A Year Can Pass By In A Blink Of An Eye

A year ago today, I posted my first blog post with this post right here, and little did I know my life would never be the same.  I started this blog with a mission in mind to stop stereotypes that are put on the disabled unnecessarily.  I can honestly say that while the problem is still out there, I have made an impact in people’s lives to be more mindful of the stereotyping that happens.

I have also shared a lot of stories and things I have gone through throughout the year as I live in the craziness that is known as Hollywood as I pursue my dream of working in the music industry.

Crazy how much can change in just one year, and how fast one year can go by.  I have learned a lot in many different ways over this past year, including by all my 245+ followers and I look forward to connecting and learning more from all of you in the next year(s) ahead. So this is my huge thank you to all of you that have put up with me these 365 days and here is to many more days and years together.

#DearMe

Dear Me,

Oh boy, where do I begin? Right now you are just a teenage girl with so many dreams and aspirations, even dreams and aspirations that you know nothing about yet. I am sure that you are scared shitless of what the future holds and for what it looks like, but guess what I am here to tell you that that is okay. You will survive.

First thing to remember, life gets so much better after school. Like Brad Paisley says in his song Letter to Me, “They say that high school is the best years of your life…well I’m proof that they are wrong.” This is so true. Yes, you will have great times in high school, but you will have an even better time after school. Sure you may take a little bit longer to finish, but you will get there and it will be beyond glorious and exciting when you do.

You may struggle with wanting to be “normal” because of your CP, and I won’t lie to you, it will be a struggle for years to come, but you will get to the point where you become more open-minded in quite a few different ways with your disability. You will learn that you are just fine the way you are with your disability, even if people will want to “cure” you and make you believe that there is something wrong with you. You will also start an awesome blog telling people of your story and your struggles and highlights of your journey. You will also meet some pretty awesome people, as well as some not so awesome people throughout the years dealing with your cerebral palsy.

Speaking of finding your voice, you will become more honest with time. Probably so much so, that people will want you to shut the hell up and wish you weren’t right all the time. Trust me, you will hear this many times from your family and friends. This will eventually be coined “Honest Abe” and it will be hilarious.

When it comes to your family, you are probably dealing with a lot when it comes to them at this point. I get that it was stressful, and you cried a lot when it came to things with them. Your parents end up getting divorced, and that will probably be the hardest and darkest time in your life, but don’t worry too much, things will start to look up in a few years and your relationship with both your parents individually will be better because of it.

Speaking of better relationships, you and Kimmy will have a stronger bond over the years. Maybe it was the divorce that made you guys’ get stronger, or just the fact that you two grew up and matured and stopped fighting like five-year olds. The important thing is your sister will become one of your best friends and someone who you know you can go to with anything no matter how small or stupid it is.

As for relationships with guys…don’t worry so much about needing a boyfriend during school, you have too much going on during that time to even focus on that. Sure, you will have big crushes on guys, but those will fade over time, some quicker than others, but you will find the right guy for you in the future. Spoiler Alert: You’re still looking and he’s still hiding, but he can’t hide forever right?

When it comes to friendships with your friends in school, most of them will still be your friends for a very long time, others not so much. There will be friends that you had been friends with for years that you just have to cut ties with and be done with the friendship to better yourself, but there will also be friends that you may lose contact with and get reconnected and have a stronger friendship after the fact. Cherish every single friendship though, because every single one gives you a lesson to learn.

You will eventually move to Los Angeles and this will be a great learning lesson for you that you need to grow up. Through this, you will gain a stronger relationship with God, and learn not just a lot about yourself, but how the world can be. It will be hard, and you will get knocked down quite a few times, but you will stand back up and be stronger after the fact. You will also start to believe in your gut a lot more. Trust me, it is Hollywood after all. This is also around the time that you realize that you want to work in the Music Industry, and through that you are able to work with a record label. Through this you will meet your best friend and start a friendship that you will cherish for a long time, even to this day.

As for other inspirations, you will have a special place in your heart for a little known band called The Jonas Brothers and they will help you get through a lot of personal stuff, even if they don’t know about it yet. But just a warning, they will break up and go their separate ways, but don’t worry too much, they ARE still brothers and they won’t disappear altogether. Also, while you may think Zac Efron is a beautiful person as Troy Bolton in High School Musical, trust me, he gets better with age.

Most importantly, know that you are loved, funny, confident, strong, beautiful, as well as very stubborn, but that will help you not back down with what you want to do in life. If anything that shows how much you refuse to give up. So keep shining your light. You will change lives, trust me.

To Be Healed, Or Not Be Healed….That Is The Question

Throughout the years I have had to deal with many struggles when it came to my disability. Whether it be learning how to walk and gaining my balance without my walker, or just something as trivial as taking a shower, or tying my shoes. But I think one of the biggest struggles that I had to deal with (and still deal with to this day) was being healed or cured from my cerebral palsy.

Growing up, that never came up in conversation. I was who I was and that was okay. But as I grew older and started to find my place in the world and check out different churches, I kept hearing, “Have you prayed and asked God to heal you?” I would always be honest and answer no because I was under the impression that I was fine, that I didn’t need to be healed. But the questions continued. So much so that I started to believe that there was something wrong with me if I was not praying for this.

When I moved to Los Angeles for the first time and was a missionary for about a year, I dealt with this on daily basis. I honestly felt like I had a target on my back. It was like “Oh, look, there’s that girl with her walker, we should go try to heal her so she doesn’t have to use that anymore.” Most of the time it came from visiting churches and not the people who I was around 24/7, so this made it super difficult. I honestly felt like I was being bullied and being told, “You’re not worth it unless you’re healed.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I did not and still don’t have an issue for people praying for me in their own time, but if you want to pray with me I just ask that you get to know me first as a person and get to know my heart before you ask that question. Please do not just assume.

I actually had an incident about a month ago where a guy was eyeing my walker and trying to make eye contact with me during a church function and he started to talk to me. I had never seen this guy in my entire life, so he knew nothing about me. He asked me why I used my walker, and not even ten seconds later, he asked if he could pray healing over me. I told thank you but no. This is just a prime example of someone not really caring about me as a person but wanting to “play God”, so to speak.

One thing people would get to know about me if they really took the time to listen is that there was one time that I ended up not having to have surgery on my foot when I was supposed to. I had surgery about a year before this incident and it did not heal correctly as it should have, so my foot started to hurt really bad again. I went back to my doctor and they said that they were going to have to graft some of my hipbone into my toe to help the healing process. To say that I was not happy about this would have been the understatement of the year.

Fast-forward about six months later, I felt like my foot was feeling a lot better. I was able to walk on it for longer periods of time, and it wasn’t swelling anymore. I really felt like I did not have to have the surgery. So my mom and I headed up to Shriner’s on my surgery day and all I remember talking about on the two-hour ride up there was that I was not going to have to have surgery. We finally make it up there and me being the person that I am didn’t even say hi to the person checking me in, I automatically said, “My foot feels better can we please take an x-ray so that way I don’t have surgery if I don’t need to.”

I don’t remember much after that other than the fact that the doctor took FOREVER to come in after the x-ray, but when he did it was only to bring good news. He said that the toe had indeed healed and it looked like there was some tissue or cartilage that had formed over it so I did not need to have surgery. I was so excited! All I remember after that was saying thank you a thousand and one times and then surprising my dad by being home later that night.

So I am not saying that I don’t believe that God cannot do miracles, the story that I just told you is one of them, but I am not going to live my life searching to be healed. I am going to live my life and I believe God has a plan for me with my cerebral palsy. I believe that this blog is one of them and I am beyond grateful for it.

For the people who are disabled and do not like it and wish to be cured from it, which is fine, but please, do not make that your idol. Do not obsess over the fact that you need to be healed to feel whole. You don’t. Find what you love about yourself in the here and now and work with that. I guarantee that you will find out a lot about yourself when you do that. Trust me that is what happened to me, and hell, I’m still learning to this day!

Also, to the people who would rather focus on curing someone from their disability rather than getting to know that person, maybe you should slow your roll, take a step back and live in the here and now and see what good this person is doing, and honestly just get to know this person before you make the assumption that they need to be healed. Because believe me, it is a huge turn off and makes the whole “Christian church” look horrible when someone is pushy and narrow-minded like that.

Would I change any of those situations that I mentioned above? No, I wouldn’t because through those situations I became the person I am today, and I will be forever grateful for them. I can confidently say now that I love who I am and would not change it for the world.

#TheStruggleIsReal

When I decided to start this blog, I knew that I wanted to change people’s thoughts and perceptions on how they saw people with physical disabilities. However, I did not know how much I, as well as some of those close to me, would be put in situations where I would actively be learning as well, and to be honest, it has been a hell of a week with being put to the test.

Throughout the week I got to see first hand how naïve people could really be when it comes to viewing people who have a physical difficulty, and all in different ways. First, was an incident that dealt with my roommate where someone had asked her about me and assumed that she was my caretaker. Now, this is not the first time that this has happened. This is super frustrating for both her and I because she knows I am capable of doing a lot of things by myself, and I pride myself in knowing that I can do these things.

Second, I had a job opportunity come up that I took advantage of, but as I was talking to the person I would be working for, their mood instantly changed when I told them that I was disabled and used a walker. Their response basically said that they were sorry that I had a “terrible disease.” This no doubt upset me tremendously because I do not see how it is a terrible thing in the least. I mean, good lord, I’m not going to infect anyone if I am in the same vicinity as the people I am around.

Lastly, and this is a constant struggle that I have to deal with, I came in contact with someone a few nights ago while I was at a church function who saw my walker and asked if they could pray for healing for me so that I could walk without the walker. At this point you can only imagine that I am now rolling my eyes and getting super frustrated. On top of that situation I was dealing with a building that was hard for me to get into with stairs that had no railings (or ramps for that matter), and someone once again asking my roommate questions that I could have answered myself.

Over the next couple of weeks I want to delve into these situation a little bit deeper because this is not the first time that these situations have happened. Although they can be super frustrating, every single one of the situations have taught me valuable lessons over the years and I am looking forward to sharing them with you over the coming weeks.

Letting Go and Moving On Part II

Please read Letting Go and Moving On Part I before you read this post if you have not done so already.

People always say that hindsight is 20/20, and sometimes you have to separate yourself from a situation to look at it with clear eyes and a clear mind, but then there are times that you think you can see clearly when you are right smack dab in the middle of a situation. This is what happened to me, and boy was I wrong and looking back I could not believe that I bought so much with what my friend Francis was saying.

As I mentioned in the previous post, it seemed like her attitude changed practically overnight. While the old Francis would be outgoing and wanting to talk to anyone and everyone, she became withdrawn and refused to get out of bed for days. Now, when this happened I was not living in LA anymore, but I did talk to her on the phone on a regular basis. When I would talk to her on the phone she was very emotional most of the time. I will say though that during this time, one of her dogs passed away unexpectedly, which I will agree would make anyone emotional with a loss like that, and I did feel for her. But after that, things just continued to get even stranger.

Shortly after her dogs untimely passing, I got a phone call from her and she was absolutely hysterical. It took me a while to figure out what was going on. When I was finally able to understand her, she had said that her apartment had gotten broken into and her laptop was gone. I could understand why she was freaking out and scared, I would be to if it had happened to me. However, my sympathy for her only lasted for a short time after that. A few weeks later, I found out that her new laptop that she had bought was once again “stolen”. This is when I started to get suspicious. Now I knew she didn’t live in the best area and that yes, break-ins happened frequently, but with her recent change of attitude and the recent events that happened, something was telling me that she might be on drugs, which she has admitted to being on drugs at one point in her life.

I have personally been around and seen people who I am very close to that have dealt with addictions so this is not something I am new to. I remember asking her if she was okay because she seemed very weird and off to me and she claimed she was just depressed and that she would be fine, and I believed her. That’s the thing though with people who have drug and alcohol problems, they will do anything and everything to convince their family and friends that they are okay, when they are clearly not.

After the whole laptop incident I started to keep my distance from her. It wasn’t like I was in town to see her all the time anyways. As more time passed she became more and more possessive and stalker like. I would come into town for a couple of weeks to visit and I could not go a day without hearing from her either via Facebook, texting, or calling me on a daily basis asking me to hang out with her. What she did not seem to understand every single time was that I was continuously busy doing my own thing and I had prior commitments that I had already made with other friends. She would either make it seem like I needed to a) ditch my friends and hang out with her every single day, or, b) have her tag along everywhere I went. As you can imagine, this became very annoying. I finally talked to her about it and her explanation was that she really admired me and wanted to hang out with me all the time because of that. Do not get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that she looked up to me from the CP standpoint, but the admiration was honestly starting to look and turn into some sort of obsession thing, because it only got worse from there.

As time went on, she continued to pressure me for attention and would constantly like and comment on almost everything on Facebook that I would post. Once again, it got to be too much so I would talk to her about it, she would get upset and feel bad, back off for a month or so, then she would go back into her old habits again. This is when I decided that I needed a break from her for good, (or so I thought), and I decided to block her from everything social media wise as well as the phone.

It was also about that time that I started feeling like something was once again off with her, and it was not like the first time with the laptops. I had this gut feeling that it was a bit more personal and had to deal with me on a more intimate level. With the way she was acting towards me, as well as the vibes that I was getting from her I started to believe that she may have developed feelings for me on a more intimate level than just friends.

Before I go on with this part of the story, let me tell you first that I am a HUGE supporter of the LGBTQ community and will defend anyone who is getting shafted because of their sexual orientation. However, that does not mean that I am by any means a lesbian. I am straight. Always have been. Always will be.

Fast-forward about four or five months later, and by this time I am living in LA full-time once again. I was minding my own business one day, going about my everyday life, when my friend tells me that she got an email from Francis and she wanted to talk. We decided that we would talk to her together and work out our differences and move on. A few days later, we headed over to talk to her at her place and we ended up talking about everything and make up so to speak. I was thinking, “Okay, maybe God wants to restore the friendship and maybe, just maybe she has changed and isn’t as weird anymore.” I was willing to give it one more shot. But honestly, as time went on and as I was hanging out with her again, I could not get the nagging voice in my head and gut feeling to go away that she had stronger feelings for me than just friendship. It honestly started to eat away at me. I would get physically sick. I am not one for confrontation usually and ESPECIALLY on a topic like this one.

After many, and yes I mean many, days and nights of praying and talking to family and friends about it, I finally decided to bite the bullet and just ask her straight out if there was any deeper feelings there, and believe me I dreaded having this conversation like the plague. Once again, I was physically sick. I could not sleep at all the night before I had dinner with her to talk to her about this because my brain was going a million miles a minute.

When I got there, she knew something was up and that I was nervous about something, and I was not quiet about being nervous either. I had told her that the question that I had to ask was probably the hardest question I had to ask anyone because 1) I did not want to come off as a hateful bitch in the slightest and make gays and lesbians think I do not care for them because of their sexual orientation, and 2.) I have never had to have a conversation with someone like this before so I was uncomfortable and did not know what I was getting myself into. When I finally blurted it out, I felt this huge weight being lifted off of my shoulders, but at the same time, a look of shock was replaced onto Francis’ face. I also noticed she would not look me in the eye and would just focus her eyes more on the ground. She instantly started to cry and deny anything of a sort. She has admitted that there have been other people in her life that have thought the same thing, which honestly to me raised some red flags with whether or not she was being honest with me or not. I also told her that if she was that it was okay to tell me and that I would support her in that, but I would not share the same feelings that she had.

At the end of that conversation, I was left feeling a mixture of emotions. I felt very drained from the conversation and it also did not help that I was running on no sleep and was basically living off Starbucks. Also looking back, since hindsight is 20/20, I felt very confused. I was not sure how to take the conversation as a whole, and maybe that is because of the red flags that were raised. I only got it more confirmed for me the next day when she called me to see if we were okay and she had told me that she was up all night crying because of the topic I had brought up. Personally, I thought that was strange considering she swore up and down that she did not feel that way.

Because of this conversation that we had about six months ago, as well as her getting a little bit more obsessive in the past few months with doing the Facebook liking and commenting, as well as text and call me constantly wanting to hang out (after I had told her that I was super busy since I had come back home from the holidays, which fell onto deaf ears), I finally decided it was time to cut her out of my life for good. I was done trying to explain myself.

I fully believe that friendships are put in our lives for a reason and I believe that she was put in my life to really help me see how a lot of people with disabilities as well as other people who are not disabled label and stereotype themselves or others basically saying that they do not and cannot get the independence to do everyday life things independently. Because of this situation, a fire was lit under my ass to start the Stereotypically Able movement, so for that Francis, I thank you. And goodbye.

Stereotypically Able Movement–A Time of Change and Recognition

With the society we live in, stereotypes are everywhere we turn. Whether it be the popular girls being stereotyped as being “bitches” because of their social class, or jocks being stereotyped as “dumb”. One stereotype that really gets under my skin is that all disabled people are considered “dumb” or “retarded”.

For those of who know me, know I hate when I get put into a box or have people tell me what is best for me, or what they think is best for me without really knowing me as a person. Yes, I have cerebral palsy, and use a walker to help me walk, but that does not make me any less of a person. I have heard people flat out say that they feel sorry for the person because since they have a disability their life would be too hard, or that they cannot go for their dreams because of their disability. I could go on and on but I will save some more of those for future blog posts. I would rather focus on the positives that I have had in my life and focus on my goal of changing the stereotypes and stigmas that disabled people cannot live a life like “normal” people.

I was raised with two parents and a younger sister, as well as many friends who never let me believe that I could never do something. If I set my mind to something, they all supported me and would help give me the tools to accomplish them. When doctors told my parents right after I got diagnosed, at the age of three, that I may never walk, they looked at the doctor’s told them that that was bullshit and to just watch and that I would walk one day. And guess what? I did. It may have taken five years and I may have been very nervous and embarrassed by it, because it was different than everyone else, but the fact is that I conquered that obstacle and told the doctors what was up. Yes, I have been through hell and back with my cerebral palsy some days, but I fully believe that if there is no pain, there is no gain and that God helps those who help themselves.

My goal for this blog is to not only talk about my story of the roller coaster that is growing up with cerebral palsy, but first and foremost, bring to the surface the issue of stereotypes and stigmas that cloud over disabled people, whether it be on purpose, or just because. I say it needs to become a movement that everyone needs to get behind. So I ask you, who is with me to start making a difference? Let’s start thinking we are stereotypically able!