to being treated as an equal by those who've just met me, in an office setting, especially, a state office.It was extremely refreshing to walk into a government office, and have a sense of welcome, as opposed to dread, which is more often than not, the case, for me, regarding state agencies.


Michelle and I sat down with Gail, and got her to list off the incredible and widely variables array of non profit agencies in the area. Watching her list off dozens of organizations, and interacting with her, was beyond impressive. It's just so refreshing to encounter people who have a true passion for their work, she knew every last detail, like the back of her hand.

Next, and more importantly, the conversation turned to internships within the office, for Senator Bernie Sanders. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet the internship coordinator, then and there. My thoughts were, how extraordinary it would be to have an opportunity to more fully understand how the state intends to assist people, in the capacity they need. My task for this week, is to get all of my ducks in a row, in regards to applying for this internship. I desperately need another position to focus on, and more purpose to my life, aside from rehab. I've had an amazing summer, with outdoor adventures a-plenty, but I now, just have sick, lost feeling, in my existence these days. So, even if it's another internship, at least it's for the community that's helped me get back on my feet. All I need now is to get my application in, and see where things go!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

RunRunRun?

So, upon my return from the Push America Trip, I learned of the Marine Corps Marathon, and rashly decided to do it with friends I'd met on the trip. I really want next year to be my marathon year, and thought it was the best plan, until I realized the marathon was this October. I know I ran impromptu 'marathon' in the VCM this year, but part of running as a pirate meant that I didn't feel obligated to run the entire course, and I was more than fine with the path we took. However, if I'm going to commit to registering for a full marathon, I am damn well going to do the whole thing.

After being regained fearsome tales of stress-fractures, I immediately ceased that notion. Although, on Friday, I heard from the Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte, offering me potential dates in September. I was immediately stricken by the possibility, but also hesitant, as Sep. 11th is not only my birthday, but also the 5 year anniversary!? of this strange and peculiar life I now lead. That being my brain injury debacle. I feel like I'm finally in a place where I might want to celebrate the accomplishments and changes my life has been through in the past 5 years. They say it's a long haul, and that could not be more correct. I was really unable/ unwilling to accept my mental deficits for the majority of this time. It's all a relearning process to me, and I easily take offense to how I m referred to as, or even my perception, of what I think others think when they see me, or meet me. This is a terrible habit of mine, and is often self debilitating for me. But, the more I put myself out there, and get over my own fears, the more I realize no one is actually judging me. They're more so either afraid of me, like, "I don't know how to approach someone about their disability," kind of afraid. At least that's how I describe it. Though the few who do approach me, I always walk away from those conversations feeling like I've learned something about the overwhelming faith and kindness in humanity. So, to all the people who ask me why I run, I run not only to retrain my brain and body how to run to the best of its ability, but also because I appreciate how much I'm learning about the beauty and grace in other souls.

Social Life!?

I remember back in the early days, this whole living alone ordeal had me unwilling to accept i had social/ cognitive difficulties. Lately, and really for the first time in this process, I'm feeling pretty lonely. I go out everyday, and usually meet a friend or go to an activity, but I'm surprised how disconcerting I find it. Also, now, that I'm living on my own, I'm realizing what a slob I am. When my place is a mess, I have no one to blame, but myself. But, I almost think that is good for me, to realize how sloppy I am in my cleaning practices. A friend of mine, who I know through Zumba at the Y came over to make brunch with me. I was maybe a tad over eager in promising I could make crepes, as whatever I made, were more like pancake crepe-bits, as in a millimeter too thick, and I couldn't seem to correct them. The last time I tried this venture, it the first 3 were rubbish, but the rest were pretty okay. Not so, Saturday. They were thick and crumbly, and difficult to unstick from the pan. Oops.

Sabrina saved us , and made an omelette like concoction of eggs and vegetables, and I redeemed myself, in my opinion, by creating smoothies.

The night before, I'd gone out to dinner with a different friend, Bill, who is usually game for tagging along on my outdoor ventures. Being that he's leaving town, we grabbed dinner. I had decided to wear flip flops, unwilling to acknowledge that they're hard for me to walk in now. I don't understand why they make me fall, but they do. I always assume its a different reason I fall, as It makes no sense to me, but everytime I wear them, I do a face plant. And everytime, I refuse to acknowledge my own stupidity and inability to wear them. I used to wear flip flops all summer long, so now that my walking has progressed as much as it has, I keep telling myself, it's just a bad day. But this fall, was like a bizarre trip into the land of deja vu. Last year I'd been trying to wear flip flops on the same walk down the hill. Apparently, I didn't learn from my mistake. Both times, I ended up, not so gracefully rolling dow the hilll a bit. And, what's worse is that I had the same thought, as I so gracefully extricated my body from the brick sidewalk, "thank God I'm not wearing a skirt.". Why my first thought isn't Ouch, I'm an idiot," I don't know. Very weird. We made it down the hill to Our House, which is one of my favorite local restaurants, only to be informed we had to wait 40 minutes. Let's just say, if it's after 8, and I haven't eaten since lunch, I'm not a happy camper when told I have to wait. We continued down the hill to Tiny Thai, which also has an excellent menu, I really only order one thing on the menu when I go. I never acquired a taste for spicy food, so, I like the coconut milk curry. The only problem I've found HS that it varies in hotness every time I order it. Sometimes it's great balance of sweet and spicy, others,!its all sweet, or all spicy. Regardless, my eyes water, while my moth adjusts to the "spice.". I love to go out to eat, since my cooking ventures often end up like my earlier detailed crepes, but somewhere in this process I developed some anxiety about the amount of time I take to consume a meal, as well as the fact I have a difficult time holding a conversation while eating. Do I really want to be the person at the table who doesn't talk, and somehow how ends up with a large portion of food in my lap? NO, but I often forget, I can't actually blame these issues on my brain injury, as I've always had these problems, and no one really complains openly about it. I guess I'm just in the awkward phase of re-learning how to deal with social fears. Oh joy.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Queen of grace...

Today's title is on of my least favorite 'endearing terms my stepdad, often mocked me with, as a teenager. Unfortunately for me, I still haven't learned to move myself more gracefully, as well as the fact my brain injury has required me to relearn to move. While, it can be super frustrating, to not gaily move around, at least I'm still progressing. But, I also rely on anti-seizure medication to a) stop my brain from giving me grand maul seizures, and b) keep me from twitching, and putting my face in the cement (always helpful). I know that my movement patterns these days are far from normal, but, they work, I can walk, and I run so much, mainly so that I will (hopefully) have the opportunity to move myself more easily, and fluidly. I'm so used to moving awkwardly now, that it's easy to forget that I move differently, that is, until some brave soul inquire about it, or I forget to take my meds (which is most often the case). Being dependent on meds has never really been my style, but, I'll take a pill over seizing any-day. I haven't actually had one in three years now, (Yay!) but, I left my apartment this morning, not having taken the kepra, and, was fine, in support group, not shaking, or unbalanced. Only did I realize my forgetfulness when I unlocked my door. I stepped up, to get in and my foot began wavering, and next thing I kew, it was like slow motion fall. This is not an unusual feeling for me, I always have this ability to recognize I'm unstable, and will fall. My problem is, that I don't listen to it, because if I did, I probably would be a fat, depressed lump on the couch, watching other people lead cool lives on tv. And, I don't know about you, but that is not one of my life aspirations. But, anyways, I just had one of those infuriating moments, where I realized I'd forgotten to take my meds, and then fell over immediately in my doorstep, on the sidewalk. So graceful. I picked myself up, and slinked into my apartment, feeling ashamed. But, as soon as shame hits, fury is in its footsteps, because I'm not ashamed of myself for falling, or anything else, at the moment...

Shame is a very bizarre emotion, when I think about it. I know, I think that, because I avoid it at all costs, and people who have a penchant for bringing shame upon others. No thank you!
If I had to find one thing that I can say I appreciate about having a brain injury, it has to be how much more perceptive and more able to deal with emotion appropriately, I've become. I would never stick up for myself in a situation before, as it took me a while to realize what was happening, if I did at all, until someone pointed it out. What I like about doing this on my own, and getting myself into precarious situations, is that I always learn from them. It works well for me, especially since people generally assume, I'm about 10 years younger than I am. This may enable me occasionally, but, for the most part, I find it annoying. Like when I get asked if my parents are available to sign a waiver so that I can have eve surgery, or rent a kayak. Or, my favorite, when I'm waiting for the bus, and a stranger lets off some steam on a nearby couple I'd been talking too, for not 'helping their 'daughter' get on the bus. All I could think to say in that moment was, 'Don't assume, it makes an ass out of you, and me.'. Although, I can't ever bring myself to speak in a confrontational situation among strangers. They can't understand me, which just makes it worse, and more embarrassing for me.

While I'm thinking about being unintelligible, I'll go off for a bit on my frustrations with getting speech therapy. A few months back, my physiatrist wrote me a script for The Luce Center at UVM. The train speech pathologists, and are very forward thinking. I went there in 2010, and had a great experience, as far as therapy goes. They, however, do not accept Medicaid, and tell me to inquire again in the fall, in case grant funding HS available. I'm so frustrated because right now, I feel like my biggest disability, is my inability to clearly communicate my thoughts. It might as well be August, so by now, fall is just around the corner. But the fact that it took me so long to get that answer from them is infuriating. And to have it basically be," you can't pay the way we'd like, so we can't help you right now," is mind-boggling. In this situation makes me ashamed I have a degree from UVM. I spent a lot if money on an education that fostered community inclusivity and well-being, and then they turn their backs on me because I have state funded health insurance. And UVM is not a private school, it's a state school. I realize that health care politics are mind boggling, but, I'm unable to draw a conclusion about why my state-funded healthcare won't get me services at a state school. I don't want to waste time and energy on getting services I clearly need. It's injustice enough that my heart stopped because I took Yaz, and now I have to fight to obtain services, to overcome the disaster that event created for me. we can all agree I need, to be as effective and purposeful out in the world, as we all do. I'm ashamed to be American right now. This is not the land of the free. This is us the land of; 'if you can pay, than you shall be set free'

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lazy Saturday

Yesterday, I spent the morning lazily being absorbed by social media, and reading previous entries I'd posted, cringing at the editorial mistakes. It's funny how 6 months ago, I didn't notice them, even if I put the effort into looking for them, and now even a misplaced comma pops out at me, loudly declaring, "you're an idiot!" at least to me. You all seem to be pretty understanding, even when auto correct sticks a random word in that makes zero sense. So, I appreciate it , thanks for reading the details of my life run amuck. Why you find it so interesting, I will never know, but then again this isn't your everyday world now, and the reason I write about it, is because i need other people to understand how hard it is, to pick up everyday and put myself forth for others to watch/critique silently. I am so thankful for the friends that I do have, as they help me stay grounded and keep things in perspective for me. I feel like the more time I spend on my own, perhaps the scarier I become for others to connect with. Which might be why I hate living alone. Definitely thought I'd love it, yet it's so lonely. There's no one to laugh at me, or even pressure me to clean the kitchen. Now, I have to rely on the appearance of fruit flys and, oh yes, my own unreliable self-control. Funny how I go through phases of appreciating being on my own, and then realize, after I've chased everyone away that I don't actually want to live like this.

Well, no one puts living on government funds as a top priority in how they want their lives to turn out, I know that what drives me nuts, is how difficult and time consuming they make it, to actually emancipate yourself. It is so blindingly obvious to me now, why people who end up forced into these programs, wind up making a lifestyle of it. It's just easier. I mean, they take all of your self worth and lump it into a minuscule dollar amount. It would be so much easier for me to shut up and "trust" the professionals, whose role is to help me get back on my feet, but, in a way that suits their ideas, and the states.

Figuring out how to stand up for my beliefs, goals, and hopes has without a doubt been my most trying effort in recent months. I just feel so frustrated a) that this has been such a long process, and even now, I still don't know where I'm headed.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hit the ground running...

I went to the track yesterday, and after not having been in almost a month, I really hit a groove where I just ran, and kept running. When I arrived, a lady spotted me being awkward about the curb, turning around, moving my cane several times, and it just made it worse that I knew I was being observed. It sometimes makes me freeze, so I tried 3 times , and turned to take the easy way in. (the grass) when the woman who'd been watching me in all my awkwardness approached to offer me help. I accepted, but it was extremely challenging for me to exhibit any grace, as I really abhor bring watched by curious onlookers. People are almost always too afraid to ask me why I move the way I do. I often try my best to be understanding and patient with the people who react unfavorably to my story. Over the past couple years I've realized that guys often do not know what Yaz, is or was, neither do middle aged and up folk, so, I made myself start being general, and saying, "the birth control I took caused my heart to stop, so I have what's called an anoxic brain injury. Depending on the response that receives, I'll decide whether or not I feel like explaining my story, and what that actually means.

In this case the woman introduced herself as a PT student, and she was, admittedly fascinated by my movement patterns, and was spot on as she verbally listed my movement problems. I know the way I move now, makes me stand out from others, but, I also know that people need the education about how to accept those who are different.

However, in this case, it was so refreshing, and I felt like we both probably learned from that conversation.

I continued on the track, long after she left putting in 6 miles. The whole time, I was leering in every direction, stable, but watching everything I possibly could. The whole time I kept thinking how bright the colors were, and critiqued the construction of the new norms, and just as I was wondering why the area seemed so vivid, I realized it was probably because it was my first track run, since having the laser eye surgery, and, wearing sunglasses. I've been so used to running with my eyes crinkled shut from the sun glare, it's like a whole new world on the track. I'm still in awe of how well I see now. I feel like I'm living in a whole new world, and still can't get over it!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Push America's Wilderness Inquiry Apostle Islands/ national Lakeshore Challenge

Where to even begin, about 5 months ago, I was trolling around the Internet, checking out No Barriers website, looking at all of the amazing outdoor adventures being had by people of all abilities. Somewhere, I came across a program called Push America, which was offering a paddling trip in Wisconsin at the Apostle Islands, and Superior National Lakeshore. Recalling my paddling trips with and for UVMs Outing Club, I decided to get more information about this event, I registered almost immediately, after writing to the organization, and receiving an emphatic email about the planned trip. As soon as I registered, I expected to get a fundraising packet. Instead, I got a t-shirt, and a letter about the organization. At that time, I was focused on making my trip to Colorado come together, and neglected to absorb any of the initial treading about the organization. Months passed, and I realized I should figure out how to get myself to Minneapolis to meet the group inJuly. About that time, I received an email declaring that since I'd been the first participant to sign up, they had funding, To provide my airfare. A week later, I received a ticket to MN, which was one of the most surreal experiences, to have plane ticket appear in my inbox. It was at that point, I freaked out about not having done enough research, and started to look more into the organization. I never had any bad feelings regarding my interactions with the organization, but the immensely overwhelming concern from my friends and family, made me feel like I needed to not rely on my faith in the positive experiences I'd had with dealing with this organization.
As the date got closer, I got more and more excited, I just didn't make a difference to me whether or not I personally knew anyone. If you can tell someone who you are, they are more inclined to tell who they are. Obviously, it's not this easy in every situation, but in my experience with people who enjoy the outdoors, it's much less intimidating.

I'd been told someone named Abbi, would meet me at my gate when I landed, and I stepped out of the gate and found myself in. Front of Kyle, who I recognized, as he'd been the point person of this entire program, and had helped me with my travel plans. I was so relieved to see someone I recognized, I gave him a gig hug, and then, realizing I didn't really know him, I felt like a creeper, and apologized, which wasn't necessary, but I always feel like I need to qualify my actions, when I'm out in the world. Let's face it, I've missed a lot, these past few years.

Once we had my bag, I met the rest of the people who'd arrived, Lonnie and Abbi. Lonnie was twirling Abbi around while singing the the theme song from 'Top Gun'. I have to admit, you might as well make the most of the most of the time you spend waiting. Lonnie was great with that throughout the entire weekend, and had a real ability to get all of the ladies to dance with him. But seriously, when a man is twirling you around, singing 'you've Lost that lovin' feeling', how can you say no? Slowly, others trickled in, and we made our way to the van labeled 'Wilderness Inquiry,' tossed our bags into the trailer and climbed in. We spent the next 4 hours in the van, getting to know each other, and sleeping. I will never know why sitting around, doing nothing, is so exhausting.

Once at camp, we met the people who'd elected to drive, and I recall being relatively surprised by the enormous variance of people there. Although, despite seemingly insurmountable differences, we all got to know one another pretty well. And, desperately hope we're able to pull off a reunion of this crew.
I went to sleep immediately after dinner that night. I'd opted not to bring a sleeping pad, as I'd read paperwork stating, I could use on of the camps. Unfortunately, I didn't realize the difference it would make, until I woke up the next morning, every joint aching. I officially realized I was no longer a spry kid in that moment. Oddly, I was one of the first ones awake and ready to start the day (usually, I'm one of the last) and I eagerly wolfed down oatmeal, as if it was my first meal in 3 days. And, even though I'd been one of the first to rise, I was probably the last to finish eating. That was Friday morning, and after breakfast we headed down to the warehouse to get outfitted for wetsuits and life preservers. I always seem to forget what an enormous difficulty it is to squeeze yourself into a wetsuit, I think I needed 3 people's help, to pull it on, and zip it. The cohesiveness of this group was incredible. In the past 5 years, I've never really had a group outdoor experience where I felt so at ease, with the level of help I was receiving. This entire trip was challenge by choice, which meant if I needed assistance, I received it, when I asked. And no one made me feel guilty, or like an imposition if I wanted to try to get something for myself. My tent mates, Abbbi, and Jen,were both fully abled young women, and yet, extremely patient with my need for independence. Everyone was extremely courteous and mindful of each others needs, but not overly so.
After fitting, we all headed to the lakeshore for what is referred to as a tip test. This is is when you get into a kayak, and tip it over. This is a common safety precaution to make sure that everyone is able escape from a submerged kayak, before you go out into the open waters. Alex was my tip-test partner, and protocol is to ask each other if you're okay, when you come up. But, I stood up, and was immediately distracted by the choking/coughing sounds Alex was making. I stood there frozen, knowing that if I did need to help him, I might not be big or strong enough to get water out of his lungs. I hated watching him struggle to catch his breath, and expectorate all of that water, because I unexpectedly tripped, wile walking through a river recently, and my face went in the water, when I wasn't expecting it to. You know you're fine, but your body makes you cough so violently, it makes your lungs ache. Not cool. I just wanted to help, but there's nothing to do, but watch. A minute probably went by, and he was good, and we all retreated to lunch, which was deli meat, sliced veggies , hummus, and bread. And of course cookies, which no one is shy fighting about. After lunch, we parted ways. I had ended up on the canoeing trip that day. I don't really care for canoes, or paddling them, because I have a random nerve impingement problem, in my right shoulder. I've had this problem forever. A doctor I saw, when I was 15 called it bursitis, and told me not to bear weight above my head, and that there is nothing they can do. I learned to climb without putting weight on my arms above my head, and never thought about it again. Except, the rare time I've found myself in a canoe, it just burns, and I get upset from the pain, and also because I'm not pulling my weight. My standards are ridiculous, because i try to be be patient with others needs , but I an never patient with my own needs, especially now, that they're different. Seeing how we all had to find our commonalities on this trip, helped me to realize I need to do more of that in my actual life. Look for the commonalities, as opposed to the reasons why I will stand out. One of the most profound life skills I learned in college, was to jump in full throttle, to situations I believed in. I will always believe in outdoor recreation, and I hope that I will never turn my back on an experience simply because I don't know anyone prior to going. 5 days ago, we'd never met these folks, today, I'd gladly help any one I met on that trip, in every way I could. That is what I love about outdoor experiential education. It puts the human element back in your life, because you have to work together to accomplish goals.

I'm willing to bet we all got in touch with the kids we once were, sitting around the campfire that night, regaling our most embarrassing or ridiculous outdoor/travel tales. I have a plethora of them, from my days at UVM, with the Outing Club, as well as traveling in central America and Europe. Being on the poot, has never been a strong suit of mine, and I was able to tell my tale, although, I hate how self conscious I've become , about how my voice sounds. In theory, I have a plethora of the most ridiculously embarrassing stories, from on and off the trail, from my days at UVM. My friend remember every stupid moment I had, I remember nothing. Convenient, I suppose, but that combined with my voice makes me the worst storyteller imaginable, at least, in physical person. After a grand night around the camp fire, we all retired to our tents. That night, I thoroughly appreciated the therma rest, I'd borrowed from the camp.

The next morning, it was dark, and gray, and also, our last day to paddle. We all went for a gander at the National Lakeshore Visitor center. Which is, ironically, not really even within view of the lake. Pretty odd location, if you ask me.

Upon arrival, we realized that if we filled out a survey, we could get a free postcard. The lure of a free artifact speaks to me every time. However the woman at the desk grew busy with others, and I eventually grew tired of waiting for her, and walked to the postcard rack to help myself to one. At this point Abbi walks by holding a postcard, and ask to seer what she picked out. Her postcard was a picture of the brown building were standing in. This is when I realized I wasn't meant to help myself to a free postcard. Oops. Instead, I did help myself to a free coffee, and stepped in to the film area. Strangely, I was immediately bored watching logs in a river, listening to Lake Superiors Historical facts. This prompted me to dump my coffee, and move on to something I found entertaining. Fortunately, that's not difficult, as I began to peruse the exhibits. I love the kid oriented exhibits, as I'm needlessly amused by holograms, and intense magnification, just like I was, at the age of 7... But, at least I have reason; my brain hasn't been visually capable of understanding those types of images, and now I spend as long as it takes for my brain to make sense of these images. I'm sure that seems boring, but it never is, as I'm aware of what a miracle it is that I can see, period. On that note, I felt so blessed to no longer need my glasses or contacts, Yayy!
After lunch, in the visitor center, we parted ways, and it was my turn to go kayaking. I partnered with one of the Wilderness Inquiry leaders, Clancy. I really enjoyed being able to hear the little facts, and curious bits of knowledge about the lakeshore. I also hoped it might mean we'd be a bit more adventurous than other boats. I didn't count on how adventurous though, until I found myself lying flat on the kayak, with about 3 inches between my face, and the rock tunnel we were squeezing through. That was pretty awesome! Although, slightly uncomfortable as I couldn't raise my head to see how much further we had to go. When we came out, it was such a relief to sit up. Around that time another participant became extremely distressed, as the red rock formations seemed to illicit PTSD for him, in regards to trauma he'd experienced during his time in Iraq. Fortunately, his boat-mate, Abbi, was able to take over, and paddle them both back to the beach. In moments like that, you realize how extraordinary, this group is, for pursuing their dream of bringing all abilities to an equal playing field.

When we got back, I was immediately dismayed that our adventure was basically over, at least, the water part.

We returned to camp for dinner, and, later s'mores around the campfire while reflecting on the weekends events. Sharing our highlights, and favored memories of the weekend. This was a real challenge for me, as I enjoyed every moment in equal parts. I can't recall walking Into a group of unknown people, who were so genuinely accommodating.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Shanti Om...

I started off my Monday, trying to plan ahead, and pack for my trip to go kayaking, in the ApostleIslands (boundary waters) of Wisconsin, and I suppose most of us start off under best of intentions, as I did, but when my friend approached me about heading to Mt.philo, packing HAD to wait. Anytime I can get a friend to do something outdoors with me, I seize the opportunity! 'hiking' really gave me an opportunity to appreciate my 'new' eyes, which I've very quickly settled into already. It was so exciting to marvel at the patterns on the trees, up close, and then take the view from the top. My appreciation for the outside world is back in full force, as it's beauty is unrelenting.

After our expedition walking up and down the paved access road (which is about all my balance can handle) we headed on to monday night kirtan. I'm generally pretty close mouthed about my participation in an Indian chanting group. Mostly because whenever I attempt to explain it to someone, I often receive a less than understanding response. Or, an, oh that's nice, kind of remark. Bill however, seemed pretty interested in the idea of it. I brought my case manager once, as she seemed interested, and I was just pleased she had such an open mind. She hasn't ever considered coming back though. In my old life I can't say how open minded I might've been about this activity, but now I could not feel more fortunate that they have accepted me, and those who are brave enough to come with me, and learn about a more holistic lifestyle.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Work ethic?

I don't even know where to begin tonight. I'm pretty stressed about living alone. My previous desire to live alone has long since faded, about, so now that I'm on my own again, I'm feeling vulnerable to loneliness. Even weirder, is that I work pretty hard at keeping myself busy, which I'm doing a much better job of these days.. Yesterday, I let myself get absorbed in a book all day. I can only guess what Hillary thought, when I answered the door in my underwear, hiding behind the blinds. Probably the same thing you're thinking, that I'm lazy. Whatever, I have to embrace living alone in all of its shameless glory while I have the opportunity. But having to answer the door shamed me into putting on shorts. And, I was so glad I did, because about an hour later there was another knock on the door. This time it was Pat, from my previous home care provider situation. His mother recently passed away, and knowing they were getting rid of all the furniture, I'd appealed to their offer for furniture, with a request for an end table, to go by the futon. Low and behold one appeared. I am feeling quite fortunate, as I haven't had much luck replacing my old one. Of course, when you buy a table for $10, you know it is likely to have a short life.

My being glued to Eat, Pray, Love continued, and I'd planned to just keep reading through the evening. Around 9, my phone rang, and it was a Winnooski neighbor, asking me to watch his kids. This is definitely someone who's one of many people, I need to return a favor to, so I said I would. I have to admit that knowing Simone feels that I'm a competent enough human being to watch their kids, was a reassuring boost I needed.
They all picked me up, and as soon as we walked in the door, the boys got busy finishing their chores, mopping and dishes. I wondered if maybe they should come watch me, to make sure I do all of my chores ...
The younger boy was obsessively reading a comic book, which presented a challenge for me, in terms of figuring out how to keep a light on for me, without providing enough light for him. And it's so difficult to have to consciously tell a kid to put their book down. I know, because I was the same way about reading as a kid.

I'd planned to go home when they returned, but I was already passed out when they returned, and I awoke on the floor in a heap of blankets confused about my surroundings. Eventually, my brain kicked in to the extent it does. When I got back to my empty apartment, I opened windows ant the door for air flow. I put my running gear on, like I had a plan, and promptly read 4 more chapters, and then went to the farmers market. Mainly, I went because I wanted chocolate croissants from the artisan baker. However, he had the audacity to not show up. My sweet tooth was crushed. I stopped to say hi. To most of the vendors. A friend who helps me with a ride to Kirtan, has a tent, and when I stopped by, he invited me to a gathering of that crowd at the beach. I didn't hesitate because it wasa beautiful sunny day, and while I have very little in common, with much of the group, I feel as though this group is unquestionably present in their. Own lives, as well as in their companions. Even though I barely know the majority of the group, I never feel as though I'm bring judged or mocked. People are very accepting. I am more frank and open with them, because they are the same with me, which I really appreciate.

A man sitting nearby asked me if I had a spinal cord injury, no doubt because of my labored movement patterns. Strangely, that was the second inquiry of that kind that day, as I'd explained to a Greek cook, at the farmers maker earlier. It seemed, an intriguing occurrence, to have the same 'diagnosis, twice, in the same day. I understand why though, because it's visually apparent how much effort it takes for me to move. I don't really need to spend time deliberating over potential reasons why, I just decided to be pleased people occasionally illicit an interest or curiosity, and are brave enough to make conversation.

That conversation, made me inquire about his own struggles of a spinal cord injury, and it seemed pretty stating to finally share difficulties with someone who understands, the amount of labor and effort we put forth to accomplish our daily goals.
He professed repeatedly, how much water resistance had been key in his efforts, and suddenly, I found myself parading back and forth through the shallow water, with an arm for balance. He struck me as one of the most inspirational individuals, I've had the privilege of meeting, simply, because of how much he'd overcome, especially, as he was Natively, from India, where his injury occurred, and years later still accomplish his goal if immigrating here, and leading a productive life. I am often so blown away by the work ethic of immigrants I've met. We bitch and moan, about our positions, whatever they may be. While the immigrants I've met recently, often work 3 different manual labor positions, while, still taking pride in their work. That replanted a seed for me, as I'm attacking the workforce, and I want to make absolutely sure that I wind up fulfilled in my position(s) whatever we end up finding, or creating. Although I'm realizing, I do need to make those stepping stones, yet again, (CRAZY frustrating. Michelle helped find a secret shopper type of position, evaluating other employees. Great, until somebody figures me out. Heh.

We also met with NortheastDisabled Athletics, a local organization which works to create a multitude of opportunities, for folks with physicaldisabilities. I'm pretty interested in assisting their mission, as I believe in equal opportunities for all abilities!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Home again, home again!

Spent the past week at home, where I grew up, in Midcoast Maine. Most people know Maine as vacationland, and deservingly so, though not exactly the conditions I might expect on vacation. Waldoboro, my hometown, is on an inlet of the ocean, but there are no real proper ocean views. Most people know Waldoboro as a strip of gas stations, and Moody's diner on Rt. 1. The downtown area is pretty quaint, and you go there knowing you'll see people you know. We live around 8 miles out of town on a cut through Rd. My mom has a horse on the property, and I used to, growing up. Definitely one of the things I miss the most in my life now. I was incredibly fortunate to have worked with Windswept Farm in Williston, doing adaptive horseback riding lessons. Although, they were unable to volunteer their time and horsepower after the gentle Morgan I'd had lessons on died. I was thankful to see my moms horse, and desperately hope I'll have the opportunity to horse back ride in CO in August.

Mainly, I'd. Planned to spend time last week at home, to attend my 10 year High school reunion.