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Archive for May, 2013

Tuesday Talk With Alex

I hope everyone had a fun, safe Memorial Day weekend. Let us remember to recognize and honor the brave men and women of our military, past and present, not just on Memorial Day, but every day! 

Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer and it’s the time of year where people begin to have fun in the sun. Achieving Wheelchair Equality, Charleston’s adapted sporting group, and the Department of Physical Therapy from MUSC host the Adapted Water Ski Clinic.

If you haven’t seen adapted water skiing before, it’s one of the most exciting activities to do on the water. There is a ski chair that allows the rider to sit while being pulled by the boat. Physical therapists are on-hand to assist with the swim safety test and transferring to and from the skis. 

I attempted to ski last year, but didn’t have enough strength to flip…

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Yesterday I had the pleasure of eating lunch with a friend of mine from high school. The last time that I saw her was 1982. As with most high school friends, we lost touch, and never even heard from each other until about a year ago.

We did know what each other currently looked like thanks to the wonder of social media platforms such as Facebook. So at least there would not be the initial shock of what 30 years of aging had done to either of us. We had time to adjust and be prepared.

Within a couple of minutes of us meeting, the memories flooded back as we rambled down the road of memories. Or as she so aptly put it, we sounded like we were in “old home week.” We spent the next couple of hours talking about places and people. And yes, I admit that we committed the heinous crime of boring my wife, who was with us, with far too many “do you remember whens?!”

The thing that surprised both of us was how similar we felt about ourselves during our high school years and never realized it until yesterday, 30 years later. When I was in high school, which I might add I did not enjoy at all, I felt like the social outcast, loner, a nobody, etc. I was the outsider looking at the insiders where I was not welcomed. No one understood how I felt, or cared, and so I stumbled through four years of being a misfit and pretty much hating every minute of it. When I verbalized this to my friend, she just looked at me in shock and could not believe what she was hearing. The reason why is because she felt the same way! Then it was my time to be shocked. I had always thought she was pretty, smart, funny and about 10 years ahead of everyone else with her ideas and points of view. I had no idea that she felt like an outsider with similar feelings that I had.

Later when I was home, I continued to think of our conversation and how little I really knew anyone I went to high school with. Perhaps we all had similar fears, doubts and insecurities. Everyone from the top football jock, to the head cheerleader right down to the original “geek squad.” I may have spent four lonely years in high school because I was waiting for someone to reach out to me, while at the same time, they were waiting for me to reach out to them.

Now let’s bump this concept up a notch to people with disabilities. I was 36 years old when my injury happened so I had a few years of maturity under my belt. But a lot of people that I deal with are much younger in the 18 to 22 age bracket. I do my best to offer hope, motivation and inspiration to them because I see them closing themselves off to others and the world around them. Being disabled, it is very easy to think that no one understands, or cares and so we hide. We build walls around us to “protect” ourselves, when the walls are actually causing harm, and preventing us from connecting with people that want to help, do care and desire to be friends. I am very thankful that I met up with my high school friend because it made me see in a new light that I self inflicted much of my own hurt so many years ago. When continuing to work with people who have any type of disability, I have many personal transparency stories to share in order to encourage them to look beyond the disability and to get out and live life. Never feel like you are the outsider looking in. The truth of the matter may be that there is someone right now, just like you, that needs a friend as much as you do. Do not hide behind your disability. Look for someone that is hiding behind there disability and reach out to help them. I think you will be pleasantly surprised how similar we all are.

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imagesCAHTY407I woke up this morning to the sound of rain spattering against the windows andimagesCAIAF4CN lightly drumming on the roof.  The temperature outside is a chilly 46 degrees. When I crawled out of my nice warm bed, the chill inside of the camp woke me up pretty quickly. I rolled to the woodstove and started crumpling old newspapers to start a fire. Within 10 minutes (and only one match of course) I had a good fire going that was rapidly dispelling the chill. Then I got my morning cup of coffee and sat in the morning greys watching the lake. The wind was chasing the rain across the surface making it look choppy and uninviting to  most people…other than me.

MoxieThis is a picture perfect day for me. I’m sitting here with the lake in front of me, the roaring fire beside of me and my now half empty bottle of Moxie waiting to be finished. What is Moxie you may ask? One of Maine’s best kept secrets. So as I sit here enjoying the best of the best, I hope that each of you are enjoying a wonderful morning as much as I am.

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imagesBefore I leave Greenville, SC for a few months of travel and speaking engagements, I wanted to share some great news with all of you. I currently serve on an advisory council for the Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital in Greenville. Their latest project is the fantastic addition of the Peace House. It is a beautiful older home that has been transformed, with your help, into a place for families to stay with loved ones who are undergoing therapy. This home takes away the strain on families who have to travel great distances to visit their loved ones in therapy. I have personally rolled my wheelchair through the home, and all of the volunteers and many hours of labor have created a beautiful home away from home. Please click on the link here to see and read more about it. http://www.thepeacehouseproject.org/updates.phpimagesCAIUEHCQ

The second piece of news that I want to share with all of you is an article written in the Greenville News about the courage of people recovering after an amputation. It is a great article to read showing people with such incredible courage, and once again, Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital, with its accredited amputee program is in the forefront helping people to recover.

http://www.greenvilleonline.com/article/20130512/NEWS05/305120010/Recovery-after-amputation-takes-courage-will?nclick_check=1

I hope that all of you have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend coming up and I will be back at it soon!

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Today marks 16 years that I have been rolling my way through life. I am amazed that it has been that long. After the initial shock of my injury wore off, I just did what needed to be done and didn’t really think about time. And now, here I am, thinking about time. The unusual thing about this however, it is not my injury that is forcing me to consider time.

People are always quick to say that time is relevant, age is just a number and you are as old as you feel. Not that I am disputing the truth in any of those statements, but as I got older, I began to realize that time in and of itself is not important, what is important is what I do with my allotted time.

We are giving a couple of rooms in our home a makeover. To do that, everything from those two rooms is piled high in our living room and dining room. There is a small trail that I can maneuver my wheelchair through the piles of “stuff.” I rolled in there yesterday and realized that all of that stuff represents my life and use of my time. Each pile is like another point on my timeline titled “do you remember when?”

Things that seemed so important at the “time,” and has since become dust collectors. “Did I need that? Did it help anyone? Did it help myself? And what in the world was I thinking when I got that?!” So many years spent always wanting more, and for what?  So I can have another box of junk in storage?

The Bible mentions a day is coming when the chaff in my life will be burned away. From where I’m sitting, I see a life filled with chaff. I think it is time for me to do a little “house cleaning,” get rid of the chaff, and spend my time in ways that help, offers hope to others and is pleasing to God.

“Among the gifts of the Spirit, scarcely is one of greater practical usefulness than the gift of discernment. This gift should be highly valued and frankly sought as being almost indispensable in these critical times. This gift will enable us to distinguish the chaff from the wheat and to divide the manifestations of the flesh from the operations of the Spirit.”
― A. W. Tozer

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Wow do I feel lazy.

Tuesday Talk With Alex

I wrapped up another semester of graduate school last week at College of Charleston. I’m on my way to earning a Master of Arts in Communication and I have one year left before graduation. This semester was exciting and I want to share a little bit about how I combined my passion for disability advocacy with the coursework for the class. 

The course that I completed was Classical Rhetoric where we studied the theories and ancient philosophies of Aristotle, Plato and Quintilian. Using modern examples of disability advocacy, I showed how ancient rhetoric and oratory can be used to educate the community on disability issues including inclusion in the workforce and accessible parking.

 

In one of my papers, I used the Photovoice project that I participated in a few years ago as a case study to describe disability advocacy in action.  The Photovoice project allowed for members of the spinal cord injury…

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For some reason this will not embed!! I guess it may be the size of the file.  So please excuse all of the ugly coding, but if you click on it you should be able to see the pics.  I can’t wait for all of the “lovely” comments I am going to get on this post!  Sorry!

 

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/Militaryxusaf/ariels-graduation-day-2013-20863925” title=”Ariel’s graduation day 2013″ target=”_blank”>Ariel’s graduation day 2013</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/Militaryxusaf” target=”_blank”>Militaryxusaf</a></strong> </div>

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