Tag Archives: determination

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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A game of give or take

Being a role model is the most powerful form of education”

-John Wooden

 Growing up with 3 older brothers, sports have always been a big part of my life, whether it’s playing in them or being a spectator. The other Saturday, I was watching pregame for college football, trying to catch-up on some highlights and immediately my eyes were drawn to the TV as Tim Tebow started his analysis of the game.I’m going to be a that annoying girl right now but oh my gosh, he is so beautiful!! And it’s not just that he is good looking but also his morals and character that make him so attractive.

That got me to thinking, how come people like Tim Tebow; who are fantastic role models and committed to helping others,  get a bad rep compared to someone like a flashy athlete with a huge ego, whines when it doesn’t go their way, and makes poor decisions? It’s so weird and frusterating how our society and the media tend to focus soley on drama and trainwrecks instead of paying attention to those who have an upstanding character, put others before themselves, and overcome adversity with determination, courage, and strength.

And is that the kind of role model you want for your child? Someone who gives up when faced with a challenge or blames someone else for their mistakes instead of owning up to it? Or just throws life away when things get tough?

Isn’t that very much like what our society has become too? When things go bad, get difficult, or get a little bit awkward, we throw them away. Food, clothes, phones, computers, or to get a little deeper, careers, relationships, friendships. What happened to forgiveness or trying to repair something instead of just throwing it out and buying a new one?

Sometimes I think instant gratification has made us all weak, causing us to forget what hard work is, and that more than often, we expect things to go a certain way and when they don’t, we throw them away. And as adults, hopefully we can know the difference between something earned and a gift.  But what about the kids in this world who don’t know the difference? Kids are innocent and need a strong role model to teach them about life, to stay determined through trials in life, to give back to those around you, and what the value of hard work truly is instead of  being given something.

Gale Ann Hurd, a famous director,  once said “If you can’t find a good role model, be one.” In a world where there are so many people only concerned for themselves, don’t be a taker. Choose to be a giver. Choose to be a good role model.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”

-Albert Schweitzer

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“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”-Thomas Edison

Throughout life, I’ve learned that we are often presented with many different opportunities, some exciting and some that seem slightly terrifying. I believe a truly great opportunity though is one that forces us outside of our comfort zone and challenges us to achieve our full potential.

Recently the issue of physician assisted suicide has become a huge debate in our country. As a childhood brain cancer survivor and someone who has faced many obstacles including being told I would die  at a young age, becoming physically disabled, and overcoming the odds to live my life, I truly believe physician assisted suicide is wrong. I have fought for my life and know the ugly side of suffering but I also know the beauty of it. It is part of the human experience. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Cancer backed me into a corner but I came back fighting and continue to keep pushing forward.

Two years before doctors found my cancer, my dad was diagnosed with ALS, a disease that slowly eats away at one’s muscles eventually paralyzing and killing them. Although he knew the disease was fatal and that living with ALS would be far from easy, he faced every challenge with strength and courage. My dad lived for almost eight years with the disease despite the fact doctors told him he only had two years to live. Watching my dad slowly die was not easy but seeing him fight to the end inspired me to continue working hard and stay determined despite the obstacles I faced. It was from both my dad and cancer that I learned to always keep a positive attitude, to hope for the best, and to never give up.  I truly believe everything happens for a reason and that without facing challenges early in life, I would not be the strong, determined, and optimistic person I am today.

I’ve been asked by the Maryland Catholic Conference to testify against the recent bill to legalize physician assisted suicide. The Maryland Catholic Conference advocates for the Catholic Church in Maryland and represents the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington. This is an amazing opportunity and although I’m slightly terrified, my excitement outweighs my fear.

At first, I was worried about what others may think of me or if I’m a good enough person to do this but honestly, I don’t care anymore; I’ve accepted this challenge. Like I said earlier, a great opportunity is one that forces us outside of our comfort zone and challenges us to achieve our full potential.

“God will supply us with the opportunity but it’s up to us to do something with it”

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