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Someday We'll Laugh About This!

“If you don't learn to laugh at trouble, you won't have anything to laugh at when you're old.”
~ Edgar Watson Howe

In This Issue:

  • A Message From Shelley
  • Don't Just Take My Word for It
  • What's New?
  • Did You Know?
  • Questions? We Provide Answers!

A Message from Shelley

Dear Friends,

When I learned that there's is a special week in January devoted to the phrase, “Someday We’ll Laugh About This!” I instantly knew the story I had to share with you. The story itself doesn’t have much humor, but in hindsight, it's perfect for this week.

I am the first to admit that living with chronic health problems is often frustrating, embarrassing, and downright sad. And, trying to find humor in uncomfortable situations is often difficult. However, time and perspective have a way of helping one discover the lesson and the meaning in everyday challenges.

Take the first time I used my little Amigo™ (the friendly wheelchair), 3-wheeled scooter. I remember the day vividly, even though it was nearly 30 years ago. It wasn’t a very happy day either. We bought the first Amigo™ in 1983 but kept it in the trunk of our car for nearly 6 months before I had the courage to use it in public; I was reluctant to use it for fear that I would see someone I knew and they’d look at me with pity and sadness.

It was a gorgeous day, perfect for taking the kids (7 and 9) to the Vilas Zoo. We arrived at the zoo and Dave and the kids went to the trunk to take out the three parts of the scooter and reassemble it. Then, Dave drove it over to me sitting in the passenger seat. I took one look at the scooter and dissolved in tears, which escalated into a full-blown temper tantrum with crying and ranting over how horrible it was to be sick, disabled, and needy. Not one of my finest hours.

The kids were silent; they had been so excited that I was coming with them and now they were on the verge of tears. Dave tried to reason with me but I screamed that all I wanted was to go home and get in bed.

I finally did use my Amigo™, but it was months later when we went to a museum in Chicago where I was certain I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew. And, as luck would have it, the museum was filled with middle schoolers who thought my scooter was cool. It was like I was one of the awesome displays. Kids crowded around us everywhere we went, asking questions like, how does it work? How fast does it go? Where'd you get that?

Even the questions about why I was using the device didn’t bother me. I saw it as an opportunity to teach all the kids, including mine, that sometimes people need help to get around and aren’t we lucky to have scooters and wheelchairs to help us. I saw my children visibly relax and trust that their mom would not have another meltdown.

What a turnaround in my attitude. I guess I had to go through the grieving process (denial, anger, frustration) before I could accept the reality.  Once I was able to accept the help the scooter provided, accepting all kinds of other help became easier as well.

That first little scooter, retired long ago, has been replaced by others and together, we’ve gone on trains, planes, automobiles, and cruise ships sharing special times with my family and friends. Today, I celebrate life and my Amigo™. And, the very best part for me? My Amigo™ gives me a lap for a tired child to sit on. Life doesn’t get better than that. And someday we will laugh about that too.

Tell me about your “Someday We’ll Laugh About This!” moment. Email: Shelley@MakingLifeEasier.com.

Thank you,

Don't Just Take My Word for It

“The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”
~ Mark Twain

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
~ E. E. Cummings

“You don't stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.”
~ Michael Pritchard

“When a person can no longer laugh at himself, it is time for others to laugh at him.”
~ Thomas Szasz

“It is impossible to cry with a smile on your face.”
~ Unknown

What's New?

I’m losing my right hand! No not my hand, hand, but my right hand (aka colleague and assistant), Deborah, who keeps me motivated and organized to accomplish all the things we do here at Meeting Life’s Challenges. Deborah has a chronic illness that is exacerbated by the long, cold Wisconsin winter and she is leaving to spend January – May (or perhaps a little longer) in Texas.

There was a time that this would have generated a major anxiety attack worrying about “How am I going to…?” Who’s going to help me with…?” What am I going to do when…?” But, that was then and this is now. Over the last few years, I have done a number of things to make myself stronger – swimming, physical therapy, food supplements, and better nutrition – and it has helped immensely. I can relax because I know we can do this!

Last year, as a trial, she went to Florida for a few months and came back in the spring with renewed strength and vigor, instead of the tired, run down, half dead person she had been after the winter before. With such a positive benefit, how could I not encourage her to go again this year – especially since she is going to spend those months with her 8 month old granddaughter?

I will miss her while she is gone, but I know that I will grow because of the experience. We will be writing my new book, Home Accessibility: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier, using the power and tools of the Internet to collaborate and work together and we will have “face-to-face” meetings using Skype, computer software that allows you to make free video calls. Other than she will not be sitting at the workstation across from me, things will go on pretty much as usual and I can look forward to her healthy return to the office.

Speaking of my new book —
Have you made adjustments to how you do something or perhaps devised some device or way of doing something to make your home easier to live in with a disability? If so, we want to hear from you. Send me your ideas and I’ll put your name in a drawing for one of three free copies of my book to be published in late 2011. E-mail Shelley@MakingLifeEasier.com; be sure to put Affordable Home Accessibility idea in the topic line. I look forward to hearing from you.

Did You Know?

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) trains remodeling contractors on how to remodel houses to help those with limitations due to aging or disabilities remain independent and stay in their homes longer and more safely. They are currently certifying contractors as Aging in Place Specialists. So if you need help making your home more accessible, contact the NARI chapter in your area and ask for referrals to remodeling contractors who are certified or specialize in Aging in Place. To find a chapter near you, visit the national NARI Website.

If you live in Madison, Wisconsin you might want to mark your calendar to visit the NARI Home Remodeling show, Feb 4-6, 2011 where you can see what is new and find out what might be most helpful to you all under one roof. For more details, call 608-222-0670.

Questions? We've Got Answers!

Do you have questions you would like answered about living with a chronic illness? Is there a topic you would like discussed? Tell me what you want to hear; e-mail: Shelley@MakingLifeEasier.com.

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