Thursday, November 1, 2018

8 year Crashiversary

I’ve decided I have a PhD in Spinal Cord Injury, 8 years down, oh how time flies. I learn more and more every day about this crazy life, 8 years is nothing. I take the anniversary of my injury as a chance to reflect on where I was then and how far i’ve come. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t remind myself how lucky I am to have a roof over my head, food on the table and the incredible support of so many.

At Point Lobos photographing with my iPhone. 

My health is my life and my life is my health and that is only possible because of the help I receive from others.  Our health mentally and physically are both so important when trying to achieve a happy and fulfilling life. This made easier by getting the proper sleep, nutrition and exercise. I feel our general health is greatly under valued.

At times I feel selfish, every day I have to think about me, be my own health care advocate. How am I going to get up in the morning, fed, transported around and get the help I need to get through my day? In part because of this I am always trying to find ways to give back and to help others.

I was reminded of this again in August after a friend passed away suddenly at the age of 32. Everything he did was to help others, to make this world a better place. He was a bright light and once again I am reminded to be the light and to #livelikeWeston. He was part of my relay for Rachael crew and will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.



Every year I get stronger and life with a spinal cord injury gets a little easier, just last month I was finally able to turn over from my stomach to my back in the pool. I’ve been working on this for 8 years! Being able to breathe on my own in the pool is huge because now I can work towards independence in the water. I started competitive swimming at the age of 8, played water polo and swam on the swim team through high school, lifeguarded, taught swim lessons, coached swim team, surfed, wakeboarded. I am a waterdog and I can’t wait for the day when I don’t need any help in the pool, and I am so close! Never give up!



Don’t take any minute of your life for granted. Look at the big picture and don’t let the little things get you down. Go for walks, watch the sunset, spend time with friends and family, volunteer, make a difference in your community, hug, cry, laugh, love, make art, be kind. Life is short.

There’s a lot that can get you down, this world can be a brutal place and I know it is hard to stay positive, I work on it every day. But this world is a beautiful place too, yin and yang, black and white, shadow and light, birth and death.

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up.”
-Stephen Hawking




Monday, May 7, 2018

8th Annual Relay wrap-up!

As the dust settles from this year‘s Relay For Rachael I am reminded that I am not alone on this journey and that I couldn’t do it without the support of many... every year we get stronger and it is truly an amazing thing. 





Shelby Hawthorne and Kodiak Greenwood both ran the full marathon while my relay teams battled it out on the highway. Team LaLa Land came in 1st out of my 6 teams, upsetting the Big Sur teams, and came in 3rd overall out of 112 teams!  I love seeing everybody come together for such a fun and rewarding event and I’m so proud of my runners who hit Highway 1 in support of me. I can’t say thank you enough!


 



This year we raised a record amount of money, from over 250 donors, to help with my ongoing caregiving and physical therapy costs. I can’t put into words what this means to me and how this helps me get through my days. My progress is slow but it is progress and I am up to the challenge. Thank you for BEing my light.




Thank you to The Treadmill for hooking up the winning team with free shoes and for hosting such a “Fun Run” on March 25th in preparation for the marathon.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Staying Healthy


As the 8th annual Relay for Rachael approaches I am reminded how lucky I am for the support of my amazing friends, family and community.  Year after year my runners continue to train and raise money and I continue to get the help I need to gain strength and stay healthy both mentally and physically.  I am knocking on wood as I write this but I have not been sick in over 5 years, I am gentle to my body because I know it needs strength to heal. I try and eat healthy, I rarely drink alcohol anymore and if I do it is a glass of red wine, I get my rest by staying on a consistent sleep schedule (which includes having to wake up from 3-3:30AM every morning to switch from my left to right side) and most importantly I keep my body moving.  My movement is possible because I have people who believe in me and who allow me to continue on my journey. I can’t imagine my life without this support and I am forever grateful.  Once again my runners hit highway 1 on Sunday, April 29th in part of the Big Sur Marathon to run their fastest and raise money for my recovery, to inspire me and others and to enjoy one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. Donations can be made at Relay for Rachael. Thank you and Be the Light.

Working with Domini Anne at Mindful Movement in Carmel.

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 thankful 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.