Overcoming my fear of the dishwasher

“What is the biggest thing that stops people from living their lives in the present moment? Fear – and we must learn how to overcome fear”

Brian Weiss

For the past several months, my dishwasher has been slowly dying.

Shortly after I graduated high school, my mom and I decided to redo our kitchen; new counters, new cabinets, new appliances, new everything. Along with choosing the design for the counters, backsplash, and cabinets,; there were several changes I made to the layout so it would be more accommodating for me. First of all, we had a wall knocked down, making the kitchen bigger.  Also, we installed a wall oven so I no longer had to worry about bending down and falling into the oven like Hansel and Gretel. We had several pull-down cabinets installed (great for the vertically challenged) and positioned the stove top near the sink so when making pasta noodles, the pot could just be slid across the counter and drained, instead of having to carry a hot pot across the room (and most likely burning myself). But my favorite thing, which was not cheap, was a dishwasher with drawers!
Years ago, as I was relearning to walk after cancer and radiation, I used to fall quite often. Imagine a baby first learning to walk, except I was 8 years old, was overweight from steroids, and my falls definitely caused a little more damage. My poor knees have permanent scars from some of my greatest falls or those scraps that kept getting reopened. I used to have the tendency to fall into things and break them. The dishwasher happened to be one of those things, one with a single door that pulls down  I landed on top of the door several times when it was open, nearly breaking the door off and causing it to leak as it ran. Needless to say, I felt terrible when this happened and avoided the dishwasher at all costs when it was open. I became afraid of a dishwasher.
So you can imagine my surprise when I found a dishwasher with drawers that I couldn’t break. I was actually really excited about a dishwasher! It had two separate drawers just like a dresser, both equal in size, and you didn’t have to run both at the same time. Sometimes I loaded and washed only the top drawer, other times I loaded both drawers. And the best part was, if I lost my balance accidentally, I didn’t have to worry about breaking it!
dishwasher
But as the saying goes, all good things come to an end and after almost ten years, the dishwasher started dying. The top would no longer drain properly and one day, it just stopped working. So we were stuck with only the bottom drawer, minimizing the amount of dishes we used and more than often, just hand-washing them instead. Then after about four months of this, the dishwater started to make a terrible grinding noise when it was on. I was worried it was going to start a fire, my mom was worried it would flood the kitchen. We attempted to have someone take a look at it and fix it but it ended up that a dishwasher with drawers is so rare and only manufactured by one company so finding someone was next to impossible. So we decided it was finally time to get a new one but were quickly reminded how expensive the dishwasher with drawers was compared to standard dishwashers with a pull-down door. I even searched ADA websites because honestly, dishwashers with a pull-down door are not that user-friendly for people who are wheelchair bound or have other physical limitations. But I couldn’t find anything.  It baffles me how able-bodied people and companies don’t consider these things sometimes, how a simple appliance is not always user-friendly when you’re disabled. After debating over whether the cost would be worth it to get my dream dishwasher again,  I decided to face my fear of breaking the dishwasher and go back to using one with the pull-down door.
After going to Lowes and testing out the doors, I swallowed my fear and bought one with a very sturdy door that would not snap immediately if it was accidentally bumped or fallen on top of.
But something I realized in this process is that my walking is not like it was 20 years ago. Yes, I may not walk straight, have a slight limp, stumble at times, and walk as if I’m drunk but I am no longer an overgrown baby first learning to walk. I do not fall everyday like I used to and thank goodness for that because my knees can’t handle that much falling anymore.  I have better control of my walking, and am more aware of my movements.  Through therapists and coaches, I have learned what works best for me. For example, saying “slow down” is not always good for me. I learned that walking slow also gives my brain too much time to disrupt the signals it sends to my feet. Therefore, what starts out as good foot placement becomes bad foot placement and could result in falling. It is best for me to walk at a steady, controlled,semi-quick pace, not giving my brain time to think or mess up things. This does mean I should walk fast, not a good idea, but is just something I’ve come to be aware of with my body.
The style of my new dishwasher may have some negative memories attached to it but my fear and past experiences should not dictate the present moment. I am a different person now compared to who I was 20 years ago and I am not going to let my fear keep me having clean dishes. So bring it on dishwasher,  I’m not afraid of you!
Live with intention,
Be bold in the face of adversity,
Live the life you were destined for

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Accept yourself with no exceptions

“Positive thinking isn’t about expecting the best to happen every time, it is about accepting that whatever happens is the best for that moment”

We all have had those moments where we go to check Facebook for a quick second and end up spending a half-hour on there, scrolling through our news feed, comparing ourselves to other people. Asking ourselves questions the entire time like “They look like they’re having so much fun and do so many cool things, why is my life so boring?” Or “I wonder why they didn’t invite me? Maybe there’s something wrong with me.” Or “How do your selfies look so perfect? It takes me at least 5 shots to get a picture I don’t hate.”

Admit it. We’ve all been down that road, comparing ourselves to the people around us. Even the most confident and self-assured people are guilty of this. If you have never done that, well kudos to you.

Tonight I had my high school reunion and to be completely honest, I was kind of anxious about it. Seeing what everyone has been up to is awesome and how much everyone has changed. I am so happy for my friends and everything they’ve accomplished. But at the same time I couldn’t help compare myself, it’s human nature.

So after throwing a pity party and momentarily freaking out about my life, I started to come back to reality. The thing is although I am happy for my friends, I would never want their lives and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t want mine. Where I am in life right now may not be where I expected to be but as we all know too well, life is a wild journey. Having expectations just leads to disappointments.  And comparing ourselves to others is pointless. The world would be incredibly boring if everyone was exactly alike. When we accept ourselves and love who we are, we become empowered and respect ourselves. Therefore attracting respect from others too.

The other week, I met up with a friend for brunch. After spending hours catching up and laughing, we both went our seperate ways. As I was heading home, I thought how nice it was to see my friend and what great things she’s doing with her life but of course, I started comparing myself. Because of my disabilities, I will most likely never be able to drive and although it seems like no big deal, I feel like it holds me back in life. As my mind started to think how if I could drive, my life would more exciting like hers and started to get depressed, my mom and I were rear-ended. Everyone was fine thankfully and besides some minor damage, the car was okay. But in the quick second, I remembered why I’m glad I don’t drive. As a cancer survivor, I would rather go out in another way besides a car accident. Maybe something a little less dramatic. But moral of the story, guess that’s what I get for comparing myself to someone else.

“When you know yourself, you’re empowered.  When you accept yourself, you’re invincible”

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The art of listening

It is better to be a friend than to have one

Have you ever had one of those moments when you stumble across a quote or saying and it speaks to you, like it was meant for you at that exact point in time? Well, I had one of those moments the other week while reading a letter from a friend and seeing this quote, “it is better to be a friend than to have one”.

Friendship is one of life’s greatest blessings. Someone who is there in good and bad times, can make you laugh, cares about you, challenges you to become a better person, and listens whether you need advice or just want to talk.

But that last point is so often forgotten. Listening has become such a rare thing in a world full of people who only want to voice their opinions but don’t have time or care about opinions of those around them whether it’s in everyday conversations or on social media. More than often, we listen to reply, we don’t listen to understand. And by doing this, whether purposefully or not, we are creating an attitude of ignorance.

Growing up, I remember hearing about schools that would hand out awards for “talks the least, says the most”. That seemed like such a great award, something to strive toward in life. There is nothing wrong with talking, expressing yourself or voicing your opinions but communication is a two-way street. I truly believe there are times to talk and times to just be silent and listen.  By listening to those around us, we are showing respect, that we appreciate them, and are able to better understand their perspective.

The other week, I was asked to speak during the opening ceremony at a local Relay for Life event. It is always an incredible experience and slightly nerve-wrecking to share my story with others. It is truly humbling and makes me so happy to know that my story can help and inspire others.  As ridiculous as it sounds, in those moments I feel tickled pink. But what I love most about sharing my story with others is getting their response and hearing from them. I truly enjoy getting to know them better and learning about who they are. At the Relay for Life, it was overwhelming to see how cancer has affected so many people. To listen to a patient, survivor, or caregiver tell their story is to help them heal which is something I understand from personal experience. It is moments like that where it is more important to be a friend and to just listen.

 

A wise old owl lived in an oak,
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

– unknown author

 

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True strength

Be a man
We must be swift as the coursing river
Be a man
With all the force of a great typhoon
Be a man
With all the strength of a raging fire
Mysterious as the dark side of the moon

I thought I was finished with blogging about Disney music but with the release of Beauty and the Beast,  Disney themed playlists have become my go-to music whenever life gets boring. This time, I’ve been inspired by I’ll make a man out of you from Mulan.

Although there are many great Disney movies with incredible music, one of my personal favorites for both movie and music combo would have to be Mulan. Based on a Chinese legend, when her country is facing war, Mulan secretly disguises herself as a man, taking her father’s place in the emperor’s army. Despite the many challenges and adversity faced along the way, through her strength, bravery, and duty to her country, Mulan helps to defeat the Huns and becomes one of China’s greatest heroines in the process. Mulan is considered a Disney princess but she is definitely not your typical damsel in distress. Her character is fierce, courageous, determined, and resilient.
Growing up with three older brothers and being surrounded by their friends, I’ve never really been a girly girl.  That might come as a surprise to some because my office at work is decorated in fake flowers, dainty colors, and I love wearing dresses! But growing up, I was that girl in the neighborhood who liked to play backyard football, get muddy, and spoke my mind whether you asked my opinion or not. While cancer and becoming physically disabled kind of changed the whole backyard football part, I still speak my mind and consider myself tough, resilient, and determined in every aspect of life.
The other day, I was sliding tables together for a meeting and someone said to me “don’t do that, you might hurt yourself”. Usually, I would brush that comment right off my shoulders but for some odd reason it bothered me.
As the youngest in the family and only girl, my brothers were determined to “make a man” out of me so that I would be able to withstand anything life threw at me. Along with giving me a love of sports, they taught me to never give up no matter what I faced, to work hard,  stay strong, and to always stand my ground.  Over the years, I’ve thrown a couple other things of my own into the mix, like having faith, being hopeful, and remaining positive.

Even though that comment was probably out of concern and kindness, it seemed to question my strength. (maybe I’m reading too much into this, it’s a girl problem)

Because of my disabilities, I may not appear to be physically strong or able to do everything I once was able to but I do not consider myself weak to any extent.
Being strong is not just a physical attribute like our society thinks of it, strength is also mental and emotional.
As a cancer survivor, I have been fortunate to get to know other survivors and although not every survivor has bulging muscles, they have more strength in their tiny finger than most people will ever have in their life. They are emotionally, mentally, and spiritually strong. Their experiences have taught them to persevere, to stay determined, to be brave, and hopeful. This is true strength to me, having the courage and strength within to overcome any obstacle you’re faced with.
There is a line in I’ll make a man out of you that says “tranquil as a forest but on fire within”, that lyric speaks volumes about where strength really lies.
True strength is not only in your physical being, it’s not in how swift you move or how much you can lift but it’s in your character, how you respond to adversity.
 “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
-Mahatma Gandhi 

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Shouldn’t the end come first?

Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.

~Oliver Wendell Holmes

As I mentioned in another post, one of my resolutions for this year is to read more, to learn more, and to broaden my worldview. Books, articles, blogs, whatever I can get my hands on. Recently, I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This book truly challenged my way of thinking and caused me to examine myself. It is a book I will go back to throughout my life and read over and over. This book is filled with so many great insights on how to approach various situations in life and how to constantly improve yourself.

As the title obviously states, the author describes the 7 habits to becoming more effective, whether in your work environment, with family and friends, and in life. Although each habit really spoke to me, the second habit really stood out to me,  Begin with the end in mind. In describing what he meant, the author asked the reader to imagine being at a funeral-their own funeral. He continued to ask who would be there, what would they say about you, etc. Then he asked if the answers to those questions would align with what your hopes would be. In other words, would the people you hope to be at your funeral be there? What would they say about you? Is it what you would want them to say? Or remember you as?

Although I think most people would say positive things about me, I’m not quite sure about my immediate family. They see sides of me most people don’t, my negative side, my impatient side, my moody side, and my favorite, my “just don’t bother me or speak to me” side. (my brothers use to add an adjective before Beth, it was their special name for me-no, it wasn’t beautiful)

I can only imagine what my stepdad would say, probably she’s a nag, bossy, and, impatient. “Always complaining about something whether I don’t do the dishes, if I track mud through the house, or if I chew too loudly.” After thinking about this, I realized I need to try to be more patient with him, understanding, and communicate my ideas better instead of nagging.

The same goes for my brother who is two years older than me. We have never really gotten along, always arguing about something, constantly fighting, or nitpicking at each other’s flaws. The things he would say about me  I’m sure wouldn’t be pleasant. But when I think about it, I am pretty awful sometimes and need to work on being a better sister instead of placing all the blame on him.

There’s a popular song by Tim McGraw about living like you’re dying that discusses what’s like to live each day knowing it might be your last. Although we all don’t really dwell on the thought of dying someday, it will happen. How do you want to be remembered?  When you imagine your funeral, who do you hope will be there? What do you think they will say? Is it what you hope they would say? And if not, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate.

And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”
And he said
“Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying”

-Tim McGraw

wildflowers

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Dancing through life

“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere”

-Erma Bombeck

Does anyone else besides me turn up the music really loud and dance around the house when they’re home alone?

So I have a secret confession, I am very guilty of this and my music choices range from Enrique Iglesias (or anything latin pop, great dancing music), Disney classics, Justin Timberlake, Spice Girls, Usher, Chris Brown, and anything with a beat. There is nothing better than to come home after a long, exhausting day and just shake it off. I have found on those kind of days, when I am in a terrible mood and have barely smiled all day, turning on some tunes and dancing around like an idiot is often the best therapy. Within seconds, I find myself smiling and laughing, although I’m usually laughing at myself for being so stupid but at least I’m smiling! My neighbors or anyone walking by my house probably think I’ve gone mad, oh well, they can judge.

For me, dancing has always been a way to relieve stress, fear, and worry. In fact, dancing is probably something that saved my life. Shortly after receiving radiation, when my health started to go downhill, and doctors thought I would die within weeks, instead of giving up, I started to dance. Even though I couldn’t walk by myself, my mom and I would spend hours dancing around our house. She would hold onto my hands just like a mom does when teaching a baby to walk and we would just move to the beat. Every Saturday, the local radio station used to have “a disco night” where they played disco music from 7-11pm.  We would spend hours dancing to disco hits, making up routines to our favorite songs, and shaking “our groove thing”. It was so much fun and quite a workout too. Little by little, my mom started to let go of my hands, I began to pick up my feet, move on my own, and retaught myself how to walk.  Along with my physical health slowly improving, my attitude on life, and my mental health started to turn around too. So technically, dancing and disco music (along with other things) saved my life.

Along with the obvious physical benefits of dancing, it can also help with one’s mental health, keeping your mind sharp and boosting your happiness by releasing endorphins.

endorphins

I am guilty of being a bit dramatic sometimes, second-guessing myself, and worrying way too much. But lately, I don’t know what’s gotten into me but it seems like life has stolen all joy from me. Worrying about tomorrow, next week, or  where I’ll be this time next year. Making up problems in my head, focusing only on what ifs. Being depressed about a present situation and standing still in fear, anxiety instead of taking action to fix that problem. today

But one day this week, after being stuck in a funk, I broke out my iPod, turned the music up loud, and just danced. I felt a genuine smile come across my face as I moved through the room, pretending to be in Justin Timberlake’s Rock Your Body video. Slowly my worries, anxieties, and problems danced away with the music. My mind felt clear once again and my soul felt happy. (yes, it sounds weird but it’s true, don’t judge)

Dancing may not be the secret cure to cancer or the solution to every problem in the world but it is fantastic therapy for body, mind, and soul. So when life brings you a new challenge or a difficult but fun situation to overcome, don’t just stand still, dance through it.

Dancing through life
Swaying and sweeping
And always keeping cool
Life is fraught-less
When you’re thoughtless
Those who don’t try
Never look foolish
Dancing through life
Mindless and careless
Make sure you’re where less
Trouble is rife
Woes are fleeting
Blows are glancing
When you’re dancing
Through life…

-Wicked

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You’ve got a friend in me

Some other folks might be
A little bit smarter than I am
Bigger and stronger too
Maybe
But none of them will ever love you the way I do
It’s me and you
And as the years go by
Our friendship will never die
You’re gonna see
It’s our destiny
You’ve got a friend in me

Have you ever wondered if your toys come to life when nobody is watching? Or if they have their own “toy world”?

Toy Story was the beginning of a great relationship between Disney and Pixar, bringing in a new wave of Disney movies and how they were animated. Filled with awesome characters like Woody and Buzz Lightyear who teach us about friendship, life, and dealing with change. Toy Story is the perfect movie for the kid at heart and has captured the interest of people of every age.

For me personally, Toy Story holds a special place in my heart. I have a memory of staying home from school one day, sick with the latest bug spreading around my class. I was in fifth grade and it was a year before my dad passed away from ALS. He had been able to continue to work while he had the disease but was forced to retire two years before his death because the disease had progressed. So when I was home that day, he was there too.

Although my dad didn’t like watching Disney movies as much as I did, Toy Story was one of his favorite Disney movies. I don’t know what it was about Toy Story that he loved, whether it was the new animation style, the idea of toys being alive, or having great actors such as Tim Allen, narrate the voices of the characters. But what I do know is my dad loved that movie and it was a unanimous decision as to what movie we would watch that day. Now whenever I think of Toy Story, it reminds me of my dad and how nice it was to be at home, sick that day.
My dad was an astrophysicist and was extremely intelligent. He actually was part of the team that fixed the lens on the Hubble Space Telescope and worked for NASA However, his math and science genes skipped over me and instead I have my mom’s love of literature and writing.
Sometimes I look up at the night sky and can understand how  my dad was so fascinated with space. Shortly after he died, I did a report for school on stars. Although they are just balls of burning gas, each star is so intricate and detailed. Some creating beautiful designs that paint the universe and illuminating the dark  abyss. (Guess that was one thing he gave me)
]t’s during those times that I often think back to Buzz Lightyear and his famous quote “infinity and beyond!”. Having lived longer without my dad than with him, this quote describes our bond, it goes infinity and beyond. He might have not been there throughout the years, was able to come to my graduations, or be there for other monumental moments in my life; but he still is part of my life. And although I don’t see him on a daily basis, he still shows up whether it is through a song, a random stranger, or even food.  Even though he’s not here, our friendship will never die.
 buzz-lightyear
To infinity and beyond!
-Buzz Lightyear

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