Where Do YOU Find Joy?
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to speak with a group of cub scouts (8-9) about my disability. They came armed with a list of questions, which I answered to the best of my ability. When I left the meeting, I realized just how much my life had been blessed by/despite my circumstances. This Christmas season, I'd like to share some of those blessings.
Funniest question: How do you get up stairs?
Obvious answer: I don't. :-) But in all honesty, I do have a set of portable ramps that work for small sets of stairs. Otherwise, I either use an elevator or my husband carries me up the stairs and we use my manual wheelchair (a very good reason to keep the pounds off).
Most thought provoking question: How do I keep a positive attitude about my limitations, and was it always that way?
At first I was scared to death. The onset of my TM was very gradual. I tried to convince myself that I was out of shape, but I knew something was wrong by the types of symptoms I was experiencing. However, my fear kept me from seeking medical advise for about six months (I think it's called, denial).
During that time, the only thing I could count on was my faith in God. I pushed through several months of uncertainty, doctor's visits, and declining mobility by constantly seeking His strength and KNOWING that somehow He would see me through the hard times. And that He did. Eventually, my condition stabilized and the world started looking brighter again. Although I now required assistance with dressing and the use of a wheelchair, I was still living independently and working to support myself. My life was manageable and I frequently recognized the Lord's hand in things, especially through the service of others. I started calling challenges "adventures" and seeing "angels" in the kindness of strangers.
Easiest question: How do you experience joy?
I told the boys, that's easy, "You bring me joy." I love serving in the primary with these young boys and all the other children, ages 3 to 12. Their amazing spirits fill the room with the light of Christ every Sunday. I grew up dreaming of raising a large family. I also planned for a career in special education. Alas, I ended up with a career in finance and not marrying until age 50.
After joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I was completely blown away when I was given the assignment to teach young women (12-18). I knew right then that the Savior knows the desires of my heart. For the past twelve years, my callings have consisted of Young Women's Advisor or Primary Counselor. Talk about answered prayer--now that, fills my life with an abundance of joy.
Hardest question: Would your life be the same if you hadn't contracted TM, and how is it different?
Absolutely not! My life has ben filled with so many blessings since my diagnosis, I can't imagine it any other way. I had a comfortable life living on my own, sustained by an enjoyable career. However, in retrospect I realize that it wasn't very fulfillling. The Lord has since blessed me with a spirit that feels alive and an awareness of His hand in everything.
Once I overcame the initial fear and obstacles of living with a disability, I discovered a bigger world out there then the usual 9 to 5 work week. I also came out of my shell, it's very difficult to be invisible in a wheelchair. I started riding horses (something I'd never done before) in a therapeutic setting and learned about the accepting nature of animals. I now enjoy the companionship of dogs, horses and even a pet parrot. This companionship later led to the reigniting of my passion for storytelling (see my Home page)
And . . . most importantly, I met my eternal companion.