Twenty Wishes: Wish #11

Crippled, handicapped, lame, mobility impaired… All of these labels, politically correct or not, describe me sufficiently over the past 4-1/2 weeks.  In fact, I might add:  stifled, restricted, imprisoned, exasperated, and frustrated beyond belief!  On October 5th, I had surgery to repair a ruptured tendon in my ankle.  Having had foot surgery in 1999 that turned out to be a piece of cake, I had great aspirations that this time would be just as easy.  NOT!  My recovery will be ten weeks plus and I’m not even halfway there.

The first few weeks were the worst since these were the days of the  “non-weight bearing” part of the process.  Think about that for just a few minutes.  Did you play hopscotch as a child?  Imagine 3 weeks of hopscotch where you’re allowed to sit and hold onto things, but not allowed to put your foot down on the ground the entire  time.  Blah!  Not to be overly graphic, but have you ever tried to go the bathroom with only one foot on the ground?  The hardest part is balancing long enough to unbutton, unzip, and pull your pants (and underwear) down!  And if you do hop around too much, the throbbing of the injured foot starts… like someone just took a hammer to your instep.  To add insult to injury, you get a bruised behind for sure when you try to sit (no PLOP is a better word) slowly and gingerly from a one-legged stance.

Two days before my surgery, I went to my pre-op appointment and part of that was meeting with a physical therapist to learn how to properly walk on crutches and a walker so that I could choose between the two which I thought would work best for me.  I chose crutches because I thought they would be easier to use in tight areas and would also give me the flexibility to go up and down steps if I needed to.  The therapist laughed at me when I commented as I demonstrated what I’d learned:  “I’m pretty good at this, huh?”  His response:  “Yeah, you’re pretty good at this when you’re not recovering from surgery, not in pain or heavily medicated, and not lugging the extra weight of a cast!”  Rude?  No… reality.   I’m so thankful for my good friend Nell Garrett who had a wheelchair and walker handy, because after two falls adding additional injuries to my already marred body, I couldn’t take it anymore.  And you know how they say “the bigger they are, the harder they fall?”  Something tells me this surgery would have been much easier if I’d lost 50 pounds before proceeding.  I’m sure my age doesn’t help, either.  I was twelve years younger for that first surgery in 1999.

So, after we got the new equipment from Nell, things got easier (at least for long distances).  If I was going to the doctor or to dinner or whatever, my husband, A.J., could help me get from the house to the car with the walker and then once we got where we were going, if (and only if) the place where we were going complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), I could get wheeled around like the queen I’d like to think I am.

Interestingly enough, we found that most facilities do the bare minimum to squeak by the act’s standards.  For example, while visiting one office, we quickly learned that there were no handicapped parking spots, so we parked in a regular spot as close to the building as we could.  Once I was in the wheelchair, it took us a while to figure out where there was a wide enough opening between the cars that were parked facing the building so that we could get to the door.  Unfortunately, when we did find one, we realized it did not allow us access to the ramp (which was blocked by two cars parked very closely together).  So A.J. had to tilt the wheelchair back to get the front wheels up on the path and then lift from behind (at which time I’m sure he was wishing, too, that I’d have lost those 50 pounds prior to surgery).  Going in the building door… same problem.  There was a ledge.  It was only about an inch high, but it was enough that we couldn’t just wheel over it.  The elevator was another challenge.  Wheeling straight in didn’t allow room for the doors to close, but the opening was so narrow we couldn’t seem to turn on the right angle to fit sideways.  Lift and turn.  Poor A.J. working those biceps.

Since getting my hard cast removed and replaced with a fracture boot (which is removable at night and when I want to take a bath – hallelujah), I am a little more mobile, but I still have to limit the weight I put on my foot and use crutches to compensate.  Again, crutches allow for a little more freedom, but have you ever tried them?  Add to that… have you ever tried using crutches to walk while carrying a purse on your shoulder?  Or a purse on one shoulder and a laptop bag on the other?  I find myself relying on others for things I didn’t give a second thought to before.   For example, when I went back to work this week, I discovered that I could prepare my own coffee, but I couldn’t carry it back to my work area while on crutches, so I found myself asking  for help for the simplest things.

And I thank God for A.J., I really do.  He’s been amazing.  I have introduced him to everyone as my “personal assistant” for the past month.  If anyone gets it, A.J. does after observing firsthand the struggles I have had (and he has shared) for the past weeks.  But even he has difficulty sometimes understanding the depth of my frustrations.   For example, he forgets sometimes that I can’t just hop up and switch off the bedroom light that he left on when he came in to say goodnight.  It’s not intentional.  He is in the same situation as me… learning to live with a disability that wasn’t there originally.  I’m looking so forward to five weeks from now when (if all goes as planned) I can walk without a cast of any kind.  Tinkling will be so much easier!

But seriously!  How do people who are handicapped for life (sorry… can’t think of a better way to say that) deal with the limits imposed on them?  How many of them have a “personal assistant” to help them get through the day?  How does a person with a wheelchair open a door on their own?  Or get over that ledge at the entrance to a building?  Or turn their wheelchair in the elevator so that it fits right and the doors can close?

My 11th wish is for EVERYONE to be compassionate and accommodating to those who suffer from disabilities.  Having empathy is to share another person’s feelings.  I can tell you today that I truly have empathy for anyone who is stuck in a wheelchair, limping along for one reason or another, or is suffering from any type of physical impairment.  The challenges are great and human beings are not always kind.  You’d be surprised at how many people walked past us and kept going as A.J. tried to hold the door open and lift my wheelchair at the same time.  To the few who stopped to help, I pray a special blessing on them.  To my family, friends, and coworkers who have done everything they can to make my period of impairment more tolerable and manageable, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I encourage you all to help my wish come true.

If you would like to read about my other wishes, please select “20 Wishes” from the categories list at the right.  Happy reading!

Twenty Wishes: Wish #10

My 10th wish is to change the whole pattern of this “Twenty Wishes” series!  Crazy, right?  I am sick of wishing for things for myself.  I didn’t know it would be so challenging to come up with 20 stinking (I mean creative) wishes.  I also don’t like the way it sounds for me to say all the time what I want for myself.  I mean, although it’s been fun to fantasize about some of the things I would some day like to achieve, I like to think of myself as an UNSELFISH person who wants what is best for everyone, in general.

I am hereby granting myself the freedom to change the format of my “Twenty Wishes” series to something more outwardly focused.  My wishes will be for others… maybe some will be for specific people while others will be for the world in general.  This could get interesting.  Buckle your seat belts, folks.  No telling where this could take us!  LOL!

Wishes #11 through #20 will be about the needs of everyone else.  There, I’ve said it.  Wish #10 granted!  Woo hoo!  I feel better already!!

If you would like to read about my other wishes, please select “20 Wishes” from the categories list at the right.  Happy reading!

Twenty Wishes: Wish #9

My 9th wish is to be part of a flash mob!  I know the whole flash mob scene is getting kind of old, but let’s face it, books have been around for a long time and people haven’t stopped enjoying them!  The key is to be part of a “creative” flash mob that shows talents and also surprises the audience — not one that is advertised all over the country for weeks ahead of time and basically looks like someone’s choreographed a workout routine.

Any thoughts?  Please do let me know (you can email me at dishindahlin@bellsouth.net).  I’d love to do a choral presentation kind of like the ones you see with the Hallelujah Chorus, or something similar.  Hmmm… Wouldn’t it be cool to do a Christmas flash mob?  I’m sure it’s been done, but it would be fun!  (Ha… I’m a poet!!)  I’m picturing tons of folks scurrying through the mall doing their Christmas shopping when suddenly an adorable kid with a great voice (probably one of my awesome nieces) starts singing “Joy to the World, the Lord is come!”  All of a sudden, four people come from four directions toward the child singing “Let earth receive her King!!”  Then 20 or so others join in “Let every heart, prepare Him room!”  It would be amazing!  And now is the perfect time to start planning such a splendiferous (no, it’s not a word, but it sounds good) event!!!  Email me if you’re in!  YES, I AM SERIOUS!!!

If you would like to read about my other wishes, please select “20 Wishes” from the categories list at the right.  Happy reading!

Twenty Wishes: Wish #8

My 8th wish is to write a book! I’ve wanted to do this for a very long time and have had many different ideas about subject matter.  The only thing holding me back has been fear of failure.  Fear of failure… how sad that I would allow such a thing to stop me from even trying.  I often read wonderful stories about other people’s success and think to myself “I’ve never had that kind of luck!”  Instead, I should be saying to myself “That could be me!!!”  I need to remember to pull out all of the weeds in my field of dreams.

A couple of years ago I heard the story of Richard Paul Evans.  Evans was working as an advertising executive when he wrote a Christmas story for his children.  Little did he know, it would some day turn into a best-selling book and Emmy award winning movie.  When I’m in the right frame of mind and am thinking positive, I love stories like that!  They inspire me to reach for my dreams.

But I have now set a short term goal for myself to get mine finished and published by the end of this year. Egad!  That’s not that far away… only a little over 5 months left.  I’ve heard of people writing a book in less than 30 days, though.  I’m going to start writing today and I will continuously remind myself that perhaps the only difference between me and Richard Paul Evans is that he actually tried!  I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

If you would like to read all of the posts in the Twenty Wishes series, simply select “20 wishes” from Categories list on the right.  Happy reading, dahlins!

Twenty Wishes: Wish #7

My 7th wish is to take a ballroom dancing class with my husband!  On the very first night we met, I danced with my honey.   I’m sure the only reason he agreed to dance with me was because I was dateless that night (and most others, come to think of it) and I was also the sister of one of his best friends, so he took pity on me.  It was painful for him, I’m sure, as he was (and still is) a much better dancer than I could ever hope to be.  Nevertheless, we took to the floor and started… jumping.  We were on board the Riverboat President in New Orleans and the band, Ivy, was playing “Freak Out,” the Chic song… and I do believe my dancing was super freaky.  It was 1981 and punk rock and disco had pretty much opened the door for any form of movement being considered dancing.  Jumping while on the dance floor was actually very popular, and the thing I liked best about it was that it didn’t require much talent.  That, I could handle.  I could actually do a decent job of jumping.   As coins started to fall from the pockets of the other… jumpers… I hit the floor!  I think I collected over $10.00 in change that night , and A.J. often teases me and says he fell in love that night, watching me crawl around the dirty floor picking up money people were dropping.  Yeah right!

There are so many wonderful things about couples dancing, like getting cozy with the one you love or moving together as one (unless you’re like me and you’re just dragged along in confusion).  This is why I want to learn how to dance well!  And I want to learn a variety of dances like the Salsa, the Waltz, the Rumba, the Cha Cha, and the Tango!  Yeah, baby!  I want to learn them all… the fun ones, the romantic ones, the fast ones, the slow ones.

Dancing is beneficial in other ways, too.  It gives you face time with and attention from your partner you might not otherwise get.  It also is great if you have big hips but a small waist, because you can look amazing in those swirly skirts that are tight at the waist but full and swooshy.  And dancing is great exercise!  Consider the cases of Marie Osmond and Kirstie Alley who actually lost weight due to their work on “Dancing with the Stars!”  It would be great… if we lost weight from dancing, we might actually be able to eventually fit our arms around one another!

I’ll keep you updated on this wish, dahlins!  In the meantime, if you missed any of the previous Twenty Wishes entries, just select “20 Wishes” from the Categories list on the right side of the screen to see them all — posts are ordered most recent to oldest.  Happy reading!

Twenty Wishes: Wish #6

My 6th wish is to win a competition!  It doesn’t really matter what kind of contest it is… except, it has to be a win that I earned, not a win by chance.  Anyone can be lucky, right?  But not everyone can win a contest because of their ability or talent.  I don’t think it even matters what prizes are awarded.  I just want to win!  I guess if I could win a trophy, that would be nice.  I don’t think I’ve ever won a trophy before.  Once in third grade, I won a Halloween costume contest.  I went as Ms. Universe.  No, I wasn’t a beauty queen, I was the Universe!  I had a moon for a head and the planets were all around. (When it comes to needing creative ideas, it helps to have an artist for a mom!)  My moon head had a cow jumping over it (and there was a little dog who laughed to see such sport).  Two years later when I was in 5th grade, I won numerous classroom spelling competitions.  Mrs. Geary, our teacher, would give candy bars to the first and second place winners.  Maybe I can blame Mrs. Geary (and my excellent spelling skills) for the weight problem I have today.

Since I have been involved in Toastmasters, I’ve won a couple of ribbons at meetings for Best Speech, but I’d love to actually win a formal competition speaking, singing, writing, or whatever.  At my husband’s urging, I recently signed up for the second season auditions of “The Voice.”  If you haven’t seen the show, it is where contestants sing for the judges while the judges have their backs turned.  The whole point is that you’re not judged on what you look like, only what you sound like.  So if  you’re 150 years old and 800 pounds overweight, but you have a great voice, you’ll have a shot at winning that you might not have otherwise!  In other words, they actually judge your VOICE like they’re supposed to, without bias to the way you look.  I love the concept, although, I told my hubby not to get his hopes up.  I am not sure that when the time comes, I’ll be brave enough to stand in line for hours and follow through with this thing… unless… the prize is chocolate!

I’ll keep you updated on this wish, dahlins!  In the meantime, if you missed any of the previous Twenty Wishes entries, just select “20 Wishes” from the Categories list on the right side of the screen to see them all — posts are ordered most recent to oldest.  Happy reading!

UPDATE, November 13, 2011:  Well, it took me a while, but I finally got wish #6.  This morning I won first place in the Toastmasters District 68 “Up and At Them” Club’s Tall Tales Contest!!  It was the coolest thing!  I really didn’t expect to win as this was my first time participating in a speech contest and the competition was fierce! Click here to check out the video of my speech!

Twenty Wishes: Wish #5

My 5th wish is to sing the national anthem at a major sports event.  I mean, isn’t that every singer’s dream?   The closest  I have ever come to doing this was once at a company event.  Three friends and I formed a group and sang “The Star Spangled Banner” in four-part harmony.  It was the coolest thing.  I have heard that some of the local teams, like the Hornets and the Zephyrs, will allow nobodies like me to audition to sing at games.  One of these days I will get up the nerve to try it.  I’m just afraid that when it comes time, my nerves will get the better of me and I’ll end up making Christina Aguilera’s Super Bowl rendition seem flawless.   I must admit, I judged her harshly right after her performance.  In fact, I think I tweeted something along the lines of “O-oh say can you sing, the right words to this song?”  I know… not nice… but I couldn’t believe she would flub such a great opportunity.  I mean, come on!  Since then, I have regretted my rash criticism and have tried to apologize to no avail.  She won’t return my calls!

I will keep you posted on this wish and all the others!  In the meantime, I am off to practice… Oh say can you see?

Note… If you missed any of the previous Twenty Wishes entries, just select “20 Wishes” from the Categories list on the right side of the screen to see them all — posts are ordered most recent to oldest.  Happy reading!

Twenty Wishes: Wish #4

My 4th wish is to be on the stage again!  For years, my husband and I and other members the family participated in a number of plays and musicals at our old church.  Our kids even got involved on a couple of occasions.  We were all members of a group called the “POP-Corn Players.”  (POP was short for Prince of Peace, as in Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.)  It was truly great fun and between us we played quite a score of characters!  My husband, A.J., was a grandpa in several of the plays.  In more than one he was married to my mom; in another he was trying to marry my sister but married me by mistake (much to his chagrin).  He also played a country singer (ex-husband to my character who was also a country singer), King Pharoah to my brother’s Joseph (in a tribute to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber), and he was even Joliet “Jake” Blues to my brother’s Elwood once or twice!  Meanwhile, I portrayed everything from a cafe hostess to a city clicker to a swine and a singing bird named “Kookie” (the pet of a mad musician).  Most of the plays were written and directed by my mother.  She is so talented and we were thankful that her nepotism always ensured we’d get a good role.  (Just kidding… NOT!)  Doing those plays together was such great fun.  I look forward to it again, someday soon, I hope, before we’re all too old to climb the steps to the stage.   Start writing, Mom, and find us a venue!  It’s showtime!

Watch for more news on this wish, dahlins!  I’ll let you know where to buy your tickets.  Meanwhile, if you missed any of the previous Twenty Wishes entries, just select “20 Wishes” from the Categories list on the right side of the screen to see them all — posts are ordered most recent to oldest.  Happy reading!

Twenty Wishes: Wish #3

My third wish is to start a band!  I know it sounds crazy, but music has always been one of my passions.  When I was growing up, my dad played lead guitar in a country and western band.  He mostly played in bars, so I didn’t get to go to his “gigs” often, but we occasionally were able to tag along with him to practice.  I always enjoyed that and longed for the day when I’d be old enough to sing with his band.  As I got older, the more interested I became in boys, the less interested I was in singing.  I had a short-lived experience playing keyboard and singing with a garage band my senior year in high school.  We weren’t very good and so we never had any gigs.  We just practiced… a lot.

I’m not sure what genre of music I would like my band to play.  Maybe it will be a Christian band, maybe not.  Maybe we’ll play oldies, maybe not.  But I do know that my band will be fun and will be made up of people I love -my husband, my brothers, my sister and brother in-law, my niece… we could be like the Partridge Family of the 21st Century!  LOL!

So be watching for news on this wish, dahlins!  If you missed any of the previous Twenty Wishes entries, just select “20 Wishes” from the Categories list on the right side of the screen to see them all — posts are ordered most recent to oldest.  Happy reading!

Twenty Wishes: Wish #2

My second wish is to go on a romantic getaway with my honey!  I realize, of course, that this may not happen for many more years, but I can still look forward to fulfilling this wish one day.   My husband and I were married in 1983 and took our last trip alone together in 1992, just before the birth of our oldest son.  No alone time in almost 19 years!  That’s like… well… it’s just plain insane, don’t you think?!?!?!  It’s not that we haven’t had the time or the money, we have just never wanted to burden anyone with caring for our boys or upset the boys’ routine by making them sleep in beds that aren’t their own, etc.  Okay, so if you’re thinking “Why can’t the almost 19 year old care for the 11 year old?” let me remind you that I have two boys!  I value my home and my possessions and I value my children’s lives, so I wouldn’t want to risk them burning the house down or killing each other while we were gone.  Plus, I’d just worry the whole time and that wouldn’t make it very fun for anyone.  So I expect that this wish will take some time before it is granted, but I am totally okay with that.

Now, just in case you’re wondering where I’d like to go, I’m thinking somewhere in the New England states.  Ever since I watched the movie “Baby Boom” and saw the winding road that Diane Keaton drove down to get to the home she’d bought (by telephone) in Vermont, I’ve wanted to go somewhere in the fall when the leaves are changing.  In fact, I used to look at the wallpaper that came with Windows XP (the autumn one) and wish I could be in that picture, lying on the ground, soaking up all the beauty.  Absolutely gorgeous, dahlins!  I know of no other way to describe it.  If you drive down St. Bernard Highway, somewhere between Violet and Chalmette, there’s a stretch of road with trees on either side that are always full of leaves during the spring and summer.  Unfortunately, the leaves don’t really turn colors in this area of the country, and even if they did, the traffic is so heavy that if I tried lying on the ground and soaking up the beauty, I’d probably be road kill in a matter of seconds.  So one day, we’re going to get a room at a quaint little B&B, pack several bottles of wine, our Geritol, Denture Cream, and Depends Undergarments, and head for Vermont (possibly the Three Mountain Inn in Jamaica).  Hope to see you there!

To view all of the Twenty Wishes entries, just select “20 Wishes” from the Categories list on the right side of the screen to see them all — posts are ordered most recent to oldest.  Happy reading!

Twenty Wishes: Wish #1

My first wish is to join Toastmasters InternationalThis is something I have wanted to do for years and years.  At some point, probably 20 years ago, I looked into membership, but for some reason I was under the misconception that it was a men’s organization and that women were not allowed to join.  Hogwash!  I am happy to report that I have already fulfilled this wish.  Okay… I was a bit antsy… you know, the way I have been every Christmas since I was two.  I couldn’t stand the waiting.  I should have written the wish down first and then gone for it, but I was too anxious.  I immediately looked for the website (isn’t the Internet awesome?) and located a meeting close to work!  There were lots to choose from, but I liked the idea of a weekly (rather than biweekly or monthly) meeting, so I chose to join the New Orleans Toastmasters group.  There’s no GRADUALLY getting involved with Toastmasters, so I am learning.  At my very first meeting (2 Mondays ago), I was picked to do a table topic (impromptu) speech (1 to 3 minutes) on the question “If you could go back and change things, what decision would you make differently?”  I didn’t learn until the meeting was almost over that you could “punt” to another member of the group.  Live and learn!  This past Monday, I was picked (after two other individuals punted) to respond to a question about reality TV shows.  I was told by several others after the meeting that they had no clue who the Kardashians were until I admitted (while blushing dramatically) that watching their reality TV show is one of my guilty pleasures.

At last week’s meeting, I also filled out the official paperwork to join the organization and wrote out a check.  Immediately, one of the officers said “Now that you’re a member, you can volunteer to give a speech at one of the meetings!”  And then she very casually turned to the person making out the next week’s agenda and said “Put Tina down for an icebreaker next week.”  I smiled and said “I’m so happy to volunteer!”  LOL!  I am, actually.  I am so excited and looking forward to Monday night.  I am sure I will not be perfect at all, but the whole point is to learn and that’s exactly what I am hoping to do.  I’ll give an update on my first speech next week.

In the meantime, be watching for more of my wish list to come!  I’ve set up a category list on the right side of the screen.  If you click the “20 Wishes” category, you can filter out only entries that have to do with my wish list.  I look forward to sharing more with all of you!  Have a great weekend, dahlins!

UPDATE, May 3, 2011:  WOW!!!  I couldn’t have asked for a better response to my speech last night!  Everyone was so gracious and I ended up winning a ribbon for “Best Speaker.”  I was so surprised because the competition was really tough.  I went up against an award winning speaker who I so admire.  She is amazing and just last week won first place at an important competition.  I am so honored.  I was most concerned about my nerves.  I can sing in front of a gazillion people and I am not that nervous, but to speak in front of so many who are themselves great speakers… now that was a challenge!  But I obviously hid it well.  🙂  At the next meeting, I will serve as the Table Topics Master, which means that I’ll be the one presenting the topics for the impromptu speeches.  I can’t wait!  I think I have found my creative passion!!  I’ll be sure to keep you posted on my progress.  In the meantime, thanks for all the encouragement dahlins!

Twenty wishes…

I’ve never had much time for recreational reading and so when my mom suggested that I listen to books on tape (or CD) while driving, I jumped on it.  When our small group at church was reading “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren, I listened to it in the car on my way to and from work.  When I was working in Baton Rouge, I listened to the entire New Testament of the Bible on CD.  Recently, I have been listening to some fictional novels that my mom has passed on to me.  In the past, I always felt guilty if I listened to fiction because I felt I would be making better use of my time if I focused on books that encouraged self-improvement and growth, but truthfully, sometimes I just want to be entertained.  Surprisingly, I have found that even some of these fictional stories have helped to shape my life and my decisions.  “Twenty Wishes” by Debbie Macomber was one of those such books.  It’s the story of a group of women of various ages who decide they will each come up with a list of twenty wishes — things they would like to do in their lifetime, sort of like a bucket list.  There are no real guidelines the women must follow, but the things they put on their lists are obviously achievable.  Some are as simple as dancing in the rain and some are as indepth as going to Paris with someone you love.  Some include small dreams like buying a pair of red cowboy boots, while others are huge… like becoming a mother.  The book takes you through the journey of these women as they each fulfill their twenty wishes.

Twenty Wishes” inspired me more than you can possibly imagine.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it was the fact that I turned 50 last week, and so I’m feeling old and unaccomplished… or maybe it’s just that Debbie Macomber is simply a great writer who speaks to me in more ways than one.  Her stories are intense yet comforting and her happy endings bring me great joy.  In developing their twenty wishes, the characters in the book learn about themselves and experience a variety of emotions, sometimes surprised with the things they decide to include on their lists, while other times realizing that fulfilling even the simplest of them could trigger other events that are incredibly lifechanging.

I make no promises, but I have every intention to develop my own twenty wishes list very soon, and I may even share that list with you and blog about my own journey.  You’ll just have to wait and see.  : )  I have a feeling that a number of my wishes will have to do with the things that I am most passionate about, God, family, friends, and music, but I have no idea what they will be.  I can only hope that the story of my journey to fulfilling my wishes is as good as the book.