Tuesday, October 31, 2017

7 year crashiversary

Seven years...seven years!

In the traditional Chinese culture, seven represents the combination of Yin, Yang and Five Elements (Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth). This combination is considered as “harmony” in the ideology of Confucianism. While in Chinese Taoism, it stands for Tao which has a close connection with kindness and beauty.

I look forward to harmony and a close connection with kindness and beauty in the upcoming year of my recovery. I am constantly trying to find the balance of kindness in my rehab. How far can I push my body and when do I just need to sit back and recover. Most of the time I just make up my rehab as I go, circling back around to the exercises that I have done in previous years and enjoying the differences in my strength and ability. To say that this process is slow is an understatement, this progress is painfully slow, but I am here and ready to face it and I am encouraged by my strength that continues to grow.



Hope, 35, Self Portrait, 2017



It is a full-time job keeping in good health. I understand why so many people in 
my situation end up in the hospital and some don't make it out. It's a constant battle to survive, not to mention the huge financial burden that weighs on me heavily. My number one focus is my health and it has to be that way because nothing terrifies me more than ending up back in the hospital.  It is easy to end up with pressure sores or other issues related to quadriplegia, it is hard to fight this battle and stay strong. It all starts with having proper care and people that understand. This summer I had three caregivers in the matter of two months give me their notice. It turned my world upside down and my entire focus had to go to finding new caregivers that could help get me through my days. Through this journey I have met so many amazing people, true angels that allow me to live.  It really is beautiful and humbling and gives me hope in humanity. There is nothing more selfless than being a caregiver and it frustrates me so much that as a society we don't put more emphasis on how important these people are. So if you see me out and about with a caregiver please thank them because they can never be thanked enough for what they do.

As lives go on, marriage, kids, travel, play ...I look for my path, a path I can take that will give me happiness knowing that my path will be very different from most. Without my art I would have a hard time moving forward. I still have my art and I thank God for that everyday. My 2018 calendars are available online and we have a new website for Gallery Exposed (links in sidebar). Currently we are exhibiting "See you, See me" a solo show with photographs by me up through December 31st, if you are in Carmel please stop by!




On the cover of Monterey County Women magazine.



It doesn't seem so long ago that I woke up at my house in Big Sur, ate breakfast, watered my garden, fed my animals, showered, packed up my Halloween costume and headed into Carmel. It was a Sunday so it was my day to open up the gallery. I remember this day like it was yesterday, my last day of independence. That evening I stopped by the Big Sur River Inn to watch game 4 of the World Series, San Francisco Giants vs Texas Rangers, Giants won 4-0. I changed into my costume and headed to Nepenthe for their annual Masquerade Ball.  We danced, we laughed, we enjoyed the beautiful night under the stars....Happy Halloween my friends.



 
My Awesome runners!  Running the Big Sur River run last Sunday even though it was cancelled, to start their training for this year's relay for Rachael! I love these guys! Thank you for all of your support! 

Friday, May 12, 2017

7th Relay Wrap up

Well, I am one lucky girl!

You did it again, we met the goal of $30,000 to help with my caregiving and physical therapy costs after a car accident that left me a quadriplegic in 2010. I can't believe how the energy behind this relay continues to grow and grow every year, it is inspiring and motivating. Thanks for believing in me and being my light.

My 19 runners hit highway 1 on Sunday, April 30th in part of the Big Sur Marathon, 3 marathoners and 16 relay runners. Sister/brother duo Shelby and Taylor Hawthorne ran their first marathon and Kodiak Greenwood ran his third consecutive Big Sur Marathon. Relay "Team Nepenthe" came in first, 5 minutes before "Team Carmel Valley", Lee Lightfoot was not happy about this!





The relay year after year motivates me to keep on going and gives me the funds to do it. I exercise 6 days/week, 4-6 hours a day and Sundays I make sure to stand and stretch a minimum of 1-2 hours.  I have to get the movement, I can't imagine not. I am so fortunate for the support that I have and continue to receive. Thank you! My progress is slow but happening! My core and arms continue to get stronger, I am starting to feel temperature change in my legs! About damn time...this growing nerves thing is tricky business.

I want to thank my runners, friends, family, communitby and everyone who donated and continues to donate year after year! As well as my friends at the Carmel Valley Athletic Club, Double Portion Supply, Loco Coco, Big Sur River Inn, The Treadmill and VEE R Creative Ventures for their support! The journey continues!


The crew celebrating at the finish line.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Relay for Rachael 2017

It's that time again! I have a group of amazing runners raising money and hitting Highway 1 on Sunday, April 30th in part of the Big Sur international Marathon. Every year since my car accident in 2010 this has been my annual fundraiser for caregiving and physical therapy costs. I am forever grateful for everyone's continued support! Thank you! Donations can be made HERE!

I have finally started collecting my rehab videos over the years! Check them out HERE. Thank you for continuing on this journey with me. Be the Light.







Tuesday, November 1, 2016

6 years down - Crashiversary

 

Honestly life has been whacky for me recently, not because of my disability but because of life. My grandmother passed away in May, peacefully at home in Carmel. Grandma was a big influence in my life, she taught me so many things that molded me into the person I am today. Her dementia kicked in big time right around the time of my accident. In a way i'm glad she couldn't understand what happened, but watching her grow weak and not being able to help her in the ways that I wanted to was challenging. Grandma taught me the value of hardwork, an appreciation for art, to have manners and be polite, the joy of gardening, to cheer for the Oakland A's and much, much more. Her influence in my life was huge and I am so thankful for our time.

Ironically Carmel celebrates 100 years this year as my great, great uncle's property (left to my grandparents) of 100 years is for sale in Carmel. Unfortunately this is the end of the line for us but I feel so fortunate for the time we had here... I am taking in my last moments and looking forward to new beginnings. I will miss the sound of the ocean at night, the trees and the fog. I will not miss the mold, the parking issues or the mail delivery!

The "crashiversary" always makes me re-evaluate my life and my rehab program. Is what i'm doing sustainable both physically and financially? Am I being the most productive with my limited time? Can I do more on my own? I'm always wondering if i'm doing the most with my exercise, pushing myself enough... while still remembering to listen to my body.

Somedays I am so mentally exhausted, and others physically... I have to remember (and have the energy for) the mindful movement that is needed to really connect to my body. It has been a bumpy road recently. I lost my trainer I worked with for years and this has really made me question my home rehab program. I recently read this blog post of a fellow quadriplegic, he explained the importance of the trainer/client relationship so well.

"The client can have his entire world changed – for good or bad! – by the attitude of his trainer...This is the constant psychological battle that plays out over minutes and months alike and, during a time when there is much uncertainty about the future for someone who has just lost access to most of his body, the therapist can keep the commitment boat afloat...As you can see, awareness and trust in this relationship are critical for rehab when working with a therapist, just as they are in so many other settings: student-teacher, player-coach, community-police, public-government." -Theo St Francis

Thank you Theo for sharing!

More on Theo here

I finally have gathered my rehab videos from over the years, this helps me see how far I have come and what I need to be working on more. Check out my videos here

 

Thanks to my friend Roman Reed and his efforts in finding a cure for paralysis there have been huge strides forward in Stem Cell research here in California! Read about the recent human clinical trials here

I lost myself that night of the accident, my old self "before" the accident but I also experienced a rebirth, into something maybe deeper and more meaningful. I'm not sure what it all means but I look forward with hope and determination knowing that I have a lot to look forward to.

"We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us." -John Steinbeck

 



In my calm place.

 

In my "WTF are we doing" place.

 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Relay wrap-up 2016

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Words can not explain the gratitude I have for the overwhelming support I continue to receive year after year. My inspiration and hope comes from all of you.

My runners hit highway 1 on April 24th...it was a windy Sunday morning as they headed out to put one foot in front of the other for me. I heard Hurricane point was a force with wind coming from all directions, I can feel that force. The relay year after year motivates me to keep on going and gives me the means to do it.

I want to thank my runners, friends, family, community and everyone who donated. Aswell as my friends at the Big Sur River Inn, Loco Coco, and the Treadmill for their continued support! BE THE LIGHT!

Check out relay for Rachael on KSBW! Watch video here

Wow! All the donations are incredible! River Inn's check from their proceeds on marathon day pushed us over our goal of $30,000! www.relayforrachael.com

Team "El Sur Grande" came in 2nd in the Big Sur International Marathon open-mixed relays and was my fastest team. (My marathon runner, Kodiak Greenwood, beat all the relay teams!)

Pasta Dinner! (photos by Magdalena)

 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Relay for Rachael 2016

It's relay time again! This year is the 6th annual relay for Rachael and I have four teams and two full marathon runners who are hitting Highway 1 on Sunday, April 24th at the Big Sur International Marathon. This is my annual fundraiser to help with my ongoing physical therapy costs after a car accident that left me a quadriplegic in 2010.

Every year I am blown away by the amount of support that continues to flow in. My exercise/rehab program is the most important thing to me and I am able to continue this because of the support from my community and the relay for Rachael. Without it my quality of life would dramatically deteriorate. Every day I am so thankful that I am given the opportunity to heal, that I can put all of my energy into gaining as much strength back as possible. I believe if I continue to work hard the possibilities are endless. I know that there are many people in my situation that don't have the support that I do and do not have the opportunity that I have and for this I am forever grateful. I am inspired and left in awe by the amazing runners who year after year train hard and raise money so one day I can too.

Thank you for being my light!

You can pledge your support through the website at www.relayforrachael.com using PayPal, or if you prefer to write a check, send it to:

Rachael Short SNT

PO Box 6445

Carmel, CA 93921

Soaking up the winter sun.
I can stay here all day!
Chelsea representing!

Lyra and Kendra training hard.

 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

5 years down...

On my crashiversary I always think back to my 66 days in the hospital. Not able to speak, breathe, or eat for 18 days, not able to move my head from the pillow. I have come so far, mostly because of the support of my community and a little determination on my end :) One of the most exciting things this year is that I am beginning to sweat again, I am getting stinky armpits and sweaty feet! This means that my nervous system is starting to work like a "normal" body!

I can finally admit I am scared shitless of being in the car. Getting in my truck feels OK but takes a lot more work, getting in the van is torture every time. I was never a good passenger, I preferred being the driver, especially on country roads and if I was the passenger my slogan was "slow equals love". Slow down with your passengers and enjoy the ride.

I am so thankful I am in downtown Carmel and can go out without getting in the car. I appreciate the time that I have here because it could change at any moment. I can zip up to the gallery, meet friends for dinner or check out a great exhibit at the Center for Photographic Art where I am on the Board of Trustees. I seem to avoid the beach not because I don't love it but because it still hurts. I avoid the things that bring me sadness and focus on the things that bring me happiness, and there is a lot to be happy for.

Everyday gets easier as I learn to live again. After 5 years I have a pretty good idea that everyday is an adventure and as I change and get stronger I learn more. I miss traveling but now I am on my craziest journey of all. I often think about my solo travel to Cuba 8 months before my accident and how the lessons I learned on that trip were in preparation for this "journey". We are all part of a much bigger picture.

The biggest lessons I've learned on this 5 year journey is to be patient, be understanding, never give up and to laugh at yourself. I accept that this is a life long struggle that I will always be fighting and that is ok, I know I can do it. Life is a struggle, this is why there are sunsets and art and music, because life is also beautiful. I am now brought to tears at the stars in the sky and the sunlight through the trees. The struggle is more real, the beauty is more real, the love that I feel is more real too. I laugh at road rage, how can somebody get so angry at something so silly, life is so much more. Everyone has their struggles, no one has it easy but getting upset about the little things is not a way to live. More than anything I know that my injury is not just my struggle, it is my family's, my friend's, my community's and we are all healing together.

I am learning to put my body first. The first year of my rehab I still felt that I could stay out late, I wasn't going to miss the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Big Sur! But I quickly learned that I cannot do that anymore. I have learned that I need my sleep and I need my schedule. I prefer to be home warm and cozy in my bed rather than out in a loud, cold place. Maybe I'm getting older or maybe I'm just learning that my body can only heal if I let it...priorities. I can't spend hours in the chair, it makes my body hurt and my energy low. Battling exhaustion every day is one of my biggest challenges and I do everything I can do avoid that, drink water, sleep, exercise, movement, breathe...

I miss push ups more than crunches, dirt roads more than city streets, beer more than liquor and sunrises more than sunsets. Everyday gets easier and everyday I get closer to independence again. On this crashiversary I want to say thank you again to my family and friends who have supported me every step of the way and to my amazing caregivers who get me out of bed every morning and tuck me in at night. I love you all...




MRI of my spinal cord before the surgeries. The first Doctor at Santa Clara didn't want to do anything so I was quickly transferred to Stanford. Thanks Buddy...
 

This is an xray of my neck after my first surgery, 4 screws and 2 rods. Yikes!
 
 

Xray after my second surgery, add in 4 more screws and a plate. Believe or not I have more range of motion than most because I work at it every freaking day!


My current show up until Jan. 2nd at Gallery Exposed!