What’s Wrong with Ordinary?

 

Recently, I was forced into the noisy and congested world typical of American life.  Yep.  I had to go shopping.

It all started the moment I tried to squirt a little bit more of the most basic of all oil paints, Titanium White, onto my palette.  With a PFFTHHPPPPP the remaining paint plopped out.  Reaching for my backup tube, I found. . . nothing.  Yep.  That tube of Titanium White stuck in the back of the rack?  It wasn’t white.  It was Ultramarine Blue.

What?  Impossible!  Agghh!  Okay, don’t panic.  Just get some delivered.

Normally I can accomplish this task with a few clicks and, violá, the deed is done.  Not this time.

Having pulled out my handy, lightweight laptop computer, I searched for a site that would deliver some paint within a few days.  (Another experience of the typical American life.)  However, with a click-click here and a click-click there, I discovered that it would take, drum roll – please, two weeks for the paint to arrive.

Oh, phooey, ptooey.  I have to go to the store.

So, off I went to one of those big box stores that sell home goods, craft items, and art supplies.  I live at least an hour away from any major city.  Yet, I only had to travel 15 miles to buy my oil paint.  (Another one of those pretty awesome miracles of the ordinary American life.)

As I rolled into the store, my eye noticed a sign for sale, “Be Original, Not Ordinary.”  Huh?  What’s wrong with ordinary?

World’s First All-Accessible Water Park

Inspiration-Island-Map

Image this:  A child who has never had the opportunity to be completely immersed in what would be considered a typical summer activity.  Why?  Because s/he is confined to a wheelchair or has autism or a brain injury.

I guess you don’t have to imagine it, do it?  With all the ADA-compliance modifications that have already been made – and they are wonderful, the world is still largely out of reach for anyone with special needs.

There have been times when I have cried because I was sidelined because of a physical barrier.  And, if I cried, I can only imagine how often a child has wept because s/he was relegated to an observer-only status.

Now, image this:  A child or adult with special needs has the opportunity to be completely immersed in a typical summer activity.  What a fantastic idea!

Well, we don’t have to use our imaginations anymore; someone has finally taken the barriers away:  Gordon Hartman, the creator of the world’s first ultra-accessible water park.  It is a fantastic idea, and it is a reality!

“Children and adults who have special needs are sometimes left out, not because they want to be but because sometimes things are not always adequate for them to use,” Hartman said.

Today is the opening day for Morgan’s Inspiration Island.  A $17 million tropical-themed water park located in San Antonio, Texas.  This astonishing park (check out the above link) merges those with and without disabilities into one experience. The greatest part of all is that it includes all special needs people.

There are waterproof wheelchairs that use compressed air instead of batteries (which the University of Pittsburgh helped develop); waterproof wristbands for those who tend to wander, quiet areas for those who get overwhelmed, and a way to quickly change water temperature for those who are sensitive to cold water.  There’s more:  fast passes for those who have trouble waiting in line, private wheelchair transfer areas, and the riverboat adventure attraction boats rise to meet passengers (instead of wheelchair ramps).

Admission?  FREE FOR THOSE WITH DISABILITIES.

Anyone up for a road trip to Texas?

 

 

 

Like A Turtle on Its Back

It was one of those mornings, Spring shining through the windows.  The promise of warm breezes and light jackets.  My favorite way to wake up.  Smiling, I lifted myself up.  Wait, no.  Rather than sitting up, I had remained prone.  Okay, I’ll try to push a little harder.  Nope.  That didn’t work.  Time and time again, I tried – and I failed.  You’ve heard of frogs turning into princes.  Well, I guess I had turned into a turtle on its back.

I happen to be married to one of those sweetheart kind of guys.  Knowing that if I quietly called to him, he would wake up and eagerly help me.  I guess I could say he loves his turtle.  Yet, there was no morning urgency to rise.  So, instead of waking him up as I had in similar situations in the past, I decided to let him sleep.  This old turtle could wait out the time with prayer.  Eventually, he stirred and my prince charming turned me into his princess.

The before Rose – the one who existed before a degenerative neuromuscular disease claimed her body – she would not have been given to wait out any situation.  She was always having to do, to go, and to act.  There are many disadvantages to living trapped in a body that doesn’t work very well, but there are some advantages, too.   This morning’s advantage was to let myself be helpless.  Rather than thrashing out against an unmovable force, I chose contentment.

It has not been an easy metamorphosis, and I am not changing from an earthbound, crawling bug into something that can fly in the light.  My conversion is taking away freedom of movement, incremental, almost indiscernable pieces of my life – my physical life.  In its place, I am finding an upside down turtle.  My choices are obvious.  Do I pull myself into my shell and hide away?  Or, do I lie there vulnerable and patient?

Patience and contentment are choices even when my life is not upside down.

 

Failure is Inevitable

 

Blue-Moon

Two weeks ago, I wrote the following: ” Failure is always inevitable for a successful life.”

When I first penned this conviction, I wondered if it would ring true for you.  Have you ever felt the same way?


Failure Example #1:  When I was about 8 years old, my sisters and I spent the summer at my grandparent’s modest home in Wisconsin.  One day, playing at the end of a shallow canal, I noticed crayfish crawling along the muddy bottom.  Many times I had watched my older sisters catch these beautiful, rust-colored creatures with their bulging eyes and claws held wide open.  On this particular bright, sunny day, I thrust my hand into the cool, still water and made a grab for the largest one.  Brave one moment and cowardly the next, I yanked my hand out of the water with a crawfish dangling firmly from the index finger of my left hand.  With adrenaline pumping and heart pounding, I shook my hand violently, and the tiny lobster landed on the sandy shore.  As it sat there stunned, I seized the empty coffee can next to me and threw it at the terrifying monster. Suddenly, its shell split open and blue blood mixed with yellow slime oozed out.  Just as quickly as it had coursed through my veins, my fear transformed into remorse.  My pumping heart stopped: I had killed a living creature.

The lesson:  Fear is often the catalyst to violence.


Failure Example #2:  As a Sophmore in high school, I wrote a science fiction piece for my Creative Writing class.  Looking forward to my teacher’s feedback, my jaw dropped open as I read the notation at the top of my paper: “Grade:  F.  See me after class.”

Waiting for my classmates to slowly filter out of the room, I approached him – paper quivering in my outstretched hand.  My brain scrambled to make sense of the words that tumbled out of his mouth.  Finally, I heard “plagiarized.”    I protested and asked him to tell me what story I had copied.

“I don’t know, but you could have not come up with this story on your own,” he replied with unfounded certainty.

He went on to tell me in great detail his perception of me.  I was quiet and did not participate in class.  My previous assignments were uninspired.  As a result, he decided that I could not have created the story on my own because the paper I submitted was imaginative and beyond anything I could have written.  Thus, he concluded because I had plagiarized, I deserved the failing grade.

Hot tears welling up, I left the room and called my mother.  She had been in the kitchen when I had written the piece at the table, and she offered to come to school to give witness.  Not wanting to bring any further attention to myself, I refused her help.  Failing to pursue the matter with the school office left me with no recourse at the end of the school term: that one undeserved, unfair, prejudicial, failing grade impacted my final grade in the class.

The lesson:  Perception is often incorrect.  People are capable of more than you think.


Failure Example #3:  As I grew older, I became concerned about performance – doing a good job, being a good parent, or having a good appearance.  Sadly, my focus on performance was not confined to me, but I applied the same strict benchmark of achievement to others.  Even though I cared about people and what they were facing, I secretly sat in judgment of the decisions they made.  My previous lesson caused me to swing too far in the other direction.  I believed that anyone could do anything if they tried hard enough.

During my clinical rotation as a nursing student, I encountered patients that compromised their health with continuing questionable behaviors.  One experience was the time I spent caring for a middle-aged man who had a permanent trachea as the result of throat cancer.  The first time I met him, we sat in the Family Room at the end of the corridor.  As I reviewed his medical history with him, he enjoyed smoking a cigarette via the trachea opening.

When I went home that night and reviewed my day, I found an unsuppressible anger welling up inside me.  My young husband had died just six short months earlier from cancer.  How could Mr. Patient X continue to smoke?  He had throat cancer, and he continues to smoke!  Why doesn’t he just quit?

Because it was easy for me to live a disciplined life, I expected everyone to be able to do the same.  I lacked compassion for those who had a difficult time making changes when it came to life-choice decisions.  When I decided to quit smoking, I quit.  No struggle; no backsliding.  As I encountered people who tried but failed to quit smoking, I failed to empathize.  I even failed to realize that I failed to empathize.

The lesson:  Compassion is more important than perfection.


“I have failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”  
                                                                                                                           Michael Jordan

 


I know that I will continue to fail for it is the way of life.  Often, failures are the main theme of our stories.  They are the interlocking threads that make up the fabric of our life.  In many ways, our failures serve us better than our successes.

Failures are destabilizing, and the resulting disequilibrium demands attention.  Maybe that’s the point: We learn from our failures.  They teach us valuable lessons.   To fear failure is to fear life.

Welcome failures.  They are the stepping stones to your destiny.

The Upside Down Life

 

Sunset

We don’t seem them much anymore in this era of digital time, sand clocks. As a young woman, I bought one on a whim.  It wasn’t one of those big hour clocks that you see in movies.  (Remember the one in The Wizard of Oz?)    Mine was a minute timer.  A simple, tiny, glass and wood device meting out seconds with a stream of white sand.  Fascinated,  I turned over the timer and would watch the flow.  And, even though I knew that it poured at the same speed, it seemed as if time passed more quickly the closer the top portion was nearing the end.  Then, I would turn the timer upside down and start the flow all over again.  Time was endless.

I feel as if my life has become one of those sand clocks.  Time being measured out – with most of my sand now sitting in the bottom half.  Each grain representing days spent carelessly without a thought about the stream, about the passing.  Sometimes I even wished time would hurry along.  Anxious for the future to arrive.  It’s different now.

As I lie in bed – those early mornings that are still dark – I wonder if it really is morning or if I  have entered some other time continuum.  For in those moments, I can feel time standing before me, not still, but shifting.  I can hear it pouring out, and I wonder how it happened so quickly.  No longer carefree, I caress my clock in my hands and watch time shifting from space to space, moving faster now.

Pushing against gravity, I struggle to sit up and to take hold of what time is left.  Each grain is precious.  If only I could scoop up some time and put it back in the top half, or turn it over just like I did with the minute timer.  Even to have another minute added to my stream.   But, I can’t.

There is no stopping the flow.  Days slipped into days, months into months, and years into years.  Until, finally, each hour stands alone.  Time is no longer measured.  It is treasured.