A “Matrix” Thanksgiving

Every so often, I relate an article unrelated to SCI. Let me share with you one of this year’s favorite Thanksgiving memories. It’s about North Hope’s, my soon-to-be 7-year-old grandniece, enjoyment of her papa’s fried Thanksgiving turkey.

Normally, our traditional Thanksgiving spread is two turkeys, one fried and one smoked; three casseroles: a yellow squash and onion, a spinach with jalapeño, and a sweet potato with Wild Turkey; cornbread dressing with giblet gravy; cayenne turnips; an apple/orange/celery/pecan/cranberry congealed salad; pecan pie, and sometimes a pumpkin pie, as well.

Her papa (granddad Patrick) carved the fried turkey. Amidst conversations of anticipated enjoyment of our Thanksgiving smorgasbord, everyone began filling their plates while Papa walked around the table serving our chosen pieces.

North called for a leg that looked the size of her head. I wondered if she could pick it up.

The second the leg filled her plate, she effortlessly picked it up and bit through its charred crusty salt-seasoned skin. I wanted to turn away but was transfixed as the crunchy, yet gelatinous, skin took on a life of its own. It was like watching “The Matrix’s” Agent Smith morph into another form.

With a full mouth, she garbled, “I love the skin.”

I thought I would be sick. With each chew, it slipped off the leg, mercury-like, disappearing into her mouth.

Still holding the leg’s exposed naked meat for her next bite, but mentally ruminating its savor, she articulated her satisfaction: “I ate the skin.” then attacked the meat. Although I was laughing at my precious little carnivore’s descriptive narration, I was totally nauseated, holding back gags.

No one else was listening. She wasn’t talking to anyone. It was an innocent child’s monologue expressing her immense delight of fat-fried turkey skin.

How precious! How in-the-moment. How gross!

The moral: that we would live our truth, honestly, openly, and unapologetically.

Welcome To My World

Hope you’ve all recovered from Thanksgiving’s delicious feasts, and appreciate the blessing of another year with family! My parents don’t walk this earth any longer. Please be grateful while yours still do.

For those of you just tuning in to “Conversations with Cynthia,” I’m tutored by thirty-seven years of disability (SCI), and living life triumphantly from a wheelchair. I have a varied educational background: Speech and language pathology, counseling, interior design, critical thinking (problem solving, not being critical), have run several small business ventures, and I’m an author.

My weekly conversations here are how I see things; sometimes from a serious perspective, sometimes philosophically, and sometimes humorously. You will often read song lyric references within my conversations because I think in song; like The Beatles “Help!” http://conversationswithcynthia.com/2012/08/17/help-not-the-beatles-a-wheelchair-assist/, and Jewel’s “Satisfied” http://conversationswithcynthia.com/2012/04/22/satisfied-in-spite-of-disability/ .

Anyway, ‎ I can be mid-conversation, mid-sentence with my cats and break into song. They’re used to it. With humans, I normally don’t embarrass myself that way. But, since you can’t hear me, “Welcome to my world, want you come on in…I’ll be waiting here…waiting just for you.” (Just listen for 2 golden minutes as Dean Martin sings it best http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX7BAfXn85Y )

That’s my open invitation to R.S.V. P. with your responses concerning disability, or not, experiences relating to my topics, your thoughts, concerns, questions, reviews of my books, or suggestions for newsletter topics. I eagerly anticipate hearing from every one of you!

Let’s continue changing the world or, at the least, making it a better place. Be the best you!

And, wouldn’t you know it, I have the perfect gift suggestion for you or a loved one on doing so. It’s my book: HOW TO BE THE BEST YOU, http://booklocker.com/books/6811.html . It’s a thought-provoking guide to discover, liberate, and live your true purpose and, for a little levity, strewn with farcical facts, food fun, and playful puns.

You would also enjoy my Memoir, Views From My Chariot: A Wheelchair Oddity, http://booklocker.com/books/6235.html a poignant, yet humorous, journey through my adjustment to living happily, flourishing from a wheelchair: my chariot. I’ve also included a Self/Help manual with products, equipment, and assistive aides that I have found most helpful in daily living!

I’ve had an excellent adventure this past year-and-a-half talking the eyes out of your head! So now, let me hear from you.

Let’s talk. I’m listening.

P.S. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks, but let me be the first to wish you the HAPPIEST HOLIDAYS!

Thanksgiving

I like rocks. I’m good at rock-paper-scissors. And as a child, I was skilled with a hammer; not in its traditional sense. It was welding the ordinary claw hammer cracking Brazil nuts out of their shells on our brick hearth, and as a young geologist in my driveway searching for crystals hidden unpredictably inside its rocks. These “diamonds” were my treasures.

I also LOVE flowers! If I had frivolous monies, I would have a fresh, heavenly scented bouquet delivered weekly: Calla lilies with eucalyptus, and camellias in December, cheery daffodils in January, un-pansy pansies in February, Carolina jasmine in April, May’s Asian peonies and, to the most important, the Mayflower, of course.  

For this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the Mayflower departing Plymouth, England on September 6, 1620 with 102 passengers to land in the new world at my favorite rock (emeralds and diamonds aside), Plymouth Rock. Believing in their destiny with the hope for a better world, 102 brave pilgrims (travelers) courageously sacrificed security and comfort for the dream of independence and religious freedom.

A week or so after land was sighted (November 9th), they set foot on the new world. In Native graves they found baskets of maize and iron kettles. They reburied the maize for spring planting. They also found Native American homes with mats, implements, corn, and beans of all colors.

Although fifty percent died the first winter, there were fifty-three Pilgrims and ninety Native Americans who celebrated the first harvest in the new world the following fall, 1621. Squanto, who served as an interpreter (She learned English, probably as a slave, in England.) and taught the Pilgrims how to catch ell and grow corn, is credited for the Pilgrim’s success.

It was President Abraham Lincoln who in 1863 officially declared that the fourth Thursday in November be celebrated as a time of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

I second the emotion! Have a blessed holiday!

The Power of SCI

What is cooperation?

Merriam-Webster.com says “cooperation” is: “(a) a situation in which people work together to do something, (b) the actions of someone who is being helpful by doing what is wanted or asked for.”

I hear disheartening reports of unmotivated SCIs, bitter about their circumstances, making life miserable for their families/caregivers. Not only are they unwilling and uncooperative to “work together” to get with the program—exercise, dressing, bowel and bladder, etc.—they resentfully and begrudgingly battle self-improvement, as well.

Because this character quality is lacking in so many able-bodied and disabled adults, I began explaining, talking about, and demonstrating lessons in cooperation to my grandniece when she was three years old. Teaching her skills for successful relationships is part of my contribution to her personal growth.

How is it that man is born with the reasoning capacity and capability for concerted cooperation, but it’s most often witnessed in the animal kingdom? It makes no sense; unlike the band of three bottlenose dolphins around Savannah, Georgia who work as a tactical unit.

The dolphin’s operation is to swim into the shallow tidal marshes. With their bodies, they patiently and strategically flush the herded fish onto shore. It’s life-threatening if one were to become marooned, but they risk it for food. They not only feed themselves, but also the egrets and gulls who have learned to rely on the dolphins.

From this example, I’m comparing the ministry of caregivers who daily sacrifice their health for ours to that of the dolphin’s risk, and how we SCIs benefit from caregiving, to the egrets and gulls reliance on the dolphins.

Come on, SCIs. Let’s get with the program! Yes, it’s tough to lose physical independence. It’s the biggest bummer I know! No matter how hard you try to deny it, close your eyes to your needs, and barricade your heart from the disappointment, the situation remains. It’s time to accept the new reality of being dependent on others for things we took for granted prior to disability.

It doesn’t mean you’ve lost control of your life! (Look for the upcoming series on how to increase the power in your life for the New Year.) It just means that others may have to serve as your backbone, legs, and hands. You have control over the energy in the room, negative or positive.

For everyone’s health and happiness, make the decision to cooperate, “to work together to do something” beneficial for all. Become an enthusiastic member of the loving team working toward your rehabilitation and well-being. It’s within your power.

Christmas Gift Rush and Crazy’s Prediction

After each Christmas, I always say, “Spring will be here before we know it.” Then, when the first hot spring day summons summer, I predict, “Christmas will be here before we know it.” It happens with 100% accuracy. I’m a regular Jean Dixon!

Again, it’s that time. Stores have already announced that their manic rush-to-buy-Christmas-gifts-midnight-madness sales will begin this year after Thanksgiving dinner! The traditional Thanksgiving overindulgences followed with horizontal bemoaning of over-stuffed bellies has been sold out to bemoaning over-crowded stores, rude people, and traffic, traffic, traffic.

Yes, “crazy” has fulfilled itself again: doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results…which drives me crazy. And, I know people consider me crazy because I already have Christmas planned and gifts purchased, as well as for Christmas of 2014. Let me explain:

Considering the wear-and-tear of years living with SCI and the difficulty of outings, I host an internationally-themed Christmas Eve meal each year for my family in my home. I celebrate Christmas and exchange gifts with them here. (These pictures show a little from last year’s trip to The North Pole.)

blurry Elf tree

blurry Elf tree

HO! HO! HO!

HO! HO! HO!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Christmas Day, they host their own in their homes and/or with in-laws. I enjoy their exchanges via videos and pictures. (You can vicariously enjoy my past celebrations, or get ideas for your own, in the chapter, “Homemade Memories” of Views From My Chariot: A Wheelchair Oddity http://booklocker.com/books/6235.html purchased right here off my website, the perfect Christmas gift!)

favorite candy served as "name card" for seating

favorite candy served as “name card” for seating

I choose a country (or heritage), research its populous, geography, outstanding characteristics, famous people, and holiday menus. I decorate my home accordingly, and give gifts from that country or symbolic of the country. This all takes time and thought, not to mention being disabled, and a non-driver. But, it can be done with ease, excitement, and joyful anticipation of the season if you don’t wait. The only thing left for me to do is prepare, purchase or cater the meal. I can peace out.

What I’m saying is: You still have time. Save yourself the stress. Stop the crazy holiday madness. Everything can be done on-line or over-the-phone. No hassles, anxiety- and annoyance-free. And, if you’re disabled, disability is no excuse.

I’m predicting that a handful of you will get it, yet the majority will prove, again, that c-ra-zy is its own prediction!

FYI: Going with my “prediction” theme, the persimmon kernel is revealing 2013’s winter forecast.

When a persimmon seed is cut into, the inside of the kernel will be spoon-shaped forecasting heavy snow (spoon equals shovel), fork-shaped for light snow and a mild winter, or knife-shaped for “cut”-ting, icy winds.

This one is indicative of heavy snow—another reason not to procrastinate!

And, if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, “Chariot Notes,” you’re missing out on some wonderful health tips and gift suggestions. December is the most fun yet! (After signing up, you’ll need to confirm that it’s you in an email I send you.)

 

 

Winning, Warnings, and Wheelchairs

As with any of you living with a disability, my journey toward independence has been showered with ubiquitous “ups” and, at times, littered with dubious “downs.” One of the downers is shopping.

Just like the able-bodied, I use earth-friendly bags, paper bags and, less often, the plastic bag. Unlike an able-bodied person, I do the stack-on-my-lap, carry-with-my-teeth, and hang-around-my-neck tricks transporting my haul. In the “FYI” chapter of Views From My Chariot http://booklocker.com/books/6235.html , I proudly share some of my inventive uses of plastic grocery bags for you other chariot (wheelchair) riders…even catching chipmunks. Yes, it’s a fascinating read and an excellent gift!

But, here’s one proven not so ingenious use. DO NOT try this at home, at work, or anywhere else.

I wanted to check my mail. From the street, my driveway slopes down to my house. My mailbox is halfway down my driveway, equidistant from the street and my house. (The P.O. approved my putting it off the street since I’m disabled.)

The wind was whipping as it began to rain. Being a SCI quadriplegic, I don’t have the dexterity to hold an umbrella and wheel uphill, so I thought I’d use an opaque plastic bag over my head as a rain hat; you know, like the clear plastic ‘rain hats’ your grandmother used after leaving the beauty shop on rainy days. It would keep my hair dry, and I could safely see through it.

ill-boding bag

ill-boding bag

I put it over my head and face, its handles hanging down over my ears like earmuffs. To secure it, I held the handles with my teeth and began my grind up to the box. Of course, to prevent a runaway wheelchair from sabotaging my errand in the rain, I had to brake my chair at the mailbox.

Once all my mail and catalogs were safely balanced on my lap, I unlocked my brakes. Again, to prevent a “runaway wheelchair” from skidding off the back of my covered carport, I held them in tension against my wet tires; yet, speedily grinding downhill.

Instantly, the wind’s pressure swooshed the plastic bag airtight against my face. My hands otherwise occupied, I couldn’t remove it…and I couldn’t breathe!

Although I could clearly see my carport, it seemed an eternity away. With bulging eyes, I finally screeched to a frantic halt on its level pavement, snatched off the suffocation bag, and gratefully gasped in depleted air. Whew! I didn’t pass out!

Lesson learned: The “Warning: To avoid danger of suffocation, keep this plastic bag away from babies and children….” lacks clarity.

I still use the multi-purpose opaque plastic bags. But now, on rainy, windy days—not only as a creative solution, but also representative of my winning attitude, I stick my tongue out against the bag. This gives me an air pocket when it tries to suffocate me.

Is my disability the result of oxygen deprivation, you wonder? It’s up for debate.