I’m here. I’m back I did not fall off of the face of the earth. As you might have guessed, settling into a new neighborhood, publishing a book and consistently putting out a blog post was a little too much for me. Something had to give – sorry.
It turns out that writing the book was the easy part. And it also turns out that some cover designers don’t understand the difference between a hospital wheelchair and one that’s designed to sit in every day. But I’m teaching them. And learning a lot in the process.
I’ve been so wrapped up in trying to get the @#$# thing out that I missed several of your good wishes and inquiries on how to purchase the book. The easiest way will be to order online from Amazon (though they’ll take their cut). That’s probably best if you don’t live in Jacksonville and I’ll post an announcement when it’s available. Otherwise, you may want to pick up a copy from me, especially if you know you’ll see me!
So to prove I haven’t been kicking back at Sun-Ray or Memorial Park with Frankie all day, I give you a piece I’m writing into the end of Misadventures of a Happy Heart: A Memoir of Life Beyond Disability. Consider it a sneak preview. Enjoy!
How To Have Your Own Misadventures
1. Don’t take things so seriously. Cultivate your sense of humor.
Learn to laugh at yourself. I don’t mean to sound like an R.E.M. song, but it’s a fact. People like to be around (and help) happy, smiling people. And let’s face it, sometimes the most humorous thing about the situation is you…if you choose to see it. You may already stick out like a sore thumb and everybody’s staring anyway – have some fun with it. It may be cliché, but laughter really is the best medicine.
2. Don’t define yourself by tragedy.
Don’t become known as “the girl in the wheelchair” or “the guy who had the skiing accident.” Make your life about something more than whatever tragic thing happened to you. Do you want to be introduced as “the divorcée” forever? Make your story about something positive, not negative. There’s power in words. If you’re constantly reliving a negative event, through words or thoughts, you’re putting that energy out into the world. Put positive out and get positive back.
3. Consider getting a dog.
I highly recommend living with an animal of some kind. It keeps you from getting lonely (if you live alone). One study showed that not only were pet owners less lonely, but they were healthier and had higher self-esteem too! Plus, owning a dog gets you outside for all those walks, rain or shine. And if you have a disability, a dog can be a great icebreaker. Many able-bodied people may stop to talk with you that normally would not have, which helps to build disability awareness. And there are so many homeless pets. Contact your local humane society, ASPCA or The National Association of Service Dogs.
4. Live in a walkable community.
If you can no longer drive, this is key to regaining your independence. Even if you still drive, life is too short to spend stressful hours in traffic. Getting out to grocery shop or run errands is good for you and allows you to meet your neighbors. And, if disabled, doing things for yourself can make you feel competent and confident!
5. Get involved. Socialize. Help others.
For me, all three of these things came together in Adaptive Sports and Recreation. Exercise is important for your physical and mental health. And most importantly, it allows you to make friends, often with people going through something similar. Call around. Your local hospital, rehab center or doctor’s office may be a good place to start. Seek out support groups. You’ll find there’s usually always someone worse off than you. Offer your assistance or be a mentor to others. You’ll find this gets you out of yourself and your own problems and reminds you to be grateful for what you have.