Hard work is really hard

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

-Martin Luther King Jr


For many years, it has been a goal of mine to be able to run again, to re-teach my legs this motion, and correct my unsteady gait along the way. I would like to walk with confidence and ease, instead of worrying about falling flat on my face with each step or feeling like a pin ball bouncing off walls as I struggle to walk in a straight line. 

So after taking time away to focus on finding a job, it’s back to physical therapy again. I’ve noticed going back to physical therapy ever couple years has become a reoccurring trend in my life. It’s like losing weight or trying to have six-pack abs, in order to achieve and maintain those results you have to constantly be working at it.  For anyone who has gone through physical therapy, they’ll probably tell you that at some point they hit a plateau or no longer felt challenged. This plateau is something I’ve come across many times and it is frustrating to say the least. Once you hit this plateau, therapists often have a difficult time finding new exercises or thinking outside of the box. (No offense to any therapist reading, this is just personal experience)
So when considering therapy again, I wanted to make sure it would be challenging and help me achieve my goal. I found several places that offer exercise-based therapy which immediately grabbed my attention because this was something I had never heard of before. This type of therapy offers a different approach to therapy and encourages the patient to continue working out after hitting this plateau. It sounded like I finally found a therapy that might help me achieve my goals!
Shortly after starting therapy though, I was pretty disappointed. My therapist had me doing things like bridges and planks, all which I had done before. They were challenging but nothing different from what therapists in the past suggested I do. 
But here’s the thing, nothing worth having ever come easy. It will require hard work, discipline, and determination to achieve my goals. As much as I’d love to snap fingers and perfectly walk and run again, that’s not how it works.  For anyone who has tried to lose weight, you know it’s a constant battle and no matter how good of shape you’re in, you have to start with the basics. Once you perfect the basics and set a solid foundation, you are able to build on that. Which is why doing exercises such as planks is important because they’re basic exercises.
“Sometimes God doesn’t give you what you think you want, not because you don’t deserve it, but because you deserve better”


Filed under Being disabled, My faith, Positive attitude towards life

For the love of animals

Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened
-Anatole France
The other day someone asked me what my favorite animal is.
Since a young age I’ve been obsessed with elephants, mostly because elephant starts with an E and so does my name, Elizabeth. I spent hours learning about elephants, memorizing fun facts about them. For example, the easiest way to tell an elephant is African or Asian is by their ears. It is said that African elephants have bigger ears compared to Asian elephants.  Elephants also have extremely developed brains, the saying “you have a memory of an elephant” actually is a pretty accurate statement. When talking about our love of elephants, my friend referred to them as “gentle giants”. Elephants are the largest land animal on earth but despite their massive size, they have gentle, caring hearts. Herds of elephants are centered around females and elephants in general express maternal instincts. They are able to show empathy, grief, compassion, and are very playful.

Although being asked what my favorite animal seemed like a silly question, it made me think how animals play such a big role in our lives as humans. They provide us with basic necessities like food, drink, transportation, and companionship just to name a few. Animals teach us how to use our instincts, how to adapt, to love unconditionally, and to never take life too seriously.

Growing up, my family always had cats as household pets, each a stray cat except one which we bought from a vet. My dad wasn’t a huge fan of dogs. Between him dying of ALS and me dealing with cancer, we just didn’t have time to commit to a dog. But cats were an easy solution because they’re independent and self-sufficient but still provide companionship and love. It’s amazing how pets become part of the family. I loved each one of them, even the one that was a little crazy.  It is often said that having household pets can teach children lessons such as responsibility, compassion, respect, etc. I agree with that completely.

Shortly after my mom remarried, my stepdad convinced her into getting a dog. Having never grown up with dogs, I actually really didn’t care for them. So whenever my mom mentioned getting a dog, my response was “if you get a dog, I’m not coming home”, usually a couple other words were included in this.
One of the reasons for this was after my dad died, I had gotten an adorable white kitten and wasn’t sure if she would get along with a dog. For the last year of my dad’s life, I begged him for a white kitten with either blue eyes or green eyes and a cute little pink nose. However, mostly because of breathing issues, he didn’t want another cat in the house. So when he died, one of the first things out of my mouth was “can I get a kitten now?” (loving daughter that I am) Snowball was born a week after my dad’s death and was everything I wanted. She was perfectly white and had one blue eye and one green eye. She loved to cuddle and was so sweet.

Flash forward years later, one night in college after returning from Christmas break, my brother called saying he, his wife, and their dog were driving home to meet the new dog mom rescued and were planning to pick me up on the way. As we drove home, I had many thoughts going through my head but mostly was convinced I would not love this new dog. Well, that quickly changed the second he sat near me, looked at me with his big brown eyes, and smiled. Snowball and Riley did not get along at all and after several months, I gave Snowball away to a good family. She was terrified of dogs and would hide all the time. It was a difficult decision but she deserved a better life and there was no way I would give away Riley instead.


 I still have a love for cats but cannot imagine how I lived so long without having a dog. Everyday Riley teaches me something, whether it is to love unconditionally, to find pleasure in the simple things, or to be kind towards others. (especially when you want something)
Being part german shepherd, part husky, Riley is very intuitive and picks up on my disabilities very easily. He knows to sit and be patient when I struggle to put on his collar or to walk slower with me because I can’t keep up. For not being a trained service dog, I see now how much service dogs or service animals can be helpful.
All animals whether it be cats, dogs, other family pets or even wild animals teach us about life and help us to see the beauty in the world. 

“How it is that animals understand things I do not know, but it is certain that they do understand. Perhaps there is a language which is not made of words and everything in the world understands it. Perhaps there is a soul hidden in everything and it can always speak, without even making a sound, to another soul.”

Frances Hodgson Burnett

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Let it go and move on

“If it’s not going to matter in five years, don’t spend more than five minutes being upset by it”


The other day, I was scrolling through my Instagram, looking at photos of friends and trying to catch up on their latest adventures. After a minute or so, that feeling of comparison started to kick in, the thought of “my life is no where as exciting as theirs” or “why can’t I be like that?”  Than I stumbled upon this quote. Although I’ve seen it a million times before, something about it seemed to grab my attention.


As I struggle to figure out adulthood and my next step in life, I find myself constantly worrying and comparing. Social media is truly a great thing in terms of keeping in touch with others but it also is a great distraction from life and depressing at times. Why is it that we always want what others have and aren’t content with what we have? I’m extremely guilty of this and worry about the most ridiculous things. Mostly why am I not like most people my age? But when I take a step back and ask myself, is that really what you want? Usually the answer is no. My life may have it’s issues and unanswered questions but I’d rather have my issues compared to some people.

A best-selling author, Regina Brett, once said “If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.” Lately this has been my first thought when I feel comparison started to creep up on me. What is the sense in worrying about the future and making myself upset not being like someone else? Will this matter 5 years or even 5 minutes from now? Eventually we all end up where we are meant to be so why worry about the details of how we get from a to b?

“I’ve learned that worrying, planning, or being angry over something small is often useless because life is full of change and unexpected surprises. Sometimes you have to just let go and hope for the best.”


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Don’t let life beat you down

“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.”

-Aldous Huxley


Have you ever had a dream where you’re fighting against someone in an intense battle? 

After only minutes of battling, you are drained, fatigued, tired, ready to surrender. 

While the other fighter seems so well-trained, agile, energetic, never giving up or showing sign of quitting. And you can’t help but wonder, who is this?! They’re making me look like a fool.

Then you see your opponent, it’s a younger version of yourself!? 
Lately at work, I’ve found myself rushing through everyday, going through the same routine, counting down the hours til I can go home and then repeat it all over again tomorrow. Everyday seems monotonous, dull, same old thing day after day. I’m starting to understand the phrase working for the weekend. Instead of being excited for each new day and having a chipper, positive attitude, it’s a struggle to get out of bed most days. My enthusiasm towards life seemed to become non-existent.
Life has a way of beating us down over time. Whether through personal experiences, relationships, societal expectations, or growth. It’s easy to lose ourselves in the mix, to suppress our personality as a way to fit in, and curb our enthusiasm towards life.  But why is that? Why do we allow life to do this?
Each day is a new adventure, a new possibility for something great. Yes, some experiences in life cause us to be more apprehensive or more cautious towards certain situations. Building up barriers around ourselves and taking away our enthusiasm towards life. But this doesn’t mean we have to completely shut down and quit being the person we are. We have a choice whether to let life destroy us and settle for what society expects of us. Or to rise above the negativity of others and keep being you. 

“None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.”

-Henry David Thoreau


Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Please teach your kids


“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”

-Maya Angelou

Kids say the darnest things. Kids can be so sweet, so innocent, and so accepting of others. But they can also be brutally honest, rude at times, and not have a filter on what they say.
Looking slightly different from most, I’ve had a few too many experiences with rude kids and tend to avoid small children. Not that I have anything against little kids, they can be adorable! But unless I know the parents aka how they’ve been raised, I’m not super comfortable with them.

Every year for Halloween, my work hands out candy to a day care center. Newborns, toddlers, moms, and other helpers parade around the building, showing off their costumes and collecting candy! It is so cute to watch all the little ones come through the hallways! 

As the kids paraded around this year, my co-workers and I handed out candy, commenting on each costume. As I was handing out candy, a girl around 4 years old looked at me and asked me “Why do you look like that? Why do you look weird? What’s wrong with your face?” She repeated this over and over. I would’ve understood if I had something on my face or was wearing a mask but I wasn’t. I was wearing my glasses and a headband, nothing too out of the ordinary.

Other kids were gathered around me waiting for candy and the parade was still going on so I figured she would just follow the group but instead she stayed near me, repeating her question. I did not mean to ignore her question, it just didn’t seem like the time to answer it. Plus, shouldn’t that be something a parent deals with?!

After giving her candy and commenting on her pretty costume, she left with the parade of kids. I heard her echoing down the hallway asking my co-workers “What’s wrong with that girl’s face?” There’s nothing quite like being made to feel insecure about myself by a 4-year-old!

A multitude of thoughts went through my mind that afternoon but one that kept popping into my head was how did this child not know any better? Did anyone ever take time to explain disabilities or special needs individuals to her?! I get being curious and kids wanting to learn but there is a fine between curiosity and being rude/ignorant. Please teach your kids that! 

don't stare

The next day, my co-worker and I were discussing what happened and how important it is to teach your kids. Teach them to be aware of the fact that some people may look or act differently from them. Teach them about individuals who are disabled, that we are people just like you. Teach them that it is okay to ask questions but sometimes  when you’re unsure of something, especially when it comes to dealing with people, just be kind and ask later. 

On Halloween night, I handed out candy at my house and there were kids who definitely stared at my face with puzzled looks. But despite their curiosity, they were kind and respectful.

I understand staring, that’s just something kids do but teach them how to react, educate them as much as possible. Kids are the future. 

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” 
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

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It’s the little things in life

“Find beauty in the simple things”


Throughout life, I’ve found that sometimes the smallest things are the sweetest. Those moments that force us to stop and smile. Or the little things in life we take for granted like breathing in a cool breeze, seeing the sunset, or being able to swallow your food.

Lately, I am very grateful for this; to eat, drink, and swallow. Not being able to swallow or having something lodged in your throat isn’t very pleasant. As a result of childhood cancer and too much radiation therapy , I have many physical disabilities. Although most of them I can easily deal with them, one in particular has the tendency to cause issues every now and then.One side of my throat is paralyzed which forces me to eat slower than most and to make sure I chew well. After getting food stuck in my throat several times and having it surgically removed, I had another procedure to expand my esophagus.

Well flash forward a couple of years, I still take my time eating and sometimes have difficulty swallowing but usually taking a short walk or putting my hands above my head move things around enough for the food to go down correctly.

Last weekend, I went to the renaissance faire with my friends. It was my first time at a ren faire and it was so much fun! As my friend said best “we had a wonderful time minus a couple hiccups!”

For lunch, I had a chicken kabob, chicken on a stick, and it wasn’t very easy to eat or cut into pieces. So, I tried tearing it apart and thought I had done a pretty good job but guess not good enough. With the first bite, I quickly felt a huge piece of chicken sliding into my throat before it was properly chewed. Immediately, I grabbed my friend and went to the bathroom in hopes that I could cough the chicken up.  However, the chicken never came up. It was lodged in my throat and I wasn’t able to eat or drink without it coming right back up. As I mentioned, this had happened to me before and I wasn’t too worried. Since my esophagus had been stretched, maybe the chicken would slide down to my stomach as I walk around. That was a poor assumption.

After spending several hours exploring the grounds, having fun with my friends and going to the bathroom every now and then to try throwing up the chicken, I did what every mature 28-year-old does, call my mom for help. My stomach felt very irritated, kind of like when you drink too much water and your stomach wants to explode. Having experienced this before, I knew this feeling wasn’t a good sign. When my mom arrived, she convinced me to go the ER. So a great day with friends turned into an exciting evening at the ER.

Before going straight to surgically removing the chicken, the nurses gave me a muscle relaxant to calm my throat and stomach muscles with the hopes that any built up tension would disappear and would release the food. Usually this doesn’t work but it did this time around, although it took a while to take effect. About 20 minutes after taking the medicine with no food coming up but still not being able to swallow. I went to get X-rays for surgery. Just as the technician was helping me get situated, I felt it coming and immediately covered my mouth as she grabbed the throw up bin. Out came a huge strip of chicken, fully intact! It was disgusting but also pretty impressive, no wonder I couldn’t cough it up all day.  I felt so relieved and a million times better. And the best part was I didn’t have to go through another surgery, even if it was only a minor one. (that would have been surgery 15, not that anyone is counting)

After returning to my room and seeing what I threw up, a nurse gave me water just to make sure it would stay down this time and it did! After not drinking for hours, that was the best water I’ve tasted in a long time! Then, they gave me graham crackers and it was like a little slice of heaven! My empty and irritated stomach started to feel normal. It was so great to swallow again! What a wonderful thing! I ate so much the next day, it was amazing to be able to swallow.

It made me think how we take something as simple as swallowing for granted. On a daily basis, how many times do you actually think about swallowing? For the majority of people, swallowing is just a natural function of the body like breathing. But have you ever stopped to think how awesome it is to swallow? How awesome it is to breath? How lucky I am to be able to swallow, to be able to enjoy the taste of food, to be able to breath on my own, and to live everyday.


“The power of finding beauty in the humblest things

makes home happy and life lovely”

-Louisa May Alcott

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Ignorance is bliss…and annoying

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”

-Martin Luther King Jr.


Traveling can be such a pain. I love seeing new places and meeting new people but traveling is exhausting. Once you get to your final destination, all the hustle and bustle of traveling seems worth it but when you’re in the moment, traveling can seem like anything but fun.

Having lived in Pittsburgh on my own for a semester, I used to fly home quite often and actually had it down to an art. The people who drove me to the airport would help me to get checked in on my flight and would request a wheelchair for me which is so much easier instead of struggling to walk through the airport with my less than perfect balance. Once a wheelchair arrived, an airport employee would take me through security and straight to my gate. Having that treatment made traveling seem like a piece of cake, it was so simple!


Although being pushed around in a wheelchair made everything less stressful, I’m not the biggest fan of the idea. Using a wheelchair or any device to help with my walking is something I avoid at all possible costs. It’s not that I have anything against wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, etc, I’m just too stubborn to use one on a regular basis. Even in college, using a scooter was a little shot to my pride but it made getting around campus so much easier and gave me independence.


Despite my hesitations, I have learned that it’s easier to use a wheelchair in an airport instead of dealing with my shaky legs, whether I’m traveling by myself or with somebody. So when flying to Michigan last week to visit family, I used a wheelchair to navigate through the airport. After we made our way through security, we stopped to grab something to eat before heading to the flight gate. However, a problem we ran into was trying to fit this massive wheelchair into the eating areas just to order something. The register was tucked back in a narrow corner with tables and chairs on one side and a counter on the other. Barely one person with a suitcase could fit through, let alone one of the airport’s wheelchairs. I understand restaurants at airports are limited in space to work with and probably have to follow certain regulations due to security but some of the places were impossible to squeeze a wheelchair into; it’s not the difficult to make an area wide enough for a wheelchair and at least another person to stand side by side. Sometimes I wish everyone was forced to experience what it is like to be physically disabled and then people might see firsthand how inaccessible the world is. Yes, there are ADA regulations and requirements but most able-bodied people don’t comply with these rules because it does not directly affect them or it costs too much money to make it more accessible.


After struggling to find a wide enough area to fit into the line, we finally made it back to the register. As i was waiting for my mom to order the food, a woman came up to the chair and in a slightly condescending voice (although she probably had kind intentions), she went on to tell me what a beautiful girl I was and how pretty my dress was.

This was all very nice to hear and personally I really liked my dress too but her tone of voice was not appreciated. It was very obvious that she saw the wheelchair, my slightly different facial expressions and assumed I must be mentally or developmentally disabled. Although I wanted to say something to her about making such an ignorant assumption, I smiled sweetly and replied “Thank you, that’s so kind of you to say”.

After placing our order and knowing exactly what was happening, my mom turned around, reiterating what I had said to the woman and backed the wheelchair out of the tight area.

What gives people the right to assume things like that?! I was just sitting in the wheelchair, minding my own business waiting for my mom to place the order because I could not reach the counter top and all of a sudden this women decides to come up to me, assuming I’m mentally disabled. Just because I was in a wheelchair and look somewhat different from you, does not mean I’m mentally disabled. A wheelchair should tell you I have trouble walking or am not able to walk, that’s it. Making any other assumption about me being mentally disabled insults my intelligence and what I’ve accomplished in life. The woman probably thought talking to me was a nice gesture or maybe she was making small talk but it came off rude and made me feel very self-conscious, depressed, and angry.

Nothing irritates me more than narrow-minded, uneducated people like that who make assumptions based on their limited knowledge. Not all people with disabilities are the same. So next time you see someone with a handicap or disability, please don’t make an assumption about their disability, don’t talk down to them or treat them like a two-year old, rather treat them with respect, like you would want to be treated.


“You are not entitled to your opinion. You’re entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant”

-Harlan Ellison


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