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.

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#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.

Contrast Does Not Just Apply to Instagram Filters

Growing up my parents always taught me that if I fell, I had to get back up and try again. Sure, they would always help me if needed and I tried a few times first, but they raised me to be independent and to not rely on other people to do things for me, and I because of this I am the person I am today. I just wish that some other people would understand this concept as well.

The other week when I was out having a late night food excursion with some friends, I was getting out of the car and getting into my walker when someone came up to me and asked me if I needed my walker closer to me. Now, from where I was compared to where the walker was at the back of the car, it was no more than a few feet at most. They then proceeded to push my walker closer after I told them no that I had got it.

Now, I know this person meant well and I am not mad at them in the least for having a good heart and for wanting to help. But I will say that after some time had passed and I got to thinking about it, I got sad that the stigma that disabled people cannot do anything for themselves is still rampant today.

Have I wanted to give up after only barely trying to accomplish something? Of course, I am sure everyone has disabled or not. I have also noticed that while some things may look easy to one person, it could be a difficult feat for someone else. This was the case with me and a step stool.

I am pretty short so it is nothing new when I find myself reaching up on my tiptoes to reach something in a cupboard. Usually when I set my mind to something I will do anything and everything to get the task completed. I decided that I would take step stool and try to reach up and grab a plate that I wanted to get. This ended up being quite a task. Because of my lack of balance, this was very difficult for me. As many times as I tried to reach up and grab the plate, I could not get my balance long enough without holding onto the step stool because I would feel like I would fall off if I did not hold onto the step stool. After a while, my roommate ended up having to help me.

While yes, I did get frustrated with myself that I could not get something as simple as a plate or use something as little as a step stool, I had to learn that it is okay in the end. The important thing is that I did try. Just because I was not able to get the plate, or use the step stool this time, that does not mean I will not be able to accomplish this task in the future. I refuse to give up. I guess the quote, “fall down seven times, stand up eight” is true, you just have to work at it.

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!