family and friends

family and friends

Even in the able-bodied world, friendships can be complicated. Here are a few categories of friendship I have experienced:

There are golden friendships established in childhood or adolescence. We share in life’s most precious moments—making sense of life’s confusion, first-love, marriage, children, grandchildren, and the grief of lost loved ones.

We share in each other’s dreams and complete the other’s thoughts. Each step of our journey is taken hand-in-hand, side-by-side. Sometimes, as in my case, it’s a sister.

Silver friendships come during or after college. All friendships are special, but these tend to occur in serenpiditous circumstances.

“Serendipity” means “pleasant surprise.” We met these friends on a double-date, in a class, sport, hobby, sorority or fraternity, at a wedding, as the spouse, friend, or relative of our spouse, friend, or relative. My silver friendships are now long-distance friendships due to moves for marriage, job transfers, and life changes. (Another serendipity of these friendships is that no matter the length of time between getting in touch, you pick up where you left off!)

Some friendships are seasonal. Our paths cross at a specific time, for a specific purpose–from a few months to a few years. Then, they disappear from our lives.

This type of friendship is as valuable as the other stable, life-sharing relationships. But just like them, you can’t predict how long they will last. Accept that these friendships have an expiration date. Remember the blessings imprinted in your heart, because its completion is no one’s fault. These friends come into our lives for a season.

There are also people who don’t need friendship. They’re completely happy being an island to themselves; they seek no greater fulfillment than their family. They will spend time with you when you invite them to, even call you up or stop to talk when you meet in passing. There’s nothing wrong with them, or you, when roots don’t grow.

Some people aren’t friendship material. They have self-serving motivations and come with the fear of being found out. They have nothing meaningful to give; they’re takers. Learn to recognize them for who they are, and don’t hang-on to one for the same reasons.

Specific to SCI and others living with an illness or disease, there are people who want to be charitable and of service. They offer their assistance and time to help with transportation, errands, shopping, meals, whatever needs arise. But in time, let’s face it, our reality wears them down: we may have to cancel or reschedule appointments due to health issues, accidents, or rain; lifting our wheelchair in-and-out of the car, unpredictable terraine, and inaccessibility is difficult for them.

Although these people will be a fond, appreciated acquaintance, life may sometime get in the way of a deepening relationship. Yet, some of them do become lifelong friends. I include them in my golden friendships.

With each friendship, enjoy the silver, and the gold, as well as those of mixed metals. Each will teach you something about yourself.

What kind of friend are you?


“Do be a ‘Do Bee.’ Don’t be a ‘Don’t Bee.’”

You baby boomers, able-bodied and disabled, should recognize this from Romper Room!

Mr. Do-Bee was an oversized bumblebee who taught the children proper manners. His sentences began with, “Do Bee good boys and girls for your parents!” Of course, there was a Mr. Don’t Bee to teach what not to do.

At the end of each show, Miss Fran (?) held up her magic mirror, a hand–held mirror without a mirror, and looked (into the camera, directly at you) to see if you were being good and what you were doing? She always called out the name of the children she saw in “televisionland,” saying, “I can see Johnny and Frankie and Susie and….”

When she held up her magic mirror, my anticipation swelled, only to be deflated when my name wasn’t among the seen. I secretly wanted Miss Fran to see me through her magic mirror. I wanted her to tell me that I, too, was being good. She never did; nor did anyone else, until I was in high school.

I was the middle child between a much older, athletically-talented, popular big brother and a younger baby sister. Not to upset the family status quo, I learned early to take care of myself, to be quiet, and to not make waves. Independence and self-sufficiency became my emotional BandAids.

Unconsciously, we all adopt coping mechanisms for our particular family dynamics. Sadly, we subconsciously continue our adaptations to environmental, emotional, mental, and physical circumstances with the exact coping behaviors established in childhood.

Toni Morrison brought a subliminal emotional message to my mental attention when she challenged with this question: “Does your face light up when your child (or anyone, for that matter) comes into the room?”

We come into this world with a need for parental love and approbation; we need to feel that we’re seen. To complicate this issue, the able-bodied–who haven’t dealt with their own rejection issues–look over and through the disabled. I’ve experienced this too often, when they pass someone in a wheelchair, pushing a walker, or just different, in a mall, restaurant…wherever.

It isn’t only children that notice if our gaze meets theirs with joy and pleasure, OR if it’s a critical, judgmental scan scrutinizing outward appearance, dress, hygiene, and behavior. It’s in these instances that we conclude: we’re not special. The beauty of who we are isn’t seen.

Although I was already beaten down by poor life choices, felt stagnant…dead-in-the-water, and helpless of ever digging out of my rut, the abrupt juxtaposition of SCI into my active, appearance-driven lifestyle ushered in positive waves of inner transformation. For me, it was a double whammy.

Not only did I notice other’s avoidance of my being seen, I began to see that my manners resembled those of Mr. Don’t Bee. I wasn’t patient, kind, and grateful to others.

Just as the constant, faithful flow of water breathtakingly sculpts the earth (or hideously erodes landscapes), life interruptions (SCI, disease, illness, depression, comparison) should be opportunities to smooth down our sharp edges for beautifying change, in spite of other’s “sharp edges.”

“The constant dripping of water sculpts the stone.” is a paraphrase of the Latin proverb, “Gutta cavat lapidem.”

Rumi got to the point: “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?” Again, a double whammy: adjusting to our own insecurities, and other’s insecurities concerning us!

If you’re not making character changes as the result of “whatever interruption” in your life, you’re not allowing it to grind away your rough edges. AS WELL, you must resist interpreting other’s insecurities as your identity.

If only you would embrace the irritating rub to mirror your polish.

As Miss Fran said, “I see Matthew and Macie and YOU in computerland, becoming the best you.”bumblebeeDo be a ‘Do Bee.’ Make honey from your bitter flower!

P.S. For a food for thought smorgasbord of how disability nudged me to smooth my rough edges, nibble on my book, HOW TO BE THE BEST YOU




Enlightened Mind Thoughts

We know ourselves only to the extent of our mind and spirit’s enlightenment. Tragically, most of us have no idea that we are triune beings—mind, body, and spirit or soul. Especially those of us living with a disability, when our body has taken a leave of absence. It’s an automatic separation of body and mind. As a result, we exalt the mind.

As the saying goes, “Give an inch; take a mile,” the mind begins its domination over the body and soul with its analyzing, judgements, and control tactics, sabotaging peaceful resolve with its endless mental commentary about everyone and everything.

Insinuating that its analytics are supreme, the mind stealthily convinces you to believe your thoughts, good or bad, about self-worth and behavior. It rationalizes and excuses guileful motivations, unkind words, and hateful actions because we haven’t dealt with our feelings; and at worst, we’re convinced our behaviors are deserved retribution for other’s perceived wrongs.

The mind’s battle rages, further maiming our lives by confusion, fear, doubt, and concurrent physical maladies.

Deceived, we think that these thoughts are true. In truth, they are mere thoughts, often misguided and out-of-control. If the premise of “What Women Want” were true, we would all be committed or imprisoned by our thought life! Here are three truths concerning your thoughts:

The first is that you are not your thinking.

Your thoughts try to supervise, manage, regulate, and make sense of your environment. Many poor decisions are reached through subliminal thinking, meaning: we’re oblivious to the process of our thought streams. They’re rabbit trails!

When we attempt considering the pros and cons of our options, we have no idea how we reached the destination of decision. In hindsight, have you ever been perplexed by how you arrived at a particular conclusion?

The second truth is that you can delete, rewrite, copy and paste your thoughts.

The mind should be subservient to the spirit. Don’t allow your mind to use you. Use your mind for developing constructive thought patterns. Practice visualization to uplift your spirit, and meditation and prayer to bring rest and health to your body.…elchair-needed/   ‎

The third truth, as I see it, is that the spirit does not die. It lives on after our physical body expires.

Your deeper spiritual self should tutor your mind, not vice versa. Make time each day to turn off the TV, Twitter, Facebook, your Blackberry. Still your mind. Get in touch with your higher consciousness–your spirit. Breathe in peace. Breathe out stress. Let it go.

Alzheimer’s and dementia are evidence that mind over matter isn’t always the path to enlightenment. Like the rest of us, they’re created in the image of God, yet their mind is gone.

You are NOT your mind. You are bigger than your thinking. Quiet your mind’s incessant chatter. Let your spirit claim its role to rule.

For some light-hearted humor about my thoughts trying to railroad my thinking, read

For more on how to change negative thought patterns, you can PURCHASE my book, HOW TO BE THE BEST YOU, HERE

I’m open for reviews!

Sails of Optimism

There’s plenty of research correlating that our bodies, able-bodied and disabled, respond to what we think and believe. (I talk more of how I learned, and continue to practice, this in my book, HOW TO BE THE BEST YOU, in “As A Man Thinketh.” In addition, I believe that our bodies not only “eavesdrop” (Chopra Deepak) on our thoughts but also believe them, negative or positive; so, I choose to see/envision what I want to believe will happen.

Since my brain, eyes, and heart co-habit one body, my heart’s desire is to see what I believe. I watch, in my mind’s eye, my nerves innervating whatever muscle I’m struggling to move since becoming disabled, as I progress through my day or as I exercise. Whether I feel defeated or have almost fallen, some days I even watch myself stand up and walk.

Any way you look at it, whether it’s physical return or emotional adjustment, time heals. If you’re a new SCI, caregiver, or friend, give yourself/patient/friend a two-year post injury pass to accumulate answers to impatient questionings. Continue therapy, positive thinking, and planning for the future—like it will turn out as you hope; tweak as you go.

After the second year, introduce yourself to the new you, happily making your acquaintance. By then, you’ll have a good perspective of your abilities and will have gained a new respect for the champion you’ve become, no matter what.

Although there are occasional setbacks with any SCI, my body’s sensation level took another leap after 36 years. I barely had any sensation the first two years post injury; it’s improved slowly but surely, as have my confidence and problem-solving skills dealing with and eliminating the occasional curve balls life with SCI tends to throw.

sailboat on water Just remember: acceptance doesn’t mean dropping your anchor wherever you are in your recovery today. It means embracing where you are, in case you’ve reached your physical plateau, but keeping your optimistic sails open, not to miss even the gentlest breeze of progression.

While my body hasn’t fully evidenced what I’m believing, I’ll continue working toward it, believing that I’ll see it…with a finger up in the wind!