Search

Amy F. Quincy Author/Freelance Writer

Tag

life lessons

More Moxie

This week will be a special re-post of something I wrote in January of 2013 about my dear friend, Diana Lane. A post called “Moxie Personified” …

amy & diana

 

 

 

And you guys think I’m gutsy. Meet Diana Lain. More positive, more adventurous, more disabled than me. And more full of life than most anyone I know, able-bodied or otherwise.

It’s not often I meet someone with this much gumption. She’s game for anything and loves speed. Some of you may recognize her from other adaptive sport photos. She waterskis, body surfs and plays power soccer (driving the ball into the goal with a power wheelchair.) Not to mention, occasionally joins in on bowling and billiards nights. All this is made more remarkable because she doesn’t have much use of her limbs.

Diana was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1992 and has lived with friend, caregiver and trusty sidekick, Kathy Bailey, for close to 10 years (read the recent article that appeared in The Florida Times-Union.) I don’t remember actually meeting them. It seems, instead, they’ve always been there, giving me countless rides in their wheelchair van since my own disability, and becoming my good friends along the way.

So, I didn’t hesitate when they invited me to check out Little Talbot Island on New Year’s Day. The park has plenty of boardwalks, bike trails and accessible restrooms, so it didn’t feel I was living too close to the edge. I forgot who my companions were.

Our first escapade came when Diana spotted a seagull with a broken wing in a parking lot. I think I have a bleeding heart when it comes to creatures of nature. Next to Diana, I’m the hunter poised to take out Bambi’s mom. Continue reading “More Moxie”

Sweet Jasmine Days

jasmine2I’ve been gone —  but not forgotten I hope. And look at when I choose to reappear. A Sunday. Old habits die hard. But if ever I needed a reminder that I did the right thing by slowing down and taking a break, it’s blooming all around town. These are the lazy days and warm, humid nights when a heady, intoxicating fragrance invites you to sit down with a cool drink in your hand. It’s time to stop and smell the jasmine.

What have I been up to, you ask? Well, I’m not sure. A whole lot of nothing, I guess. I feel like Frankie on his walks now, sprawling out to cool his belly in a nice shady patch of grass. He sniffs the gentle breeze and looks up at me as if to say, “What? It’s hot!” There isn’t a thing he’d rather be doing and he’s got all the time in the world to make it around the block.

Let’s see, I’ve finished reading one novel and started another. That’s something. I wrote a piece for my writing group. And I’ve been able to compose a long letter to my grandma, proving it’s not a completely one-sided correspondence. Other than that, I’ve sat on my front deck under the shade of an awning and a giant oak with my supplies (wine, cheese and crackers) and watched the world go by. Hey — it’s the start of summer. It’s called a summer break, remember? And no, I’m not in school anymore, but still.

I’ve even managed to crawl in the pool now that it’s warming up. I say crawl, but really it’s more like a scoot. I bump down the stairs because our pool lift is broken and in the process of being repaired. But ever since “the incident,” when anyone heads into the pool, Frankie disappears into the air-conditioned house.

“It” happened last year. Frankie was innocently hanging out by the pool, trying to impress us with his tricks and earn a treat. My mom was asking him to ‘dance,’ which in theory involves standing on his hind legs while making little hops in a circle. Frankie hasn’t exactly mastered the command, but continues to try in earnest, performing all his tricks at once, morphing them into one desperate-to-please attempt I prefer to call his ‘breakdancing.’ He jumps high into the air, sits and raises a paw to shake, spins, then throws himself down to roll over — all with lightning quick speed. He tries it all repeatedly to see which magic combination might release the sacred morsel from the outstretched hand.

He was hard at work during one of these breakdancing sessions and by the edge of the pool when it happened. He was springing high into the air, while my mother moved her hand above his head. As she began to move her closed fist in a wide circle, Frankie leapt up, out and over the pool and, his eyes on the treat the entire time, came down into the water with a soft  ker-plunk and a little splash. When he bobbed back to the surface and immediately began doggy paddling, panic ensued. He’d never been in the pool before. And his eyes, wide with fear, conveyed the fact that he didn’t really care for it. I was speechless and motionless. Meanwwhile, my mother let out little “Oh – oh – oh’s” as if trying to remind herself to stay calm while facing the giant reality that she was the only one that could save the day. She cautiously lowered herself to the side of the pool, trying not to fall in herself, and grabbed for Frankie’s harness as he clawed at the side of the pool.

When she hoisted him out, soaked to the bone and looking half his size, I breathed a sigh of relief. Then I started laughing hysterically. Frankie began shaking off and rolling on the concrete, looking thrilled. He set about drying off in that happy way dogs have after they’ve just survived that horribly unjust and grueling treatment — the bath. They detest it while it’s happening, but rejoice, misery forgotten, when it’s over. And they feel great.

My laughter just increased Frankie’s excitement and antics. My mother, on the other hand (who had motioned him into the pool in the first place, after all), remained guilt-stricken and traumatized. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry!” she kept repeating to Frankie, who refused to be brought down. He kept trotting around, shaking off. “Stop laughing! That was horrible!” she said to me. I now replayed the scene in my mind and kept laughing. In fact, now I was snorting.

“He’s happy! Look at him,” I said. Frankie was on his back, twisting from side to side.

My mother has never fully recovered. She’s careful to only ask him to ‘dance’ inside the house. Though, Frankie does head in the minute we don bathing suits. Me? I can still dissolve into fresh giggles at just the memory of the event.

This morning, I noticed the jasmine is already fading and not as vibrant as when I took the picture for this post. Just another reminder that things are always changing. So, this summer, let the jasmine remind you to slow down and savor life. It’s short. Let me remind you to keep replaying the scenes that make you laugh. And let Frankie remind you to forget being drenched and remember the drying off part instead.130329_0005

Moxie Personified

amy & dianaAnd you guys think I’m gutsy. Meet Diana Lain. More positive, more adventurous, more disabled than me. And more full of life than most anyone I know, able-bodied or otherwise.

It’s not often I meet someone with this much gumption. She’s game for anything and loves speed. Some of you may recognize her from other adaptive sport photos. She waterskis, body surfs and plays power soccer (driving the ball into the goal with a power wheelchair.) Not to mention, occasionally joins in on bowling and billiards nights. All this is made more remarkable because she doesn’t have much use of her limbs.

Diana was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1992 and has lived with friend, caregiver and trusty sidekick, Kathy Bailey, for close to 10 years (read the recent article that appeared in The Florida Times-Union.) I don’t remember actually meeting them. It seems, instead, they’ve always been there, giving me countless rides in their wheelchair van since my own disability, and becoming my good friends along the way.

So, I didn’t hesitate when they invited me to check out Little Talbot Island on New Year’s Day. The park has plenty of boardwalks, bike trails and accessible restrooms, so it didn’t feel I was living too close to the edge. I forgot who my companions were.

Our first escapade came when Diana spotted a seagull with a broken wing in a parking lot. I think I have a bleeding heart when it comes to creatures of nature. Next to Diana, I’m the hunter poised to take out Bambi’s mom. Continue reading “Moxie Personified”

Gratitudes

1. I’m grateful to be alive. I could so easily not be. I’m one of the few individuals that’s been given a second chance at life.

2. I’m grateful for my mind. Just as the surgeon was millimeters away from life-giving functions, it’s also miraculous that my words and memories were not affected. They fuel my writing. The physical damage was great, but I’d rather write than walk.

3. I’m grateful to be able to communicate. Sure, I sound like a drunk E.T., but it’s nice to smile and exchange even the most mundane pleasantries with neighbors on Frankie’s walks.

4. I’m grateful for all the family in my life, but particularly for my mom. She made a great sacrifice — twice. Once, when I was born and a second time, six years ago, when she gave up life as she knew it in Miami to come to Jacksonville.

5. I’m grateful to Brooks. The rehabilitation hospital, the Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program, the Clubhouse, the outpatient therapy and the Neuro Gym. For everything they do to improve the quality of life for those of us in the community living with a disability.

6. I’m grateful to have a purpose. Find one. Go within. I think it’s something internal, something that can give you hope on dark days, regardless of external forces.

7. I’m grateful to have friends. Old and new. You can’t have too many. They make life sweeter. They’re the electives in a heavy courseload. I’m especially thankful to have one friend/physical therapist (she knows who she is) who keeps me moving!

8. I’m grateful to have Frankie and Bella. And yes, even my mom’s insane cat, Carlito. Animals are wonderful. They have such emotional lives. And not just cats and dogs. Consider — just consider — not eating them. You don’t have to start breaking holiday traditions if you’re not ready. Start next year. Start with red meat. It’s not all or nothing. I’m still unable or unwilling, despite repeated attempts, to give up seafood. Do what you can. Just think about it.

9. I’m grateful for my social security. Fortunately, the government pays me Social Security Disability Income. With it, I can afford the basics of food, clothing, shelter and then some.

10. I’m grateful to live in Florida. I can see the sunrise over the ocean every morning if I want to. It’s sad that I know this (hey, I don’t have cable!) but on Family Feud when Steve Harvey (who’s funny, that’s another excuse) said, “Name a state with the best beaches,” Florida was a top answer.

Keeping a list of things you’re grateful for can help you cultivate a more positive outlook on life which can improve your emotional well-being and reduce stress!

Remembering Amy

by Emory Clements

I lost a dear friend last weekend. Because it was unexpected, many of her friends are still reeling. But we came together last week, not for a service exactly, but a gathering of sorts, a service before the service.

While there, what struck me most was, while I knew very few people, I wasn’t the only one. Everyone there, it seemed, didn’t know anybody else. This beautiful person had touched so many lives — and most of them in random ways. So-and-so met so-and-so on eHarmony or in a class, and that someone knew a neighbor of Amy’s who turned out to be somebody else’s realtor. And so it went. I met Amy several years ago at a self-improvement workshop that neither of us particularly cared for. We joked that the best thing to come out of it had been our friendship. The assortment of people that arrived last Tuesday may not have known each other, but it all led back to Amy.

Her short-time love (that they weren’t yet married is just a technicality in my book) spoke of two words Amy associated with herself — creativity and connection. Someone else spoke about how, upon hearing the news, her best friend was prompted to say “I love you” to her for the first time in over twenty years. I had similar experiences. Friends, those I see all the time and those I hadn’t heard from in months or years, reached out to me. Connections are important. The lesson I left with is to tell the people you care about that they matter.

On the way home, another good friend of Amy’s mentioned that Amy’s easel was still at his house. They had taken an art class together. Amy had gotten bored. She didn’t have the attention span for it. He, on the other hand, was on to something. He showed me some paintings on his phone. They were good.

As a creative person myself, I feel certain that Amy has left it to me to encourage him. This is a role I gladly accept. I think everyone has the potential to be creative or do something that makes a difference, something they feel passionate about. We differ only in how much we’ve actualized or stifled this natural urge.

When I considered writing this blog, I hesitated. Was it selfish of me to write about something so personal? About losing a person most of my readers don’t even know? And then I remembered: that’s the magic of writing. When done well, it makes you feel. There’s something in it that the reader can relate to. So, it doesn’t really matter if you knew Amy or not. I write what’s personal to me and you can connect to it through something personal to you. Magic.

And so, I find that this giving friend of mine keeps on giving. And I simply pass on the message. Creativity and connection. Do with that what you will.

Amy Louise Hyler
1966-2012

Best Day Ever!

Annie balances the boat

Otherwise known as “Why I Live at the Beach.” Seriously, I don’t mean to sound like a beach snob, but it was 9:00 a.m. On a Thursday. And we walked there. Well, I didn’t walk, obviously, but it was an extremely short ride in the beach wheelchair.

My friend, Michele, and her daughter, Annie, took me out kayaking. At first, we weren’t sure we were going. It wasn’t the calmest day we could’ve picked, but I voted to go for it. Michele had a day off. Annie was only in town for another week. The stars were aligned.

Getting past the breakers

Once we made it out past where the waves were breaking (I was instructed to lean back,) it was smooth sailing. Annie swam out to us and climbed in the middle of the two-person kayak. I have no idea how she did this. It took place behind me and I was scared to turn my head for fear of tipping us over. Suffice it to say, she slipped in the boat like some kind of Navy Seal.

I, on the other hand, was given a paddle that sat uselessly in my lap after I demonstrated my paddling skills – wildly slapping the water or grazing it enough to make forward movement very difficult.

Free to simply enjoy the ride I said, “It’d be perfect if we saw some dolphins.”

And what do you think happened next?

Michele and Annie spotted three dolphins. My eyesight’s so poor, I hardly ever see them from the shore anymore. I know they’re out there, because people have tried to point them out, but they’re usually too far away. We must have been 10 yards from these three. Close enough to hear them breathe.

Float time!

Returning to shore didn’t go quite as smoothly. We tipped over in a wave and spilled out. But I didn’t mind. Even when snow skiing, falling was my favorite part. Besides, I was wearing a life jacket. Michele and I played in the surf. She was looking for the hat she’d lost when we capsized. I was trying not to drown. Swimming in the ocean is probably something many of you take for granted. I don’t anymore.

It didn’t escape my attention that the date was October 4th. Exactly six years since the brain surgery that saved me. Not a bad day, or way, to celebrate life.

Goals Schmoals?

This week’s blog post is all about failure. I’m cloaked in it.

I had two goals for the summer and guess what? Kids are heading back to school and I haven’t accomplished either one of them.

I wanted to shed 10-15 pounds. (I think I actually gained weight.) And I told members of my writing group if I was still working on my unfinished book come Fall they should just shoot me. (Now I run the risk of someone packing at Panera.)

If I may offer up my pathetic excuse — I had a houseguest for several weeks. And she’s a fabulous cook and fellow food lover. So, that explains my waistline. But, it’s less of a reason for my stalled memoir. That’s not to say I haven’t been writing. I have. The proof is in this blog. But, it’s become increasingly obvious that I can’t do both.

So, you will notice that some of my usually short and sweet posts have become even shorter and sweeter. And the category “Keeping It Simple” may become quite full.

Meanwhile, here’s a few quotes I found on the topic of failure that cheered me up and reminded me, like my friend Mary, (“goals schmoals!”) not to be too hard on myself.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

~ Michael Jordan 

“There is no failure except in no longer trying. “

~ Elbert Hubbard

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

~Theodore Roosevelt 

Gone Swimming

I apologize for the hurried and extremely short nature of this post, but I’m headed to Mom’s to go swimming. I had a garage sale yesterday and after having teams of strangers swarming in my driveway and pawing through my stuff (it was very successful,) I’m feeling the need to retreat. Frankie is already there and we’ll take a nice, long walk. Mom and I will swim, maybe watch a movie. Follow my lead today. It’s Sunday. Don’t exert yourself.

The Secret to Happy

If you’ve ever watched a child on a swing or running in the sand at the beach, you know. That simple, wild abandon. The sheer joy. How are they so able to enjoy life and the little things? To be so … happy? “Well,” you grumble, “…they don’t have to work 9-5, …they don’t have a horrible boss, …they don’t have bills to pay.” But the answer is easier. They live in the present.

You know how it goes. “Five more minutes!” you holler. Then, when five minutes are up and you announce it’s time to go, they are shocked and hurt. As if you’d never warned them at all. They didn’t spend their last five minutes being miserable. They happily resumed playing.

Now, you may have some adult-like child who’s different, but in general they forget the bad news that it’s all drawing to a close and soak up the remaining fun.

I have a friend who ruins the last half-hour of her massage thinking how it’s about to be over. “Oh, he’s on my legs. Then it’ll be my arms and then it’s over. Oh, he’s on my left arm. Then it’ll be my right arm and then it’s over.” And so on.

The secret to being happy is being positive in the present. The way we think, the way all of society operates, is that if x happens (we get the promotion, buy the new house, make the bonus,) then we’ll be happy. We delay our own gratification, always changing the goal, thereby putting happiness out of reach. It should work in reverse. A brain that is happy performs at a higher level, making all those other things possible. Listen to this TED talk on the subject. (Make sure you’ve got your thinking cap on. This guy talks at warp speed.)

To train your brain to be more positive, try the following. (It’s suggested for 21 days in a row, but that’s a little daunting to me. I say anything’s better than nothing.)

~ 3 Gratitudes

~Journaling

~Exercise

~Meditation

~Random Acts of Kindness

Personally, I think I’ve got this positive brain stuff down. I’m happier than most. Particularly, given my situation. You know, the wheelchair and all. That’s why I tend to get annoyed when someone starts positive thinking me to death. “Keep working hard! Never give up! Never say never and you’ll walk again.” The problem with this thinking is that it makes my happiness dependent on a particular outcome (walking again) that may never happen. I need to be happy today. With what I’ve got right now. Right this second. If I never walk again.

And you know what? I am.

Website Built with WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: