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Uno. Dos.

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One.
Two.

Doesn’t take that long to count to two does it? I guess you could even say it’s a bit anti-climatic.

Well, today marks the 2nd anniversary of my spinal cord injury, so I’ve got the number two on the brain. Yea, maybe counting to two is anti-climatic, but in my mind this number 2 mile marker has been everything but anti-climatic.

Injury anniversaries are always strange things. After all, I clearly know all about them because I’ve had so many (computers really need a sarcasm font). An injury anniversary is such a defining mark between the “what was” and the “what is” in a person’s life. Whether you want to or not, you can’t stop yourself from pausing and thinking back to the good ole days. Back to the days when curbs were just, well, there and you had a lot more bathroom stall options when you were out and about.

I’m sure everyone approaches those normal thoughts and reflections with a different attitude. We’re all unique individuals and our injuries affect our families and our own self in different ways. I guess it’d be pretty nuts to think everyone would feel the same about any number year of an injury anniversary. At the same time, I think those attitudes change and progress as the years do. Maybe certain experiences, certain people, certain whatever it may be during that year causes a shift in thinking.

My second year of spinal cord injury life has encompassed quite the experiences. Experiences, I can very honestly say I never imagined having in my life, let alone all in one year. Some experiences were awesome, others well, not so awesome. But that’s life right? Moments of excitement, moments of fear, moments of triumph, moments of failure–just a lotta lotta moments.

Moments like receiving a grant to purchase a racing chair and start training and learning from an epic paralympian (July).
Moments like being crowned Ms. Wheelchair America 2015 after a week of competition in Long Beach, California (August).
Moments like learning how to drive again and purchasing my own vehicle–the famous hatch back with sliding doors (October) then taking my drivers test and passing on the first shot (January).
Moments like traveling out to South Dakota to go cross country and down hill skiing and then coming home and having to wait in security and wonder if I managed to get my mother arrested in the airport thanks to an epic souvenir (January).

Moments like those…

You know there’s another big moment I had recently that I haven’t had the chance to write about—racing in my first race since my injury. I raced in the Fifth Third River Bank Run in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 9th during one of my Ms. Wheelchair America travel excursions. It was a 25K race, so 15.5miles long. It kind of rained the entire time (well, excluding the last 3 miles…but basically the whole time) and I had never even bothered to push in the rain before. But now I’ve got 12.5 solid miles of experience:D It was awesome. Wet, but awesome. My goal was to finish without a flat tire and that’s exactly what happened, in 1:34:07–a 6:04 min/mile pace (pretty reasonable for a newbie if you ask me!)

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You know, this isn’t always easy or fun. There are plenty of things that are now a daily part of my life that I could certainly do without. There are things I’ve learned that I wish I wouldn’t have had to learn in such a dramatic way. But I’m sitting outside right now on this gorgeous afternoon, watching my fluffy little white dog wag her tail as she sniffs the breeze. You know, now is probably right around the time that tree fell on me two years ago. It’s right around the time the ambulance came and then the helicopter. It’s right around the time my Mom and the rest of my family got the news that forever would change our lives.

Yet, the only feeling I really have in this moment is gratitude.

I’m so thankful to be here.
I’m so thankful to look down and see my diva dog panting like a fool and Oscar all sprawled out in pure bliss.
I’m so thankful to be sitting in the backyard of my home,  feeling the sun on my shoulders (I’m trying to get rid of one of my ridiculous tan lines…) and seeing the clouds lazily move across the sky.

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Well, now I’m feeling a little moronic because I could seriously cry with how thankful I am for all of the blessings that God has poured out into my life the past two years. Gratitude does some amazing things (if you don’t believe me, you have to check out this blog my awesome uncle shared with me…). But seriously, it really does.

We all have so much to be thankful for, each and every one of us.  Maybe you feel like you have search long and hard for those things, but in reality, they’re all around us.  I know I’m only two years out, but I pray I never lose sight of all the gifts infused in this “bonus life.”

Today is the anniversary, but every day is the gift.

Boomsauce

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How ‘bout that, it’s May already! That’s a bit nuts right? But I’m certainly not complaining. After all, I’ll be the first to say I’m a cold weather wuss and snow/ice and I are only friends on Christmas and the days I don’t need to go anywhere. But here we are, sunshine and blue skies. I’ve even got tan lines already! Granted, they’re pretty dumb looking tan lines, but they’re totally there.

My tan lines are thanks to the time I spent in Louisiana at the end of March at an International Wheelchair Tennis Tournament---they're seriously diagonal from my sleeves. But on a cooler note, the awesome dude with me is one of the coaches for the Paralympic Wheelchair Tennis Team
My tan lines are thanks to the time I spent in Louisiana at the end of March at an International Wheelchair Tennis Tournament—they’re seriously diagonal from my sleeves. But on a cooler note, the awesome dude with me is one of the coaches for the Paralympic Wheelchair Tennis Team

It’s kinda funny how transitions work. I guess it’s another one of those things I never stopped to think about before. Each day there are these tiny little adjustments, tiny modifications, tiny adaptations; so tiny you don’t really even realize they’re happening. Then all of a sudden, you actually pause to look around at the world around you and see buds on the trees, green grass, and highway construction crews (I’m pretty sure the last one is the most indicative of springtime in Wisconsin). Just like, BOOM! You’ve transitioned to a different life phase!

I feel like some aspects of a spinal cord injury transition are very similar.

Yea, I’m certainly still in my “learning” phase and I’m certainly still considered an SCI “newbie.” I don’t really know how long I can claim the “newbie” label, but I’m pretty sure I still can now. Anyway, I guess I’m really talking about one particular aspect of the walking to wheeling transition. It was one of the things I was really afraid of experiencing during my transition. It was a fear that I never could stifle. I scrolled back through some of my early posts and goodness, I even blogged about it ( Change(verb) ). So that fear…

The fear of forgetting.

Yea, sure, we all forget things. If you’re my Dad, anniversaries are generally on the top of the forgetting list. But I’m talking more specifically about forgetting things that are an inherent part of the walking experience. Those things that are so inherent that we don’t even realize their existence let alone how awesome they are. Things like the intricate process of movement, of contracting muscles and pressure. Things like subtle sensations, feelings that go so easily unnoticed. Once those things are gone, I think it’s pretty reasonable to fear forgetting them.

Yet, it’s not something I think about on a daily basis. Life gets so busy (especially when you’re doing a bunch of traveling and getting stuck in the airport for hours because your flight just got cancelled—yea, that might be happening right now)

A "we're stuck in O'Hare airport and won't get home till after midnight tonight" selfie
A “we’re stuck in O’Hare airport and won’t get home till after midnight tonight” selfie

Life gets so busy that you don’t take a daily inventory of your “walking memories – – – until something happens. Until something happens that makes you stop in your tracks and do that little inventory. Now I can’t really say what it was that made me stop and take inventory but something did and I was a bit muddled with what I found. Or I guess, with what I didn’t find.

I don’t remember anymore.

I mean, I know I did walk, I know I did feel things in my legs, but ask me to really give a vivid description of it, and I’m at a loss. Sure, I can come up with something, but it’s not like I “feel” it or can even imagine “feeling” it in my legs anymore. It’s kind of like trying to look through foggy glasses. You can sort of make out blurred edges and you think you know what you’re looking at, but maybe you don’t. Maybe it’s different than what you think it is. Maybe it’s different than what you thought it was….

It’s a hard thing to explain, especially when walking is likely a very normal and everyday occurrence in your world. It’s even harder to try and collect my emotions and thoughts on it all. It feels like it just happened, but really it was all those tiny changes like with the seasons. All those tiny adjustments and the gradual fading of memories that I didn’t even realize when it all went black.

You know, I do miss those things. I miss being able to conjure up the feeling of walking or just of “feeling” in my mind. But it’s not like that was something I did on a daily or even occasional basis. Maybe it’s really that I miss knowing that I could conjure up those feelings if I wanted to. It’s a bit upsetting and I guess it even made me a bit angry….

Yet, as I sit here, I can’t help but think to myself, “Does it even matter?”
My answer: No.

The fact I can’t remember those things, the fact I’ll never remember those things doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change the kind of person I am or the things I can and will do. It’s just another step in a transition I never expected I’d need to make, but am making as proudly and as gracefully as I can.

We all have some form of those transitions in our life; those things that seem to come up out of nowhere but have really been there, slowly changing all along. It’s strange those first moments you’re actually made aware of that transition, but in my mind what matters isn’t the transition itself, but the response.

You know, that’s always the question…
What really matters?

Aisle 7

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Confession: I’m one of those weird people that loves office supplies.

Don’t ask me why, but I get a crazy amount of joy from looking at all of the notebooks or post-it notes in stores. With some women its shoes, other women its toilet paper (yea, you know who I’m talking about), but I’m pretty content just browsing through the countless colorful options that encompass contemporary office supplies. Of course, I’m such a frugal thing that I’d much rather just look than buy, but that’s beside the point…20150315_182839

You know, I think I’ve always had a particular fondness for office supplies. I was even one of those strange kids that looked forward to school supplies shopping. Sure, maybe that was partly because I loved learning, but I’m thinking it had a lot to do with that prospect of having a crisp stack of college-ruled notebooks and a perfectly assembled army of unbroken crayons.

When you get all these awesome new school supplies, you have to write your name on every single thing to protect your precious stockpile of “learning materials.” I know I looked forward to staking my claim on those new items every year, and yes, I realize that’s probably strange. Read the rest of this entry »

Pure Epic

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I have a really epic family.

I’m serious when I say that. Each and every one of them is seriously epic, especially considering all we’ve been through together both before and since my injury. My Dad is the go-to fix it man who even prior to me coming home went around our house and measured the door frames to make sure I would fit through in my chair (little did he know now we have to worry about my big head fitting through…). You have all heard about Mom who puts up with way more razzing than any human being should ever have to (but to be honest, I think she secretly enjoys it:D). Then of course there’s my two lovely sisters, sisters I wouldn’t trade for the world and we still get into just as much trouble as we always did.

So when people used to make comments about being “like a family,” all I could do was chuckle to myself. Chuckle and think, “Yea, you probably don’t go to Costco enough to be apart of my family.” Let’s just say I didn’t think I, as a rather boisterous and proud “girl in a wheelchair,” would ever find another group of individuals so inclusive and comforting and open and fun and well, real as those 4 other people I share DNA with.

It’s funny how God puts us into crazy situations that force us to open our minds and challenge our current ways of thinking.

So what was my crazy situation?

Skiing. Downhill and cross country skiing with a bunch of people I had never met in a state I’ve never even visited before. A crazy situation very fondly talked about by people across the country and even around the world, known as the regional Black Hills Ski for Light in Deadwood, South Dakota. As a part of my Ms. Wheelchair America 2015 reign, I was invited to attend and participate in this amazing week filled with laughter, snow, really good food, and I guess a bit of skiing.

Ski for Light is a fascinating organization to say the least. It was founded to teach the basics of cross country skiing to visually impaired participants but has expanded to include individuals with mobility impairments as well as activities like downhill skiing, snow shoeing, and even snowmobile rides. Now I cross country skied once the winter before my injury and I loved it. I have not, however, done any sort of downhill snow-related escapade. So this week was going to be a first in many ways.

Photo Jan 26, 12 52 08 PM
Post cross country skiing success.

When you go to events, regardless of who you are, you never quite know what to expect. You think you have an idea, but you really have no idea until you actually get there. My introduction to Ski for Light began in the Minneapolis Airport where I met another participant from Chicago on his way to the same destination. This very entertaining gentleman had a visual impairment and we got to talking about a cruise he recently went on. Read the rest of this entry »

Real life #tbt

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In case you aren’t super into current pop culture, I’m gonna start us off with a bit of a lesson in said topic.

There’s this thing called a hashtag that looks something like this, #. Yep, that’s a hashtag. It looks an awful lot like a number sign and that would be because it IS a number sign, but now I guess it’s also a hashtag. So hashtags are used as a way to basically group similar posts or topics in social media, like #gopackgo would be posts/pictures about the awesomeness of the Packers. Sometimes these crazy trends start and everyone will use a particular hashtag on a particular day of the week. For example #mcm is “man crush Monday” and people post pictures of their “man crush.” Don’t worry, I don’t use that hashtag because I would just post a picture of Oscar (our dog). And well, to put it in a non-offensive way, he isn’t technically a man (and I’m not talking about the fact he has four legs….) One of the other big hashtags is #tbt which is “throwback Thursday” and everyone posts pictures of them being cute and tiny or when they were in the womb (well, that second one might be a stretch). Here, I’ll give you a #tbt example…

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Awe, look how cute everyone is…and how distracted I am. Unsurprisingly, that picture is a pretty accurate representation of our childhood…but I digress.

Yesterday, being Thursday, I did a #tbt on steroids meaning I lived my “throwback.” Yea, I may take the phrase “go big or go home” to the extreme. Read the rest of this entry »

Possibly Impossible

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Look at that, here we are, smack in the middle of the 2014 holiday season. If you ask me, the middle is the best part of something (generally speaking).  You’re not dealing with the stress of something starting or the bittersweet ending. Just think about sleeping, that oddly comforting feeling you have if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night (thanks to a stupid, yet ridiculously adorable cat). Even though you’re awake now, you can just roll over and go back into peaceful unconscious bliss. What about an Oreo? I mean if you don’t lick off the creme center first, you basically aren’t human. I guess I should probably point out I am the middle child, but I promise that has no bearing on my opinion that the middle is the best….ha, yea….riiiiight (Note: you have to say that like Kronk does in The Emperor’s New Groove for the full effect, and if you haven’t seen that movie, you better get on that)

I don’t know about you, but I had a wonderful Christmas. It’s always great to have both siblings home and their remarkably entertaining cats. Add to that Mother Dearest, Fatherton, the two dogs, the fact that I’m a “wide load” (which I mean in the best sense) and well, it’s impressive that our house is still in one happy piece. Just for kicks and because I enjoy taking pictures, here’s a little Schroth holiday montage for your viewing pleasure:D

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Way too much fun, now onto New Years and that whole New Years Resolution tradition. To be completely honest, I’ve never officially made a New Years Resolution. I don’t know, I guess in my mind it feels really flippant to just do something because everyone else is doing it. Not that resolutions are bad, I think they’re great and they can be really beneficial for some people. So if you’re someone that they work for, more power to you, you go and rock your 2015 resolution! I guess I’m just a bit of a rebel, so I can’t do something everyone else is doing. Yea, that’s gotten me into trouble more times than I count (#problemchild). Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Over?

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Alright, so before I officially start I have some news I need to get off my chest. News that if you aren’t a local and have been following my lovely little blog here, you will certainly be able to appreciate. But first, a back story…

I grew up in a house different than the one I currently reside. It was across the road from our farm with the milking cow herd and all the sheds that housed goodness knows what kind of necessary farm machinery. We moved out and our old farm house was burned down and that land has since been an empty piece of “prairie.” It appears it may no longer sit empty.

They want to put a Costco there.
Yep, I’ll just let that sink in for a little while.

They’re going to put a COSTCO where MY MOTHER used to LIVE. Wow….If you don’t believe me, you can read this article in the Post Crescent. I’m telling you, God seriously has a sense of humor.

Alright, back to the goods….(That is, if I can stop chuckling to myself. I mean just think how much gas we’re going to save not having to run to Green Bay! But I digress…)

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving and your celebrations were warm and wonderful. I know, that feels like so long ago doesn’t it? At least it sure does to me. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday and no, not because of the food. Awe, who am I kidding, that’s one of the reasons it’s my favorite. I just really love the atmosphere that surrounds Thanksgiving. I’ve always been a big “atmosphere” kind of person. I love soaking in my surroundings, like the warm cozy feeling of a coffee shop on a cold winter day with your hands wrapped around a warm mug of some delicious beverage. Sigh.

Tgiving

The atmosphere of Thanksgiving is simply intoxicating. The warmth of a home from all the cooking and the delicious scents meandering through the air (yea, okay, food is totally apart of it). The gentle buzz of familiar conversation and the rustling of Black Friday advertisements. That beautiful feeling of love and thankfulness. Read the rest of this entry »