Cerebral Palsy

The Thing About CP

For those of you who don’t know, cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects movement and posture. For some, effects can be severe, but for others, it’s more mild. I’m blessed to be on the more mild end of the spectrum; for me, it affects the way I get around. I’ve used a walker and worn calf-high braces since I was little, and weekly physical therapy is routine.

I try to have the perspective that my disability is a way for me to inspire others and impact lives; it’s a platform the Lord has given me to spread His Light and Love. While that is the way I look at it, there are days when I lose perspective and end up crying, because the frustration has become too much. Like when I see my dad get ready to run, and wish I could go with him but can’t. Or when I wake up, and taking a step sends throbbing pain through my feet. Or on the days when I’m so tight, I feel like I can barely move.

But here’s the thing about CP. It is an it. It’s a thing; it’s not me. It doesn’t define me or who I am, and it may affect the way I get around, but it will not affect the way I live my life. I want to be known for lighting up a room; I want to be the reason someone’s day is brighter. I want to inspire others and make an impact, and be known for that. Not my disability.

So here’s the thing: I may have cerebral palsy, but cerebral palsy does not have me.

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Sports

Alabama to Hire Hugh Freeze?

On Tuesday, NBC’s College Football Talk reported that former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze visited Alabama’s football facilities, and today said that head coach Nick Saban is pushing to hire him to replace Brian Daboll as offensive coordinator. Understandably, there is some reluctance to bring Freeze back into the SEC- but is it really such a bad idea? I don’t think so. Before you call me crazy, hear me out.

Prior to taking over Ole Miss’s program in 2012, he was head coach at Lambuth for two seasons, where he went 8-4 and 12-1. He spent the 2011 season at Arkansas State, leading them to the GoDaddy.com Bowl before succeeding Houston Nutt as leader of the Rebels.

Freeze’s impact was immediate, as the Rebels went from winning just two games in 2011 to going 7-6 in 2012 and bringing home a bowl trophy. Ole Miss continued to rise, ranking in the top five in both 2014 and 2015. The program sent Robert Nkemdiche, Leremy Tunsil, and Evan Engram to the NFL, and Juco transfer Chad Kelly quickly became an SEC star under Freeze’s direction.*

Then came the NCAA investigation and allegations that Freeze had made some… unprofessional phone calls from his work phone. 2017 saw those allegations become sanctions, and in July, Freeze was officially fired as head coach of Ole Miss.

I think Freeze to Bama would be a good hire because when you look beyond the scandal, you see one thing: success. He knows how to win games (anyone else remember his victory over the Tide in 2015?) and looking at the players he sent to the NFL, it’s obvious that he knows how to develop talent.

As for what happened under his direction of Ole Miss’s program- it’s unacceptable. But I think we also have to remember that Ole Miss was Freeze’s first major head coaching job, and let’s be real: leading a college football program isn’t easy. There’s recruiting, game preparation, traveling, being away from your family, mentoring young men, trying to keep boosters happy…. it’s a lot. And when you do all of that and have the type of success Hugh Freeze had, is it so far fetched to say everything simply went to his head? Maybe it all just became too much, he saw himself as invincible, and thought he could overstep his boundaries and get away with it.

What I’m saying is this: Hugh Freeze is a human being who made a mistake. Granted, it was major and the whole world found out about it, but that’s all it was- a mistake. He deserves a second chance, and who better to give it to him than Nick Saban, who has mentored Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian? To me, the hire is a win-win situation: Freeze gets another shot, and Alabama gets a coach who can continue to lead their program to success.

Should Alabama hire Hugh Freeze? Let me know in the comments below!

*Statistics and facts taken from Ole Miss.com and

Cerebral Palsy

What Blogging Means to Me as Someone with a Disability

I’ve never reblogged a post on here before, but I found so much truth in what Amelia wrote that I had to share this. She does an incredible job vocalizing what life is like for someone with cerebral palsy- a much better job than I do- and this post is no exception.

Like Amelia, I’ve always found writing to be an escape. Because when I write, the limitations I have don’t exist, if I don’t want them to. And for years, that’s exactly how I wrote stories. I would write a story using characters from my favorite books and then insert myself. The version of me I wrote about didn’t use a walker, didn’t have a disability, and could do whatever she wanted, without having to wonder how, exactly, she was going to do it. But then, in sixth grade, I came up with a storyline about a girl who has cerebral palsy, and how the love around her helps change the way she views herself. I didn’t start writing it until about a year later, and instantly, I was struck by how freeing it was to write about a girl who goes through exactly the same things I do. That story is still a work in progress, and writing it is still as cathartic now as it was then. My dream is to one day publish it, and share my character’s-and my- story with the world.

This blog is cathartic, too. It’s amazing to write a post about something I’m experiencing and get words of kindness, love, and support back. It’s comforting and encouraging, and I’m so grateful for each of you who read, like, and comment on my post. Thank you for embracing me with opening arms, and thank you for listening to my story.

Without further ado, here is Amelia’s post:

What Blogging Means to Me as Someone with a Disability

Florida Gators · Sports

More Than Just A Game

This morning, prior to Oklahoma’s Rose Bowl matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs, ESPN’s College Game Day aired a segment on Oklahoma QB’s Baker Mayfield’s relationship with Mackenzie Asher, an eleven year old battling cancer. As I watched the way he interacted with her and heard the love in his voice as he talked about her, I was reminded of what it is that makes sports so special: the way they allow people to connect with others and make a difference in the lives of so many. Tragically, Mackenzie passed away recently, and when he heard the news, Mayfield reached out to her family and told them he would be at her funeral. I love what he said there: “I’ve been able to meet a lot of special people, but I’ve never fallen for someone as fast as I fell for her…. we’re going to dedicate the rest of our season to Mackenzie.” The segment made me view him differently, and it made me fall in love with sports all over again.

I couldn’t help but think of times in my own life when sports have encouraged me and helped create relationships in my life that I’m beyond grateful for. While I was in the hospital, the University of Florida’s volleyball team was playing in the NCAA tournament. I watched every game on a laptop, and for the duration of the match, I forgot where I was. At a time when nothing felt normal, cheering on our volleyball team made me feel like myself. Because while I may not be watching where I normally did, my love for our team hadn’t changed. They were a source of encouragement and strength, because as I went through rehab, I kept thinking about how hard they had worked to get where they were. They were my motivation. But more than that, I’ve met a few of our players and coaches, and they’re all incredibly kind and amazing people. If I was ever having a rough day, I would think back to the time I spent with them, and I would have the strength and encouragement to keep going.

Florida’s volleyball team exemplifies what’s so amazing and special about sports: they give people a platform to leave a mark in the lives of others that can never be erased.

Cerebral Palsy · thoughts

My War With Technology

For Christmas, my parents gave me a Google Home Mini, so that we can sync a lamp to it and I can turn lights on and off on my own, without having to wait for one of my parents to come in and do it for me. I was excited by the way it allows me to be more independent, and I spent much of yesterday marveling at how far technology has come and the amazing things it can do. But then, this morning, my father and I were having a conversation and Google randomly began giving us NFL scores. We hadn’t asked for them. We weren’t even talking about sports. It creeped me out a little, and it made me wonder, When is enough enough?

Technology can do amazing things. It can give someone a voice, it can save a life, and in my case, gives me independence and aid I otherwise wouldn’t have. For example, when I was younger and needed my mom’s help in the middle of the night, I would call her name again and again and hope she would hear me. But now that I have a cell phone, I can pick it up and call her, and have peace of mind knowing that she’ll see it and answer. And the technology I saw when I was in the hospital was amazing. During rehab, I used a Functional Electrical Stimulation bike which fired muscles for me that I didn’t know how to use. While I pedaled on the stationary bike, electrodes on my arms and legs would stimulate my muscles for me, strengthening them more quickly than I ever could without it.

But then, there’s the other side of technology, the side that I feel is overtaking our society. So often, we spend time on our phones instead of talking with one another. I’m guilty of it. The first thing I do when I get to lunch is pull out my phone to check my text messages and other notifications. Email has replaced the art of letter writing, and more people read the newspaper online than holding a physical paper in their hands. Yes, it’s convenient and faster and gives us instant gratification, but… is it truly necessary?

And I have to wonder: with all of the technological and scientific advances we’ve made, why haven’t we found a cure for cancer? Why haven’t we found something to treat AIDS or discovered what causes Alzheimer’s? I don’t understand, and my heart breaks for everyone affected by illnesses and disabilities that can’t be cured. We’re smart enough to cure these. I know we are. We’ve got the technology and science to do it- we’ve got to make that a priority. Who cares about a newer model of the iPhone when a little girl is fighting for her life in a hospital room?

I’m not saying technology is bad and I’m not saying I don’t use it too much. It’s not and I do. What I’m saying is we need to learn boundaries with its usage and harness its power to help, not be a distraction. It has the ability to change so many lives and solve so many problems- but only if we use it the right way.

Faith

Ascending Mount Kilamanjaro

A few months ago, I shared about Alexis, a friend of mine who is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for the Tim Tebow Foundation. She’s been planning her climb for over a year, tirelessly fundraising, training, and preparing so that when she begins to climb in February, everything goes smoothly!

To help fund her climb, Alexis entered the #ChipStarter contest, a contest sponsored by Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper. They invited contestants to submit videos explaining their dreams; Chip and Joanna would then select three finalists to fly to Waco and pitch their dreams to them in person, and from there, they would pick one winner and invest in their dream. Alexis made a video explaining why TTF and her climb were so important to her, and then, the waiting game began. I think I was just as nervous as she was…. so you can imagine my excitement when she texted me and told me she’d been selected as a finalist! You can read all about her experience as a finalist in Waco here. (I won’t spoil the ending for you. 😉)

Earlier today, TTF shared about her climb on their social media platforms, and I wanted to share it with you, in hopes that you’ll be as inspired by her story and her dream as I am. Alexis is one of the kindest people I know, and has such a beautiful heart. No matter what I need, she’s always there, and is a complete ray of sunshine. Her faith is so strong, and she has an amazing heart for serving others and serving the Lord. It’s been such a blessing to be a part of this journey with her and help her as she fundraises for the climb, and I have no doubt that not only will God use it to help TTF, but He will use it to bring others closer to Him and demonstrate that with Him, no mountain is too tall to be climbed.

To learn more about why Alexis is climbing and see her speech to Chip and Joanna, visit this link. You can donate to her fundraiser if you wish, and also read part of a poem I wrote about how faith, hope, and love move mountains!

Cerebral Palsy · Faith

Appreciating the Little Things

I had surgery about a month ago, and it’s made me put things into perspective and be grateful for things I’d once taken for granted. Spending Thanksgiving at home, for example. My family and I spent the holiday in the hospital, and it made me realize what a blessing it is to spend holidays at home. Now, as Christmas nears, I find myself thinking about all of the kids who are still there, and it breaks my heart that they won’t be in their own home to celebrate the holiday.

I had to lay flat on my back for the first week after the procedure, which made me grateful for something else I’ve always taken for granted: being able to feed myself. Since I was completely flat, I couldn’t take a bite without dropping the food. My parents, bless them, good naturedly fed me for a week. The day I was able to sit up and eat breakfast on my own was a wonderful day, and I’ll always be grateful for the ability to feed myself independently.

Not being in pain. For the first few days after the procedure, every breath I took was painful. And once I was able to sit up, I felt a stinging pain in my hamstrings, because laying flat had stretched them in a way they’d never been before. But I’ve got to stretch somehow, right?

Walking. I’ve made countless comments on how I wish I could walk without the walker, but now that I have to use a wheelchair, (just until I rebuild my stamina) I’m grateful for it. It allowed me to get around without assistance, and I miss being able to walk with my family and friends. I can walk a little with my walker right now, but I can’t go very far without being exhausted. My goal is to be back in my walker by the time school starts, because I sort of feel… trapped in the wheelchair.

My family and friends. My family stayed by my side the entire time, and made the hour drive from our house to the hospital every day. They kept me encouraged, they kept me laughing, and made a difficult ordeal much easier. And I was so touched by the way my friends texted, called, and visited. They were right there for me the entire time and wrapped me in light and love.

The journey was a little different than we’d expected, but the Lord carried us through it and surrounded us with people who were so kind and generous and selfless. My mom’s coworkers made us meals, a family friend froze a Thanksgiving turkey for us, my AP Literature teacher brought me lunch and checked on me every day to see how I was doing, and the doctors and nurses took such good care of me. My recovery isn’t over yet, but I know with His love and the love of the people around me, I can make it through it.

What little things do you appreciate this holiday season?

My Writing

Some People Come Into Our Lives: A Poem

Some people come into our lives,

And leave a mark

That can never be erased.

They touch our hearts

In a more profound way

Than we ever expected

Or imagined.

They come into our lives,

Unexpectedly,

Without warning,

And fill our days and minds,

With a light

That is pure

And golden

And beautiful.

Those people are rare,

Those people are special,

Those people are gifts

To be cherished

And held dear.

They come into our lives

And leave a mark

That can never be erased.

They touch our hearts

In such a profound way

That we

Are never the same.