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

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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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A reflection from under the sea

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all”

-Mulan

 Judging from my last couple posts, you can probably tell how Disney has influenced my life and the values I have. Like most girls though, when it comes to my favorite characters, I’m partial to the Disney princesses. Some may argue that they all portray women in a bad light or think that true love will solve everything but I don’t totally believe that argument.

Some of the best songs, at least in my opinion, come from movies with these princesses. As an avid swimmer and someone who loves the water, beach; The Little Mermaid has always been one of my favorites. I love Ariel, Flounder, Sebastian, and their undersea family. Ariel is such a dreamer and yearns for more, much like myself growing up.The song Part of Your World and the lyrics have always held so much meaning to me, which is ridiculous because it’s just a song, but it does hold a deep lesson.

Flash forward a couple years in Disney movies to Mulan. Although Mulan does have a love story on the side, unlike most princess movies, it focuses more on Mulan discovering who she truly is. I love all the Disney princesses but Mulan personally appealed to me in how outspoken, determined, and courageous she is. Her character is so much like of my own. For anyone who has seen the Disney movie, you know it is full of great songs like Be a man and A girl were fighting for. But I love Reflection and the messege in that song.

Around the time Mulan was released, I was trying to get adjusted to life post brain cancer and now being physically disabled. It was like one day, I was one person and the next, everything I knew had changed. I went from running around with my friends on crazy adventures, not having a care in the world to struggling to stand or walk on my own and worrying about what I looked like because I was different. My cheeks were swollen from steriods, I had no movement in my face, and my eyes were always irritated. (still are sometimes but not as bad as it was) I became very self-conscious and no matter what I did or wore, people would still stare at me in public like I was some terrible deformed human being.

Reflection became my song. In many ways, I understood exactly what Mulan felt. I didn’t want to be the girl I saw in the mirror. I wanted to be me before cancer, radiation, and becoming physically disabled. I missed being able to run, jump, or walk carelessly through my backyard without worrying about falling flat on my face or hurting myself. This new me was strange and different. I struggled with accepting my new me and finding myself in this new life. Also, add this with the awkward middle school stages I was experiencing and having a father at home slowly dying of ALS, it was definitely not a great time for me.

Because of my insecurities and fears,  I started to let my disabilities define me and hid behind them instead of letting my personality shine through. By doing this I became a shell of myself and was causing my reflection to be blurry to others.

Like Mulan, I realized I needed to challenge myself, to be courageous, and to show people my abilities, instead of hiding behind my disabilities. Along with Mulan, my mind drifted back to Ariel, always wanting more, and thinking of all the possibilities. By learning to embrace my disabilities, I began to make my reflection clear and see the new, exciting opportunities that come with any change. I stopped wishing for the past to come back, faced my fears, and started living in the present moment.  I underwent surgery to repair my face, went on to high school, focused on improving my walking, and even took up gymnastics again (something I never thought I would be able to do after having cancer) Like Ariel, I began to explore the world outside of what I had known and realized how beautiful life could be even if I am disabled. By taking a chance, having courage, and facing my fears, I stepped outside of my bubble, making my reflection clear once again.

 You got your own style so let it come through and remember no matter what, you got to be you

-Sebastian

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Tale as long as time

“If it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it.”

– Cogsworth

As I continue on my Disney journey and explaining the life lessons each movie taught me, I have to include one of my favorite movies EVER, Beauty and the Beast. In my previous posts, I picked out a song from the movie that spoke to me but for Beauty and the Beast, that’s just impossible. I love everything about the movie (absolutely everything). But what I love most about the movie is Belle. It’s safe to say that she is my girl crush. Not only is she pretty but Belle is gentle, caring, intelligent, and determined. Growing up, I always wanted to be like Belle. (I know she is just a movie character but work with me here) She embodies many of the characteristics I wish to emulate, like being selfless, seeing the inner beauty in others, standing up for what you believe in, and always being willing to learn.

So today, instead of analyzing a song, I’m going to analyze Belle and how she influenced me. (and continues to do so) .

Lesson #1 

Intelligence is beautiful.

We are first introduced to Belle as she strolls through her tiny village one morning, running errands and picking up a new book to read. The villagers find this to be very peculiar, questioning why such a pretty girl has her nose stuck in a book. Doesn’t she have something else better to do with her life?! What they don’t know is Belle has a thirst for knowledge, adventure, and a curiosity for what lies beyond “her provincial life”. She finds reading books as a way to quench her thirst and learn more about the world.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to read a new book at least every month. Growing up, I used to be a bookworm but as life got in the way, I haven’t had time to read as much as I’d like. But this year, I’m determined to change that. No matter if it is a classic novel, a textbook, a fantasy novel,  or a comic book, all books have something to teach us. Within each book lies a story that will broaden our perspective, challenge us, or make us laugh. Books make us think and wonder. So far, I have kept my resolution and read 2 very different books that caused me to examine myself and enable me to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Belle shows us that intelligence is beautiful, that the more we learn, the more we become informed and enlightened. And with knowledge, we can achieve our dreams.

Lesson #2 

Be yourself and never be afraid to stand up for what you believe in

One of the first lessons we learn from Belle is to be yourself and not to be discouraged by others. It is quite obvious that Belle is an outcast in town and that most people find her to be odd but she does not let a bunch of ridiculous opinions get her down. Instead of pretending to be in love with Gaston and “fitting in” with the town or giving up her love for reading, Belle remains true to herself

Belle was also not afraid to voice her opinion or speak up for what she believed in. As a prisoner of the castle, Belle was not intimidated by the Beast. Instead, her comments and arguments challenged the Beast to look beyond his narrow ways and to see the truth.

Belle teaches us to brave, to remain strong even when we are scared, and to stand up for what is right.

Lesson #3 Loyalty.

This point can very easily be tied with Lesson #2. Throughout the movie, Belle shows her loyalty to those she really cares about. The first example is her father, Maurice. The town may find Belle to be a bit odd but to  everyone, Maurice is downright strange. He is always tinkering with his “new inventions.” Gaston even thinks Maurice is crazy and should be locked up.  But Belle does not care about what anyone else thinks. She is aware that her father is a little quirky but loves him and supports him despite of others’ opinions.

Another example is how Belle returns to the Beast after leaving to look after her father. She cares for the Beast and wants to warn him of the attack on his castle.  Although she was merely a prisoner and does not owe anything to the Beast, she feels a sense of loyalty towards him. Her steadfast loyalty towards both her father and the Beast helps her to gain respect from them and those around her.

Lesson #4 Don’t judge a book by the cover

One of the most obvious lessons from Beauty and the Beast is that of inner beauty versus outer beauty. Gaston may seem like the whole package, tall, dark, and handsome; but he proves to have a serious vanity issue and is in capable of seeing  anything beyond surface level. His massive ego, interest in only himself, and ugly personality immediately cause Belle to run far away from Gaston. He is a prime example of how you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

Although Belle was startled by the Beast’s appearance at first, with patience, kindness, and love, she was able to look past his exterior and see the man who lied within.

One of my favorite quotes, which happens to be from another Disney movie, describes this lesson very well.

“Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance. Like so many things, it is not what outside, but what is inside that counts.”

-Aladdin

So many times we see something only for surface value and not for what truly is. As someone who is physically disabled and looks different from most, this is something I experience all the time.  Belle reminds us to look beyond physical appearance and see the inner beauty in those around us.

belle2

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Lessons from the wind

Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon
Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned
Can you sing with all the voices of the mountains
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind

As you could probably tell from my last post, I am obsessed with Disney and on a mission to share my interpretations and memories of some iconic songs.

“Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas, in my opinion, is one of Disney’s greatest hits. Not only is it easy to sing along, which I’ve done several times, (it’s not pretty though) but Colors of the Wind is full of so much wisdom and thought-provoking questions.

As I read over the lyrics last night, my mind felt blown!  As a child, I listened to this song almost everyday and thought the lyrics related so well to the movie but now as an adult, realize the beautiful messages in this song that can be transferred to our daily lives. Seriously, there are a lot of issues in our world today that could be resolved or viewed differentaly by listening to this song. (not trying to sound political but just saying, that’s my political rant)

An overall theme of the song is about broadening one’s perspective, how often we are blinded by ignorance or narrow-mindness. The song starts out by saying:

You think I’m an ignorant savage
And you’ve been so many places
I guess it must be so
But still I cannot see
If the savage one is me
How can there be so much that you don’t know? You don’t know

Lesson #1

Although, this may seem self-explainatory, it is something that is much easier said than done.  We are all guilty of judging others, it is part of our human nature. We often think that if we’ve met one, we’ve met them all. Or that anyone who doesn’t dress, think, or act like us, they should be treated like outcasts.
For example, I have one friend from college that before we ever even spoke to each other, I had a preconceived notion of her (which turned out to be absolutely false) She had designer clothes, designer bags, her hair and makeup was always flawless, never seemed troubled by anything, and always surrounded by friends. Well, you can imagine how stupid and terrible I felt when the two of us started to work together on a group project and we got to know each other better. The way she put others before herself, how she saw the best in everyone regardless of their looks, and how upon asking “how are you?”  in passing, she genuiely was interested in you; not just in making small talk. She is an incredible person and I am so glad my own ignorance didn’t keep me from gaining such an amazing friend..

There is a saying “don’t let one bad apple ruin them all”. Don’t let your own ignorant, preconceived notions, or bias ideals, blind you from seeing the truth.

Lesson #2
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name

As cliche as this is and is repeated over and over, it is true. Everything in life has a reason. Native Americans believe there are spirits everywhere and although I’m a Christian, I definitely can understand what they’re saying. But also from a physical viewpoint, plants provide oxygen, earth provides foods that we eat, water to drink, and animals to watch over( either to provide us with food or to love and care for) Everything has a reason and they deserve our respect.

Lesson #3

This is my favorite part!

You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew

This ties in with the lyrics from before and is something I’ve touched on a million times in my blog. One of the greatest downfalls of humans is being narrow0minded; seeing the world only from our perspective and nothing more. By doing this, we are shutting the door on so many wonderful experiences, opportunities, and suprises the world has to offer.

Although many stories come to mind, one in particular is that of high school. Many of the teachers were uncomfortable with my lack of balance or unsteady gait to explain it best. I would take step, hoping my feet would do what my brain told them. Sometimes I’d take one step forward and two steps backwards. I used to stumble and fall a lot, never usaully seriously injuring myself but there was always that concern. Many of the teachers wanted me in a wheelchair but I explained (several times too many) that this was something I was not interested in. How I had once been in a wheelchair but was stubborn and determined to walk again, even if it was not perfect. And that I had no interest in going back into a wheelchair, it was non-negotiable for me. Well, you can imagine how well that went with some teachers.

After plenty of teacher meetings and feeling attacked, I decided it was my job to educate these teachers on what it is like to be physically disabled and to have a physically disabled student because they didn’t really understand either. And if they weren’t educated on this issue, then how was it fair of me to expect them to understand what daily life was like for me being disabled and why the thought of any assistive device didn’t sit well with me? It was with this conclusion that they started to see more through my perspective but also I began to see from their eyes.Both sides decided to let go of the wheelchair idea and along with finding a greater respect for each other, we we’re able to find an even ground..

Maybe that’s not the greatest example but hopefully it makes you think. There are many times where arguments or disagreements could easily be solved by pausing and trying to learn what it is like to walk in the footsteps of a stranger. Everyone is unique with a different upbringing, a different way of thinking, and a unique perspective. Although frusterating at times, this is what makes the world such a great place, no one of is exactly alike and we all can learn something from each other. Even if we don’t see eye to eye, we can still listen and acknowledge contrasting perspectives, opinions and beliefs.

Lesson #4

How high will the sycamore grow
If you cut it down, then you’ll never know

This ties in with Lesson #1 and 3#. We are quick to judge based on first glance or what we perceive the situation to be and by doing this, we often turn our backs on something great. Something that could challenge our thinking, improve who you are as an invidual,  or enable us to grow.  And don’t we all want to grow?


poc

We need to sing with all the voices of the mountain
Need to paint with all the colors of the wind
You can own the earth and still
All you’ll own is earth until
You can paint with all the colors of the wind

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