Tag Archives: Overcoming Cerebral Palsy

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

2 Nov

Due to being completely swamped with schoolwork, projects, papers, and all sorts of end of the semester stuff that professors love the throw at us the few weeks before Thanksgiving, I’m going to have to drop my commitment to do NaNoWriMo. Though I’d love to say that I have the time, I truly don’t, and this blog has always acted as just a way for me to let my feelings out. With everything related to college + making time for NaNoWriMo, I don’t have a place for my frustration to go. Plus, I just know that I really need to focus on academics right now. That’s what college is about…plus reading some on the side and making weekly, if not by-weekly, drives on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Therefore, I’m sorry to those of you who were looking forward to my day-by-day account of NaNoWriMo, but I know that I’ll definitely be posting similar writing pieces throughout the month…just not quite every day. Plus, as I’ve learned since January, writing a memoir isn’t exactly an easy thing. Having to dig up a new painful memory from my childhood to write about each day is just too much right now. Plus, I think it’s also important for me to keep reminding myself that there is no timeline. I don’t have a deadline I need to meet. I don’t need to relive my entire childhood in the span of a single year. Truthfully, I think taking my time with it will make it that much better. I’ve never worked well when I’m rushed, even if I am the person that ends up getting things done if they need to be done. I guess I just have now realized that this doesn’t need to be done right now. I’m not giving up on it by any means. That’s not what I’m saying at all. I think taking more time with it will make it even better, which is what I want.

That being said, I’m off to spend the evening working on an incredibly important research paper, especially since I’m hoping to have it done by the beginning of next week (even though it’s not due for a few weeks). Wish me luck! Also, happy writing to those of you who are trudging through NaNoWriMo. I’ll be cheering you all on throughout the month!

Dedicated to Dawn.

7 Sep

I have so many memories of you, and through the years, I’ve tried with all my might to not let them fade. However, the fact that I haven’t seen you since I was in 8th grade of high school and the fact that you left to move to Virginia with your now husband are two solid reasons why I sometimes find those memories coming up short. You were my next to last physical therapist before I stopped going to physical therapy at the age of 15 because there wasn’t much more that could be done. At the age of 15, I was as independent as I was going to get (physically, at least). Even though you weren’t my last therapist before stopping therapy, you had the most impact on me. Well, you and Meredith, one of my other physical therapist’s who I’m still friends with today, did.

You taught me more than I think you ever realized. Then again, maybe that was because I looked up to you so much. Even though you were my physical therapist and you had to put me through a lot of pain if I was going to continue to be independent, you also never treated me as if I was a child. I remember the therapy sessions where we would talk about books, and movies and theatre productions. As well as being my physical therapist, you were my friend, and that’s what I needed. I remember the night that you came to see me in the beauty pageant that I was in at my school. I was so excited for you to come see me in the pageant, and I was especially glad that I walked all over that stage in my slip-on shoes without tripping or falling! I remember how proud of me you were. As well as pushing me to my true potential, you also praised me in certain situations too, and I believe that balance is why I looked up to you so much.

Your blonde hair and incredibly bright smile is forever etched into my memory. Also, you gave some of the best hugs I’ve ever received. I only wish that I could have one of those hugs now. However, I have no doubt that you are in Virginia enjoying life and making a difference in some other girl’s life without even knowing it. I remember how you always used to give me a mini Snickers bar after our therapy sessions. Best of all, on the days that you ran out of Snickers, we’d make walking over to the nearby Bi-Lo part of our “therapy.” I smile as I remember how you introduced me to the wonderful world of Self Check-Out. Even now, as I use the Self Check-Out on a regular basis when getting groceries for my apartment, every once in a while I think of that time in Bi-Lo when we bought Snickers together.

Even though I hate to admit it, I used to try to find you. Even though I did get one letter from you after you first moved, the follow-up letter was sent back to me. I never have been able to find your current address. However, sometimes I sit and hope that one day you’ll come back in to my life. Before you moved away, you gave me a purple journal, and inside it you wrote, “I can’t wait to go into a bookstore one day and see a book by Amelia Coonrod on the shelves.” Even at the age of 13, I knew that I would try with all my might to not let you down in that regard. As well as being my physical therapist, you were my friend, you laughed with me, and you believed in my writing. Though I silently hope that one day I may be able to truly tell you how you touched my life, I also know that this post may have to be exactly that. After all, in my mind, you are still the person I’ve always wanted to be when I grow up. Not in the sense of being a physical therapist. However, if I can touch some girl’s life the way you have forever touched mine, I will know what it is to truly live.

To Grace (Part Four): Finding Your Voice.

10 Aug

In case you are visiting my blog for the first time, here are the previous posts that go with this series: To GraceTo Grace (Part Two): Walking Through The Fire, and To Grace (Part Three): Accepting Love.

Dear Grace,

I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. A few weeks ago (when I was still in Ireland), your mom posted a video on her Facebook page of you singing a song that you had written. As I sat in Ireland with my computer in my lap listening to you sing words that you had written, I smiled. I smiled, but I also cried. During the entire video of you singing something that you had written, there was one thought going through my head: Grace has found her voice as a writer, just like I did at her age.

The video caught me off guard though because I never knew that you had started writing. Even though I saw you about six months ago, we don’t often have the chance to sit and talk for long periods of time. Normally I’m just able to see you during the times that I come to Columbia to have lunch with Meredith (your physical therapist who was also one of my physical therapists). However, when I do have lunch with Meredith, I try to make it a Tuesday because I know that you have a session with her on Tuesdays right after her lunch break.

In terms of writing a song though, I’m so happy and proud that you are beginning to find your voice as a writer. Though I know that what you write is probably very different from what I wrote at your age (since you are very strong in your faith and gain strength from it but I’m not religious), that doesn’t make me any less proud. Writing in itself, no matter the content, is a coping mechanism in a sense. It’s a way that we can make some sense of what it is that we are feeling. However, that doesn’t mean that a small part of me isn’t a little bit worried. When I was your age and found my love of writing, my parents took advantage of the fact that I had found a hobby in which I wasn’t limited by my CP by signing me up for all sorts of writing camps. I went to a creative writing camp for 3 consecutive summers at USC and then went to the creative writing summer program at the SC Governor’s School of the Arts and Humanities. The game changer for me was the summer I spent at the SC Governor’s School. I grew as a writer that summer (though I know that I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am in my writing now without starting this blog back in November of last year). Anyway, the summer I spent at the Governor’s School gave me something that I needed: confidence. After that summer program was over, I made the decision to apply to the SC Governor’s School of Arts and Humanities for the regular school year, which was a residential high school for juniors and seniors who were interested in an area of the arts, such as creative writing, drawing, or theatre. I worked really hard on the story that I submitted for the application and also took part in an interview that was part of the overall application. It was a very scary part in my life. Not scary as in painful, but scary in the fact that everything seemed to ride on whether I was accepted for the program or not.

That was my biggest mistake: putting all my hopes into that one basket. When I didn’t get accepted, I entered a dark place for quite a while. I was depressed, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, and I decided right then that I didn’t want to write anymore. I gave up. Though I wrote a little bit here and there during my first year at boarding school, it was nothing like I had written before, so I took a pretty long writing break. However, when my need to write came back to me in the fall of last year, I didn’t fight it. I welcomed it almost like you welcome back an old friend who you haven’t seen in years but who fits perfectly in your life as if you had seen them yesterday.

I guess what I’m trying to say Grace is I feel like you and I are just so similar. We both have CP, we both got involved with community theatre, and now you’re writing, just like me. Even though I’m so happy that you have begun to find your voice as a writer, I just hope that you aren’t so much like me that you get continually frustrated with yourself. Even though I’m trying to work on not being so critical of my own writing, even Stephen King says that we are our own worst critic. However, that being said, write because you love it. Write because it’s something you need and not merely something you want. And if writing doesn’t do that for you, that’s okay. You’re young, and you have all the time in the world to find that one thing that makes you feel alive: that one thing that makes you want to live instead of merely exist. Wanting to live fully and without hesitation is huge for us Grace, at least for me….especially considering all the pain we’ve been through. However, now I know from personal experience that it’s possible. It’s not exactly easy. I’ve been to hell and back with my writing. I’ve loved it, I’ve given up on it, but in the end, I’ve welcomed it back. I’ve welcomed it back because that is what we do for the things or people we love.



A Father’s Love.

17 Jun

I have always been a daddy’s girl, and that fact hasn’t changed even though I’m no longer a little girl. When I was growing up, my dad was my number one supporter. Though I know that my mom supported and loved me as well, there’s something really special about the relationship between a father and his daughter that can’t be replaced by any other kind of love.

Besides loving and supporting me completely and without hesitation, my dad has taught me practically everything I know about life, love, and what it means to chase my dreams and follow my heart. However, one of the greatest things about my dad is the fact that he understands me. He understands my feelings so well that more often than not I don’t have to say much of anything for him to know how I’m feeling. There’s something really incredible about knowing someone who is connected with you in such a way where you don’t even have to say a word for them to know what you’re trying to say.

I remember one specific memory from Shriner’s after my first intense operation in 2003. I had intense physical therapy at Shriner’s twice a day, and my mom and dad switched off every few weeks in terms of who was staying with me at Shriner’s Hospital in Greenville, SC. My dad was unable to be at Shriner’s as much as my mom could, but he was there as much as possible. Anyway, I remember one day right before going to PT. I had to be put into a small wheelchair with my legs strapped down into a bent position. I should also point out that before my intense PT I was in long-leg casts for eight weeks. Therefore, attempting to bend your knees after having your legs completely straight for eight weeks is a kind of pain that I can’t even begin to describe. Anyway, my dad was attempting to strap my legs down, but even before he put the leg plates on the wheelchair in a position where my knees would have to be bent, I started to cry. Not small whimpers, but the kind of sobs that come up out of your chest when you’re scared, in pain, and can hardly breathe. Even though my dad knew that he had to have my knees bent before taking me to PT, he couldn’t do it. I remember looking at him to see the anguish, fear and pain that I was feeling mirrored on his face as well. It was one of the first vivid memories that I have of my dad crying. Even though I didn’t know it at the time, this was a memory that I would come back to in my mind every time I was trying to describe the intense love that my dad has for me. I come back to this memory not because it brought me pain and fear, but because even though it shows my dad’s love for me, it also shows his empathetic nature that I have found within myself over the past few years.

Webster’s dictionary defines love as “an intense feeling of deep affection,” which seems fitting since scientists and poets and musicians alike have all been looking for the true definition of love for centuries. As well as teaching me empathy, my dad has also taught me what love truly is. From holding his hand ever since I was a little girl to the recent days of listening to him relearn how to play the guitar, I have known what love is through my dad’s expression of it towards me. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful to have such an amazing father in my life. And even though I am getting older, I know that my dad will always be here to welcome me home into one of his hugs that holds more love than I can even express. So yes, today is Father’s Day, the day that we go out of our way to tell our dads how much they mean to us. However, for me, every day is Father’s Day. No amount of words can express the insane amount of love I have for the man who taught me to follow my heart, no matter what.

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: he believed in me.”

Are You In Need Of A Writing Push?

13 Jun

“The great thing about dreams is no one else controls them.”

The above quote was told to me by one of my writing mentors 3 years ago, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head recently. Yesterday I got some great support from the same writing mentor who told me the above quote.

Even though I haven’t touched my memoir in quite a while, the simple realization that there are people out there aching for me to share my story as much as I’m aching to get it out is enough of a push to help me to understand that I can’t stop writing. I can’t stop writing, even on the days when it hurts so much to emotionally revisit my painful past. I owe it to myself as well as those who love me to share my story of what it’s been like to live with, and ultimately overcome, Cerebral Palsy.

So here is my mantra as of today: Write On.

Have any of you recently needed a push to keep on writing? What has been your fallback when looking for something (an object or something abstract) to push you to keep digging for the words that you long to share with the world?