If there’s one thing I learned about life, it is that very little it Is given to you. For most of us, if we want something we have to work to get it. Getting what you want in life requires knowing yourself and understanding how hard you’re willing to work to reach your goals
I know for a lot of people life is a struggle. It gets harder as we get older. Getting out of bed some days becomes a monumental task. I think the major reason for this is that we let go of our dreams and stop thinking about what would make us happy. We get bogged down in the worries and stress of life. We stop thinking about the absolutely wondrous possibilities each day could hold and we lose ourselves. Happiness is it in your dreams and working toward them. Even If they never come true.
It really is that simple. I don’t have time to focus on my problems when I’m helping someone else. Being a positive influence on people people around you has the potential to change their lives in ways that you can’t imagine
Everyone should wear Superman’s underwear.
Why? Look what it did for Clark Kent, he got Lois Lane. It’s all in the underwear, just trust me. Can I borrow a couple grand?”
We’ve talked a lot about finding out what makes your life Worth living. Finding that thing that makes it worth it to get up everyday. For some of you that may be a very specific dream. Something that you have thought about or worked on ever since you can remember.
every family that I know of has at least one crazy uncle was an idea for sexy superhero themed underwear that Will leave the next great thing if he could just scrape together a couple thousand dollars. Others in the family probably don’t take this guy seriously. Let’s be honest is dream may or may not pan out but the crazy uncles in the world also turn out to be some of the most successful, because they believe in themselves and their dreams, even when no one else does. The only person who can give you the life that you want, or make your dreams happen if you.
I’m not saying you won’t have help along the way. Truth is, you’ll have plenty but you can’t rely on it. The only person who sees things the way that you do 100% of the time is you. You’re the one who has to know what you want and you’re the one who has to figure out how to get it.
We are all the same,
even when we are different!
Let’s start at the beginning. I was 7 weeks early when I was born. When expecting a baby, the most important task at hand for the family is preparation. Mothers typically go through stages along their pregnancy ranging from “everyday cleaning” to “disinfect everything as if we may perform a C-section right here at home”.
Not to mention the oodles and oodles of baby stuff that every expectant mom wants to have on hand before the tiny bundle arrives. In my mind, I started listing things that most new moms have before the birth of their baby, but the list got wildly out of hand quite fast, so I will digress back to my early arrival as an infant. I arrived 7 weeks early, and while my family did have some time to prepare, it was not quite enough time I’m sure. There were no warning signs that I was going to come early. My parents didn’t expect it. The doctors didn’t expect it. It was like a dinner guest who arrives 3 hours early. Dinner hasn’t been cooked, recently washed undergarments that would have been hidden are still strewn about the living room in the process of being sorted and folded, and the hostess hasn’t showered yet.
My early arrival time also put a damper on my ambitious plans for world domination. I expected to have 7 more weeks to plan. So, this was the start to my life on this planet, as it is told to me by my lovely mother, who received one of the best little Christmas gifts ever when I got to go home on Christmas Day of 1979.
A couple of years into my life, my parents and the doctors noticed that something about me wasn’t quite right, and no it wasn’t just my smashing good looks. After a little research, we figured out that I had cerebral palsy. Well, WE didn’t figure it out, because at that point in time I was about 2 years old and all I was concerned with was which toy I was going to chew on next. When they arrived upon this diagnosis, my parents’ lives became infinitely more complicated. Over the next few years, there were five surgeries and discussions of whether I would ever be able to walk.
I spent a significant amount of time in the Shriner’s Hospital. I have some strange memories from that place. You know how as adults we have childhood memories that are in bits and pieces, and I’m not even sure how all the pieces fit together, but I have those kinds of memories from my childhood, like many people do. I remember I had my eyes operated on and I had casts up both legs to my hips. All of this by the time I was five. Oh, and did I mention that one of my roommates across the hall was an amputee with a hook?
Things were different in the 1970’s. At that point in time, parents couldn’t stay in hospitals with their kids after visiting hours, so I remember I would watch TV shows with my parents at the end of visiting hours. We would watch The Dukes of Hazard and Knight Rider together. Those were great shows, by the way. But I knew that once the shows were over, it would be time for my parents to leave. When the nurses told my parents they had to leave each night, I would have screaming fits. I remember my sister gave me her glow worm during one of the fits. I still have the glow worm to this day. No, I don’t sleep with it every night. That would be weird. Not so weird as a 5 year old, but weird for a grown man.
Anyway, one of the more interesting memories I have of the Shriner’s Hospital is of the man in the room next to me coming to get me in the morning. He carried me to his room. I would sit in his room while he ate his breakfast of cereal. We had those little tiny boxes of cereal. Mine were Fruit Loops. And he just happened to be an amputee with a hook on one hand. I was practically Peter Pan. And the man with the hook was Captain Hook.
From that point on, memories become even more separated and in pieces. I remember having to wear an eye patch after one of the surgeries I had. I hated that eye patch, but it was meant to prevent me from having a lazy eye. I would be riding in my Radio Flyer red wagon, in my eye patch, the perfect makings of a pirate. But this was before Jack Sparrow was wildly popular. And I hated my eye patch. I would take it off. Mom would put it back on me, in her sweet motherly way. Little did I know that as an adult I would kill for the free pass to wear this kind of costuming with any legitimacy. But at that time, I had no desire to wear that eye patch.
I mentioned that I had casts up to my hips. They were full leg casts and they itched really really badly. The worst thing is that you can’t get down in there to scratch it. As a kid it drove me insane because I couldn’t move my legs and they were horrifically itchy. I don’t even remember if I had a wheelchair at that time or if I was stuck in bed. I just remember quite vividly the horrible feeling of needing to itch my legs. Maybe the villain from that Saw movie can create an 8th or 9th sequel (I’m not sure what number they are up to) that uses this as a form of torture for the kidnapped victims. They could have really itchy full-length casts, and be left in a room with a rusty saw. It would be a tough choice. Tolerate the itch? Saw off a leg? Choices,choices.
My whole life I grew up around music. In the 1980’s there was no satellite radio, no CDs. What we had were cassette tapes. Even at that age, I realized that music was going to be very important to me. There was just something about music that spoke to me. Even today, music is very much a mood elevator for me and takes me from being in a rotten mood to a not-so-rotten mood. My parents owned records like Dan Seals, George Straight, and other country records. One of the cassette tapes I had was Huey Lewis and the News. I remember listening to that cassette over and over and over again. I was about 6 years old. My Mom would put that cassette in the player and I would roll all over the floor. I couldn’t dance. Remember, the whole legs thing? I looked like I was trying to learn how to do a break-dance head spin and was really sucking at it. Those are some of my fondest childhood memories. See, not all of my memories are bad!
Back then there wasn’t much money. We didn’t have cable. There were no DVDs. There were cartoons at around 3pm after kids got home from school. I saw Scooby Doo, Transformers and other original cartoons that still live on today in their post-modern adaptations. Some of my superhero shows like He-man and his female counterpart She-ra didn’t survive the times, unfortunately. Like any other kids, I looked forward to these cartoons as the highlight of my day. The point of all this is that you may look at me in my wheelchair and see me as someone who is vastly different from yourself, but I’m really not. You probably enjoyed some of the same cartoons I did, and looked forward to that 3pm high just as much as a kid in a wheelchair might.
THERE IS A SUPER HERO IN ALL OF US!
And so, like most boys, I became obsessed with superheroes. I watched superhero cartoons, and begged my mother to dress me up as Spiderman for Halloween. Like most mothers, she entertained my childhood desires to be Spiderman. She also let me be a ninja one Halloween, despite my being a kid in a wheelchair with obviously no experience in ninja fighting. But, most kids don’t fight like ninjas even without wheelchairs. So, I was a ninja.
When I was a bit older (9 or 10 years old) I began to idolize Michael Jordan. I still think he is the greatest player who ever played. And he was the closest thing to a superhero that I had found. At that time, I was always sporting a Chicago Bulls shirt and I watched as many of his games on TV as possible. Some wild obsessions never die. I still watch basketball, and I still think Michael Jordan is awesome. I guess that makes me a fan.
If you were a superhero which one would you be?
All superheroes have weaknesses, just like we do. But they concentrate on their strengths. What are the strengths you possess that you could enhance, instead of beating yourself up over things that challenge you?
You are not alone
in your struggle to survive.
The world we live in today is a tough place. It seems we have to work very hard just to survive. We get busy and wrapped up in our own lives to such an extent that we forget we are not alone in this struggle. Or maybe we are aware of the others around us who are struggling as well, but we become so immersed in the perception of our own insufficiency, lack of perfection and inability to realize our dreams that we disconnect from those around us. One thing I’ve learned in my 36 years on this planet (well, there’s more than one thing but I will get to that later) is that no matter where you’re from or how you live your life, we all have issues, and if you stop to think about it no one’s issues are really more severe or trying than anyone else’s.
My entire life I have been told that because I was born with cerebral palsy and it’s a struggle for me to live my life every day that makes me an inspiration. If the wheelchair is inspiring, I think sparkles could be even more so.
In truth, finding the COURAGE to inspire both myself and others is something I CHOOSE to do. If you are looking in the mirror and finding yourself uninspired or without dreams, take a breath, and then look again. You are beautiful just the way you are, and it is up to you to see it first. You can make it happen one moment, one minute, one hour at a time.
For instance… I just noticed that my butt is invisible in that picture. Eh, that’s ok. Maybe laziness can also be inspiring in it’s own way. I have the courage to be butt-less.
Normal Person + Wheelchair = Inspiring!
Wheelchaired person + Sparkles = Amazingly, Fantastically Inspiring!
(Me going to the doctor) >> In INSPIRING wheelchair, going to bank, eating dinner.
I can tell you are inspired already!
INSPIRATION IS ALL AROUND YOU
I am inspired by firemen and policemen (and women!) who risk their lives every day in order to keep others safe. I am inspired by single moms who work two jobs just to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. Nurses and doctors, many of which have been a large part of my life because of my ongoing treatments, inspire me. I’m inspired by the kid that gets up and goes to school every day and does everything he can to focus on his studies and get ahead, when all around him there are bullies and distractions.
I could go on all day about the people and things on this planet that inspire me, and would probably never fall upon the idea that I myself am an inspiration simply because I continue life in a wheelchair. I would much rather be found inspiring because of the messages I have to share, or because someone finds my comedic ramblings to be amusing than because I ambulate daily on a chair with wheels attached.
The simple fact is that no matter what your walk of life, we all have struggles. I grew up a little differently than the average person but for the most I live my day to day life pretty much the way everyone else does, only on wheels.
What inspires you in the people around you?
What inspires you to be all that you can be?